Thursday, 22 July 2010

Larapinta Trail: Conclusion

Aboriginal ochre pits
The Larapinta was definitely a highlight of my trip. It was very rugged and much harder than expected, but well worth it. I can definitely highly recommend that trail. It is extremely spectacular and scenic - I just loved it! If you are in Australia for only a short time - this is the trail to hike. (If you have more time, add the Bibbulmun Track!)

Here is some advice for future hikers:

Waymarking: The waymarking is great (especially once you got used to the fact that no trail marker means continue that rocky creek bed for another hour) and I never got lost once. You don't need a guide, a GPS are very detailed maps. There is a guidebook by John Chapman (29 AUD) and a trail set by the Park Service (44 AUD). I used the guidebook and was more than happy with it.

Hiking time: Most hikers need 15 - 20 days and that is also recommended in the guide book. Of course all these hikers carry monster backpacks and don't have much experience. Buck 30 did it in 8 days and I did it in 9 days despite all the flooding. 9 days should be ok for an experienced ultralight long-distance hiker. This way you don't have to bother with food drops and just carry all your food.

Equipment: You will definitely need trekking poles. I wore long pants all the time because a very sharp grass like plant called Spinifex grows everywhere and will cut your legs. High gaitors might be another solution for that. My tarptent Contrail was less than ideal - again!!! I would prefer a freestanding tent for that trail, because the ground is very rocky. You will need good shoes and expect them to be trashed at the end of the hike. The rocks are very sharp!!! Bring a very warm sleeping bag - it can get below freezing. And it can rain in the Australian desert!!!!

Direction: I hitched to the Western Terminus first and then hiked back into Alice Springs. Although this turned out to be a bad decision due to the flooding I would still recommend it. (Hey, it can't rain there all the time...) Although hitching is easy, everyone out there is a tourist doing sightseeing and will take you forever to get anywhere. And you don't want to do that at the end of a hike when you are out of food. The trail roughly parallels a road (which you will not hear or see most of the time) and there are various points where you can out to the road and hitch back if you do not want to hike the whole trail.

Water and campsites: There are lots of official campsites with toilets and water tanks on the way plus lots of other suggested campsites with no facilities. And generally you can camp almost anywhere - although that is not always possible in rocky creek beds or vertical rock faces....But bottom line: Water is not much of an issue because of the water tanks. I never carried more than 4 liters.

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