Thursday, 22 July 2010

Larapinta Trail or how to save money on trail construction

One of the few dry creeks
On the Larapinta Trail they have discovered a great way how to save money on trail construction: Instead of building trail they just tell you to follow the ROCKY creek bed for 2 km. And in my case the rocky creek bed was full of water, too.

I had to discover that the Larapinta is much harder than I had expected. I had calculated to do it in 8 days, but with all the flooding this was not going to happen. But I had only food for 8 days!!! Luckily I ran into some very nice hikers who told me the solution. Most hikers take between 15-20 days to hike the trail and they have food drops on the way. One of these food drop places was not locked and had a leftover or hiker box. I checked it out and really: There was free (and good) food there. I got some noodle soup, some snacks, a whole jar of peanut butter and a packe to dried mangoes. Altogether food for another day - and now I could finish my thruhike.

My daily mileage had gotten pretty low due to the rugged terrain. The guidebook has 4 levels of difficulty for each trail stage. Tongue in cheek they can be described as follows:

Very hard: There are not too many trail markers. But that does not matter.... You are EITHER following a rocky creek bed with meter high boulders that make Mahoosok Notch on the AT look like a piece of cake. Of course the creek bed is filled with water and in order to get around the water holes you have to climb vertical rock faces - or swim. And every once in a while there is a (usually dry) water fall in the way. The rocky creek bed then usually becomes a rocky, very steep gully....
OR you have to climb a mountain. Just climb straight up and follow the rock slides left by previous hikers. Don't look down because it is almost vertical... Trail? What does that word mean?... You have about 3 days of hiking like that.

Hard: All of the above, but you might have an occasional glimpse of trail, which is usually over loose rocks on a steep climb. Oh, and the usually dry river crossing might only be waist deep...Another 3 days of trail is like that.

Medium: There is actually trail - real single file trail!!!!! The rest of 3 days is like that.

Easy: Only 12 km of the Larapinta is rated easy so it is not worth describing that....

But I finished the trail in 9 days (with wet feet on every single day!) and only a handful of nuts left..

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