Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Heysen Trail: Dangers and Annoyances

Well, I don't want to talk about the danger of falling into a hole again - I think I have covered that quite well... But some other unexpected threats have appeared:

Harmless sheep visiting me
For the first time in my life I have been attacked by a bird, a magpie. I was happily hiking along in the rain when a big magpie started circling above me. First I did not pay much attention, but the bird would not dissappear and came closer and closer to my head. Eventually I got scared and started waving my trekking poles around when it started another attack. The magpie then kept its distance but launched another attack 2 minutes later. These birds are huge and I must admit that I got a bit frightened after the 10th attack, but after walking further it finally stopped its attacks. I talked to some locals later and found out that these magpie attacks are not uncommon. Their dangerous swooping is even extensively explained on Wikipidia as I later found out. Apparantly I had come too close to its nest and it just tried to scare me away. Still, a very scary experience reminding me of Hitchcock's "The Birds"... Well, at least I have not seen a snake yet on the Heysen Trail.

The second Australian-only problem is gum trees or Eucalyptus trees. In order to survive in such a dry environment as Australia a gum tree can shed tree branches. Yep, that means that a huge tree branch can just break off without any wind or any previous warning. And these branches can be very heavy. You might ask now what's the problem with that. Well, imagine you want to camp.... I am always looking for a forested area to camp in to have some sort of wind shelter. But almost all forest here is Eucalyptus. Never camp under a gum tree if you don't want to be slain by a tree branch. And that makes finding a camp site rather difficult....

The third problem is more an annoyance than anything else but it really pisses me off. As I have explained in my last post there is no trail on the Heysen Trail. It is all cross country. Right now I am going crosscountry on grazing and agricultural land. Sometimes I have to fight my way through thigh-high grass. And because of all the rain and the morning dew the grass is always wet. After 10 meters the water soaks through me shoes and after 50 meters my pants, my socks and my shoes are just soaking wet. Great way to start a day I can tell you. I have had soaking wet feet every day for the last three weeks - all in South Australia, the driest state in the driest continent.....

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

We experienced a Magpie attack along the canal, close to Spalding, on 13/9. I was surprised what a large territory the bird was protecting. Walking poles come in very handy in these situations! D Curnows Hut

ArizonaAnnie said...

I just found an interesting website explaining things you can do to save yourself from injury during magpie attacks. Here it is:
http://www.wikihow.com/Keep-Safe-from-Swooping-Australian-Magpies

German Tourist said...

Annie, thanks for the link. I had heard about some of these techniques, but this is a good comprehensive website.