Saturday, September 4, 2010

Heysen Trail: Jinxed

I know this is getting old and nobody is probably believing this, but I still have to tell you: As soon as I started hiking the Heysen Trail, South Australia has had record rain! And of course, I had to hike right through it....

Me at the start of the trail
Yesterday it just dumped 54 mm of rain on me. Ok, the weather forecast had predicted thunderstorms. But I had assumed thunderstorms means half hour of rain and then sunshine. All wrong! This is Australia. It started to rumble around 2 pm. Everything got dark and some drops started falling down. Not too bad, I thought. But then it really started. It just bucketed down for half an hour and left me with an unexpected problem. The Heysen Trail crosses lots of creeks with very steep creek banks. Normally not a problem, but the creek banks are mud. And after it had rained, the mud was slippery as hell. And after half an hour of trying to climb up a creek bank I looked like a pig after a long mud bath!!!! But I made it up and the sun was shining, so all was well.

Wrong again! 2 hours later the rumbling started again. Everything got dark and lightning everywhere. And of course the bucketing started. Only this time it would not stop! I was hiking on an old vehicle track and within 2 minutes the track converted itself into stream. Water came gushing down everywhere. Seriously, I could not walk the track anymore. On top of all that the muddy ground become very soft and I sunk in all the time. I tried walking on the grass which was a bit better. But the worst of all that: It was soon getting dark and I needed a camp site. Unfortunately, everything was drenched, absolutely drenched with water. I almost panicked!

But luck was on my side. Just as it got dark I found a wonderful camp spot under pine trees next to a creek bed. The pine needles had created a soft bed and soaked the water in. Perfect! I set up camp and was optimistic. Wrong again. The rain stopped soon and the wind came up. Remember, I am hiking with a Tarpent Contrail. Not very wind stable to start with. But a desaster in 64 km/h gusts. Despite tons of rocks on the tent stakes one came off and disappeared forever. I tried to fix the problem as best as I could at 2 am in the morning in hurricane winds. I seriously thought that my tent would not survive the night. I did not sleep a single minute and tried to hold up the tent walls when the wind blew them in. It did not help when I heard a tree branch crashing down close by. In the US they call those widow makers.... I was camped under small trees and hoped to be safe!

I checked my watch about every 15 minutes but time would crawl only so slowly. I ate breakfast at 5 am and decided to hike out. No way I was going to stay on the trail in that weather. I found a nice dirt road and started walking at 6 am. After 4 hours eventually a car came by and brought me back into civilisation - where I am sitting now in front of a library computer watching the strom outside the window...

2 comments:

David said...

Beautiful South Australia at its unpredictable best! A great read. Regards D

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