Since last I talked about hiking, I’ve done three hikes. Twice I went out to Warren Tower – a pleasant 9Km hike that took a little over two hours. It has the advantage of being rather close to home, so it’s easy to get out there for a short hike on a busy weekend. The 9Km loop takes you through moderately varied terrain, much of it is along narrow paths through fairly thick scrub – you may get to see a mob or two of roos. You leave that section to stroll along fire tracks through fairly open terrain. The top of the hill is bare except for the eponymous tower – a CFS lookout that must have amazing views. You can see a damned long way just standing at the peak of the hill. Then you cross a field, walk through a short section of scrub before following another fire track, and then more thick scrub before reaching the start of the loop. A pleasant if somewhat short hike.
The other hike I did was at Wirra Wirra Peaks. This is a little further from home, but still within an hour each way. It’s a 19Km loop that isn’t always well-signposted, though I got by with a crappy copy of a 20 year old map and a short list of directions. The hike first takes you for a short way around the perimeter of a pine forest before going straight up and over the top of the two Wirra Wirra peaks. They are steep. Very steep in parts. The trail is indistinct and rocky, though this portion is well-signed. The track down the peaks is loose sand and very slippery, I nearly lost my footing a few times. The loop then follows a vehicle track for some distance, eventually reaching an old road. Just to the left of where the road becomes private property is Freeman’s Hut, a shelter for walkers on the Heysen. It took about two hours to reach this point, so I stopped and enjoyed morning tea whilst reading through the visitor’s log. Morning tea was peanut butter and apple sandwiches. Which were awesome. Though not as good as peanut butter and apple without the bread (seriously, you should try that if you haven’t. I prefer granny smiths, but most others seem to prefer a more typical apple variety). The walk then crosses through private property for several kilometres. This is mostly grazing paddocks. I got stared at by a lot of sheep. It was creepy. Seriously, have ever been stared at by an entire flock of sheep simultaneously?
After a few k, you leave the private property and travel along a fire track alongside paddocks (there were some cows in one of them. They were both less creepy and gave less fucks than the sheep). This portion was not well sign-posted despite still being a part of the heysen and a few times I was concerned I’d missed a turn off.
I hadn’t, though I did eventually miss the turn-off I was supposed to take to leave the heysen and start the return part of the loop. Fortunately, I was only a k or so down the road when I realised my mistake. The loop takes you down Wirra Wirra Road for a while. There’s an empty paddock on one side (though it does have lots of rocks some of which I photographed as reference for some terrain building I’ll probably never get to) and a vineyard on the other. You travel along that for about 3ks. I was pretty keen for lunch by this point (I did eat an apple as I walked. It was nommy.) and getting a bit cranky – I’d been walking for nearly four hours, but there was nowhere to sit on the side of the road. It was all just prickly undergrowth. So I perservered until I reached the point where you cross in to another pine forest. There I found a large stump that served as a place to rest and eat my pepperoni and cheese sandwich (and a trail bar).
Ten minutes later, rested and refueled, I started off on the last leg of the loop. Following along a creek for a half-a-k or so before turning into the pine forest and going past some old ruins – old enough that people have been carving their names into them since at least the 1940s. There were some interesting messages left there. Then it was twists and turns through the pine forest before getting back to Wirra Wirra Road and a short walk to the car park.
All up it took pretty much dead-on five hours. My phone says I did 22Km, which is probably relatively accurate. A thoroughly enjoyable hike that I’d love to do with someone one day.
I’m not sure when or where my next hike will be. This coming weekend is a busy one, so I’m intending to go out for a short run instead of a hike (I’ve done a couple of 4-or-so k runs in the past week and a bit and am hoping to keep that up). The next few weekends after that are quite busy too, but I think I can fit a long hike in on one of them (it’ll just be an exhausting weekend 😀 ) – there’s a few options for where, but I’ll decide that later.
I learnt a few things from this hike. Firstly, the new backpack I bought – an Osprey Talon 22 – is amazing. A massive improvement over the crappy $20-from-BigW backpack I was using. No digging into my shoulders. Packing it was easier too. So comfortable, better back ventilation. Money well spent, would buy again. Secondly, I really want a water bladder. Stopping to get water from my pack or carrying the bottle in my hand all the time is a pain in the arse. Thirdly, if I’m going to keep doing these less-well-signposted trails, I should really invest in some decent maps and a compass. There was no real risk of getting lost at Wirra Wirra, but a compass would’ve made a few things simpler and I need to learn some orienteering skills eventually. Lastly, I hope the colour on my backpack fades a bit with use. It didn’t look _quite_ so orange in the shop.