Monkey featured highly in Dan's leadership style. This little toy monkey, with it's elastic legs, woke people who overslept and signaled the time to move out.
It was my first overnight hike - well, since PE camp in Year 9 - and my first hike with the Adelaide Bushwalkers. I had only recently joined this hiking club, in order to experience some overnight hiking and camping out, and to meet some new people - hopefully people my own age (the cross section of ages in the hiking club Friends of the Heysen Trail is older).
Yes, there were younger people. It was good. I also enjoyed the relatively organic style in which everything was organised, being a smaller club it is not as organised as the Friends of the Heysen Trail. This is good, more of a grass-roots approach.
We were hiking in Mt Remarkable National Park, from Alligator Gorge to Mambray Creek. There were two overnight camps, and two days of hiking. With 17 hikers, we divided into two groups, one group spending Friday night camping in the north, at Longhill Camp near Alligator Gorge, and the other group camping in the south, at Mambray Creek.
I grabbed a lift with David, and Jeff and Karen. We parked our car, and in the dark hiked a few hundred metres down into the valley to our campsite. The forecast temperature was a mere four degrees, but it didn't feel that cold yet. We joined the others and set up our tents, people seemed impressed with my $70, 2.05kg hiking tent. Best value-for-money. The next morning we hiked north through Alligator Gorge, up past The Terraces and out of the gorge to The Battery. It was tough, but mostly due to the 16kg pack I was carrying. Even though I thought I had my waist belt tight, it wasn't until the following day, with my bruised shoulders, that David show me a few tricks to get it even tighter - so it would carry more load and be much more comfortable.
The views from The Battery were spectacular, much better than the views from The Bluff back on the Heysen Trail in the south. From our vantage on the spectacular escarpment, we could see to the head of Gulf St Vincent, to Port Augusta and Baxter Detention Centre, and across the gulf to Port Lowly. Wow. It was an awesome view.
We reached camp after climbing down the steady but long Fricks Track to Kingfisher Flat. We met the other group who had hiked up from Mambray Creek in the south. It was a cold night, no fires were allowed in the national park except in Mambray Creek. Unusual for a national park.
The next morning we parted ways again, hiking down to Mambray Creek via Hidden Gorge. We had swapped keys that morning, so we grabbed each others cars and rendezvous at the bakery at Stone Hut. The food and beer was to it's usual excellence (the Coopers Pale Ale was a little old though), and the staff were in their usual grumpy form (don't let that put you off - the food and atmosphere is fantastic).
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