DAY 1: 23rd June – Arriving in Alice Springs
As the aircraft made its descent into Alice Springs our view was of the ranges we would be climbing, a pretty spectacular sight of the chain of ridges from above . As we disembarked the aircraft the dry heat of central Australia hit.
DAY 2: 24th June – Climbing Mt Sonder. 15kms
On arriving at Redbank Gorge we quickly set up camp in the creek bed before heading up Mt Sonder, a 15km return walk.
We climbed straight up, descended straight down and zig zagged up and down the cliff edge and so it went on until Mt Sonder summit was reached.
The views did not disappoint. Our names are now entered in the hikers registration book!!! Feeling pretty chuffed with ourselves we about faced and made our way back to Redbank Gorge.
The temperature reached 28c and we felt the intensity of the sun radiating off the rocks in very exposed conditions, not too much shade in this neck of the woods.
DAY 3: 25th June – Exploring Redbank Gorge before heading off to Rocky Bar Gap. 12kms
Before breaking camp we headed down the creek bed trudging through thick loose sand then our rock hopping skills were tested as we made our way down Redbank Gorge.
The vivid red walls of rock that encased the Gorge were huge and it was fascinating to observe the gum trees that grew out of the rock. The temperature certainly had dropped a few degrees. Due to minimal rainfall the water level was low and stagnant with dead fish floating to the surface.
For a moment we chatted about the amount of water the Gorge had the capacity to hold, hard to imagine that volume of water in one place.
We made our way back to pack up and head onto Rocky Bar Gap but before departing we meet Maryanne and Peter from NSW, our first track friends. Along the track there was no let up from the heat that attracted many free loaders, flies! Thank goodness we had packed the head nets. Certainly no fashion statement but beats flies buzzing around your face.
At Rocky Bar Gap we mingled with Mark and his 12 year old son and also met 6 young people from RMIT outdoor group. It’s always a highlight meeting other hikers who you share life with on the trail.
Day 4: 26th June – Onward to Finke River. 13kms
Leaving Rocky Bar Gap as I walked along I felt compelled to stop and turn around and there stood proud in all it’s grandeur, Mt Sonder.
The historic mountain seemed to be demanding me to be still and gaze upon it. I was in awe of its grand stature. Pulling myself away I continued to walk on but the compelling pull to stop and gaze again and again won me over a few more times before my attention was turned to ascending the climb up Hilltop. Eventually I came across Ian who was perched on a stone seat, he also had been totally captivated by Mt Sonder whilst waiting for me.
The day before we had summitted Mt Sonder and on this day our view from a distance left us both overwhelmed that we had actually made the climb. Our senses, feelings and emotions were tingling with excitement with anticipation of what was to come in the days ahead.
Climbing up, over and down three ridge lines eventually had us at Hilltop with views all around. From a higher elevation we were once again mesmerised by the beauty Mt Sonder threw at us. A few well defined tent pads had been cleared for those hikers wishing to camp to catch the sun setting and rising. Before continuing on to Finke River camp the traditional adding of a stone to the cairn was undertaken.
We were meet with the challenge of descending Hilltop which zigzagged down steeply on a narrow path of loose rock. Where the zig intercepted with the zag a long step down required one to step carefully, maintain balance and be sure footed as one slip and rolling to the bottom would have been an experience not intended.
Once down onto flat ground the vegetation was sparse scrubby bushes not capable of throwing significant shade. The dry creek beds that we crossed over were lined with gum trees making for a great lunchtime retreat from the pounding sun rays. The sandy creek bed enabled us to carve out a hollow and mould a sand pillow for a well earned rest. Being chilled in and by nature was soothing to the mind and soul.
As expected Finke River campsite was on the Finke River which actually had a significant volume of water flowing. After a hot day on the track a dip in the river was in order. The water was freezing but we come away clean by bush standards and refreshed. We shared the campsite with the RMIT group whilst others took the option of diverting off the track to Glen Helen Resort.
Until next yarn, happy hiking.