Larapinta Trail: Finke River to Serpentine Gorge

Day 5: 27th June. Ormiston Gorge. 9kms

An undulating walk of 9kms with a climb up Hilltop Lookout didn’t stretch us too much in the cool morning air. With temperatures persisting around 28c and the lack of shelter from trees the plan was to roll out of the tent earlier and tuck a few more kms under the belt in the cool of the morning.

Walking towards us was a group of about 12 with two guides on their way to Glen Helen Resort for the night. They were enjoying a six day Larapinta highlights guided walk. Being peak season we were expecting quite a few guided hikes on the trail. The guided groups have their own camping area, away from the riff raff of us independent hikers!!!

On arriving into Ormiston Gorge we picked our campsite amongst the bushes and without delay headed to the kiosk and enjoyed some refreshments. After collecting the  food drop and resupplying, it was off to the shower. Oh how great the hot water felt cascading over my tired dusty body. Many holiday makers were camped up enjoying what the area had to offer.

Everyone was busy organising and planning for the next day as Serpentine Dam was 28kms down the track with significant climbs along the way or the other option was to carry two days water and bush camp. We opted to bush camp at Waterfall Gorge whilst others planned to walk it through so the carrying of additional water could be avoided.

Day 6: 28th June. Waterfall Gorge was our intention but….   

By the time we surfaced those making the dash of 28kms to Serpentine Dam had left. Loaded up with the additional water we headed off trudging through a dry sandy creek bed feeling like the extra water had us sinking into the sand. There had been light showers over night and with cloud cover the morning was much cooler for walking, a welcome relief as we had some serious climbs ahead of us.

Following the contours and dipping down into creek beds then climbing back up the contours and down again and so it went on just like a roller coaster ride before the steady rocky climb up to Base of Hill lookout.

The views entertained us as we perched on the spine of the ridge to enjoy lunch despite the cold blustery wind; we just pulled on our jackets. Another guided group scurried past as it was obvious the clouds above would soon be releasing rain. As for us our attention was held by the views.

A few hikers were on their way day to Ormiston Gorge and delivered the great news that at the 17km marker at the lookout were some very nice cleared tent pads and on arrival we both agreed this was far too nice of a bush campsite to bypass, so we set up camp.

Being on a ridge top we were very exposed to the weather elements which were looking stormy. Lisa, a solo hiker had also been delivered the good news and had decided to pull up and camp. Another couple had arrived latter in the dark and rain and were looking forward to arriving into Ormiston Gorge to regroup. As light merged into dark a brilliant yellow moon quarter appeared surrounded by twinkling bright stars. Natural nature putting on a real show of beauty. The storm hit overnight but we were very snug and dry within our tent.

In amongst the highlights there are challenges and in amongst the challenges there are highlights and out of it we have the opportunity to grow in strength, courage, resilience, acceptance, attitude, appreciation and much more.

Day 7: 29th June. Off to Serpentine Dam. 11kms 

Overnight there had been significant rain and much to our disappointment there was no brilliant sunrise as the cloud cover was too low. After packing up we continued on to the highest point of the lookout and had mobile reception so we rang our girls for a chat as we stood amongst the drifting cloud. The weather wasn’t the greatest but the experience won us over.

The days walk started with the very steep descent zigzagging down. At times on some the hairpins I found it easier to sit down and just slide down as the wind was blowing a gale. Eventually down and straight into a very rocky creek  bed to Waterfall Gorge but there was no waterfall on display.

Onward we forged  and found ourselves walking in the valley of two ridges before entering Inarlanga Pass.

The Pass, an ancient pathway with cycads and boulders, a natural paradise of untouched beauty. To actually be in this natural environment rather than looking at a photo and reading about it, was overwhelming. I felt truly privileged for the opportunity to be walking the Larapinta. As we made our way through the Pass we realised there was no actual path instead it was over and around huge boulders, a sure test for flexibility.

Before we knew it the campsite was in site, always a good feeling to see that campsite at the end of your days walks. Ian has his chores and I have mine and it all works for a hassle free existence on the track.

Day 8: 30th June. Serpentine Gorge. 13kms

Set off for the day with gloves and beanie on as the air was crisp despite the sun shining brightly. Notably the temperatures had dropped a few degrees during the day.

The day’s climb, believe me there is always a climb, was up Counts Point being  one of the highest points on the Heavitree Range. On reaching the ridge of Counts Point we headed to the lookout which highlighted the valley we had walked through yesterday. The ultimate highlight was sighting Mt Sonder in the distance, honestly Mt Sonder’s presence is everywhere.

For some distance we ambled along the spine of the ridge enjoying the views from far above, what a life.

What goes up must come down so we made our way down to the flats into Serpentine Gorge camp. After setting up camp we wandered down to the gorge.

Until next yarn, happy hiking.

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