A Travellerspoint blog

Ormiston Pound Circuit

sunny 20 °C

We got a sleep in this morning with a 4.30a wake up call!

I only woke twice in the night but both times I peeked out over the top of my swag to see the fire still crackling and the Milky Way so incredibly clear it seemed surreal!

A hectic start saw our group band together to get packed up and sorted out so we could have a clear run back to Alice after finishing today’s walk.

By 6am we were on our way out of our home for the last 4 nights. A sky full of beautiful shining stars escorting us all the way into Ormiston Gorge where our final walking day began. Whilst technically not a part of the Larapinta Trail Ormiston Pound walk was our grand finale. The trail is a short walk of around 10kms and starts with some beautiful rolling hills. The sun had not yet come up so head lamps were a must for about 40mins. After that the lightening sky allows vision for eons and as a side note is perfect selfie lighting!

The wild flowers roll over the landscape and everywhere you look you are greeted by the soft light of dawn. A short while in the incline increases and you have the option of heading up onto the wall of the pound to watch the sun peek over the eastern rim. At a point towards the incline our guide suggested that the next section of the walk and the subsequent sunrise were to be completed in silence. She encouraged us to use the time switch off our brains and really connect and be present with nature and ourselves.

As you sit on the edge of the Pound cliff face and the sun peeks over the eastern rim you get to experience the magnificence of of the bowl filling up with light, the colours of the cliff face and valley floor changing as the sun edges higher into the sky with each passing moment. To sit and be still externally and internally is something very special and worth savouring. We sat on the Pound cliff face for about 30mins. It was a special way to kick off the day.

In a further period of silence we walked down into the valley of the pound.

An abundance of bush flowers and chattering birds fill the space and all around towering rock cliff faces in every hue of orange and brown give the impression of being caught within a giant hug. It’s an unusual feeling to be in the middle of towering cliffs and still feel so held and embraced.

We stopped for morning tea in a creek bed that looks like a water hole. The water vividly reflecting the surrounding landscape on top of its still water. Snacks, tea, coffee, photos and conversation. Watching as Budgies chattering in the trees dropped down the waters edge for a quick drink before flying onto the next tree for further chattering.

As you head deeper into the Pound the landscape switches to more arid rock parts and back to creeks and ghost gums. As we turned an edge we then found ourselves walking along the ravine between two cliff faces. The complexity of patterns, colours, shapes and sizes of the rocks leaves you speechless with nothing to do but gaze all around trying to see everything. Remembering that in the wet season those parts you are currently traversing may very well be under water!

We stopped in the middle of the ravine and held space for each other to express why we’d felt the call to trek for Black Dog. It was one of the most supportive circles I’ve sat in. It allowed space for everyone to truly connect to each other in a way that wouldn’t have been possible 5 days ago.

From there we had a creek crossing. Shoes and clothes off, bags above the head and slow submersion into the icy cold Gorge water right up to the arm pits for a short walk across the gorge. From there up to the look out for our final look across Ormiston Gorge.

The descent down was relatively easy and Simon our ground crew was waiting with beautiful smoked salmon bagels and cold oranges.

We are now on our way back to Alice Springs. There’s a somber mood with all of our group wishing our time wasn’t over and being incredibly grateful for such a beautiful week together. My first experience as a TL for Inspired Adventures has been fabulous and it’s due to the wonderful ground operators here from Way Outback Adventures and the group of people who came together to raise money for Black Dog Institute. Mental Health Education is so vital to spreading the message and changing the stigma and it’s been wonderful to be a part of that.

Posted by adventure_megs 08:22 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Mount Sonder

sunny 15 °C

Another night under the stars although technically tonight was half a night. Our wake up for the day was 1.30am! Today’s aim was to be at the summit of Mount Sonder just before sunrise.

Word on the street was it was 4 hours up and 4 hours down and a relatively easy day compared to some of our other days. Our guide Sylvie hasn’t been overly great on the time estimation so there was a lot of questions regarding the distance and after wards a lot of questions regarding the “easy” description!

After a small delay missing the turn off we arrived at our drop off point. Pitch dark, headlamps strapped on and glow sticks attached to our packs we started out. It is so incredibly dark that head lamps are a must to traverse the track. Also a must is multiple layers of clothing, bottoms, tops and head coverings. It’s very chilly at that time of the night.

After the U-turn or two we were a little harried getting up the mountain with the thought of missing the sun rising a hard one to swallow. So we pushed hard. I’m not going to sugar coat it, it was hard, every time I rounded a corner there was more to climb and further to go. I likened the mental toughness to ascent not dissimilar to the last push by Frodo and Sam in The Return of the King. Rocks sliding out from under your feet as you continue to push up further and further to reach the goal! It was hard! I’ve had my determination stretched before but this was next level. It was a real internal battle to not give up and keep driving forward!

The only thing to stop and admire on the way up is the stars, the sky and the Milky Way. At points we were so high up that it felt like we could reach out and touch the stars.

The pain was worth it. Sitting at 1380 meters in elevation the view of the sun poking its head over the horizon was spectacular. I’ve said before that there is such a wonderful level of anticipation in watching the sun come up. You never really know what the day might hold or where you might end up.

After half an hour or so at the top, multitudes of photos and a few cups of tea the groups sporadically set off for our descent. Slow and steady coming down as the sun rose over the mountains behind us heating our backs. The views are 360 degrees and just as spectacular as everything else we’ve seen today. It’s a busy track before sunrise so getting down also requires some additional people navigating which is always fun!

Our group did really well heading up and heading down. My feet in particular are incredibly sore but everything else aches right now too. We are headed back to camp to have a cook up brekky/lunch before heading out again to Ormiston to soak our weary bodies in the cool Gorge water.

Our lunch was a full brekky spread bacon, eggs, mushrooms, toast cooked on the bbq with a sprinkle of the red dust that seems to permeate every little thing.

Then after clean up, off we headed to Ormiston to the icy spring waters to soothe our weary bodies. It is such a beautiful Gorge, surrounded by red rock cliffs that tower over the water hole. Even in the sunshine the water has an icy chill to it. All the same it’s divine to dip the body after so much physical exertion.

Snuck up early to the cafe and sneaked in an earl grey as well as a scone with jam and cream! Home to come now for kangaroo con carn for dinner, roasted marshmallows and another night under the stars.

Lazy day at 22.3 kms under the legs. No wonder my feet hurt!

Posted by adventure_megs 08:17 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Glen Helen Gorge to Ormiston Gorge

sunny 18 °C

Another night under the glorious stars! I’ve woken both nights at random points and rolled over looking out of the swag to experience the magnificence of the Milky Way and the abundance of stars. I was a little cold out last night so may consider adding an additional blanket tonight.

A 5am wake up for a 6am camp exit saw a flurry of activity early within our group. Simon who is in charge of camp logistics had already whipped up a batch of pancakes, chopped strawberries and boiled the water for tea and coffee. So we were set upon leaving with packed bags and full bellies.

We got dropped off at Glen Helen Gorge for a lazy 10km walk over low-lying surrounds of Ormiston Gorge. Now this is what I’d consider undulating! There was no steep inclines or sharp rocks under foot. Rolling hills towards the dry bed of the Finke River dominated the landscape. Wild Mulla Mulla covered the hills with the odd cluster of spinefex and spiky grass.

Upon arrival to the dry bed of the Finke I took a moment to really feel the presence of the land. Looking at the ghost gums randomly placed both in the bed of the river and on its banks I was reminded of the beauty of Albert Namatjira’s waters colours and how they so beautifully capture the essence and spirit of the land.

At times I’ve felt like I’ve been transported back and I could at any point turn the corner to see him sitting on the land transferring its spirit to paper.

After a period of walking we stopped in another dry part of the Finke and had some snacks and a little bit of sharing circle about why each of us chose to participate in the Black Dog Larapinta Walk. I can say wholeheartedly that it’s a humbling experience being given the privilege of hearing peoples stories and journey’s to where we are currently in life. I have never taken it for granted the privilege i enjoy when i can provide someone a safe space to be able to bare their soul and today was no different. It’s truly an honour.

It was a short walk up after that into the breathtaking Ormiston Gorge.

Simon was there to greet us and after purchasing an icrcream we jumped back on the bus and headed back to camp for a bbq lunch. Camel, kangaroo, buffalo, potato and green salad. It was devoured very quickly indeed!

From there back on the bus to Ormiston Gorge for an afternoon of swimming and exploring. It’s been such a wonderful day filled with beautiful landscapes, sensational people and heartwarming conversations!

Only a lazy 14km’s today but we are heading for an early night to bed and an early morning so we can catch the sunrise from Mt Sonder.

Posted by adventure_megs 08:14 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Serpentine Gorge to Serpentine Chalet Dam

sunny 18 °C

This morning was a 5am wake up call. It is beautiful to be able to open your eyes and see the sky filled with stars and The Milky Way streaking across your blurred vision. Camp fire kicking in to begin to bridge the gap between the swag and the incredibly brisk outside world.

As we all began to wake and gather the excitement of the day began to build. With brekky and bags packed we headed off to Ormiston Gorge to use the facilities before our eventual entry at the Serpentine Gorge trail head.

Before heading onto a certain section of trail we encountered a wire fence. Our guide Sylvie informed us that we were about to cross over into Aboriginal owned land and as trekkers of Larapinta we had been given permission from the traditional owners to follow the path. Sylvie talked about the importance of permission and ensuring that we kept to the path because there are plenty of sacred spots along the trail that shouldn’t be disturbed.

It’s a steep climb! Up, up, up and then up some more. Once we reached the plateau we snaked along for kilometres and a good few hours before again starting the accent to Counts Point. At at an elevation of 1140 meters above sea level it is definitely worth the climb!

Again with 360 degree views and what you could describe as the biggest bowling alley in the world. It’s fabulous. We headed back down about 1km before looking out over the West MacDonnell ranges and enjoying our packed lunches.

Then to decent! It was a long hard and often slow trek back down and into Serpentine Chalet Damn. Breathtaking views and landscapes that vary so significantly from one kilometre to the next. The trek out after the decent was taxing and required an additional amount of mental toughness to persevere. But it was worth it to arrive at the bus with chilled oranges waiting and the promise of the cool soothing waters of Ormiston Gorge. My phone tells me I’ve walked about 19kms today!

The cooling waters of Ormiston are desperately needed after what has been a long day. When I say cooling I really mean bordering on frosty! I went all in today though. Full body dip, and it was incredibly invigorating and means I won’t need a wet wipes bath tonight!

The sun is now sitting behind us as we drive away from Ormiston Gorge feeling refreshed after what has been a long and hard day of trekking. Onwards to our camp site, warm clothes, cold beers and hot food and another night under the stars. What more could you ask for!

Posted by adventure_megs 08:11 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Alice Springs to Wallaby Gap

sunny 20 °C

Full of excitement we all met in the foyer of the hotel for an early 630am start. After ironing out a few breakfast issues we were off in the bus to our drop off point at the head of the trail.

Beautiful clear skies and a brisk chill in the air are a great way to start the day and to start a trek! So off we went. Unfortunately at about 2kms in one of the ladies on our trek had a tumble and broke her wrist. This had us stopped for a little while, while we organised emergency services for her. After this we headed back on our way.

The itinerary for the day was Alice Springs to Wallaby Gap in the West MacDonnell Ranges. A total of 14km of undulating terrain on a very rough walking trail. When I say undulating I immediately think of China and the Great Wall however this was very different.

The landscape is stunning. There is a feeling of such sparseness and yet there is abundance all around. The rolling hills are in stark contrast to the beauty of the jagged exposed rock. Deep earthy tones streaked with vibrant oranges, browns and yellows. The ever changing colour and texture of the rocks highlighted depending on where the suns sits in the sky. Turn your gaze away for a moment and then look back to see a completely different looking landscape.

The shrubs and trees share a beautiful spectrum of all types of green, grey, silver and purple. Littered across the expansive horizon is long dry grass accentuating the trees and shrubs that grow despite the dry landscape. We have been told that there has been an abundance of rain on the last short while and as a result the flora is thriving. Bush flowers are blooming and beautiful to encounter.

As we were nearing the end of the days trekking we climbed Euro Ridge. The drop is sheer on one side and the landscape rolls away on the other. It’s beautiful at the top with jaw dropping 360 degree views. Everywhere you turn you are struck with this arid beauty of the West MacDonnells.

Late lunch before heading to the bus for a short ride to Ellery Creek Big Hole. The guide tells us we should get in as it helps soothe the muscles after a big day walking. But be warned it’s cold! Apparently the water hole is fed by an underground fresh water spring and it’s cold all year round. And woooooooweeeee it was cold! I’ve had a few ice baths in my time and it was the equivalent of that. I only went in up to my knees and after such a big day walking I can confess to it being a major relief both for my feet but especially for my knee which has felt a little worse for wear today.

We are know off to camp for the night. Camp is in the red dust Centre just 30 mins out of Orimston Gorge. Swag set up, wet wipe shower, dinner and desert done and off to bed snuggled into the swag watching the stars! Only 18.7 kms today!

Posted by adventure_megs 07:58 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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