Up and frisky early, the day off has helped with the lower body extremities.

Shelley heads off an hour before me, a protein bar is her early morning sustenance.

A couple of hours along the trail, after a short bit of historic camel route, Fish Hole, and seeing a surprised Euro, a medium sized and beautifully proportioned kangaroo that is the most common around Central Australia, I get to a fork in the track.

One path: more river flat bashing, it’s a bit painful; the other directly up a steep hill, just a 300 m vertical climb, along the top a bit then down. The Upper Route is slightly further and more effort but as they say, with effort comes reward and so I stagger up the hill.

It was almost too revealing, you could see almost back to Alice, certainly Hat Hill just the other side of Simpsons Gap was clearly visible, ie, everything for the last three days down the valley, and looking the other direction showed everything for the next three.

Excitement with tremendous gusts of wind on the razorback ridge, almost blown over, not the edge, just almost knocked on my arse, lots of oxygen around I thought.

I had a scrumptious lunch, a handful of raisons, and sat around with that tremendous view of the Chewings Range, sun flitting out spasmodically, it’s rugged as, gashes of rock, just a madman’s creation really, make it as mountainous as you can with the harshest jagged slices of rocks on edge, cliffs, or near vertical surfaces, she’s mighty rugged.

The track though is real good, well marked for the most part, except in the watercourses, without water, which was a considerable part of the rest of today.

Highlight: that revealing view.

Secondary ones though: up the top of Cycad Creek coming to a beautiful trickle coming down a narrow, very steep, gorge; coming over Gastrolabe Pass with the hills opening out magnificently; later on the top of Stanley Chasm the hills just a cacophony of orange slabs previously described with great drops directly into the Chasm below.

When I was here in Stanley Gorge three years ago I was completely underwhelmed by the 80 m long tourist attraction, the burger for a starving body of a bloke on a bike who had run out of food on the last day on the Mereenie Loop from King’s Canyon was the agenda, but today, from high above, I realised the extensive gorge as a truly great natural feature, just from below you’d never realise it.

Big day tomorrow, tucked in early.

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