This time last year I was walking the Larapinta Trail in Central Australia. You can walk out from Alice Springs although the trail officially begins a few k away at the historic Telegraph Station, just near the permanent waterhole that Alice was named after, not springs at all but a depression in the granite which holds water, where Aboriginal families have been gathering for at least 1000 generations. Sheez, I can think back 4 generations before memories become lost.

The trail heads west along the West Macdonell Range and takes in many of the official sights: Simpsons Gap, Standley Chasm, the Ochre Pits, Ormiston Gorge, and Mt Sonder as a finale 232 km on. It is a fantastic walk and the one major problem, water availability, is mostly resolved with water tanks in all but one campsite.

I felt I could only carry 12 days supplies, you need to take a tent, etc, as there is only one shelter along the way, so that meant I was going to bail 5 days early, but after all, I’d already climbed Mt Sonder a couple of times for those huge 360º views.

Despite only getting to Ellery Big Hole, 132 km plus the 7 at the start, they thought it sufficient I should be allowed to buy the T shirt at Lonedingo.

That was then, 39º C for the first two days, I’m now tucked up in my sleeping bag with plumes of steam on my breath, 9º inside Rocks Hut.

I’ve been here on many occasions in my youth but the old dunga hut, dirt floor, tin skin over a frame of locally crafted timbers, smoke tinted atmosphere, has been knocked down for a helicopter landing pad, this is the first time I’ve stayed at the new Rocks Hut, water tank and flushing toilets.

So, my first day’s tramping for a year, pack with 9 nights supplies aboard, and just like the old days, all day drizzle except for the showers, my pack cover blew clean off at Windy Point. I’m well equipped, waterproof pants, gaiters, the full length version, fantastic Meindl boots, just the minimum of warm clothes but with this rain it’s not going to get too cold, except for windchill. The raincoat has seen better days but if it’s going to rain here, one way or another you are going to get wet, just have to think of it as a wetsuit.

After the first climb up the firebreak from The Brook it levels out more and being the Dun Mountain Trail, maintained by the City Council and used even on bleak autumn Saturdays by stray mountain bikers.

I plod on through the dripping bush to an early lunch at Thirds, ie, Third House, spent a few Friday nights there in my time on a closed cell mat on th edam concrete floor, then my turnoff at Coppermine Saddle, there’s no point on trying the Duckponds shortcut, down into the valley and straight up the other side, with this rain the creek is up and not worth a crossing attempt.

From Dun Saddle, just short of 1000 m there, you head back around west, losing altitude, often through pigmy beech forest, and, whammo, there’s the hut.

And, as we all know, it’s always good to get to a hut.

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