Day 4: Side trips and PUDs

Thursday October 6, 37.3km/23.2mi

Unnamed valley campsite (63.1/835m) to Ellery Creek Campground (96.2/668m) (NT) +0.4 Serpentine Dam + 1.6 Counts Point + 2.2 Serpentine Gorge & Lookout

I knew it was going to be hot today (34C) so I got a very early start at 6am.

I cruised on easy trail for 5km, and then I got to the much hyped Inarlanga Pass.

The steep rock walls provide shade most of the time, and there is a different climate in the pass. Things are greener and wetter.

After a couple more km, I got to the Serpentine Chalet Dam campsite. It had been 29km since the last water source, so I was definitely looking forward to refilling my bottles and drinking a liter on the spot. I dropped my pack and ran up the short side trail to see the dam.

There was a big climb coming up, and I wanted to get it done before the day got hot…so I didn’t linger at the shelter. The shelter also marks the boundary between trail sections (there are 13 sections).

After an hour of flat walking, I spent another hour climbing up to the ridge.

It was starting to get warm but there was a very strong wind which kept the temperature manageable.

When I got to the top of the ridge there was a junction point, and I decided to take the side trail to see Coutts Point. But first I took a break under that shady tree….and had a snack and updated this journal.

I dropped my pack under the tree, and jogged over to Counts point, and on the way I almost stepped on a lizard!

The view from Counts point was looking back on what I had just hiked. There was even a bench!

I jogged back to my pack and then hiked the rest of the ridge walk for an hour.

I made it down to the next shelter at 12:30pm and tried to have lunch, but it was so hot that I had no appetite.

Each shelter has a cabinet where people can store their food to keep it safe from critters, and the doors are always covered in different native artwork. Cool.

I needed to cool down, so I dropped my pack in the shelter, and made the 500m stroll over to Serpentine gorge.

You’re not allowed to swim in the gorge because it’s a sacred site, but the other people there said it’s fine to dip your feet! After cooling off in the shade of the gorge, I decided to walk up to the lookout point, another short side trail.

I strolled back to the shelter and ate a little bit of food while staying cool in the shade. I waited until 3pm to get moving again, since there’s usually more shade after that time. The first hour of hiking went smoothly on a nice trail… and then the trail went to shit. The bad section started off being very rocky…

And then, inexplicably, the trail decided it needed to go over every single bump and hill along the way. The first bump was called “Trig point”, which is a weird name for a hill.

The trail went directly over another 7 or 8 PUDS (Pointless Ups & Downs), all of which were composed of some very sharp dolomite rock. Both the ascents and descents were steep and slow going.

That 5km took me an hour and a half…eesh. I was so happy to be done with that crappy section of trail. I got to the Ellery Creek Campground just after 6pm and went straight to the swimming area for a refreshing dip as the sun was setting.

I dried so quickly in this desert climate, and by the time I had finished setting up my tent and making dinner I was completely dry. (But not bone dry…bones are wet!). Even after the sun went down it was still very warm, like 27C. To illustrate, there are two other families at the campground, and all of them are walking around in their underwear. (Or maybe that’s just an Australian thing?)
With all the side trips today, it was my longest day so far, so I’m giving my sore feet some ibuprofen tonight!

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