Day 5: Easy Day to Hugh Gorge

Friday October 7, 32.7km/20.3mi

Ellery Creek Campground (96.2/668m) to Hugh Junction campsite (128.9/800m) (NT)

It was so hot last night that I didn’t put the rainfly on my tent, but at 4am it started to rain and I had to hurry and put it on. Ugh. I went back to sleep for 2 more hours and was up at 6am when the sky was bright. My first task for the day was to fix my right foot, which was starting to rub raw from the poorly designed shoe insole.

I taped up my foot with leukotape, and bent the insole into the correct shape. But it didn’t want to stay in that shape, so I heated it up with my stove and then it stayed. I put on my shoes and hiked out into the sunrise.

It was a wonderfully cloudy morning and I was enjoying the cooler temps. I climbed over a saddle, and saw the mountain range to the north that I was aiming for today.

Shortly after I came to the trail junction where the northern alternate rejoins the Larapinta.

By mid morning the clouds were starting to clear.

The trail was so much nicer today, and I was able to just walk and get lost in my thoughts without having to pay attention to much. Before I knew it, I was at the Rocky gully campsite, which was my first water source for the day.

I dropped my pack at the junction and jogged the 200 meters over to the water tank. Mission accomplished I continued onwards, under a completely blue sky.

At one of the viewpoints, I found something unusual… I think it’s a bra padding. Ha!

An hour later I stopped for lunch at Ghost gum flat.

It had a nice little table under a shady tree!

I arrived to the Hugh Gorge shelter pretty early, it was only 3pm. Just as I walked up a ranger was also driving up the maintenance 4wd track to check on the shelter. It was fun talking to him, he’s been to the US a few times and we discussed Colorado and Utah a bit. I saw dark clouds moving closer so I decided to stay put for awhile. Might as well charge my phone…

And fill my water bottles.

The storm moved through quickly and was intense for only 10 minutes.

I figured since it was so early, I would aim for the next camping spot, so I packed up and left the shelter at 4:30 and as soon as I did, I saw a rainbow!

The highlight of the day was the hike through Hugh gorge.

It was about 4 km of walking through a gorge, without a well-defined trail.

Sometimes it was walking in a dry wash, sometimes scrambling upon some rocks to get around a deep pool, and in one spot actually having to swim.

The particular spot proved to be quite a puzzle, as my trail notes say it should be easily waded waist-deep. However no such shallow crossing was to be found. Perhaps the winter rainstorms had re-shaped the gravel bars on the bottom? Eventually I decided to float my backpack across on my air mattress, and do the short 5 meter swim.

Overall it was a pretty fun section, and it reminded me of hiking/wading up Salmon Creek with my friends in high school. The views of the gorge walls were spectacularly red.

The trail leaves the gorge at Hugh Junction, and returns to dry land.

It was 6pm so I decided to camp just after this junction. I setup my tent on a gravel bar, and made my dinner, which was a Turkish lamb stew (I had grabbed it from the hostel’s hikerbox).

My goal tomorrow is to make it 29km to Standley Chasm, which is a tourist attraction with a campground, a restaurant, and showers. The restaurant closes at 4:30pm so I’m motivated to wake up early. And I’m glad I hiked the extra 4km today from the Hugh Gorge shelter! Tomorrow’s elevation profile looks… intimidating.


  1. Eventhough the day started out a little rough, looks like you had a nice finish to the day!
    Nice that this trail has such conveniences like chargers!


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