SECTION 2 – Ormiston Gorge to Ellery Creek

Day 4 – Ormiston Gorge to Waterfall Gorge

Today was set to be our hardest day yet. We were carrying a full load of food and extra water as our destination would not having any available – enough for cooking and for the hike tomorrow.

The early part of the day in the dark was fairly straightforward until we hit a location called Base of Hill, where it was all uphill, literally. With heavy packs the progress was slow but upon reaching the top of the ridge the views were simply magnificent.

Mt Sonder stood in the distance surrounded by a smoky haze as we climbed to what seemed like the top of the world. We looked straight down into a deep valley with ridges along the far side. The vast downward drops and huge open valleys proved to be the best views I would see on this hike and will  remember for all my days. This massive land below us just seemed to flow with beauty.

The descent was very steep and midway down I discovered I was running low on water – 3 litres gone and more than an hour to go. With the heat beating down on us and sweat pouring freely from me we made it to the bottom and along a rocky waterless gorge. While the climb and descent were rough, the gorge was perhaps the hardest part of the day; trying to balance, walk, climb and step all with heavy packs and sharing the remainder of my friend’s water.

To reach the gorge we had a short but steep climb. There was little water in waterfall gorge and no waterfall to speak off, but we found a small grotto in the rock to wait out the rest of the day. A great end to a very hard day.

Day 5 – Waterfall Gorge to Serpentine Chalet Dam

An easier day today but we still set out before sunrise heading for a saddle rising between two ridges – an easy climb compared to yesterday. At the saddle we looked down on a majestic valley descending below us.

We crossed the valley passing through burnt areas, dark sentinels to the wild, yet the trees and grass had new growth marking their ongoing survival.

We arrived at Inalanga Pass, a crossing between ridges rocky but beautiful with ancient Cycads along its length, a generation of plants that have grown there for 50,000 years or more.

Not long after, we arrived at camp with a water supply! We washed clothes and bodies before going to view the chalet dam, built-in the 1960s. We set up a sun shield made from the tent’s fly sheet and camped out through the afternoon. A pair of hikers appeared and one came over to chat for a while. After a nap we began preparing for a day of heavy climbing to get to Serpentine Gorge tomorrow.

Day 6 – Serpentine Chalet Dam to Serpentine Gorge

We were prepared for a hard day. With only two days supply of food (plus emergency rations) and no extra water, our packs were lighter.  But today there was a steep climb, followed by a ridge walk and a steep downhill. The weather turned the tables on us: cloudy, occasional spitting and cool blustering winds. Climbing on a cool day is far easier and while I still dripped with sweat it seemed like there was less overall exertion.
The views from the ridge top near Count’s Point were stunning. On the Count’s Point sign, a rock had been placed with a handwritten message: “Why would you be anywhere else?” So true.

A group we passed at Waterfall Gorge had camped up here and waking to the views would be great, but with little cover the wind chill would have made it only bearable for a short period.
The steep descent at the far side of the ridge gave a sense of living on the edge, having to watch each step and use the poles for balance. Not for those scared of heights!

Once down, we quickly reached the campsite and after setting up the tent went down to the gorge to have our lunch. As the waterhole is a wildlife sanctuary, we couldn’t swim. Lucky it wasn’t hot enough to want to.

After lunch, we cleaned clothes and bodies – a standard daily procedure water permitting – and headed back to the waterhole as the sun went down for dinner and in hope of catching sight of the Black-footed Rock Wallaby. Alas, our presence likely kept them hidden.

Day 7 – Serpentine Gorge to Ellery Creek

Today was listed as a hard walk, but we would have rated it lower. The suggested 5.5 hours took us only 4 hours including breaks. We even slept in as we were expecting an easier day.

The last half of the day grew harder, though, with many hills to climb and descend, but nothing as hard as earlier days. At one point we came to a Trig Point – a post with a bucket held up with wires. Not sure exactly what that was for but we took a photo anyway!

Ellery Creek is a major point for us being the location of our 2nd food drop. It’s almost like Christmas going through our pre-placed food and the treats we’d included a week earlier. We both wished we’d added Oranges. Having more fresh fruit out here would be wonderful.

We had lunch next to Ellery Creek big hole, a large water hole, then went for a swim in the cool water and did our washing. The day was warmer with only a slight cool breeze.

We then set in for what was to be a cool night and an easy walk tomorrow.

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