Pilbara magic (and heat)

Ready to hit the trail

I’ve never been to north western Australia before so when the opportunity arises to come here for a work meeting I book a flight without delay. My meeting is finished by 11am so I buy a hat (I forgot to pack one) and set off on the heritage trail in the hills behind Karratha.

It’s 37’C when I set off. Too hot to run or contemplate the entire 7km return course. But not so hot I can’t casually stroll along the red rock path. I carry 3L water, lunch and a bottle of Gatorade. I hope it’s enough.

The view from my resting spot in the gully

The colours of the Pilbara are amazing. The blue sky contrasts strongly against the bright red rocks and lime green spinifex grass. I know I’m falling in love.

I walk for about 20 minutes up a hill, along a ridge and then down into a deep gully. The gentle early warning signs of heat stress tell me that I need to rest. There’s a white gum offering shade so I take a 10 minute break, sucking down water and sports drink. When my pulse slows I walk again. This time I cover just 6 minutes of track before another white gum beckons. I check the weather report on my phone, it’s now 40’C.

It’s magical under my tree in the gully. Wedge tailed eagles soar up on the ridge line above rust-red rocks. Spinifex adds softness to the harsh terrain and the few white gums add highlights. My tuna and crackers are delicious. It’s likely to be what I take when I walk the AAWT.

The rocky trail along the ridge top

After a 20minute break I tackle the next steep hill. It takes 10 minutes and the view from my next rest spot in the shade of a small shrub is awesome. The ocean in the distance has those changing hues of blue that you only get when the water is clear. To my east the land becomes flat.

I stay up on the ridge for the return walk. Not the safest option in this heat because there’s no shade for the next 45 minutes. The early warning signs of heat stress again remind me to seek shelter and take it easy.

A small tree on a rocky outcrop becomes my next rest stop. I sit here for 30 minutes to fully recover. I read some of the book I’m carrying; it’s about a man climbing a mountain in freezing conditions.

The view from the start/finish

It only takes another 15 minutes to finish the walk. The water cooler at the visitor centre is a welcome relief.

While the heat made the short walk tough it was wonderful to be out in the colours of the bush. It was also fantastic to be out bushwalking, even if only a short way.

It’s my first official training session for my AAWT expedition next year. And what a fitting way to start; with a walk the total opposite of my 650km alpine quest.

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6 responses to “Pilbara magic (and heat)

  1. That’s a scorcher! Looks gorgeous though. Those rocks in the last picture are great.

    • The colours of the Outback are always amazing billi. If you are ever in Australia you have to check them out. But August / September is a much better time of year to do so 😉

      I’m seeing the photos in full size for the first time tonight and am pleased with the job my mobile phone did. I uploaded my last few posts from my mobile because it was the only internet I had at camp. Back in civilisation (Perth) tonight before I fly back home to Brisvegas tomorrow night.

  2. Sounds a great walk. Can almost feel the heat from the photos 🙂

    • It was a great walk Sally 🙂 And readily accessible from Karratha town (which is not that readily accessible from anywhere 😉 – flights are expensive and driving from the nearest capitals (Perth or Darwin) takes days).

      It’s given me the idea of walking the Larapinta Trail in a few years time (after I complete the AAWT and then have a holiday with my partner in the following year of course – can’t be greedy and use all my leave for hiking 😉 )

  3. Wow! Your photos are magic… any wonder you needed the breaks though with the heat!!!

    • Thank you for the kind words Amy. It’s all in the nature not the camera 😉 But it is amazing what mobile phones can do these days 🙂

      Yeah – I decided to play safe with the heat by taking breaks. I have high haemoglobin levels (fluctuating between 169-181 in blood tests taken over the past decade – the normal range is from 150-170) so I have to be careful of dehydration because my risk of stroke is higher than the average man’s. I’ve also experienced heat stroke on a number of occasions (the last time was in 2009 when I came close to dying from it and spent a week on the couch unable to eat and only being able to get up to use the bathroom from the nasty side effects of the heat stroke and dehydration).

      If you ever get a chance to travel to the north west take it – the country there is amazing. Though it’s cheaper to travel to and in the US (flights are expensive, fuel is expensive, car hire is expensive and don’t get me started on groceries – though the Coles and Woollies are normal prices)

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