Black Range Trek

There was one overnight hike I had left to do in Mt Remarkable National Park and that was the Black Range Trek – 48kms return from Mambray Creek.

My Plan

…was do it over three days and spend two nights camping on trail at two different bush camps.

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Following the yellow trail, The Racecourse camp for night one and Sugar Gum Dam camp for night two. I wasn’t sure how far that’d be to each but considering the overall length of the hike, it would’ve been a nice distance of hiking for each day.

So, with uncontrollable excitement, I busted out the not-so-old Viva 50L Osprey pack and started sorting out my gear.

Gear List

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  • 3L water bladder – check
  • Sleeping bag – check
  • Tent – check
  • Sleeping mat & pillow – check
  • Kitchen – check
  • Bedtime bag – (with wipes, change of undies, socks, and thermals to sleep in) check
  • Meals bag – check
  • Snacks bag – check
  • Rain jacket – (even though there was no sign of rain) check
  • Fleece – check
  • Cooking water – check

Inside of the pack sorted. I tried to fit another 3L water bladder on top but it wouldn’t fit so I had to leave that one.

Hood Goodies:

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  • PLB – check
  • First Aid kit – check
  • My new miracle blister prevention balm – (not in that photo as I was probably in the process of using it) check!
  • Head torch – check
  • Scrub gloves – check
  • fingerless gloves – check
  • notepad & pen – check
  • binoculars – check (even though I’ve never used them while hiking)
  • toilet trowel & TP – check
  • toothbrush & toothpaste – check
  • Sunscreen & insect repellent – check
  • Gaiters – check
  • Tent stakes & cord – check
  • Pack cover – check
  • Daypack – check
  • and extra toilet paper – check

Under-the-hood Pocket:

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  • Flint
  • Waterproof matches
  • Emergency floating whistle and signaling mirror
  • Micro towel
  • Earbuds
  • Spare batteries
  • My new long-handled spork! 😀

Hip Belt Pockets:

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  • Some snacks in both sides
  • Left side has my knife and right side has my chap stick as I’m right-handed and I use that quite often.

On the outside, there are my camp shoes and I have some Tyvek in one side pocket and map & compass in the other side pocket.

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The park recommended I use a topographic map for this trail so I printed a section of one off from an app I have. I wasn’t sure what to expect with this trail but after packing up camp at Mambray Creek on the morning of May 1st off I went anyway 🙂

Day 1

The first little section of the trail I had already done and included a very steep hill climb which I wasn’t looking forward to. I decided to stop at the top called Sugar Gum Lookout, have a sandwich and admire the view.

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I took my GoPro and made a few video logs throughout the hike but I’ll keep them for my private collection 😉 … they’re terrible.

That lookout was the furthest I’d been on that trail so into the unknown I went…

The Unknown

The trail was quite easy from the lookout for a little while but then I started to ascend a huge mountain, or two or five. Bit by bit, section by section, I kept going up and up and up. I passed a couple of foreign guys hiking down from the opposite direction who gave me some advice on where I should and shouldn’t camp along the trail so that was good.

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You can’t really tell from that photo but some sections of the trail were so steep there were wire sheets laid down to help with traction. My legs were stuffed and every now and then I just had to stop, sit and rest for a minute.

Eventually, I passed the bush camp I planned on staying at on the second night of my trip. It looked quite nice and had a big water tank but the water needed to be treated before drinking.

I had my Garmin handheld GPS with me as well and was using it for the compass and to record my trail and make waypoints (not that I really know how to use it properly yet). I came to the t-junction and created a waypoint for that. I was extremely grateful the trail had flattened out for some of the time!

Not long after that I heard a strange noise in the distance and didn’t know what it was but then saw a heap of cows and realised that was it. I had never come across cows on a hike before so it was sort of entertaining. I then came to a section of the trail that confused me a little. It had a sign to the left but used different spelling to the park map I was using. I checked the compass and it went in the right direction so I took the turn.

Are We There Yet??

After a long while of wondering if I’d gone the right way I EVENTUALLY saw Grays Hut. The park map showed a camp symbol against The Racecourse but as I honed in on this ruin I realised that there was a proper hikers hut built there to stay in. I thought that was awesome and must’ve been the one the two hikers told me about.

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I’d never camped in a hut before so I was excited. All that was left of the original hut was the stone fireplace. There was a long-drop toilet there as well that wasn’t too bad. After taking off my trail runners and putting on my camp shoes I then pulled out my food and kitchen and started getting dinner on the way.

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Dinner-cooking selfie

I had the roast lamb & veg Back Country meal for dinner and it was amazing! Then I had the three fruits cheesecake for dessert and that was awesome as well. I haven’t had one of those meals I didn’t like yet. It was funny while I was eating my dessert, I must’ve made a sound or something and I looked up to see the 20-or-so kangaroos that were eating the grass all staring at me. It cracked me up but as I went to grab the camera some of them hopped away. So cute! I love kangaroos.

I was starting to get a little cold so decided to finish my dessert in my sleeping bag inside the hut after I got into my thermals.

My Notes For The Day:

Sun, May 1 2016

On the Black Range Trek in Grays Hut at the moment. First time sleeping in a hut. It’s kinda coo. I think I only hiked about 6.5 hrs today but it was hard. Just kept going up & up & up & up from Sugar Gum Lookout just kept climbing. I’m feeling the cold at the moment. Hopefully I’ll be right when I fall asleep. Had roast lamb & veggies for t. Was awesome! And a three-fruits cheesecake for dessert. That was good too. That Body Glide stuff worked well for my heels, no blisters yet. Anyway, I think I’m gonna try get to sleep now.

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My Fitbit stats for that day’s hike. Just doesn’t show how much I struggled with all the mountain climbs but I guess my heart rate gives some away hehe.

Before I wanted to go to sleep I went to the toilet and then checked my GPS for when sunrise would be and set an alarm on it for just before then. I think it was for about 6:30.

I woke up about half way through the night needing to pee (don’t ya hate that?!) so I grabbed my head torch and out of the hut I went only to find a couple of roos hanging around close by. I scared them off as I walked by them heading to the toilet. That was a little creepy. Then practically ran back into my sleeping bag to get warm again.

Day 2

My alarm went off and I thought to myself – do I really need to see this sunrise? Besides, the surrounding mountains will hide the sun for a little while anyway. So I reset my alarm and fell back asleep. However, I didn’t reset the alarm properly the second time so I woke up a little later than planned but it didn’t really matter because that day’s hike wasn’t going to be heaps long.

After getting up I cooked my Back Country Cooked Breakfast and went to the toilet again. Got dressed, packed my pack, brushed my teeth and then I was ready to hit the trail again heading for Mount Remarkable and back. I started my Fitbit and off I went.

Not long after I set off I came to a locked gate which threw me off completely. It didn’t feel right and the trail sign was just an arrow pointing sort of downwards but to the left of me where the arrow was pointing was a massive drop off the side of the mountain I was on. I thought this can’t be right. Surely I’m not meant to go down THERE am I?!

I wandered around looking for other signs of the trail anywhere else but then, sure enough, saw another trail arrow sign pointing back the way I came but down the mountain. The trail wasn’t too steep as it just slowly descended along the side of the mountain. I tried to take photos of the trail there but they still don’t do the steepness justice.

I then came to some incredibly steep sections where I had to slide down with my butt on my heels and all I could think was I’m going to have to climb back up this somehow later today!

A Promising Sign

After those few parts I then started to climb again and soon the trail led me onto a 4WD track called the Mt Remarkable Track. I thought oh good! Hopefully, this will take me straight to the top and it won’t be long or hard. Well, it went on for a long time and was straight up for 99.9% of it. I was stuffed.

Struggling up to what seemed very close to the top if not the top of the mountain before I came to one of the Heysen trail markers pointing to the left leaving the 4WD track. I noticed there was a trail on the other side of the 4WD track as well but thought I better follow the trail marker so off to the left I went. It wasn’t long before I started to descend and that didn’t feel right.

My legs were so sore from the ridiculous amount of mountain climbs the day before and it just felt like I was going the wrong way so before I went too far I decided to go back up and follow the trail that was on the other side of the 4WD track to see where that led and luckily I did that because it took me around the corner to the peak of Mount Remarkable!

 

I Made It, Finally!

It wasn’t quite lunch time but I thought I may as well eat my last peanut butter sandwich I made.

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It was fairly windy up there and I was cold while I wasn’t moving so that’s why I have my jacket on.

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After my little feed, it was time to head back down and back the way I came, down all those steep mountains I had to climb and crawl up those steep-arse slippery dips. I assumed that the trail that went off the other side of the 4WD track was the part the leads down to the town of Melrose where there’s a trailhead if you just want to do the Mount Remarkable hike. It did cross my mind that a stock-up of water, coffee, and a proper meal would be nice but then I’d have to climb the other side of the mountain again and I wasn’t prepared to do that so back down I went.

For the first time, I actually got to use my scrub gloves which came in handy for the really steep sections so I wouldn’t rip up my hands grabbing onto branches and spiky weeds. I slid down the steep parts and almost stacked it a few times but managed to slide on my feet.

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In that photo the trail goes down to the left along the trees and then starts coming up the mountain I’m standing on. I had to stop so many times going up that mountain. I didn’t remember it to be so steep coming down but going back up it just about killed me!

Slow & Steady Wins The Race

I had to take it so slow and I was drinking a fair bit of water as well which always worries me these days since I ran out of water on the Alligator Gorge trip. Most horrible feeling in the world! I think it was around that time of the hike back that I started to think ‘could I make it the whole way back to Mambray?’. I slowly kept hiking up and when I got to the top and wasn’t far from the hut I’d slept in the night before I thought, yep, I reckon I could make it all the way back today. My legs were already so sore and my pack was rubbing under my left hip bone and I really didn’t want to do another day.

I passed the hut, got back onto the Mambray Creek Track after the t-junction and knew I was already getting close to the Sugar Gum Dam Camp so I was making good time so I made the decision then to push on. That was it. I was going back to my car at the Mambray Creek trailhead! I stopped and put a purifying tablet in the water that I had filled up from the tank at Grays Hut so I’d have more water to drink as I felt like my bladder supply would have to be getting low.

On I marched and reached the Sugar Gum Dam camp water tank. There were a heap of bees around and on the tap but I slowly turned it on and soaked my Buff, put it back on my head and had a little drink. Had a few bees hover around me for a few meters from the water tank but they eventually left me to carry on alone.

What Would’ve Been Day 3

Every bit of flat ground I had I picked up the pace. Working out times in my head, thinking it wouldn’t take me as long going this way because it’d be mostly downhill, I estimated I’d be getting to my car just before sundown.

Just before I got to the really steep sections with the wire over the track I was getting hungry so I thought I’d better stop and fill my stomach so I’d have the energy to keep on going. I ended up cooking the meal I had planned for dinner that night which was just packet noodles with a sachet of salmon meat added to it. Ate that, drank the rest of the water I had treated earlier, packed up and off I went again. A little slowish as I didn’t want to get cramps or anything until my food had settled. Came to the wire sheeting sections and just kept thinking to myself ‘it’s ok, it’s mostly downhill from now, a couple more steep ups and then down, down, down’.

Some of the not so rocky declines I was practically running down but the terrain was pretty shaley so I had to be careful with every step I took. I did stack it twice coming down on those rocks but didn’t hurt myself. My knees were so over the punishment of constant downward steps. It actually drained me more mentally than physically coming down I think because you have to be so much more careful.

Finally, I Reached The Bottom!

Well, the bottom before Sugar Gum Lookout. Ahhhhh flatness!! My right knee was killing me but I tried to block it out and push on. The thought of getting in my car was the main thing that kept me going faster and faster.

I was slowly starting to lose the bright light of the sun as it started to fall closer to the mountain tops. By the time I’d made it to Sugar Gum Lookout the sun was almost behind the mountains. I had to stop quickly and get a photo.

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Almost There

Enormous relief came over me when I saw that lookout as I knew the rest of the trail like the back of my hand. I knew I didn’t have long to go so the worry of water supply and daylight lifted. I made my way carefully down that mountain keeping a good pace. I wanted to finish strong. As I got to the bottom I thought now I just have to keep going, one foot in front of the other and I’d get there soon enough. I started to drink a lot of water as I knew it wasn’t long now to the end and my comfortable car! As soon as the sun dips behind the mountains the light disappears quickly and by the

As I got to the bottom I thought now I just have to keep going, one foot in front of the other and I’d get there soon enough. I started to drink a lot of water as I knew it wasn’t long now to the end and my comfortable car! As soon as the sun dips behind the mountains the light disappears quickly and by the end, I was struggling a little to see the rocky terrain properly but I didn’t want to stop to get my head torch out (probably should’ve but I was being stubborn).

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One of two of the walking trail detours for when it’s wet season passed by, and then the second one. Not long now! Almost there! Last left-hand sweep before the trailhead sign! There it is! I’ve made it, I’ve done it.

There’s Landy! (my car)

Practically power-hiked up to it, dumped my pack, crouched down beside it and drank a shit-load more water (I had plenty left and really need to get into the habit of actually checking my water supply as I go). I got my keys out and unlocked the car, chucked my pack in the back and got in the front where I took off my shoes, OMFG so good!

I was sweaty, stinky and sore but on my way home! Totally worth it!

That was without a doubt the HARDEST hike I’ve ever done. As I was driving home, which is about 1.5 hrs, I could feel my muscles tightening up so I was trying to move around and stretch a little in the car. I always forget to stretch before and after a hike. Not good.

Fitbit stats for that day. Crazy. I’m nowhere near that fit and simply shouldn’t have done that. The next day I could barely move and almost fell over when I got out of bed because my legs wouldn’t work! Having said that, I felt really good in the sense that I’d accomplished something major for me, a huge feat!

That trip made me want to get a slightly bigger pack though :/ That was the first hike I tried out that Body glide stuff to prevent blisters and OMG it worked!!! I got it from Paddy Pallin in Rundle St. What a savior!

Well, I think that’s all I can say about that one for now. Massive hike for me and so glad I don’t have to do it again!

Please feel free to comment any questions or tips you might have 😀 I’ve since been on another overnight hike and a big day hike so stay tuned for the posts on them!

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. mrsfourpaws says:

    Amazing hike! The Flinders are truly one of the most amazing places in this country. Loved the read 🙂

    Like

    1. kellyanneb says:

      Oh thank you. I’m not the best with words but I hope people learn from my mistakes lol.

      Liked by 1 person

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