My heels were really starting to sting and I could feel the sweat trickling down my spine. Over the past half hour my strides had shortened to something akin to a shuffle and my rest stops became more frequent. I could see the end point and the 4km marker indicating I only had another 900 metres before I reached the goal of my hike. I gritted my teeth and pushed on.
Despite my growing interest in hiking over the past few years, I had never bothered purchasing a pair of proper hiking shoes. Only two days earlier I’d finally decided now was as good a time as any to change that. Despite the comfort of the boots on my feet, make no mistake, I was not under any illusions that I wouldn’t have to spend some time wearing them in. To do so I took them on a short 3.5km walk around the telegraph station and decided I could handle a longer walk as long as I took a couple of bandaids with me. With this in mind, my friend and I decided that the perfect place to really give them a go was on one of the short day hikes at Standley Chasm.
Standley Chasm is the start/end point of sections 3 and 4 of the Larapinta Trail. The fact that it is located only a 30 minute drive from Alice, combined with the fact that it has a pretty amazing resturant on site providing the promise of a great meal following a long hike, made it an appealing location for our day hike. After examining a couple of maps, we decided that the Bridle Path Lookout would be an achievable day hike at only 4.9km one way and only 9.8km in total.
Arriving at the chasm I tied up my boots and came to the sudden realisation that while I had remembered to bring plenty of water, sunscreen and a hat, I had forgotten to pack my bandaids.
It’s okay, I told myself. I’m sure you will be fine. Ah, the lies we tell ourselves.
The hike started out just fine as we trekked along the creek bed, admiring the jaw-dropping geology of the region. Despite the bushfires that had torn through the area only 2 years earlier, it was amazing how much of the flora had regenerated. I mean, out from between the valleys created by the mountains the earth was pretty barren, but in the nooks, crannies and valleys green cycads and wild flowers were in abundance which is crazy given the lack of rain over the past 5 years.
My problems began as we started our ascent into to the lookout. In all honesty it’s not a tough ascent and is pretty gradual, but it was exactly this quality that made it so unforgiving on my feet. The gradual and consistent nature of the climb kept the heels of my feet pushed to the back of my boots allowing for just the right amount of friction to exist to create 2 nasty blisters on my heels. Perhaps if the climb had been more steep and step-like my injuries would have been less. As it was I began looking for rocks to step up onto just to provide some momentary relief.
Related: Exploring Red Bank Gorge
When we finally made it to the summit we were met with a view that was as breathtaking as it was barren. The lack of trees meant we lunched directly in the sun. This wasn’t too bad, but it did remind me of the need to reapply sunscreen.
The hike down hill was much more comfortable and surprisingly swift and it wasn’t long before we found ourselves back in the creek bed, and even less before we found ourselves sipping coffee at the Standley Chasm resturant.
Despite my aching feet, the Bridle Path Lookout was a genuinely good hike and provided a nice taster for what to expect on this section of the Larapinta Trail. It also reaffirmed my interest in and desire to complete more hikes in this area. Maybe it’s time to expand my horizons with an overnight hike…
Following a great lunch and coffee break, we wandered down to the actual chasm which is a jaw-dropping wonder in and of itself. The best bit was that we had it all to ourselves and were able to take our time soaking in the majesty of it all.