Our first stop-off was Kings Canyon. Our tour guide dropped us off at the carpark. I got out & stretched my leg which was stiff & was looking around for the walking track. I had to do a double take when I discovered that the track went straight up the side of this cliff. The stairs were carved into the rocks & it looked very steep. I was not only one of the oldest on the tour, but with my Achilles strained.
This 10 km hike was going to be a major challenge.
Kings Canyon is part of the Watarrka National Park in the Northern Territory. Sitting at the western end of the George Gill Range, and 323 km southwest of Alice Springs. The walls of Kings Canyon are over 100 metres high, with Kings Creek at the bottom. Part of the gorge is a sacred Aboriginal site and visitors are discouraged from walking off the walking tracks. The views were amazing, and I was willing to risk it to get a chance to experience this amazing place.
We walked though jagged rocks, and the monkey in me wished that I could climb. With the state of my health I knew that was impossible. I started to limp and had to pace myself. We came upon a cliff face, and there was no safety fence and well over a 70 metre drop. Our tour guide suggested that we don’t go too close to the edge. The paper work to fill out in the event that someone falls over is quite a lot of work. Which he’d rather not do.
We came to this rock pool where you could swim. It looked an amazing spot so I at least tried. I bombed in & almost leaped out of the water straight away. I could not believe how cold the water felt. Our guide said that it was a constant 10 degrees, but it felt like water that you had just taken the water out of a fridge. I tried to look macho and stay in for a whole 30 seconds before getting out. The warmth of the rocks was quite pleasant compared with that water.
We still had close to 4km’s to walk and I started to struggle. My Achilles got sorer and sorer. They took us to the edge of this cliff where we had our photos taken. It looks more dangerous on the photos than it seemed.
Sadly last year someone fell over the edge & died, and having stood on the same spot got me thinking, and a very sad story for that person’s family & friends.
Funnily enough the last 700 metres, even though it was downhill almost killed me. I couldn’t put any weight on my leg & my Achilles was on fire. It was all downhill, but I had to pull over and rest quite a few times just to get down. I tried to hop on my strong leg at times, but was exhausted and could only hop limited distances. It was an amazing but frustrating experience hiking around Kings Canyon. I was fuming at the fact that I was a cripple. Under normal circumstances would be running circles around everyone there.
Instead I was hobbling at the back of the group with everyone having to wait up for me. Unsure of whether I could make just the final section. It was a very humbling experience. At that time I worried that this may be the only walk that I would be able to do on this tour. My leg was on fire, and I was panicking that my Achilles would snap off again.
I got back to the Van and collapsed, and grabbed ice from one of the Eskis & it was heaven having that ice cool down my poor injury.
We camped in the middle of nowhere that night, and slept in Swagman’s around a massive bonfire, and cooked up damper. It was only 5 degrees overnight, but surprisingly I had one of the best sleeps in that Swagman. You put your shoes under the Swagman to act as a pillow. I was nice & warm inside. Serena didn’t enjoy it though & was quite cold throughout the night. It was a highlight lying in the Swagman, staring up at a million stars overhead. I barely survived today. I was curious how my leg would pull up for tomorrow’s slog around the Ulga’s.