Hans sets out at 7.25am for the "hard" St Mary's Peak loop walk - steep mountain climb and 21.5km loop with some scambling - not "Di friendly" who is not keen on heights nor scrambling. The national Parker rangers estimate 9 hours but we figure Hans will complete it in 7 as he motors along the flat sections at 4+km per hour.
It's a beautiful clear day with some wind but still cool.
Di has a housekeeping morning - all washing and some cleaning then takes the iPad to Hills Homestead (3km easy walk) and sits to update blog with her morning tea. On the way there are 2 very young emu chicks with their dad. They are just like toddlers - they run a bit, bump into eachother, stumble fall, get up and do it all again. So cute.
The hike up to St Mary's Peak (1171m), outside trail, starts with a gradual ascent for some km. It is all very pleasant and beautiful early in the morning. Then suddenly it is a 90 degree turn upwards which I assume is part of the 500 meters or so that are shown as very steep on the map. And it is. And rocky. And scrambling. Before you know it, you are up at Tanderra Saddle, the junction where the upper and inner trail meet for the final 1.6 km to the peak. It is quite windy here. It took 1hr and 50mins to hike to the Saddle.
The last 1.6km are even more of a scramble. No real path, only a marked route over rocks and boulders. 50 mins for 1.6km. But, it was all worth it. The views from the top of St Mary's Peak are truly stunning. 360 degrees over Flinders Ranges. It is all a bit nerve wrecking as you feel on top of the world, but very very small. Surprisingly though, less wind here than the saddle some 100s meter lower.
Back to the camp, Hans follows the inside trail as that makes it a loop. The path down all the way to Cooinda Camp littered with rocks and you have to pay constantly pay attention of where to put your feet. Tough on the limbs.
Lunch at Cooinda Camp, which was one can of salmon, one of tuna and bread. The camp was marketed as another camping ground, but there is nobody there and no facilities. Not even open fires were allowed, but many had clearly been lit in the past.
The last 8km back to our camp is straight and flat walking on the floor of the pound. Approx. 7hr and 15mins with break. Hans needs a shower, coffee and then a beer.
This is our last night in Flinders Ranges and we have really loved it. It is truly beautiful. Not just the pound, but also the various mountain ranges around it and beyond.