Larapinta Trail – Part 1 Mount Sonder – Day walk
Western Macdonnell Ranges – Northern Territory – Central Australia
3.45 am. I stumbled out of the tent and put the stove on. Dark. Stars like a glittering carpet overhead, milky way rivered across the heavens.
4.30 am. We set off from the carpark. Having checked the first section of the route the previous afternoon we knew how to pick a way across the stony river bed and up onto the beginning of the long ridge track.
The mountain was a dark mass. Groups of tiny torchlights like fireflies in the middle and far distance showed where earlier groups were making their way up. We climbed towards orion which hung above the far away mountain top. We bore witness to the approaching dawn as slowly the light, like alpenglow, suffused the ripples of hills and valleys below.
6.00 am. As we summited the sun blazed across the landscape. White rocks shone. Ranges spread out in all directions. Red cliffs dropped away from the double peak. 40 others shared the solitude of this desert wilderness peak – all wanted to experience this simplest and most basic life force – the flow of sunlight energy into the land, the plants, us, life.
The higher summit stood aloof and untrodden. We were separated from it by a treacherous narrow spine of rock that dropped away sharply on both sides. The local aboriginal people discouraged anyone from attempting to climb it.
The hike up seemed easy, cool. Being focussed in the darkness on only a small pool of light from the headtorch enabled me to concentrate on the few steps ahead rather than the overall climb. Downwards took longer and was hotter. Maybe we spent more time taking in the vistas and wondering how much longer it would take.
11.00 am. Returned to the carpark.
This would have to be one of the best day walks in Australia.
15 km return from Redbank Gorge carpark. 600m ascent. The first or last section of the 220 km Larapinta Trail depending on which direction you are heading.