I had the opportunity over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend to go away with three members of the Victorian Scout Bushwalking Team four ‘scout’ leaders and one rover and complete three days of hike leader training in the arid environment of the Little Desert National Park.
I’ve been to the National Park twice before, activating it as part of the Keith Roget Memorial National Parks Award and the Worldwide Flora and Fauna Award but didn’t venture far from the car.
Saturday morning saw a quick exercise about raising and lowering back packs up and down a steep track section before we headed off and walked 3 km along the Desert Discovery Walk. We then did some navigation exercises with compass or GPS, in daylight and dark, and a mock search. We had lunch and dinner in the desert before returning to Horseshoe Bend camp about 9:30 pm.
Sunday morning saw us walking from the camp on the Wimmera River to Mallee Camp, about 12 km west. The walking track is well defined and mostly sand underfoot. The vegetation along the way varies from small scrubby bushes to occasional clumps of taller eucalypt and pine trees. The terrain is slightly undulating from 107 m ASL to 127 m ASL. Very different from the hilly tracks I often hike.
Sunday night was spent on the banks of a dam with the overnight temperature nudging zero degrees.
Rising early Monday morning to a cloudless sky the star display above was incredible.
Returning to Horseshoe Bend along the same route we again did some navigational exercise and finished the weekend about 2 pm before stopping at Rieds Take Away food shop in Ararat on the way home for a welcome hamburger with the lot.
To continue the hike leader training I can go away again in late July to hike and camp in the snow near Mt St Gwinear. Before this however I need to consider the effect walking in snow shoes will have on my sometimes painful knee. The desert hike was uncomfortable toward the end of day 3 but the terrain was easy going. Walking up and down Mt St Gwinear in snow shows may be a different story, although I did the same area back in September 2013.
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