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Ridgetops Tour

Northern Flinders Ranges
All body parts seemed to be creaking when I rose this morning, and my bad knee had been painful at times during the night.  Such is the price of a longish (barely) run, up and down steep hills and along trails, when old and unfit.  I knew that this morning's "easy" 10km would not be very easy, and that proved to be the case.  The further I went, the looser my limbs became, but I was slow and my knee hurt.  Despite all that, and a slow time for my regular 10km, my mood was good.  Providing I don't slip back into injury, I can sense that I'm getting fitter and I know that the aches and pains will diminish in the next week or so if I soldier on.

In the absence of other news, I thought I would include another anecdote from my running past.  This one tells the tale of a long run during a camping trip to the Arkaroola section of the northern Flinders Ranges with another couple in the early 1980s.   See the St Mary's Peak post for the story of another run on an earlier vacation.  Below is an edited version of the story submitted to the Kew-Camberwell newsletter about the run.


The Ridgetops Tour trail
For those who haven't had the pleasure of travelling the Ridgetops Tour, a comparison of it with the Luna Park Scenic Railway is justified.  Pratty and I decided to run the length of the track and then to push on for another four or five miles along a disused, impassable trail to Paralana Hot Springs where we were to be met by our wives who were going to drive there via another route. We estimated the total distance to be about 20 miles (32km) and set off early to avoid the heat of the day after trying to memorise the wall map we had seen.  The track wasn't open to the public and the only access was via commercial tours, so there were no maps available and we were not sure we were even allowed to go there.

It is true that I wasn't at peak fitness for this little exploit, but I feel that I should point out that the reason I started to fall behind on the precipitous hills at an early stage in the run had more to do with the large hole which opened in the sole of my left shoe and continually filled with sand and gravel than Pratty's scintillating pace.

The northern turn-around point for the Ridgetops Tour
(we continued down the track at the bottom of the photo)
After ninety minutes, we were caught by that day's organised Land Rover tour.  The tourists expressed some amazement at our stupidity, but nevertheless, gave us some liquids, which were rather scarce (actually non-existent) in this part of the world.  Amongst the tourists, there were, almost inevitably, people who Pratty knew (he always meets people he knows in the strangest places).  The fact that they were schoolgirls was never explained to my satisfaction.

After two and a half hours, we reached the turnaround point for the tour at about the same time as the Land Rover (which had made some detours) and, after another beggared drink (it was now quite hot and the tourists were beginning to regret the drinks they had given us earlier), and next-to-useless guidance from the tour driver as to the direction we were to take to get to Paralana Hot Springs, we set off in the general direction of Cape York down a boulder-strewn trail.

I don't remember a lot about this last five miles, apart from heat, glare, thirst and circling birds of carrion as we pushed slowly on along dry river beds and across rocky clearings.  I do recall that Pratty was no longer pushing the pace.

To everybody's considerable surprise (including my own), we arrived at the Springs more or less on schedule and without getting lost.  Training was light for the next few days.