Staying at Wilpena Pound Resort today, the Peace Run team found ourselves with a day off. How lovely!! After running through the desert all of last week quite a few of the team have been agreeing with each other in saying that it feels more like a month we've been on the road than just a week. Could it be that time has been expanding just like the vast desert horizon expands into the far far distance? Probably not, we're all just a little spaced out, perhaps?!
After a leisurely start and a civilised breakfast, we decide to climb St Mary's peak, Ngarri Landhani, which at 1171 metres is the highest point in the Flinders Ranges.
Wilpena Pound – this name we were all curious about (and for anyone else who is also curious), is actually an Aboriginal word meaning “Place of bent fingers”. This might either be a reference to the mountains resembling the shape of a gently cupped hand, or the freezing cold of the ranges in winter.
We took off nice and early and took the ‘long route’ up to the peak. This went right through the Pound and was a beautiful rambling gentle walk for the first 8 km through creeks and around and through some of Australia’s native trees.
These ranges, being so much more vegetated than the desert, are inhabited by many creatures that we had not yet seen, such as an echidna ...
... which, along with the platypus are known as monotremes and are the only two mammals in the world that lay eggs. Wow!
When feeling threatened, they curl up into a ball with only their protective spikes visible – a most effective defense.
We also spotted kookaburras at their nest, ...
... some gorgeous small green parrots, ...
... a few differerent types of lizards, ...
... kangaroos of course ...
... and thankfully no snakes!!
The birds were out in force today flying over the track ...
... or just sitting on the side scrimmaging for food.
Each time we heard a new sound we tried to find the cute bird that would be hiding in the tree singing to us.
Our favourite was the Kookaburra ...
... what a character!
The wildflowers here in their array are exquisite.
... and amongst the flowers, beauty sports in many forms and beings ...
Not all are natives: some, like us, are visitors to these parts.
We have grown so fond of emus over the last few days!
They showed us the way along the path.
The young ones are the cutest things alive.
As we climbed higher, there they were below.
It's quite a climb to the top with spectacular panoramic views of Wilpena Pound and the whole of the Flinders Ranges.
This area is formed by two mountain ranges which have completely encircled the valley below, with just two narrow gaps through which it is possible to walk without too much serious exertion!
Having ascended so high straight up into the sky we could of course see way out into the wide open desert which we seemingly spent so long running through (!)
We had become so adapted to running along dry flat, infinite expanses of land for so many days that it just seemed incredible to us that this place could even exist. You could just imagine the first people stumbling upon this so many years ago: they would have not believed their eyes, it is an impossible sight amongst the dry red earth surrounding it for thousands of miles upon miles!
After lunch on the peak with the friendly lizards we made out descent down the steepest part of the track. This route was faster and more direct and we soon broke into a run. Having walked about 15 km it was good to stretch our legs out and do what we know so well these days: run.
As we descended, the curious kangaroos were all around.
Our restful campsite after a most welcome and, we reckon, well-earned day off. We made it back to camp early afternoon and jumped into the resort pool to cool off. Our legs talking to us a little as we used different muscles from the last week.
We have made a friend here – or twenty if we tried. But our friendly Magpie who has been hanging our in our kitchen area for the last day at long last has befriended us and we gave in and gave him some food. However for him to get it he had to take it from Hastakamala's hand.
The rest of the day we spent relaxing and getting ourselves ready for the next day of running. We will be visiting a lot more schools over the next few days and gave ourselves some time to get organised and ready to meet all these wonderful school children that are awaiting our arrival.