The Larapinta Trail is a committing hike if you do all of it; around 2 weeks of hiking for most. That’s a longer time on a trail than most even quite experienced hikers will spend on a single hiking expedition. And, yet it is perfectly achievable for most reasonably fit hikers even with little experience. Does that mean it’s easy? No way, it’s a hike that most will find challenging, and that’s a big part of what makes it so rewarding.
Here at Lone Dingo we see a lot of hikers pre-trip and post trip, and a few who broke down along the way and retreated to town for a recovery period, or to bail on the idea all together. Here is some observations and ideas we’ve gleaned on how to maximise your opportunity for a successful and fun hike.
Set yourself up for success by not biting off more than you can chew. Allow plenty of time to get between your intended camps, if you get ahead of the game, great, you can then enjoy some down time at a beautiful spot, or take a small side trip to a place of interest. Remember the Larapinta Trail is rocky and hilly so walking times may be longer than you would normally allow.
Allow your body time to ‘bed in’
It’s tempting to put in a big first day to get that feeling of making good progress early, after all you are fresh and enthusiastic, why not tap into that to get in a big first day? Because it can make day two and three a misery, that’s why. Keep a lid on it the first few days, allow your body time to adjust to carrying the load and climbing the hills. Day two will be so much more pleasant, as will day three. Once you’re well into it and have a better feel for how your body is handling it you can increase the tempo then if you feel the need.
Take and use the map package
Don’t skimp on the maps, just take them. The track is well marked but by inspecting the map of what lies ahead each day you are less likely to miss the turn off out of the creek, or veer off on the animal track which seemed far more obvious and well used than the trail itself. You will know what to expect in terms of the terrain, and you will gain some knowledge about the ecology and geology of the country through which you pass as well. Not only that, but in the event of any misadventure you will be aware of vehicle tracks in your area and exit opportunities.
Look after your health
See our separate post on hygiene. In short, the dry desert environment and flies can present special challenges, don’t be slack with hand and toilet hygiene. While on the subject of dysentery, treat the water from the tanks with purification tablets, UV purification, or filter it; frogs and other animals inhabit or can get caught in the tanks, or they die and the carcass sits on the roof catchment for the tank, best to be safe.
Keep a close ‘eye’ on your feet and footwear. Adjust lacing to stop movement and if you feel a hotspot deal with it right away. Take some thongs so you can let your feet out for a breather at the end of the day without having to go barefoot.
Make sure you hydrate and protect yourself from the sun; the cool winter temperatures can lull you into a false sense of security.
Finally, walk carefully and rest when fatigued. A fall with a heavy pack can be disastrous, be attentive to your fatigue level and tread carefully.
Use the food drops
Carrying the extra food and fuel required to be able to skip a food drop sounds easy enough at home, but every gram you can avoid carrying just makes the walking that much more pleasant and less fatiguing.
The food drop also allows you to put in some treats that you may not otherwise carry in your pack.
Embrace the challenge
Some days will be tough. Sometimes you will wonder why the trail builders took you to the most rugged part of the landscape and made you ascend to the top, and down again. Sometimes your body may hurt. You might get chafing on the hips from your pack or foot soreness. You might get hot and bothered at times. It’s all part of the challenge. Taking on and meeting a challenge is rewarding and educational – embrace the challenge.
The Larapinta Trail will be an experience you will never forget. Something about the remote desert ranges and the expansive vistas makes walking here different to anywhere else in the world. The Larapinta Trail makes wild and remote places accessible to anyone who can carry a pack.