From the Kata Tjuta sunrise viewing area we continued westwards.
What were my plans? After extensive pre-trip research I knew that the Valley of Winds offered a range of walks the longest being a 7 plus km hike. In addition I knew there were lookouts to climb. You can read further details here and here and here. Before leaving Tasmania I planned to walk all the options plus walk into the Walpa Gorge. However, once in central Australia, I changed my mind. I knew the rising temperatures and my perpetually sore feet made any choice to walk in the Valley of Winds unwise. I decided to walk in the Walpa Gorge only.
At the Valley of Winds bus stop, a few people left the bus ready to undertake various walks with the expectation they would be collected early in the afternoon. I was fortunate that my bus driver was an ex APT tour guide still holding his accreditation (he had lost his job after lifting visitors’ heavy luggage and damaging his back). He was a superb source of information. Before the walkers departed for the Valley of Winds tracks, I listened as the driver provided useful background and safety information.
The Valley of the Winds is stony, rugged and isolated. From a variety of sources over the few days while I was in the area, I heard stories of people with bloody fingers from trying to grab almost smooth rocks as they clambered up and over near vertical rocks on the ‘track’. I heard stories of people who did not take any water or sufficient water even in mild weather – and being found at the last minute with severe heat exhaustion, dehydration and in a very fragile state. Some tracks, and those around Uluru are officially closed once the temperature reaches 36 degrees – but I think that is too extreme when the time a person will be out in that environment without shelter; surely it will be too long for the body to cope safely. In the case of the Valley of Winds the time between drop off and collection is around 5 hours yet the advice (drink one litre per hour) and warnings of signs, brochures and the words of bus drivers are often not heeded.
Four of us stayed on the bus ready to be driven to the Walpa Gorge carpark.