Woke up to light rain and overlooking Wilpena Pound. Hyped to jump on the bike and keep going, I failed to notice a herd of 30 odd cows and bulls approaching my tent site. Regretfully, I didn’t have a camera on me and could do nothing but sit still and let them sniff around and satisfy their curiosity. After 20min or so, all the cows and bulls left leaving me to pack up all my stuff and get going. Once on the bike, I was fairly optimistic about today, thinking I had bypassed all the red clay sections and today would be nice, fast paced trails. I couldn’t be more wrong. I was deep in red clay country and there was nothing I could do but to persevere and try to cycle/walk out of there as fast as possible. The 10kms from my campsite to the main road took me almost 4 hours to complete, also chipping away on water, food and mojo levels. Once out of the trail, I realised the magnitude of the error the night before and now running 3 hours behind schedule, I had some serious ground to cover to Wilpena Pound. After a fast 15km on road, the GPS route sent me to a corrugation road, rightfully named “Corrugation Hell Road” on Strava. With light rain, warm temperatures, low on food and water, these 30kms were a tough pill to swallow. Along the way, I had to signal 2 cars for water, just to get me to the main road and on route to Wilpena Pound. With the main road in sight, I hit a rock on a river bed and got my second flat tyre (another pinch flat) since starting in Adelaide. Dragged the bike to the main road, spirit broken, hungry, thirsty and tired. This was the closest I ever was to throw in the towel and ask for a ride to Wilpena Pound. Bit the bullet, replaced the rear tube and jumped back on the bike, after dozens of cars stopping or slowing down to offer help, water and food. The last 30kms to Wilpena Pound felt like an eternity, with rain and headwind always present. This was a day that truly tested my willingness to complete the Mawson Trail and being so close to the finish line undoubtedly helped me pushing on and dig deep to reach the campground in Wilpena Pound.
Tomorrow is the last big push to Blinman and the end of the Mawson Trail, with some big distance to cover and big uphills along the way.