JLF Trek 2021 Day 1 – Marrabel to Kapunda 42km on the Heysen Trail South Australia

The JLF Trek is an 80 km fundraising endurance event held over 2 days and designed to challenge you physically and mentally.  The JLF Trek this year was held in the iconic Barossa Valley hiking on the Heysen Trail trekking through Kapunda, Pewsey Valley and Mount Crawford.

JLK Trek Bus
Team on the pre dawn bus to the start of the JLK Trek

This was a team effort with me accepting the challenge, joining the Rotary Rotators team for the trek and raising funds for a great cause. Trish joining the JLF Trek volunteer team to help out at the lunch stops. All up we had a team of Nine. Five walking and four volunteers.

I usually walk solo so heading out from Marrabel at dawn with 100 other people was something different. To do 42 km in the time required that we set out at a quick pace this was fine until the climb up the Belvidere Range where I struggled to keep up with the front runners at the top we took a right turn over a fence and down to Marschalls Hut.

I am faster than most on the downhill so time to catch up. It was approaching the hut I stopped realising we should not be going down hill but along the range. Seems I was just another sheep following the herd. A voice from the front shouted ‘is this the right way?’ “No” was my quick response.

Marshalls Hut
Marshalls Hut

Marschalls Hut was originally built in the mid 1850s, and the current hut is built with stones from the 5-room homestead ruins. Christian and Elise Marschall and their eight childen arrived in South Australia in October of 1854 having left their home in Babow in present day Germany. Christian’s grave is in the adjacent cemetery. Marschalls Hut  is maintained by Friends of the Heysen Trail volunteers and reserved for Heysen Mawson Trail walkers. It is located on private property and not accessible to vehicles or caravans.

Time to go cross country taking the hill at an angle went purposely back up to the top of the Belvidere Range time to take in a glance over the picturesque farmlands of Gilbert Valley before going into the clouds. On to the Peters Hill lookout with just cloud and rain visible today,

My only wet weather gear today was a sea to summit poncho tarp. Only the second time I have used it kept me and my backpack dry all day. When its not raining you can just lift it up and tuck it in under the backpack. looks odd but putting wet weather gear on and off in seconds without stopping is a great advantage.

The 35.32 kilometre leg from Marschalls Hut to Kapunda is farm-filled countryside the distance between these two designated accommodation spots is the longest of the Heysen Trail. It was great to have Trish meet me at the lunch stop with sandwiches and drinks. The rain eased to just a shower now and again and the remainder of the trek was quite pleasant albeit everything was hurting after about 30km.

After 42 kilometres in 8 Hours 14 Minutes we arrived as a team at the finish line at the Kapunda Harness Racing Club well within the top 20. Three of us are in our mid 60’s so not a bad effort. Ambulances were on standby but not needed!

The Friends of the Heysen Trail voluntarily maintain this 1200 kilometre walking trail through South Australia and mark it with distinctive red arrow markers to help hikers stay on the track.

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