First time backpacking


16/17 July 2016: My first camping and hiking experience out bush with the Canberra Bushwalking Club (CBC).
Location: Nursery Hill – Rendezvous Creek
Distance: 24 km and 700 m climb.
Day 1: Nursery Swamp, Nursery Hill, Rendezvous Creek
Day 2: Early side trip to knoll to west – Nursery Swamp – car park
Backpack weight: Roughly 12kg
Borrowed: Gators and a 4-season sleeping bag from CBC.

I joined a group of four for the weekend. We hiked across beautiful landscapes starting from the Nursery Swamp into the snowy shaded hills of Namadgi. We saw some wallabies, kangaroos, tracks of lyrebirds in the snow and holes where wombats lived.

We walked on boardwalks over creeks, on well-treaded paths but for the majority of the hike we were bushwhacking through the mountains off the beaten track. Which made for an interesting hike. It was either a very heavy scrub area where you needed to have you gloves and gaiters on to take on the abuse of recoiling branches and thorny shrubs or you were treading carefully through snow-covered bushland holding on the tree branches to avoid tripping over another log barely visible under the snow. My shins had bruises from tripping; my face and arms had scratches from branch that recoiled after someone has let go of holding them and being smacked in the face. This happened repeatedly you just dealt with the pain and continued.

I loved the challenge of mountain hiking and found that it got easier to hike up the mountain the longer you were doing it. The first 20 minutes to an hour is torture on your calves hiking uphill with 12kgs on your back on rough land but your body adjusts and everything is ok!

At lunch, we did a side trek up Nursery Hill around large granite rocks and climbed up some boulders to reach the summit. We enjoyed the view of Mount Namadgi and few other peaks whilst eating our lunch in the warmth of sun.
Side note: we were able to get a bar or two of receptions so I was able send Elle proof of life photos.

The last 1.5km to our camp, we had to walk through two icy cold creeks soaking my shoes and socks. This would have been fine until I realised I left my spare socks are home and had to rely on my bed socks which got damp from walking through dewy grass later that night. Always have sock redundancies!

That night it went into the negative degrees, I had frozen condensation in my tent and turns out the bottoms of my sleeping bag was also wet which meant that I was very cold, and had awful night’s sleep. It was a nightmare. Bring an emergency space blanket with you!

Because I had such a bad sleep and I was still suffering from the cold I was not able go on the side hike on day 2.  I was experiencing nausea, mild dehydration and concerns of hypothermia. So I was taken back to my tent and given an additional sleeping bag on top of the existing so that I retained heat and get a bit of sleep before the team returned from their side trip.

After sleeping for about 2-3 hours, I was no longer nauseas and was fine to hike the 2 hours out of the valley. I was able to take photos of some colourful fungus and enjoy the ever-changing landscape.

Although my experience during the night was bad, I would still go on this trip again I loved the challenge. The fault was my own for not ensuring that I had spare socks, additional warm fleece clothes and an emergency blanket. I was in the mindset packing as lightweight as possible. There was definitely a line to packing light and packing for safety, which is an experience I have learned from.