Larapinta Day 2

Day 2 – 9th Aug, Wallaby Gap to Bonds Gap

Left at 9:10am for a long walk.

Simone and Yushu saw a rock wallaby at Wallaby Gap.

Breakfast was cold soaked oats, a fresh banana and berocca. Strapping to minimise the blisters, only time will tell if this fails or not.

The landscape to Simpson Gorge was well shaded with beautiful orange and white hues. Surprising amount of colourful plants.

We had 4G reception from Alice Springs until Scorpion Pool. Got a chance to make video calls during the hike to share the views.

Did Scorpion Pool side trail, we found that it was more like a puddle then pool and no scorpions. There must be more to the story here….

Met two guys from the royal lifesaving service carrying 30kgs from Mt Sonder with one food drop. Not sure how long they were hiking for but apparently one of the guys nearly broke down on Brinkley Bluff with 28kg pushing his limit. They were going the distance as well maybe 12-14 days?

Past two other men hiking from Mt Sonder don’t remember much about them.

Arrived at Simpson Gap by lunchtime, checked out the Hotspot reception extenders though they didn’t seem to work.

I highly recommend the side trail to Simpson Gap, beautiful rocky areas surrounding the river bed and waterhole.

Simpson Gap Campsite

  • Shelter with two platforms and 4x Solar USB charging ports in food cupboard
  • Two large rainwater tanks
  • One outdoor toilet

Decided to continue to Bonds Gap as we felt fit and energetic enough to keep move on after checking out the Gap’s waterhole.

Camp Bond Gap, a dry river bed and water source was the gap itself where you had to climb part of it to access to water source properly. Using the Cnoc 2litle squeeze bladder and Hydroblu filter (it took over an hour to fill 9 litres of water!). There was no choice as there was particles and mosquitoes’ eggs in the water. #treatyourwaterproperly

Outcome of today: I am sunburnt on the right cheek and neck due to the angle of the sun.

Cold soaking lunch worked a treat at Simpson’s Gap, so I did the same for dinner and tomorrow’s lunch and breaky.

Trish’s Tyvek – eBay Tyvek from Dalesford, Victoria

Larapinta Day 1

Day 1 – 8th Aug, Alice Springs YHA to Wallaby Gap

Wallaby Gap Campsite

  • Shelter with seats on the edges
  • One large rainwater tank
  • One outdoor toilet
  • Two separate raised platforms

Exposed, hot and high ascents (at the time).

The first ascent exposed the vast lands and ridges in the far distance on our left. We saw the beginnings of this beautiful Trail. The hike was tough as expected for our first day fully loaded with five days of food. Our packs weighed between 16-17kg. A few times we stopped under the limited shade around us hoping for some reprieve from the sun.

Wallaby Gap campsite had two raised metal platforms, Yushu and I dumped our packs on one while the others set theirs down in a more shaded area.

Near to the end of our first day hiking Trish began struggling. She was experiencing heat exhaustion from having her back brace on and limited shade. I assisted Trish to settle in at Wallaby Gap Campsite. After having her lay down in the shade, we encouraged her to drink more water containing hydro lite, a basic first aid practice. We set up her bed next to Simone and gave her space to recover. By this time, she was dry retching and was experiencing dizziness. After seeking shade and taking some of her layers off she was able to settle and later, eat. There was a moment during her experience where she thought she would not continue the hike if she were to continue feeling awful.

We hung out packs on metal makeshift hooks in the gazebo. Had our dinner and other promptly went to bed exhausted from day one’s effort.

I took the opportunity to boil some water with a bit of soap and head round to the toilets to bath myself with a chuck’s cloth, always a good idea for down their cleanliness.

Cowboy camping is awesome watching the stars on raised beds. You could still hear cars, cows, and planes in the distance.

Charlottes Pass to Mt Kosciuszko

In January, my friend Shell and I hiked the Main Range at Kosciuszko National Park. It was my friend’s first attempt at self-sustained hiking-camping and I was there as I had previous experience.

We registered at the Jindabyne Visitors Centre and hired a personal life beacon (PLB).  The rangers at the centre warned us of a cold front closing in that evening. We decided to continue, but with caution and contingency plans in mind.

We parked at Charlotte Pass, and there a ranger approached us.  He (She?) advised us that track to Blue Lake via the Snowy River  became impassable from the previous night’s heavy rainfall. With the ranger’s help we took an alternative route; backtracking towards Wilkinson’s Creek, passing Seaman’s Hut, which we could use if things turned bad.

For three hours we hired before reaching the hut.  Upon entering the hut, we met a group of dishevelled men stoking the fire to dry their clothes.  They had camped their from the night before, beginning their hike at 9pm and were caught in the downpour.  They were not prepared as most wore only running gear with nothing for the rain. The group have been friends for nearly twenty years and catch up annually to hike.  As unprepared as they were, they needed to make their way back, even if their clothes were damp. Shell and I told them of the ranger at the base of the mountain, if they needed the help.

Across the valley, you could see the low-laying clouds roll down the hills and across the track in thick blankets.  Shell said it was like the scenes from Game of Thrones, when the white walkers attack. Laughing, we kept joking about white walkers.

The hike was an easy 8km flat path to Mouth Kosciuszko, stopping frequently to snap photos of the spectacular views the National Park offered.

We were approached by rangers and the police if we had seen a group of young women wearing summer clothing during our walk.  We told them we hadn’t, but would keep an eye for them. It is common on nature reserves where extreme conditions occur and some travellers have not given enough research or preparation.  And when this happens, they need to be rescued.

After summiting the highest peak, Shell and I headed back down to Wilkinson’s Creek to find a place set up camp.  We found a beautiful location that overlooked the river, with large rocks to shelter the tents from the strong winds.  But after some dinner, the weather deteriorated. Shell agreed that we should make for Seaman’s hut. As we packed down our camp, the wind increased (later reported to be seventy kilometres per hour), then rain poured down, then hail, and then snow.  When we were about halfway there, a thick fog smothered us, and we were only able to see two metres in front of us.

At last light, we reached the hut.  We quickly built a fire in the draughty stove and hung everything up to dry.  We tried to sleep, but the wind howled through through the night, rattling windows and doors and screaming through the wood burner chimney.

The next morning, we could see snow on the doors and windows.  Exhausted from the stressful night, and finding the day in a snowstorm, we returned to car, instead of risking completing the circuit.

We we returned to the Visitor’s Centre to return the PLB, we heard that another group of hikers were rescued after their tents failed in the storm.

In the end, it didn’t go as planned, but Shell got some camping experience and I learned a new way to build a fire in draughty conditions. And we got to see some beautiful country with good company.

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New year, New goals

Last year, I learnt a lot about activity moderation and self-care. Where by the end of last year I took on an overwhelming amount of activities, which I filled every second of my free time before, after work and on weekends. My mind and body suffered, and it took me months to recover from just how much strain I put on myself.

This year, the focus will be on activities that are relaxing, flexible and provide positive personal growth and mental health. The list below, highlights outdoor recreation activities and leadership skills I will be working towards. This provides both physical, mental and personal growth.

#1 – Taekwondo on hold

I am a red belt going into brown belt in WTF Taekwondo, but I have lost my motivation distracted by so many other activities I want to do this year. I would not be able to focus on the work required to perfecting forms and techniques. For now, I will be delaying my return.

#2 – Exploration hikes

Since completing the arduous Nattai River, Russells Needle exploration, I have been initiated into more arduous and technical hiking with the club. An exciting personal achievement, and a step towards mountaineering.

*Field Report to be provided for mentioned trip

#3 – Lead an overnight hike

My hiking mentors believe, I’m at a level where I can start leading my own hikes with the club. There are a few skills I need to practice, and courses I want to do that will help my confidence in leading.

My plan is to utilize this website as a lead hiker’s portfolio and field journal of my experiences. Which gives potential attendees of the future hikes a chance of getting to know me and my skillset before engaging in a trip with me.

#4 – Rock climbing and bouldering

I bought shoes, harness and helmet with full intentions in expanding my climbing experience from indoor to outdoor. This works out for both climbing and abseiling canyoning trips that I want to do in future.

The plan is to get to a medium to hard level of climbing/bouldering indoor so that my technique is refined before joining the Canberra Climbing association for outdoor climbing. I will be starting bouldering during January, whilst I wait to get my Belay pass for ANUMC climbing wall for orientation week in February.

#5 – Overnight bike packing and camping

I will need time to save money before I upgrade my current flat bar commuter. I’m looking at Fuji touring 2018 – Specialized Diverge for future road touring. Destination will be Launceston to Hobart 10-day trip for 2019.

#6 – 4 Day Survival Course by the Australian Survival Instructors (ASI)

I will hopefully be attending a comprehensive survival course that incorporates foraging, hunting and primitive shelter building into a four-day course. I love all things relating to outdoor recreation and bush craft is high on the list.

I have attended the Stay Alive – essential skills for survival, a basic hiking survival course by Brian Newton through Australian School of Mountaineering (ASM). He and his brother were the founders of Australian Survival Instructor (ASI).

Learning to survive and thrive in the woods with limited modern tools has been on my wishlist after rereading a childhood series of books called Hatchet by Gary Paulson recently. Over the years, I’ve been watching, reading books and articles by Ray Mears, Paul Kirtley, MCQbushcraft and the Queensland base youtube channel Primitive Technology.

#7 – Larapinta trail June/August 2018

I intend to hike the Larapinta trail this year, potentially with the She Devil crew whom I hiked with for the Overland track.

See Upcoming trips – for Larapinta trip

#8 – Certificate for Outdoor Recreation

I have considered getting certification, this is a future aspiration and I’m just looking at local and online courses right now. This may be something I take on this year or next.

#9 – Remote First Aid

I am currently certified in Basic First aid, I will be getting certified in Remote First aid this year specifically for hiking and Rural firefighting. Safety and Preparedness is my priority when out adventuring.

#10 – Village Firefighting certification RFS

This year, I will be completing my Village Firefighting course for RFS. This is to increase my skillset in the brigade, more experience and knowledge is number one in firefighting and preparedness.

This list will have items crossed off once completed and new items added one through the first half of the year. I love making lists and crossing them off. 😊

Gibraltar Peak

Gibraltar Peak hike, a 17km day hike clockwise from the Tidbinbilla Visitor’s centre including circumnavigation of Mt Eliza, the Congwarra trail, and unintentional 2 bonus hills. The first of many Jay and Shell adventures.

Using the Avenza maps app, which didn’t show some of the walking tracks, and the Visitor’s Centre brochure that didn’t show topography other than rivers, we went east from the Visitor’s Centre to bonus hill 1 (760m above sea level). After getting back on the right track we climbed to the saddle between Mt Eliza and Gibraltar Peak and had morning tea at a really unique picnic table made from local trees.

Climbing up to Gibraltar Peak (1040m) there were lots of granite tors to climb, ranging in size from car to house sized. They were rounded and weathered, and hollow sounding in some places. The peak is a sacred Aboriginal site where men would gather to teach and share cultural lore. The top was rocky, with views of the Tidbinbilla range partially hidden by fog, and a short tunnel between rocks on the very top.

Down, then west to the Dalsetta carpark, through peppermint gums, grasslands, and kangaroos. Thanks to misleading signage we ended up on bonus hill 2, Turkey Hill (760m). Retracing our steps, we took the Congwarra trail along the river. June is the best time to find fungi in the area, and we saw lots of unusual fungi that looked like everything from cauliflower to dried leaves.

Kangaroos bounded ahead along the track, and scattered into the (shallow) river and the bush. We returned to the Visitor’s Centre by going east along the foot of Mt Eliza, where there were even more kangaroos. Overall it was a challenging hike through beautiful country with lots to discover and climb.

Written by Shell from streamgenerator.com

Honeysuckle campground to Booroomba Rocks hike

Honeysuckle campground to Booroomba Rocks hike, 10-11km return. Another Jay and Shell adventure.

Starting from the Honeysuckle campground, we walked along part of the Australian Alps Walking Track to the Booroomba Rocks carpark. This section of the track meandered through damp eucalypt forest with lots of moss and lichen. Lots of the lichen and small plants were frozen and distorted, and there was frost in the shade.

July is a magical time to do this hike. We saw needle ice on the track, which is formed by frozen water pushing up through the dirt. About two-thirds of the way to the Booroomba Rocks carpark was a huge granite slab, dotted with pools of ice. These, and the needle ice, were fun to play with and walk on.

Up until Booroomba Rocks carpark we hadn’t seen anyone else on the track. The climb from the carpark to Booroomba Rocks was very popular, and the top was covered with people. We bush-bashed through scrub and rocks to the iconic rocky top. Eventually we found an unoccupied flat lunch spot with views towards Black Mountain. Here, at the very top of Booroomba Rocks, it was still sunny and warm enough for plants to flower, even though the wind was a bit too cold for us.

The climb down was fun, we really tested the limits of our hiking poles and descended fast. The icy pools at the granite slab were still mostly frozen in the afternoon, though starting to thaw around the edges. Overall a great adventure in a beautiful and frosty playground.

Written by Shell from streamgenerator.com

 

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.