A Few of My Favourite Things

It is that time of the year, coming into the silly season, when we may be trying to be a little organised and purchasing our Christmas presents in advance.  I thought I would try and help a few people out with some of my favourite things that I am loving at the moment.  Please note that this post is not sponsored in any way (I wish!) I just really like these items.  Sharing is caring right??
  1.  Contigo Water Bottle

I have been on the lookout for a great water bottle for ages now and have really struggled to find something that suits me.  I have tried metal bottles where the paint starts to flake, bottles with pop tops that start to crack and leak, screw tops that take forever to unscrew (well it feels that way when your rest period is up and you haven’t even managed to unscrew the lid because your hands are shaking and your brain isn’t working due to lack of oxygen…no? Just me?), bottles with straws and fiddly bits that you have to clean, and bottles that won’t give up the water no matter how hard you suck!   Yes, I have been a little frustrated with the search and may be a little picky.  I was having a bit of a moan and a groan about it and was venting that the last good water bottle I had was the Contigo water bottles my mother had bought me that lasted for years and years (thinking back I had this bottle for about 8 years!) until I dropped the bottle one too many times.  Why I didn’t think of this sooner I don’t know, I will blame a busy life and just grabbing bottles to try because they were in front of me when I thought of it.  Anyway, I am sorry I strayed Contigo but I am back to stay.

Contigo Cortland Autoseal Water Bottle Purple 720ml

I found that Everten Kitchenware Online store had a great range and great prices for the Contigo Water bottles.  They were quick with delivery too.  Just be warned you may end up buying more than the water bottles….so much good stuff on their website.

2.  Running Bare

For an active woman you can’t go too wrong with a cute sports top.  For the most part I have been really happy with the fit of these sports tops and I love the cute designs.  As a Mum of four boys I love splurging on really cute, girly designs.  I also love shopping the sales and they usually have a great sales page!

3.  Chobani Yoghurt – The big pot

Strictly speaking this is not a great Christmas present, I can’t imagine my kids would be too excited to receive this in their christmas stocking, but this post is all about my favourite things of the moment.  This is definitely one of my favourite breakfast or post workout snacks, eaten with a great muesli and fresh fruit…..delicious.  I have only just noticed the big pots and love the coconut and vanilla flavours.  Yum!!

4.  Capriosca Swimwear

My love of chocolate and food, plus having twins didn’t help the matter either, leads to the ongoing search for swimmers that can hide a multitude of sins.  At the end of the day, I don’t want to be sitting on the sidelines while everyone else is having fun in the water whether that be at the beach, pool, river, gorge, or water adventure park.  Being comfortable joining in these activities is made so much easier when you are comfortable in your swimmers.  Capriosca Swimwear is made to fit women of all sizes, from size 10-26.  They have a variety of styles and colours and I love that they have pictures of their swimwear on women of all sizes.  The price ranges from $99-$189.    I first noticed this brand on Sequins and Sand website and I bought a navy one piece bandeaux style swimmer like in the top picture (on sale now for $55).  I have to admit that I am eyeing off the other two styles as well!  If you flicker between sizes I would choose the smaller size as I found they are generous in their sizing.

[Capriosca Swimwear Metallic Navy Bandeau One Piece]

[Capriosca Swimwear Black and White Underwire Onepiece]

[Curvy Swimwear Bandeau Onepiece in Watercolour]

5.  The Active Christmas Gift

Christmas can be a tricky time trying to work out suitable gifts for the family without breaking the bank and trying to avoid giving presents that inevitably end of broken within a month (or is that just my family of boys?).  The other difficulty most families face if you have to travel, is transporting the gifts back home!  For my family,  we generally spend one year with my family in Queensland and the alternating year with my husband’s family in Wollongong. I now make the request from the family we are not visiting to purchase us an Active Gift, or a gift that involves us getting out and doing something as a family.  For example one year we visited Taronga Zoo, or another time we were shouted lunch while we visited the National Parks of the area.  A family pass to Bounce Inc (or whatever branch of the Trampolining Playgrounds you may visit) is another great gift idea.

Getting my game on - Dodgeball against 4yr olds.

Getting my game on – Dodgeball against 4yr olds.

This year we have been booked into Trees Adventure which I am very excited about.  I will let you know how we go!!  I don’t know about you but I love getting these gifts that we can experience as a family and have the memories of it that will last forever.

 

What are your favourite things of the moment??

 

The Overland Track Tasmania (Guest Post) – Part 1

So many adventures in this big, wide, world and just never enough time to do them all.  Sometimes a girl just needs to outsource some adventures, so when I heard a couple of my oldest friends were planning for a Christmas/New Year’s adventure in Tasmania I gleefully waited for all the details and photos from their hike and decided that I just had to share it on the blog.  This would have to be one of the great walks in Australia and after reading this adventure I have to admit that I am just itching to do it myself.  I will let my friend Katie tell the story in her words, it is a great read…..

Our ADVENTURE  – The Overland Track, Tasmania

So I can’t remember how it actually went down … but let’s say it was something like this…

Ange/Katie – Lets do something for Christmas holidays.

Ange – I have always wanted to the Overland Track in Tassie

Katie – I have never done an overnight hike before … I’d been keen!

Ange/Katie – Ok – let’s lock it in. Maybe we should do some research.

Yup – that’s right … COMMIT before you do your research!!

So the flights and the track was all locked in mid 2014 (pretty proud of how organised we were), with details to be finalised later when we had done some of our research on what else we would do whilst down in Tassie. But for now it was all about what gear I would need for the trek and the all important “training”!!! So working around Ange and my life schedules we booked in 3 weekends to head out and about to get some kilometres behind us and to get some practice in with some loaded up backpacks (which we assumed would be our biggest issue).

So…. even after all that planning … we successfully achieved a whole “1” of our scheduled training weekends! Yup … nothing like some solid training … he he! Look … we did fit a couple of day hikes in as well, but I tell you what….  in hindsight it would have been really beneficial to do a few more hikes WITH that bag!!   (All those good intentions)

So … the “1” hike we did fit in was really great as I got to check out the nifty gadgets and gear that Ange has accumulated from her tramping days in New Zealand – which really helped me work out what I would still need to buy. I also got to test out my ability to put up my new fang dangled hiking tent and how well I would sleep on my little (1 inch thick) red hiking mat! Let’s be honest … my expectations weren’t high for this one … but it did the trick!! Thou we did both purchase an inflatable pillow, after that little overnight crink in the neck, we weren’t prepared to do 5 nights without this little luxury!  All in all it was a fabulous little weekend – we did manage to 5km on the Saturday afternoon and 16km on the Sunday (up a hill that just kept going and going)! We were both pretty exhausted but we did realise that we were both pretty prepared mentally and physically to get through the hike.  Our only issue was having some bruised hips from where our bags sat…. we kind of accepted that this will probably be an ongoing problem and that we would have to deal with on the track (and we did have to).

Looking back now … I really enjoyed the researching and the preparation (or lack of if you think of the practice hikes) buying the gear, sorting out logistics, accommodation, food and then the planning of the remainder of our holiday! It really is all about the WHOLE journey!!

At last our adventure begins on the ….

Overland Track

Day 01 – Cradle Mountain to Waterfall Valley

I couldn’t believe the day had arrived and we were sitting on the bus heading from Launceston to Cradle Mountain and the start of the Overland Track – wooohoooo!! Let’s just say … we were both a tinnie einnie bit excited!

It was a little bit of an overcast day, but when we were signing in (you have to sign in at the start, each night at the huts and sign-out at the end as a safety measure – very important J ) the lady who was serving us, said that there had been showers all morning but they continued to pass.  Ok – good last minute helpful tip – right?

So finally, we were down at the start of the track, signed in, wet weather gear on and bag on our backs!! (Damn …what did I pack that made this bag weigh so much????)  Too late to re-think this?? Ah well …  woohoooo …. we are ready to go!! Let’s just have another WOOHOOO!!!

Overland 1

So we had been warned that Day 01 of the hike is the hardest … a lot of ‘up’ …. so it was nice to start the track on a timber board walk to warm up the body! With a little spring in our step … we head off on our adventure!  We had being going for about an hour, past some beautiful landscapes, waterfalls, a little bit of “up”, past a lake, a little bit more “up” till we got to a viewing platform of Dove Lake – which we were lucky to see!! As we were standing there enjoying the view and having a little snack…. the rain started to come down, so the only thing to do was to keep going and yup the next bit was … amazingly… heading on up!!

So this next bit was the big incline up the mountain edge … it is mostly natural steps and yup it is that steep that they have a chain to assist! So if that doesn’t sound challenging enough…. you know that rain that I was telling you about … well it was now really coming down and the wind had started to blow. So we are now scaling the side of the mountain, there is water cascading (I kid you not) down the rocks we are climbing and the wind is howling around us. Oh yeah…. did you remember we have 20+ kg on our back … don’t worry I was not forgetting!!! J  It made the mountain feel endless!! Dam how high is this mountain and when is the rain going to stop!!! It was somewhere around this point that I started to have a little battle in my head…. it went a little like this … WHAT THE &^$* have I done!!! This was punishing … if the vertical climb of the mountain wasn’t bad enough and the body starting to feeling  fatigued with all the leg muscles working overtime … I was really questioning what I had got myself into – I didn’t sign up for this… right? Then the old “what if” jumped in to that crazy head of mine…. what if there is another mountain (really soon), what if this weather sets in for the next 5 days, what if I don’t make it to the end …. so – if I am going to turn around – now is definitely the time to do it, when I get home I’m going to become a couch potato and live through the adventures shown on TV!! Then it did a flip…. OK…. “suck it up cupcake”…. it’s a bit tough right now but  you can totally do this, this is what you live for, this is an amazing adventure and you are on it, you love to achieve things big and small AND  you have Ange right there next to you and together we can survive ABSOLUTELY anything!!

So what did we do…. we got to the top of that damn mountain and just kept walking!  Yep so things are sounding better but let’s get back to this rain … yup it is still pouring down and … now…. my dam sock is WET … crap… how do I keep that dry? WTF…. is that going to rub? Am I going to get Blisters? Oh man … Wrinkled feet?

Seriously, my head is my own worst enemy!

Well, that darn wind was still blowing a gale … so much that it actually blew me off the track a couple of times. The strategy was that when the wind blows you lean into it but when it stops suddenly you over balance, and vice versa when you are not ready for it…. bam … see you later. We were engulfed in clouds – they were whizzing past us, up and over the landscape but we couldn’t see more than 10 metres or so in front of us! It was like we kept walking into an endless landscape of cloud! Ange and I could not even talk to each other without stopping as the wind was howling and just took the words away with it.

Finally, we came across the “half way” emergency hut  …  can you believe we are only half way…. on the first day?  Yup … me neither!! We were pretty lucky that a big group had just left the hut when we got there so we had it all to ourselves (we may not have fit otherwise)! It was just so nice to get out of the rain, and the wind, and to drop those packs off our backs!! I knew I needed to have a bite to eat but the hands were so cold that they just did not want to work properly (who knew zippers were going to be so hard) as well as feeling lethargic enough not to want to eat!!  But this body definitely needed an energy boost!!

Both of us were so wet that we got cold really quickly in the hut so we decided that it was best to get back out there in those extreme elements and make it to the Waterfall Valley Hut as soon as possible!!   So off we tramp … the walk goes on for another couple of hours under the same circumstances – rain, wind and a 10m visual in the clouds!  Not being able to see far in front of you also made the trek feel endless, you could not even use a land mark to mark how far you were travelling! So it really just felt like it went on and on and on … We caught a small glimpse of Cradle Mountain in between the clouds but were very unfortunate not to see it in its glory or the supposed spectacular landscape of that first day!!

Finally we came across a sign that said “Waterfall Valley Hut – 30 minutes”!! Yups – we both got pretty excited about that sign!! It was here that my backpacks rain cover came off again and Ange came over to fix it up for me, when she says…. “where is your red bag?”  KT – “what do you mean where is my red bag”, Ange – “it’s not on your bag anymore”, KT – “are you serious … WTF!!!”  And you thought we were going through enough already …  so….  my red bag is my sleeping mat (you know the 1 inch thick one that was my nightly saviour)…. well it is no longer attached to my bag!! I didn’t hear anything drop from my bag because of the rain on my jacket hoodie and the howling wind!  I looked backed along the track … and new that I did not have strength to head back to look for it … it could have been any time in the last 1 and half … so decided to just head on! Oh crap…. here comes my head again … oh  man … I now have 5 nights sleeping on the hard floor/ground, oh man … if I wasn’t going to be tired and grumpy before – I definitely am going to be now!!  Then the little glimmer of hope …  I could see if I can double back in the morning with hopefully better weather and without my big bag.

Ah well … will leave that decision till tomorrow … so what did we do … just kept on walking!! We totally think that they had the timing wrong on that sign as it felt like sooooo much longer than 30 minutes and that last bit was heading down hill … which you would think was a good thing but the body was in hurting mode and nothing was enjoyable at this stage! We both just wanted to get there!!

Waterfall Valley Hut

Finally, finally, finally we arrived at the hut – wet, bedraggled, exhausted, freezing (all our inners were soaked through) but oh so relieved!! We were lucky that there were a couple of spaces available in the hut as we were not in any state to go and put our tent up in that weather!  So after a change of clothes and an attempt to hang our gear up (the hut looked like a laundry) I went to find the hut warden to have a chat about my mat, when I saw another group arriving down the hill!! I waited as they got down the hut and asked the man if he had seen a red bag on the track – expecting to at least get a rough idea of how long it would take me in the morning.  His response was “You mean this bag that I picked up this afternoon!!” We need another WOOOHOOO here … Can you believe it … yup…. he had kindly picked up my mat and tied it onto his bag!! Oh my goodness…. I just wanted to give him the biggest thank-you hug ever!! Oh my … I was just so relieved and happy that I was no longer sleeping on the ground!! So with my matt now back in my possession and a delicious gourmet hiking dinner in our bellies … my adventurous spirit was on the way up again!!  I didn’t have much to compare our first day of our adventure with, but Ange did say that in all the hikes she has ever been on, this was by far the worst weather day she has ever experienced! Thank goodness – we are alive!!

PS – Really didn’t take many photos this today! There was just too much rain to take it out!

Hike Gone Wrong – Part 2

I left Part 1 of the story at the top of the mountain, two and a half hours into a hike that I expected to be finished in 3 hours, 4 at the latest.  It had taken us longer than expected (and seemed further than estimated distances) to get this far but my friend and I still thought we were walking the track we had planned which meant that we should have an easier, flat walk back along a fire trail.  At this point we could have retraced our steps and not have had any dramas.  But I have this thing about going back over the same ground….I hate it and try not to do it where possible.  Also I wanted to make it to Monadnocks Campsite, which was the goal of the hike.  So we pushed on….

Bibb track7 Bibb track6Bibb track5

Going downhill….literally and figuratively.

Did see lots of these little guys on the rockface.  The Ornate Crevice Dragon apparenly.

Did see lots of these little guys on the rockface. The Ornate Crevice Dragon apparently.

The beginning of the end...

The beginning of the end…once we had come down the mountain we came to this access road.  The trail markers indicated we should go right and further south to stay on the Bibbulmun trail.  We knew we needed to head North and that there was an old loggers track to take us back to the starting point.  I had been guzzling water til this point as I hate getting dehydrated, but I was starting to worry whether the water would last.  It had taken us 3 and half hours to get to this point.  We decided to follow the access road and knew that we would need to take a left hand turn not too far along which should link back up with the Bibbulmun Track again.

Not the Bibbulmun Track...

Not the right track and no trails to the left as yet…realization has dawned and with it the question…Where the bloody hell were we??

You sick of the photos of this road yet?  Yeah well so were we...it was endless....and those hills up ahead were heart breakers.  Not only were they steep, we thought that over the rise would lie our salvation....Nope, nothing but empty water bags and a slight sense of panic.

You sick of the photos of this road yet? Yeah well so were we…it was endless….and those hills up ahead were heart breakers. Not only were they steep, we thought that over the rise would lie our salvation….Nope, nothing but empty water bags and a slight sense of panic.

Told you the photos ended when we stopped having fun.  The good news was that under the telegraph poles we had signal so we pulled up google maps and worked out we were on Mt Cooke which was a completely different area than we thought.  We were quite a distance from our car which had sports drinks and spare water, we had been hiking for about four and a half hours, we had no water left, and while we knew the general direction we needed to take we didn’t know if we would find a trail/fire road to take us in the right direction or exactly how far it would be.  We thought it might take us 1-2 hours to make it back to the car in a Westerly direction.  (Hey, I forgot to mention that we saw an emu along the way!)

emu

Image Credit

I won’t lie it was quite stressful.  We had eaten and had a spare nut bar each so that was not a big concern.  We knew that we weren’t that far from the highway and we were currently on an access road so we could be found quite comfortably especially as we could even give a pole number to pinpoint exactly where we were.    So why didn’t we call Parks and Wildlife or emergency services?  Calling emergency services is not to be taken lightly.  We didn’t feel that we were in life threatening danger, had only just run out of water and were otherwise feeling OK.  Besides, we would NEVER live it down if we had to be picked up by a Park Ranger or god forbid make the news!  Two women lost while hiking….arrgghhh.  Really didn’t want to go down that path.  The downside was that it was now the middle of the day and really starting to heat up.  How long could we go before heat stroke or heat exhaustion became an issue?

A plan was made and we decided to head down a fire road that would take us in a westerly direction.  We would give it an hour and reassess at that point.  Off we went and slow and steady was the name of the game.  The trouble was that another hour went by and we thought we were still heading in the right direction but now we had no signal to check our position.  Decision time again.  Do we keep going and trust that we were heading in the right direction?  Or do we admit defeat and go back to the access road and call it in?  We couldn’t even call anyone now, emergency calls only.  The decision?  Trust our gut instinct and forge ahead.  Thirty minutes and reassess.  My lips were cracked, my mouth so dry.  All I could think about was the Staminade waiting for me in the car.  My poor friend was starting to feel the effects of over five and a half hours of hiking, her hip was twinging and the calves starting to cramp.  I was grateful for all my Adventurethon training that’s for sure, as my body did not let me down.

A further thirty minutes passed and still no signal.  We had been without water for over ninety minutes.  Snooze was starting to feel a little fatigued and we still didn’t know how far we had to go.  We decided to call emergency services (only call we could make with no signal) to at least advise of our situation.  BUT it didn’t work!!  No ring tone no nothing….seriously how is that supposed to work?  Time to keep walking.  We had got to our lowest point and then a little bit of hope.  We hit an actual dirt road with a sign….Millers Log Road.  This was very exciting, yay!!  Just keep walking, just keep walking….then not much further along we got signal!!  While I rang the hubby (several missed calls from him) and explained our situation and what road we were on, Snooze managed to clarify that we were 4.3km from the Albany highway.  Insert groan.  On the plus side we were no longer lost!  However, it would take us about 45 minutes to walk that distance and we didn’t know how far to the car once we made it to the highway.  My hubby decided that he would drive and meet us to make sure we got back to the car safely.  As we were walking along this road we saw a small bridge and wondered about water(really quite thirsty at this point, just saying), so we stopped to see if it was drinkable.  Suddenly there was a rustle of leaves and shrubs and something ran out and away from us.

wild-pig Image Credit

It was a frigging small wild pig!!  I kid you not and the only thing worse than a little wild pig is a big one.  GET ME OUT OF HERE!!

Turns out we came out only a couple of hundred metres from the car and as hubby took a wrong turn we told him to turn around and go home.  I am glad I was lost with Snooze, what a trooper.  No freaking out, no stressing, just cool under pressure and tough to the end.  So after seven and a half hours hiking (worked out later that it was about 30km), three hours without water, we made it to the car and the Staminade……ahhhh.  We stopped at the closest service station and bought more gatorade and an ice cold coke.  Washed a couple of panadol down with these drinks, got home and had a nice cold shower, put the feet up and we all lived happily ever after and ready to hike another day.  Don’t let this trip deter you, just learn from my mistakes, plan well, and go explore.

Tell me what would you have done in this situation??