Exercise Just for the Fun of it…Really.

I can see you rolling your eyes and scoffing, is exercise ever really just fun??  Absolutely, when the sun is shining, the temperature is perfect, you have a great group of friends gathered and a sense of adventure and anticipation in the air.  This is exactly how it happened a couple of months ago.  It started with a conversation about the legend of the Rock Cairn in Pannawonica.

Legend has it that a local townsperson would walk his dog to this location, making sure to pick up a rock from Pannawonica and transport it to the hill.  Over many years the Cairn of Pannawonica was built.  Every now and again a few townspeople will go for a wander to find the cairn, have a look, and take a rock with them from town.  I loved the story and every time I looked out in that direction, that little mound on top of the hill called out to me to come and visit.  Between a couple of us we locked in a date and then opened the invitation to  anyone who wanted to join us on the journey over unmarked trail, through spinifex and snake territory.  Sounds amazingly fun right??

Exercise doesn’t always have to be to achieve something, or to improve fitness, sometimes it is great to exercise just for the fun of it.  If you haven’t grabbed a group of friends and gone on an outdoors adventure then you need to do it now.  Go on…..

 

Exploring Karijini in 50 photos or less…

If you visit Western Australia, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to visit not only because of the distances you will need to cover but also because there are so many spectacular places to see.  Karijini National Park, was right up at the top of my list of places that I wanted to visit while living in the Pilbara.  Due to my research and all the pictures I had seen of the gorges at Karijini, I had high expectations going into this trip.  I was a little nervous that the colours wouldn’t quite live up to the pictures or that the gorges wouldn’t be as great as I pictured in my mind.  We had also been told that it would be too hot camping and hiking at Karijini in October and that we needed more than a weekend, but sometimes you just have to stop waiting for everything to be perfect and just do things.  Our reasoning was that nights were still bearable for sleeping, down in the gorges would be cooler, the kids would enjoy swimming in the warmer temperatures of October rather than freeze in July, and three days was better than none.  I am so glad we just did it, it was the perfect weekend with fantastic weather.

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Room with a view – this is why camping is so great.

We used the rail access road from Pannawonica heading towards Tom Price and Karijini.  Just remember that you will need a rail access pass if going this way, carry no alcohol, and the corrugations on this section are pretty rough.  We shredded a tyre on the way home, so beware.  As we were coming from the north western side of Karijini National Park we decided to stop in at Hamersley Gorge on the way through.  This was our first stop and it didn’t disappoint.

HAMERSLEY GORGE

We spent about an hour and a half here before hitting the road again to drive a further 40 minutes to Dales Gorge Campground to set up camp for a couple of nights.  Dales Gorge Campground was a lovely place to stay and was an easy walk to beautiful swimming holes.

DALES CAMPGROUND, FORTESCUE FALLS, and FERN POOL

Our second day of exploring was jam packed as we decided to tackle Hancock Gorge.  This is the home of the very adventurous walks to Kermits Pool and to Handrail Pool.  As there has been several fatalities at Karijini National Park there is always a little debate about the safety of kids on various trails.  For us, I was confident in my kids ability to handle most trails, they have hiked many times before, have good fitness levels, and are aware of the risks surrounding them.  I am not sure on all the details surrounding the fatalities in the area but I found that the trails were well marked, and provided you follow the safety guidelines, quite safe.  As I have mentioned before, I believe that it is important for kids to take calculated risks and where better than in nature’s own wonderland.  The kids loved it.  After the hike to Kermit’s Pool we gave the kids the choice about whether we did another adventurous hike on the same day and they all screamed ‘YES’!  And no whinging all weekend….it must be fun right?

HANCOCK GORGE – KERMIT’S POOL WALK

HANCOCK GORGE – HANDRAIL POOL

After leaving the campground at about 8am, it was about 2pm by the time we finished both trails at Hancock Gorge.  We stopped in at Karijini Eco Resort and were very excited to find that they did coffee and ice creams for the kids.  If you are not quite up for camping, this is a lovely location to do a little bit of ‘glamping’ and still get to explore Karijini.

On our final day of the whirlwind tour of Karijini, we decided to squeeze in a hike to Circular Pool which is also near Dales Gorge Campground.  We wanted to let the kids have a swim before the 5 hour trip home and thought it would be a fairly easy climb similar to the trail down to Fortescue Falls just up the road….slight miscalculation.  This hike was nearly the straw that broke the camel’s back.  Everyone was tired after a busy couple of days, and of course packing up always makes for a few frayed tempers, so when this walk was a little further and steeper than anticipated we nearly lost a few converts.  In saying that, it was still a great walk and if we had more time we would have had a quieter day before tackling this trail.

DALES GORGE – CIRCULAR POOL

We did not see enough of Karijini and will have to plan another trip.  It was such a fantastic weekend away, and we returned with many tired but happy campers.  Photos and words cannot capture the beauty and majesty of Karijini National Park, it is one of those places that you simply must see for yourself.

 

Climbing an Active Volcano in Bali

Once a year, my two sisters, Mum and I, try and catch up for a girls weekend away.  We try and scratch out the time and money so we can catch up, reconnect, and often have some much needed down time.  Our first trip was to celebrate my Mum’s 50th birthday and we went to Bangkok, Thailand.

 

Over the years, between having kids, moving, living life, we haven’t always managed an exclusive girls trip each year, but we have had memorable trips to the Gold Coast, Palm Cove, Emu Park, and New Zealand.  This year my mum is turning 60 and my little sister turns 30 so we decided it was time for another overseas trip.  Sale fares cropped up for Bali and we spontaneously decided to book the trip well in advance.  This gave me plenty of time to research what trails, hikes, or special attractions that I would like to attempt while staying in Bali.

As you can probably guess if you have been following my blog, I love a good mountain climb, so not surprisingly Mt Batur Sunrise Trek caught my attention.  Trip Advisor had some great reviews of this hike and as it was a 4 hour return trip it wouldn’t take up too much time.  Let’s be honest those wonderful foot massages, cocktails by the pool, not to mention the shopping were all vying for my attention as well!

I managed to convince my little sister to come with me and our trip started with a 2.30am pick up from our Villa just outside of Ubud.  Yes, 2.30 AM pick up, arrrgghh what was I thinking?  It took about 30 minutes driving to arrive at the meeting point in the Kintamani National Park complex where we had a small breakfast of banana crepe and tea or coffee.  We were quickly ushered back into the car for a further 20 minutes before arriving at the base of Mt Batur.  As it was August, it was peak tourism season and the day we hiked there was upwards of 450 people on the mountain.  At just over 1700m above sea level, Mt Batur is not a big mountain so this is a lot of people to have on it at one time.  I have to admit I am really not a fan of hiking with this many people.  There was a lot of waiting before we started and there was a bit of stop and starting during the trek as well.

Before I left Australia, I had been talking to another couple who had just returned from Bali and had completed the Mt Batur trek.  Their advice was to take a head light which left your hands free for the steep part of the track, take a warm jacket for the summit, and they also warned that there were no toilets along the way.  I don’t know about you, but after breakfast, coffee and an early start, my bladder was becoming very demanding.  It was still early in the piece and easy walking, but I was remembering that there were no toilets along the way and we still had 3 more hours of hiking plus waiting time on the top of the mountain.  I figured that I would not be able to enjoy the rest of the trek if I didn’t sneak off for a toilet break under the cover of darkness.  My tips for taking the sneaky, stealth pee: Don’t forget to turn your headlight off;  Try and find a spot that the moonlight won’t reflect off your white backside; And finally, just try to forget that there are 450+ people walking around you and that your face isn’t glowing red in mortification.

For the most part it was quite an easy hike, only the last 45 minutes or so was quite steep.  There are plenty of breaks and due the number of people hiking single file the pace is very steady, therefore achievable for most people with moderate fitness.  It was a lovely clear morning when we started out, it was dark but the stars and moon were bright and there was that lovely morning crispness to the air that I love.  Once we started moving it was a pretty cool sight to see all the twinkling spots of torchlight winding up the mountain.  Now the one thing I had been looking forward to since i woke up at a ridiculous time that morning was a spectacular sunrise.  We reached the top with a little time to spare and sat there shivering in our sweaty shirts, lucky we had a jacket, but I would recommend a dry shirt to change into.  As the sun started to rise, we started to catch glimpses of the view that we had climbed to see, all bathed in a beautiful deep red/orange sky and then tragedy struck in the form of heavy clouds rolling across the mountain……NOOOOOO! Get a load of our eagerly awaited sunrise view……

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Sunrise selfie.  Yep, not too impressed with our sunrise. Haha suckers!!

While the fog was this thick we were seriously doubting whether this trip was worth it.  But then the sun started to rise and the clouds started to clear…..

Looking down at the blackened land, cooled lava from an eruption in 1963 that destroyed a village, was a stark reminder that we had just climbed an active volcano!  In fact it is Bali’s most active volcano with mild eruptions every 10-15 years.  It did make me pause slightly when I did some research prior to the hike that the last eruption was in 2000 and Mt Ruang, in nearby Java, was on the boil.    Our boiled eggs for breakfast had been cooked in the steam from the volcano.  We were standing on a bloody volcano!  C’mon it was a little cool.

It was a pretty great experience and my sister and I were both happy that we did it.  We ended up descending a different path than we climbed.  It was a nice easy walk down, but I would have liked to see the path we had clambered up in the dark.  Oh well, it was not a bad view on the way down regardless.

While this trek is a very commercial enterprise and you could quite easily do it without a guide, I was happy to pay the fee as it creates a lot of employment for locals and I was hopeful that I was paying for their knowledge on the status of this active volcano I was climbing.  The views as we drove back to our accommodation were spectacular and all in all I was really happy with the whole experience and will cross this one off the hitlist!

The Overland Track Tasmania (Guest Post) – Part 2

If you haven’t read Part 1 yet start with this post, but for everyone else Katie’s story continues…..

Day 02 – Waterfall Valley to Windermere

Well … we woke up this morning to some beautiful blue sky!! Big Yay!!!  So at least we got some glimpses back towards Cradle Mountain and Barns Bluff.

Lake Will

Day 02 was one of the smallest distances to hike with a side trip to Lake Will.

I think Ange was really in her element today … she seemed to have really found her stride and enjoyed the walk.  Me … not so much … I think my body was just so fatigued from the day before that I struggled to find my rhythm.

Everything was still very very wet from the day before however at least we got to see some of the beautiful surroundings of the area. We did do the little side hike to Lake Will for lunch with views back to Barn Bluff – it was lovely just sitting there on a little sandy beach in mountains.

Today’s hut was down by Lake Windermere which was beautiful. We went for a walk down to the lake to soak our feet in the water! Believe me … it was definitely a wee bit cold! Got a cramp in the calf straight away! Brrrr but oh so nice on the feet!!

And today was the day I got to see my first ever Wombat in the wild!! YAY!!! So awesome!! We were walking along and heard a branch crack, making us look over and there is a Wombat frozen with stage fright half way over a log! Cutest thing ever – two front paws up and shy face poking over!!

Wombat

Day 03 – Windermere to Kia Ora

Longest of the day hikes – think it was about 18km?

Windermere

I really enjoyed this day, the body was feeling great, I was feeling more energised, the bag was sitting just right, there was better padding on my shoulders (where the bag had been rubbing on my collar bones) … I had finally found my rhythm!! Big YAY!!!

It was a beautiful day and we walked through sooo many different types of environments! Open grass lands, open plains, forests and rainforests, on boardwalks, natural rock, flats and the main the challenge for the day … there was a massive stretch in the forest where it was just a big old mud slush!

Thank goodness for my hiking poles … it was a lot of hopping and a major balancing act from slippery root to slippery root to attempt to miss the slush in between.  I swear this area took twice as long as it should have. Did have a bit of slide at one stage there … bam … down on my knee before I knew it …  no damage done but there was a bit of laughing on how to get back up with a pack on your back – he he … the unexpected challenges we came across!!!

Oh yeah … today is Christmas Day!! Merry Christmas!!

We settled in at the hut (which was a lovely hut) to have our deliciously savoured dehydrated Roast Chicken Christmas Dinner  …. m… mmmm!! How amazing it was too … salty goodness… which was actually all my body was craving!!  Oh … yeah…. we had also come prepared and trekked with some delicious “Vino” to compliment our nightly dinners in style (best decision ever). We totally lived it up on Christmas Night sharing a Christmas pudding with some new friends in exchange for our delicious Rum Balls and Macadamia and Ginger nut balls we had made for ourselves!!

Kia Ora Hut

Day 04 – Kia Ora to Bert Nichols (Windy Ridge)

We woke to a bit of dreary wet morning – not much you can do about the weather so you just wet weather gear it up and head off!! Woohoo!!!!

So today is Mount Ossa day – The highest Peak in Tasmania. The first part of the day is heading up to Pelion Gap where they have a little area to drop off your big packs so you can climb the surrounding mountains.  So we get to the gap and it is pouring … actually it more like sleeting!  It is that bad that some hikers pick up their bags and keep heading to the next hut!

Windy Ridge

Windy Ridge 2

So… the little guide book (that we were sent to “guide us”) tells you that “you should not attempt to climb Mt Ossa if there weather is bad”…. so what did we sensibly decided to do? Yes Of course … you guessed it….  we didn’t come all this way and get this close not to give it a go! What have we got to lose … if it gets too bad we will just come back down!! Meh!! Easy!!!

So I am not sure how you defined when the weather gets too bad? Is it the point when I stick out my tongue to catch the snow? Nah … of course not … but that was totally awesome!! Nothing like being committed to the cause!

We passed 3 guys coming down the mountain (the only 3 other people who attempted Mt Ossa that day) and they told us that it was just blanketed in cloud and they couldn’t see anything! Ah… shame … but still we were here already so we may as well see what can see when we get there!! So up we go … it is a lot of rock scrabbling  … and as we started to get higher and higher the nerves started to get a little shot! But as we were up there and just about on the way down we had a miraculous moment where the clouds cleared from around us and the sun came out to shine on us!

Wowz … the view that came out … so dramatically spectacular!! It was one of my favourite moments – sitting on top of the world (or Tasmania) and just watching the world below you!! What an achievement!!! Yay for us!!

Mt Ossa

When we got back down to our big packs we decided to have a celebratory cup of tea whilst enjoying the brief rays of sunshine, as it wasn’t long before a shower came across to get us on our way again. Fortunately it didn’t last long – by the time we were at the huts it was sunshine again so decided that tonight was the night that I would camp!! Woohoo for me!!

Camping

So it turned out to be the coldest night EVER!!! I had 2 thermals on, + outers, + thermal sleeping liner + beanie, gloves, socks – all the normals, I was tucked in my sleeping bag pulled over my head with only a small breathing hole out the side. Yup I know…. style all the way but I made it through the night!!

Day 05 – Bert Nichols to Narcissus

I think we were both a little fatigued on Day 04 as it had been a 4 hour return trip up My Ossa + 2 hours before and 2 hours to the next hut.  The body was definitely not quite feeling quite at its peak, but we still pushed on.  Along the track today was one of the originally built huts (all made by hand) as well as a few side trips to see some beautiful waterfalls.

Waterfall

Both of us were keen to push on today and enjoy some rest time at the hut (which was amazing – newest hut of the whole walk and we felt like were back in civilisation)

Day 06 – Narcissus to Lake St Clair Visitor Centre

Last day – Downhill run to the end.

We started early today as we had pre-booked a ferry ride across Lake St Clair at midday.

I really enjoyed the track today – it wasn’t so “Alpine” environment and actually reminded me a lot of South-East Queensland.  And would you believe it…. there was not a damn cloud in the sky!! It was the most beautiful day you could have ever wished for!! (Stark contrast to Day 01 – look at that sky)

Narcissus

The walk was amazing and as we rode the ferry to the Lake St Clair centre you could look back into the dramatic mountains and be amazed at how far we had come.

Lake St Claire

Reflection

The hike was probably one of the most challenging adventures I have been on, but it was definitely rewarding and I am super proud of myself (and Ange)!!! I look back and remember all those little experiences that came together to be one my best adventures yet. I feel an amazing sense of achievement and can’t wait till my next big adventure!

Shout out to everyone ….

PS. Also have to say a huge Thank-you to my amazing adventure friend Ange!! Can’t wait till our next one!!

Just in case anyone wants to get any more information on the Overland Track head to this website.

Thank you Katie for doing such a great write up and sharing the adventure with us!

 

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!

Conquering Walsh’s Pyramid

Along with Mt Bartle Frere, Queensland’s highest mountain that I climbed a couple of years ago, the Pyramid in Gordonvale has also been on my exercise hitlist radar.  Each year in August, the little town of Gordonvale hosts the Great Pyramid Race.  Legend has it that the race originated when two local cane farmers were sitting having a drink at the pub.  The men decided to settle an argument by seeing who could make it to the peak of nearby Walsh’s Pyramid first.  A wager was made and the day set for the very first race.  It generated so much interest with the locals that a bookie took bets on the outcome and The Great Pyramid Race was born.  The first official race ran in 1959 and the fittest and bravest come to compete each year.  After climbing the mountain at a comfortable pace I did wonder how people ‘race’ the Pyramid and am not surprised that this quote is used in promoting the race!

 “A never-ending uphill scramble and a ‘controlled’ downhill free fall”

One thing I love about an exercise challenge is that it can be quite social.  Or maybe I just have friends that are the same kind of crazy as I am.  Even though it was summer in the tropics (read hot and humid) I had two friends immediately volunteer to come with me.  One friend travelled 4 hours to catch up for a couple of nights, and the other was up at 4am to drive ninety minutes to meet us at the base of the mountain.  I am very thankful for such good friends who make the effort as my visits are very few and far between these days.

Walsh's6

I was a little worried that it would be quite difficult to find the start of the track (and copped some good-natured ribbing about my recent adventures getting lost) but I am happy to report that it is quite well marked.  From the Gordonvale Service Station it is only 5 minutes drive along the highway, heading towards Innisfail, that you will come across Moss Road on your right hand side.  There are signs for parking ahead and you will come to a gravel parking area after only a couple of minutes.  The track is well marked, no really it is, I don’t think even I could get lost.  From all I had read this was supposed to be a 6km return climb but the girls and I think that it could be a bit closer to 8km return based on some markings on the track and how long it took us.  The time to the top for us was 3 hours and only 90 minutes back down at a fairly comfortable pace.

We left at 6am from the base and would not leave it any later in summer.  It was a really hot and humid morning and I was literally dripping half way up so make sure you have plenty of fluids if you are crazy enough to do it in Summer.  There were quite a few people on the mountain which did actually surprise us.  It would be a beautiful walk in the cooler months.  It WAS a beautiful climb even in the heat and one everyone with reasonable fitness should try.  The views are amazing.

The track was quite steep in places with quite a few scrambles up rocks however there were plenty of flat-ish sections to catch a breather.

We did find that just when you thought you were near the top…..it wasn’t…..then you would think that this must be it…..and it wasn’t……then finally this must be it……and we still weren’t quite there.  Eventually we did make it and I love this photo taken of my good friend at the top of the Pyramid as it just seems to capture the spirit of adventure and satisfaction from making it to the top.

Thanks ladies for a wonderful catch up, we will have to start planning our next adventure.  This was a wonderful hike, so give it a go next time you are in the area!

Rewind and Review

Now that we have settled in Pannawonica, I have time to do a quick review of my last hitlist.  I think it is really important to acknowledge the things that went well and the things that did not work so well, celebrate all the good stuff, take the lessons learnt, and shrug off any failures or mishaps.  At the end of the day it is all about movement….active movement, forward movement, progress, living life and making the most out of your opportunities. So how did I go with Hitlist No. 2?  To be honest I can’t even remember what was on the list now, I was a little consumed by the Adventurethon but looked forward to reviewing to see what I did get done.Hitlist 2.2

  1.  Run 5km (Couch to 5km running program) – Loved this running program and will be doing this again with the kids in my new hitlist item ‘4km Mother’s Day Classic Fun Run’ with whole family.  Also really glad I achieved my 5km running goal along the cliffs of Kalbarri.Warm up walk to Island Rock which is where I started my run and the boardwalk ended.
  2.   Mundaring Weir Stair Workout – That was painful, only completed 3 full return runs from top to bottom.  Beautiful place to work out though.End of the final stair climb!!  Thank God, stairs officially suck balls!
  3.  Volunteer at OXFAM 100km – I loved this night, such a great atmosphere and very well run.  I liked that I felt that I was giving back in some small way to a good cause and back to events that I love to participate in (without much thought to all the volunteers that make these things happen).This was at the start of my shift, all four members completing the 100km which was quite a feat.  Quite a few teams lost members due to injury or exhaustion.
  4.  Try a Kickboxing Class –  I didn’t get to do this and I still want to do a class.  This was simply that I just couldn’t juggle all my comittments to make it happen.  Another time.
  5. John Forrest National Park Troll Bridge – This was awesome and still my favourite day out with the family.After only 800m we came across the 'Troll Tunnel'.  You have to make it exciting and a little scary for boys.  In we go.....dah da daaaaa (thats supposed to be scary music).
  6. Kayak to Penguin Island – This didn’t happen either sadly.  Realised that I probably didn’t quite have the skills or knowledge to do this on my own and couldn’t justify the expense to do a guided trip at this point in time.
  7.  Kings Park Tree Top Walk/Jacob’s Ladder – This was a great, easy day trip with the kids.treetops2

    Jacob's Ladder, Kings Park

    Jacob’s Ladder, Kings Park

  8.  Join the local MTB social ride – Everyone should try mountain biking it is such a great way to get and/or stay fit.  Social rides are a great way to meet people, learn great tips and learn about fun places to ride.Love the trails....although trees and I have a love hate relationship.  I often struggle to get through gaps without hitting my handlebars lol.  I'm so cool!!
  9.  Complete my Healthy Exercise Challenge with the kids – Really liked doing these things with the kids and just remembered that I was going to try it during school term and not just on the holidays…hmmm, and this is why we review!Find a local bike path - Where does it take you?
  10.  Trail Run at Bold Park – This didn’t happen as I left it to the last minute, then ran into the calf injury, then ran out of time.  Bummer, will have to keep this at the back of my mind and try and get there next time I am in Perth.
  11.  Participate in the Perth Marathon Club’s 7.5km run along the Esplanade – I feel like I am making a lot of excuses…buuut this was a scheduling clash with my husband’s FIFO roster.  This was a Sunday morning and usually the husband is home except for this very weekend.  I couldn’t very well make the kids wait at the finish line for me….I did think about it.
  12.  Try and MTB once a week – This was about a 16 week block for this hitlist and while I managed to ride every week I think I only managed to actually MTB maybe four times over that period.  This was a fail.
  13.  Organise to be fitted for my bike properly – Success!  I did do this one and very glad I did too.Managed to get on and stay balanced....Yay!
  14.  Sullivan’s Rock to Monadnocks Campsite, Bibbulmun Track –  What do we call this one? 50/50?  I did do a portion of the Bibbulmun Track and walked Sullivan’s Rock, but then failed to go in the planned direction and proceeded to get lost.   Points for trying??Bibb Track
  15.  Complete in Adventurethon Albany – Too right I did, feeling quite proud of that one.

I managed to complete 9 out of 15 items for a 60% completion rate.  Looking back I feel like I achieved so much more.  It just goes to show that it doesn’t matter about the things you don’t do only about the things you do.  I still believe that I complete more when I write them down and plug away.  So get busy dreaming, planning, and most importantly just get outside and move!!

Linking up with One Mother Hen.

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??

Hike Gone Wrong – Part 1

In Western Australia, the Bibbulmun Track is a very well known hiking trail and is one of the world’s great long distance walking trails.  It stretches nearly 1000km from Perth and surrounds to Albany in the south.  It is marked clearly by these little trail markers, representing the Waugal – the serpent of Aboriginal Dreaming.

Waugal

You can read more about the history of the track, all the different track sections, hiking and camping information,  and purchase maps from the official site.  The track actually starts up in the Perth Hills so I have seen a lot of the little markers.  I have also seen them on our travels in Albany, Denmark, and Walpole, which is why my interest was definitely triggered and it had to go on the Hitlist.  Well at least a portion of it anyway.  Deciding on which portion was the difficult bit but I opted for something close to home and that was recommended as the top hike in the Perth area by Inspiration Outdoors website.  The walk I wanted to complete was the Sullivan’s Rock to Monadnocks Campsite portion of the Bibbulmun Track.

After completing the Adventurethon, starting school holidays, and surviving Christmas I was itching to get outside and do something active….time to walk a portion of the famous Bibbulmun track.  Now the clock was ticking a little for me to complete this item as the family and I are on holidays in Queensland and then we would be moving way up North to a remote mining town that is a world away from the Bibbulmun track.  So even though Summer is not the most ideal time to go hiking I reasoned that if we did a short section of the track (10-15km) and left early in the morning to beat the worst of the heat we shouldn’t be too bad.  The other issue that I rushed through in my wish to explore this track was not organising to purchase a decent map of the trail.  (You can purchase them here) Instead I found another map which was fine but not very detailed…yeah, sounds stupid now doesn’t it?

Map

The website actually had some good information and quite a detailed description of the walk and landmarks.

Now I don’t want you to think that I take any hike lightly.  These are the things that I check off when preparing for a decent hike.

  • Fitness level appropriate?  I am in good health and have a good fitness level.
  • Experience level appropriate?  I have been hiking and bush walking pretty much my whole life.
  • Map of the Trail?  I had a map of the trail (albeit in hindsight not very detailed) The other thing I will admit to is that we had the map saved on the phone, didn’t need signal to access but reliant on battery.  Next time I will make sure I have a hard copy map.
  • I checked DFES (Department of Fire and Emergency Services) alerts to make sure there were no fires or back burning in the area.
  • Checked DPAW (Department of Parks and Wildlife) for any alerts in the area.
  • Also checked the weather forecast for the day of the hike.
  • I had packed 2L of water each for my friend and I as recommended for this particular walk on one of the websites I had been reading.
  • I had food and energy gels
  • First Aid Kit?  I packed 2 compression bandages but I really should have a basic first aid kit.
  • I had a phone, fully charged for once (I know, amazing right); and
  • I wasn’t walking alone and my husband knew where my friend and I would be walking.

All set and ready to go.  Fully prepared for the walk provided things go right.  This is probably the biggest lesson I learnt from this walk, you need to pack for worst case scenario not the average hike.  I will stop talking now and let the pictures tell the story….

Bibb Track

Not a care in the world...heading up Sullivan's Rock the start of the day.

Not a care in the world…heading up Sullivan’s Rock the start of the day.

This was the point where it all went wrong...not that we knew it then...but the age old should have gone left not right.  Literally 10 mins into the walk.  We still followed those little markers though...

This was the point where it all went wrong…not that we knew it then…but the age old should have gone left not right makes a big difference. Literally 10 mins into the walk. We were still following those little markers, just up a totally different mountain…doh.  We also dropped the phone here and cracked the screen, very difficult to see our map very clearly after that.  Just a comedy of errors.

Enjoying the walk still oblivious that anything was wrong.

My friend Snooze.  We were enjoying the walk still oblivious that anything was wrong.

Just some of the sights and obstacles from the trail.  The photos stopped when it ceased being fun...

Just some of the sights and obstacles from the trail. The photos stopped when it ceased being fun…

Mt Cooke Campsite...first little seed of doubt planted at this point.  Mt Cooke was not on the map, but I did vaguely remember reading about it on my research of the area.  Plunged ahead as we had not gone off the trail or come to a fork at all.

Mt Cooke Campsite (these little huts are built all along the trail for overnighters to make use of).  First little seed of doubt planted at this point. Mt Cooke was not on the map, but I did vaguely remember reading about it on my research of the area. Plunged ahead as we had not gone off the trail or come to a fork at all.

How did we not know we were going the wrong direction I hear you ask?  We were following the markers still and on a well defined track.  The general course of the trail was still following the directions of the map we had.  We were questioning distances at this point to...starting to believe that we should have climbed at least the first peak in 90mins, but only just starting to climb.

How did we not know we were going the wrong direction I hear you ask? Well, we were following the markers and were still on a well defined track. The general course of the trail was still following the directions of the map we had. We were questioning distances at this point too…starting to believe that we should have climbed at least the first peak in 90mins, but instead we were only just starting to climb.

First peak?  Mt Vincent we thought.  Vaguely reassured that we were actually on track.

First peak? Mt Vincent we thought. Vaguely reassured that we were actually on track.

Bibb Track4 Bibb track10

We thought this was North Rocks, right?  Easy to convince yourself that you are on track.  We hadn't veered off the marked track at all and hadn't come to a fork in the road except early in the piece.  Still enjoying the hike, the company, and the views.

We thought this was North Rocks, right? Easy to convince yourself that you are on track. We hadn’t veered off the marked track at all and hadn’t come to a fork in the road except early in the piece. Still enjoying the hike, the company, and the views.

Well I am going to leave it there for now, while we were still happy and things were still under control…although a little behind schedule, two and a half hours in.   I will go and finish the final part of the story where we realize that we are lost, have no water, and are not quite sure how to get out of this situation.

Linking in with Jess for IBOT and her very random post on her focus points for 2015.