Ultralight Hiking:

See also:

Ultralight Hiking Advice

The Upper Yarra Walking Track

Hiking 2018

Hiking 2017

Hiking 2016

Hiking 2015

Hiking 2014.htm

Hiking 2013 & Earlier

Steve's Blog

World Travel Kit for Son

Finnsheep.com

NEW MOBILE FRIENDLY SITE: THE ULTRALIGHT HIKER

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Della & I (combined age then 120) heading off from Freney Lagoon on the second day of our walk across Tasmania in 2011. We took seven days. Between us we were carrying @ 20 kilos & enough food (& booze!) for 10 days. These zpacks ‘Blast’ packs are 52 litres including pockets and weigh around 300 grams. Today we would be carrying several kilos LESS.

All about light weight, ultra light hiking, backpacking, bushwalking, hunting, tracks, trails, adventures, gear, reviews…

I have been hiking/hunting now for over sixty years, a little more slowly than I once did, walking in the Victorian Alps & elsewhere often in winter and in all weathers. I have camped out a lot, more than two years of my life in toto. I have seen the failure of just about every type of gear, and experienced most disasters which can befall you in the wilderness, and survived. So, if you dream of doing a bit of camping/hiking, maybe I can offer some useful advice?

This is a ‘work in progress’. I will be adding to it on a regular basis adding new photos, adventures, product/ideas, suggestions, etc. You should also look at HIKING ADVICE also a section of gear advice for my son written in 2011 WORLD TRAVEL KIT FOR SON. You can also see my older posts above, eg Hiking 2017. Hope you find something interesting.

PS: UPPER YARRA TRACK: I have recently created this site The Upper Yarra Walking Track Australia’s oldest (& best), an approx. 10-14 day walk with numerous resupply points, plentiful water and camping spots now extending from Moe railway Station @ 150 kilometres up the Latrobe, Tyers & Thomson River valleys, via Yallourn North, Erica & Walhalla, across the Baw Baw Plateau, along the Upper Thomson River, past the Yarra Falls & Mt Horsefall, along the Little Ada, Ada and Yarra valleys via Warburton to Lilydale Railway Station. Now, complete with Track Instructions

ULTRALIGHT HIKING BLOG:

13/02/2019: Sand and Sea Training: I am starting to recover a bit from my back op so time for a wedding anniversary toddle around Sandy Point/Shallow Inlet South Gippsland Vic. As usual Spot leads the way through the Tea Tree tunnel to the inlet.

Where we are greeted by this wonderful view. Wilsons Prom in the distance.

You can see it a little more clearly here.

You can see why it is called ‘Sandy Point. (I do love these unimaginative, evocative names (Stony Creek, Deep Creek, Murderer’s Hill etc)

It might be the Sahara Desert.

Those beautiful patterns in the dunes.

Just the odd succulent finding some nutrients somehow.

The inlet is such a deep azure.

As you can see I had to sit down frequently, but I am getting there.

You can walk all the way around the inlet. There are even a couple of small freshwater creeks as well as water at Sandy Point township (supermarket, liquor take away etc), and the Shallow Inlet Caravan Park. There is not much between there and the Darby River or Fairy Cove however. Lots of birds to see though.

Afterwards we had a delightful meal at McCartins Hotel, Leongatha. Some people can eat an enormous chocolate mousse like this without putting on weight.

This is my first 5 km ‘outing’. I had planned to be on the Dusky Track by February’s end, hoping to hear a moose roar echo around the fiords one more time in my life, but I just won’t be fit enough this year. Perhaps next. They do sound something like a Koala Bear such as this little fellow who was at our mail box this morning when I went to bring it in. There are lots of koalas to be seen in the sugar gums all along the South Gippsland Coast too.

We have lots of blue gums in our road for guys like this to eat. View from our mail box.

See Also:

The Great Gippsland Circuit

Here are some sections of it beginning at the Phillip Island end:

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/george-bass-coastal-walk-2/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-walk-on-the-wild-side/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/venus-bay-no-4-beach-gippsland-victoria/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/andersons-inlet/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/liptrap-to-the-five-mile/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-five-mile/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/liptrap/

https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2018/11/05/liptrap-to-the-five-mile/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/waratah-bay/

https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2019/02/12/sand-and-sea-training/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/killer-bees/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-isthmus/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/on-the-tip-of-the-tongue-2/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/to-the-lighthouse/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/glamping-wilsons-prom/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/nooramunga/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/there-is-simply-nothing-like-an-old-port-walking-trail/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/sale-common/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/blond-bay-lake-tyers/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/blond-bay-roseneath-reserve-hollands-landing/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/beautiful-east-gippsland/

8/02/2019: DIY Crampons: I bought a pair of Yaktrax Pros for my Everest Base Camp walk. You need some extra traction when you are going to be crossing glaciers like the Khumbu where a fall can be decidedly fatal. I have since seen even lighter ones such as Vargos but I need such things so little I doubt I will be replacing mine. If i had thought about DIY I could have saved myself a few bucks as the series of suggestions below illustrate. A few 1/4″  nuts and some cable ties or even just a used bike tube and a bit of spare time and you are good to go! People are so ingenious.

 

https://cdn.instructables.com/F0F/BXXX/JR6ODSGD/F0FBXXXJR6ODSGD.LARGE.jpg?auto=webp&width=933

https://www.instructables.com/id/Better-No-Cost-Crampons/

https://www.instructables.com/id/No-Cost-Crampons/

https://www.instructables.com/id/Emergency-Crampons-for-Ice-and-Snow/

https://www.instructables.com/id/Assured-Foot-Ice-Cleat-Walkers/

See Also:

https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2016/07/02/4wd-boots/

6/02/2019: To Build a Fire: Jack London was one of my favourite writers when I was a kid He wrote lots of stories especially about the Klondike gold rush at the turn of the C20th. If you have never read White Fang or Call of the Wild for example it is about time you did. They are just about the best animal stories ever written. What a pity London died prematurely at 40 of a common ailment – kidney stones otherwise literature would be replete with many more of his great yarns. This 1908 short story gives a breathtaking example of his virtuosity and of the hardships faced in the Canadian wilderness, but also underlines in very heavy ink the importance of being able to light a fire in all weathers – else don’t be out in them! Read on: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2019/02/04/to-build-a-fire/

1/02/2019: A Complete Cure for cancer Next Year – that would be nice: https://www.jpost.com/HEALTH-SCIENCE/A-cure-for-cancer-Israeli-scientists-say-they-think-they-found-one-578939

31/01/2019: Best $5 Spent on Camping Gear Ever: What is the most useful piece of gear you can buy for $5? Over the years I have posted about lots of things I carry which cost less than $5 – and some which cost nothing at all! You will notice many such items in my gear list on this post: A Gorilla in the Hand but here are my first twenty which just came to mind in no particular order:

  1. Reflective Guy Line and reflective clam cleat cord locks, I posted about these here: The Perfect Guy Line I saw both these items over at Amazon (.com.au actually) when I was looking for something else – I had just put in a search for ‘Tent’ and then selected “Cheapest First’ (as you do) and these soon came up (eg 10 cleats for $1.38!) – and so too many other interesting items which also answer the question, the Loop Alien (under another name, for example). I realise even this early in this post that I could have posed the dollar limit of the question at $2 (or even $1, or ‘For Free’!) and still had quite a long answer. 
  2. A 100 ml plastic ‘spice’ bottle as the foundation for the fishing kit as featured in The Ultralight Fisherman. Mine cost me $1.39 (the sticker said) but I could have used an empty Nurofen bottle ‘For Free’ (I have gone through enough of them with this bad back – it is slowly getting better, Thank You) – though it would have been a little heavier. A number of fishing essentials to fill out the fishing kit would also come in at well under $5: a couple of bubble float, a small collection of flies, swivels, leaders…
  3. Self Threading Needles: I bought a set of 4-5 for around $3 from Spotlight. I have only ever used one as I have never managed to lose it but it strikes me as almost certainly false economy not to carry two – how much can they weigh? I have done some pretty fancy repair work with it. Della would be quite proud of my seamstress work. The needle now lives in the fishing kit as I would use the line for the repairs.
  4. Minibic Lighters. I always carry 2-3 of these. They are cheap, light and reliable. Sometime (as I have often argued eg How to Light a Fire in the Wet) they will save your life – either by preventing you freezing to death or being killed by a wildfire (you start a back burn to create bare ground to survive on before the fire arrives). You could include in this category some commercial firelighters or a section of bicycle inner tube which works really well and does not deteriorate over time. It can also be used as a ‘springer’ on a set line overnight so you have fresh fish for breakfast. Is there anything better in life? I will leave the answer to that question up to you…Still talking of fishing these Speedhooks are also great.
  5. Ultralight Tripod: A piece of string and a plastic thumbscrew are all you need to make an excellent 4 gram tripod. A very few pennies well spent. I found the crews on eBay – where else?
  6. Photon Torch: I still like these little 7 gram guys guys even though there are now better ultralight torches such as these which will make an 11 gram rechargeable head torch – though they cost more than $10!
  7. Minnow Gripper. These are a good choice for a spare ultralight tarp clip, though there are others to choose from (which can even be used to make a kayak). These are the lightest though.
  8. A whole variety of stoves can be had for $5. For example there is my own Egg-Ring Stove. There is Jim Wood’s classic Super Cat Stove. The Soda Can Stove. Ray Garlington’s YACC Stove. The Fancy Feast Stove.
  9. Wrist Band Compass: I always have one of these on my watch band. They cost around $2, as do these excellent watch bands which ensure you never lose your self-winding watch which you should always use as they don’t go flat and let you down..
  10. Ultralight bottles and jars. You can use the micro-dripper bottles for liquids (the kind that eye-drops come in). The little screw top aluminium jars (in various sizes eg from eBay) are excellent for creams – and no doubt many other uses I have not dreamed of.
  11. Cutlery & Crockery. Most of my stuff in this category either comes from $2 stores (though often costing $1!) or they are containers left over from some type of food – like the bowls which come with Sirena tuna and beans for example. I used also to use Chinese takeaway soup spoons (as I have not found anything so light and serviceable. Carrying two is a good idea in case one breaks. This would still be good advice even if they had cost you $100 each, as it is very annoying finding you have lost your only spoon about 8 hours walk behind you! This is the voice of experience speaking!
  12. Mini Carabiners. Lots of these are available even for less than $1 each though the better ones (which will hold 150 lb!) such as those often sold by businesses such as Zpacks (US$6.95 Jan 2019 for 4) or Mountain Laurel Designs (from US$3) with their company logos printed on them are much better – and weigh less than 3 grams. They have many uses: I use one to attach my tent to my pack so that I don’t find myself at the end of the day without it!
  13. Ultralight Ultra Sharp Knives from 3 grams. These plastic scalpels are great too – and will butcher a mature sambar deer. I have.
  14. Ultralight Pillow. I really like these approx 17 grams (small) & 27 gram (large) Graham Medical Flexair Pillows. They are excellent for hiking and backpacking. The two sizes measure 14.5″x10.5″ & 19″x12.5″ They cost pennies: US $35.16 for the small & $43.41 for the large per box of 50! 70 cents each. Seriously!
  15. Tyvek. Usually costs me about A$6/metre so many useful things (such as a dog coat for example) can be made for <$5, but a bit over 3 metres or $20 worth will make a variety of excellent DIY tents which have the added advantage that they are reasonably fire resistant so that sparks anyway will not melt a hole in them. I have even trialed a square metre (around $2 worth) as a fire umbrella to keep my fire from going out in the rain. We allowed the fire to get a little big and the Tyvek a little close but the concept worked fine and weighed zilch – a couple of ounces anyway – far better than having your warming fire go out in the rain anyway!
  16. Whoopie Slings. As you can make these yourself from <$5 of Dyneema cord I am including them here. You can also use them for an adjustable centre line on your hammock or even for guy lines. Just a great idea.
  17. A Variety of hut booties can be made from material which costs less than $5 (though you may have to spend more than $5 to buy the larger quantity. For example these Toughened Foam Flip Flops or these No Sew Sandals made from a car inner tube and some blue foam or shoe inserts.
  18. Windscreens. You can buy a variety of very nice titanium windscreens for around $10 (I particularly like this one) but obviously you can make your own from a strip of aluminium flashing which will certainly cost under $5 unless you have to buy the whole roll. You can also make a trail baker with it.
  19. The Ultralight Bush Chair. This chair is a genius idea and I again thank Jenny for her contribution. If you visit sale items you will get enough fabric to make it for under $5 but you would probably be better to use a high-end fabric such as Ripstop by the Rolls Robic or Mountain Series perhaps their 1.7 oz at US$7.95 per yard (Jan 2019) as you are going to want this item to last for years.
  20. Dragon’s Breath Shot-Shell (each). Probably not available in Australia, and not really about hiking or even hunting – but I just love them!

What the folks at Reddit thought

Some other interesting suggestions

Other Ultralight Hiker Budget Ideas:

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/2018/03/03/ultralight-hiking-on-a-budget/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/2018/03/24/budget-pack-mods/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/2018/11/04/beginning-hiking/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/2018/08/31/3f-tents/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/2018/09/10/make-your-sleeping-pad-warmer/

https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2017/07/13/60-diy-ultralight-hiker-ideas/

See Also:

https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2016/08/20/a-gorilla-in-the-hand/

https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2014/12/14/the-perfect-guy-line-for-a-hiking-tenttarp/

https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2017/05/10/the-ultralight-fisherman/

https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2016/10/08/self-threading-needles/

https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2015/05/26/how-to-light-a-fire-in-the-wet/

https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2015/03/30/photon-torch/

https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2016/09/27/11-gram-rechargeable-head-torch/

https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2018/10/06/minnow-gripper/

https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2015/03/15/best-tarp-clips-link/

https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2017/10/07/willow-kayak/

https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2015/08/26/worlds-lightest-tarp-clip/

https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2013/05/08/supercat-hiking-stove/

https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2015/07/24/soda-can-stove/

https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2015/03/09/diy-side-burner-metho-stove/

https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2018/03/04/new-fancy-feast-stove/

https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2014/11/13/watch-bands-for-hikingbushwalking/

https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2017/05/19/ultralight-ultra-sharp-knives-3-grams/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/2017/08/25/diy-super-ultralight-pillow/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/2018/03/02/tyvek/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/2015/08/30/tyvek-jack-russell-rain-coat-13-grams/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/2017/09/16/fire-umbrella/

https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2017/06/02/whoopie-slings-what-a-great-idea/

https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2018/09/21/whoopie-sling-guy-line-tensioners/

https://www.tiergear.com.au/11/products/adjustable-hammock-ridgeline

https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2018/09/21/whoopie-sling-guy-line-tensioners/

https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2016/10/23/toughened-foam-flip-flop/

https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2016/10/23/no-sew-sandals/

https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2016/09/22/fifteen-gram-blue-foam-flip-flop/

https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2015/02/24/spare-shoes-great-for-river-crossings/

https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2015/07/09/windscreens/

https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2017/09/22/ultralight-windscreen/

https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2018/06/27/clever-titanium-windscreen/

https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2016/08/26/the-ultralight-bush-chair/

https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2018/04/21/dragons-breath/

14/01/2019: Well, it is certainly summer-time: 38 degrees on the verandah, and the garden offering its bounty of stone fruit. Our newish apricot tree offered its first picking this morning, while a batch of apricots from Bryn's tree is simmering on the stove to be mixed with whipped cream, mascarpone and a dash of grand marnier to become a fairly enticing apricot fool. The huge basket of golden queen peaches will need to be preserved too. They are delicious fresh, but our stunted tree overdid itself this year, so it would be ungrateful to waste them! I will work on those tomorrow!

 

Image may contain: fruit, food and indoor

 

14/01/2019: ‘How to Grow Old’ by Bertrand Russell (1872-1970). Great advice from the modern world’s greatest philosopher, a three time Nobel prize winner: https://sites.google.com/site/gobenyan/essay

 

11/01/2019: What a great 'whodunit': https://www.popsci.com.au/science/nature/did-a-gigantic-bird-really-eat-a-neanderthal-child,514746

07/01/2019: Dry Change 5.7 oz: The Massdrop Veil range has to constitute just about the lightest and cheapest dry change you can carry when hiking. I have had the similar thing in Montbell (a few grams lighter) and dearer for many years. I have used them a lot (of course mostly in camp) and they are still as good as new. I have never found that they grow at all clammy in the temperatures I generally am out in (ie autumn and winter Victoria, Australia).

So long as you don’t require warmth in your dry change they are fine. I usually carry some Montbell down garments and some down socks, as well as an insulated beanie for when it it going to be really cold. When it is going to be particularly cold I carry some wool thermals instead of the ‘wind’ gear

https://www.massdrop.com/buy/massdrop-veil-wind-pants US$59.99 85 grams

Specs

  • Midnight blue
  • 15d ripstop nylon with DWR finish
  • 100% windproof
  • 11 CFM breathability
  • Hip pocket doubles as stuff sack
  • Drawcord waistband
  • Elastic cuffs
  • Lightweight YKK zippers at cuffs
  • Weight, size M: 3 oz (85 g)

https://www.massdrop.com/buy/massdrop-veil-wind-shell US$59.99 77 grams

Specs

  • 15d ripstop nylon with DWR finish
  • 100% windproof
  • 11 CFM breathability
  • YKK reverse-coil front zipper
  • 3-panel contoured hood
  • Zippered chest pocket doubles as stuff sack
  • Elastic cuffs, hem, and hood trim
  • Athletic fit
  • Center-back length: 29.5 in (75 cm)
  • Weight, men’s M: 2.7 oz (77 g)

 Total = 162 grams 5.7 oz & $119.98.

 NB. Some people wear these ‘wind’ garments as their everyday hiking garments. This would work out fine on the trail, and they would likely last as long as you would expect – but they would certainly not be suitable for bush-bashing.

 See Also:

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/2018/09/28/a-wind-shell-and-an-umbrella/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/2018/08/16/how-many-clothes-should-i-take-in-my-pack/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/2018/01/23/ultralight-clothes-pegs-for-hiking/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/2018/08/17/hiking-washing-machine/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/2017/10/01/ultralight-shorts-28-grams/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/2016/09/17/vapor-barrier/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/2016/09/21/montbell/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/2013/12/29/hiking-pants/

07/01/2019: Rubisco. You may not have heard of it but it is the enzyme responsible for photosynthesis and thus practically all life on earth. Unfortunately it is woefully inefficient (ergo there is no God) but photosynthesis can be engineered to be more efficient using different enzyme pathways. These scientists have improved plant productivity by 40%. That is seriously big news: http://science.sciencemag.org/content/363/6422/eaat9077

03/01/2019: Victorinox @work USB Multi-Tools:The Midnight Manager would be an excellent everyday carry tool. I would consider replacing my favorite older Victorinox Signature Lite (24 grams) knife (on Fruugo for A$54 – Jan 2019) with this because of the USB . Actually I already replaced it as my everyday carry with this Leathermaan Micra (51 grams) mainly because the latter has a solider pair of scissors I need to cut my big toe nails (both of which have thickened up when they grew back from having dropped heavy objects on them). If you haven’t (yet) got this peculiar problem, have a look at this collection of Victorinox USB multi tools.

‘The Victorinox @work collection is for the rugged outdoorsman who embraces modern technologies. Each item in the series features a host of versatile stainless steel tools and a removable 16GB USB 3.0/3.1 stick with a read speed of 115 MB/s and a write speed of 25 MB/s. The Jetsetter@work has six tools including scissors, a bottle opener, a Phillips screwdriver, and a wire stripper. It comes with silver Alox scales. For more functionality, go for the Midnight Manager@work. Featuring a whopping 10 functions, it also includes an LED light.

Small Pocket Knife with Removable USB Stick

Tools

  1. USB stick 3.0/3.1
  2. tweezers
  3. pressurized ballpoint pen
  4. small blade
  1. scissors
  2. nail file
  3. screwdriver 2.5 mm
  4. key ring

Dimensions

Height

18 mm

Net weight

34 g

Prices vary but seem to be around A$90

Jetsetter@work

  • Alox handle
  • 6 functions
  • USB stick 3.0/3.1
  • Scissors
  • Bottle opener
  • Wire stripper
  • Phillips screwdriver 0 / 1, magnetic
  • Key ring
  • Dimensions: 2.3 x 0.7 in (5.8 x 1.8 cm)
  • Weight: 1 oz (28.3 g)

Midnight Manager@work

  • ABS/Cellidor handle
  • 10 functions
  • USB stick 3.0/3.1
  • LED light
  • Pressurized ballpoint pen
  • Small blade
  • Scissors
  • Bottle opener
  • Wire stripper
  • Phillips screwdriver 0 / 1, magnetic
  • Nail file
  • Screwdriver (2.5 mm)
  • Key ring
  • Dimensions: 2.3 x 0.7 in (5.8 x 1.8 cm)
  • Weight: 1.6 oz (45.4 g)
  • USB Specs:
  • Victorinox
  • Stainless steel tools
  • Removable multifunctional data carrier with 3.0/3.1 USB stick
  • 16GB capacity
  • Interface: USB stick 3.0 Type-A / 3.1 Type-C
  • Read speed: 115 MB/s
  • Write speed: 25 MB/s’

Signature Lite (for comparison)

Tools

    1. small blade
    2. scissors
    3. nail file
    4. screwdriver 2.5 mm
    1. LED
    2. key ring
    3. pressurized ballpoint pen

Dimensions

Height

12 mm

Net weight

24 g

Details

scale material

ABS / Cellidor

Size

58 mm

Blade lockable

No

One hand blade

No

02/01/2019: What a wonderful approach to thieving bastards. Do play the video: https://www.businessinsider.com.au/nasa-engineer-mark-rober-makes-glitter-bomb-parcel-thieves-2018-12

01/01/2019: More Fun in the Rain: Ponchos, Umbrellas or Raincoats? That is the question. What’s the best way to stay dry in the rain and enjoy yourself in the outdoors while doing so? I have been soaking wet, all over, every ‘warm’ layer down to my skin, more times than I can count. Mostly of course it was when I was hunting sambar deer with hounds in the Gippsland mountains, a pastime I loved passionately and pursued enthusiastically for over thirty years. I regret nothing.

This was my second ‘Harpoon’ whom I had to give away to fox hunters when foxhounds were (stupidly) banned by the ‘government’ of Victoria in 2005. The Government alleged that these hounds would attack deer or other game, but my beloved hounds never laid a glove on anyone or any thing. He had gotten a bit fat from his enforced retirement here. On a single hunt he could run himself from this condition to looking more like a greyhound in shape – and might have covered 70-150 kilometres in a day. (On the flat he could do 40kph for a sustained period). I had often covered 30 myself chasing after him – I could take some short-cuts; he had perforce to follow wherever the deer led!

This is he in the dog pens on the day he left me forever, a very sad day for me as three generations of Joneses had hunted with hounds in Oz (four, counting my kids) – but no more! – strangely I do not have a (decent) photo of a single hound in the forest in all that time, or more than a handful of blurry photos of my actual hunting.

It was all much more about ‘doing’ than anything else – and pictures were very expensive. I mostly have to rely on memory alone to conjure up images of those faraway days. He would be long ago dust now, but what a magnificent hound he was – and so too the first Harpoon. I hope he has descendants somewhere,  and that they still get to hunt something.

A Flourbag Stag 1990 – another wet day by the look of the raincoat, the waterproof hat and the sodden woolen trous. I often used to hunt it by myself back then sometimes taking a deer bailed in the Thomson at sunset, perhaps below Bruntons. After the 2008 fire there was a huge pile of the poor beasts boiled alive in a hole just below the Flourbag Bridge not quite being able to make the refuge of the deeper water of the river in time before the awful flames consumed them. Poor forest management is such a dreadful thing.

This chap I put up just by myself. He was on the other side of this overgrown track which I was running along towards the hunt. He foolishly decided to cross it just as I came around the corner. The old SMLE or Mauser (I forget which) spoke, and stopped him in his tracks. There are lots of folks think you have to own some expensive gun, but there is no better gun than these old WW1 weapons that you can have for a song (just A$100 or so) – and they are indestructible! They were the only ones I owned until my wonderful wife gifted me a new gun for my 50th birthday in 1999! A Browning Lightning.

A Deep Creek Stag 1990. You can see I wore heavy wool clothes back then. I recall I had to wear yet another layer in the 80’s and warmer socks too – it was much, much colder back then, though it was warmer still than it is today earlier on than that. Weather is changeable.

A Ross Creek Stag also 1990 – I must have afforded a roll of film for the camera that year. Times were often that tight! This stag was so large bodied that it needed the two of us to roll him over to gut him – even on that steep slope. He probably weighed well over half a tonne!

Frankly I loved wet day hunting. Everything seems slowed and quieted by the prevailing dampness. Usually there was no-one else about. Most folks think they will dissolve. Once you find a deer, it is easy to follow his tracks in the moist earth. Though the echoing voices of the hounds are somewhat muffled too, the sound is controlled by the rain; everything seems to move more slowly yet you can keep up better as you don’t overheat so much. There has never been rain wear made which will not soak you to the skin while pushing as hard as you can go through wet bush in a deluge.

Remember too that I always did this in winter in the mountains where the temperature was never much above freezing. Moving along a ridge or walking up a creek where the vegetation was thinner would enable your body heat to dry you out somewhat, then you would be ploughing through the thick stuff again trying to get to a bail-up or to cut off a deer eg heading for a saddle, and you would soon be soaked with ice-cold water again.

Maybe you can imagine me thundering around this rock pile, slipping and sliding.

And then splashing on upstream hoping to get to a bail-up, or forcing my way through that thick wet stuff to the side of the creek?

Of course I would often also fall over in a creek when I was hurrying up or down it, my feet slipping on wet rocks (some boots are better/worse for this, mostly worse) and over I would go, often completely under the water.

Yet I was young(er) and fat enough I never felt cold till the end of the day when I stopped.  And of course I always wore wool which insulates you well even when it is wet. Then I was back at my truck and had a dry change of clothes and (soon) a warm fire (you really must learn to light a fire in the wet) and a cook-up of sausages and onions on bread (with sauce of course) and potatoes roasted in the coals smothered in fresh butter. What a delicious repast.

A couple of stubbies of beer never hurt either! In recent years I swapped to overproof rum – when hiking at least, as my toddy at day’s end. Now I am completely tea total, which at least lightens your pack substantially on a multi-day hike – in my case by more than a kilo! The penalties one has to pay to be ‘the ultralight hiker’!

And of course I always had a shelter such as the one below to keep me dry while I ate my evening meal and maybe waited for a few last hounds to come in – or often enough I would sleep in the shelter and hunt again the next day – rain or shine. I do so miss those days, but I am enormously glad I had them. I am greedy for such pleasures – thirty years or more was not enough! I have had another dozen years hunting without the hounds now – and they have brought me many pleasures.

Here is one of my old mates Brett Irving enjoying a couple of cans of VB as he shelters from the rain before a cheery fire on the Tambo years ago (c2000). A couple of blokes can easily sleep dry and cosy under such a simple shelter – you might drop the height a bit for sleeping to create more horizontal room. This height is for standing or sitting. This tarp probably cost me less than $A10 and was used for decades and is most likely still hiding in a corner of my shed even now! Well I know exactly where actually.

Brett had to go home to his wife but I had a couple more wet days of it to myself which was grand! The river flooded and neither deer nor hounds could cross, yet I was out all day every day sloshing through it, and loving it. I don’t remember whether I took a deer or not, but it doesn’t matter.Being out in the wet bush enjoying yourself while all the world is at work (and thankfully somewhere else) is just delightful!

Actually I recall I did take a deer, a small doe on the third day, small enough to carry out whole, rigged like a backpack (I was younger then). They have mysteriously closed most of this splendid area to hunting now (hounds anyway). I don’t know who is supposed to manage the very numerous deer there in this case. On one of the days walking up a side gully I put up a mob of over ten of them. There would be more than that now!

Oh, here are two of my favourite old hounds: Poono (Triclour) and Belle her mother a Bloodhound-Foxhound cross – no better bitch was ever whelped. In Jacob’s Creek in 1996.

There was a time (as you can see) when Della and I (at least) wore ponchos. Here we were in 2008 just after the fires walking along the Moroka (to have a good look at the fishing in the Gorge, apparently) These ponchos don’t look the height of sartorial elegance do they, but this was a sub-zero day even though it was February? It was so hot at home we were looking for somewhere cool to go, but not that cool.

The thermometer on Stephen’s truck read -6C when we started hiking. I own I was all for heading home (Della gets cold) but Stephen was all for forging on, so we did. We walked all day in the rain and camped that night somewhere by the Moroka. It was cold enough to freeze the water in your drinking bottle if you left it outside! Some of us did.

All day I had been being chyacked for collecting small bits of dry kindling along the way into a shopping bag I happened to have in the back pocket of my pack. Sometimes I would find a handful of dry leaves or twigs inside a hollow log, or some small dry twigs under an overhang, or s strip of the dry inner bark of a stringybark on the lea side of the tree – and so on. By day’s end I had the beginnings of a fire – and Stephen did not. The Cleavers, needless to say had to warm themselves by our fire!

Mind you Stephen did catch a fish – something he was brilliant at. Here is one of my last photographs of him doing the same on the Tyers River in 2009. I can’t believe it is eight years since I last talked to him. Carpe that old diem little ones. Tempus Fugit.

The home made ponchos kept Della and I perfectly dry whilst the Cleavers’ much more expensive (bought & guaranteed) rain coats had them wet to the skin by the end of the day – and cold. You do get more air flow in a poncho, particularly one that your pack thrusts up like this to make you look more like a pregnant camel! Nonetheless their roof-like structure has plenty of air under it so that you don’ t drown in that dreadful humidity we ran into that day, and this other day (below) on the South Coast Track, Fiordland New Zealand.

Della is still smiling through it as is her wont: she is a trooper.

But mind you we were all much more comfortable back in the lovely shelter of the Moroka Hut.

I walked to the Wilsons Prom Lighthouse with the Cleavers in 2006. They had even worse raincoats then…

I had this small ultralight home made poncho. They both laughed at it when I put it on as it began to shower as we were coming down onto Little Waterloo Beach – as good a beach as anything they have anywhere in Qld, or anywhere in the world for that matter. By the time we had walked back up to the Telegraph Track (maybe two km) such an icy rain had fallen that they were both soaked to the skin and were starting to suffer from hypothermia. The top half of my body was perfectly warm and dry in my ‘ridiculous’ poncho (though my hands were very cold). We retired to the tea trees at the intersection and I brewed a cuppa for us all and rifled through my back pack for dry clothes and emergency ponchos for them for the walk out. Though I am ‘the ultralight hiker’ I always have just a little too much gear ‘just in case’. It never pays to be ‘dead right’.

This is my new ‘pocket poncho tent’. It too looks bloody awful compared to a tailored fit of a $500 raincoat which will nonetheless not keep you dry in those awful humid conditions. This poncho weighs 185 grams and doubles as a tent. I am going (soon) to make a slightly ‘stretched’ model of this which will sleep us both. The second person’s poncho will make a more than adequate tent floor – so that two can be perfectly cosy in the most terrific rain!

Here we were on the South Coast Track Fiordland New Zealand 2016 on the last day (or eight) coming out from the Port Craig Schoolhouse. The day  turned very wet, humid and cold. Della is still smiling bravely here as she admires this swollen stream but by the time we reached the relative shelter of this bach’s woodshed for a lunch stop she was pretty wet and cold. Lunch and a cuppa cheered her, but she put all her layers on for the afternoon’s walk out to our car – and a hot meal and a bottle of champagne (for her) at the Hotel in Tuatapere.

It was so humid in the woodshed that my waterproof camera fogged up so completely I was lucky to be able to snap a photo of her finishing a last apple – yes, an apple at the end of an eight day hike. You will have to read about it here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/2016/04/25/south-coast-track-fiordland-nz-dellas-version/

The benefits of an umbrella are seriously overlooked. I have written many posts about them. My lightest is 86 grams. For anyone hiking tracks or in large open areas they area good option for avoiding getting soaked in a raincoat when humidity really strikes. You can even rig them no hands if you want, as below: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/2017/12/14/a-hands-free-umbrella/

There are folks who claim that the humidity will not soak you if he raincoat is tight enough. Now often I put on a bit more weight in training than I would necessarily want to, so last year’s raincoat is pretty well skin tight before I have run off a bit of that condition. I can assure you it is not true. The wicking action does not overcome the humidity but an air space such as an umbrella or a poncho affords certainly does.

See Also:

https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2018/02/23/how-to-have-fun-when-hiking-in-the-rain/