Ultralight Hiking:  

Ultralight Hiking:

See also:

Ultralight Hiking Advice

The Upper Yarra Walking Track

Hiking 2015

Hiking 2014.htm

Hiking 2013 & Earlier

Steve's Blog

World Travel Kit for Son



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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. 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 here: Hiking 2014.htm & Hiking 2013 & Earlier. 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


08/11/2017: Adjustable Hammock Ridgeline: A Great Idea: It adds 6 grams to my hammock set-up but improves comfort much more than that by allowing a flatter ‘hang’ – and it allows for somewhere to hang your gear. It works on the same principle as the Whoopie Sling. Genius. I bought mine from this guy for A$16.95 (Nov 2017). http://www.tiergear.com.au/11/products/adjustable-hammock-ridgeline

Mine was red. Here it is in action in the garden with Spot supervising:

A variety of Ridgeline Gear Organisers exist to stow various overnight items in (eg phone, glasses, drink bottle, head torch, hearing aids). For example: http://www.tiergear.com.au/11/products/hammock-storage-systemsand http://www.hammockgear.com/hammock-gear-ridgeline-organizer/

These little guys are very handy too. Just add a mini carabiner: http://www.tiergear.com.au/11/products/prussik-loops-pair

Some other ideas here: https://hennessyhammock.com/pages/tips-from-users-1#

Instructions for DIY here: http://www.tiergear.com.au/25/diy-hammock-ridgeline-organiser

Some other good ideas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lqlCvHtSDAM  (better if you place the cordlock inside the loop) & here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K2-rfD-VA6s

Shown is my Hummingbird Hammock which weighs a mere 147 grams, and which kept me safe in one of the wettest places on the planet the Dusky Track, Fiordland new Zealand. . I would use this set-up with a lightweight tarp such as this Heron Rain Tarp which weighs 8.6 ounces or 245 grams and costs US$144.95 (Nov 2017) or this Standard Hammock Tarp which weighs 7 ounces or 198 grams and costs US$249!.

You could use either tarp as an on-ground shelter and the hammock as a groundsheet if you wanted to – as I explained here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-ultralight-deer-hunter/

See Also: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hammock-hunting-till-dark/

I have many other posts about hammocking, as a search at the top of the page will reveal.

04/11/2017: Ultralight Compact Hiking Pole: We have used GG’s LT4 poles for many years. In just the last year mine have been to Everest and back, and many other places besides, such as the Dusky Track, and Mt Bartle Frère for example. The LT4s are a little long to fit in your pack when you are not using them, though GG packs have attachment points on the outside they can be lashed to. I have a pair of shortened (2’) two section poles which will fit in my pack, but these LT5s will do so right from the store. These would make a great Xmas present for your hiking other if you order them now. https://www.gossamergear.com/products/lt5-three-piece-carbon-trekking-poles-pair  US$195 per pair.


The collapsed poles have a short profile


Pole with strap and basket - 5.3 oz / 150 g

Pole -  4.6 oz / 130 g

Strap and screw - .4 oz / 12 g

Basket - .3 oz / 8 g

Adjust from

23.5" / 60 cm when closed to 51" 130 cm when fully extended for hiking

Section Lengths

Top section 19.5" / 49.53 cm

Middle section 19.25" / 48.98 cm

Tip section 18.75" / 47.62 cm

(Sections are replaceable separately should you break one - unlikely, though I have managed to cut one of my LT4s in half with a machete - don't ask!)

03/11/2017: Ultralight Rain Jackets: I am looking around for a new rain jacket of both of us. People’s raincoats often weigh as much as 500 grams. Try weighing yours. So there is nearly a day’s worth of food (weight) to be saved in exploring a change to this item alone.

For many years I hunted deer in winter in the Victorian mountains carrying only a bum-bag or one of those poacher’s vests to keep all my gear down to a minimum. If it was not raining when I started out so that I was wearing my raincoat (which I would tie around my waist - as you do) if it stopped, all I ever carried was one of those 50 gram emergency ponchos (orange is a good colour in case you need to be found!). Often it rained all day. Admittedly I shredded them completely in the rough bush, but they even then they did keep me substantially dry. If you are track walking only, (and are careful with them - and have a bit of emergency repair tape besides) you can keep one going for several days. The best part is they cost only $1-3! You would be even better carrying one of Coghlans Emergency Survival Ponchos (mylar) at 88 grams and approx $10 as they will also keep you warm – even overnight in an emergency.

PS: Waterproofness and Breathability: I doubt very much of a raincoat ever needs to be over 1500mm of waterproofness. What this means ois that the fabric will support a column of water 1500mmm height (That’s 5’ in English!) before it begins to leak. Unless you are planning to use your raincoat as a boat, that will be quite enough. I doubt it can ver rain hard enough to exceed the weight of 5’ of water pressing onto it. Mind you, where there is also other pressure (eg your shoulder straps, that will have to be added to the waterproofness, so maybe, just maybe. Most every raincoat is over 10,000mmm of waterproofness, so I think you can probably ignore any figure over this. They will all keep out the rain!

As to breathability. I admit I was awestruck when Goretex first came along and wasted lots of good money on their rain jackets. I never found they were any better than my old oiled or waxed japaras. Under the right (or wrong) conditions of humidity you would get soaked to the skin in either! I have thought Event was a little better, but I have since been utterly drenched in that too – so I don’t know. A girl reviewing the Arcteyx below claims utterly superior breathability – perhaps I need to try that out!

We have a number of reasonably lightweight raincoats, some of which have done us sterling service in pretty wet places like Fiordland or Southern Tasmania, for example. Sometimes though, you can not like the feel or fit of a particular coat without finding any other fault with it. It is probably much like shoes and handbags (or cats as Lewis Carroll used to say): you just can’t have too many of them. Naturally though, the lighter the fabric the less durable the jacket will be in rough going. If you are going to be doing a lot of bush-bashing over the life of your jacket you should not choose an ultralight raincoat. We would mainly be buying a new ultralight jacket as a weight saving to have in our packs on multi-day hikes when we were not expecting it to rain.

Naturally I would want a raincoat Mens Size (eg Large) which is at least under 200 grams and preferably under 150, and one in Womens Size (eg Small) for Della which is under 150 and preferably under 120. Available colour can be a problem for some people. For example, I have a white raincoat, which is fine except I want it to be green. Probably neither of us wants to own another blue one – and so on. Price can also be an important factor. I have been looking at some possible choices:

Zpacks Vertice Rain Jacket 176 grams (Mens Medium) US$299 http://www.zpacks.com/accessories/wpb_jacket.shtml  The white raincoat I have is one of Joe’s. I accidentally ordered it in the wrong lengths (sleeves and coat) so that it doesn’t quite suit me, though it keeps me quite dry enough (and weighs under 150 grams in Men’s Large). This (white) material is his old material which is clearly lighter than his new one. I personally don’t like the ‘sticky’ feel of it, though there is nothing wrong with it. I dislike running my fingernails over felt too, but I can’t explain why. We both have rain pants in his new fabric and they feel fine and work excellently.  You may want something cheaper though…

Montane Minimus 230 grams (Mens) grams: https://www.montane.co.uk/mens-c1/minimus-jacket-p57  Della has a Montane jacket in Event which she just loves. This one would be a lightweight replacement for it. They used to make a jacket known as the H2O which would have been even lighter (around 150 grams) but it is no longer available. I am seeing this jacket from around A$170 which is pretty good value for a well-made product.

Montbell Versalite Jacket. I really like this one in Green, my favourite colour! We have lots of Montbell products which are lightweight and very functional, so this one has to be a likely candidate for me. It is good value for money from a well-known brand: https://www.montbell.us/products/disp.php?cat_id=25013&p_id=2328167&gen_cd=2 189 grams (Mens M)  A$189

Arcteryx Norvan: This Arcteryx jacket has to be worthy of consideration. This lady has given it an impressive review here. https://www.switchbacktravel.com/reviews/arcteryx-norvan-sl-hoody  $299 (215 grams in Mens large - 100grams (XS Womens?) US$299

Lukes Micro 10 Jacket 4.1 oz (Large) US$179: https://lukesultralite.com/products/raingear I really like the sound of this jacket. I just received a pair of Luke’s shorts. They actually weighed less tha his listed weight (25/28 grams). The legs are quite long too, so I will probably hem them up a bit shorter so that they come in at about 22 grams which would be hard to beat for an item of clothing to wear when mixed bathing or doing the laundry on the trail. Luke’s jacket seems to be the lightest and relatively the cheapest. I am tempted to order one and see how it goes. A sub 120 gram jacket in my size (Men’s Large) is pretty awesome.

Two others I should mention:

DriDucks: These are both ultralight and ultra-cheap (as well as being probably the most breathable available. if you are very careful with them, they will keep you quite dry. They also feel beautiful. The jacket alone is (from memory under 150 grams. The jacket plus pants costs around US$25! https://www.froggtoggsraingear.com/DriDucks.shtm

DIY Tyvek: As usual, you can make your own out of Tyvek. We are talking 150 grams and around US$10 here: Here is the link to do so: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultra-cheap-ultralight-rain-gear/

Good Luck and Happy Shopping!

PS: Looking at the pics above I am reminded of Henry Ford's comment: You can have any colour you like as long as it's black!'

See Also:












30/10/2017: The Ultralight Deer Hunter: You will definitely see more deer if you spend longer deep in the bush where they live, and especially if you can spend the night out with them. I prefer to 'get away from it all' and camp out far from anyone else rather than hunting the fringes of private land where I admit there are lots of deer.

Here are some suggestions for an ultralight deer hunter’s ‘Gear List’. In any case it is worthwhile reducing your overall hunting pack weight as it will mean you can walk further (and more quietly). The further you walk, and the harder you look, listen and smell, the more deer you will encounter. See Also: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hammock-hunting-till-dark/

Pack: First of all, as I suggested here (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/best-hunting-daypack/ & http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hunting-daypack/), you need to reduce your pack weight. The ‘MLD Burn’ is an excellent choice for a rugged hunting overnight or day pack at 370 grams. You might also consider Zpacks’ 38 litre Nero at 309 grams: http://www.zpacks.com/backpacks/nero.shtml though the fabric is a little lighter. It may nonetheless be just as strong - or even stronger. It is adjustable.


What would I put in it for an overnight stop?

Tent: Of course I would have my ‘Pocket Poncho Tent’ (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-pocket-poncho-tent/) at 185 grams – and you may be lucky to have one too if I can manage to organize manufacturing them in Asia somewhere (soon?) Otherwise you should look around for something around 250 grams such as Gossamer Gear’s Twinn Tarp: https://www.gossamergear.com/collections/tents/products/twinn-tarp NB: As an alternative, I have also recommended a hammock/tarp/pad combo here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hammock-hunting-till-dark/

If you prefer a tent, you could either make your own as I do, perhaps starting with this: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/poly-tent-by-the-ultralight-hiker-on-the-cheap/ for approx $10 (try a search for 'Tent' above) eg the Forester Tent (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/new-tyvek-forestertent-design/), or there are quite a few 500 gram (ish) tents now available, such as this one: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/500-gram-tents/, or Six Moon Designs eg  https://www.sixmoondesigns.com/collections/tarps/products/gatewood-capen at 340 grams, or Mountain Laurel Designs eg:

https://mountainlaureldesigns.com/product/trailstar/ from 340 grams, or Zpacks eg http://www.zpacks.com/shelter/solplex.shtml 439 grams (this one includes floor/bug net), etc.

Pegs/Guys: Of course you will need some pegs (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/tent-stakes-and-tricks/ )and guys (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-perfect-guy-line-for-a-hiking-tenttarp/), say about 70-80 grams worth..

Groundsheet: I might use a space blanket as a ground sheet if I thought I needed one; I usually carry one anyway for safety/first aid (50 grams) – but I will soon have my Bathtub Groundsheet Chair (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/bathtub-groundsheet-chair/) when I get around to making it - at approx 85 grams (I estimate). A little comfort never went astray! There are lots of ultralight options including polycryo: https://www.gossamergear.com/products/polycryo-tent-footprint-ground-cloths which would work out at 23 grams. If you yearn for something a little tougher, I guess you could opt for a piece of sinylon, eg http://www.tiergear.com.au/11/products/xenon-sil-11 which will still likely be under 50 grams depending on size (eg 2' X 7'). You can drape the edges over some fallen timber to create a bathtub floor effect if it is raining heavily and you anticipate flooding.

Mat: You could use a 4’ Thermarest Neoair X-Lite (ie Small https://www.thermarest.com/mattresses/neoair-xlite-2 ) as a mat, and put your feet on your pack for a bit of insulation – 230 grams. For more comfort I usually opt for the ‘Womens’ size at 340 grams and 5'6" http://www.theultralighthiker.com/womens-are-great-in-bed/.

If/when it becomes available I would try the Big Agnes AXL Air: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/big-agnes-axl-air-pad/ (300 grams for the 6’ long by 3” thick model which I would shorten by about 6” – 270 grams - as I am somewhat vertically challenged! Anyway I usually sleep on my side curled up a bit so I can fit comfortably on a 5' mat).

Sleeping Bag: My favourite sleeping bag is the Montbell UL Super Spiral Down Hugger #3 now at 624 grams http://www.theultralighthiker.com/montbell/ though my own older model is lighter (<600). I would also carry some other Montbell clothes (See ‘Clothes’ below) for warmth such as the ‘Superior Down’ coat (200 grams) and vest (150 grams). If it is a particularly cold night I put the coat on my upper body and the vest on my lower. This reduces the temperature of the down bag from -1c to approx -10C.

Zpacks makes an even lighter model (which Della has). Her 5'9" bag warm to -7C weighs 499 grams inc compression sack: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/new-zpacks-sleeping-bag/

Pillow: You should try this: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/exped-ultralight-pillow/ at 45 grams or this: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/diy-super-ultralight-pillow/ . Say 10 grams.

Of course Bonnie Prince Charlie (somewhat effeminately) used just a stone as a pillow when he was camping out in the snow in a Scottish winter in just his kilt and cloak. Those Scots are/were tough!

Dry Socks & Shoes: If you suffer from cold feet, you might consider a pair of Goosefeet Gear down sox  https://goosefeetgear.com/products/down-socks/ – 50 grams (and of course I carry my home-made Dyneema slippers for a dry change of shoes: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/19-gram-dyneema-camp-shoes/ - 24 grams.

Another option is a pair of Sealskin Socks https://www.sealskinz.com/walking-thin-ankle-socks-dark-grey-black.htm (mine weigh approx 80 grams but they may not be the lightest model) which enable you to wear wet shoes - or just carry dry socks and maybe some Crocs.

Cookset: I outlined my minimum cookset here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-windscreen/ 60 grams. A slightly larger model here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/cookset-woes/ Of course you will need a 9 gram (12 long) spoon to go with that: http://www.seatosummit.com.au/products/kitchen/alpha-light/ and maybe some Esbits - or you could be carrying your egg-ring stove (as I do) and just burn some twigs: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-egg-ring-ultralight-wood-burner-stove/

Rainwear: Try to keep the weight of this down. If you weigh your raincoat don’t be surprised if it is over 500 grams. Choice here is a bit more difficult for hunting where significant abrasion might be a factor. (Much moreso if you are a hound hunter rather than a stalker). Raincoats range down to around 150 grams or less, (Luke's Ultralight/Zpacks) - again see Montbell’s range.

If you are careful with a lightweight coat it will serve you well. If you are trying to be very quiet it is unlikely you will tear your raincoat; besides it isn't always raining.

Soon (I hope) you will be able to take advantage of my Pocket Poncho tent which will keep you dry both during the day and at night (with a minimum weight of about 185 grams.

Raincoat: Lightest and best value for money are probably Montbell’s offerings, eg the Versalite https://www.montbell.us/products/disp.php?cat_id=25013&p_id=2328276&gen_cd=1 at 189 grams.

The cheapest fully breathable waterproof jacket (not very durable – but very light) is the DriDucks by Frogg Toggs. I personally like an ‘Event’ Raincoat; I have two which have kept me very dry in trying conditions. I also like Zpack’s new raincoat.

Hat: If you really want to have a warm head of a night, I have one of Ray Jardine’s ‘Bomber’ hats my wife Della made for me years ago at 30 grams. I doubt she will make one for you. A number of people offer down balaclavas, eg: http://www.zpacks.com/accessories/goosehood.shtml at 37 grams or https://goosefeetgear.com/products/down-balaclava/.

I also use a ‘Buff’ http://www.theultralighthiker.com/are-you-beautiful-in-the-buff/ to keep my neck and particularly my nose warm (37.5 grams) This is the very acme of luxury! During the day I have my Icebreaker wool cap (now alas, deleted): http://www.theultralighthiker.com/best-deer-hunters-cap-best-ultralight-cap/ fortunately I have a number of them!

Gloves: If it is really freezing, I have the MLD Rain Mittens http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-mitts-and-gaiters/ 42 grams. (I also have their ultralight gaiters – I find they work wonderfully to keep rubbish out of your shoes). The mittens work really well on very cold wet days when otherwise your hands would freeze – of course they do interfere just a bit with your trigger finger!

Under the mitts I can wear a pair of ultralight polypropylene or wool gloves, such as Icebreaker’s Oasis Glove Liners http://au.icebreaker.com/en/accessories/oasis-glove-liners/IBM207.html?dwvar_IBM207_color=001 at 24 grams.

Dry Clothes: Dry clothes (and a raincoat) are options if it is likely to rain. (Otherwise you might just carry a disposable poncho and risk having to dry your clothes out with your body heat). Keep these as light as possible. Again Montbell are hard to beat with their windpants 53/75 grams and windshirts 55 grams https://www.montbell.us/products/list.php?cat_id=25048&gen_cd=1, or you could just take some Icebreaker of Kathmandu wool thermals as your dry change – and for extra night insulation.

Clothes: Start from the skin out. Weigh your clothes. Most of those proprietary ‘hunting’ clothes and shoes are heavy as lead, particularly when wet. I always wear wool socks. The lightweight Holeproof Heroes (now rebadged as Bonds) in summer, and Explorers in winter have been long-term stand-bys for me, durable and cheap.

Wigwam are, arguably better but much more expensive. I have not tried them yet, but these folk guarantee their (hunting) socks for lifehttps://darntough.com Unbelievable! http://www.theultralighthiker.com/warranties-on-outdoor-gear/

Then I would wear lightweight trousers such as the Columbia Silver Ridge. (I have yet to find anything as light and as durable for their weight). To counter the smelliness which can develop in nylon clothing I recommend wearing Icebreaker wool knickers such as these underneath: http://au.icebreaker.com/en/mens-layering-underwear/anatomica-briefs/103031.html?dwvar_103031_color=401

Since you will normally be hunting in the winter months wear a long sleeve wool shirt such as the Tomar from Kathmandu or the Departure 2 from Icebreaker. They are tough enough to withstand a bit of bush-bashing. In the summer months I wear a knitted wool top such as this: http://www.kathmandu.com.au/mens/clothing/tops/ometo-men-s-polo-shirt-v2.html but they are not so durable.

Anyway always wool if you don't want to stink - and remember if you stink the deer will smell you too! . For layering, I also recommend wool: an Icebreaker/Kathmandu tee, long top and/or longjohns. I also wear an Icebreaker wool cap: which unfortunately for you are no longer available.

NB: These folk now have wool camo hunting clothes: https://www.firstlite.com/products.html just as Icebreaker used to have: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/camo-merino-wool-for-deer-hunting/

For insulated layers in really cold weather and of a night, I choose Montbell again. Their Thermawrap series are one of the lightest synthetic insulated garments. You might chose a vest in this material for an extra layer if needed in the daytime (when it might get wet) and a Montbell down coat of a night. I own their Superior Down coat (and vest, as well as the Thermawrap vest). I see they now have a 1000 fill power down (Plasma) jacket – but it is much more expensive.

Larry Adler is the Australian supplier: https://www.montbelloutdoor.com.au/  There are some items which they do not stock, but they might get them in...Ask them. If it is still unavailable it is possible to order it from the US (using shipito) but you also need a virtual credit card (also from shipito). Messy, but possible.

Shoes: I suggest some ultralight shoes such as the Topos I reviewed here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/topo-terraventure-shoes/  or some Keens: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/keen-shoes/ If you have wide feet like me. There are other lightweight options such as Inov-8s if you have narrower feet.

Guns and Knives: I have posted about the lightest effective knife I have found (at 16 grams ea) here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultimate-blades-for-the-ultralight-hunter/

Another heavier choice which might interest you (if you don't fancy sharpening your knife) is here:


If you do like to sharpen it, you might still want an ultralight sharpener: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-knife-sharpener/

You probably know I use a lever action .308 in take-down (so I can put it in my canoe bag or pack): http://www.theultralighthiker.com/308s/. You probably also know that the short action round makes for a lighter gun than the long action. I realise a lever action (and a take-down) both outweigh a standard bolt action, but I have my reasons.

Also, sambar are not really 'big game' animal. A .308 is quite adequate to stop them. If you want something 'bigger' try the WSM. Obviously iron sights (which I chose for ethical reasons) are much lighter too than telescopic sights.

There are people who specialise in 'sporterising' rifles to make them lighter (as everyone, including me), used to do with their old .303s! You could probably get your deer rifle down to perhaps 2.5kg, so still it is clearly the single heaviest thing you are carrying.


Torch: I use a AAA torch. I confess I am outrageous and often carry two of them (one for use as a lantern and one as a headlamp), but they only weigh at most 14-16 grams each (inc some string a micro cord lock and a couple of O-rings to turn them into a head torch): http://www.theultralighthiker.com/lighter-brighter-better/http://www.theultralighthiker.com/11-gram-rechargeable-head-torch/ Clearly you also need a few spare batteries at 10 grams each.

Phone: I take my Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini phone with me (at 120 grams inc battery) as (in Flight Mode) I can get nearly a week's use out of it just every now and then using the mapping App, or reading a book, listening to music, etc. It also makes a good back-up camera.

Camera: The camera I am using at the moment is this one: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/new-camera/ http://www.theultralighthiker.com/camera-glassing/ at 160 grams inc battery/card (and it has taken some good shots - I'm sure you'll agree!), but I know there are now models with better optics (eg 30-40 X zoom) and programming which are not a lot heavier, and which will secure some better long-distance/poor light etc shots. The Sony XXX is a case in point.

PLB: I think you should carry some safety equipment (apart from your First Aid kit). If you are on a budget the Spot Messenger http://www.theultralighthiker.com/get-lost-get-found-plbepirb/ at 114 grams is the way to go. If you are a bit better heeled then you might go for an Inreach http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-poor-mans-satellite-phone/ at 191 grams or even an Iridium Extreme Sat Phone at 247 grams: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-not-so-poor-mans-sat-phone/

Saw: You will need something perhaps to get those antlers off (or you may choose to carry out the whole head and cape out if you are very strong). You can make an ultralight bow saw (eg using a 15" bone saw blade) as discussed here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-saws/ The lightest thing I know for this purpose is a length of embryo wire (available from veterinarians).

First Aid: You certainly should carry a small kit. It is a matter of personal taste what you carry really. I carried an elastic bandage and a sling (for example) for over twenty years and never needed them - but when I did (della dislocated her shoulder) I needed them in the worst way! I carry a number of drugs: Panadeine Forte, some anti-inflammatories, anti-nausea, Imodium, antihistamine, band-aids, bandages, blister pads... I would allow at least 100 grams for this vital component.  

Essentials Tally (Gun and Ammo + worn clothing plus):

Pack:370 grams

Tent: 340 grams

Pegs/Guys: 80 grams

Groundsheet: 50 grams

Mat: 340 grams

Pillow: 45 grams

Sealskin Socks: 80 grams

Cookset: 69 grams

Dry top/bottom: 108 grams

Insulated vest & coat: 156 + 208

Knife: 32 grams

Saw: 20 grams

Phone: 120 grams

PLB: 114 grams

Torch and batteries: 56 grams

First Aid, say 100 grams

Cumulative Total:2218 grams

Add Food: approx 500 grams/ day.

I'm sure you can see that my total is probably less than the weight of your day pack (empty).

PS: I have usually gone for a higher number here than I actually carry (eg so that it is something you can currently buy), so that for example my tent weighs 185 grams, my current pack 230 grams...so, I could probably shave 300+ grams off this total, say to a max of 1.9kg!

Spot and I stop for lunch by the river. That small pack has everything I need for over a week's hunting - including Spot's bed and rations, and he is a bigger eater than I am! And you can see I had brought my machete along in case I needed to do some clearing, and my hiking poles in case my knees or back gave trouble - which fortunately they did not.

If you would like to get an encyclopedic idea of my multi-day hiking list, you might find this interesting: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-gorilla-in-the-hand/

See Also:



29/10/2017: The Fast Hiker: I know I certainly don't look it (and I confess I am not), but the site had been dreadfully slow. Didn't bother me - I am in no hurry to meet my maker. But I know many of you have better things to do than waiting for pages to load...so i am working on speeding things up.

As I work on it some speed problems are intermitently getting worse, but I/we are tackling the issue, and it will get enormously better!

So far the Home Page has shrunk from over 16 megabytes to 1.3 (mainly by removing photos. I compressed all 14,500 photographs (by 69%!) with Short Pixel Optimiser. This saves people a lot of data! I updated PHP to version 7.1 which sped things up by about 50%. I have updated teh Cron job -whatever that is! I also installed WP Super Cache which stores pages which have already been accessed and so speeds up loading them.

The speed to load a page should already have come down from something like 10 seconds (Sorry!) to something like 2 seconds. I hope I can get it under 1 second without any loss of functionality/quality, etc. Of course I am no computer expert. i am a retired farmer (who still has a lot of thistles to spray and other odd jobs) and who would like to be off hiking/canoeing, etc.

These were the easy fixes. Getting down from around 2 seconds to under 1 second will involve a whole lot of quite cunning computer programming wrinkles where I will no doubt need some professional help, but I will keep hammering away at it over the next few weeks until i achieve that goal. The list is incredibly long and complicated! Thanks for being patient!

28/10/2017: The Lure of the Moose:

Oh, the enchantments of Fiordland: Again and again I have returned to this lush green Eden searching for one of these surviving giants of the Pleistocene, which though deported from their ancient homeland in the vast Boreal forests of the North, yet linger there today. For me it is a tale which began when I picked up a copy of Australian Deer back in the 1990s on whose cover this wonderful grainy image gazed out at me:

Instantly I wanted to put myself in that picture. My daughter Merrin even Photoshopped me into it as a birthday present! The article which accompanied it introduced me to this man, Eddie Herrick whose quest for this gentle giant in the vastness of Fiordland with his guide Jim Muir consumed so much of his life. Every year for thirty years he spent three months there, searching for them: ten whole years of their lives! Even more of Muir's. On three occasions he was rewarded with such an experience as the photo above shows: two bulls and a three-legged cow!

The one above was the bull moose he took in 1934 in what is now eponymously Herrick Creek in Wet Jacket Arm, Dusky Sound. I guess it is about the top of the small lake in the lower section of the creek. You can see he was about the age (50-ish) I was when I began my search, so I had no feeling that what I was to undertake was impossible. Though I have found that it is very nearly so, and anyway supremely difficult, every year a powerful magnetism draws me thither.

Jim Macintosh's cow moose 1950s:

Shortly after I read the article I acquired Ken Tustin’s wonderful book and video ‘A Wild Moose Chase’, Max Curtis’ ‘Beyond the River’s Bend’ and Ray Tinsley’s ‘Call of the Moose,’ each being about NZ’s famous or fantastic moose herd - and all of which I devoured eagerly. I was hooked.

At the same time I read several other books about moose in general. I was soon becoming an armchair expert on these giant creatures. Of course I wanted to journey to New Zealand to have a look myself. I never imagined I would have enough money to see them in Canada where you have to push them off the back porch - anyway I prefer a challenge!

My fiftieth birthday came and went. My wife, Della purchased me the first brand new deer caliber rifle I had ever owned, a Browning Lever Action (BLR) in .308 calibre. What a wife! She also encouraged me to make the trip as soon as I could before I was too old to do so. Hang the expense! I planned to go in the New Year 2000; it ended up getting pushed out to nearly the end of February. Still an excellent time to be in Fiordland. Two sambar hunting mates, Brett and Michael got wind that I was going (originally by myself) and decided they needed to chaperone me!

Lots of planning, particularly of gear ensued. You would think we were C18th century explorers heading off for darkest Africa! All the same I was only going away from home for eight days. I really don't know how Della was able to manage to look after the farm/s as well as go to work then - we had hundreds of acres and well over a thousand sheep scattered over half a dozen different properties - but she did. I think we planned on having five days 'moose hunting' at Supper Cove.

Cow moose snapped by Max Curtis, Herrick Creek, Wet Jacket Arm, Dusky Sound 1950s

We landed in Christchurch then drove down to Te Anau. Michael at least had never been to NZ before and Brett had not seen Fiordland. This was a sentimental journey for me as Della and I had lived in Christchurch in 1975 and had toured all over the South Island together on a 250cc Honda motorcycle. I had never been anywhere without her before, so I confess I was missing her as we traveled down the island. Everything i saw I wanted her to see too. She would have to wait another thirteen years for her turn! She is a patient person.

We had organised to fly in with the 'Wings on Water' float plane to Supper Cove and so begin our search from there. This was the first time Michael or I had ever been in a small plane. As I have a problem with heights (even to changing lightbulbs!) I felt that I would have to close my eyes, grit my teeth and endure, but as it turned out I loved it, and would pay to do it again and again!

The high flight over Lakes Te Anau and then Manapouroi, glimpses into icy sunless valleys to the north, a panorama of Doubtful Sound, then the plunge through Centre Pass and a slow descent down the mighty Seaforth valley over towering Tripod Hill and the perched Lochs (Gair & Maree), past the southern home of the moose (the Henry Burn) and on to the glittering expanse of the vast Dusky fiord is a journey worth a million dollars (but only costs NZ$330 - 2017!)

Percy Lyes NZ bull moose 1950s

We had all been hunting sambar deer in (what we thought of as) rough country in Gippsland for years, so reckoned we could tour the Fiordland forests in much the same way. For example, It is just a handful of kilometres ('as the bird flies') from Supper Cove over the range to the mouth of Herrick Creek. We foresaw that as a day hunt. In fact it is an arduous trip of at least four days return which I am yet to complete. Being just shy of 70 now, I am doubtful I ever will, but next autumn I know I will feel differently once more!

Supper Cove is at the head of Dusky Sound, the largest fiord in NZ. It was discovered and named by the same Captain Cook as the East Coast of Australia. The first European structures in NZ were built there - even the first house, surprisingly by the shipwrecked crew of another ship also (like Cook's) called the 'Endeavour'.

The Supper Cove hut is adjacent to a lovely little beach where the Hilda Burn flows into the top of the fiord just South of Supper Cove itself - which is formed by the mighty Seaforth River flowing into the head of the fiord, creating a shallow semicircular cove perfect for flatfish. You can walk across this cove at low tide from the northern end of this little beach just past the helipad, but there is a deep gut formed by the Hilda Burn flowing in, so if you want a drier crossing you are better to walk up the track past the Hilda Burn before you cross.

Brett walking across Supper Cove on a low-ish tide:

If you wish to look for moose (or red deer eg during the Roar) along the Seaforth the three huts (Supper Cove, Loch Maree and Kintail) are good bases from which you can make daily forays up the many 'Burns' and onto the slips searching for these elusive monsters which (especially in the warmest days of summer) I believe often lie cooling themselves in the deeper pools. At other times they are likely to be too widely dispersed for you to ever encounter one, but they do particularly like the fuchsia regrowth on slips. If you are there at the end of February as we were on this occasion, you might even hear a bull moose call (as we did on the last day of February 2000), or perhaps even a cow answer him.

Initially at least Michael decided he would make the Henry Burn his own, whilst Brett and I focused our attentions on the Hilda and 'Waterfall' Burns. We arrived around lunchtime and reckoned impetuously we had enough time to check out the Hilda Burn quite thoroughly that afternoon. Of course we had not gone more than 300 metres before we realised that our times/distances would be very different than we had imagined.

If you try to follow the Hilda Burn upwards you realise quite soon that your way is blocked by a vast angry cataract that it is impossible to pass or climb. You have to go up one side or the other. The first afternoon we ascended on the true right bank (looking downstream - that is the convention). About 200 yards above the existing hut there is the ruins of an earlier hut. The first thing I knew about it was that I had tripped over a barbed wire 'fence' hiding in the undergrowth badly tearing my shin- something which you most certainly are not expecting in the enormous wilderness of Fiordland. No-one I have encountered seems to know anything at all about this ruin, but there is some wire, netting and sheets of iron there which might come in handy sometime if you know they exist.

The cataract in the Hilda Burn

Here are the remains of the old hut.

Even only traveling this far up the ridge you need to be alert to keeping the position in mind of the roar of the water falling in the Burn, as when you turn to descend you will swiftly realise that the country fissures and falls away in all directions with very steep, narrow guts which it is well-nigh impossible to traverse laterally, something which the deliberate focusing on ascent is likely to lead you to ignore. It is incredibly easy to become 'bluffed out' in Fiordland - meaning that you may relatively easily ascend but when descending not be able to find or see a way down at all. You have to pay incredibly close attention to the route you took on the way up.

We climbed above the second hut, hauling ourselves over rocks and tree roots through vastly wet, dense terrain until the roar of the water diminished so we judged we could safely descend into the upper Hilda Burn. As we angled down into it at one point we had to climb a monstrous fallen log about the height of my nose (say about 5'), so that I could not actually see the top of it. When I had clambered my way up onto it, I was astonished to find right on top of it fresh moose droppings! Boy, they are big beasts! It was completely obvious what they were, as everywhere in the forest there were red deer droppings - pretty much indistinguishable from sambar droppings (being similarly sized deer ie approximately jelly bean sized).

The enormous moose droppings centre and normal sized red deer droppings right and below them (above the leaf).

These moose droppings were nearly as large as my thumb in comparison. Brett picked up some red deer droppings and handed them to me so that I could photograph the two so they could be compared. Back then practically no-one believed that moose had survived in Fiordland into the C21st. Most believed they had died out soon after Percy Lyes had shot his bull moose back in the early 1950's. But here we were only an hour or so into the Fiordland forest and we had in our hands (so to speak) proof that a moose had passed this way within the last day or two (the incessant rain makes smart work of any 'sign' in Fiordland).

Above is a photo of those fewmets. My apologies for the quality of the photos in this post. In 2000 I had the latest 'Advantix' film camera, but technology sure marches on. I thought the snaps I took back then were just brilliant, but I am embarrassed by their poor quality now, as I am also becoming embarrassed by the present quality of my digital camera compared with the results from Della's Samsung Galaxy 7's. Mind you the forests are so dark, it is very difficult indeed to get good photos. Maybe if you are an expert (and can afford to lug along a few kilos of photography kit), as I am neither...

We beat our way down towards the river following the tracks I guess of a large red deer. He arrived at the river just above a wide clearing on the true right bank caused by one of the innumerable slips which beset that country and which create most of the new feeding opportunities for the moose herd. Unusually (most are covered with fuchsia regrowth) this slip had been kept quite grassy by the innumerable red deer, of which there was lots of sign. But also, cutting right across the bottom of the clearing were the huge tracks of a moose. With feet as large as a cow's or horse's he had sunk almost a foot deep as he crossed. The smaller red deer tracks in comparison had made much less of an impression, and were everywhere to be seen and compared There was no comparison. Clearly these tracks were from a vastly larger animal, which in that situation could be nothing but a moose.

The clearing on the true left side of the Hilda Burn.

Eddie Herrick shot an ancient three-legged cow moose (I think) in the Hilda Burn in the 1930s. She was likely the one who clearly broke its leg when they were tipped out off the boat in Supper Cove. You can see that one has a broken leg in the photo of the herd standing in Supper Cove looking mournful - poor things had been raised on lucerne and such! Amazingly, though she must have lost the leg (to gangrene?), she had survived in that most moose inhospitable terrain for nigh on thirty years. Knowing that they were that tough I had many doubts that they had somehow mysteriously died out sometime after 1950. Here was one who had walked across this clearing in the last day or two, clearly making this valley and its surrounds its home!

Brett in the Hilda Burn.

Also on this clearing there was a small tree or sapling (I suppose 3" in diameter) which had clearly been pushed over and stripped by something, the bark on the top also having been chewed away. I remember wondering why the tree had 'fallen' at such a strange angle, as if an immense wind had pushed it over, so that its top was no more than a metre above the ground. I guess it was nearly twenty years before I was informed by (Ken Tustin) that this behaviour of  walking trees down is a favourite moose feeding strategy. On this trip I saw it again and again - and I have seen it many more times since. It is unmistakable moose 'sign'.

By the time we had descended to the stream it was becoming sufficiently dark that we needed to turn right round and head back unless we wanted to spend our first night in Fiordland sitting around in our raincoats in cold, wet bush. For advice about that, see: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/raincoat-shelter/ You should definitely avoid that situation. My advice is to carry a hammock and tarp so you can spend a dry night in the bush.

Looking down from the Hilda Burn.

I guess it was the next day we decided, (it having been too difficult scrambling up the true right bank) that we would find a way up the true left bank. Let me tell you, it was no better, if not worse. There is some very steep going, a huge tangle of fallen trees, at least one waterfall to traverse - just to get above the cataract. And you had better remember just how you got there, as when you are coming back down you will find that the way up was the only way! Just that happened to us. It was only that when we became 'bluffed' we sat down for a smoke or a bite to eat, to 'study' on our dilemma, and when we sat down that we realised that the last little bit we had had to crawl up - a reality which became apparent when we got low enough to see where we had come. A cup of tea or a smoke (or sleep on it) are always good strategies if in doubt.

We saw a few red deer on the slip as we passed. They weren't particularly alerted to our passage. The heavy cover of moss everywhere in Fiordland and the sodden nature of everything sucks up a lot of sound. Mostly all you can ever hear is water moving, falling, sloshing, dripping...There is very little birdsong (well, there are very few birds) but even so their song does not carry as it does in Victoria. Often you can see that they are singing even quite close up, say less than 20 yards, yet are unable to hear them.

On this or another occasion Brett was walking up the true right bank as I walked up the true left. At one point I wanted to attract his attention, so I whistled. No response. Then I blew a blast on my ultra loud Fox 40 whistle which the manufacturers reckon you can hear up to a mile away! No response. He was perhaps 40 metres away. The sound was just soaked up by the forest. And he is not deaf like I am. You can see how, the folks who have shot a moose in Fiordland pretty much universally just stumbled on it (usually very close to a creek) when it stood up, they went, 'Crack!' and down it went. End of hunting story.

Walking high up in the Hilda Burn:

There is a section of morass to cross (on the true left bank). It is quite difficult going, and remains so. These morasses are ubiquitous in Fiordland and very dangerous. I can well believe you can get stuck in them and be unable to extricate yourself. You can very suddenly plunge (right on the edge) up to your hips - as I have done many times. If you can throw yourself backwards as you fall in it is easier to get out.  Another grave danger of walking in the Fiordland bush is that all these large gullies are actually the moraines of ancient glaciers. Underneath they are boulder fields. And in many places not very far underneath. You need to test each step before you put your weight on it to ensure that you are not going to plunge downwards into a huge crevasse - as I did on the fourth day trying to ascend the 'Waterfall Burn'. Downwards over my head in an instant. Fortunately I did not break anything except my dignity and I was able to climb back out again. Probably the gullies are worst for this than the ridges.

I cannot now remember whether on the particular day I am relating I was alone in the valley - as I have been several times since - or if Brett was somewhere else in the valley. Anyway, I had dropped down into the stream by myself and was wading along in it - as that was the easiest going, Every now and then getting out, then getting back in again. I'm sure you know what thick difficult going is like. There came a point where as I was rounding a bend in the stream, (the banks being nearly as high as I am) something very large and dark surged up and thundered off in a cloud of spray further up the stream, giving me just the barest glimpse of it. All I could say was that it was not a bull, as I would have been able to see its antlers above the banks of the stream.

I followed it (as quietly as I could - spooked things will often halt to look back and see what it was which frightened them) when shortly the stream split in two. Where the two streams joined there was a large patch of sand, and clear as day in the sand were the unmistakable prints of a moose. They were very nearly as large as a cow's prints, and they had the 'signature' dew claw marks a couple of inches behind the main hoof prints such as only moose amongst deer kind have. I would have a photo of them only when I was coming back down again some time later, the rain had all but blurred them clear away - it does rain lots in Fiordland. Expect to get very, very wet, even in Goretex such as I was wearing.

It had crept off upwards into a large swampy area lying between the two streams which did not show up on the topographic map. It must have been very difficult to get good (and accurately interpret) aerial photography in Fiordland. I followed the beast around in this swampy area for I guess about an hour, each circling the other trying to get a look, sometimes seeing a bit of leg perhaps. The water was ankle to knee deep, and there were many small islands each with a vast tree protruding from its centre and surrounded by lowish bushes. The cloud cover came half-way down the trunks of the trees. A prehistoric landscape for a prehistoric creature. I could have taken a shot at it through vegetation - it was often clear just where it was - but I never (nor should you) ever do such a thing. A deer missed is one thing; a dead mate is missed a long time!

Alas, once again light was going to beat me. I had to break off the chase or I would be spending a terrible night out in this saturated forest. There is just no way you could make your way down in failing light or darkness. Having had so little trouble 'putting up' a moose, I was also optimistic that I might do it again. There is no end to human folly!

It disappeared somewhere up there into the head of the burn, and it is no doubt there yet!

After breakfast next morning we were all standing on the edge of the verandah of the hut looking up the Cove, enjoying a smoke or a cup of coffee when a large animal started calling. I thought it sounded something like a cross between a koala bear and a camel. It was definitely not a red deer (which I had heard) or a wapiti (which I have also since heard - they really do bugle. Eerie!) - and it was definitely not a bird of any kind, though there were many Canada geese on the Cove (and we had heard their call many times).

Even though we had been there then for a couple of days, we had still not (instinctively) adjusted our hearing's ability to pinpoint where a sound came from to Fiordland's conditions (I have already mentioned the episode of the whistle). It takes a while for perception to adjust. Another example is one's ability to actually focus on these NZ mountains. They are so much steeper than  ours in Australia, they appear to our perceptions to be closer and/or you find yourself actually unable to focus on exactly where they are. Things can seem blurry, eerie. When you go there you will see what I mean.

So I guess we can be forgiven for being unable to work out exactly where the moose was (we were quite sure that was what it must be - and we were right). Our Australian senses made us overlook a flat area near the mouth of the Hilda Burn nearby (too close). It was clearly coming from the next valley over, what we called the 'Waterfall Burn' both because of the waterfall at the bottom, and the even larger one at the top of it. Here is a photo of the lower one, which you can see would be very difficult and dangerous to climb, and which would be death to descend if the stream rose very much in heavy rain. I do not have a photograph, though I have 'seen' the upper one: It is 160 metres, falling straight down from the clouds the day I was there so that one could not see the top. It was as if it just fell from the sky, and so impossible to photograph! There are lots of things like that in the world. I have a fine collection of snaps where you can't make anything out at all!

The Waterfall Burn:

We decided we would somehow climb the Waterfall Burn to find the calling moose. Now, as this was the only time we heard the call (on our second or third day there I think) I might conclude that this was the end of the moose 'Roar' rather than the beginning. You should know that wherever they be in the world, the 'roar' (or mating) of the moose lasts only one week - but it is the very same week each year. Anyway it was the last day of February.

When we returned we searched the net for moose calls. The first one we played was (unknowingly) the sound of a cow moose. When we played that we were disappointed. Fooled again. you know the sort of thing. Then we played the call of the bull moose. Kapow! That was what we heard all right. So, there had been a cow moose in the Hilda Burn and a bull moose just a kilometre from it - clearly a breeding pair. There must be a few more of them even by now!

The first day we tried to ascend the Waterfall Burn we crossed the stream and tried (all day as it turned out) to beat our way up the true left side of the stream. Utterly unsuccessfully. I doubt it was possible, so don't even try! As we were crossing the stream in the morning (just between the waterfall and the walk wire), we were able to wade across, the stream it being only about mid-calf deep. I was not particularly conscious that it was raining heavily all day, but it was certainly raining. It often does in Fiordland you know. Every year at least ten metres of rain, sometimes several times that!

On this occasion when we returned to the crossing about 4:00pm in the afternoon, the stream had swollen monstrously. The walk wire was very nearly submerged. My memory is that we waited for a large tree to roll along under it before we (very trepidatiously) crossed. There is a lesson here: Never expect to be able to get to your destination when walking in Fiordland - or anywhere else for that matter. 'Be Prepared' is actually a good motto. Thanks Baden Powell.

The Waterfall Burn in flood:

Some of the trees which came thundering down the waterfall.

It does rain a lot and streams can easily rise so much (or morasses expand - you get the picture), that movement either way becomes impossible. You will just have to  stop and wait it out. Fortunately as soon as it does stop raining, because of the steepness of the terrain, the streams etc drop as quickly as they rose. The Seaforth for example is reputed to be able to rise 16 metres in a single day! Eddie Herrick himself relates a story wherein he and Jim Muir his guide almost lost their lives because of their inability to return to camp down the Seaforth, or to cross the Henry Burn.

Next day we tried again walking up a little gully between the Hilda and the Waterfall Burn. It was mostly really dreadful going through thick tree fern, boulders etc and with much broken ground underfoot. This is where/when I fell down the moraine hole. When we finally broke out onto the Burn above the waterfall we immediately tied something (a shopping bag I think) to a tree so we could find our way back down again. We were quite anxious. It had been a trying trip of...maybe a kilometre! Then we walked up the stream as far as we could get before we would have to turn around so we would be back at Supper Cove before dark.

In the top of the Waterfall Burn (You can see the shopping bag tied to the tree):

It is quite a large stream, still two-three metres wide up there I guess, and very pretty, though dark. I have been there on a later occasion, perhaps 2006, 2012 or 2013 (I know I was alone; I usually am) and walked as far as the top waterfall. There had been a moose in this valley recently. There were fresh-ish footprints - given the amount of rain the day before they had to have been no more than a day old, and there was quite a lot of browse. We did not see a moose, or any deer but after all, the hunt is what it's all about. That and seeing fresh sights, some of which maybe no man has seen before, or will again!

A morass in the Waterfall Burn.

I can remember seeing sign there again on a subsequent trip, but what exactly I cannot remember. Browse, marks, droppings...they all blur a bit with time. This year (2017) I realised I had seldom (if ever) actually photographed the browse so I could point it out to people later on (I did not have this blog before, so I had no reason!) There was plenty of old browse in the Hauroko (which I snapped some examples of), then a little barking as I descended into Loch Maree (which I forgot to snap). After that again along the Seaforth there was browse, but by then I had forgotten to take pictures altogether. You just get to enjoying the experience, thinking about other things etc. Last year I walked almost all the way back down from Everest without taking a single photo, though I saw many things I had not noticed on the way up. I had pneumonia is my excuse, but I doubt I will be going back to capture those missing snaps.

For example, in 2006 I took this snap of a couple of ducks. Look behind them though and you can see the height of the browse line on the shiny leaved tree on the right.

We walked back towards the Hilda Burn. The walk wire was out when we were there in 2000 so we had to walk down along the stream to the bottom, cross there and walk along the beach to the hut if the tide was high. If it was a bit lower, we would cross as much of Supper Cove as we could, then cut inland towards the mouth of the Hilda Burn, so our route was a bit different each time, always walking off-track. And that afternoon, in the fading light we found where the bull had been when we heard him call! And he had clearly been camped there for a couple of days, pretty much in sight of the hut - so much closer than we had estimated. But he was not there now. Probably he had gone up to join the cow at the head of the Burn! So much country. And it is utterly impossible to 'track' anything in that country. All you ever see is the odd print. The eternal moss swallows everything up, including sound.

There is this, though. That was 17 years ago now: a pair of moose within a stone's throw of the Supper Cove hut. If you imagine that they managed to breed every year, even if the mortality rate is very high or the fertility rate very low there have to still be a number of moose within cooee of the mouth of the Seaforth. There is still food for them there, and every time I go I can see browse I did not see the time before. Every time I go, I find 'fresh' moose tracks. Conditions in Fiordland are such that you just won't see prints that are a week old. There are just so many places they can easily travel with their long legs and wonderfully constructed feet where no man could possibly go. Because they are so tall they can reach food on precipitously steep slopes where red deer would have no hope.

I think it was not until the second day on that first trip that I began to notice the moose browse, despite having found moose droppings and spied some moose footprints - and having been looking hard. It was not until I came down with an itchy back probably from a sandfly my shirt had failed to stop, and had sidled up to a tree to scratch the middle of my back that, as I did so, my neck craned up and I began to see this characteristic branch breaking and snapping, oh -  so far up! Being used to sambar or red deer browse one just automatically scans the forest at just that height, but these big boys easily reach up more than a couple of feet higher than 'our' deer.

Brett pointing out some moose browse:

Another day on that trip (there were not many more, worse luck) I walked around the point of land on the other side of Supper Cove against the river before the Waterfall Burn. Many of the coprosma trees on the point had been snapped off at just the height moose love to browse 8+ feet. There was no other sign. I thought at the time maybe they were driven lower down like this in the coldest weather as sambar can be somewhat in our mountains, (There are even times that Supper Cove freezes over!) but I have since found plenty of fresh browse lower down and misdoubt now that moose suffer at all from cold. It was just a silly thought really. With moose the opposite is the case, I suspect. They suffer more from hotter weather. NZ summers of 24C or the like can perhaps be quite uncomfortable for a large Arctic animal. It is then, I suspect they spend a greater part of the day lying up in cool deep pools in the burns where the few that have been shot over the years were invariably taken.

That day we continued up as far as the ladder just above the McFarlane Burn looking for Michael who had stayed out overnight without explaining himself, so we were a bit worried - but he is an old bushman. He had a small tent (we knew) and his sleeping bag. So, of course he was fine. He had even managed to light a small fire. Well done indeed. On the way up in the middle of the track we saw an old mark we thought might have been a moose, but it could have been just several deer prints over each other some time past.

In just about the same spot quite near the Old Supper Cove hut site (which is where the track rejoins the Seaforth above the Henry Burn) I have on a number of occasions seen a relatively fresh moose track: once I would say that morning's - if it had been a sambar we would have tried to start the hounds on it once - and on another occasion about a day old, I guess. So the moose do still hang around their old haunt, the Henry Burn, or 'Moose Creek' as Herrick and the other old-time hunters used to call it.

Brett and Michael meet near the McFarlane Burn:

Old Supper Cove Hut site - you can still see the tree fern trunks which formed its floor. A pity they did not leave it standing as it was an important survival shelter - and of historical interest!

I was quite hooked by Fiordland and the Dusky after this trip and vowed to return as often as I could, an ambition with which Della fortunately concurred. It is not every man who has such a splendid wife, I know. What I have done to deserve such good fortune is a mystery to me - may it long be so. Well, it has. But circumstances (and finances) intervened to mean that it would be six years before I could make the trip again. I had returned from the first trip with a reasonable 8-point red deer rack by the way - but I have never taken a gun again. I think the moose need as much chance to breed as we can give them. Besides, guns are very heavy - weighing as much as a week's food really.

In 2006, I decided I could get away for a short trip (a week - if you are a farmer, a week away is an eternity). I decided I would fly in to Supper Cove, stay a couple of days then walk out. I had no idea even if I could do this at all at the grand old age of 56! The track brochures warned how hard it would be, and recommended only fit young folk should try it, & etc. Some of them even die. Fortunately I am young at heart, as I was still able to complete the trip this year at 68!

This was to be my introduction to 'ultralight hiking'. I knew that the weather could make a short trip much longer. Also I did not know whether at my age I would be able to make the distances between the huts, and might have to camp out most nights if I was going to be safe. I had already reasoned that a hammock and tarp would be the safest thing to camp in in Fiordland, so we had been busy making prototypes and had come up with a home-made 2 oz/yd2 hammock  and a 1.3 oz'yd2 silnylon tarp to go with it. This arrangement then weighed around 7-800 grams altogether, less than half the weight of any tent I owned or could have bought I must say, and much lighter than anything then commercially available as well - even if they did look a bit amateurish. I had camped out in it lots of times in the Gippsland bush, so i was quite confident in it.

This is the wonderful ultralight hammock I am now using, a Hummingbird: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-hummingbird-in-the-hand/ Photo is on the beach between the boat shed and the helipad, Supper Cove.  You see what I mean about being able to just camp anywhere (If there are trees) with a hammock!

I bought a Gossamer Gear G4 pack at 450 grams (which I still use sometimes), and I think back then I was still using a Snugpack or Vango synthetic bag which weighed around 8-900 grams (not my sub 600 gram Montbell I use now). I had discovered metho stoves by then, so that was down to a 7 gram model from Minibull plus home-made aluminium flashing windscreen. Back then I used to make fried bread (or Johnny Cakes) every night for lunch on the trail the next day, so I had figured a way to make the stove simmer though I can't remember now what it was! Though quite tasty, it is a bit of a tedious process making 'bread' which I have since then largely abandoned. I will do a post about it in the future though, as it is an important skill. I had moved up to a new digital camera, a Pentax Optio S40 with a 3X zoom which only weighed about 100 grams (saving at least 400 grams on my old film camera).

Back then I was still wearing either Redback Alpine Hiker leather boots (or their Blundstone equivalent) which weighed 600-650 grams dry and about another 50-100 wet, so actually much better than most boots folk still wear today. They are a good, tough boot and if you want a leather boot, I swear by them. I had earlier moved down from ex-army wool shirts and trousers to Columbia nylon shirts and pants. They are vastly lighter, but your upper body especially gets dreadfully smelly wearing them (even when you wash them and put them back on again wet as I used to do then, even if Fiordland!)

When the weather is sufficiently cool (which it almost always is in NZ), I would now wear either an Icebreaker of a Kathmandu light woolen shirt which you can wear for a week without washing (yourself or it) and never mind getting downwind of yourself, though others may disagree! I think back then I still used my lovely Snugpack synthetic coat which probably weighed as much as 600 grams. I was stronger then. I was probably using one of Big Agnes excellent inflatable mats which weighed just under 600 grams from memory, but I might ave skimped and taken a Thermarest self-inflater I suppose which weighed a little less - and was a lot less comfortable besides. And a lot colder in colder weather I might add. I have a lighter, better kit now I think. See eg: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-gorilla-in-the-hand/

On the first day up from Supper Cove to Loch Maree, just as I was about to pass opposite the Roa Stream which is on the other side of the river heading upriver (ie on the true left bank), I heard something in the water like a deer clattering across (going I'm not sure which way) and which given the prevalence of red deer there it often is. I have rarely managed to get a photo of them as they usually make off pretty smartly just like sambar in the dense bush. By the same token a hundred metres or so later on at about the point that the noise in the river was, there were very fresh prints of a huge animal crossing the track. It had clearly come out of the Roa stream, and crossed the river and passed just in front of me, and gone very obviously around the edge of  the swampy bit on the true right bank (not a bad place to camp actually) and then up into the bush on my left. And not very long ago.

You might think a swampy bit like this would be attractive to a moose, but they are a forest creature. This one skirted this particular swamp opposite the Roa Stream.

I could not really tell whether the splashing and the tracks were one and the same. I did have a bit of a look around for it for maybe an hour, but as I could not be sure whether the tracks might have been made earlier that morning or just as I approached, I did not spend a lot of time on it. It wasn't just standing around waiting for me to take a pic of it at any rate. It is a seven hours plus walk for me (then) to Loch Maree, so I pressed on, still arriving after dark in fact, as I have done on a couple of occasions.

It is a long walk, particularly if the tide is in and you can't take the 'short-cut' across the Cove. Later on I was talking to Ken Tustin on the phone. He told me that he and his wife Marg were on that very day high in the Roa stream finding lots of fresh moose browse, so I think it is very likely they pushed this guy out the bottom of the valley and across the track in front of me. This suggests a strategy to me of how a couple of very fit young people might get a snap of a moose - but it would be a pretty wild chance, I guess - and depend on there being more moose there than may be the case.

My purpose on this trip was merely to see if I could walk the Supper Cove to Manapouri 'leg' of the Dusky Track which I was very pleased to have managed in four long days when I finished, even managing a cold beer (and a much needed shower) on the evening of the fourth day! I saw no-one the whole trip, something which I always find very pleasant!

I really enjoyed the trip and purposed to take my oldest daughter Irralee with me the following year, which I did. In 2007, when we arrived at the Supper Cove hut we found that we had missed the resident moose by about a week. There was an awful lot of moose browse all around the hut, trees snapped over all around and some barking behind the hut, just in back of the toilet. Another hunter who had arrived the day before in fact pointed the barking out to us. We had no need to have the other browse pointed out. It was right in front of the hut. The tracks were all washed away and the droppings were falling apart - which is how I arrived at the conclusion of being a week late.

Some of the moose browse in front of the hut: Can you spot the twigs which have been bitten right off 8-9' up?

It would be truly awesome to wake up at the Supper Cove hut and be greeted by a moose outside the window whilst you were eating your muesli for breakfast! That year there was also quite a bit of moose browse on the fuchsia coming down from the slip above the Kenneth Burn to the Gair Loch (on the second day out from Supper Cove), but again it was over a week old.

Irralee is pointing out some Fuchsia browse near the Gair Loch.

Some old barking encountered on the way:

I again walked the track with my son, Bryn in 2008. There were a couple of spots where we found old tracks ('old' in Fiordland probably means at most a day) - anyway the animal wasn't standing in them. From memory again they were near the Old Supper Cove Hut site (ie near the Henry Burn) and near the Kintail Hut as we were crossing the walk wire over the Seaforth there - quite fresh tracks on the sand there, probably from that morning.

Of course you are always on the lookout for whatever made them, and you make forays off into the bush in the direction they appear to be heading, but the bush is so vast (and so thick) and the moose so sparse that it is a hopeless task, really. All that I can say is that you won't see a moose standing in the main street in town back home. if you want to see a Fiordland moose, you will have to be tramping around in the vastness of that wonderful forest. I would hope you shoot one only with a camera really. I have grown quite fond of them - from a distance anyway!

A couple of examples of some barking we found.

This looks like it is probably only a week old at most. Usually/oftenthe barking is much higher, 7 or 8 feet.

The browse around the Supper Cove hut (and the barking) from the year before were still clearly visible (and identifiable) a year later, by the way. In fact two years later, as my daughter was able to point it out to me on our second trip there together in 2009.

You can still see it here in 2009 with a fantail sitting on it.

Bryn and I watched this red deer stag (centre) as we were crossing the Henry Burn. A decent zoom on a waterproof camera would be a plus! You will spot him eventually!

I canoed the Seaforth in 2009, probably one of the silliest things I have ever done. As I was portaging around the shores of Loch Maree - I was walking along the shoreline so I might see any prints rather than walking the track; the water level was low enough to do so that year - they were having a drought in Fiordland. It didn't rain for the whole 13 days we were in the South Island altogether! Anyway, I came across an old set of moose tracks around about where the walk wire about half way along the Loch is. As it hadn't rained for ages, they could have been over a week old. It had just come down to the Loch for a drink, then headed back up the little valley it had come down from.

I was at Supper Cove again in 2011 with Della, but we had to leave precipitously only about an hour after we arrived as Della managed to dislocate her shoulder slipping off a rock. Ouch! Thank goodness for helicopters! No moose that year!

I walked the track again in 2012 in company with a young American, Steve Hutcheson I met at Supper Cove and an Israeli, named Renan Tsorin. Steve and I had about five days at Supper Cove, him fishing and me tramping around in the bush looking for moose. I remember I found some old tracks on the ridge above the Supper Cove hut and in the Hilda Burn - and obviously some browse. I found the same thing along the Henry Burn. I guess I walked nearly half way up it to the fork you must follow if you are to walk over into Herrick Creek - so probably to about the place a couple of the Fiordland moose were shot, long ago. No sign of them now of course.

Here is a (very) old print (the triangular indentation above the glasses case) all filled in with leaves. This would have to be about as old as you are going to be able to see a print in Fiordland - say over a week. This one was over a kilometre up on the ridge behind the hut

Looking down towards the fiord coming down from way up there. The going is pretty steep:

Particularly above Loch Maree along the river on the true left bank there was a lot of moose sign, mainly older browse - say up to a year old. I walked along the river for about three kilometres by myself above the Loch Maree hut and up the Deadwood Stream a bit before crossing over to the track. The young fellows following the track were quite surprised at how I managed to get ahead of them! The river level that year was again very low, so I could do this (and avoid a slow, nasty section of track for the first hour upriver out of Loch Maree). I figured this moose was a resident of the Deadwood Stream which looks big enough to hold a number of them! There was old browse here and there along the river that year - but no tracks.

However as we walked up through the huge slip above the Kenneth Burn, a moose had walked along ahead of us barking the trees quite obviously. I remember pointing this out to Renan, using my fingernails to mimic the action of his giant teeth, and angling my head to indicate how he must have made the bites. I must look a circus sometimes. I wish I had taken photographs! Then, just about where the saddle is before you start to go down again to the Gair Loch, there was a patch of fuchsia on our right which had been the home of a moose for I'd say the best part of a week. S/he had had a really good feed on I guess and acre or two of fuchsia. Anyone who doubted the continued existence of moose in Fiordland would be hard put to explain the extent of its high foraging activity there. I remember a couple of days later I was walking with Steve in the Upper Spey and also pointing out to him some very old moose browse there - in the vicinity of the Dashwood Stream.

This is part of the huge Fuchsia filled slip above the Kenneth Burn where a moose had been browsing for days in 2012. Plenty of food here.

It is a huge area of Fuchsia. There are many such in Fiordland - few as easy of access though.

I had a back operation in 2013 so any Fiordland trips were out that year.

I spent a few days by myself at Supper Cove in 2014 (flying both in and out on that occasion). It was lovely to have the hut to myself for a few days, to go out in the morning exploring the bush around about and in the afternoon catching myself some blue cod for my supper. The most delicious fish anywhere, trust me. Do bring a hand line and a fry pan if you venture that way. I was going to walk out, but on the very last night before the day I would have to leave the next morning of, a party of twelve young people arrived even though none had been there for a month! Of course I tried to persuade them to stay a day and do some fishing (even offering them my line, etc), but they insisted on starting out the next day as well.

All alone in the Supper Cove Hut

I could spread out.

And enjoy some tasty blue cod for tea.

Well one night in a crowded hut with people whose heads were filled with the usual certain certainties of the young was enough for me, so I called up Alan from Wings on Water (who had brought me in) and flew out again. I used the couple of spare days so gained to go have a look at the start of the South Coast Track (out of Tuatapere) walking out to Port Craig and back whilst I was there. I confess I was hurrying along this section - and even walked the beach 'track' all the way from the Hoka Stream. I was not looking for moose sign as I thought this was too far from their 'normal' haunts. I was just checking out the track thinking it was probably easy enough to take Della on the next year. (it was). I was surprised therefore when I spied (on the return trip of course) a small example of moose browse quite close the the shore after the Track Burn - before you begin the climb up the innumerable steps to the Rowallan.

Della and I attempted to walk out to Westies Hut along the South Coast Track in 2015, but got only as far as the Waitutu River as it turned out, because of Della injuring her knee. We rested up and did walk all the way back to the Rowallan though. The same old browse I saw the year before was still there, but I confess i was just not looking out for moose sign along the way - I was looking out for Della!

We headed back out on the South Coast track again in 2016 intent on beating it this time, and getting all the way to Westies or even Big River. Westies as it turned out. It was a lovely trip, our reports of which you can read about eg here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-walk-in-fiordland/ You should really do it! Again, I was mainly intent on looking after Della (who is partially sighted) to be paying overmuch attention to moose sign, though there was a bit of old sign about here and there - for example a little over an hour out from the Waitutu heading for Westies.

When we were walking out from the Wairaurahiri with Pete Baldwin from the wonderful Waitutu Lodge at the Wairaurahiri Mouth, I was explaining to him what he should look for if he ever had the chance to get 'into' the Seaforth country. Right near the Edwin Burn trestle crossing there was an obvious patch of old moose browse, the branches snapped over and stripped in their characteristic way about 8' up, but maybe 1-2 years old. Nothing else could possibly do such a thing. So, there are moose that far East in Fiordland yet.

I have now realised that I smelled a moose in the Hauroko Burn last trip (back in April 2017) and I am really kicking myself for not having stopped, camped and investigated See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/follow-your-nose/). As I said there: 'I have a confession (of stupidity) to make. Somewhere during this section between the two upper walk wires on the Hauroko Burn, Fiordland, NZ (You can imagine it is in the photo below) I encountered quite  a strong ‘animal’ smell not unlike a goat. I thought to myself at the time, ‘Well, it’s not a deer’. Then I thought, ‘Could it be a plant?’ You know how Dogwood in Australasia is so named because it smells somewhat like wet dog. I thought to myself  ‘I wonder whether the Leather Wood which you encounter just before the tops in NZ (and which is redolent with the musty odour of countless red deer) is so called because it smells of leather?’

There is a sweet cloying honey-like smell you sometimes encounter in these Fiordland forests I have never been able to identify, nor has anyone else I have spoken to been able to pick it for me. (it is not the flower of the ubiquitous tiny epiphytic orchid). It was not that though. I am pretty good on scents having been a hunter all my life. I instantly galvanise to a whiff of fox, roo, wombat, stag, goat, etc.

I scanned the forest about. Saw nothing. Thought to myself, ‘I do not want to arrive at Lake Roe in the dark’ (The hut is hard enough to find as it is, particularly in thick cloud, being off the line to the right); I also had a long way to go, so I carried on. Since then, I have bothered to check what a moose smells like. You guessed it. Goatish. Just like what I was smelling on the Hauroko that day!

There was a moose not 200 metres upwind from me, and I walked on. Despite having a tarp and hammock and more than a week of food, so that I could have spent days hunting it! And I would have doubtless ‘put it up’ withing ten minutes! Dream on! Despite the fact that one of the important reasons I go there is to see a moose. Despite the fact that I had photographed fairly fresh moose barking just back there a little (as you can see below). Despite the fact there is a $100,000 reward for a photo of a NZ moose, I walked on! Lesson: Trust your nose!’

My knee is still not right from an injury in the Hilda Burn on that trip which brought an early end to my off-track explorations then (there was still old browse in the Hilda), so I am wondering about my future ability to do so again, but I am working on it – an hour every morning in the gym and an hour every afternoon walking - on top of my normal farming activities, but at just shy of 70 it takes longer to heal and to get fitter again. Every day though I feel stronger, and have just completed a six day off-trail hike in the Vic mountains, and climbed Qld's tallest mountain, so there is hope!

It was interesting that the Hauroko was nearly eaten out, but with lots of old sign (and clearly a resident moose!) And that there was a 'bloom' of new plants coming up I had not seen in Fiordland before) Yet coming down from Lake Roe to Loch Marie for example, there was oodles of moose plants without much moose sign at all - though some barking. Clearly the moose are fairly light on the ground. Each likely has an enormous territory, perhaps 2-500 hectares, but that still adds up to a lot of moose in Fiordland National Park!

I had this note about the moose on the first of my posts about my 2017 trip: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/from-dawn-to-dusky/

The Elusive Fiordland Moose: Along the way there is sporadic moose sign if you are alert and keen eyed. Nothing else could reach up 2.5-2.7 metres (8-9'), break off branches as thick as your thumb and strip them, or devour all the lower vegetation of their favourite broadleaf plants, or systematically bark trees, or leave footprints as big as a cow's.These solitary leviathans yet roam these forests unseen. I took these shots in an arbitrary few hundred yards walking up the Hauroko.

This coprosma has been systematically broken off about 2.5 metres up.

And this.

Broadleafs have commonly been stripped to this height.

They like to snack on nutritious bark as they amble along.

Leaving footprints as long as my glasses case. Like this:

Or this.

Someday someone will stumble round a corner onto one and snap its pic. A girl from Scotland wrote in the hut book way back in 2000 she had seen one! Already two confirmed C21st DNA samples have been collected, and one or two indistinct photos. It is only a matter of time...

I don't know at this stage whether I will be doing a lot more 'moose hunting' in Fiordland. Mostly these days we go there for the walk anyway and because it is just so beautiful. Any moose we see would no doubt be a bonus - and we surely won't see them elsewhere! I do have a couple of 'new' ideas on how we might find further proof of the continued existence of the NZ moose herd. More about that later.

And oh, I have been thinking about Ken Tustin's theory that the red deer will 'eat out' the moose. I now suspect the opposite is the case because the moose can reach higher, and will obviously break branches down for their young. You can imagine the young moose nearing weaning - they suckle for a long time too - straining upwards as its mother feeds and vocalising, every now and then being able to snag a leaf she lets drop & etc. They are messy eaters at best. I figure she would get the idea and help it feed. They routinely ‘walk down’ trees for themselves, for example. I remember noticing this phenomenon the very first day I was in Fiordland (in the Hilda Burn back in 2000) and wondering what could have produced the phenomenon I was seeing. I had never seen anything like it in the Victorian bush despite it being overrun by sambar deer who are very keen browsers too.

I have noticed that in the areas which appear more eaten out (by moose and everything) that the moose browse seems to consist of more branches actually broken off completely whereas in the less eaten out areas, they tend to be just broken over. I need to spend more time there to confirm this, something which may not happen in this lifetime.

I realise I do not know how this 'boom and crash' population dynamics works (with any creature) though, so maybe I am wrong. I am not a wildlife biologist, but I have been a farmer and hunter for a long while. Some places look very eaten out by deer, particularly along river banks and near huts and other clearings, yet in other steeper places there is little sign of any grazing animals. Another interesting observation: along the Hauroko for example, there is this shiny leaf tree which moose obviously like. In many places it was browsed lower from the river bottom than it was from the river bank (but in each case as high as a moose could reach ie 8'+ up) giving it a lopsided appearance. I had not noticed this before. No doubt there are lots of other ‘signs’ which escape one’s attention for years.

Here is a tree moose quite like, (I don't know what it is called). You can see that this one which is hanging out over a precipice (in the Hauroko) has still been browsed ( a long time ago) as far as a moose can reach out, and certainty further than anything else could.

Here the moose has been walking along in the stream reaching up and has mown these trees to a precise height. They have even managed to strip some of the branches hanging down. You see this everywhere. We went down the Wairaurahirti River in a jet boat (twice - and Della wants to go again, and again. So should you!) Anywhere this plant could be reached it was trimmed to about 8-9' from the ground (or where a moose could stand) , but where nothing could reach it (eg in a very deep rapid) it was actually touching the water.

In 17 years I have not been able to get back to Fiordland in the summer. By the time we have been able to stop watering our garden and watching out for the 'bushfires' that a ratbag collection of maniacs have taken to lighting every summer in our part of the world it is at best late March, usually April, sometimes May. And of course I am often there when the 'Roar' is on so every moose has been scared well away from the valley bottoms by ubiquitous deer hunters. It's like always going sambar stalking on a full moon, or in early Spring when the deer have moved back from the valley bottoms (as fresh feed pops out from under the snow - and the young are born. Not such a good time for hunting.

I do always find old sign though, sometimes not that old even. I am convinced if i could spend several summers walking along in the streams there I would put up another moose. I'm not sure whether at my age I can do such hard work in hot, steamy weather, and I don't know whether I will ever be able to get away at such a time or not.


PS: I wrote this article at Ken Tustin's request, as he is preparing a new edition of his book/a new book about the Fiiordland moose. He and he wife are the true moose experts and heroes of this interesting saga. More about them here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/nz-moose/

PS: The 'Cover' photo was sent to me from Sweden by my son, Bryn on this day (24/10) 2011. He must have known I would find a use for it! European moose are smaller than the Canadian moose which live in Fiordland, by the way.

23/10/2017: Hein’s Taxidermy: Della just loves stuffed animals which is maybe why she has kept this particular stuffed old animal around for nearly fifty years! It may be a family trait. We have this wonderful family photo circa 1903 of her grandfather as an apprentice hairdresser in Hawick, Scotland outside Richie Law’s shop. As you can see the other specialty of the shop was taxidermy!

If you need fine taxidermy services in Southern Victoria or Gippsland, may I recommend Hein”s Taxidermy at Port Albert. Hein did a beautiful job recently on our late much-loved Dusky Lorikeet, Rusty as the photo below shows.You can contact him from his Facebook page:https://www.facebook.com/Heins-Taxidermy-port-albert-1549231728642024/

Some of Hein’s many interesting pieces:

And finally our dear little Rusty the Dusky Lorikeet:

 See also: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/rusty-the-dusky-lorikeet/

While you are at Port Albert you should check out the Old Port Walking trail too, as well as its many other attractions: caravan park, hotel, restaurant, fish and chip shop, fishing charter, boat hire, etc: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/there-is-simply-nothing-like-an-old-port-walking-trail/ We had a brilliant (cheap) meal in the Customs Inn hotel while we were there – best fish’nchips I’ve had in a long while.

20/10/2017: Silver River, Endless Sky: Yesterday I canoed the Macalister Gorge (from Basin Flat to Cheyne's Bridge). This is probably my favourite section of this wonderful river, and I confess I have completed it many, many times. One of the best bits about this section is that you can do it entirely by yourself as i did yesterday (everyone begging off for trifling reasons such as work), as you can always drop your boat off then return to Cheyne's Bridge, perch on the bonnet of your car and stick your thumb out. usually (as yesterday) the first car will stop and give you a lift back to basin Flat. Yesterday I did not even have time to lock the car before i had a lift!

Basin Flat is 20 minutes by road above Cheynes Bridge (on the main road to Licola (Gippsland, Victoria, Australia). The road climbs up over a Mountain range (Burgoynes) then descends again to where it rejoins the river at Basin Flat. You have to climb two fences in about 70 metres to put your boat in the river, then off you go.

I have included a lot of photos to give you a reasonable idea of what the  whole trip looks like. Yesterday it took me 5 3/4 hours (at age 68) but with frequent stops to take photos, have a look around , meal beaks etc. I used to be able to do the trip in under 4 hours - but that was before the fires and floods made the river wider and shallower, as well as stealing most of its summer water, so that it is difficult now to get a 30C day with enough water (above say 1.63 on the Licola gauge - yesterday it was 1.72 = perfect).

The river is canoeable (at least) from the Caledonoia Confluence downstream though the section down to the Barkly (4 hours of Grade 2 and 3) would best suit packrafts (locked gate.) From the Barkly Bridge down to Licola is a great section of closely-spaced Grade 2 rapids which takes about 4 hours. You would probably need about 1.8 metres at the Licola gauge to do this which would be hard to find in the warmer months these days. From Licola to Basin Flat is mostly flat water through farm land with some pebble races and the odd Grade 2 rapid and takes about four hours. From Cheynes Bridge to Paradise Valley or Lake Glenmaggie is mostly Grade 1 and very pleasant and takes another approx six hours. Of course the river is canoeable downstream from Lake Glenmaggie and is almost all flat water taking a number of days.

Ready to begin at Basin Flat:

This trip is a great canoe training trip as it begins with a long flat section with just a few pebble races, gradually you encounter the odd grade 2 rapid. After Burgoynes track there are two grade 3 rapids and quite a number of Grade 2 as well. The last hour is once again on reasonable flat water with mainly just pebble races. There are many, many wonderful spots to camp, swim etc along the way. It is really ideal as a very leisurely 2-4 day canoeing/fishing/hunting trip.

Pebble race

The first Grade 2 rapid at just about the end of the flat (after nearly 1/2 an hour has an overhanging tree at the moment. You could chance being able to duck under it I suppose. I didn't.

About 3/4 of an hour from the start (on the true left bank - at the end of a large flat) there is an old pioneer hut which someone has lovingly restored lately

They have done such an excellent job. I particularly admired their bush ladder.

About an hour in the river splits. I took the right fork with this entertaining drop. The left fork used to have a fun chute, but there may not be enough water going down it now. At the bottom of this drop there is a vast swimming hole on a right hand bend (complete with this turtle). A lovely spot to camp.

Swimming hole: this is the spot whee someone stole my paddle many years ago: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/canoeing-the-macalister/

If you are going to camp overnight I suggest you bring all your gear up off the river and out of sight. Strange people sometimes camp at Cheynes Bridge and may decide to canoe the river. Mind you I have only that once encountered anyone else.

There are lots of grassy flats along the way.

The one on the left bank after the large hole is quite vast. There used to be the remains of an old shepherd's hut underneath an ancient quince. Since the fires it is no more. I came down the river just after the dreadful fires. At this spot there was an old doe who had given her life to save her twin fauns who were lying by her side under the quince where her body was quite mummified; they had so dehydrated her. They ran away as I approached, but quietly crept back again. I hope they survived.

I usually stop for lunch (after about 1 1/2 hours) opposite it at a place I used to call 'The Willows' where you could sit in the shade and enjoy your lunch plus a cold beer or two.

Yesterday I had to chase half a dozen sambar deer off the sandbank before I could sit down, the descendants of that old doe perhaps. They did not stay long enough for a photo though I did see them.

Dingoes had been busy here having killed a black wallaby.

Lunch over, I am off again.

You have to watch out for snags (and rocks). Stick to the inside curves. If in any doubt, get out and walk. Lots of people have died on this section of river over the years. Do not get side on to a log (this can easily mean death), or to the current in general. Generally follow the centre course in rapids, but on bends try to stay on the inside of curves so you do not get forced onto the outside edge and overturned. Rocks will often try to tip you out; you often have to lean in towards them to prevent this.

The straight just above Burgoynes, and a lovely valley on your right.  Burgoynes Track off the Licola Rd. A popular place to camp if you have a serious 4WD. Many intrepid folk cross the river here to camp further downstream. Don't do this unless you are sure of what you are doing. You can also come down from the other side (off the Black range Rd, or the Green Hills Road near Mt Useful)

Just below Burgoynes you come to the first Grade 3 rapid. it has had a log stuck in it for some time making it even more dangerous. i portaged it on the right hand side.

There are a number of lovely campsites below Burgoynes (if you are vehicle camping). If you are canoeing you have many other choices - and greater privacy.

Another spot: you can drive right down to the beach.

Just below is an entertaining one metre drop on a right hand bend. Many folk have had an impromptu swim here.

This is the 'Morning Glory' Hut - quite a palatial establishment, even boasting a bar and hut book!

This beautiful cliff on the right bank follows soon after. This is about half way through your trip. Keep an eye out here. A Grade 3 rapid is just around the left hand corner. Stay on the left hand side to check it out or portage it if you have any doubts about your ability:

You can see it needs to be approached cautiously. I once fell out here and lost my 30:06 in the rapid. It must have taken me an hour to retrieve it from where it was lodged amongst the rocks in the bottom of the rapid.

This goes on for a long way. If you fall out here you can be swimming for a while particularly if the river is higher.

Shortly after the Mt Useful Creek comes in on your right. It is a very large, steep valley rising on the eastern side of Mt Useful

There are some pleasant Grade 2 rapids along here.

A couple of promising gullies come in from the Black Range on your right. Good spots to camp too. There is a large cave on a ridge somewhere along here. I missed it yesterday. I climbed to it once. It was full of bats.

There are fine beaches and lovely swimming holes.

And the odd entertaining drop.

The locals peer out at you as you drift past.

Somewhere along here I stopped for a snack and a spell yesterday. And to admire the view upstream.

And downstream. No-one else in sight for 10 km either way. That suits me just fine.

This is the last straight (and beautiful valley on your right) before Warabinda (a 'wilderness' youth camp). There are two dwellings here built with the help of the street kids being helped here: the first on your left just around the far bend, the second on your right.

I saw lots of ducks and shags. The river has many giant carp. You often see a sea eagle eating them. But also it has excellent trout, eels as long as your legs and the occasional redfin perch.

The Warabinda 'Flying Fox'. It is 45 minutes from here to the bridge, mainly on flattish water.

One of the last rapids.

You are into cattle country now.

This is the very last rapid. Surprisingly I have fallen out more often here than anywhere else!

And the very last straight

Then here you are at Cheynes Bridge where there is a large camping ground.

See Also:







19/10/2017: Nooramunga: On Sunday we spent a few hours in preliminary exploration between Port Albert and Welshpool. It seems like it will be possible to walk from Welshpool to the track at the edge of the private land which runs down from Old Telegraph Road to Port Albert. (It is very hard to spot as it appears at first to be someone's driveway). From that point you could easily paddle across to the caravan park at Port Albert in your pack raft or you would need to walk back to the main Highway to cross the bridge over the river (water, toilets), then continue on towards Port Albert taking the first exit to the right to the Caravan Park then walk along the Old Port Walking Trail into Port Albert (beer, fish'n chips). There are two small streams to cross which would usually supply water (probably) needing filtering.

You could either walk along the high tide 'track' or make use of the many sand tracks in the park itself. If you have a look first on Google Earth, you will see what I mean. The 'high tide track' is blocked off (poorly as it turns out) by large concrete obstacles to (ineffectively) stop the many hog deer poachers. There is a lot of evidence of these beautiful little deer (and we saw three of them in broad daylight), so no doubt the poachers have a wonderful time of a night.

If, rather than their ineffective attempts to close off the area, the relevant department were to sell very expensive access permits, they would have a ready supply of persons very willing to police these illegal elements. This would work well in many similar situations, as well as raising funds for park maintenance, etc.

This walk would form part of this: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-great-gippsland-circuit/

Wilsons Prom rising above the sea mist:

Gulls and shear-waters hunting the littoral:

And a cormorant spearing a tiddler:

And drifting with the tide:

It is a pleasant walk along the high tide line, millions of tiny crabs.

But in many places churned up by the many poachers; Spot 'points' a hog deer:

18/10/2017: And I am off white water canoeing on the Macalister for the day: See post here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/silver-river-endless-sky/

17/10/2017: Moose versus Wolf. Who wins? https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=34&v=akGWOpcWfrQ


15/10/2017: Ultralight Saws: Particularly when track hiking (which I mostly avoid) I have found that I need to clear a small spot to erect my tent. Often the track times do not suit such retired folks as ourselves (and many other much younger people!) so that you find yourself needing to camp where there is no campsite, or this can happen for some other reason (flooded river, injury, etc. No doubt sometimes this is illegal, but on our recent Bartle Frère walk for example, it was not – and we did.

Nonetheless, it is often necessary, eg if you are walking the South Coast Track in Tasmania where there are far too few ‘official’ camp sites. Usually it is just a matter of removing a couple of very small branches or saplings to fit the tent in, surely something which should not trouble anyone. Of course I often carry a machete, and I have recommended these tools for eg canoe clearing, but on long hikes where I am really trying to shave weight I need something lighter which will still do this job when necessary.

Here is a selsection of ideas ranked from heaviest to lightest:

160 grams: Felco 600 160mm Folding Saw: 160mm straight blade folding saw. Rust resistant hard chromed blade made from high quality steel. Impulse hardened teeth for long life. Comfortable non-slip handle. Cuts on pull stroke. Weight 161g: https://www.forestrytools.com.au/index.php?id=23

The 120 grams: Fiskars Xtract Garden Saw is hard to beat, but still a lot to carry: https://www.bunnings.com.au/fiskars-xtract-garden-saw_p3360611

110 grams: The 15” ‘Little Buck’ is a folding ultalight buck saw which also take a bone saw blade if you are a hunter. It folds up into a small enough packjage to fit in your back pocket: .http://www.qiwiz.net/saws.html

71 grams: This guy has found a drywall saw with a plastic handle which weighs 71 grams (without blade protector): https://backpackinglight.com/forums/topic/drywall-saw-as-a-cheap-ultralight-wood-saw/

30-100 grams: In this post I talk about making an improvised bow saw which weighs from a saw blad and a couple of split rings. You would need to add a blade protector: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/improvised-bow-saw/

48 grams: Buck saw blade cut down with light wooden handle (no blade protection): https://backpackinglight.com/forums/topic/84465/

18 grams: This guy has cut a pruning saw blade down. No handle, no blade protection: https://backpackinglight.com/forums/topic/58401/

34 grams: This is a darlac mini folding prinung saw with a 3 ½” blade capable of cutting wood to approx 2”  http://darlac.com/?product=dp818-mini-pocket-folding-saw

8 grams: The Dermasafe ultralight saw at 8 grams is the lightest saw I have found, and might work in an emergency: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/dermasafe-ultralight-knives-and-saws/ You can replace the blade with a jig saw blade better suited to wood cutting as shown in the second photo:

I notice that the plastic clip from a stationery folder makes a near-perfect saw protector. The photos show a 1’ buck saw blade. A couple of rubber bands would secure this saw in yor pack for speedy efabrication with a length of green wood.

I already own the Dermasafe but I will switch it. I am going to be buying the Darlac saw at 34 grams. I figure it as an ‘everyday carry’. The saving in weight by switching to the ultralight containers I wrote about recenty will cover 8 grams of its weight. I am only ‘off’ about 18 grams once I subtract the Dermasafe. I’m sure I can find that saving somewhere.

The Darlac was recently on eBay for UK 6.95



14/10/2017: Firefly - The Ultimate Swiss Army Knife Accessory


Firefly is a tailor made fire starter for your Swiss Army Knife https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/740457940/firefly-the-ultimate-swiss-army-knife-accessory

 What is the Firefly?

The Firefly is a custom sparking-steel fire starting tool designed to work seamlessly with a large variety of Swiss Army knives.  

The Firefly is tailor made to replace the toothpick in a Swiss Army knife or tool, it is plug-and-play, and no knife modifications are required.


Firefly - The Ultimate Swiss Army Knife Accessory project video thumbnail

14/10/2017: Suppose you had some time on yor hands, a pair of scissors and some paper – could you do this: http://www.thisiscolossal.com/2017/10/miniature-paper-plants-by-raya-sader-bujana/

12/10/2017: Topo Terraventure Shoes: We bought a pair each of these remarkable shoes about six weeks ago. I guess we have by now worn them a few hundred kilometres including in our ascent of Mt Bartle Frere in Qld back on 1st September, and of course we have been wearing them around the farm on our steep wet slippery slopes. We have never fallen over once. These are just about the grippiest, most comfortable and certainly the lightest shoes we have ever owned. Mine weigh 290 grams and Della's were under 230 grams.

They need a good wash but are completely unmarked and have no sign of wear at all. I was a little worried about their 'flimsiness' in rough going, but they make you so light on your feet it is so much easier to put your feet where they should go, you do not hurt your feet at all. Heavy boots need all that cushioning because you have so much less control when wearing them. As a hunting shoe they are excellent because you can walk so softly and quietly in light shoes.

Probably one of the best features of these shoes for us is that they are a wide fit. Pretty much the only other shoes I can wear are Keens in a half size. These Topos are if anything even more comfortable for our wide feet than the Keens. They are particularly gentle on our feet when going downhill when you suffer the most damage to your toes in poorly fitting shoes.

These shoes have a fully welded construction such as I discuss here. In the case of these shoes it works out much better than sewn construction. So far these shoes are bulletproof. You must understand this: I have a huge box of completely unsatisfactory shoes I have bought over the years and have been able to wear approximately once. These shoes are so vastly different I extremely doubt  that you will be wasting your money on a pair. If you are in Melbourne you may be able to buy one of the Topo model shoes as I did from https://backpackinglight.com.au

We bought them from Injinji (below), whose delivery and customer relations are unsurpassed. Highly recommended. We chose shoes size exactly the same as we would have worn in Keen and they fitted perfectly. The thinner material of these shoes mean they have more give than the majority of shoes, so they are dramatically comfortable.


'The Terraventure pushes the limits of lightweight performance and rugged durability. This platform features an aggressive lug design providing better traction and mid-foot stability. A flexible ESS forefoot rock plate protects the foot from stone-bruising while the ghillie lacing system insures a secure midfoot fit.

 The Terraventure runs true to size, so you can select your normal running shoe size.



  • // 6 mm rubber outsole
  • // 14 mm (heel) // 11 mm (ball) midsole
  • // 5 mm footbed
  • // Total stack height 25 mm x 22 mm (3 mm drop)
  • // Weight: 294g. (size 9)'

If you really ‘need’ a waterproof shoe, Topo have such a model: https://www.injinjiperformanceshop.com.au/collections/topo-athletic-footwear/products/topo-hydroventure-mens - and it only weighs275 grams (Mens US size 9)

PS: I have tried a couple of other brands of ultralight shoes, for example a pair of Inov8s which weighed less than 200 grams. They were incredibly grippy but did not give the same amount of cushioning as my Topos. They may work quite well for you but they were much too narrow for me. My feet overlapped them which caused considerable discomfort so I had to abandon them.

See Also:




11/10/2017: Rusty the Dusky Lorikeet: Della:

'‘Death, that hath suck'd the honey of thy breath
Hath had no power yet upon thy beauty’ (Romeo and Juliet).

Welcome home to our Rusty, the dusky lorikeet! You were our special, devoted clown, and have earned your 'Forever Home' with us. We will never again hear your voice saying ‘I love you’ and ‘Kiss Kiss’ or your trilling imitation of the sound of water from a tap, but your beauty has been wonderfully preserved by the skillful art of Hein’s Taxidermy, Port Albert. I know that resting in peace would not have suited you, so you are back with us, watching majestically over our daily chaos.’

Hein has done a beautiful job with him. We can recommend his services if you need some skillful taxidermy done: https://www.facebook.com/Heins-Taxidermy-port-albert-1549231728642024/

He was such a wonderful companion in life though he was so fast-moving I regret we haven’t got more beautiful photographs of him. He is survived by his wife Goldy and his son, Rufus both of whom learned much of his repertoire from him. Every morning when we walk out the front door we are greeted by, ‘Hello. How are you?’ from their aviary on the verandah.

A Toast to Rusty:

Water play. You will have to imagine his cheerful water noise: ‘Diddle. Diddle Diddle.’

Celebrating the birth of his son, Rufus.

Enjoying a ‘Cupatea’ with Della.

Lord of all he surveyed.

Whispering ‘I love you’ in my ear.

Hein’s taxidermy, Port Albert.

PS: While you are in Port Albert take a walk on the Old Port Trail and enjoy some delicious fish and chips at the end of your walk: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/there-is-simply-nothing-like-an-old-port-walking-trail/

10/10/2017: Willow Kayak: This is a really neat boat: a kayak made from willow and poly tarp: http://www.shelter-systems.com/kayak.html

I am thinking one might be able to make this or a coracle with withes (other than willow) a tarp and some cable ties which I could leave in a drum at one of my hunting camps upriver so that I could float down stream if I wanted/needed to.

PS: They also have these really excellent tarp clips: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/best-tarp-clips-link/

06/10/2017: 1000th Post: This is quite a milestone here at http://www.theultralighthiker.com/. I never imagined when I started this blog just over two years ago that I would be so loquacious, but there you go! There are over 5,000 pages about hiking and hunting etc here now for (I hope) your enjoyment!

When I wrote my 900th post back in May I was just back from my walk on the fabulous Dusky Track in Fiordland, New Zealand http://www.theultralighthiker.com/from-dawn-to-dusky/, something which you must put on your ‘bucket list’ – and don’t wait until you are well over 50 before you do it for the first time as I did, as I don’t doubt you will want to repeat the experience as I have (at just under 70!)

 Most of the things which I planned to do since then have not been finished, but a number of others have been begun or achieved. Such is the nature of making plans really. For example, I have not completed the final version of my Deer Hunter’s Tent (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-deer-hunters-tent/ ) yet, but I was working on it yesterday and have calculated its final ‘roof’ weight at 200 grams material only in silnylon (100 in cuben!) – which is outstanding for a two person tent!

I am sure it will be complete before the end of the year, as will my final version of my Mini-Decagon tent which is probably a three person tent (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/come-with-old-khayyam/). I only have a bit over an hour’s work to go on it really, so you can expect a post about it soon. I am pleased that the roof section weighs 375 grams!

However, I have pretty much completed my Pocket Poncho Tent which (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-pocket-poncho-tent/) came in at 185 grams in silnylon. I have a little more work to do on the hood and on the storm flap. I also have an idea for converting it into a two person tent. I hope to finish the Bathtub Groundsheet Chair (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/bathtub-groundsheet-chair/) for it  (and the Mini decagon) in the near future and to make them available to be purchased.

I think my Fire Umbrella should be a useful addition to dry, warm  stress-free camping: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/fire-umbrella/

We have had a few ‘adventures’ in the meantime, including some hunting trips eg http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-wild-river-stag/, http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-spot-of-solitude/ & http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-silence-of-the-deer/

And some interesting walks, eg: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/east-tyers-walking-track/, http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-walk-on-the-wild-side/http://www.theultralighthiker.com/on-the-tip-of-the-tongue-2/, http://www.theultralighthiker.com/avon-river-walking-track/, http://www.theultralighthiker.com/you-can-do-it/ - a journey up Qld’s highest mountain, Mt Bartle Frere.

I have come up with some fishing ideas (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hand-line-fly-fishing/ & http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-ultralight-fisherman/), and some fine recipes, such as: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-coconut-fish-curry/ & http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-simple-backpacking-dahl/.

As usual there have been some good survival ideas and practical advice: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/raincoat-shelter/,  http://www.theultralighthiker.com/man-is-the-measure-of-all-things-pythagoras-some-handy-estimation-tricks/, http://www.theultralighthiker.com/naismiths-rule/,  http://www.theultralighthiker.com/weather-lore/, http://www.theultralighthiker.com/follow-your-nose/, http://www.theultralighthiker.com/how-long-till-sundown/,  http://www.theultralighthiker.com/walking-the-line/ & http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-lie-of-the-land/.

And heaps of ideas for ultralight gear and reviews, such as: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/best-hunting-daypack/, http://www.theultralighthiker.com/big-agnes-axl-air-pad/, http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-shoes/, http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultimate-blades-for-the-ultralight-hunter/http://www.theultralighthiker.com/black-diamond-storm-waterproof-headlamp/, http://www.theultralighthiker.com/lighter-brighter-better/, http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hunting-thumbtack-reflectors/

I put all my food idea into a single post: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-hiking-food-compendium/ and my gear ‘inventions' in a similar one: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/60-diy-ultralight-hiker-ideas/

Around the farm we have made some progress. The bottom dam is fixed, and the new pump house is up and working but still needs some finishing off. We have nearly a kilometer of new vermin-proof fence (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/vermin-proof-fence/) along our Northern boundary which is keeping a veritable plague of eastern grey kangaroos and common wombats at bay. Our neighbours are close to not being able to run any livestock at all due to the depredations of these ubiquitous pests. We have planted a lot of new trees and hope that there will be better than a hundred new ones growing before the end of the spring planting season. As usual we have concentrated solely on the useful and the beautiful. There will be plenty more food here for native birds, possums etc in the future though few of the trees we plant are themselves natives. We hope to complete the renewal of the boundary fence with fox-proof fencing over the next two years as we are tired of seeing our lambs go down the ravenous gullets of these vulpine marauders.

Over the next 100 posts I hope to be able to report on a canoe trip down the Wonnangatta from the Humffray to the Kingwell Bridge, and perhaps further down (when it becomes the Mitchell) from Angusvale down. I also hope to complete the section on the Latrobe I talked about from Noojee to Willow Grove. We hope to try a section of the Alps walking track and some walks in Wilsons Prom - and it goes on...

06/10/2017: Sewn-free construction: Or welded fabric construction. My new shoes, the Topo Terraventure are made this way, and let me say they are excellent. There is not a seam in them to come undone or fray. I have only recently learned that this method of construction is in fact readily available to the hobbyist, though it will be a little more difficult for most projects to get a good finish as compared with the trusty sewing machine.

This excellent video explains: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ne2J01h1tZ0&spfreload=10

The tape makes it very easy to do. It is double sided, so you just pull off the backing and stick it to one side of the material to be joined, then you pull off the other backing and lay the other piece of material in place. T The tape is mildly sticky both sides to allow this to be done, but it can be repositioned. Then you position the teflon sheet over the section to be welded (to prevent harming the material), get the iron up to the right temperature, then press firmly as you iron, and Voila! You have fully welded seam.

This would be a very good method for people to use who want to eg make one of my Tyvek tents but don't have a sewing machine.

You need three things: a Custom Sealing Iron,Teflon Ironing Sheets and E-Z Steam 2 Tape.

I have ordered all three. I have a number of projects in mind which I had long ago conceived but did not have the ability to make, for example my inflatable ground sheet, inflatable mylar quilt and mylar vest. (I was minded to try contact adhesive (messy and perhaps not air/watertight) but I had put them in abeyance. Now I will be having a crack at them, so you can expect to see some posts soonish...

04/10/2017: Trail Pea and Ham Soup: I am always thinking about ways to avoid depending on simple carbs on the trail (and get some veggies in there) yet have recipes which can be made up from products readily available in supermarkets such as you might be able to put together eg into snap-lock bags at resupply points. This one uses just four ingredients:


To a litre of water add:

I x 40 gram packet Contintental Spring vegetable Simmer Soup 460 kj (112 calories)

1 x 100 gram packet Continental Surprise Peas 1200 kj (288 calories)

Approx 42 grams Hormel Real Bacon Pieces 656 KJ (157 calories)

Approx 8 Teaspoons Continental Deb Mashed Potato (for thickening at the end) 133 kj (32 calories)


Total 2449 kj (589 calories)


Bring the first four above to the boil and simmer for 5-10 minutes then add enough mashed potato to thicken.


If you have access to a food processor you may be able to smash up the peas a little which will make them cook more quickly and make the soup thicker, otherwise cook longer and smash them up with your spoon in the pot when they are cooked.


Remark: This makes a surprisingly tasty faux pea and ham soup, and a welcome change from pasta dishes! I made it just for a side dish for my main meal last night, so I had all this left over for Della to try when she comes back from her craft conference on Saturday.


02/10/2017: Ultralight Shorts: 28 grams: This is probably a problem all of us have faced at some time - what to wear when needing to wash our trail clothes (or go for a swim when there are others around). At just 28 grams, Luke Stegner has come up with a solution, his ultralight laundry Shorts at US$ 34.99 (Oct 2017)

He also has a lot of other interesting ultralight gear, including practically the lightest raincoat around. Check out his website:


See Also: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hiking-pants/ at 75 grams

29/09/2017: Listen to the oldest melody in the world — 3400 years old. ‘The hymn was discovered on a clay tablet in Ugarit, now part of modern-day Syria, and is dedicated the Hurrians’ goddess of the orchards Nikkal...The clay tablet text, which was discovered alongside around 30 other tablet fragments, specifies 9 lyre strings and the intervals between those strings – kind of like an ancient guitar tab..... The notation here is essentially a set of instructions for intervals and tuning based around a heptatonic diatonic scale’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tx6v0t5I5SM

24/09/2017: The Isthmus: We spent the afternoon poking around on the Wilsons Prom Isthmus, an area easily ignored as you roar down from Foster to the National Park, but in many ways it is scenically superior to the park itself. We had time only to drive down four roads to the sea, and take a peek: Foster Beach Road (off Lower Franklin Road) Foster, Charles Hall Road (off Black Swamp Road) Yanakie, Shelcotts Road Yanakie and Hourigan Camp Lane (off Millars Road) Yanakie. As you know I am working towards a Great Gippsland Circuit (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-great-gippsland-circuit/) that will walk along the entire Gippsland Coast from Phillip Island to Eden then return to Melbourne along the Alps Walking Track. Today we were checking out just a small part of that.

A view from Foster Beach towards Wilsons Prom across Corner Inlet

Red Billed Shearwaters amongst the mangroves Foster Beach 


Mangroves Foster Beach looking across to the Yanakie Isthmus

Mangrove crab Foster Beach

Mangroves Foster Beach looking towards Wilsons Prom

Charles Hall Road looking towards Doughboy Island. Wilsons Prom in the background.

Charles Hall Road looking towards Foster

A close up of the above - so easy and pleasant walking along most of Corner Inlet particularly at low tide.

Shelcotts Road looking towards Charles Hall Road and Foster. The good walking continues

Shellcotts Road looking past Red Bluffs towards the Prom. At low tide at least you can easily walk past Red Bluff Road at least as far as Foleys Road

Close up of the above. Red Bluffs centre.

Shelcotts Road: shags on a rock, Doughboy Island and the Prom in the background.

Della beachcombing Hourigans Camp Lane looking back up Shallow Inlet towards Lester Road camping grounds. There is a creek to cross before you get there. it would have to be swum.

There are plenty of spots you can do a bit of beach camping along here, as someone has near the stream below. You can also easily walk from here along the beach all the way to the Darby River.

This is the view towards the Shallow Inlet entrance. There is plenty of firewood here.

Close up of the same view. Wilsons Prom in the background. There are many freshwater streams such as this one. Perhaps filter the water with your Sawyer Mini filter as there is run-off from paddocks containing stock such as sheep. Mind you, I never have.

A gull enjoys the sunset

Until Spot scares him off

Leaving the sunset over Shallow Inlet for us alone to enjoy

I think there will be some places on this long walk where a packraft such as the Klymit LWD (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/klymit-packraft/) will be needed, eg for crossing Shallow Inlet. The same apples at Andersons Inlet (Inverloch), Hollands landing, Mueller River & etc. You would walk around the point and back along the inshore of the inlet about 2 km then paddle the couple of hundred metres across at lowish tide on the downstream side of Fisherman's creek. Don't cross near the inlet as you could be swept out to sea! Then you can walk all the way to the Darby River. the crossing around can be avoided by a long but pleasant walk along quiet country roads: Waratah Road, Soldiers Road, Daveys Road, Meeniyan-Prom Rd, Millars Road, Hourigan Camp Lane. A packraft would also help where there is some difficulty walking along the shore (eg where there are mangroves, or at high tide). With a packraft I think you could journey all along the inside of Corner Inlet from Millars Landing to Port Franklin.

See Also: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/advanced-elements-ultralight-paddle/

23/09/2017: Ultralight Windscreen: And, here is the titanium windscreen to go with your esbit stove http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-esbit-stove/ – or maybe your egg-ring stove (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-egg-ring-ultralight-wood-burner-stove/) and your ultralight cookpot (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-cookpot/) to complete your ultralight cookset. Weight: 0.5oz  (14g) Dimensions: 22 7/8" (580mm) x 4 3/4" (120mm) https://www.toaksoutdoor.com/products/wsc US$10.95 (September 2017) You might also be interested in this product 1.5 gram to prevent you burning your lip: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hot-lips/

Cookpot 39 grams, Esbit stove 11.5 grams, windscreen much less than (you would cut it down) 14 grams = total weight < 64.5, or say 60 grams! Not a lot of weight for a warm meal or a cuppa in the wilds.


See Also:






22/09/2017: Ultralight Esbit Stove: In case you want an ultralight stove (including pot stand) to go with your ultralight pot (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-cookpot/) you should try this mini titanium esbit stove which weighs a mere 11.5 grams. Esbit is the gram cracker’s fuel of choice containing more BTUs per gram than any other fuel (and needing no container). It also makes a great fire starter. It burns at approx 1300C, but it is a little slow. A windscreen is a good idea. Available eg here: http://www.zpacks.com/accessories/esbit_stove.shtml or https://www.amazon.com/Esbit-Ultralight-Folding-Titanium-Tablets/dp/B002AQET2C From US$11.64 (September 2017)



21/09/2017: MLD Supermid: We have owned this excellent large tent for quite a few years now. We bought it for our cross-Tasmania walk in 2011 (See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/south-west-track-tasmania/ & http://www.theultralighthiker.com/tasmanias-south-coast-track-hells-holiday/) way down in the Roaring 40s, the often awful conditions of wind and rain of which it stood up to admirably. We needed a three person (plus lots of gear) tent for that trip which it was more than roomy enough for. The tent is 9’ x 9’ and over 6’ high at the centre. We could have squeezed another very good friend in too, if pressed.

  Here we are with it at Freeney Lagoon on Cox’s Bight, enjoying a cuppa:

And at the Louisa River just before crossing the formidable Ironbound Range:

In the photo above you will notice Della is wearing a pair of MLD waterproof chaps (https://mountainlaureldesigns.com/product/rain-chaps/) which weigh a mere 65 grams. We also carried (and used) MLD ultralight gaiters and event mittens (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-mitts-and-gaiters/) which we also highly recommend: 

I double-waterproofed the floor using this method (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/waterproofing-tent-floors-and-ground-sheets/), which worked well, but was probably overkill. (It also no doubt added some additional weight). We also carried a lot more pegs and tie-outs than you would normally ever need, but winds down there are only too often hurricane force and can flatten a tent or blow it clean away!

Even in terrifying wind and torrential rain the tent never looked like letting us down. Erin McKittrick & Bretwood Higman (http://groundtruthtrekking.org/) used this tent on their 4,000 mile journey along the Pacidfiic rim from Seattle to the Bering Sea, so it can really take some punishment. Our tent is the silnylon model. It tent weighed 740 grams bare, and the floor 340 grams, not bad for such a huge tent which you can stand up in – even dance if the occasion so takes you! We used two Gossamer Gear trekking poles as the centre pole.

Here are some of its specs:

  • 70+ sq/ft of usable floor space perfect for four or a palace for two or three
    • ONE oversized peak vent design is best: pitch the rear of the SuperMid into the wind to prevent rain and snow from blowing into the vent and to create a mini Venturi Effect, pulling condensation out the oversize vent on the downwind side
    • Oversized peak vent that can be easily closed during hard wind, blowing rain, and snow, by pulling out the wand and Velcro-ing the vent tightly shut
    • Plenty of room to stand up
    • Side walls shed snow well
    • Main seams are triple rolled, stitched, and flat felled (an MLD Exclusive.)
    • Interior Apex hang loop
    • Apex/Peak reinforced with Dyneema X
    • 2 Doors: Both doors roll open and tie back
    • Mid-height zipper door snaps allow doors to be partially opened
    • A total of 17 tie-outs!
    • 8 ground level perimeter tie-outs with LineLocks for easy adjustment: LineLocks make cold weather and winter use (buried snow anchors) MUCH easier. LineLocks can be removed to save about 1.0 oz
    • Extra center side panel tie-outs on all sides for really high winds.
    • Use a short length of guyline to tie two trek poles together for center pole support

And the floor’s:

  • Waterproof Pro SilNylon and Cuben Fiber- Very High Hydrostatic Rating
    • Cuben Version is made with Ultimate Lightweight .75 oz Cuben Fiber
    • 5 in | 12.7 cm bathtub walls
    • Corner Struts keep the floor upright and tight
    • Center Pole Floor Reinforcement of Dyneema X (Silnylon Version) or Thick Cuben Fiber (Cuben Version) on Duo + Super Floors
    • Extra center tie-outs on the long sides
    • Same size as the floors of the Pyramid InnerNets
    • Use four separate stakes, or use the supplied 3/32″ bungee cord to connect to the Pyramids corner tie-outs or to the same stakes as your Mid Pyramid Shelter
    • SILNYLON VERSION: Use SilNet silicone seam sealer on the inside corner seams and on any floor stitching for maximum waterproofness
    •CUBEN VERSION: is seam taped and does not need any additional seam sealing

Such a large tent makes an excellent base camp in cold, wet weather such as you are likely to encounter in Southern Tasmania or Fiordland New Zealand. It is bigger than Della and I need just for the two of us though. It is more of an expedition tent, good to carry amongst a party of 3-4. You could try some of MLD’s smaller tents such as the Solomid (https://mountainlaureldesigns.com/product/solomid-xl/) or Duomid (https://mountainlaureldesigns.com/product/duomid/) if you are venturing alone into the wilderness or with just your partner.

20/09/2017: Best Hunting Daypack: If your day or overnight hunting pack weighs more than 400 grams you are carrying too much. The pack below is a great option (in Wasabi Green would be my choice). Remember this: every unnecessary gram you carry makes it just that much harder to make your footfalls quiet. It would make a really great weekend hiking pack too.

If you really want to have your quarry hear you clomping around from a couple of hundred metres away, go ahead: wear those immense waterproof (what?) ‘hunting’ boots (which almost certainly weigh over a kilogram each wet – you thought you could have dry feet hunting? Get real!) instead of something really light and comfy such as Topo’s Terraventure at 290 grams (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-shoes/), a shoe which you can float over the ground in without ever breaking a single twig!

Being able to hunt energetically (and inconspicuously – no, I don’t mean wearing camo: that is unfair chase) begins at your feet and continues on to your pack and the contents of your pack. I imagine I could swap your current pack for the above one, include a sleeping bag (600 grams), mat (230 grams), shelter (250 grams) and cookset (100 grams) and have all these items weigh no more than your current pack does empty (1550 grams)! Am I right? This means you can plan to stay out overnight – which is what you really need to do if you are going to take advantage of twilight’s best hunting opportunities!

I have bought a number of items from Ron at Mountain Laurel Designs over the years. They have all been extremely intelligently thought out, very carefully and expertly made (by him) and enormously functional. This pack will be no different. The fact that it will sit right in the small of your back will also make it the most comfy pack you have ever worn too I don’t doubt.

Check it out here: https://mountainlaureldesigns.com/product/burn-38l/

‘WEIGHT: 13 oz | 370 gm

CAPACITY: 38L | 2300 CI

LOAD RANGE: 16 – 20 lbs | 7 -9 kg


  • NEW FOR 2017: Curved Side Panels: A slight curve from the waist to the shoulders moves the load closer to the upper back for more comfort. This also creates a slightly larger main compartment higher in the pack that helps load control by moving the heavier and higher packed gear higher to reduces shoulder stress.
  • S-shaped unisex comfort shoulder straps are 2.5″ wide X 0.8″ thick and are SuperWick mesh lined with full-length highest quality 1/2″ thick EVA foam padding. Our shoulder straps are thicker and wider than most lightweight packs. Half length daisy chain saves weight and accepts all Shoulder Strap Pouches.
  • Hybrid Mesh/Dyneema X Side and Rear Pockets. The leading edge of the side pockets are Dyneema X to prevent snagging when moving through the bush. The lower 5″ of the rear pocket is Dyneema X to prevent abrasion from sharp contents or butt sliding accidents. The 4 oz sq/yd open hole non-stretch water and drains fast to allow contents to dry faster than a tight stretch mesh or solid fabric. Dyneema X elastic top sleeves for long term Durability and elastic replacement.
  • Large un-padded lightweight Dyneema X hip-belt wings with 3/4″ webbing and ultra lightweight buckle. Optional removable Hip Pocket can be attached.
  • Large, slanted mesh side pockets are deep enough for a 2 L Platypus. Top bungee sleeves of Dyneema X for long term durability vs. cheaper style wrapped tops of uncovered elastic bands. Pocket adjusts by pulling the bungee closed through the cord lock. Bungee is 1/8″ thick 40 below rated elastic in a nylon sheath style bungee. Many lower priced packs simply bind over the top of the raw mesh with regular garment type elastic that loses it’s stretch in a few years and does not do well in deep cold weather.
  • 12 bungee attachment web loops with 7 mm glide rings for multiple attachment points for load compression and gear lashing. A short loop of 3 mm line can be attached to the lower loops for trekking pole and ice ax attachment
  • Left shoulder hydration ports
  • Internal hang clip loops for Optional .75 Hydration Sleeve or Stow Pouch. The Hydration Sleeve also converts to a 1.1 oz summit day pack.
  • Removable Multi-position “Most Awesome Sternum Strap In The World” with Black Whistle-Lock Buckle 0.5 oz (not included in base pack weight)
  • Dry Bag roll top closure with V-top compression strap.
  • Long shoulder straps terminate in hand/finger rest loops.


  • 10″ of black 1/8″ bungee cord
  • 2 mini cord clips and 3 cord locks’

19/09/2017: Ultralight Cookpot: Mountain Laurel Designs’ Titanium Mug (https://mountainlaureldesigns.com/product/titanium-mug/) has to come close to winning the prize at 39 grams for a 475 ml mug which is at least sturdy enough to carry around without its crushing. I would recommend this for ultralight overnight trips such as an ultralight hunter might undertake, for example. You could cook a simple meal in it such as two minute noodles combined with a cup-a-soup.

You might combine it with an egg-ring stove (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-egg-ring-ultralight-wood-burner-stove/) from 12.5 grams, and a titanium windscreen (https://www.toaksoutdoor.com/products/wsc) 14 grams for a total cookset weight of 65.5 grams.

I have boiled a cup of water (on a 13 gram esbit stove), made coffee and drunk it from a 375 ml beer can I had cut the lid out of with a can opener. You need something to insulate it, perhaps a large rubber band fashioned from a cycle inner tube, but it works and is extraordinarily light.

Trail Designs offer a Caldera set-up which utilizes a large Heineken can as the cookpot, but again it needs a plastic jar to protect it from crushing, so you have to be very careful: https://www.traildesigns.com/products/caldera-keg-f-stove-system  The weight of the pot + cone + stove is 77 grams!

Caldera Keg-F Stove System 

If you want to cook a substantial meal and have a set-up which is pretty near indestructible in your pack, this Toaks pot at 146 grams including the frypan lid is hard to beat: https://www.traildesigns.com/products/toaks-titanium-1100ml-pot-ckw1100 I have a one piece titanium cone (also from Trail Designs) which fits inside it perfectly so that I can cook with an alcohol stove or esbit or with a small wood fire. It also works with the Evernew 900 ml pot at 123 grams includuing frypan lid: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/cookset-woes/

18/09/2017: Ultralight Crockery

I have found it impossible to find a lighter serviceable dish than this one at 15 grams which comes free eg with a packet of Sirena Tuna & Rice. It holds just over 250 ml making it just big enough for my (hiking) cereal in the mornings, or can be used when you are sharing a meal. It is well nigh indestructible - I always carry a couple for Spot (the dog's) food and water too!

I always use a pot with a frypan lid (such as this one http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hiking-cookware/) so I have two cookpots or a pot and a plate. Sometimes it is handy to have another plate such as the one above (eg if you are cooking two dishes (such as fried sausages and mashed potato, or: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/he-hiked-with-a-falafel-in-his-hand/)

The blue cup on the scales below is one that I bought several of from a $1 store years' ago. It weighs 29 grams. I am yet to find a better. It has been with me now for 18 years, and has done great service! The other blue one is a 'Neverrfail' water cup I took home from the doctor's surgery the other day. It seems very flexible and not at all inclined to break. It weighs 5 grams. I think you would have to be careful drinking coffee out of it, but it would be possible. It would be fine for the traditional hiking drink of Bacardi 151 and water though!

18/09/2017: CRKT PDK Replacement Blades

Ultimate Blades for the Ultralight Hunter #2: You can buy #60 scalpel blades on eBay from US$23.95 per 100 (eg here) and you can change the blades on these CRKT PDKs with a locking forceps as shown (which weigh 24 grams - as the photo shows)

You change them just the same as any other scalpel blade (Carefully!) and using eg the tool above, by lifting up the handle end slightly then sliding the blade forward. Reinstalling the new one is the reverse of the process. Dispose of the spent blades safely eg in a hard container with a screw lid.

I know this is a somewhat stingy option given that the knives only cost about $7 each (and weigh 16 grams each including the sheath) when you buy the set of four, but it might be a useful tip. A friend who works in surgery gave me the forceps - as they dispose of thousands of them every year to waste. Astonishing - such a useful tool for fishing too! Well, they both are!

PS: I would imagine you could change the blades in the field with this too ie a Leatherman Squirt: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/leatherman_squirt/

See Also: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultimate-blades-for-the-ultralight-hunter/


17/09/2017: Ultralight Chair: the Litesmith Qwikback: I don’t know which came first, the ‘Jerry Chair’ I posted about here http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-chairgrounsheet/ or this one. Whichever, this is an interesting idea for an ultralight chair for the trail if you are not handy enough to make your own. I don’t think it would be as comfy as the Big Agnes Cyclone, but at 75 grams it is less than half the weight, so might be an option. http://www.litesmith.com/qwikback-ul-chair/


Relax in a QwikBack™ UL Chair


It also makes a very small package. I imagine you could substitute bush sticks for the carbon fibre rods to further reduce the weight. US$59.95 (September 2017) It can be coupled with a closed cell foan pad for extra comfort.


The QwikBack™ seat and poles roll up into an integrated pouch for storage

  • ‘Ultralight - just 2.65 oz (75 g)
  • Durable ripstop nylon seat
  • Strong yet light carbon fiber poles
  • Integrated pole storage
  • Folds into a compact, self-contained package

 After several days of hiking, one thing we miss in the backcountry is a chair. But most are too heavy and bulky to even consider carrying as a luxury item. The QwikBack™ UL Chair changed our thinking and made backpacking more relaxing. At just 2.65 oz (75 g), it's hard to leave at home. "What's wrong with a log?", you say. Well, nothing, but after a long day of hiking or even at a lunch stop, something comfortable to lean back on just makes life more enjoyable.

The QwikBack UL Chair is made of durable materials - ripstop nylon seat and twill carbon fiber poles - for years of backcountry enjoyment. Heck, you could even take it with you to the park or outdoor concert.

The design is super simple but it takes a little getting used to because unlike most chairs, this one doesn't stand on its own. First you insert the poles in the reinforced pockets on the chair back, crossing them in an X pattern. Next you sit on the wide end of the seat on the ground with the poles under the fabric. Then prop up the poles behind you and lean back on the chair. Large diameter rubber feet keep the poles from sinking into the ground. To make adjustments, just reach back and grab the poles, lean forward a little, and move them to a better position. Now lean back and relax.’

When its time to pack up, the chair folds into a compact, self-contained package. Simply remove the poles from the seat and fold them in half. The poles are shockcorded and connected in an assembly so they're easy to pack without loosing any pieces. Starting at the top with the dirty side in, roll the poles inside the seat. When you reach the bottom, tuck the roll into the integrated pouch. No extra bag to keep track of.’


Litesmith also have some other really neat gear, such as orifice reducers (you will have to click on that one): http://www.litesmith.com/orifice-reducers/, Tottles: http://www.litesmith.com/tottles-hdpe/, Alien Cord Winders (Yes!): http://www.litesmith.com/alien-cord-winders/, Whoopies Slings, etc. Check them out!


17/09/2017: Prehistory has so much yet to teach us: http://www.news.com.au/technology/science/evolution/footprint-find-on-crete-may-push-back-date-humans-began-to-walk-upright/news-story/2e60cbd7386573dd2a45c5cc9d79297d

16/09/2017: Fire Umbrella: How to prevent the rain from putting out your fire? I have been toying with this idea for some time. This week I decided to try out an 'ultralight' method. I constructed this 1 metre x 1 metre square of tyvek for that purpose, sewing gross grain ribbon tie outs on each of four corners. It weighed less than 2 ounces (60 grams) including the 1mm (pink!) dyneema suspension 'rope'. This is not much weight to carry for the benefit of a warm fire out the front of your tyvek tent or shelter.


The 'apprentice' seems very pleased with the arrangement.

When I was up the bush on a training trip this week with a new 'apprentice' (you can expect a future post 'The Deer Hunter's Apprentice') some decent (?) rain set in so I thought I would give it a try. To begin with it worked a treat, so the 'proof of concept' is definitely 'in'. After a little while someone became a little enthusiastic about putting too much wood on the fire (and ignoring it) so that the flames were actually 'licking' the tyvek (well 'devouring' might be a better word), which didn't like that so much. Clearly naked flame exceeds the melting point of the tyvek so that it now has a large hole melted in its centre. This could have been prevented by having it suspended about two feet higher and/or not building the fire up so much. The tyvek did not ignite! An important point. Also importantly, the 'string did not melt, only the hottest centre bit of the 'umbrella'. I belatedly shifted it higher and left it there and it melted no more, yet still prevented the fire from going out - which it probably otherwise would have.

The other strategy to use would be to source some more fireproof (though heavier) material. The stuff that 'fire blankets' are made of would be very good, though also very heavy 427 grams. The fire blanket must be made of approx 13 oz cloth. I see that they (https://www.auburnmfg.com/product-category/mro/heat-resistant-cloth/) also make a 9 oz product which would bring the weight down under 300 grams (still too heavy for my liking). Of course both heavier materials would be fine for car-based camping. More to come...


See also: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/fire-tent/

A reader responds: ‘Interesting idea. I'll warn you that the column of hot air -- hot enough air to melt synthetic fabrics -- extends an alarming height from any fire large enough to keep you "warm" without having to sit so close to it that the embers won't make you and your stuff Swiss cheese. I see many possible failure modes for this plan, and most of them involve picking molten plastic off of yourself and/or your gear. The current conditions including wind, etc. are going to make the performance of what that hot air is doing extremely unpredictable, as well. It wouldn't take much of a breeze for the heat to be shifted enough to take out one of your guylines. You are also in a catch-22 situation: The higher you hang the tarp to keep it away from the heat the less effective it is versus rain blowing in from the sides. So the bigger you make it to mitigate this the more heat it captures, so the higher you have to hang it, so the bigger you have to make it... et cetera.

Flame retardant fabric is an idea, but you also need flame retardant suspension lines. And the fire canopy, if it's not designed to just be disposable, is going to be just covered in soot after the first time you use it. So you probably also want something to stuff it into when you're done using it.

If you really need to keep a small fire going in the rain it's probably easier to just stick a half-pyramid of aluminum foil over it. Then you don't need any suspension lines or anything of that ilk. Keeping the tinder and kindling dry when you're getting started is the important part. A good bed of coals can survive a pretty substantial downpour all by itself. And if the prevailing conditions mean that you can't get your hands on dry kindling in the first place then you're probably not having a fire tonight, mini-canopy or not.

(I would further propose that if you are relying on a fire for warmth in your shelter outside of an emergency survival situation you are, in fact, doing it wrong. That's what your shelter and insulation are for. A fire is nice to have [and those marshmallows ain't going to toast themselves], but it should by no means be essential to your safety or comfort -- especially when rain is in the forecast.)’

And my response: Thank you for your input. I camp out mostly in the e colder months, so I usually have a fire for warmth, but you are right – one should not rely on it. I have been doing this for nearly 60 years. These days I usually use one of my tyvek shelters which embers don't affect. The 'fire canopy' (good term - thank you for that) worked very well in the rain except I had it too low. Most of the wind-driven rain is moderated by the structure of the shelter itself, and the wind is kept away from the fire, and of course the embers blow away from the shelter as well. I had it only about 4' above the fire, then someone made the fire too large. It needed to be 6-7' above the fire and the fire needed to be kept small enough so flames never went 4' into the air. This is actually quite easy to do. I would recommend that others use a fireproof material such as the blankets are made of, or the lighter one I provided the link for (which would weigh about 300 grams). I will have yet another go with the tyvek because I have lots of it and am careful, and just see how I go. I never walk tracks or trails, so I hardly ever toast marshmallows. The track walking brigade probably have little bush sense and should definitely be guided by your advice. I am thinking of this idea mostly for backpacking deer hunters - which is what we were doing in the photographs. Thank you also for the idea about the aluminium foil shelter idea for a small fire. I usually recommend people carry some aluminium foil (though not that much) for roasting fish, but your idea is another good option.

16/09/2017: So, the Sumerians discovered trigonometry a thousand years before anyone else and in a better form which had not yet been rediscovered: http://www.thehistoryblog.com/archives/48604 & http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0315086017300691

07/09/2017: Man punches a bear trap! Don’t try this at home: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4fznINyU-U

07/09/2017: Holy Cow! SSDs are the way to go. Take a look at these results: http://maggiesfarm.anotherdotcom.com/archives/30372-Docs-Computin-Tips-The-solid-state-drive.html#extended

06/09/2017: Della: Winging home to chilly Victoria this morning. Farewell Mount Bartle Frere: You were not my nemesis! With Steve Jones.



05/09/2017: The soul of the octopus: a truly fascinating read: https://www.lrb.co.uk/v39/n17/amia-srinivasan/the-sucker-the-sucker


04/09/2017: Della always gets to print way before me, but here are some of the things I found interesting about the last couple of days wandering around what folks would normally consider the less picturesque places in far North Qld


The native kapok tree is quite a stunner.

What a beautiful little guy this agile wallaby was.

You do have to watch out for these guys - and the immense dust cloud they trail.

The light in this Mungana cave was delicious.

According to the locals you should never buy termite country because it is low in phosphorus - this patch must be particularly low!

Many grand spider's webs around Chillago

And this interesting paper wasp's nest.

So many wonderful pigeons up here. Della is in seventh heaven.

Love these dry riverbeds - they look like great spots to camp, particularly if you love birdlife.

These wonderful Qld cows seem to love them too.

A prosaic farm dam can be a thing of great beauty.

Don't you wish you loved a bath as much as this?

I really liked the Millstream Falls too, and its association with WW2 history.


04/09/2017: Della: So we have spent the last 3 days exploring from Atherton across to the old mining towns on the edge of the savannah lands: Innot Hot Springs, Herberton, Chillagoe and Mungana. The land changes so quickly from rainforest to savannah and the old mining towns were well worth a look! With Steve Jones.


So many dry creek beds on the way.

Dry creek bed on the road from Herberton. Cows, brumbies...lots of road hazards with unfenced stations.

Inside one of the limestone caves at Chillagoe-Mungana National Park.

Chillagoe Creek - quite a respite from the heat of the day.

Remnants of the old Chillagoe copper smelter.

Snapped this guy inside a very dry cave!

View from old Chillagoe copper smelter across the savannah.

Steve inside the Archways, Mungana National Park.


03/09/2017: A tale of 2 waterfalls: The first one, Milaa Milaa Falls, is the most photographed waterfall in Australia. I snapped it on my camera phone amidst a riot of tourist buses, Winnebagos, heavy-duty camera apparatus and shoulder- deep people.The second and third , Millstream Falls, only about a half-hour's drive away, is one of the least visited waterfalls. We had it totally to ourselves. The surrounding vegetation was not quite so tropical, the feature not so manicured, but a far more impressive display in my opinion! With Steve Jones




03/09/2017: You Can Do It: If we have been quiet it is because we are busy doing. The last two days we spent climbing Mt Bartle Frere, the tallest mountain in Queensland in the wet tropics of the far North. It is an extremely difficult ascent of 1.6 km vertically but well worth it. We are so happy we can still undertake such feats well into our sixties, things which are daunting to most people in their twenties. Probably less than 10,000 people a year summit this wonderful mountain. We thoroughly enjoyed it. I will expand this post when we get home from enjoying ourselves in these deep Northern forests. Here are some pics as a foretaste:

Up we go

A beautiful cloud forest

Our trusty deer hunter's tent in the clouds near the summit .

Morning view from our front door

One of the boulder fields we had to traverse

A view from near the summit

The helipad at the summit.

More to follow. Be patient.

01/09/2017: Della: Victory! Mount Bartle Frere done and dusted. In a motel in Innisfail tonight too tired to even contemplate a champagne....Tomorrow night may be a different story! We reached the top in cloud forest mist this morning after an amazingly challenging climb. The approach to the top involved negotiating a formidable boulder field that felt like a mountain climber's nightmare. Some of the leg ups were far wider than my short limbs could possibly reach so I was very grateful for Steve's assistance in hauling me over the yawning chasms! The view from the top was non-existent, due to the heavy mist, but Bartle Frere was all about the journey rather than the destination. The steep descent that took us all of today was cruel on our overstretched leg muscles so I may be hobbling for a day or two! With Steve Jones

Cloud forest this morning

Last night's camp: Tent in the mist!

Hanging out with some bracket fungi this morning.

The boulder field begins.

Half way up the boulder field, looking down the route. No pictures can quite capture the steepness of the climb!

View, such as it was, from the top.

31/08/2017: Della: Tonight we are camped just near the summit of Mount Bartle Frere. The going has been tough but we expect to make the summit early tomorrow. Mobile service is unexpectedly available. A little weary but not heart-sore! 😀With Steve Jones.

One of the stream crossings.

Delightful bracket fungi!


Lots of tree-root ladder work...in fact most of the track has been constantly vertical.

31/08/2017: Lake Placid: What a great spot for a horror movie! Walking up the river beside the lake I snapped this big fellow in the upper Barron river before its presence had hit the newspapers. S/he has to be over three metres long yet has grown to that size without devouring a single child at this popular swimming hole. More about the many walks in the Barron Gorge later:

30/08/2017: Della: A lovely day acclimatising to sunny Cairns! Kim Henry accompanied us on some small walks around Lake Placid, the Cattana wetlands and along the Stony Creek Weir Track. Unexpectedly we were able to see a good sized croc on the edge of Lake Placid after only a 5 minute ramble along the opposite bank. Steve's little Nikon Coolpix S7000 captured it very nicely!


Stony Creek Weir Track

Croc basking on the bank of Lake Placid today. Great pic, Steve Jones!

Kim Henry - Stony Creek Weir Track

Cattana wetlands

Cattana wetlands


29/08/2017: Cairns: Crystal Cascades. A short walk up Freshawater Creek to remove the flying kinks. A pretty nice looking swimming hole; will pack swimsuit next time, as weather here is a pretty warm 27 degrees max. Preparing to tackle the big hike up Mount Bartle Frere over the next couple of days. With Steve Jones.




28/08/2017: I am in the mood for poetry today. This is one of my favourites too:

Waiting for the Barbarians C.P Cavafy
(Translated by Richmond Lattimore)

Why are we all assembled and waiting in the market place?
It is the barbarians; they will be here today.
Why is there nothing being done in the senate house?
Why are the senators in session but are not passing laws?
Because the barbarians are coming today.
Why should the senators make laws any more?
The barbarians will make the laws when they get here.
Why has our emperor got up so early
and sits there at the biggest gate of the city
high on his throne, in state, and with his crown on?
Because the barbarians are coming today
and the emperor is waiting to receive them
and their general. And he has even made ready
a parchment to present them, and thereon
he has written many names and many titles.
Why have our two consuls and our praetors
Come out today in their red embroidered togas?
Why have they put on their bracelets with all those amethysts
and rings shining with the glitter of emeralds?
Why will they carry their precious staves today
which are decorated with figures of gold and silver?
Because the barbarians are coming today
And things like that impress the barbarians.
Why do our good orators not put in any appearance
and make public speeches, and do what they generally do?
Because the barbarians are coming today
and they get bored with eloquent public speeches.
Why is everybody beginning to be so uneasy?
Why so disordered? (See how grave all the faces have
become!) Why do the streets and the squares empty so quickly,
and they are all anxiously going home to their houses?
Because it is night, and the barbarians have not got here,
and some people have come in from the frontier
and say that there aren’t any more barbarians.
What are we going to do now without the barbarians?
In a way, those people were a solution.

28/08/2017: Oh Come With Old Khayyam

Oh, come with old Khayyám, and leave the Wise
To talk; one thing is certain, that Life flies;
One thing is certain, and the Rest is Lies;
The Flower that once has blown for ever dies...

Khayyam too was a tentmaker from Nishapur Iran in the C12th. I doubt he made a tent like the one above however, but I am proud to follow in his footsteps still. I have sewn all the Xenon Sil panels together and it weighs 377 grams. I doubt it will weigh any more than that when complete, as though I have still to sew the two edges together to make a circle, add two reinforcing patches to the top and add a lot of tie-outs, I also have to cut off the catenary curves along the bottom. Then, when erected it will make an igloo shaped tipi around 9' wide, and with standing room in the centre for folks of our stature anyway. This is the nearly completed version of my 'Honey I Shrank' tent  http://www.theultralighthiker.com/honey-i-shrank-the-tent/ which cries out for a name really. Della has rejected 'Siligloo'. Perhaps you can come up with a better?

My Pocket Poncho tent http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-pocket-poncho-tent/ will make an adequate floor for it (at 185 grams). To that I will have to add about a dozen shepherd's crook titanium stakes and a couple of guys with line locks, say 75 grams together, making the vast quantity of 635 grams in toto. There is nothing quite like it anywhere. I simply do not know what today's tentmakers are doing, any more than Khayyam would have done.

Perhaps (sadly) you do not know Khayyam or this magnificent poem at all? My favourite really. The 'Bible of Scepticism' folks used to call it, but there is nothing at all wrong with scepticism (the converse is the case).

He goes on:

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it...

And that inverted Bowl we call The Sky,
Whereunder crawling coop't we live and die,
Lift not thy hands to It for help—for It
Rolls impotently on as Thou or I....

Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough,
A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse—and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness—
And Wilderness is Paradise enow.

You like that taste, I hope? Here is the complete first 1859 edition of Fitzgerald's translation of the Rubaiyat, (in my opinion the best - footnotes at bottom):

The Rubayyat of Omar Khayyam Translated into English in 1859 by Edward FitzGerald

[page 1]



AWAKE! for Morning in the Bowl of Night
Has flung the Stone that puts the Stars to Flight:{1}
And Lo! the Hunter of the East has caught
The Sultán's Turret in a Noose of Light.

Dreaming when Dawn's Left Hand was in the Sky{2}
I heard a Voice within the Tavern cry,
"Awake, my Little ones, and fill the Cup
"Before Life's Liquor in its Cup be dry."

And, as the Cock crew, those who stood before
The Tavern shouted—"Open then the Door!
"You know how little while we have to stay,
"And, once departed, may return no more."

[page 2]

Now the New Year{3} reviving old Desires,
The thoughtful Soul to Solitude retires,
Where the WHITE HAND OF MOSES on the Bough
Puts out,{4} and Jesus from the Ground suspires.

Irám indeed is gone with all its Rose,{5}
And Jamshýd's Sev'n-ring'd Cup where no one knows;
But still the Vine her ancient Ruby yields,
And still a Garden by the Water blows.

And David's Lips are lock't; but in divine
High piping Péhlevi,{6} with "Wine! Wine! Wine!
"Red Wine!"—the Nightingale cries to the Rose
That yellow Cheek{7} of her's to'incarnadine.

Come, fill the Cup, and in the Fire of Spring
The Winter Garment of Repentance fling:
The Bird of Time has but a little way
To fly—and Lo! the Bird is on the Wing.

And look—a thousand Blossoms with the Day
Woke—and a thousand scatter'd into Clay:
And this first Summer Month that brings the Rose
Shall take Jamshýd and Kaikobád away.

[page 3]

But come with old Khayyám, and leave the Lot
Of Kaikobád and Kaikhosrú forgot:
Let Rustum lay about him as he will,{8}
Or Hátim Tai cry Supper—heed them not.

With me along some Strip of Herbage strown
That just divides the desert from the sown,
Where name of Slave and Sultán scarce is known,
And pity Sultán Mahmúd on his Throne.

Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough,
A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse—and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness—
And Wilderness is Paradise enow.

"How sweet is mortal Sovranty!"—think some:
Others—"How blest the Paradise to come!"
Ah, take the Cash in hand and wave the Rest;
Oh, the brave Music of a distant Drum!{9}

Look to the Rose that blows about us—"Lo,
"Laughing," she says, "into the World I blow:
"At once the silken Tassel of my Purse
"Tear, and its Treasure{10} on the Garden throw."

[page 4]

The Worldly Hope men set their Hearts upon
Turns Ashes—or it prospers; and anon,
Like Snow upon the Desert's dusty Face
Lighting a little Hour or two—is gone.

And those who husbanded the Golden Grain,
And those who flung it to the Winds like Rain,
Alike to no such aureate Earth are turn'd
As, buried once, Men want dug up again.

Think, in this batter'd Caravanserai
Whose Doorways are alternate Night and Day,
How Sultán after Sultán with his Pomp
Abode his Hour or two, and went his way.

They say the Lion and the Lizard keep
The Courts where Jamshýd gloried and drank deep:{11}
And Bahrám, that great Hunter—the Wild Ass
Stamps o'er his Head, and he lies fast asleep.

I sometimes think that never blows so red
The Rose as where some buried Cæsar bled;
That every Hyacinth the Garden wears
Dropt in its Lap from some once lovely Head.

[page 5]

And this delightful Herb whose tender Green
Fledges the River's Lip on which we lean—
Ah, lean upon it lightly! for who knows
From what once lovely Lip it springs unseen!

Ah! my Belovéd, fill the Cup that clears
TO-DAY of past Regrets and future Fears—
To-morrow?—Why, To-morrow I may be
Myself with Yesterday's Sev'n Thousand Years.{12}

Lo! some we loved, the loveliest and the best
That Time and Fate of all their Vintage prest,
Have drunk their Cup a Round or two before,
And one by one crept silently to Rest.

And we, that now make merry in the Room
They left, and Summer dresses in new Bloom,
Ourselves must we beneath the Couch of Earth
Descend, ourselves to make a Couch—for whom?

Ah, make the most of what we yet may spend,
Before we too into the Dust Descend;
Dust into Dust, and under Dust, to lie,
Sans Wine, sans Song, sans Singer and—sans End!

[page 6]

Alike for those who for TO-DAY prepare,
And those that after a TO-MORROW stare,
A Muezzín from the Tower of Darkness cries
"Fools! your Reward is neither Here nor There."

Why, all the Saints and Sages who discuss'd
Of the Two Worlds so learnedly, are thrust
Like foolish Prophets forth; their Words to Scorn
Are scatter'd, and their Mouths are stopt with Dust.

Oh, come with old Khayyám, and leave the Wise
To talk; one thing is certain, that Life flies;
One thing is certain, and the Rest is Lies;
The Flower that once has blown for ever dies.

Myself when young did eagerly frequent
Doctor and Saint, and heard great Argument
About it and about: but evermore
Came out by the same Door as in I went.

With them the Seed of Wisdom did I sow,
And with my own hand labour'd it to grow:
And this was all the Harvest that I reap'd—
"I came like Water, and like Wind I go."

[page 7]

Into this Universe, and why not knowing,
Nor whence, like Water willy-nilly flowing:
And out of it, as Wind along the Waste,
I know not whither, willy-nilly blowing.

What, without asking, hither hurried whence?
And, without asking, whither hurried hence!
Another and another Cup to drown
The Memory of this Impertinence!

Up from Earth's Centre through the Seventh Gate
I rose, and on the Throne of Saturn sate,{13}
And many Knots unravel'd by the Road;
But not the Knot of Human Death and Fate.

There was a Door to which I found no Key:
There was a Veil past which I could not see:
Some little Talk awhile of ME and THEE
There seemed—and then no more of THEE and ME.{15}

Then to the rolling Heav'n itself I cried,
Asking, "What Lamp had Destiny to guide
"Her little Children stumbling in the Dark?"
And—"A blind understanding!" Heav'n replied.

[page 8]

Then to this earthen Bowl did I adjourn
My Lip the secret Well of Life to learn:
And Lip to Lip it murmur'd—"While you live,
"Drink!—for once dead you never shall return."

I think the Vessel, that with fugitive
Articulation answer'd, once did live,
And merry-make; and the cold Lip I kiss'd
How many Kisses might it take—and give.

For in the Market-place, one Dusk of Day,
I watch'd the Potter thumping his wet Clay:
And with its all obliterated Tongue
It murmur'd—"Gently, Brother, gently, pray!"

Ah, fill the Cup:—what boots it to repeat
How Time is slipping underneath our Feet:
Unborn TO-MORROW and dead YESTERDAY,
Why fret about them if TO-DAY be sweet!

One Moment in Annihilation's Waste,
One moment, of the Well of Life to taste—
The Stars are setting, and the Caravan
Starts for the dawn of Nothing{16}—Oh, make haste!

[page 9]

How long, how long, in infinite Pursuit
Of This and That endeavour and dispute?
Better be merry with the fruitful Grape
Than sadden after none, or bitter, Fruit.

You know, my Friends, how long since in my House
For a new Marriage I did make Carouse:
Divorced old barren Reason from my Bed,
And took the Daughter of the Vine to Spouse.

For "IS" and "IS-NOT" though with Rule and Line,
And, "UP-AND-DOWN" without, I could define,{14}
I yet in all I only cared to know,
Was never deep in anything but—Wine.

And lately, by the Tavern Door agape,
Came stealing through the Dusk an Angel Shape,
Bearing a vessel on his Shoulder; and
He bid me taste of it; and 'twas—the Grape!

The Grape that can with Logic absolute
The Two-and-Seventy jarring Sects{17} confute:
The subtle Alchemist that in a Trice
Life's leaden Metal into Gold transmute.

[page 10]

The mighty Mahmúd, the victorious Lord,
That all the misbelieving and black Horde{18}
Of Fears and Sorrows that infest the Soul
Scatters and slays with his enchanted Sword.

But leave the Wise to wrangle, and with me
The Quarrel of the Universe let be:
And, in some corner of the Hubbub coucht,
Make Game of that which makes as much of Thee.

For in and out, above, about, below,
'Tis nothing but a Magic Shadow-show,
Play'd in a Box whose Candle is the Sun,
Round which we Phantom Figures come and go.{19}

And if the Wine you drink, the Lip you press,
End in the Nothing all Things end in—Yes—
Then fancy while Thou art, Thou art but what
Thou shalt be—Nothing—Thou shalt not be less.

While the Rose blows along the River Brink,
With old Khayyám the Ruby Vintage drink:
And when the Angel with his darker Draught
Draws up to thee—take that, and do not shrink.

[page 11]

'Tis all a Chequer-board of Nights and Days
Where Destiny with Men for Pieces plays:
Hither and thither moves, and mates, and slays,
And one by one back in the Closet lays.

The Ball no Question makes of Ayes and Noes,
But Right or Left as strikes the Player goes;
And He that toss'd Thee down into the Field,
He knows about it all—HE knows—HE knows!{20}

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.

And that inverted Bowl we call The Sky,
Whereunder crawling coop't we live and die,
Lift not thy hands to It for help—for It
Rolls impotently on as Thou or I.

With Earth's first Clay They did the Last Man's knead,
And then of the Last Harvest sow'd the Seed:
Yea, the first Morning of Creation wrote
What the Last Dawn of Reckoning shall read.

[page 12]

I tell Thee this—When, starting from the Goal,
Over the shoulders of the flaming Foal
Of Heav'n Parwín and Mushtara they flung,{21}
In my predestin'd Plot of Dust and Soul

The Vine had struck a Fibre; which about
If clings my Being—let the Súfi flout;
Of my Base Metal may be filed a Key,
That shall unlock the Door he howls without.

And this I know: whether the one True Light,
Kindle to Love, or Wrathconsume me quite,
One Glimpse of It within the Tavern caught
Better than in the Temple lost outright.

Oh Thou who didst with Pitfall and with Gin
Beset the Road I was to wander in,
Thou wilt not with Predestination round
Enmesh me, and impute my Fall to Sin?

Oh Thou, who Man of baser Earth didst make,
And who with Eden didst devise the Snake;
For all the Sin wherewith the Face of Man
Is blacken'd, Man's Forgiveness give—and take!
* * * * * * * * *

[page 13]


Listen again. One Evening at the Close
Of Ramazán, ere the better Moon arose,
In that old Potter's Shop I stood alone
With the clay Population round in Rows.

And strange to tell, among that Earthen Lot
Some could articulate, while others not:
And suddenly one more impatient cried—
"Who is the Potter, pray, and who the Pot?"

Then said another—"Surely not in vain
"My substance from the common Earth was ta'en,
"That He who subtly wrought me into Shape
"Should stamp me back to common Earth again."

Another said—"Why, ne'er a peevish Boy
"Would break the Bowl from which he drank in Joy;
"Shall He that made the Vessel in pure Love
"And Fansy, in an after Rage destroy!"

[page 14]

None answer'd this; but after Silence spake
A Vessel of a more ungainly Make:
"They sneer at me for leaning all awry;
"What? did the Hand then of the Potter shake?"

Said one—"Folks of a surly Tapster tell,
"And daub his Visage with the Smoke of Hell;
"They talk of some strict Testing of us—Pish!
"He's a Good Fellow, and 'twill all be well."

Then said another with a long-drawn Sigh,
"My Clay with long oblivion is gone dry:
"But, fill me with the old familiar Juice,
"Methinks I might recover by-and-bye!"

So, while the Vessels one by one were speaking,
One spied the little Crescent all were seeking:
And then they jogg'd each other, "Brother! Brother!
"Hark to the Porter's Shoulder-knot a-creaking!"

* * * * * * * * *

[page 15]

Ah, with the Grape my fading Life provide,
And wash my Body whence the life has died,
And in a Windingsheet of Vine-leaf wrapt,
So bury me by some sweet Gardenside.

That ev'n my buried Ashes such a Snare
Of Perfume shall fling up into the Air,
As not a True Believer passing by
But shall be overtaken unaware.

Indeed the Idols I have loved so long
Have done my Credit in Men's Eye much wrong:
Have drown'd my Honour in a shallow Cup,
And sold my Reputation for a Song.

Indeed, indeed, Repentance oft before
I swore—but was I sober when I swore?
And then and then came Spring, and Rose-in-hand
My thread-bare Penitence a-pieces tore.

And much as Wine has play'd the Infidel,
And robb'd me of my Robe of Honour—well,
I often wonder what the Vintners buy
One half so precious as the Goods they sell.

[page 16]

Alas, that Spring should vanish with the Rose!
That Youth's sweet-scented Manuscript should close!
The Nightingale that in the Branches sang,
Ah, whence, and whither flown again, who knows!

Ah, Love! could thou and I with Fate conspire
To grasp this sorry Scheme of Things entire,
Would not we shatter it to bits—and then
Re-mould it nearer to the Heart's Desire!

Ah, Moon of my Delight who know'st no wane,
The Moon of Heav'n is rising once again:
How oft hereafter rising shall she look
Through this same Garden after me—in vain!

And when Thyself with shining Foot shall pass
Among the Guests Star-scatter'd on The Grass,
And in Thy joyous Errand reach the Spot
Where I made one—turn down an empty Glass!


[page 17]


{1} Flinging a Stone into the Cup was the Signal for "To
Horse!" in the Desert.
{2} The "False Dawn;" Subhi Kházib, a transient Light
on the Horizon about an hour before the Subhi sâdhik, or
True Dawn; a well known Phenomenon in the East. The
Persians call the Morning Gray, or Dusk, "Wolf-and-Sheep-
While." "Almost at odds with, which is which."
{3} New Year. Beginning with the Vernal Equinox, it
must be remembered; and (howsoever the old Solar Year is
practically superseded by the clumsy Lunar Year that dates
from the Mohammedan Hijra) still commemorated by a
Festival that is said to have been appointed by the very
Jamshyd whom Omar so often talks of, and whose yearly
Calendar he helped to rectify.
"The sudden approach and rapid advance of the Spring,"
(says a late Traveller in Persia) "are very striking. Before
the Snow is well off the Ground, the Trees burst into Blos-
som, and the Flowers start from the Soil. At Now Rooz
(their New Year's Day) the Snow was lying in patches on
the Hills and in the shaded Vallies, while the Fruit-trees in
the Garden were budding beautifully, and green Plants and
Flowers springing upon the Plains on every side—
'And on old Hyem's Chin and icy Crown
'An odorous Chaplet of sweet Summer buds
'Is, as in mockery, set — ' —
[page 18]
Among the Plants newly appear'd I recognized some old
Acquaintances I had not seen for many a Year: among these,
two varieties of the Thistle; a coarse species of the Daisy,
like the Horse-gowan; red and white Clover; the Dock; the
blue Corn-flower; and that vulgar Herb the Dandelion rear-
ing its yellow crest on the Banks of the Watercourses." The
Nightingale was not yet heard, for the Rose was not
yet blown: but an almost identical Blackbird and Wood-
pecker helped to make up something of a North-country
{4} Exodus iv. 6; where Moses draws forth his Hand—not,
according to the Persians, "leprous as Snow,"—but white as
our May-Blossom in Spring perhaps! According to them
also the Healing Power of Jesus resided in his Breath.
{5} Irám, planted by King Schedad, and now sunk some-
where in the Sands of Arabia. Jamshyd's Seven-ring'd Cup
was typical of the Seven Heavens, 7 Planets, 7 Seas, &c.
and was a Divining Cup.
{6} Péhlevi, the old Heroic Sanskrit of Persia. Háfiz also
speaks of the Nightingale's Pehlevi, which did not change
with the People's.
{7} I am not sure if this refers to the Red Rose looking
sickly, or the Yellow Rose that ought to be Red; Red,
White, and Yellow Roses all common in Persia.
{8} Rustum, the "Hercules" of Persia, whose exploits are
among the most celebrated in the Shah-náma. Hátim Tai,
a well-known Type of Oriental Generosity.
{9} A Drum—beaten outside a Palace.
{10} That is, the Rose's Golden Centre.
[page 19]
{11} Persepolis: call'd also Takht'i Jamshyd—THE THRONE
OF JAMSHYD, "King-Splendid," of the mythical Peeshdádian
Dynasty, and supposed (with Shah-náma Authority) to
have been founded and built by him, though others refer it
to the Work of the Genie King, Ján Ibn Jann, who also
built the Pyramids before the time of Adam. It is also
called Chehl-minar— Forty-column; which is Persian, pro-
bably, for Column-countless; the Hall they adorned or
supported with their Lotus Base and taurine Capital
indicating double that Number, though now counted down
to less than half by Earthquake and other Inroad. By
whomsoever built, unquestionably the Monument of a long
extinguished Dynasty and Mythology; its Halls, Chambers
and Galleries, inscribed with Arrow-head Characters, and
sculptured with colossal, wing'd, half human Figures like
those of Nimroud; Processions of Priests and Warriors
—(doubtful if any where a Woman)—and Kings sitting on
Thrones or in Chariots, Staff or Lotus-flower in hand, and the
Ferooher—Symbol of Existence—with his wing'd Globe,
common also to Assyria and Ægypt—over their heads. All
this, together with Aqueduct and Cistern, and other Appur-
tenance of a Royal Palace, upon a Terrace-platform, ascended
by a double Flight of Stairs that may be gallop'd up, and
cut out of and into the Rock-side of the Koh'i Ráhmet,
Mountain of Mercy, where the old Fire-worshiping Sove-
reigns are buried, and overlooking the Plain of Merdasht.
Persians, like some other People, it seems, love to
write their own Names, with sometimes a Verse or two, on
their Country's Monuments. Mr. Binning (from whose
sensible Travels the foregoing Account is mainly condens't)
[page 20]
found several such in Persepolis; in one Place a fine Line
of Háfiz: in another "an original, no doubt," he says, "by
no great Poet," however "right in his Sentiment." The
Words somehow looked to us, and the "halting metre"
sounded, familiar; and on looking back at last among the
500 Rubáiyát of the Calcutta Omar MS.—there it is: old
Omar quoted by one of his Countrymen, and here turned
into hasty Rhyme, at any rate—

"This Palace that its Top to Heaven threw,
And Kings their Forehead on its Threshold drew—
I saw a Ring-dove sitting there alone.
And 'Coo, Coo, Coo,' she cried, and ' Coo, Coo, Coo.' "

So as it seems the Persian speaks the English Ring-dove's
Péhlevi, which is also articulate Persian for "Where?"
BAHRÁM GÚR— Bahrám of the Wild Ass, from his Fame
in hunting it— a Sassanian Sovereign, had also his Seven
Castles (like the King of Bohemia!) each of a different Colour;
each with a Royal Mistress within side; each of whom
recounts to Bahrám a Romance, according to one of the
most famous Poems of Persia, written by Amír Khusraw:
these Sevens also figuring (according to Eastern Mysticism)
the Seven Heavens, and perhaps the Book itself that
Eighth, into which the mystical Seven transcend, and
within which they revolve. The Ruins of Three of these
Towers are yet shown by the Peasantry; as also the Swamp
in which Bahrám sunk, like the Master of Ravenswood,
while pursuing his Gúr.
{12} A Thousand Years to each Planet.
{13} Saturn, Lord of the Seventh Heaven.
{14} A Laugh at his Mathematics perhaps.
[page 21]
{15} ME AND THEE; that is, some Dividual Existence or
Personality apart from the Whole.
{16} The Caravan travelling by Night (after their New
Year's Day of the Vernal Equinox) by command of Mo-
hammed, I believe.
{17} The 72 Sects into which Islamism so soon split.
{18} This alludes to Mahmúd's Conquest of India and its
swarthy Idolaters.
{19} Fanúsi khiyál, a Magic-lanthorn still used in India;
the cylindrical Interior being painted with various Figures,
and so lightly poised and ventilated as to revolve round the
Candle lighted within.
{20} A very mysterious Line in the original;
U dánad u dánad u dánad u —
breaking off something like our Wood-pigeon's Note, which
she is said to take up just where she left off.
{21} Parwín and Mushtara—The Pleiads and Jupiter.
{22} At the Close of the Fasting Month, Ramazán (which
makes the Musulman unhealthy and unamiable), the first
Glimpse of the New Moon (who rules their Division of the
Year) is looked for with the utmost Anxiety, and hailed
with all Acclamation. Then it is that the Porter's Knot
may be heard toward the Cellar, perhaps. Old Omar has
elsewhere a pretty Quatrain about this same Moon—

"Be of Good Cheer—the sullen Month will die,
"And a young Moon requite us by and bye:
"Look how the Old one meagre, bent, and wan
"With Age and Fast, is fainting from the Sky!"


OMAR KHAYYÁM was born at Naishápúr in Khorassán
in the latter half of our Eleventh, and died within the First
Quarter of our Twelfth, Century. The slender Story of his
Life is curiously twined about that of two others very consi-
derable Figures in their Time and Country: one of them,
Hasan al Sabbáh, whose very Name has lengthen'd down to
us a terrible Synonym for Murder: and the other (who
also tells the Story of all Three) Nizám al Mulk, Vizyr to
Alp the Lion and Malik Shah, Son and Grandson of Tog-
hrul Beg the Tartar, who had wrested Persia from the fee-
ble Successor of Mahmúd the Great, and founded that Sel-
jukian Dynasty which finally roused Europe into the Cru-
sades. This Nizám al Mulk, in his Wasýat—or Testament
—which he wrote and left as a Memorial for future States-
men—relates the following, as quoted in the Calcutta Review,
No. 59, from Mirkhond's History of the Assassins.
[page iv]
" 'One of the greatest of the wise men of Khorassan was
'the Imám Mowaffak of Naishápur, a man highly honoured
'and reverenced,—may God rejoice his soul; his illustrious
'years exceeded eighty-five, and it was the universal belief
'that every boy who read the Koran or studied the tradi-
'tions in his presence, would assuredly attain to honour
'and happiness. For this cause did my father send me from
'Tús to Naishápur with Abd-u-samad, the doctor of law,
'that I might employ myself in study and learning under
'the guidance of that illustrious teacher. Towards me he
'ever turned an eye of favour and kindness, and as his pupil
'I felt for him extreme affection and devotion, so that I
'passed four years in his service. When I first came there,
'I found two other pupils of mine own age newly arrived,
'Hakim Omar Khayyám, and the ill- fated Ben Sabbáh.
'Both were endowed with sharpness of wit and the highest
'natural powers; and we three formed a close friendship
'together. When the Imám rose from his lectures, they
'used to join me, and we repeated to each other the lessons
'we had heard. Now Omar was a native of Naishápur,
'while Hasan Ben Sabbah's father was one Ali, a man of
'austere life and practise, but heretical in his creed and
'doctrine. One day Hasan said to me and to Khayyám, 'It
'is a universal belief that the pupils of the Imám Mowaffak
'will attain to fortune. Now, even if we all do not attain
'thereto, without doubt one of us will; what then shall be
'our mutual pledge and bond?' We answered 'Be it
'what you please.' 'Well,' he said, 'let us make a vow,
'that to whomsoever this fortune falls, he shall share it
'equally with the rest, and reserve no pre-eminence for him-
[page v]
'self.' 'Be it so,' we both replied, and on those terms we
'mutually pledged our words. Years rolled on, and I went
'from Khorassan to Transoxiana, and wandered to Ghazni
'and Cabul; and when I returned, I was invested with
'office, and rose to be administrator of affairs during the
'Sultanate of Sultan Alp Arslan.' "
"He goes on to state, that years passed by, and both his
old school- friends found him out, and came and claimed a
share in his good fortune, according to the school-day vow.
The Vizier was generous and kept his word. Hasan de-
manded a place in the government, which the Sultan granted
at the Vizier's request; but discontented with a gradual
rise, he plunged into the maze of intrigue of an oriental
court, and, failing in a base attempt to supplant his bene-
factor, he was disgraced and fell. After many mishaps and
wanderings, Hasan became the head of the Persian sect of
the Ismailians,—a party of fanatics who had long murmured
in obscurity, but rose to an evil eminence under the guidance
of his strong and evil will. In A.B. 1090, he seized the
castle of Alamút, in the province of Rúdbar, which lies in
the mountainous tract, south of the Caspian Sea; and it was
from this mountain home he obtained that evil celebrity
among the Crusaders as the OLD MAN OF THE MOUN-
TAINS, and spread terror through the Mohammedan world;
and it is yet disputed where the word Assassin, which
they have left in the language of modern Europe as their
dark memorial, is derived from the hashish, or opiate of
hemp-leaves (the Indian bhang,) with which they maddened
themselves to the sullen pitch of oriental desperation, or from
the name of the founder of the dynasty, whom we have seen
[page vi]
in his quiet collegiate days, at Naishápur. One of the count-
less victims of the Assassin's dagger was Nizám-ul-Mulk
himself, the old school-boy friend."
"Omar Khayyám also came to the Vizier to claim his
share; but not to ask for title or office. 'The greatest boon
'you can confer on me,' he said, 'is to let me live in a
'corner under the shadow of your fortune, to spread wide
'the advantages of Science, and pray for your long life and
'prosperity.' The Vizier tells us, that, when he found
Omar was really sincere in his refusal, he pressed him no
further, but granted him a yearly pension of 1,200 mithkals
of gold, from the treasury of Naishápur."
"At Naishápur thus lived and died Omar Khayyám,
'busied,' adds the Vizier, 'in winning knowledge of every
'kind, and especially in Astronomy, wherein he attained to a
'very high pre-eminence. Under the Sultanate of Malik
'Shah, he came to Merv, and obtained great praise for his
'proficiency in science, and the Sultan showered favours
'upon him.' "
"When the Malik Shah determined to reform the calendar,
Omar was one of the eight learned men employed to do it;
the result was the Jaláli era, (so called from Jalal-ul-din,
one of the king's names,)—'a computation of time,' says
Gibbon, 'which surpasses the Julian, and approaches the
accuracy of the Gregorian style.' He is also the author
of some astronomical tables, entitled Ziji-Malikshahi," and
the French have lately republished and translated an Arabic
Treatise of his on Algebra.
These severer Studies, and his Verses, which, though hap-
pily fewer than any Persian Poet's, and, though perhaps
[page vii]
fugitively composed, the Result of no fugitive Emotion or
Thought, are probably the Work and Event of his Life,
leaving little else to record. Perhaps he liked a little Farm-
ing too, so often as he speaks of the "Edge of the Tilth"
on which he loved to rest with his Diwán of Verse, his Loaf
—and his wine.
"His Takhallus or poetical name (Khayyám) signifies a
Tent-maker, and he is said to have at one time exercised
that trade, perhaps before Nizám-ul-Mulk's generosity raised
him to independence. Many Persian poets similarly derive
their names from their occupations; thus we have Attár, "a
druggist," Assar, "an oil presser," &c. (Though all these,
like our Smiths, Archers, Millers, Fletchers, &c. may simply
retain the Sirname of an hereditary calling.) "Omar him-
self alludes to his name in the following whimsical lines:—

'Khayyám, who stitched the tents of science,
has fallen in grief's furnace and been suddenly burned;
The shears of Fate have cut the tent ropes of his life,
And the broker of Hope has sold him for nothing!'

"We have only one more anecdote to give of his Life, and
that relates to the close; it is told in the anonymous preface
which is sometimes prefixed to his poems; it has been printed
in the Persian in the appendix to Hyde's Veterum Persarum
Religio, p. 499; and D'Herbelot alludes to it in his Biblio-
théque, under Khiam:— *

* Though he attributes the story to a Khiam, "Philosophe Musulman
qui a vecu en Odeur de Sainteté dans la Fin du premier et le Commence-
ment du second Siècle," no part of which, except the "Philosophe," can
apply to our Khayyám, who, however, may claim the story as his, on the
[footnote continues on p. viii, bottom:]
Score of Rubáiyát, 77 and 78 of the present Version. The Rashness
of the Words, according to D'Herbelot, consisted in being so op-
posed to those in the Koran: "No Man knows where he shall
[page viii]
'It is written in the chronicles of the ancients that this
'King of the Wise, Omar Khayyám, died at Naishápur in
'the year of the Hegira, 517 (A.D. 1123); in science he was
'unrivaled,—the very paragon of his age. Khwájah Nizámi
'of Samarcand, who was one of his pupils, relates the follow-
'ing story: 'I often used to hold conversations with my
'teacher, Omar Khayyám, in a garden; and one day he said
'to me, 'my tomb shall be in a spot, where the north wind
'may scatter roses over it.' I wondered at the words he
'spake, but I knew that his were no idle words. Years after,
'when I chanced to revisit Naishápur, I went to his final
'resting-place, and lo! it was just outside a garden, and trees
'laden with fruit stretched their boughs over the garden
'wall, and dropped their flowers upon his tomb, so that the
'stone was hidden under them.' "
Thus far—without fear of Trespass—from the Calcutta
Though the Sultan "shower'd Favours upon him," Omar's
Epicurean Audacity of Thought and Speech caused him to
be regarded askance in his own Time and Country. He is
said to have been especially hated and dreaded by the Súfis,
whose Practise he ridiculed, and whose Faith amounts to
little more than his own when stript of the Mysticism aud
formal Compliment to Islamism which Omar would not
hide under. Their Poets, including Hafiz, who are (with
[page ix]
the exception of Firdúsi) the most considerable in Persia,
borrowed largely, indeed, of Omar's material, but turning
it to a mystical Use more convenient to Themselves
and the People they address'd; a People quite as quick
of Doubt as of Belief; quite as keen of Bodily Senses as
of the Intellectual; and delighting in a cloudy Element com-
pounded of all, in which they could float luxuriously between
Heaven and Earth, and this World and the Next, on the wings
of a poetical expression, that could be recited indifferently
whether at the Mosque or the Tavern. Omar was too honest
of Heart as well of Head for this. Having failed
(however mistakenly) of finding any Providence but Destiny,
and any World but This, he set about making the most of it;
preferring rather to soothe the Soul through the Senses into
Acquiescence with Things as they were, than to perplex it
with vain mortification after what they might be. It has
been seen that his Worldly Desires, however, were not exor-
bitant; and he very likely takes a humorous pleasure in
exaggerating them above that Intellect in whose exercise he
must have found great pleasure, though not in a Theological
direction. However this may be, his Worldly Pleasures are
what they profess to be without any Pretence at divine Alle-
gory: his Wine is the veritable Juice of the Grape: his
Tavern, where it was to be had: his Sáki, the Flesh and
Blood that poured it out for him: all which, and where the
Roses were in Bloom, was all he profess'd to want of this
World or to expect of Paradise.
The Mathematic Faculty, too, which regulated his Fansy,
and condensed his Verse to a Quality and Quantity un-
known in Persian, perhaps in Oriental, Poetry, help'd
[page x]
by its very virtue perhaps to render him less popular with
his countrymen. If the Greeks were Children in Gossip,
what does Persian Literature imply by a Second Childishness
of Garrulity? And certainly if no ungeometric Greek was
to enter Plato's School of Philosophy, no so unchastised a
Persian should enter on the Race of Persian Verse, with its
"fatal Facility" of running on long after Thought is winded!
But Omar was not only the single Mathematician of his
Country's Poets; he was also of that older Time and stouter
Temper, before the native Soul of Persia was quite broke by
a foreign Creed as well as foreign Conquest. Like his great
Predecessor Firdúsi, who was as little of a Mystic; who
scorned to use even a Word of the very language in which the
New Faith came clothed; and who was suspected, not of
Omar's Irreligion indeed, but of secretly clinging to the
ancient Fire-Religion of Zerdusht, of which so many of the
Kings he sang were worshippers.
For whatever Reason, however, Omar, as before said, has
never been popular in his own Country, and therefore has
been but scantily transmitted abroad. The MSS. of his
Poems, mutilated beyond the average Casualties of Oriental
Transcription, are so rare in the East as scarce to have
reacht Westward at all, in spite of all that Arms and Science
have brought us. There is none at the India House, none
at the Bibliothêque Imperiále of Paris. We know but of one
in England: No. 140 of the Ouseley MSS. at the Bodleian,
written at Shiraz, A.D. 1460. This contains but 158 Ra-
báiyát. One in the Asiatic Society's Library at Calcutta,
(of which we have a Copy) contains (and yet incomplete)
516, though swelled to that by all kinds of Repetition and
[page xi]
Corruption. So Von Hammer speaks of his Copy as contain-
ing about 200, while Dr. Sprenger catalogues the Lucknow
MS. at double that Number. The Scribes, too, of the Oxford
and Calcutta MSS. seem to do their Work under a sort of
Protest; each beginning with a Tetrastich (whether genuine
or not) taken out of its alphabetic order; the Oxford with
one of Apology; the Calcutta with one of Execration too
stupid for Omar's, even had Omar been stupid enough to
execrate himself. *
The Reviewer, to whom I owe the foregoing Particulars of
Omar's Life, and some of his Verse into Prose, concludes
by comparing him with Lucretius, both in natural Temper and
Genius, and as acted upon by the Circumstances in which he
lived. Both indeed were men of subtle Intellect and high Imagi-
nation, instructed in Learning beyond their day, and of Hearts
passionate for Truth and Justice; who justly revolted from
their Country's false Religion, and false, or foolish, Devotion
to it; but who yet fell short of replacing what they subverted
by any such better Hope as others, with no better Faith
had dawned, had yet made a Law to themselves. Lucretius,
indeed, with such material as Epicurus furnished, consoled
himself with the construction of a Machine that needed no
Constructor, and acting by a Law that implied no Lawgiver;
and so composing himself into a Stoical rather than Epicu-
rean severity of Attitude, sat down to contemplate the me-
chanical Drama of the Universe of which he was part Actor;

* "Since this Paper was written" (adds the Reviewer in a note), "we
have met with a Copy of a very rare Edition, printed at Calcutta in 1836.
This contains 438 Tetrastichs, with an Appendix containing 54 others
not found in some MSS."
[page xii]
himself and all about him, (as in his own sublime Description
of the Roman Theater,) coloured with the lurid reflex of the
Curtain that was suspended between them and the outer
Sun. Omar, more desperate, or more careless, of any such
laborious System as resulted in nothing more than hopeless
Necessity, flung his own Genius and Learning with a bitter
jest into the general Ruin which their insufficient glimpses
only served to reveal; and, yielding his Senses to the actual
Rose and Vine, only diverted his thoughts by balancing ideal
possibilities of Fate, Freewill, Existence and Annihilation;
with an oscillation that so generally inclined to the negative
and lower side, as to make such Stanzas as the following ex-
ceptions to his general Philosophy—

Oh, if my Soul can fling his Dust aside,
And naked on the Air of Heaven ride,
It's not a Shame, it's not a Shame for Him
So long in this Clay Suburb to abide!

Or is that but a Tent, where rests anon
A Sultán to his Kingdom passing on,
And which the swarthy Chamberlain shall strike
Then when the Sultán rises to be gone?

With regard to the present Translation. The original
Rubáiyát (as, missing an Arabic Guttural, these Tetrastichs
are more musically called), are independent Stanzas, con-
sisting each of four Lines of equal, though varied, Prosody.
sometimes all rhyming, but oftener (as here attampted)
the third line suspending the Cadence by which the last
atones with the former Two. Something as in the Greek
Alcaic, where the third line seems to lift and suspend the
[page xiii]
Wave that falls over in the last. As usual with such kind of
Oriental Verse, the Rubáiyát follow one another according
to Alphabetic Rhyme—a strange Farrago of Grave and Gay.
Those here selected are strung into something of an Eclogue,
with perhaps a less than equal proportion of the "Drink and
make-merry," which (genuine or not) recurs over-frequently
in the Original. For Lucretian as Omar's Genius might be,
he cross'd that darker Mood with much of Oliver de Basselin
Humour. Any way, the Result is sad enough: saddest per-
haps when most ostentatiously merry: any way, fitter to
move Sorrow than Anger toward the old Tentmaker, who,
after vainly endeavoring to unshackle his Steps from Des-
tiny, and to catch some authentic Glimpse of TO-MORROW,
fell back upon TO-DAY (which has outlasted so many To-
morrows!) as the only Ground he had got to stand upon, how-
ever momentarily slipping from under his Feet.

27/08/2017: Back in 1941 Ford could REALLY cut it: The B-24 ‘Liberator’ heavy bomber – built in 55 minutes! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKlt6rNciTo#t=131 Interesting fact: more than half of US bomber casualties/deaths were other than in combat eg crashes etc. Maybe Ford didn’t build them so well after all! I refuse to enter into any discussion of whether they are superior to Holdens!

26/08/2017: DIY Super Ultralight Pillow: These approx17 grams (small) & 27 gram (large) Graham Medical Flexair Pillows 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!

Unmodified large pillow and glue heat gun top, two chamber version middle and cut-down two chamber version bottom:

It is possible to modify them with scissors and a with eg a hot glue gun (without squeezing the glue trigger – very carefully with a soldering iron). You can cut one down and re-seal it, or make it into a double or multi-chamber pillow, eg something like Klymit’s ultralight pillow http://www.theultralighthiker.com/klymit-ultralight-pillow/  (which weighs 48 grams). My own modified ones weigh about 15 grams. With a strategic ‘valley’ moulded into them they will be much more comfortable. You will get a superb (and cheap) night’s sleep.

I am also going to cut two down and use each of them for side insulation and arm support for my (too narrow) sleeping pad. I will make sleeves (as I have mentioned before) in this http://www.theultralighthiker.com/bathtub-groundsheet-chair/ to fit them in. Each side cushion will weigh about 10 grams. They should work just perfectly, keeping my arms both warm and at the correct height from the ground for when sleeping on my back, and effectively widening my sleeping mat by approx 8” (20cm).

They store flat for easy transport and space-saving. They save on laundry costs being disposable products which only cost about $1 each. They have an adjustable valve for ease of use and comfort – but do not lose the straw which inflates/deflates them. They are made from a soft and quiet material which is pleasant to the touch and does not ‘strike cold’.

Available here: https://www.grahammedical.com/product/pillows/

If you only want a small number, they are also available from Jacksrbetter for US2 each in large size: http://www.jacksrbetter.com/shop/graham-flexair-pillow/

I used to use these pillows all the time when they came in a dual chamber version like the one in the centre, but when I could only purchase the single chamber ones I found them not so comfy so I opted for a heavier pillow such as the exped here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/exped-ultralight-pillow/ but I may well go back to these little guys which (in the cut-down form bottom) will save me an whole ounce 30 grams. A saving not to be sneezed at

25/08/2017: Transparent Tarp Instructions: David Gardner over at Backpackinglight has these excellent instructions for building a see through tent from polycryo window insulation film which is freely and cheaply available for winterising your home. It is such a great idea. I hope he does not mind my sharing it here. The complete instructions are available here: https://backpackinglight.com/forums/topic/how-to-make-a-polycryo-a-frame-tarp/  It may not be the lightest or the most durable tent in existence, but it is one of the most interesting, and excellent for voyeurs. It is also a genius idea. Some of these techniques are excellent and imaginative – and would also work with cuben fibre which would enable you to make a ‘no-sew’ tent/tarp out of that material which might weigh under 100 grams!

Here is all you need:

I’ve been making and selling “polycro” (cross-linked polyolefin heat-shrink plastic) tarps/tents for a few years now and have learned a lot in the process about what works well and how to construct them, so I thought I would share what I have learned.

Materials & Tools:
Duck Double-Thick Patio Door Insulation Kit
Uline double-sided tape
Scotch “Tough” Transparent Duct Tape (their glow-in-the-dark duct tape works well too)
150 lb. 1 mm Spectra cord from http://www.ultralightdesigns.com
Ten 7/8″ nylon washers (1″ works well too)
1/8″ shock cord
Blue masking tape
X-acto or utility knife
Sharpie pen
Measuring tape
1/8″ steel rod or tent stake
Propane or butane torch or stove

I use Duck’s double-thick patio door insulation kits because as far as I know Duck is the only manufacturer which makes it in 1.5 mil thickness instead of .75 mil.

I use Uline double-sided tape to “hem” the edges because it has far better adhesion and durability than the double-sided tape that comes with the kits.

I use Scotch “Tough” transparent duct tape because it has excellent adhesion and weather resistance. Colored tapes, especially dark colored tape, get hot in the sun and “creep.” In the past I used ripstop nylon sail repair tape, which is lighter and stronger than duct tape, but it doesn’t adhere well enough over the long run.

I use Ultralight Design’s 150 lb. Spectra-core cord because it is bright yellow, knots well, and is plenty strong enough. I attached a fishing scale to the end of the ridge line cord of a tarp I had set up, pulled harder than I usually do to pitch the tarp, and it measured 25 lbs. of tension.

Step 1 is to clear a large, hard floor area to work on and vacuum it thoroughly. The polycro is static-y out of the box and attracts the smallest motes of dust and pet hair. Then unpack the Duck kit, unfold the polycryo, and spread it carefully on the floor. Use blue masking tape to tape down the corners. You will want to put the tape about 1.5″ from the edge and parallel to the direction of the long edge, to hold the polycryo firmly while you “hem” the edge with double-sided tape.

Next apply the double-sided tape as close to the edge as you can get it. The Uline tape comes with one side covered, so you can press down firmly to make it adhere fully while laying it down. I start about an inch past the edge of the tarp so that the edge will stay put as you pull while laying down the tape. When I’m done applying the tape to the edge I trim off the extra inch.

The next photo shows the polycryo spread out and taped down to the floor, with about half of one long edge taped.

Next peel the cover off the first couple of inches of tape and fold the edge over so the tape is sandwiched between. I like to work from right to left while making the hem.

Start pulling the cover strip off with your left hand while following closely with your right hand. You should peel the cover strip straight off so that you get a running fold. Plant your right pinkie, ring finger and middle finger firmly on the folded portion to hold it in place while following the fold with your index finger and pushing down firmly to adhere the tape. When your fingers are spread as wide as they will go, move your right hand closer to the peeling/folding point, as shown in the next three photos:

When you’re finished with one long edge do the other. When both long edges are done, move the blue masking tape holding down the corners so they are parallel to the end. Proceed to apply tape and hem the ends of the tarp.

When all four edges are hemmed you’re ready to start putting on the tie-outs. Use a tape measure and Sharpie pen to mark the middle of the ends, and to mark the long sides in 1/3 intervals (about 40″). Take 8 of the 7/8″ nylon washers and use the scissors to cut one side of each to make a flat edge that will go into the fold of the tape for the tie-outs, to spread out the forces. Smooth the cut edge with a file or sand paper. The remaining two washers will be used at the ridge line tie-outs and don’t need to be trimmed.

I like to do the corner tie-outs first, then the ones on the long edges. Cut about 10″ of duct tape for each corner and side tie-out. Lift the polycryo and insert the tape sticky side up under the tarp, then press down firmly on the polycryo and rub and smooth it to get good adhesion and eliminate bubbles. Place a washer on the tape right by the corner or edge, with the flat side of the washer away from the tarp, then fold the tape back over on top of the polycryo:


The technique is the same for all the corner and side tie-outs. Once all the corner and side tie-outs are done you’re ready to do the ridge line tie-outs.

The ridge line tie-outs are built up from several layers of overlapping and crossing duct tape because they are more highly stressed than the corners and sides. Start by cutting two 14″ pieces of duct tape. Lift the center of the tarp and insert the tape sticky side up about half its length under the tarp, press firmly on the tarp and adhere it to the tape and remove any bubbles.

Now it gets a little tricky. You’ll need to take one of the two round washers and tie one end of the Spectra cord around the washer, then place the washer on the tape at the edge of the tarp while placing the cord straight down the center of the tape under the tarp:

Finally, fold the tape back over the washer and on top of the tape underneath. Press and rub to adhere the tape and eliminate bubbles. Now place blue masking tape on the tie out so it will be held firmly while you construct the ridge line tie-out at the other end.

At the other end of the cord you’ll need to trim it and tie on the last round washer at just the right length. The right length is a hair shorter than the length of the tarp, so that when tension is applied to the ridge line tie-outs they will pull the tarp taut. Cut another 14″ piece of tape, lift the tarp, and insert the tape sticky side up about half its length under the tarp. Press and smooth. Then place the washer on the tape at the edge of the tarp while pulling gently on the cord. After the washer is in place fold the tape back over the washer on top of the tape underneath.

Once the two ridge line tie-outs are fabricated, you are done with the underside of the tarp. Turn the whole thing over so the ridge line cord is now underneath. Cut two 10″ pieces of duct tape and place them cross-wise centered over the ridge line tie outs you have just made. Press and smooth.

Next cut four 8″ pieces of tape, two for each end. Lift the ridge line tie out, place two tape pieces sticky side up under the tarp on either side of the tie out:

Finally, fold the two pieces of tape back over the tarp on top of the tape below.

With the tie-outs all done you are now ready to melt holes through the tape in the center of the washers. Heat the 1/8″ steel rod/tent stake with a torch or stove, and carefully push it through the center of the washers in the tie-outs:

In the pictures the tie outs are sitting on the floor because I had my camera in the other hand. In practice, lift the tie outs up and hold while pushing the hot steel rod through.

Finally, cut eight 10″ pieces of shock cord and knot them in little circles through the corner and side tie outs. The shock cord loops give a nice tight pitch, but also act as a shock absorbers in windy conditions.

Final weight: 11.2 ounces.

You’ll need to tie another 10 feet or so of the Spectra cord to the ridge line tie outs so you can pitch the tarp. Also, since I often camp in the high Sierra on flat rocks or shallow sand where tent stakes are useless, I also attach about 3 feet of Spectra cord at each corner and side tie out with a little knotted loop at the end, so I can make big adjustable loops to put around rock anchors that I have collected.

The finished product (an earlier version with different tape) pitched:

It is truly amazing to be able to fall asleep while looking up through your shelter at the starry sky. It’s also nice to know whether that critter sniffing around your shelter in the middle of the night is a bear or just something small like a skunk.

Total cost: About $30-$40, depending on where you get your materials.

Total time to construct (including taking pictures): Two hours

23/08/2017: Advanced Elements Ultralight Paddle

Check this out on Massdrop this morning for US$29.99 each (08/2018). You would be foolish not to buy a couple. I bought two. It will go very well with the Klymit packraft you should have bought from them some time back for US$99 (I bought two as well): http://www.theultralighthiker.com/klymit-packraft/

 Here's me and Spot trying it out on the farm dam: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-best-laid-schemes/

4-Piece Breakdown Paddle

Designed for maximum portability, the Advanced Elements Ultralight Pack Paddle weighs 23.6 ounces, measures 88.2 inches when assembled, and breaks down to a travel-ready 23.6 inches. The durable aluminum shaft features a four-part construction with drip rings on either end that prevent the water on your paddle blades from reaching your hands or lap. For an even more compact setup that’ll cut 3.6 ounces off your pack weight, use only one middle shaft section between the two blades. A great pairing for the Advanced Elements PackLite or Klymit Lite Water Dinghy, this is among the most affordable solutions for light packrafting.

  • Advanced Elements
  • Material, shaft: Aluminum
  • Assembled length, full setup: 88.2 in (224 cm)
  • Packed length, full setup: 23.6 in (60 cm)
  • Weight, full setup: 23.6 oz (669 g)
  • Assembled length, minimalist setup: 66.5 in (169 cm)
  • Packed length, minimalist setup: 23.6 in (60 cm)
  • Weight, minimalist setup: 20 oz (567 g)

Because sometimes an ultralight paddle and an ultralight packraft (such as Klymit's) are just what you need -eg for river/lake crossings on long hikes. You can put the two things together for just over 1.5kg! A great paddle for the kids. If nothing else these would make a great backup paddle for remote trips. They could just save your bacon should you find your primary paddle floating downstream or worse.


23/08/2017: Hope you enjoy this easy cheap delicious meal: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-simple-backpacking-dahl/. I also have a Facebook page with has a lot of info about hiking and hiking gear as well as canoeing, hunting, gardening…which might be of interest. If you 'like' it, Facebook will let you know whenever I do a fresh post. Cheers: https://www.facebook.com/theultralighthiker/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

22/08/2017: A Simple Backpacking Dahl: This simple dahl uses only dry ingredients you can buy very cheaply from any supermarket and store in a snaplock bag. It will make a litre of tasty nutritious dahl which will probably be more than you can eat. You should try this at home tonight before you head out to the backcountry. Simply delicious!


1 cup red lentils 2730kj

3 ½ cups water

20 grams Hormel dried bacon pieces 300kj

1 table milk powder 250 kj

½ packet Tasty Tomato CupaSoup 230 kj

1/2 pack Continental French Onion Simmer soup (Salt Reduced) 270 kj

3 or 4 teas curry powder (to taste)

Optional: Add 1 table Surprise Peas to taste say 6 teas 100 kj

Total 3880 kj = 1000 calories.


Soak lentils 10 + minutes - the longer you soak the less you have toi simmer.

Add ingredients

Bring to boil, then simmer 15-20 minutes.

This makes up to approx 1 litre of quite thick soup. It was delicious, much preferable to any bought hiking meal you have ever eaten. The quantity would definitely have been enough for Della and me both for a main meal.

22/08/2017: One of the greatest poems of the C20th: Dylan Thomas: The force that through the green fuse drives the flower


 The force that through the green fuse drives the flower

Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees

Is my destroyer.

And I am dumb to tell the crooked rose

My youth is bent by the same wintry fever.


The force that drives the water through the rocks

Drives my red blood; that dries the mouthing streams

Turns mine to wax.

And I am dumb to mouth unto my veins

How at the mountain spring the same mouth sucks.


The hand that whirls the water in the pool

Stirs the quicksand; that ropes the blowing wind

Hauls my shroud sail.

And I am dumb to tell the hanging man

How of my clay is made the hangman's lime.


The lips of time leech to the fountain head;

Love drips and gathers, but the fallen blood

Shall calm her sores.

And I am dumb to tell a weather's wind

How time has ticked a heaven round the stars.


And I am dumb to tell the lover's tomb

How at my sheet goes the same crooked worm.

21/08/2017: DIY Dry Back Hiking Pack: Yes, you can have a dry back when hiking (and for pennies!) I saw this genius idea posted by AnticitizenPrime on the Reddit forum MYOG back in July. I have to admit I scrolled right past it then , but I had a little more time to kill in the shop this afternoon so I paid a bit more attention. I thank him/her very much for the idea. It will work.

You can use one of those cheap lumbar support devices (for car seats etc) you see everywhere (I bought mine for A$4 from Cheap as Chips Morwell) as a back cushioning device for your back pack which keeps the pack comfortably off your back on a mesh panel, thus keeping it dry. It weighed about 155 grams out of the bag (left) and about 110 after I cut a few bits off it (right). You could delete the two pieces of webbing which create the tension and thus the curve and replace them with eg 1mm Dyneema twine, which you could then tension to your exact specifications with two clam cleats http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-perfect-guy-line-for-a-hiking-tenttarp/.  This would save approx 8 grams, making the device weigh about 100 grams. I use a Sitlight or an Airbeam pad at the moment for the same purpose, so this device will add perhaps 30 grams to my current pack weight, not much of a price for a dry back.

I would simply tie the frame of the cushion to my backpack. I may have to sew four-six loops of gross grain ribbon to it to effect this. No doubt you could tie it vertically with four more clam cleats (the smallest only weigh approx 1 gram each) so that you could adjust its position up/down till it's just right. I know the mesh on the back panel will eventually wear out, but you can replace the whole thing easily in just a couple of minutes.

In the photo below I have simply slipped it in behind my new Montane pack (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-stout-hikers-pack-2/), but I will be adding a more permanent setup:

I think this is the single best idea I have seen in years!

See Also:http://www.theultralighthiker.com/60-diy-ultralight-hiker-ideas/

 19/08/2017: Raincoat Shelter: How to make your raincoat into a shelter. I realise this is important as people die
because they keep on wearing their raincoat instead of sheltering under it.

For example, there was this European guy who died on the Dusky a few years ago when I was there. It rained and rained as it does. The river came up, flooding the track. He couldn't go forward or back and had no shelter other than his raincoat.

He also clearly had no idea how to refind the track if he once left it, so he was stuck down on the flats with the river coming up when he could easily have walked up a ridge a bit to a drier spot. Pleasant enough spot to camp too! But he died. Loss of body heat. Water strips heat 25 times quicker than air. You must have a roof. See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-importance-of-a-roof/ & http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hiking-in-the-rain/

Not far away hanging under a tarp in my hammock (total weight of both and including the weight of my raincoat, say 450 grams) probably less than his raincoat, I was having a good enough time high and dry watching and listening to the rain and admiring the wet bush, cooking meals and having hot cuppas, reading a book, listening to some music, talking to my wife on my sat phone, etc unaware of his plight!

If he had been with me, he could have sheltered under my tarp and been quite comfortable, instead of dead! Still we might have had a political disagreement and I would have donged him on the head with a rock. Who knows?

I have been thinking about ways sheltering under your raincoat even if/when you don't have a length of string. I know if you don't, you don't deserve to live - but still. I think there is a way, probably several. You can look forward to a number of silly photos of an old man huddling under a bright yellow raincoat, perhaps!

Well, as it turned out it was a green raincoat, and my camera wasn't working well. I had to lean forward to take the photo so it is not clear just how much shelter is provided (enough!). However, you get the idea. A piece of string can often save your life. As Sam Gamgee says, don't leave home without one: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/rope-dont-leave-home-without-it/

I have often come across cold, wet people. Some I have even saved their lives by bundling them into my dry clothes - which they mostly went away in, and never returned! Such folks may not deserve to live!

I can remember a time in my youth when I was a surf life saver. You were always pulling people out of the waves who were in trouble, some needing resuscitation. More often than not you got no thanks from them – which shows how much they valued their lives I guess. One chap, who also needed resuscitating even king hit me after he had recovered, then stalked off. Lord knows why!

Anyway, the easiest way to shelter under your raincoat is definitely if there is a tree. I guess if there are no trees it is less likely to be raining, but you may have to do something else in that eventuality. Try to build a sort of wall I guess. If you can get your back to the lee side of a tree that is at least as wide as your shoulders half your problems are already solved.

The next thing is that most every raincoat has a draw cord at the waist and the neck. If you don’t have that piece of string you may have to break this out to tie one end of the coat to the tree. Or you may be able to tie the arms around the rtree if it is small enough. Then you will probably have to hold the other two ends of the coat out over your knees. I have measured my raincoat and I can assure you that your own will be big enough to keep you completely dry when erected over your head as a shelter. Try tying yours to the back of one of the kitchen chairs as I did to reassure yourself just how to do this if even you need to.

I know you are probably going to be sitting cross-legged under that raincoat all night while the rain spills off it. You might want to place a piece of bark or similar on your head (and behind your back) to insulate yourself from the cold water on the other face of the raincoat. When you first take the raincoat off it is going to be just a bit colder (because it is no longer stopping wind chill), but after a while as you shiver yourself dry, you will be warmer without the rainwater stripping your body heat. Even if it falls below zero you will survive, just as this unprepared guy did: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/thrilling-tales-37-days-of-peril/ If you stay in your raincoat you will probably die of hypothermia just like the European guy on the Dusky Track I talked about earlier.

Of course you won't have a bit of blue poly tarp as I have in the photo to keep your bum warm. Find as much bark and other debris as you can, say 18" (or 40 cm) high, as you can. The further your bum is off the ground the closer to the tree you are going to be and the warmer and drier you will be. Enjoy!

You can have an even comfier night in the wild if you can build a debris shelter of some sort. I have done this a number of times. You do not need any tools or materials other than what you find in the bush, but you need at least a couple of hours to build a decent shelter, so it needs preparation. I will have a future post about this. Whatever type of debris shelter you build, you will need at least 40cm of debris both over you and under you if you are going to be half decently warm!

The reason for posting about using your raincoat as a shelter is that folks always think they have enough time to do something else – get to the hut, find help, divine intervention…So, they wander on and on until it is too late to do anything else than shelter under their raincoat, or sit there wearing it in the rain and maybe die. Some folks haven’t even got sense enough to seek shelter, eg in/under a log or in a hollow tree when they realise they are going to be in trouble. I have spent at least one night in each – lots of critters, but dry, and I am still here! Not having enough bush skills to go off trail is a serious impediment. People ought really to understand how to find their way with their senses they were born with before they venture into the wilds. Some tips below:

See Also:





















19/08/2017: How to avoid site blocking: https://www.vpnmentor.com/blog/bypass-vpn-blocks-with-ease/ & https://www.lifehacker.com.au/2016/12/how-to-bypass-isp-blocking-of-the-pirate-bay-and-other-torrent-sites-for-free/

17/08/2017: On the Tip of the Tongue: A magical 20C winter's day yesterday, so time to try out Della's new heart and my new pack http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-stout-hikers-pack-2/ with a walk in Wilson's Prom NP, Gippsland, Victoria. I will let her begin: 'Return to fitness #2: Beautiful winter day and further heart progress - Steve and I did a 10 km walk at Wilson's Prom, Darby River to Tongue Point, including a side trip to the delightful Fairy Cove. Daily workouts of an hour's fitness class plus an hour of walking have boosted my heart stamina. More progress planned: Perhaps a trip to Cairns next month to climb Mount Bartle Frere... onwards and upwards!'

NB: The walk from Darby River is easy with just gentle inclines. Including the .5km each way side trip to Fairy Cove it is approx 5km each way and takes about 1 1/2 hours each way plus lots of stops for snaps and snacks! It is a much steeper track dwon from darby saddle and not so scenic!

PS: Pack update on a 10km walk yesterday (14/07/2017) with a load (5-7kg). It was brilliant. See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-stout-hikers-pack-2/ Did not need the chest strap at all. The shoulder straps had zero inclination to slide off my shoulders. Also with the waist belt done up quite loosely, the load still just wanted to rest in the small of my back. There was no weight at all on my shoulders. I could slip my fingers in the behind the shoulder straps any time. There was no load pressure there at all. I did get a wet back (expected) – it was a warm day (approx 20C. I will be trying a Sitlight pad attached like this: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/sleeping-pad-pack-frame/ . I will also try taking a wad cutter to the Sitlight pad and filling it with holes (eg on every dent) so that water vapor has somewhere to go. I will report back about this innovation later. With the addition of some sewn on pockets, I think this is going to be a great pack!

View of Darby River flats

It is a well-formed track. Mostly sand and gravel with walkways over any wet sectiions

Plenty of hog deer sign

Shellback Island

View North Waratah Bay

Many interesting menhirs along the way

View south Fairy Cove, Tongue Point, Norman Island

Fairy Cove, Tongue Point

Waratah Bay, Shellback Island

View North along the coast to Shallow Inlet

Tongue Point, Norman Island

Steps down to Fairy Cove

Fairy Cove, Shellback Island. Note steel hoops, remains of a steamer funnel

View north past Darby River towards Shallow Inlet.

A funnel mermaid

Fairy Cove

Island in Fairy Cove 


Fairy Cove monolith

Seagulls Fairy Cove

Tongue Point

Painted rocks Tongue Point

Tongue Point

Monolith Tongue Point

Steve Tongue Point

Tongue Point

Wildflowers along the way


And wildlife: swamp wallaby

Spur winged plover

 14/08/2017: Big Agnes AXL Air Pad. Big Agnes were showcasing a new pad at the Outdoor Retailer show recently. The one on show was a full-length pad (20x72x3 inches thick – 50 x 180 x 7.5cm) weighing only 9 ounces (270 grams). It will be available in uninsulated (US$140) and insulated with Primaloft Silver (10 ounces- 300 grams, US$180) versions. The fabric is 20 denier with random ripstop, and the pad has a large inflation valve that seals as you blow.


There is no information about it on the Big Agnes site as yet, but it will no doubt be available soon. If it is available in their usual size choices, then one should be able to get it in 5’6‘ length (me) at approx 270 grams, and 5’ length (Della) at approx 250 grams and 4’ length at approx 200 grams, a real game changer. This will shave 160 grams off our combined pack weight with Thermarest’s excellent Neoair Womens http://www.theultralighthiker.com/womens-are-great-in-bed/ (2 at 340 grams each). (given the savings I have been making lately with tents, our packs will soon be carrying themselves! In any case you would be able to cut it down yourself to these dimensions: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/modifyingshortening-hiking-mats/.


I have always been a big supporter of Big Agnes’ excellent products, so I can’t wait really to get my hands (back) on one: http://www.bigagnes.com/Gear/Sleeping-Pads



See Also:



14/08/2017: The Windhover: No danger to pigeons or lambs from this beautiful little guy spotted yesterday in the paddock. A knave’s bird, Gerald Manley Hopkins 1844-89



I CAUGHT this morning morning’s minion, king-   

  dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding       

  Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding           

High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing  

In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,           5

  As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding       

  Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding 

Stirred for a bird,—the achieve of; the mastery of the thing!           


Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here 

  Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion         10

Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!          


  No wonder of it: shéer plód makes plough down sillion     

Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,    

  Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermillion.


14/08/2017: ‘To see ourselves as others see us’ (Burns, ‘To a Louse’) There is an amazing trick you can do (with mirrors, of course) which allows one to do just that, or even more…It is this: ‘A simple experiment can show how. Try looking at yourself in a double-reflecting mirror – two mirrors facing each other such that the second reflects the image in the first. Then raise your right arm. The first reflection is a normal mirror image, but the second is inversed, which we are not used to seeing. “So when you raise your right hand, it raises its right hand. It’s a doppelgänger, miming your behaviour, Keep looking and something odd can happen to your sense of self. “You start experiencing that you are out there. What’s more, if you watch your arm moving in the second mirror, you may see a slight delay...it’s slowed down as if your hand is moving through treacle. Exactly why this happens is something he and his team are working on, but we know that neurons in your brain telling your hand to move fire milliseconds before you consciously decide to move it. To avoid the sensation of being a puppet, your brain smoothes things out so that everything feels simultaneous. Ramachandran suspects that when you see this doppelgänger in the mirror, your brain doesn’t compute it as you – so the correction isn’t applied. In essence, you are seeing the unconscious machinery of the brain laid bare.’ https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg23531360-600-the-fragility-of-you-and-what-it-says-about-consciousness/?utm_campaign=RSS%7CNSNS

13/08/2017: Thrilling Tales: 37 Days of Peril : You can survive: Truly alone in the wilderness: Lost in Yellowstone for 37 days pretty much without equipment, food, clothing or shelter. ‘After wandering away from the rest of the expedition on September 9, 1870, Everts managed to lose the pack horse which was carrying most of his supplies. He ate a songbird and minnows raw, and a local thistle plant to stay alive; the plant (Cirsium foliosum or elk thistle) was later renamed "Evert's Thistle" after him. Everts' party searched for him for a while, and his friends in Helena offered a reward of $600 to find him. "Yellowstone Jack" Baronett and George A. Pritchett found Everts, suffering from frostbite, burn wounds from thermal vents and his campfire, and other wounds suffered during his ordeal, so malnourished he weighed only 50 pounds (23 kg). One stayed with him to nurse him back to health while the other walked 75 miles (121 km) for help; in spite of their assistance, Everts denied the men the payment of the reward, claiming he could have made it out of the mountains on his own.’ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truman_C._Everts

Available here: https://archive.org/stream/thirtysevendayso30924gut/pg30924.txt Free downloads: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/30924.mobile

10/08/2017: The Pocket Poncho Tent: I have completed my poncho tent in 1 oz/yd2 silnylon. It weighs a mere 185 grams - as you can see, and fits in my pocket - as the name suggests and the pictures show! This may be the smallest tent in the world unless I make it out of .32oz/yd2 cuben fibre, in which case it will weigh about 75 grams and probably fit in my fob pocket! It requires 9 pegs (54 grams) and two guys to set it up in front of a warm fire. I will be making the zip-in front door soon which will allow it to be shut down for storm mode (approx 50 grams), and I will be making my Bathtub Groundsheet Lounger Chair for it which will weigh under 100 grams http://www.theultralighthiker.com/bathtub-groundsheet-chair/. This complete shelter/groundsheet/chair will then weigh approx 380 grams (but will also double as your raincoat) making it probably the lightest tent in existence. I still have a bit of work to do around the hood, hood reinforcing and some pockets to hold the pegs, a mylar poncho and maybe a couple of space blankets.

This will clearly keep me dry in the heaviest of rain:

ultralight poncho tarp tent

The mylar poncho will weigh about 25 grams but you will want one so that you can go to the toilet or put some wood on the fire when it is raining. The prototype is here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/more-fun-with-sticky-tape-ultralight-mylar-vest/

I will be having the tent and chair made in Asia somewhere in the not too distant future. I will also try to manufacture the Mini Decagon Tent: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/honey-i-shrank-the-tent/ and the Dyneema Moccasins: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/19-gram-dyneema-camp-shoes/ for a start; maybe more later. For example, The Deer Hunter's Tent http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-deer-hunters-tent/ which this poncho was to be a floor for (as well as for the Mini Decagon). This is going to be a complicated (and expensive) exercise for me as I have never done anything like this before, but I am sure lots of folk are going to want to own these interesting pieces of gear, so I will give it  a try.

Fits in a pocket as I said:

ultralight pocket poncho tarp tent

Or the front one:

ultralight pocket poncho tarp tent

185 grams as you can see:

ultralight pocket poncho tarp tent

Fits in the palm of your hand - hard to believe it is a tent, isn't it?

ultralight pocket poncho tarp tent

But here it is, much to Spot's delight! Plenty of room for someone 6'6" plus, and a dog!

ultralight pocket poncho tarp tent

And with room to sit up in front of a toasty winter fire. And lots of room for gear.

ultralight pocket poncho tarp tent

The prototype was here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-poncho-tent/ & here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/poncho-tent-update/ and this was the original which we made for my first visit to Fiordland (moose hunting) in 2000: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hole-less-ponchoshelter/

09/08/2017: Dual Action Survival Fish Hooks: Fishing in a hiking or survival situation is more about getting something to eat than fishing ethics or legality so you may want to make quite sure you do secure that piscine repast. These dual action fish hooks lock onto the fish with a pincer action once it has taken the bait.


dual action fish hooks



The Speedhooks can catch a fish for you even when you are resting or asleep - so you can wake up to regale yourself with a wondrous fish breakfast, or an excellent fish soup.

See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/bcb-fishing-kit/


Both would be good to use with this: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-ultralight-fisherman/

See Also:







08/08/2017: Humping Your Bluey: This post comes from Richard Graves, Australian Bushcraft: ‘The swag is the proverbial means of carrying a load and it is one of the best methods in existence. It has the advantage of being extremely well balanced, two-thirds of the weight being carried behind the body and about one-third in front. The result of this balance is that the carrier walks completely upright: Clothes, tent, bedding and the gear not wanted for the day's walk are carried in the swag at the back, while the food and cooking utensils and the day's needs are in the 'dilly' bag in front. Because of this the swag is not opened during the day but the dilly bag attached to the front is immediately accessible.



The only materials necessary to make a swag are a strap, two binding straps and the dilly bag. The swag strap, preferably of soft leather or light webbing, should be about 1 metre long and about 5 cm or more wide. The two binding strips The rolled swag, containing bedding and other gear, is carried on the back while the dilly bag, containing the day's needs, is carried on the front.


The swag is Australia's oldest method of carrying things on foot as far as bush workers were concerned. Although it now has been displaced by many imported and fancy packs it remains one ofthe most practical means of 'backpacking' bedding and food over long tramps on relatively flat country. The construction and packing method is shown. The strap can be of any material such as plaited cord or rope. Traditionally the dilly bag was an old sugar or flour sack, but a nylon weatherproof bag that allows some breathing (because it is also used to contain the day's rations) can be of any convenient shape and size.

Half the knack of carrying a swag consists in knowing how to swing it. Lay the roll, with the dilly bag extended, in front of you. Put the arm farthest away from the dilly bag through the swag strap. Heave the roll towards your back and swing the body towards the swag, so that the dilly bag flies up and out. Duck the opposite shoulder and catch the dilly bag on it. The strap will then lie over one shoulder and the dilly bag over the other with the swag roll carried at an angle across the back.


An alternative method of carrying the swag is to use two straps, one about 1 metre long and the other about 2 metres. Both straps should be about 3 cm wide and made of strong material, although it should be soft. The roll is made for the swag and the long strap tied securely about 15 cm from one end of the roll. Fifteen cm from the other end of the roll the other strap is fastened, with the dilly bag held in position by this binding. The swag is lifted to the left shoulder with the dilly bag in front and the roll at the back, the neck of the dilly bag hanging over the left shoulder. The long strap is passed on top of the right shoulder and then under the armpit and around the back. Then it is tied to a loop at the bottom corner of the dilly bag. This type of swag prevents the dilly bag from swaying.

To pack and roll the swag itself, lay your groundsheet or swag cover (traditionally a blanket) on the ground and then fold your other blankets to a width of about 80 cm. Lay spare clothes lengthways on top with your other gear. Fold in the sides of the groundsheet and roll the whole from the blanket end to the free side so that it is tight. If a tent is being carried, this 'inner swag' is then rolled in it. The two binding cords are passed through the swag strap to stop slipping. The dilly bag is then attached to one of the binding straps at its junction with the swag strap.’

Recommended reading: Diary of a Welsh Swagman, Joseph Jenkins: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Jenkins

A couple of poems about swagmen will not go awry:

The Swagman

C.J. Dennis

Oh, he was old and he was spare;
His bushy whiskers and his hair
Were all fussed up and very grey
He said he'd come a long, long way
And had a long, long way to go.
Each boot was broken at the toe,
And he'd a swag upon his back.
His billy-can, as black as black,
Was just the thing for making tea
At picnics, so it seemed to me.'Twas hard to earn a bite of bread,
He told me.  Then he shook his head,
And all the little corks that hung
Around his hat-brim danced and swung
And bobbed about his face; and when
I laughed he made them dance again.
He said they were for keeping flies -
"The pesky varmints" - from his eyes.
He called me "Codger". . . "Now you see
The best days of your life," said he.
"But days will come to bend your back,
And, when they come, keep off the track.
Keep off, young codger, if you can.
He seemed a funny sort of man.He told me that he wanted work,
But jobs were scarce this side of Bourke,
And he supposed he'd have to go
Another fifty mile or so.
"Nigh all my life the track I've walked,"
He said.  I liked the way he talked.
And oh, the places he had seen!
I don't know where he had not been -
On every road, in every town,
All through the country, up and down.
"Young codger, shun the track," he said.
And put his hand upon my head.
I noticed, then, that his old eyes
Were very blue and very wise.
"Ay, once I was a little lad,"
He said, and seemed to grow quite sad.

I sometimes think: When I'm a man,
I'll get a good black billy-can
And hang some corks around my hat,
And lead a jolly life like that.

 Waltzing Matilda

Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong
Under the shade of a coolibah tree,
He sang as he watched and waited 'til his billy boiled
You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me

Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda
You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me
He sang as he watched and waited 'til his billy boiled,
you'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me

Down came a jumbuck to drink at the billabong,
Up jumped the swagman and grabbed him with glee,
he sang as he shoved that jumbuck in his tucker bag,
you'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me

Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda
you'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me
he sang as he shoved that jumbuck in his tucker bag,
You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me

Up rode the squatter, mounted on his thoroughbred,
Up rode the troopers, one, two, three,
With the jolly jumbuck you've got in your tucker bag?
You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me.

Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda
You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me
With the jolly jumbuck you've got in your tucker bag?
You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, you scoundrel with me.

Up jumped the swagman and sprang into the billabong,
You'll never catch me alive, said he,
And his ghost may be heard as you pass by that billabong,
you'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me.

Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda
You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me
his ghost may be heard as you pass by that billabong,
You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me.
Oh, you'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me.

07/08/2017: Ultralight Shoes: I have been trying out a pair of Topo brand trail shoes. The ones I wanted were the Terraventure but the shop did not have them in my size so I bought a pair of Athletic Mountain MT2s for A$130. The Terraventures would have been 290 grams. These guys are 230 grams which sounds like an insane weight for something you are going to venture into the backcountry in, I know.

I have been going around the lambs in them of a morning. We have a really steep hill behind the house (over 30 degrees - too steep for any vehicle or tractor). At  this time of the year the frost, wet grass and clay soils are very slippery, so I often slide or fall over. I have to say that these shoes are hanging on to the surface better than anything else I have ever worn. Some days I do ten kilometres on this hillside!

They are also very comfortable. I have been wearing them all week on our evening walks. They handle rough gravel tracks fine. I think they exercise the foot a bit more than heavier shoes. You feel as if your foot is flexing and gripping in them more. They are also a lot easier to walk in though, being so light. It feels like being barefoot, only with more grip actually. This may contribute to my feeling of confidence in my grip and balance when wearing them.

Apparently the main difference between them and the Terraventures is that the sole has about 2mm more tread and a little more cushion in the insole. That is about it. They also have a waterproof model theTtopo Hydroventure which is much the same as the ones I have except for the waterproof layer. They weigh around 275 grams. I generally don't favour waterproof shoes. You are going to get your feet wet anyway. The waterproof layer is just going to make them dry out more slowly.

I really like the laces. They are oval in shape and seem to hold a knot better than just about any laces I have ever used. You may remember I discovered some other laces when I was looking for a vendor in Australia for these shoes: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/shoelace-reinvented/

I also really like the no-sew construction and the wide foot box. I have a very wide foot - the result of never wearing shoes until I left school pretty much. I used to take an 8E through G when I could get them, so I am pretty hard to fit shoes  to. They are also very kind and soft on the toes. I notice this particularly with all the hillsiding and downhilling I am doing with the lambs.

As it turns out I was able to try them on and buy them from my favourite Melbourne 'ultralight' shop: https://backpackinglight.com.au/ As usual the owner, Tim Campbell gave me a very good deal on them.

I may yet buy a pair of the Terraventures. I have discovered that Will Rietveld thinks very highly of them for both on and off trail use, and he seems to be a pretty genuine guy. He has a useful review here: http://ultralightinsights.blogspot.com.au/2017/04/gear-review-topo-terraventure-trail-shoe.html  He has a very interesting website there actually, so you will probably be staying quite some time.

He recently wore a pair on the trail for 48 days (which I doubt was a lot less than a couple of thousand kilometres!) I have 'borrowed his photo of what they looked like at the end of that trip. Thanks Will. He says: 'the uppers look like new and the outsoles are only lightly worn. The only evidence of use is some scuffing on the edges of the outsole.'

Most other much heavier shoes would probably be starting to come apart after such punishment. Why not try a pair next time your need a new pair of shoes. I will keep you posted on how well these 230 gram shoes last me. I am petty happy with them so far.

PS: They do come in different colours than in the photos.

05/08/2017: A Fair Chase: I see it is two years since I first posted this. As a result of my experiences of the last two weeks (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-silence-of-the-deer/ & http://www.theultralighthiker.com/avon-river-walking-track/), I feel that it needs a revisit:

IMG_1199 comp

Moose Country, Fiordland NZ: Looking down over the Jane Burn into the Lower Seaforth Valley, the Dusky Sound in the distance. Only about ten moose have ever been taken from this area, probably none in your lifetime, but I have seen one there - perhaps the only living hunter to have done so!. It is at least three days’ hard walk and a two hour boat trip to the nearest road. This is hunting! (See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hunting-in-fiordland/)

Seems to me too many hunters long since crossed the boundary between hunting and vermin eradication/culling. In many cases the latter is what is called for (eg with foxes at lambing time) but with game animals we move to such behaviour with the risk that they will thereby lose their status as game animals, resulting in the Government legislating for their extermination. Then poisoning might prove to be more efficient than shooting. Think on that!

More importantly still, from an ethical perspective, we lose all respect for them as an animal worthy of our endeavours. The hunter’s prey should have these rights: to be able effectively to employ its senses, intelligence and ability to flee from danger. If we degrade them to the extent that they no longer have these rights then we are not hunting them; we are culling. Sometimes culling may have to be done – but there is no honour in it. It is an (unpleasant) job! Unfortunately much of what many hunters do is simply that.

Long-range shooting with a telescopic sight deprives the animal of any opportunity to see, hear, smell or flee the hunter. It is culling. It is no different from spotlighting, which has the same effect as well as paralysing the prey. Similarly employing trail cameras (a wildlife biologist’s research tool surely?) to locate, monitor and predict an animal, then to await it camouflaged or perched in a tree above it is not hunting. No deer has camouflaged natural predators which it could expect to strike it from a distance from high above. A deer is not camouflaged, yet it is a master of blending into its surrounding and using cover and topography, and moving silently. So should the hunter try to be.

The possession and display of a vast array of clearly ‘unfair’ gadgets and pieces of equipment which inform the passer-by only that you intend to control and dominate your prey, only advises those who don’t like hunting already that they should act to prevent your hunting. It would be far better for the sport if all hunters wore a tweed jacket and tie (as they used to do in the past), as this would at least indicate you were not rednecks and yobbos! At least ditch the awful camo. It sends the wrong message. A wool check shirt is far better, and more comfortable.

There are any number of technological means I can imagine of killing animals, but neither would they be hunting. Employing drones, for example. Traps and deadfalls. Poisoned baits and waterholes. Helicopter shooting. Shooting from vehicles or horseback. Why not go ‘whole hog’ as ‘hunters’ and employ helicopter gunships, machine guns, bombs and napalm? People need to wake up to themselves and what they are doing. To be able to hunt is a privilege too easily lost for us to tolerate the macho antics of such a ‘hunting brigade’ with all their showy appurtenances.

Having been evicted from a number of hunting groups for expressing the opinion that hunters need to behave more ethically here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/sambar-deer-stalking-103/, I may put this idea on Kickstarter: I call it the Trophy Acquisition System. It is designed for the time poor but well-heeled, overweight sportsman. The idea is that a trail cam will be connected to a small PC which has a Target Identification System. You will be able to programme it: eg Sambar Stag. When the target comes in view the camera will begin filming, then a .30 calibre rifle will cleanly shoot it through the heart. More photos of the trophy will follow of it in its chosen death pose. Then the system will communicate with the remote hunter, sending him SMS messages, co-ordinates, snapshots, etc.

The system can even be programmed to Photoshop the hunter into the scene, eg with the dead deer. If the absent hunter does not wish to retrieve the trophy, he can purchase the optional Carcass Disposal System which will tow it away into the bushes somewhere, at which point the Trophy Acquisition System will re-set itself to await the next trophy.

For the price of a stamped return-addressed envelope I will be offering a ‘hack’ for the system which allows the target ‘trophy’ to be re-set to an image of the person who purchased and deployed the system.

See also: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/sambar-deer-stalking-103/

and http://www.theultralighthiker.com/thrilling-tales-sir-samuel-baker/

04/08/2017: Wonnangatta-Moroka Trip Cut Short: Orinally posted 2/08/2011: 'Back early from three days' hunting/hiking in Wonnangatta-Moroka NP due to sore toes (Have to do more research into boots) and accidentally taking the three-quarter length Neoair mat which was a bit harsh on my bad back. However saw lots of deer, some of whom visited me during the night.' (This is all I wrote back then)

Sore feet can spoil a trip ( http://www.theultralighthiker.com/foot-care/). I had clearly not trimmed my toenails well beforehand, but unless you can get the correct size boot (for me a half size = 8 1/2) and especially if you are doing a lot of hill-siding or down-hilling this is likely to happen. Preparation is all.

I am now better able to use a 3/4 length mat, having had a back operation in 2013 though I usually use the Neoair Women's (340 grams - http://www.theultralighthiker.com/womens-are-great-in-bed/) which did not exist then. They had also not then trimmed the extra 30 grams from their 3/4 length model back then so it weighed 260 grams instead of the current 230. You can put something under your feet to lift them a little. I would now use my Airbeam Pad (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/air-beam-pad/), or a Graham Medical pillow (watch for future post) with my http://www.theultralighthiker.com/bathtub-groundsheet-chair/.

My camera choice has improved since then. I had only a 4 megapixel camera with 3X zoom back then - and was still not in the habit of taking many photos - having grown up with film cameras which were so expensive, and made one positively stingy. I have found some snaps I took however, and have added them to this update. My current camera has 20x zoom ( http://www.theultralighthiker.com/new-camera/) and there are even better (though not lighter) ones available. Sony now have a pocket camera which weighs 245 grams and has a 30X zoom https://www.dpreview.com/products/sony/compacts/sony_dschx80. Another great choice is the Canon SX730 with 40x zoom though it weighs 300 grams: https://www.dpreview.com/products/canon/compacts/canon_sx730hs Coupled with eg this http://www.theultralighthiker.com/4-gram-string-reverse-tripod/,

These were about as good a photo as you could get with my old camera. I told you I saw 'lots of deer'!

Top: A doe and fawn crossing the river at dusk. Below a very nice stag thrashing just to the right of the centre. He is just to the left of the 'vee' of the twig from the tree on the right.

They do not compare well to the photo of the doe I took last Saturday ( http://www.theultralighthiker.com/avon-river-walking-track/):

Or this one: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-ethical-hunter/

Back then I see I was still using my ancient 7'x7' (210x210cm) 2oz/yd2 home-made polyester-nylon tarp as a shelter. I have made some improvements since then, but it did keep me warm and dry, and was the inspiration for many better models. I used to have to drop this one down when I wanted to go to sleep, and sleep diagonally - but it did use to work. In the new 1 oz/yd2 Membrane Silpoly  it would have weighed about 160 grams including tie-outs. An 8' x 8' (240x240cm) tarp would work a bit better. It would weigh about 210 grams. I am thinking of making a larger version of my poncho tarp ( http://www.theultralighthiker.com/poncho-tent-update/) in these dimensions. To be announced. It would then also be great as a hammock tarp.

Here is my old 7x7 tarp.

And here is my 8'x8' cuben tarp (weight <150 grams):

Mind you there were some good stags about:

You will note that you can walk up and shoot a quite satisfactory stag wearing a blue tee shirt!

Of course in future I will be using this: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/poncho-tent-update/ In silnylon it will be a tent which fits in a breast pocket and which weighs under 180 grams! I will be calling it The Pocket Poncho Tent. I may be selling them. I am investigating manufacturing in Asia. As they say, 'Watch this space!'

I have long since worn out my original 53 litre cuben fibre zpacks Zero/Blast pack you can see in the photo. I replaced it with a 4.8 oz/yd2 Dyneema model. The latter is still under 400 grams instead of 230 grams, but is much much more durable. I hope I do wear it out actually! I am still using the same Big Agnes Cyclone Chair (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/cyclone-chair/ - since 2006!) My blue $1 5 and 10 store cup has been going for over 20 years now. I am yet to find a lighter one

I only wish I was still as young now as I was in 2011 - but I am still going, which is the main thing!

03/08/2017: Fizan Compact Trekking Poles: These are not the lightest trekking poles, but they are amongst the shortest when folded which can be important when you want to fit them inside luggage or inside your pack. At US$59.99 (July 2017) they are one of the cheapest.Add shipping to Australia quoted at US$4.60!

Founded in 1947 by Domenico Fincati, Fizan pioneered the use of aluminum in ski poles when the rest of world was still using steel or bamboo. Since then, the company has become a leader in the market, widely known in Europe for its alpine and Nordic walking poles, and among the ultralight community for its Compact series of trekking poles. Seventy years after its inception, Fizan remains family owned and operated, and all poles are still made in its factory in Veneto, Italy, using environmentally friendly and socially responsible practices.


  • 7001 aluminum construction
  • Proprietary Flexy internal locking system
  • Ergonomic EVA foam grip with rounded plastic top
  • 1.35” (3.4 cm) wide nylon straps
  • Replaceable carbide tips
  • Metal-reinforced rubber tip covers
  • 3 sets of removable baskets: 35, 50, and 95 mm
  • Made in Italy


Massdrop x Fizan Compact 3

  • Sections: 3
  • Adjustable length: 22.8–52 in (58–132 cm)
  • Pole section diameters: 17, 16, and 14 mm
  • Weight per pole: 5.6 oz (158 g)

Massdrop x Fizan Compact 4

  • Sections: 4
  • Adjustable length: 19.3–49.2 in (49–125 cm)
  • Pole section diameters: 17, 16, 14, and 12 mm
  • Weight per pole: 6 oz (169 g)

Straps, Tips & Baskets

  • Weight per strap: 0.4 oz (10 g)
  • Weight per hiking tip: 0.4 oz (12 g)
  • Weight per 35mm basket: 0.07 oz (2 g)
  • Weight per 50mm basket: 0.1 oz (4 g)
  • Weight per 95mm basket: 0.5 oz (14 g)


  • Pair of poles
  • Pair of straps
  • Pair of hiking tip covers
  • 3 sets of hiking baskets


See Also:



01/08/2017: Massdrop Shipping

Some time ago the shipping calculator disappeared from the main page of this wonderful site, so I have not been game to make a purchase because I did not know how much I would be charged for shipping. Eventually I contacted them and received this useful reply: 'At this time the site is only able to show the Shipping cost through the Payment/Shipping information page on a drop. Having said this, you do not have to agree to buy in order to see the shipping cost. Once you hit the green "Join Drop" button on a drop, you will be directed to the Payment/Shipping information page. From here, need only input your shipping information and the site will automatically update to show the shipping cost before you confirm payment or even input payment information.' I have checked and this works, as you will see from my post about the excellent Fizan Trekking Poles this morning: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/fizan-compact-trekking-poles/ These poles will fit entirely inside your pack available there for river crossings, use as tent poles or for heavy carry-outs etc.

I have recommended purchases from these folks again and again. I suggest you bookmark them too. It will be a little more advantageous if you happen to live in the US, but there is often a bargain to be had if you live elsewhere in the world. In any case they will keep you up to date with what's new and available.

Some of my other Massdrop recommendations:


















31/07/2017: A Hiking Food Compendium: Folks are always asking me, 'What do you eat on the trail?' I have posted about this again and again, but I just thought I would bring all my posts about this together as one compendium. When you get tired of eating all these you could just quit life or hiking I guess.

A couple of these are to enjoy at home, but most are dry ingredients which make the meal as light as possible )calories per gram is all!) and use supermarket bought rather than specialty hiking meals as they are both cheaper and tastier in my opinion.


A Hiking Food Compendium:












































30/07/2017: Avon River Walking Track: Good News: Della: 'My steady return to fitness: After 5 weeks of cardiac rehab and a couple of weeks of mainstream fitness training (on top of our usual daily walks), today I tackled my first real bushwalk in 5 months. We checked out part of the Avon River Walking Track in the balmy, albeit blustery weather. Not a long walk, only about a three hour round trip; a bit of a goat track with some gentle uphill climbs, so a mild test for the angina. Once my heart warmed up it was pretty plain sailing, I am pleased to report. The scenery was lovely and we will return to do the whole walk on another occasion. Lots more exercising in front of me before I get back to my previous fitness, but I am now convinced that it is achievable. Feeling heartened!'

The sun was just in the right place to cast lots of golden reflection off the river. I took dozens of snaps especially from high up, but you know how you are supposed to never take photos into the sun but you do anyway because sometimes they turn pout spectacularly? Well, pretty much all but this one were duds!

And this one of Della with the beautiful silver mirror of the river snaking behind her. In the distance you can see Mt Ben Cruachan.

And here am I taking the photograph above.

There are some interesting rock formations.

Beautiful beetling pink cliffs.

And then around a corner this doe came swimming and wading in the river.  

She nearly came right up to us!

But I suspect she detected this rascal!

There is oodles of camping at Huggets Crossing on the Avon. From there you can walk all the way along to Wombat Crossing which takes 5-6 hours.

Here are the times. You can camp at Dermody's or Wombat Crossing and walk back (or vice versa). There are also lots of places along the way where you can camp. You have to be careful of the Avon river bottoms. The Avon is one of the worst rivers in Australia for flash floods, so watch the forecasts. It can be pelting down further up above Golden Point etc in the Avon Wilderness.

The trip was spoiled somewhat by encountering not one but two teams of knuckleheaded hound hunters (the reason the deer was walkingand swimming up the middle of the stream after all)! It is illegal to hunt in the vicinity of roads and walking tracks, because of the danger to the public, to use illegal radio channels and radio tracking during the hunt yet these idiots were (offences which would lose them their licences if apprehended - Huggets is regularly patrolled). Then, they proceeded to camp at Huggets just to disgust other campers with their vast numbers of dogs some of them illegal, public display of deer carcasses and so on.

Anyone could see that each team was operating many more than the allowable legal numbers of hounds, and that the bloodhound crosses were just that, not pure bloodhounds! At the end of the hunt they were still waiting for more hounds than they are legally allowed to let out in the first place - why the deer we saw looked so harried, and had been savaged on the right flank some time during the day, as you can see from its photo. People witnessing such crimes needs to file a report (with photos) to the Game Management Unit, DEPI, Victoria. We need to get these fools out of the bush. See also: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-silence-of-the-deer/

28/07/2017: Yarra Ranges 1866: A friend recently sent me a copy of this splendid 1866 map of the County of Buln Buln, to the East of Melbourne. What a historic treasure it is! you can clearly see the route of what would later be 'The Upper Yarra Track' on it. This is what makes this fabulous walking track 'Australia's oldest' - 'and best' as I say on the website: http://www.finnsheep.com/THE%20UPPER%20YARRA%20WALKING%20TRACK.htm

If you haven't yet walked this wonderful track, think about doing so soon. Being winter at present you will want to follow the 'Winter Route' I have outlined in the track Instructions: http://www.finnsheep.com/Track%20Instructions.htm

as the route across the Baw Baw Plateau will be too dangerous because of snow and cold - though very experienced people with snowshoes and skis have done it.

PS: Thanks to Thomas Osburg for the map. It is available here: http://www.cv.vic.gov.au/media/2059/slv-county-of-evelyn-map.jpg I had to copy it with Paint. From the website, or with Paint you can zoom in and see the detail. Perhaps there is a another way of getting better copy.

28/07/2017: Ultimate camo: Just washed my camo hunting gear... now waiting for it to dry.

Image may contain: people sitting

26/07/2017: The Silence of the Deer: Sambar deer do not have a voice. When they are wantonly murdered en masse with no regard to ethics or the law, the survivors cannot speak out. We have to be their voice.

Understand this, I am not some namby-pamby greenie do-gooder. I have hunted deer in the Gippsland mountains for nigh on forty years, and many other creatures before that for another twenty plus years besides. I suppose the last twenty years whilst others took another path I have become naïve.

Because I have been busy farming and when I get away choose to hunt and travel the bush by myself, and during the week, and go almost always to places which have no vehicle access - because I deeply love the wildest places - I had not experienced the rogue element that has taken over too much of the hunting community.

These people have developed and practised techniques and methods which will see hunting banned outright if they are not stopped in their tracks post haste. We will all be the losers for that. We cannot choose to ignore them because we don’t want to get involved, or because we fear what they will do to us in revenge for urging that what they do should be outlawed and punished. I have no doubt what such vile people would do to me if they caught me (or my vehicle) alone in the bush after they realise I have spoken out against them and am their enemy. But, 'All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing' as Edmund Bourke said. I refuse to be cowed.

Hunters should understand that the great bulk of people do not share their desire to practise this sport. Indeed many find it at best distasteful, if not mean, evil and disgusting. They are the majority. We cannot afford to have them proven right by such louts and villains as are roaming the bush unchecked at present.

I rarely ever go up the bush on a weekend but I did again on Saturday as I wanted to have a look around before the sheep lambed. They have now started, so that will be that for me for a while. Plenty of jobs around the farm to do anyway, particularly tree planting. I returned to a location quite near this place: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-spot-of-solitude/ and wandered a little further along the river than I had ever been before.

As we set out Spot and I watched this swamp wallaby trying to get across this fording point for a while. He had three sterling goes at it but the snow and rain the night before had put the river up about 4" (100mm) and he kept on getting swept away. Eventually he decided that the grass was just as green on his side of the river and gave up.

Spot surveyed the crossing with some trepidation after that, but nonetheless we managed to get across without mishap, him riding as always on my back.

There had been a cold wind off the snow earlier, but as it warmed up the wind dropped and it turned into quite a nice day. The kookaburras were in full cry alerting all and sundry that we were afoot in their territory. Likewise there were a lot of currawongs about with their joyful cries. The wood swallows and bee eaters have recovered somewhat from the awful fires of a few years back, and are everywhere, cutting delightful arcs across the sky. A lone azure kingfisher drew lines on the pallid waters of the river. 'Wally' wombat has also bred up again and is out and about, even in broad daylight. I do so love the sights and sounds of the bush.

We came to a huge patch of solanums of some sort (a relative of tomatoes and potatoes). Frequently the leaves of such plants are poisonous to stock or at least bitter, so nothing much was eating them. Dogs just love to practise their balancing. There was an excellent dry wallow right in the midst of this patch - a fine and private place. It contained no cast antlers - as they often do. It was also a haven for wombats.

Something had been eating the fruit however. Frequently members of this family have palatable fruit, but I did not know about this particular one, so did not try it.

You can easily see what is beautiful but inedible, can't you?

Lunch and time for a cuddle. You can see that what is edible has been well munched down.

A poor attempt at a selfie, Spot getting in on the act! This is the clothing I think hunters should be wearing. An Icebreaker wool cap. This is a Tomar merino wool shirt from Kathmandu, currently on sale for A$89.98: http://www.kathmandu.com.au/mens/clothing/tops.html?product_filters_2017=6671 It is excellent.

What a beautiful valley it is.

Right on top of that stone ridge (above left) I came across this chair, which Spot just had to sit in. I guess it had been a good place to wait for a deer crossing down to the river in the fading afternoon light some time back, or maybe someone just wanted to sit and watch the golden river gliding slowly by. A quite reasonable pastime.

Then, unexpectedly, on the next flat downstream I came upon this horror. A true shambles. A charnel house of deer which had clearly taken place within the last week. I hesitate to say how many there were just like this - more than twenty though! Look at this beautiful little doe, last year's drop, savaged by dogs, shot and left to rot. Why would you do this?

And here is another just twenty yards away with her throat torn out. Again you can see where the dogs have savaged her flanks. This wasn't the work of any beagle I have ever seen or owned. Any normal scent trailing hound for that matter. What sort of evil mongrels such folks are using is beyond me. As is 'Why?'

A few yards further on this fine young stag, again savaged by the dogs, antlers hewn off at least. Still, a total waste by my reckoning. 

Another few steps and there was another, and another and another. Not an ounce of venison had been taken. 

And there were wallabies just like the one we watched earlier also torn to pieces by the dogs.


Such barbaric behaviour is not hunting. It is just wanton rapaciousness. What other base things are such sub-human creatures as perpetrated this outrage capable of? In order to simultaneously kill a half dozen large deer in a circle probably fifty yards in radius, how many dogs had been let out on this hunt? Certainly not the five beagles allowed by law!

These guys are doing everything they can wrong. Everything they can to ensure our sport is banned. You could not blame members of the public who stumbled upon such horror (canoeists for example - this is a lovely river to canoe), or heaven help them if they had become mixed up in it, if they then demanded that hound hunting, yea deer hunting entirely be banned forthwith. And they would be right!

If we cannot stamp out this sort of behavior, we deserve to lose our sport. There are people who are reading this who know who the people are who do such things. Some of you witnessed it, or were in the bush thereabouts on the day it happened which I was not (else the police would have all their number plates I can assure you!) and have a pretty good idea who was involved.

Week after week such vile idiots as this come home with a swag of antlers and an awesome tally of dead deer to boast about, having spent the weekend practising the vilest animal cruelty. Young yahoos edging each other on to acts of greater barbarism. People who would do this are capable of anything - or nothing! One thing I have heard about is folk who cruelly wound a deer, eg gut shooting it and breaking its legs so that they can drive the poor agonised creature back to their car rather than carrying the meat out! I have heard a vile thug boasting at his skill at this unbelievable abhorrent practice. God alone knows what further despicable acts of animal cruelty they are capable of.

And, they are slaughtering deer with vast packs of slavering dogs in our National Parks too. They have absolutely no respect for law or morality. They have no human values. Tiny and I were hunted by a pack of just such feral dogs which had been left behind by such a crew as this a few years ago. I could not believe they were baying on our trail. Dingoes certainly never bark on trail, or hunt in packs. I have now put two and two together after seeing this slaughterhouse. A client of mine, near Omeo years ago lost 800 sheep in a single night to such packs of wild dogs. A pack of feral dogs left behind by such hunters will tear some hiker or camper to pieces one day. If they can rip the throat out of a full-grown deer what chance do you think an unarmed person would have? I certainly never camp in the forest since that experience without a weapon handy.

(PS: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hunting-the-wonnangatta-moroka/ Tiny is my older Jack Russell - she is still going at 17 1/2, but she is too deaf and poorly sighted to be taken into the wilderness now. I would lose her, but she would still dearly love to come. She gets a five km walk in the forest behind us every afternoon though, and gets to smell lots of interesting things there, and can come home afterwards and sleep in her basket next to a warm fire. It is not a bad evening to her long life during which she spent a great deal of time in the bush ‘hunting’ and never laid a tooth on anything).

Here she is in retirement in front of her fire:

I will outline what has apparently become the normal modus operandi of too many hound hunters today. I have no idea what percentage but it may well be the majority. Most if not all practise some of the illegal or unethical things I will go on to explain. I was myself a hound hunter for over thirty years. My father, his father and his father too all hunted with hounds in the Australian bush. 175 years of hound hunting. But we never did anything like this. First of all we had a small number of hounds, often only one or two - what need large numbers anyway? One good dog with a superb nose and a good voice is enough actually - ah, but getting such a dog is hard! . For many years I had Harpoon, Belle, Poono, Mike and Marsh. They were foxhound-bloodhound crosses. What a dog Harpoon was. Better than most packs of dogs. Many people will have encountered them or me in the bush in years past. A young reader recently wrote to me that he could still just about hear my call on the wind, 'Harpoon, Come!' They are just a part of the earth of my orchard and of my memories today, after the dreadful foxhound ban - which alas, did no good!

I spent more time hunting for the hounds than I did hunting for deer. My friend the late Arthur Meyers used to call us 'the last of the hound hunters', and maybe that was about right. We hunted always on foot, without the benefit of a vehicle (as the law mandates). For much of that time we never owned a 4WD. We had feet. Two of them each usually, though a mate of mine, Jock had only one and used to get about in the bush pretty well besides. Still does actually.

Aside: We were going to walk into the Wonnangatta together this winter for a week or ten days, two silly septuagenarians, a spot of fishing and hunting and yarning by the fire, but he eventually could not make it, and I have not yet either. Still, eventually the sheep will finish lambing and I can get away again, so maybe yet...I do so adore the Wonnangatta valley in winter. On the horizon you are ringed with majestic snow-capped peaks. The frost crunches under foot in the morning as you go to do the dishes, the river fringed with ice crystals. Still the trout come to the lure and taste specially sweet straight from the coals. I see many deer coming down to drink of an evening and admire them quietly. They have little to fear from me in such a place. The air is clear and cold. Birdsong hangs bright and far on such frigid air. A Tyvek shelter and a cheery fire at day's end bring such a wondrous sense of peace and serenity.

We talked on the radio only at the end of the hunt or to locate each other as the law also mandates. The dogs never attacked wildlife. We carried out every morsel of the deer we harvested (not many). Some of these louts today are individually killing as many deer in a day as our team of 3-5 took in a whole year. These young blokes are the worst sort of tally hunters. They expect to shoot twenty or thirty deer apiece each year. Some would like to do so each week. What is the point? We never left a dog in the bush - if we had, it would have starved to death. We treated the deer and other bush users with respect.

So what is different about the 'modern' hound hunter? First the huge number of dogs. Each member of the 'team' might have the legal five dogs and three pups in training in the dog box on the back of their ubiquitous 4WD utes . A typical 'team' is well in excess of the mandated maximum of ten. So there are likely to be as many as 100 dogs present on a given day! Each has a vehicle and the vehicle is used extensively in the hunt to get in front of the deer, being moved again and again during the hunt. Often there are multiple hunts going on actually, because of the vast numbers of dogs. They hunt on roads, not in the bush. Each member has a radio operating on an illegal channel affixed to their breast. This alone invites a fine of $20,000 - but these clowns think they are invulnerable. Right next to it is a GPS tracker which they use constantly to follow the hunt and get a wickedly unfair advantage over the deer. Many of their dogs do not voice.

I have witnessed packs of 30-40 hounds just let out higgly-piggly in a valley (not after walking them in on a leash as we used to do on fresh sign until they began to bay, not releasing them until they did) and these whole vast packs were making far less noise than my old foxhound, Harpoon would have been making all by himself. This is because largely such folks are not using scent trailing hounds, though they might mostly have a superficial resemblance to them. It matters not to them whether their dogs have a 'good voice' because they are simply tracking the hunt in real time with their GPS units. When such electronic devices (including CB radios) became legal it was understood that they would not be used in the actual hunt. Nor is it ethical to do so. Having a team of up to 10 hunters with guns and five dogs is advantage enough! But of course they almost never restrict themselves like that. With such a vast amount of pressure on them, the deer are soon forced to 'bail' and if a hunter does not arrive swiftly to dispatch them, the dogs will harry them until they fall, or pull them down and kill them.

In over thirty years of hound hunting I walked in on hundreds of bail-ups. Mostly I arrived too late, if at all. The dogs had become bored that the deer was no longer moving, and had wandered away. Sometimes (not often) if I was lucky I arrived when the dogs were still 'holding' the deer. Sometimes I shot it, and sometimes I did not. Does with young were usually spared, for example. I never witnessed a dog harrying a deer. My scent trailing hounds would just stand around howling at it from a safe distance. I never had a dog injured by a deer as they never came close enough. I never found hair floating on the river water which would have indicated harrying activity. Owning such dogs as attack wildlife was illegal and unethical and properly remains so. If you had owned a dog which showed any sign of such aggression you would have put it down straightaway no matter how attached you were to it. You should always be able to shoot your own dog. Straight away. You just cannot trust a dog which attacks things. We all have loved ones. Imagine what might happen if a pack of such dogs came across a couple of women and children innocently playing (perhaps near their canoes) in the forest! It really is only a matter of time before such large, dangerous, poorly controlled packs kill domestic stock, companion animals or human beings.

There are other elements of the deer hunting scene I also disagree with, and have mentioned before. For example I abhor the practice of glassing the opposite slope and shooting deer long range with telescopic sights. Such conduct is appropriate only for cullers, not hunters. The quarry should have something like 'fair chase'. It should at least be able to use its senses to escape the hunter. I would prefer to see every hunter required to use only iron sights. They would have to have a lot more skill for one thing, and learn to get much closer to their quarry as bow hunters do. Again, I would rather that only cullers and perhaps bow hunters were allowed to use camo. This would give the deer a better chance and make it safer for everyone. I am not in favour of being an ambush predator, especially if the ambush has been informed by trail cameras which are properly a scientific tool. Deer are creatures of habit, and such means are really quite unfair. I think hunters should just have to 'walk them up.  This is really the only fair way of taking them ie bush stalking.

Deer are sentient creatures. It is our privilege to be able to humanely harvest them to prevent their breeding out of control and becoming a menace. They deserve our respect and understanding. I think the worst aspect (for me) about the nightmare display I witnessed on Saturday was that when I first spied the first little doe, her mother and younger sister were standing over her, their noses still touching her. I thought at first she was asleep. I was initially quite enchanted, and far too slow to get my camera out. I guess they saw Spot move and they left (as you can imagine) in an almighty hurry. They were grieving - as well they might be. I am grieving too. I really do not know whether I will ever shoot another deer after seeing this.

It will not keep me out of the bush that I love though, but I will be heading for more remote areas - and I guess I will need my gun to defend myself against those awful feral dogs these 'hound hunters' have left behind and allowed to breed up. Thankfully the Government conducts annual baiting (including aerial baiting) in many areas to try and reduce their numbers. This is very annoying when you want to take your Jack Russell for a walk in the bush. You need to check very carefully beforehand that there are no viable baits in the area you are heading for. Fortunately Spot is such a fussy eater he will touch practically nothing, but I would sorely hate to lose him and his companionship in the wilderness: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/not-quite-alone-in-the-wilderness/

Yes! Of course I reported this matter to the Game Management Unit DPI Traralgon as I would encourage all to do who know of similar awful deeds by evil clowns who claim to be hunters. We need to get these vile cretins out of the bush before their actions drive us all from our chosen recreation. Unsurprisingly the officer I spoke to had numerous similar dreadful incidents on his desk. I think the most chilling thing he said to me was, 'You would not believe the cruelty'...Game Management may be understaffed and work slowly, but they are coming for you. And good riddance!

Post Script: I remember folks used to claim they could 'sex' a deer by its footprints. Here are two sets of deer feet. One is a stag, the other a doe. They look just the same to me. I agree that older, heavier animals may have worn their toes down at the front, but those rounded toes definitely do not indicate a stag - whereas a rub line certainly does!

26/07/2017: Miniature Weapons – The Toothpick Crossbow: Miniature weapons are great fun for young and old. You might start your collection with this delightful ‘toothpick crossbow’ which is bound to annoy your friends and fellow workers: https://www.thisiswhyimbroke.com/toothpick-crossbow/ Also avaailable Massdrop now (July 2017 https://www.massdrop.com/buy/bowman-toothpick-crossbow?utm_source=Iterable&iterableCampaignId=144137&iterableTemplateId=208034&utm_campaign=cco_fresh_finds_2&mode=guest_open&referer=EJ89BQ&utm_medium=email).


You might also like this: Micro BB Crossbow: http://www.dudeiwantthat.com/gear/gadgets/micro-bb-crossbow.asp


Or this: Marshmallow Crossbow: http://www.dudeiwantthat.com/gear/gadgets/marshmallow-crossbow.asp


Or this: Micro Blaster Q-Tip X-Bow: http://www.dudeiwantthat.com/gear/gadgets/micro-blaster-q-tip-x-bow.asp



Then of course there are the many rubber band guns such as this: http://www.rubberbandguns.com/pistols/western-pistols/colt-derringer-pistol

Colt Derringer Pistol


25/07/2017: EyeQue Personal Vision Tracker: This great little device is available here http://www.eyeque.com/home from US$29.99 (July 2017)

You can use this device to ascertain your correct eyeglass prescription. Repeated self-tests will make you more and more accurate. Users report it gives as good or better result than their optometrist. It is very handy for on-line ordering eg from http://www.zennioptical.com/ where you can buy a pair of flexible titanium progressive glasses for $US50 or less.

I have been buying my glasses from Zenni for years. The only time I have had a bad result is when the prescription was wrong. This device should allow me to check my optometrist’s prescription before I order. I will still be having a regular eye check up to make sure I am not developing any other eye problems – such as glaucoma, which blinds you before you are aware of it unless you have a regular visual field test and use it to keep track of your visual field index. Be warned. My wife lost more than half her eyesight before her glaucoma was diagnosed.


I have ordered one of these devices and will download the App to go with it.

PS: You can do the same thing with your hearing aids to save even more money.

See Also:



Here is a good way to prevent you losing your hearing aids in the bush. It has saved me thousands: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/securing-hearing-aids/



24/07/2017: Pocket Slingshot: The Pocket Shot might be a good choice if you want to add a bunny, pigeon or duck to your hiking menu and you have found perfecting your skill with a conventional sling too hard (See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/how-to-make-a-sling/)

'With up to 350 feet per second, equals 350 km/h, double to triple the airspeed of conventional slingshots

With 12 Joule by using the original Pocket-Shot Ammo of hardened carbon steel six times the penetration power than with a conventional slingshot. Also much stronger than almost all Airsoft, Paintball or Air-Rifles

High Precision and high rate of fire. Allows quick aiming and shooting

Minimum weight of just 55 grams and extremely compact at 6cm  x 2 cm'

I might not be 'legal' in your particular locale, so you should check I guess.

It can also fire arrows and/or be used to take fish. I would say it might also be useful for driving away dingoes which might be following you and thinking about you as a snack.

From around $A40 (July 2017)





17/07/2017: A Hands Free Umbrella: What a good idea that would be, especially if you need to use both hands for trekking poles on rough or steep terrain. When the weather is really humid, you really need a roof to keep you dry (and warm). A raincoat in such circumstances will just see you soaked and frozen.


See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-importance-of-a-roof/ & http://www.theultralighthiker.com/?s=rain)


In such circumstances my ultralight poncho tent may save your life: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-poncho-tent/ & http://www.theultralighthiker.com/poncho-tent-update/


There are several possibilities. For example Antigravity Gear has a model featuring clips which attach your trekking umbrella to your back pack. https://www.antigravitygear.com/shop/rain-gear/swing-handsfree-backpack-umbrella/




There are several other possibilities, such as:






A search for ‘hands free umbrellas’ will provide you with lots of fun and amusement!


One I particularly like is the Ufocap: http://ufocap.tradekorea.com/product/detail/P280367/UFOCAP---Innovative-Umbrella.html?minisiteprodgroupno=32229 These little guys cost about $10 on eBay and weigh about 170 grams. Even if they look a bit silly they should do the job. The ones with transparent panels (at least at the front) would help you see where you were going.


16/07/2017: Naismith's Rule

'Is a rule of thumb that helps in the planning of a walking or hiking expedition by calculating how long it will take to walk the route, including the extra time taken when walking uphill. It was devised by William W. Naismith, a Scottish mountaineer, in 1892.  A modern version of this rule can be formulated i.e. as follows: Allow 1 hour for every 3 mi (5 km) forward, plus 1 hour for every 2000 ft (600 m) of ascent.' Clearly the 'rule' is about young, fit people walking on clear flat terrain. If you are older or 'bush-bashing' you will have to apply some corrections.

'It does not account for delays, such as extended breaks for rest or sightseeing, or for navigational obstacles...Over the years several adjustments have been formulated in an attempt to make the rule more accurate. The simplest correction is to add 25 or 50% to the time predicted using Naismith's rule.'  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naismith%27s_rule

I think the rule is a reasonable guide for 'track walkers'. Those of us who prefer more remote places will no doubt have worked out other ways of estimating. Doubling the time in much of the Victorian bush is reasonable. In off-track walks in Fiordland, forget it. There it will take you longer than you can believe to traverse a couple of kilometres!

The most important consideration is life is not a race. I have often encountered folks hurrying to their destination (ultimately death) who take no time to observe the wonders along the way. One of the advantages of being old is that it imposes a restraint such that you do have time 'to smell the roses'.

15/07/2017: 60 DIY Ultralight Hiker Ideas: I have been posting my DIY things for quite some time now. Thought you might like to see a collection of my ‘creations’.   http://www.theultralighthiker.com/60-diy-ultralight-hiker-ideas/



09/07/2017: Bathtub Groundsheet Chair: As you can see I have completed the first prototype of this project which I have long threatened. I learned a lot in the process, so that there will be substantial changes between where it is at now and the completed project. Still, you can see that it works. I created four ‘sleeves’ along the sides of the chair, back and seat) which you can slip lengths of dead sticks in for stiffening. I used some slats I had lying around from a broken door. You can see the end of one sticking up on the top right of the third photo.

There are three horizontal pieces of fabric which hold the infated pad in the two positions, one at each end and one (nearly) in the centre. I sewed the centre one at each end but I think I will unpick one line of stitching (as it might not be necessary, then when I want to configure the chair as a bed I can slip the mattress underneath it which will pull the sides up more to create a bathtub effect. If I make the two webbing straps a little longer they can also be clicked together criss-crossed to accentuate this effect. I think I will need a piece of elastic around about where my knees are in the second photo to firm up the ‘bathtub’ effect there.

I am thinking 3.5 oz Dyneema for the sleeves and triangular tie-outs the webbing is attached to.  A lighter Robic material might work well here. The bottoms of the back sleeves may need some reinforcing as that seems to be where the most stress occurs. I am thinking 1.3 oz silnylon for the floor. I know that this will wear through over time, but should last for many nights until then. You can also re-waterproof the silicon side as explained here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/waterproofing-tent-floors-and-ground-sheets/ I am thinking that the completed chair will weigh perhaps less then 90 grams! As you can see the prototype weighs 138 (but that is with 1.85 oz/yd2 Tyvek and 3/4″ buckles and webbing instead of 1/2″).

bathtub groundsheet chair

Ready for bed:

bathtub groundsheet

Detailed view:

ultralight hiking chair groundsheet

Prototype size and weight:

You can see how unpicking the middle horizontal (which made no difference to the performance of the chair) pulls the sides up in groundsheet mode. Clipping the webbing diagonally will also help. 

It’s quite comfy too if you configure it as a lounger like this. The Klymit Ultralight Pillow (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/klymit-ultralight-pillow/) can be used as a seat to boost height if required:

PS: Only the back sticks seem to be necessary, though the bottom sticks may add some minimal comfort. I will experiment with this. If so, I can reduce the weight by omitting the bottom sleeves.

See Also:




08/07/2017: Leatherman Juice B2: Leatherman just keep coming up with entrancing products to separate us from our hard-earned. Here's a nice example, the Leatherman Juice B2:

'Sometimes, all you need is a knife. The Juice B2 has one serrated and one straight-edge knife made from high quality steel and backed by our 25 year warranty.

leatherman juice b2

  • Closed Length 3.2 in | 8.2 cm
  • Weight 1.3 oz | 36.8 g
  • Blade Length 2.2 in | 5.6 cm'

See Also:




08/07/2017: Never buy clothes again! These folks are making garments they reckon you can’t wear out (from Kevlar). For example their 100 Year Hoodie: They’ve taken aramid fibres with a strength to weight ratio five times stronger than steel and spun them into a super soft knit to make the most indestructible hoodie you’ve ever worn.

100 Year Hoodie: Raw edition

They also sell undergarments: https://www.vollebak.com/product/100-year-hoodie-raw/

Pair them with these dyneema jeans and you will never need to buy clothes again: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/791166183/backcountry-denim-cotm-most-durable-jeans-ever-mad

07/07/2017: Poncho Tent Update: Today my waterproof zippers arrived so I sewed them on (and they work a treat!) I also made up the small extra piece which can be used to close the tent up completely. This piece will weigh just less than 30 grams in silnylon on the completed tent bringing its total weight to approx 180 grams or about 240 grams with titanium stakes, guys etc. You have to admit that this is pretty good for a tent which is also a raincoat! With the extra piece sewn in and zipped up the tent would make emergency accommodation for two (lying down) or probably four sitting up, so it could certainly save lives in unexpected bad weather.

Spot helping me measure and cut out the extra door piece:

And here it is with the almost invisible #3 waterproof zips sewn on:

And zipped in:

Della sitting in the tent - to give you some idea of how roomy it is:

The tent is plenty big enough for her to sit up with legs stretched out.

I admit I could have pitched it a bit tauter. I may put large ribber bands on each of the tie-outs to facilitate this. My sole concern with a tent actually is that it goes up easily, stays up and keeps you dry. prettiness is not part of my lexicon:


You can stake the door flap out like this to create even more space:

And it works as a raincoat:

It is 8' long at the widest point, so a large person can sleep in it without touching any of the sides - and you can have a fire out the front to warm it. Dogs love it!

Now to move on to the silnylon version - and complete my <100 gram bathtub-groundsheet-chair to use with it.

See Also: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-poncho-tent/

04/07/2017: Black Diamond Storm Waterproof Headlamp: A year ago I though this was the greatest head torch ever: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/let-there-be-light-great-new-head-torch/

black diamond storm

Now, Black Diamond has a new model which blows it out of the water literally – being waterproof! their new model boasts an incredible 350 lumens though it uses an extra AAA battery (4 rather than 3). It still has superb run time and functionality though. This should be a good head torch for a bit of nighttime bunny busting (with a range on High of 80 metres). It lasts on High for 22 hours, and on Low for 160 – a full week, and weighs 110 grams including batteries! It is available on Massdrop at the moment for US$35.95 and I have found it on eBay this morning for US$39.95 (free shipping) which is about the same. Isn’t it ‘Xmas in July’ just now?

  • Black Diamond
  • Lumens: 350
  • LED types: 1 QuadPower, 2 DoublePower, 3 SinglePower
  • Settings: Full strength in proximity and distance modes; dimming; strobe; red, green, and blue night vision; lock mode
  • Rated IPX67: Tested to operate up to 3.3 ft (1 m) underwater for 30 mins
  • Maximum distance, high: 262.5 ft (80 m)
  • Maximum distance, low: 36 ft (11 m)
  • Maximum burn time, high: 22 hrs
  • Maximum burn time, low: 160 hrs
  • Batteries: 4 AAA (included)
  • PowerTap technology
  • Brightness Memory
  • Waterproof and dustproof
  • Weight with batteries: 3.9 oz (110 g)’

03/07/2017: Hardtack: A recipe for folks who want to experience just how hard life was in the past.  I think you should try it. I used to eat it with relish when I was a kid, but back then kids were always hungry and would eat just about anything. You only have to notice how much taller youths are today than the average height of folks over 60 to see that this was true! The virtue that it certainly has is that it lasts in storage for years as the photo below amply illustrates.

If you want to eat flour based food (which is quite economic weight and space wise), maybe ‘Johnny Cakes’ (or fried scones) a traditional Australian favourite is more ‘for you’. I used to make these all the time when I was hiking, but I have come up with so many other recipes over the years that I usually don’t bother any more, mostly as they were a bit fiddly. You need to carry some fat for the frying for one thing. Once this had leaked all over my pack once or twice it put me off. Using dripping or tallow (as explained in yesterday’s post) would obviate this: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/out-of-the-frying-pan/ I developed a recipe wihich was a bit more interesting than the traditional water, flour, salt one. The addition of eg some milk powder, some desiccated cocnut, a little sugar, some slivered almonds – even a few sultanas – makes the cakes into something quite pleasant and entertaining to enjoy. Here are a couple of recipes you might try from: http://thesurvivalmom.com/hardtack/ & http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Hardtack


02/07/2017: First Bag Your Omelet: Long ago I noticed that powdered eggs are once again available in Australia: Coles Supermarkket, Cake aisle: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hormel-real-bacon-pieces/) and that they would go well with the Hormel’s Bacon Pieces (Dehydrated).

Farm Pride Powdered Whole Eggs omelet recipe

It’s a bit like noticing that dehydrated French Onion Soup ought to be a great resource and meal base but then never getting around to inventing a meal which uses it. Well I did with the onion soup, see for example: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hiking-crayfish-bisque/

Now it is the powdered eggs’ turn. Of course I have already tried them out as reconstituted scrambled eggs and they make a fine breakfast, particularly if you fry some Chinese sausage with them (it doesn’t require refrigeration until after the packet is opened, so you have to eat itall. Oh Dear! It comes in approx 155 gram packets, so it’s not too much) The sausage also gives you the oil to cook the eggs in. A little bit of powdered milk in with the powdered eggs makes them fluffier and tastier, just like with fresh ingredients at home!

You can bring along some tallow to fry your omelet in (as described here http://www.theultralighthiker.com/out-of-the-frying-pan/) or you can bring along the omelet ingredients mixed together in a ziplock bag, add enough water to reconstitute them then simmer the bag in your cookpot - which means you don’t need oil, and you don’t have to wash up either!

I would definitely want some onion and garlic powder in my omelet, and some bacon pieces. If you have brought some dried tomatoes, they would go well too. There are a number of other interesting dried herbs you might add, eg thyme, basil, oregano. Salt and pepper to taste. I also enjoy curried eggs. I’m sure you have your own favourite omelet recipes. Oh, I always have some cheese along (for lunches). A little bit of shaved cheese always goes nicely on an omelet. As I have some salami (also for lunch) ditto!

Some other recipes from folks who find it easier to find dehydrated vegies than we do in Australia!




Or you can cook your at home then dehydrate it, eg: http://www.frugalvillage.com/forums/homesteading-gardening/146087-dehydrated-omelette.html

30/06/2017: Multiple Use: There is no doubt that one of the best ways to achieve ultralight hiking weight savings is if gear you carry serves several purposes. Thus for example, the Poncho tent I am working on (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-poncho-tent/ and likewise the bathtub floor groundsheet/chair I am also working on below (coming soon).

However, I finished these 12 gram (ea) shoes way back in April. They worked wonderfully well for my Fiordland Moose Hunting expedition on this year's Dusky Track walk (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/from-dawn-to-dusky/ & ff), and I had already posted a photo of what they weighed with and without the shoe inserts, yet somehow it had not occurred to me that I need not carry inserts specially for them when I could use the inserts from my shoes which I had definitely tested to make sure they absorbed no water after last year's shoe disaster on the South Coast track walk with Della: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/westies-hut/.

Clearly though, all I need to do is dry my shoes' inserts put them inside my hut booties and I have saved an ounce! Twice as much as I could save by switching to the lighter containers I wrote about in my last post: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/small-is-beautiful/ Still, every gram makes a difference.

PS: You will notice that in the second photo the draw string tightens only around the heel. The reason for this is to allow maximum air flow out the top of the shoe so that it doesn't get clammy. I chose waterproof material so that I could walk through wet grass (as you need to do in camp, eg to put wood on the fire). It is really nice to have dry feet at the end of a day's walking, but you don't need to carry a brick around to make it so.

Weight of the shoe bare:

With blue foam inserts. (Not very serviceable):

With proprietary urethane inserts:

The shoe in the photo has been used for over a week on the trail so that you can see how tough the material is. You could make them last longer by painting some liquid latex on the sole (for wear) every so often, but this would increase the weight too.

See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/19-gram-dyneema-camp-shoes/

PS: I know I haven't finished posting the patterns, instructions, etc. Please be patient. I am busy. I still have kilometres of fencing to build (another awful section through a dreadful slip completed yesterday) - and it is cold and wet, and I am old!

29/06/2017: I have trouble finding my glasses yet Mars Rover Opportunity has found a bit of man-made space junk on the surface of that vast empty desert, larger than the land surface of the Earth. We should have set this little guy to looking for MH370!


Image of a strange, metallic looking object from the Mars Opportunity rover. Picture: NASA

27/06/2017: A Spot of Solitude: My back and knee are still giving me trouble but the Meniers which has plagued me for the last fortnight seems to have taken a holiday, so I wanted to get away for a couple of days to see whether I was still up to some gentler country. I may need another back operation and I don't look forward to that. The knee I hurt looking for moose back in April in the Henry Burn near Supper Cove, Dusky Sound Fiordland NZ (See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/from-dawn-to-dusky/ & ff. The tyranny of aging really.

This is a new spot for me, so I did not know what to expect, for example would there be few deer as it had been badly burned out a few years ago? It might have been too thick or would it be impossibly crowded being relatively easy to access, and only gentle walking? Usually I would need my pack raft to get across this river to where I intended to camp and hunt but it has been so dry this winter I could simply walk across with Spot the Jack Russell riding on my pack, of course! I guess most people don't do much canoe hunting (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/you-take-the-high-road-and-ill-take-the-low/) and don't pay attention to the BOM's River Heights http://www.bom.gov.au/cgi-bin/wrap_fwo.pl?IDV60154.html as there was no-one at all about, even though it was a lovely sunny weekend in the High Country. Suits me!

I was surprised at once by how chewed out the bush was along the river. All the available grass and forbs were chewed right down to the ground, and they had been gnawing at this nasty prickly wattle.

And the many stags are smashing them to bits! Good riddance!

This tiny gully had been thoroughly scoured. There are too many deer here actually. It is wonderful though how the large herbivores create the clearings, isn't it? Did you realise that tens of millions of years ago grass made an alliance with the herbivores and declared war on the forests? The result is the pattern of great plains and receding forests we see on the planet today. Once the word for world was 'forest'. Now it is 'earth'. Grasslands store several times as much carbon (in their soil) per acre as forests do in total. They do this to prevent the trees from having it. They feed the herbivores and the herbivores keep the forest at bay and nourish the grasslands with their dung and dead bodies. A tiny part of that great battle is what we see in this small valley.

I only had a little time to look around as I needed to make camp and gather some firewood. This trip had been a 'spur of the moment' decision. I had not decided to go until well after breakfast or started out much before lunch - and I needed to be back tomorrow night! Still, little trips are sweet! I very hastily erected my tent, as it was getting dark. No great wind was expected so I did not peg it out properly. It  would still keep what little rain was expected off me. A large tree had fallen and shattered so I had more than a ute load of firewood ready in no time - and I needed it. The night was cold! Spot chased a stag away through the wattles as I was gathering wood. I could hear his antlers clattering against the saplings.

Spot enjoys the fire, and my sleeping bag. Always hard to get him off/out of it and into his own at bedtime.

A fire is such a lovely thing!

It's certainly warm enough inside though in that lovely warm yellow glow. I hope you like my new Deerhunter's Shirt. Kathmandu had a sale on these wonderful 'Tomar' wool shirts last week for $89. They still do: http://www.kathmandu.com.au/mens/clothing/tomar-men-s-merino-long-sleeve-shirt.html A great colour. So much better, and more practical than all that silly camo! Wool is just great!

Spledid to just stretch your feet out towards the fire and watch the greatest show in town:

Isn't it grand?

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I also finished the fourteenth volume of Poul Anderson's 'Flandry' ebooks on my phone while listening to some soothing music. What a cracker of a read they all are. So long as you love Sci-Fi as I do, anyway. Anderson is a genius!

In the morning Spot's bowl was quite iced up. It is the container of one of those Sirena Tuna meals, probably the Mexican Beans which are my favourite. It makes for a good ultralight cereal bowl, if you are looking for one! You will have to fight the dog for this one!

I just love watching the mist rising from the river in the dawn when I am doing the dishes:

Like this. Just so magical!

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Looking back at my peaceful camp among the wattles. What an idyllic scene! In other countries you would have to pay thousands to find such peace and tranquility. So far in Australia we are still blessed. In Victoria at least.

But, time to take a look around...It is easy and instructive to follow a game trail like this:

It will lead you past preaching trees such as this and deer bedding areas, sometimes a wallow. As you can see, as soon as you get away from the river, the fire regrowth is pretty thick - and already starting to die from overmuch competition. You will not be able to see a deer far off in this sort of country. A telescopic site, (a culler's tool really) would be no use here. This is the sort of country where the lever action comes into its own. You can carry it unloaded (as you should any gun) but you can quickly throw it to your shoulder as you load for a quick snap shot at a fleeing deer. You must always be aware of what is behind the deer though. There must be solid earth or else you must not fire. A .30 calibre round can easily kill someone a couple of kms away!

This deer path up this small valley is pretty easy to follow. 'They went thataway' says Spot. Well, actually they came from thataway. I am hoping they circled around back to where they came from, and will be looking the other way! Sometimes this is a better strategy than following them. There is a cold wind blowing from that way, and the sun is shining from this way, so they will be bedded in a warm spot out of the wind over there.

You can see it gets quite thick. Plenty of private bedding areas, but you will not see a deer faraway. Very chewed out - both a good and bad sign.

Here are a couple of nice fresh rubs. The path between them marks the edge of this stag's territory. He will prowl this regularly scent marking and thrashing like this to warn others off his hinds. I will follow his line and see where it leads. He is along it somewhere.

And it leads into very thick stuff indeed with just the occasional small clearing and bedding spot. This old doe had just lain down here and never got back up. She might have starved, died from old age - or worse still carried a bullet all the way from the road perhaps. On this occasion a herd of other deer (doubtless her relatives) had been sleeping contentedly beside her remains. I have seen this before. I canoed down the Macalister after the devastating fires there a few years ago when the river was still full of dead eels as thick as your legs and as long as you are, and the banks still strewn with the carcasses of innumerable wallabies etc which had starved.The place reeked and the river water was nearly one-half mud by volume. I filled an empty drink bottle which stood on our window ledge for many years to illustrate this. It's no wonder all the fish died.

There is a spot in the bush there (on the true left bank) where there is an ancient quince tree, a reminder folks lived there once long ago - during the gold rushes perhaps. Such wonderfully productive trees can live for 800 years and produce over a tonne of fruit each year. How much better than gum trees is that? Right under the tree was the mummified body of a hind, and camping right next to her were her twins who yelped an raced off as I approached. She had died trying to keep them alive and they had stayed with her body for weeks. I noticed that a few minutes after they thought the coast was clear they crept back to be by her side. And 'they' say that animals don't have souls or (human) feelings! I hoped they would survive to carry on her legacy.

The deer had even been chewing at this inedible stuff, doing a good job of clearing it perhaps, but getting little nutrition. A group of deer was bedded here. One honked at me and several others exploded off in all directions. It was just too thick to see any of them.

This drier ridge downhill provides a little further viewing than the thick stuff. This particular trail is incredibly well traveled. It has a raised edge nearly six inches high! A deer highway!

I wanted to get a good photo of Spot, the rubs and the pronounced deer trail. I was concentrating on that, whilst Spot was looking at something else. I guess you could see about thirty metres through this stuff.

What he could see was a young stag's legs. After a while I saw them too. By this time unfortunately my back was starting to kill me again (not to mention my knee) so I was not wanting to carry out a mess of dead deer anyway. I thought I would just sling my gun and see if I could get a photo of the bit of the deer you could see for illustrative purposes. If you are looking for a whole deer, you will likely not see one in such thick bush. An ankle, an ear, a nose, a bright eye, a tail going up (How the eye is attracted to movement!). That is what you see.

Unfortunately, as I moved the gun, he saw that movement, and giving me a very loud 'Hello' or 'Goodbye' he was off. I could have knocked him over with a snap shot chancing that the bullet would not be deflected by such whippy undergrowth, but that is certainly the way to produce a wounded deer such as the skeleton I had found before. He would be there (and bigger) another day. Mostly, for me, deer hunting is an excuse to be wandering around in our wonderful bush. I certainly don't need the meat - I have a flock of sheep, and I prefer lamb anyway.

I walked back down to the river. I was probably less than 200 yards from it. The deer in this place are not retreating very far at night from their favourite feeding grounds, but they are having to travel more and more each night for a feed. Along the river the going is flatter and it is generally much clearer. Most places you would get a shot up to 100 yards. Ideal country for hammock hunting really: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hammock-hunting-till-dark/ You could wander along the river flats until just before dark, noting spots where there are two suitable trees (or a flat enough spot for your tent) and plenty of firewood (and access to the river for water for your billy). Or, if you were hunting it regularly, you could mark a route along the river back to your pre-chosen camping spots with these sweet little thumbtack reflectors which would allow you to find your way easily with your head torch in the total darkness: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hunting-thumbtack-reflectors/

I have all these fences to build at home, so I headed home. Unfortunately, on my way, I saw the butchered carcass of a deer not ten foot off  the main road, a road which hundreds of tourist vehicles traveled each day. Obviously shot in the lights! So completely unnecessary. The country is crawling with deer. But how many photos have you seen of guys with whole deer carcasses on the back of their trucks in hunting magazines? How far do you think they could have carried a whole sambar? Of course I was disgusted, and of course I moved it  further back into the bush. But you see this sort of thing too often. You have to think what folks who aren't hunters will think. 'Expletive deleted Hunters!' is what. And right after that that 'hunting' should be banned! Despite the fact that then there would be a plague of deer, and tens of thousands of them would starve, and the bush be wholly devastated by their presence. We have to eliminate the rogue element.

As hunters we need to be much more careful about the ethics of what we do, or we will lose our sport. People do not need to see hunters wearing lots of camo, carrying great big guns. You can wear much more suitable wool clothing as I do, which will attract no attention. You can carry a take down gun which is in your pack when you leave and arrive at your car so that people will not be the least alarmed. Any bits of deer you bring back can be discreetly inside your pack. And you can give the deer a chance by not using telescopic sights or shooting deer which cannot see you. Your quarry ought to be able to use the senses nature provided it with to avoid being killed. You have all the unfair advantage you need by being able to use a gun instead of a spear or knife. You need to use just your own senses and knowledge (plus hard work) to harvest the deer you take. You should not be relying on any electronic aids such as deer finders, radios or trail cameras. Just your eyes and ears, especially your nose - and your strong legs and back - which I wish mine were at the moment! Still I have had nearly seventy quite good years, and I imagine the neurologist will be able to tweak my back a bit so I can have a few more years wandering around the bush. I must ring him this morning.

27/06/2017: Small is Beautiful: Tiny Containers: The search for small receptacles to stow various necessities is ongoing. My friend Meg loaned me these lovely aluminium ‘tins’ to evaluate. She uses them for some of her tiny art works such as her fabulous ear-rings & etc. The smallest one here is perhaps a 10 ml model (and weighs less than 2 grams). There is a 5 ml model which no doubt weighs even less, probably not much more than 1 gram. Either of these would be very good for small quantities of cream such as heel balm, hand cream, sunblock, etc – or for fish hooks, swivels, sinkers, etc. You can find them for sale on eBay if you do a search such as ‘5 ml cosmetic containers’ priced from probably about 50 cents each.

I usually carry about four similar small Coghlans plastic containers which weigh 6 grams each, so I have a saving of 8 grams (or half an ounce) in switching to these ones. Every little bit helps.

The three pictured Sizes are: 1. 3.7 wide x 1.6 = 17 ml, 2. 5 x 1.8 = 35ml, 3. 7.1 x3.65 = 150 ml. They weigh 2, 5 and 13 grams respectively. Various sizes are available apart from those shown above: 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 40 50, 100, 150, 250 etc. There may even be one big enough to use as a cook pot!

Of course they look better with Meg’s hand-made ear-rings in them:

I have tried using drinking straws as containers (as here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/single-use-antibiotic-packs/ & http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-further-use-for-drinking-straws/ - an even better use!) but have not found them very satisfactory, especially if you need to reseal them. They probably do suit for one-offs such as single doses of iodine.

‘Micro dropper bottles’ such as eye drops come in are handy for all sorts of things – a small quantity of ‘wilderness wash’ type soap for example. You will find plenty available for sale from about 3 ml up to say 20 ml if you search. They weigh from about 3 grams.

One of these vials is ideal for your sewing needle. You can wind some thread around them. They weigh about 2 grams. I am still searching for lighter - meanwhile my needle lives in my fishing hand line bottle.

https://www.survivalresources.com/3-mini-plastic-vials.html?category_id=133 They have many other useful containers – as well as other neat stuff!

If you wear glasses (as I do), you could slip a needle into your eyeglass repair kit: https://www.survivalresources.com/eyeglass-repair-kit.html?category_id=139

PS: These are the best needles: https://www.survivalresources.com/eyeglass-repair-kit.html?category_id=139 And this is the most useful thread http://www.theultralighthiker.com/dyneema-braid/ (just last weekend I affected a repair on my daypack somewhere in the Gippsland forest with some).  If you wind some onto a small plastic (medicine) bottle you will have a handy ultralight (fly) fishing kit: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-ultralight-fisherman/ Of course you always need a blade too. It doesn’t get much better than this: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-ultra-sharp-knives-3-grams/

See Meg: For fancy ear-rings and other beaut stuff:  https://www.facebook.com/madebyemegbye/ & https://www.instagram.com/p/BVd48naHWex/

26/06/2017: Fire from a Can of Coke and a Chocolate Bar: This is just about my favourite fire starting tip: It is surprising the out of the way places you can find a humble aluminium can and beleive it or not, you can polish the bottom brightly enough that it will focus the sun’s rays hot enough to ignite combustible material. Full instructions here (and many other interesting things): http://www.wildwoodsurvival.com/survival/fire/cokeandchocolatebar/

22/06/2017: Adventures in Stoving: I really liked the title of this guy's website, apart from the interesting information it contains. Two selections: the world's smallest, lightest gas stove, and how to refill hiking gas canisters:

World’s Lightest Gas Stove – 25 grams: You can find this little guy available in a variety of places under different pseudonyms. I don't know whether they are all the same. it has had mixed reviews. Folks who haven't stressed it out too much seem satisfied it will do the job.



Refilling gas canisters: https://adventuresinstoving.blogspot.com.au/2017/03/the-g-works-r1-gas-saver-refilling.html

The gadget which will do this is probably illegal in Australia (what isn't?), but would probably work, and save you money. Howevr, LPG is highly explosive, and gas canister stoves have other drawbacks, so maybe proceed with caution:

For most trips the weight of teh emty gas canister, (and not knowing how much fuel it has left) precludes using them at all. Esbit is the most weight efficient system (and I have pointed out a way to simmer with it here: ). My personal choice is meths (aka alcohol stoves). If you are only boiling then Minibull's 'Elite' stove is impossible to beat. Mine weighs <7 grams (https://www.minibulldesign.com/productcart/pc/viewPrd.asp?idproduct=195&idcategory=2 ). Otherwise you can try the 'Supercat stove ( ). The advantage of meths is that you can calculate (before you leave exactly how much fuel you will need to cook all the things you are taking and only take that amount of fuel (I usually carry it in a small platypus bottle).

Minibull Elite Stove

 Supercat Stove

Also worth considering is a wood fuelled stove. I have both the Bushbuddy and the Suluk (as you will see here http://www.theultralighthiker.com/bushbuddy-stove/ and here http://www.theultralighthiker.com/suluk-stove/. I also have a Caldera Cone: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/cookset-woes/

You could try making my Egg-Ring Stove http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-egg-ring-ultralight-wood-burner-stove/as it only weighs 7 grams and makes a stable emergency stove in case you ever run out of fuel (or your jet blocks up if you are using a canister stove).

Bushbuddy Stove:

Caldera Cone:

Suluk Stove:

Egg Ring Stove:

22/06/2017: DIY Glasses. You don’t even need an eye test! http://optifocus.ecommroad.com/


21/06/2017: World's tallest tree: who would have believed that this 154 metre mountain ash felled at Healesville in 1872 was 40 metres taller than the largest Californian redwood ever recorded: http://baddevelopers.nfshost.com/Docs/talltrees.htm

20/06/2017: Weather Lore: An infallible weather forecast, if a change of weather is coming up:

'Wind then rain. No pain.

Rain then wind, stay in!'


In plain words this says that when rain comes first without wind then expect a long period of bad weather with high winds and heavy rain. But when wind comes first and is followed immediately by rain, then fine weather will follow at short notice.

Many people are trapped by bad weather in the bush every year, and if they but knew of this simple weather sign they could be prepared, and get out to a position of safety before really bad weather sets in.

Another infallible weather signal is the appearance of cumulus nimbus cloud, a foreteller of thunderstorms. While a greenish light in the sky preceding a thunderstorm is an almost certain sign of heavy hail. Halos (or circles) around the sun or moon also almost invariably mean rain is on its way.

Red sky at night, shepherd's delight.

Red sky in the morning, shepherd's warning.

A red sky - in the morning or evening, is a result of high pressure air in the atmosphere trapping particles of dust or soot. Air molecules scatter the shorter blue wavelengths of sunlight, but particles of dust, soot and other aerosols scatter the longer red wavelength of sunlight in a process called Rayleigh scattering. At sunrise and sunset, the sun is lower in the sky causing the sunlight to travel through more of the atmosphere so scattering more light.This effect is further enhanced when there are at least some high level clouds to reflect this light back to the ground.

When weather systems predominantly move from west to east. A red sky at night indicates that the high pressure air (and better weather) is westwards. In the morning the light is eastwards, and so a red sky then indicates the high pressure (and better weather) has already passed, and an area of low pressure is following behind.

Clouds And Their Reading

Cirrus: This is the "mare's tail" sky of the landsman, shows as long threads or wisps of cloud. This is the highest of all cloud formations, and is a sign of a "high" barometric pressure, which means fine weather.

Cirro Stratus, and Cirro Cumulus: In these clouds the former is long wispy, cloud, and in the latter rounded small cloud the typical "mackerel" sky. Both are indicators of a high barometric pressure, and fine weather.

Cumulus and Cumulus Nimbus: Cumulus is the high white piled-up masses of cloud seen in summer. When streaked with horizontal bands it is Cumulus Nimbus, or thunder cloud, a sign of coming storms, which may be of short duration, or may indicate a change in the weather generally.

Nimbus: This is the grey ragged cloud which uniformly covers the sky. It is the true rain cloud, and an indication of low barometric pressure and rainy weather.

Storm Scud: This is formless masses of very low cloud driven fast before the wind. It is a sign of very low barometric pressure, and continuing bad weather.

A light-weight radio (such as this: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/backcountry-radio/) might be a good way to keep up with the weather forecast as well as providing other entertainment. I have not been able to find a better than this one at 91 grams.

Tip: When heading up the bush it is particularly important to check the wind forecast. You need to know which way the prevailing wind is going to be coming from (You can't just rely on the observation that it 'always' comes from the West - no matter that this is true most of the time). A sudden change to0 the east will mean your tent is pitched the wrong way around. This is particularly important if the wind change is going to occur in the middle of the night in which case you need to pitch it so that it suits both wind directions - if possible. (it usually is!)

19/06/2017: Working on my next ultralight project. This time it is a bathtub goundsheet which doubles as a chair. In Tyvek this will weigh around 120 grams. I am hopeful I can duplicate it in a lighter material at around 80 grams. Add this to my poncho tent at 160 grams and you have a wonderful camping combo!


19/06/2017: Anderson’s Inlet: What a beautiful shallow bird-filled inlet where the splendid Tarwin River meets the Southern Ocean (Sth Gippsland Victoria). Having already walked from San Remo or Rye (Phillip Island) along the coast.you can now walk from Inverloch along the shoreline, cross Screw Creek (on a bridge) then continue on, sometimes on the shoreline, sometimes on the levee bank (depending on the tide). You may get your feet wet a couple of times as you cross small creeks (Pound Creek, Cheery Tree, etc – fresh preferably filtered water for your solitary camp) but you can walk out eventually at the bridge at Tarwin Lower. NB: The trip is better at low(ish) tide. Then you can walk through the wonderful mangroves!

Maher's Landing:

You will see more birds than you thought was possible anywhere in Victoria – and you will likely see a hog deer too, though you may not hunt it!. Lots of koalas amid the sugar gums close to shore. (These are so named because the gum is sweet and edible). Cross the bridge across the Tarwin, a quick walk along the river bank past the shops, supermarket, hotel etc and you are then on a path that becomes a cycle track after the jetty which you follow to Lees Rd, Venus Bay. Walk along Lees Rd a couple of kms to Fishermans Rd where there is a boat ramp and you can once again walk along the shore of the inlet, eventually walking right around Point Smythe and continuing on along the beach back to Venus Bay No1 Beach where you can come inland again for supplies at the local shops if you want – or you can continue on along the coast all the way to Darby River on Wilsons Promontory, days away. Just the beginning of the wonderful http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-great-gippsland-circuit/

Straw Necked Ibis hunt the shallows

There are more bait worms and bivalves in these mud flats than you can imagine!

The inlet is also a great fishing spot. Key species are Australian salmon and garfish.

Tarwin Lower Jetty:

Fishermans Rd Boat ramp Venus Bay:

See Also:











18/06/2017: Lighter, Brighter, Better: Three great new Maratac flashlights:

Anodized Aluminium Tactical Personal Flood TPF AAA Light by Maratac 160 lumens - US$40.95 (June 2017).

A 14-15 gram head torch which produces 160 lumens will be hard to beat!

'The Maratac™ AAA Stainless Steel flashlight was so popular, we had it made in a right angle varient. The same great light in a right angle form factor, featuring a 105 degree beam of projected light for increased field of use and a glow in the dark reflector. Checkout this AAA powerhouse now with many new upgrades:

The reflector glows after the light turns off so it's easy to find in the night.


  • Length: 2.65"
  • Diameter: .57"
  • Weight 14 Grams / .35 Ounces without battery ( Incredibly lightweight ) 
  • Stainless Steel Pocket Clip ( Easy to clip onto a hat, MOLLE gear or shirt pocket )
  • Glow In the Dark Built In reflector ( Easy to find in the dark )
  • LED Type: Cree G2 Emitter ( High Output ) with a life span up to 50,000 hours.
  • Flashlight body is made of Aircraft Grade Aluminum 
  • Stainless Steel ring around the dome lens for added durability
  • The dome lens has been treated with an AR (Anti-Reflective) coating.
  • Proprietary circuit design features reverse polarity protection and runs off of one AAA battery that provides 3 levels of brightness ( Low /Medium / High).

Using a single Duracell AAA battery we got the following results:

  • Low Mode, 5 lumen output for up to 60 Hours ( Diffused Light )
  • Medium Mode, 48 lumen output for up to 4 Hours
  • High Mode, 160 lumen output for up to 75 Minutes'


Inspection : AAAx2 Extreme - Tactical Light by Maratac 385 lumens - US$ 42.50 June 2917)

'The Maratac Inspection AAAx2 Extreme LED flashlight is made to be both tactical and practical. The light is straightforward to use and has friendly ergonomics. The Maratac AAAx2 Extreme features an advance Cree XP-G2(R5) LED for greater brightness and efficiency.

  •  Medium 45 Lumens / Low 5 lumens / High 385 lumens  mode brightness control (Simple 3 mode switching)
  • Operation:
    • Press and click the back thumb switch to turn on the light into Medium mode. Lightly press again for Low mode and once more for High. Press and click anytime to turn the light off.


  • 22.8 grams or .8 oz (without battery)
  • 5.0" O.A.L. x .58" inch width
  • Type 3 Military Grade Anodizing ( Matte Finish )
  • Utilizes 2 Standard AA Batteries ( 1.2-1.7 Volts each )
  • Standard Modes ( Pressing Tail Cap Through Modes )


    • Medium ( 6 Hours )
    • Low ( 90 hours )
    • High ( 1.65 hours )'


Anodized Aluminum AAA Flashlight by Maratac™ Rev 4 now 145 lumens - US$41.50

'Worlds first production LED AL flashlight...the smallest, brightest, AAA flashlight? We think so!

Check out this AAA powerhouse.

After thousands of Request ( Medium / Low / High )


  • Premier Series
  • Glow in the dark Diffuser ( New for Rev 4 )
  • Glow in the Dark front o-ring around reflector ( New for Rev 4 )
  • Each light is hand finished.
  • Length: 2.6" ( Smaller than Rev 1 )
  • Diameter: .5"
  • Weight with battery is 37.3 grams ( 28.1 grams without battery )
  • LED Type: Cree XP-G2 S4 with a life span up to 50,000 hours. ( Newest & Brightest Emitter REV 4 )
  • with a life span up to 50,000 hours. ( Newest & Brightest Emitter )
  • The New Orange Peel Reflector is aluminum alloy.
  • Flashlight body is machined of Aircraft Grade Aluminum
  • The lens has been treated with an AR (anti-reflective) coating.
  • Its proprietary circuit design features reverse polarity protection and runs off of one AAA battery that provides
  • Now with 3 levels of brightness ( Medium / Low / High ).
  • Comes with clip & o-rings
  • Clip installed from factory to preserve finish
  • New Stronger Clip 

Using a single Duracell AAA battery we got the following results:

  • Medium mode, 40 lumens output for up to 7 hours
  • Low mode, 1.5 lumens output for up to 55 hours
  • High mode, 145 lumens output for up to 70 minutes
  • ( Rev 1 model was 80 Lumens and 48 minutes) ( Rev 2 model was 115 Lumens and 60 minutes)'


Of course each of them can easily be made into a head torch with two o rings, a bit of cord and a micro cord lock:

See Also:


15/06/2017: NZ Moose: Ken & Marg Tustin have been hunting these beasts in Fiordland's forests since the 1970s. The creatures are enormously elusive. Of course there are lots of browse, prints, droppings but so far they have managed to come up with a single cast antler, two positive DNA samples and a couple of (unfortunately) poor quality photos of them. Not much return for a lifetime of hard work, but an enormous, 'Well Done Ken & Marg!' for such a Herculean effort. They must have spent literally years of their lives living in these remote sodden forests!

For example, when I talked to them in Te Anau in April 2017, Ken had just come back from a six week stint in Herrick Creek, Wet Jacket Arm, Dusky Sound. Like me, Ken is nearly 70! No-one who has never ventured into these wet, cold, dense, dangerous forests (as I have - though much more briefly) has any idea of the effort involved. They could be literally swarming with moose yet it would be unlikely you would ever find one.

Here is a link to an interesting article about them, and the Tustin's quest: https://www.nzgeo.com/stories/shadow-theatre/?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=ShadowTheatre (You can read it for free once at least, but you cannot copy and paste any of it).

I suspect the moose are quite widespread throughout Fiordland National Park. I too have found moose sign in very widely separate areas, but they are present at very low rates per square kilometre (almost certainly well less than one) mainly due to the absence of really suitable feed. Nonetheless, it is a huge (largely unexplored, and unexplorable) area, so that there could still even be more than a thousand of them (unlikely), yet no-one would ever see them!

Books by Ken Tustin: 'A Wild Moose Chas'e & 'A Nearly Complete History of the Moose in New Zealand'. Films: 'A Wild Moose Chase and 'New Zealand's Fiordland Moose': https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9yyGCqWhbjI All highly recommended.

Other books about Fiordland Moose: Ken Tinsley 'Call of the Moose'. Max Curtis 'Around the River's Bend' - this last tells the story of the last successful moose hunt in NZ in the early 1950s. If you are going to become a NZ moose hunter, I suggest you devour all the above material!

This is Jim Mackintosh beside a female moose he shot at Herrick Creek in 1951. Other moose were shot and photographed in the area in 1952, the last certain sightings. Only about a dozen moose have ever been taken in NZ, three of them by the 'legendary' Eddie Herrick who spent nearly ten years of his life in toto hunting them!

PS:  The type of river flat forest Jim has shot this moose in is quite rare in Fiordland. There is some (for example) across Supper Cove from the hut, at the mouth of the Seaforth River and then along the river to the Henry Burn and here and there all the way up to the Kintail, but it was mostly all well eaten out by moose a long time ago. All the same you can see old broken branches about 8-9' up where they have been, and they may still use such patches for shelter in dreadful weather. I have stalked through some of it many times. Sometimes you even find a recent print. Considering that it rains on average over 25mm (1") per day in Fiordland, a print does not last long!

Mostly you would be looking for them in much worse terrain than this, up the steep valleys and along the incredibly precipitous forested sides. PS: Even in this sort of country you would have to be very watchful for the dangers of morasses! PPS: 'Normally' when moose hunting you are looking for their 'signature' branch breaking at that 8-9' height, but you should also make yourself aware of their 'browse line' at that height - where they have eaten practically every leaf they can eat of their favourite food plants. This is far more ubiquitous, but perhaps less obvious.

PPS: AS I say in the first link below, I believe I had a close encounter with a moose back in April 2017 in the upper Hauroko Burn, yet there was very little available moose browse in the Hauroko, (but plentiful old moose sign), whereas coming down the slope from Lake Roe to Loch Marie for example there were lots of 'moose plants', but much less moose sign. Moose are where you find them!

See also:






15/06/2017: Shoelace Reinvented: I went to this site looking for a new pair of shoes. The Men's Topo Terradventure has been recommended to me as a wide-fit ultralight shoe with superior grip and wear characteristics weighing 294 grams. I am keen to try out a pair, but I need to see whether they fit first. However I was struck by the offer on the site of a new, superior lacing system. Also note they sell Aloksak waterproof bags: https://www.injinjiperformanceshop.com.au/collections/topo-athletic-footwear

'The Terraventure pushes the limits of lightweight performance and rugged durability. This platform features an aggressive lug design providing better traction and mid-foot stability. A flexible ESS forefoot rock plate protects the foot from stone-bruising while the ghillie lacing system insures a secure midfoot fit.



The Terraventure runs half a size small, so we recommend sizing up half a size from your current running shoe fit. ~15mm of room around the outside of the toebox is a perfect fit, allowing your foot to splay naturally. A full size chart is available below.



  • // 6 mm rubber outsole
  • // 14 mm (heel) // 11 mm (ball) midsole
  • // 5 mm footbed
  • // Total stack height 25 mm x 22 mm (3 mm drop)
  • // Weight: 294g. (size 9)

Slacklaces are flat elastic shoelaces that you truly have to try to believe. You will feel the difference with your very first step. Slacklaces are perfectly designed to eliminate any tight spots, banding, and pressure points that can improve circulation, comfort and performance . They are flat, wide, very light and have the perfect combination of stretch and stability. SLACKLACES are so simple to use and are great for triathletes, kids, elderly and even more useful for individuals with disabilities. SLACKLACES are designed with the ability to change with the constantly changing contours of your feet and they look as good as they feel! Slacklaces come in a variety of bright colors, and lengths to fit every shoe and every style! https://www.injinjiperformanceshop.com.au/collections/yankz/products/yankz-slacklace

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14/06/2017: Drop Bear: Found this poor little fellow dead in the paddock this morning. Looks to be a victim of the dread Chlamydia (They also call it, 'Wet Bum') which is so prevalent amongst them, though s/he had also been fighting and had a number of nasty scratches - unsurprising when you see the size of their claws. I had noticed it roaming from blue gum  to blue gum just the other day but had taken no notice as they are quite prevalent here, though not in epidemic proportions yet as they are in so many places, poor things. It is horrific to see them starving to death en masse, as they are/were eg at Cape Otway last time we were there in 2013.

Rear claw - quite a thumb:

Front claw - imagine being slashed by that. Those claws are over an inch (2.5cm) long!:

If you catch one that is in distress (eg after being hit by a car) it is quite difficult to handle them (you need a thick blanket or coat which you have no further use for!) as they will attach themselves firmly to your arm, those claws penetrating quite clear through your biceps etc, so that very soon you will be sorry you had picked it up. I saw a man in this state one day at Tarwin Lower one Sunday when we were out fox hunting along the Inverloch Rd - you could do that sort of thing then. We used even to hunt foxes out of the graves in the local cemetery (My hunting mate, the late Dick Davies was chairman of the Cemetery Trust). Some graves were quite prolific. I wondered whether richer people attracted a better class of fox! The local Leongatha vet had to euthenise the bear to get it off the poor chap it was attached to! Of course being such dreadful venal types as fox hunters (as we were) we thought the whole incident quite funny - except for the koala!

I do prefer seeing them alive, like this one, though he has pretty much eaten out his tree too, as you can see. Apparently once you start to see them, they are already too numerous for the good of the forest, like the little guy above. It was nearly thirty years before anyone first saw one after the First Fleet!

Curiously the foxes had not touched him. They must not taste anywhere near as good as sheep. A dead sheep would be scattered all over the paddock by the next day! This guy had been there about three days. He was a bit too far gone for me to try! I am not 'Bear' Grylls! No doubt so named because he usually eats them!

Interestingly enough, we used to skin all the foxes we shot, (we usually had a few dozen after a day's hunt - the proceeds paid for everyone's family's Xmas presents) and throw their skun corpses into the blackberry patches. Nothing ever ate a fox. I am certainly never going to start if even crows eschew them. They are vilely malodourous - as are koalas actually!

Apparently long ago there was a marsupial lion very much larger than these little guys. Thylacoleo Carnifex (http://www.megafauna.com.au/view/megafauna/thylacoleo-carnifex & http://www.news.com.au/technology/science/scratch-marks-in-a-wa-cave-show-the-drop-bear-thylacoleo-carnifex-could-climb-particularly-well/news-story/5f6af36d077aa792e55239c41a814ecd). Some cryptozoolgical types (or not so logical types) avow that these critters were arboreal (indeed that they still exist!) and that there is some danger of them dropping from trees and devouring you. I have spent a lot of time under trees and it has not happened to me yet. Neither is irt stopping me from heading 'up the bush' this week - though some much needed fencing is, Alas!

13/06/2017: A Walk on the Wild Side: You can set off from Rye or San Remo (Phillip Island, Gippsland Victoria - public transport available) and walk all the way along the beach to Screw Creek, Inverloch. This comprises the beginning of the magical http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-great-gippsland-circuit/ which will be a hiking holiday that takes a couple of months to complete exploring many of Victoria's scenic wonders.The section we were looking at yesterday afternoon after closing the shop (https://www.facebook.com/yinnargeneralstore/?ref=br_rs) was at Harmers Haven near Wonthaggi. Take a left hand turn near the end of the main street into Cameron Street and follow it past Harmer's Haven to a car-park and the beginning of this enchanting beach exploration walk Just a few steps along the path you come to this beautiful bridge across the lagoon:

Of course I was lucky enough to be accompanied by this beautiful lady (as I have been for 47 wonderful years) and her astonishing dog:

Here is that outstanding dog, Spot again. How he loves the beach!

A blue crane was busy fishing in the lagoon:

A pair of delightful sandpipers let us get very close to them:

As did this red-billed shearwater:

Even on a holiday weekend the deserted beach stretched on and on towards Cape Paterson (shop/s, hotel, etc) and Inverloch (even more amenities)

Looking back into the sunset towards Kilcunda:

Della managed to take an even better photograph:

And again:

So many enchanting skerries:

And other beauties bathed in the golden light of dusk:

And here is another beauty - as my mother used to say, 'A frog's pretty in a cat's eye'!

Twilight combs the skerries:


The last blush of day to the east:

After Screw Creek you need to get across or around Andersons Inlet (I am working on that - I hunted foxes ) whence you can walk all the way along Venus Bay Beach to Cape Liptrap. It is possible to climb around the lighthouse and descend again on the other side whence you can walk along to Bear Gully (a truly magical camping spot), Walkerville South, Walkerville, Sandy Point, Yanakie, Wilsons Prom...and so on and on - to Eden, Mt Kosciusko, then back along the Alps to Lilydale!

12/06/2017: Follow Your Nose: I have failed to follow my own advice on this one more than once to my regret as you can read in my account of my recent Dusky walk below. Trust your nose, Somewhere upwind possibly just in sight is something important you need to pay attention to. For example, you may wonder how ancient mariners unerringly managed to find remote islands when a failure to do so might have meant all would perish. At sea there is little scent. The great variety of scents comes instead from land animals and flowering plants whose varied odours drift on the wind detectable many kilometres downwind. Our mariners, knowing from their pennants the direction of the wind, and using their nose could tack back and forth heading infallibly for the source of the endless wonder that assailed their noses.

Of course at sea there are other clues to indicate the direction of the land. The wind and tides drive floating objects outwards in a pre-determined direction which you can follow back. Leaves, grass, flowers, spiders etc are a giveaway. The story of Noah and his dove is a charming metaphor (and of course it is unlikely a dove would bring back a twig unless it was nesting - but pigeons and doves do, so who knows?), but clearly the presence of a floating twig (or one in a bird's maw) certainly does indicate the proximity of land. Again, clouds build up against islands. The Maori did not call NZ 'The Land of the Long White Cloud' for no reason. Islands also disturb the movement of waves and currents. This disturbance can be detected by the observant mariner.

Similarly, in the desert there are few scents - again because of the scarcity of life. Where there is life in profusion is near water sources in such arid wildernesses. The scents from all the life around such oases wafts on the wind and can be detected 10, 20 kilometres away. It is how desert dwellers found them in the first place.

If you are out hunting and you smell an unusual odour (eg your quarry) don't ignore it. Investigate. And get to know the peculiar scents of the animals you hunt. Knowing the musky stench of a stag in rut is a valuable piece of information. Your nose can lead you to many other food sources. The scent of honey is unmistakable. A wild bees' hive is a treasure if you know how to safely rob it. If you do not the scent of the honey (or nectar) in bottle brushes can lead you to a sweet treat particularly in the morning. Ripe fruit, such as lily-pilies wafts out a delectable fragrance that should earn you a feast in some cool valley.

On our afternoon walks around Yinnar and Jeeralang, I am forever saying to Della, 'Smell that fox, wallaby, deer, pig', etc. It has taken her a while to learn to pay attention to her nose. She grew up in the city, and hasn't been a hunter all her life like me, but she is now noticing those most pungent odours at least. Pig and fox scent are very strong. We have seen four sambar deer on our afternoon walks just in the last week. The pig sign is becoming very prevalent. Another season of breeding and I fear they will be invading the local backyards and stealing babies from their prams!

Note: I have a confession (of stupidity) to make. Somewhere during this section between the two upper walk wires on the Hauroko Burn Fiordland NZ (You can imagine it is in the photo above) I encountered quite  a strong 'animal' smell not unlike a goat. I thought to myself at the time, 'Well, it's not a deer'. Then I thought, 'Could it be a plant'. You know how Dogwood in Australasia is so named because it smells somewhat like wet dog. I thought to myself  'I wonder whether the Leather Wood which you encounter just before the tops in NZ (and which is redolent with the musty odour of countless deer) is so called because it smells of leather?' There is a sweet cloying honey-like smell you sometimes encounter in these Fiordland forests I have never been able to identify, nor has anyone else I have spoken to been able to pick it for me. (it is not the flower of the ubiquitous tiny epiphytic orchid). I scanned the forest about. Saw nothing. Thought to myself, 'I do not want to arrive at Lake Roe in the dark' (The hut is hard enough to find), and carried on. Since then, I have bothered to check what a moose smells like. You guessed it. Just like what I was smelling on the Hauroko that day. There was a moose not 200 metres upwind from me, and I walked on. Despite having a tarp and hammock and weeks of food, so that I could have spent days hunting it! And I would have doubtless 'put it up' withing ten minutes! Despite the fact that one of the important reasons I go there is to see a moose. Despite the fact that I had photographed fresh moose barking just back there a little (See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/from-dawn-to-dusky/). Despite the fact there is a $100,000 reward for a photo of a NZ moose, I walked on! : Lesson: Trust your nose!





11/06/2017: Interesting DIY 3D Printing Project:





10/06/2017: Walking in a Straight Line: You have one leg slightly shorter than the other. Therefore if you are blindfolded you will walk in a circle. Clearly you need some other clue to stop yourself from doing this in the wild. There are a number of ‘tricks’ to learn. I have already mentioned how to use your observations of the ‘lie of the land’ to find your way: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-lie-of-the-land/.

I have mentioned before many times how you should train the tools you were born with (which you can count on having with you, hopefully in a working condition) whereas artificial aids (such as GPS, PLB and etc) can all too easily fail. Using the outstanding features of the landscape as a guide to your location is an obvious and necessary skill to develop.

I cannot tell you how many times I have been asked by a person with a GPS in their hand where they are (were), to which my reply has always been (simply looking around), ‘Isn’t it obvious?’

As I have mentioned before it is especially important every time you stop for a breather (at least every fifteen minutes let’s say) to spend that time looking behind you so as to memorise the prominent features of the landscape in your return direction.

Of course there are times when the prominent features of the landscape are not visible (or there simply aren’t many). This can happen in flatter terrain (even on plateaus, in heavily wooded areas, in fog or cloud, etc. Then you need to keep s a sequence of smaller features in mind in order to keep to a chosen route (eg I want to continue in a generally North-Easterly direction until I hit the ‘Divide’).

The most common method used to keep to a straight course is to note a particular tree in the correct direction of travel, and head towards this (Below, top left).


When it is reached a new tree is selected, and so on (above top right).

Although this will lead to a straight line between the trees sighted, it can also lead to a wrong course as shown in figure A

Having arrived at the first tree it is possible for the traveler to sight the next tree incorrectly and so gradually proceed to lose your correct direction.

You can avoid this error as shown in figure B. Moving from point 1 you sight tree 2 and head for it. However before reaching it you line up tree 3. Similarly you sight up tree 4 when you is part way between points 2 and 3, and in this way your line is always correct.

This method is good for open forest country, but does not work on featureless plains. There are two systems that have been common eg among the Aborigines for centuries.

In the first method, one person would always go ahead of the others, heading in the direction of travel indicated. No matter how featureless the country might appear to be, there would always be some small feature, perhaps just a particular clump of grass, beyond the leading person, and as soon as he appeared to be veering off course it would become obvious to those following and they would then signal him back to the correct line.

Many ‘primitive’ people (such as those from the eponymous ‘Canary’ Islands for example) had a ‘whistling language’ for use in such long distance communication. The Canary Islanders could communicate thus at a distance of several kilometers - at least from mountain top to mountain top! it is why the small birds of the same name are so called, not because of their song, but because they sounded like the islanders' whistling language. One useful feature of such a system of communication is that it does not scare the ‘game’ which is why it was used by so-called ‘primitive’ people who had to rely on the success of their hunt to live.

It is interesting is it not, that ever since the invention of farming (approx 9,000 years ago) the average human brain has been shrinking. The less intelligent can be feather-bedded by the food surplus, whereas in a hunting culture they would simply have failed to reproduce. As they would have starved to death!

The second method could be used by a lone traveler, and consisted of lighting two small fires which would give off a quantity of smoke for some time. The first would be lit at the camp site and you would set out in the required direction. After a short time, and before there was any chance of having altered direction, you would select a clearing and light another fire.

You could now proceed with confidence, knowing that as long as you kept the two smokes in line then you were going in a straight line. If you had a long way to travel you might light more fires as you went on, so that as the original smoke died down you would be able to continue with the directions maintained by the newer ones. Lots of early Australian explorers observed such lines of fires - then began to implement the strategy themselves.

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09/06/2017: Ultralight Poncho Tent: This is going to be a 160 gram poncho which is also an excellent single person tent. It doesn't get much better than that. This is my second prototype of this wonderful piece of equipment. I have altered the dimensions slightly and changed the taper so it is long enough to lie out in without touching the sides. It is (usually) open at the front so you can enjoy a warming fire. There is plenty enough overhang so you are going to stay dry in a heavy downpour. Its dimensions are approximately 5' x 8'.

All the sides are catenary cut so it pitches tight and easily, and stands up to any weather. I have added a hood which centres the single pole (which can be a bush stick) and which acts as verandah and vent. There will be a small reinforcing patch inside it which will double as a pocket to take the two guys when not in use. There will be a couple of breast pockets to take the tent stake bag (11 stakes will make it well-nigh impregnable) and a couple of emergency mylar space blankets and a mini bic lighter in case you have no other preparation for your night outdoors.

My prototype is made of Tyvek as usual. I will be replacing the zips with waterproof ones as soon as they arrive. I will be adding another (optional) triangle of silnylon material which will zip in to completely close the front in the event of extreme wet weather - adding about 50 grams to the weight. I will be creating a groundsheet with a bathtub floor which can be modified with an inflatable mat and four short sticks to make a comfy chair from which you can watch your campfire. At a pinch you could shelter two people so there is ample room for one plus all gear and a dog (as you can see)!

The final model may be a couple more weeks in the making, likewise the chair. When I have completed these two projects I will be offering to sell patterns. There will also be an alternative model which has an extra approx 3' x 8' added which will add 75 grams. Though it can still be worn as a poncho it will be big enough for a shelter for two. Its dimensions are approximately 8' x 8'. It can also double as a hammock tarp.

This poncho will also form the floor of either/both of my final models of my Deer Hunter's tent and my 'Honey I Shrank' Tent or for the double model of this tent. If a couple carry one of these each they will have two raincoats plus a tent and a groundsheet for a total weight of 472 grams. Also coming soon!




298 grams in Tyvek, smaller than a shoe or box of tissues. The silnylon model will be about the size of a small bottle of coke.

It may be an ungainly looking poncho but it will keep you and your pack completely dry. Spot thinks it will keep him dry too if he stays close.

This was my first attempt at pitching it before i added the hood. I hastily put it up in the dark the night before. It rained and blew all night but it was taut and sound the following morning.

Side view.

You can see all the ridges stay taut.

Plenty of room to stretch out.

And room for a dog or two!

I will be making this out of 1 oz/yd2 silnylon with a 4,000mm head. It will weigh 160 grams plus 77 grams for the tent stakes, so a total tent and raincoat combo of 237 grams. If I made it out of .35oz/yd2 cuben fibre and used 1 gram pegs for every second one, it would sneak in at 100 grams total weight! To my mind it would be too fragile then, but might interest some people. I will opt for the more durable model which (with the addition of a bit of Tenacious tape in case of emergencies should last me many years.

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05/06/2017: Tier Gear Catenary Cut Hex Tarp: Thanks to Aussie Outfitter and hammock maker Tier Gear http://www.tiergear.com.au/ for allowing me to repost DIY instructions for this excellent tarp. You can purchase all the items you need to build it and the 'Netless Hammock' http://www.theultralighthiker.com/diy-netless-hammock/ from them at a very good price with excellent service and speedy delivery.  These instructions detail one way to make a light weight hex shaped tarp with catenary cut sides. It incorporates a ridge line which is sewn using polyester binding tape. The binding tape ridge line is strong, should not need seam sealing, and adds very little extra weight. If you cannot sew you can buy the tarp ready-made from them for a very reasonable A$160 (2017): http://www.tiergear.com.au/11/products/torrent-hammock-tarps

Length of ridgeline is 335cm
Weight is 324grams
Fabric used: Xenon Sil fabric - 7 metres needed
Hardware used: Split rings (4), and Silkworms (4).
Ridgeline binding: 25mm Polyester binding tape - approx 4 metres needed
Tie outs: 13mm grosgrain ribbon and Silkworms.
Thread used: Serafil 60 continuous filament polyester thread but most good quality outdoor threads will do the job.
Needle: Size 12

Step 1:
Lay out your fabric on a large flat surface, measure and cut two pieces 3460mm long.

Step 2:
On bottom long edge measure in 900mm at either end, and mark. Draw a line from these marks to the top corner. Repeat at both ends of each piece of fabric.

Step 3:
Now we are going to mark out the catenary cuts. On the lines you have just drawn, measure and mark the mid-point. Also do this on the bottom edge.

Step 4:
Using a set square measure from the mid-point up 100mm and draw a line. Repeat on all sides and bottom edge.

Step 5:
Now using a length of 6mm dowel (or some other equivalent), and some heavy weights to keep it in place position the dowel so that it intersects the two corners and the mid catenary cut mark, and draw a line along the dowel. Repeat on all sides

Step 6:
Cut out the catenary cuts.

Step 7:
Sew a rolled hem along 3 sides of each piece of fabric but not the ridgeline. Pin where needed. Double stitched is preferable so a sew another line of stitching on the outer edge of the hem. Due to the cat cuts you will find the material will want to twist in places but work carefully and manipulate it as best you can. It won't be perfect.

The width of my rolled hem is about 12-13mm which is needed due to my tie out configuration. If you choose to go with a different tie out configuration you may use a narrower hem width.

Step 8:
Now take both pieces and pin the ridgeline together, making sure that the ends line up, and the sewn rolled hem is oriented to the inside.

Step 9:
Sew one line of stitching about 6mm from the edge along the length of the ridgeline. This is used just to hold the fabric prior to binding the ridgeline.

Step 10:
Using the polyester binding tape bind the ridgeline either by hand folding or utilising a binding attachment suited to your machine. Make sure you leave about 100mm at either end, though I recommend cutting it longer than needed now and you can trim to size later. You can also double stitch the ridgeline if you choose - which is what I did.

Step 11:
Fold the ends of the binding tape over, and stitch back onto itself on the ridgeline, leaving a loop of about 25-30mm at each end. I use a basic straight stitch bar tack with a z pattern which I have found to be more than strong enough. I measure and mark 10mm lines for the bar tacks, and sew a few times back and forth with a shorter stitch length than used on the tarp hem.

Also make sure you melt the ends of the binding tape to prevent it from fraying later on.

I use 2 split rings but you can use whichever hardware you like, or none at all.

Step 12:
For the tie outs I chose a minimal lightweight design which incorporates no extra reinforcing as the stitching is kept within the hemmed edge of the tarp material only.
Firstly I folded back a small section of the corner and stitched it down with a basting stitch - just to hold it in place.

Step 13:
I then used 13mm grosgrain which was cut to a length of 120mm, and sewn to each corner using the same bar tack z stitch pattern as used on the ridgeline with 10mm spacing. These were sewn on the inside of the tarp, and a loop left in the middle which your hardware is attached to or you can tie your guylines straight to this loop. Repeat on all 4 corners.

In this instance I used Silkworm hardware which are extremely lightweight but again you can use what ever you choose or nothing at all.

Step 14:
Once both sides of the tie out are sewn, its important to lay down a reinforcing stitch along edge of the corner. Flip the material over, with the grosgrain situated on the bottom and make sure you capture the grosgrain on the under side. A few stitches back and forth should do it. Repeat on all 4 corners and you are done.

Step 15:
Go hang it and admire your handy work.

04/06/2017: Continuous Loop: Another Great Hammock Idea: This is just a much better way of attaching your hammock to your suspension system. it really protects the material of the hammock so it will last much, much longer: http://www.tiergear.com.au/11/products/continuous-loop As you can see it goes through the seam you sewed in the end of your hammock, then loops back through itself so imposing much less stress on the hammock material.

The hook you see in the photo is a 3.4 gram 'whoopie hook' another genius idea for simplified hammock set-up. Also available from Tier Gear: http://www.tiergear.com.au/11/products/whoopie-hooks

The continuous loop should be used in conjunction with the 'whoopie slings: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/whoopie-slings-what-a-great-idea/

See also: Titanium Dutch Hook for attaching your tarp ridgeline: http://www.tiergear.com.au/11/products/titanium-dutch-hook

03/06/2017: Whoopie Slings - Great Hammock Idea! Hummingbird Hammocks have one of the lightest suspension systems around (2.3 oz - 66 grams per hammock). The genius idea about them is the whoopie sling tension adjustment system. Here's a little video I took showing how they work. Setting up your hammock just perfectly is literally a breeze and the work of a minute: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/whoopie-slings-what-a-great-idea/

It is a little hard to see how they work, but basically the end of the rope is passed up through the hollow centre of itself, forming a loop at one end) so that it can slide fairly freely through when there is no tension but as the tension increases the outside of the rope (tube) holds on harder and harder to the length that is passing through it. It is an ingenious idea (probably familiar to riggers), and would also work well for tent guys. In the pictured example there is a handy knot at one end to hold on to whilst pulling the end through and so tightening up the 'hang' of the hammock. These would work with any kind of hammock, and can be bought separately from them (see below)

Tier gear also a make an adjustable centre line (using the whoopie sling principle) which helps your hammock to hang flat. They certainly do that, and only add 6 grams to the weight of your set up Well worth it as it also gives you somewhere to hang a few things. You can make a small silnylon bag (like a miniature saddle bag) to hang from the centre line so that you can easily reach things like your glasses or head torch in the middle of the night.

I usually add a gear hook at each end of my hammock(s) so I can attach things out of the weather at the ends of my hammock.This only adds a couple of grams too.

Available here:



see Also:





02/06/2017: The Lie of the Land:

If you want to move around in the bush with confidence without getting lost (and without artificial aids (except for noting the general northerly direction from the sun (or its shadow - eg on your thumbnail: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/finding-your-way/) You should always take note of the 'fall' of the country. The fall is the slope of the country; if you follows this slope, however slight, you will come to a watercourse in time, even if it is only a small dry gully. This in turn will lead down, getting larger as it is joined by other gullies and creeks until it reaches the river, and the fall of the land will continue until the sea is reached.

So as you move about you always have this fall as a reference point in the back of you mind. You might say you are on the 'southern fall of Rocky Creek' or the 'west fall of Little Sandy'. Starting from a known point you will move about quite freely,confident that all the little gullies and creeks that you may cross lead back to the river system that you are using as a reference.

Whichever way you move, whether up or down, or in any direction, you are always conscious of being in a sort of bowl, and at the very bottom of the bowl is the river.

If you move on to higher ground, when you reach the highest point you will look for a change in the fall of the land. The next slope will lead to a different creek, and this may join the earlier river that you are using as a point of reference, or it may run into a totally different river system. If you can deduce this information then you can move around this basin with the same confidence that you used to traverse the first.

Suppose you are travelling from A to C below

While you are moving around A you should be conscious of the fact that all the fall of the land is towards creek A, and know that this will eventually join the main river.

As you move up to the highest point, you should realise that as this is the highest point it must be the divide between area A and area B. Usually this is called simply the 'divide'. You should then try and establish a mental picture of the new system which you have to cross. Is the fall in the same general direction? If so then it may well be a creek system that will in turn join back to the main river. If not then what is its general direction?

Having established the general direction of the fall, the you will be able to proceed with confidence. In this case you will have noted that the general direction of the main creek is the same as the previous one, and will therefore assume that they are both tributaries of the same river.

As you proceed you will also be taking into account the fact that the small gullies feeding into the main creek do so at an angle to that creek, and you will also use this to help you keep your directions. Because you have formed a mental picture of the creek system A and have related this to the new creek system B, you can now move across this new creek system with confidence, secure in the knowledge that as long as you continue to keep the fall of the land to your right side, then you will be travelling in the correct general direction.

In time you begins to climb, and once more reaches a new divide. Before moving on you establishe that in this case the new creek system is running at an angle to the previous one, and in order to keep to the correct course you must travel in the same direction as the small tributaries of this creek. In this way yoou will arrive at the general position of your objective.

Usually you only attempt to travel in such a straight line if the country is gently undulating. If you encounters steep gullies and deep creeks you would simply follow the divide itself, following the course indicated by the heavy dotted line. You would still locate yourself mentally by comparing the direction of the creek A with creek B, and in turn their relation to creek C, but will have the added advantage of being able to keep two creek systems in sight all the time, thus allowing greater precision in your pathfinding.

Notice how the early explorers used this system to move with confidence over unknown territory. Kennedy for instance made constant reference to the ‘Divide’ when he explored Cape York. He knew that if the rivers that he crossed were flowing to the East then he was not very far from the coast, but if they flowed to the West then the Divide must be on his right side. Similarly Mitchell crossed all the westward flowing rivers on huis ay to Victoria. It was only when the rivers began to flow away to the South or east that he knew that he had crossed the Divide. By observing the lie of the land (and his compass) he was then able to make hs way back again

NB: So that your return jouney will be easy and you will not ‘get bushed’ you should fall into the habit of taking a brief spell every few minutes and turn and face your rstarting point while you ‘catch your breath’ observing carefull what the country looks like from that direction and particularly how your route proceeded in comparison to the lie of the land. This way you will easily be able to make your way back. This is even the case if you do not return by the same route, but usually walk a circuit (as I normally do when hunting in order to cover the most country). If you have looked back and noted where your starting point was and how you got where you are you should have no difficulty returning to your starting point even by a different route. Usually following the ridges (or the divides) is the easiest route.

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02/06/2017: Astonishing light show: http://www.thisiscolossal.com/2017/05/light-barrier-kimchi-and-chips/

31/05/2017: Things that keep you from hiking, hunting…

I am really keen to return to my beloved Gippsland mountains for some hiking, fishing, hunting but I still have so many jobs to do around the farm. We have been 'fixing' two dams damaged by last year's floods (hopefully they will hold now); we have a new boundary fence with two neighbours to construct in a terribly difficult situation; we have had sheep to sell and transport; we have hundreds more trees to plant; sometimes we have a bit of baby-sitting to do, and we have done a 'Spot' of burning off (just like this: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/repurposing-camping-gear/) as you can see. Life is such a serious business! Must stock that dam behind me with some fish at least!

30/05/2017: A Wild River Stag: I know lots of you have seen this photo before as I have used it as a signature image for some time. Unsurprisingly a number have asked, 'There must be a story behind that stag, Steve. Tell us about it'. Well, here goes...You can no doubt tell by how much I have aged that it was a number of years ago. I was working my way up an overgrown, neglected river in East Gippsland making a trail, opening up some country that had pretty much closed over with regrowth and blackberries. (No, I am not going to tell you which one - go find your own river!)

I live two hours from the city, yet I had had over four hours of comfortable driving in the old Land Rover Defender and then a couple more of rough 4WD scrambling to arrive at the end of the track where a relatively popular vehicle hunter's camp was to be found. There would be no point in hunting anywhere within half a day's walk of it if I wanted to see undisturbed deer. There was no-one there - one of the advantages of being a shift worker, farmer or retired is that you can hunt during the week when pretty much no-one else is about. It takes the deer a couple of days to settle down after they have been quite stirred up by the weekend warriors - even longer now that so many are wearing the dreadful camo clothing which is so impractical, unnecessary, even dangerous unless it is blaze orange, which looks just as silly though.

Other folk had pretty much pushed and broken a path up along the river through the predominantly black wattle regrowth to the intersection with a small river flowing in on the true right bank where most had turned off. I was enlarging this with my machete in case I wanted to bring my wife with me on a future expedition as she is partially sighted, so needing a pretty clear path to follow. I had this small river to cross on the first day and a number of side gullies. The little river looked promising, and was clearly where most people go to hunt, as their paths led that way - but I was heading up the main one.

This is what the side river looked like a little further up after you had cleared the thicker stuff. Worth some exploration on another occasion perhaps, except that was where most folk were going. The lie of the land tells me there are some good flats up there somewhere, mostly where those big side gullies you can see come in. It is much more gentle country than where I was going. I have always preferred the harder country because of the lack of company you can enjoy there. 'No company is better than bad company,' I always say. And there are so many good books still to read - which are so light now that the e-book has been invented! I now read them on my phone.

Those bluffs you can see mean you would have to cross and recross the river or climb deer paths over them. Of course, this is a very easy river to cross. (See:  http://www.theultralighthiker.com/river-crossings/) Still, a lesson is in order: Can you see where you should cross this river? No, you don't try boulder hopping eg top centre. Forget about having dry feet if you are hiking, fishing  or deer hunting. You can make a pair of ultralight camp shoes so you will have dry feet of a night (such as these: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/19-gram-dyneema-camp-shoes/); that is all you need. Or a pair of Crocs if you aren't handy.

Boulder hopping or log walking will just get you a nasty fall sometime far from help, perhaps a broken leg or fractured skull, or even death if you get swept away under a log jam. You should cross where the current is least (not necessarily where it is shallowest - do not worry about getting your thermometer wet; it will still work!), and where the bottom is not rock, but sand and gravel so you don't slip - so step between the two large boulders centre left and work your way across above the two small rocks centre. That is where the water is slowest and you can see soft bottom between the rocks. You should try to cross facing upriver or downriver to minimise being knocked off your feet by the current. I find upriver best.

A stout stick (or hiking poles) will provide you with a third or fourth leg to help with balance. Many people say you should hold the pole upstream, but I favour downstream. Always undo your chest and hip belt, no matter how small the crossing. It is a good habit which will one day save your life. If you are swept away with your pack cinched up, you are in dire trouble. If the current is clearly such that you will likely be swept off your feet, either don't cross at all or find a very long straight section where you can paddle across using your inflated sleeping mat as a kick board with your pack tied on top. You may have to walk quite a ways up or down a river to find such a spot. I have sometimes spent most of a day about finding just such a suitable crossing point in swollen rivers. And I have camped out for the better part of a week, waiting. So, don't you be impatient with your life! You may not get another! Certainly you would be lucky to get another half so good as the one we have!

After the crossing there were a number of flats and bluffy ridges to cross, an interesting anabranch with numerous wallows, one containing a large stag which fled noisily and precipitously, his klaxon on full volume. It was a fine warm day in late autumn and I was walking into the westering sun so that the sun winked endless reflections off the rippling water. I do love the echoic roar of fast white water. There were numerous rapids but nothing above Grade 2 and there was plenty of water for a future packrafting trip, which I have subsequently made. Delightful. I wish I had had my Klymit pack raft with me on this occasion: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/klymit-packraft/ (but...'If wishes were fishes...')

The autumn break had long since arrived, so there was feed aplenty in the bush, such that any game was like to be in good condition. The wombats and wallabies were fat enough you had nearly to kick them out of the way. The air was alive with the beat of bronze-wing pigeon's wings, wood swallows' curving flight, currawongs calling. Wrens and sitellas crept along every branch rattling the bark. The tree fern gullies rang with lyrebird song... Below, a honeyeater taking the sun:

And above, a wood swallow, such a lambent grey:

As you push along a river, you scatter the riverfolk before you. Time and again a blue crane croaks and rises awkwardly to claw his way pterodactyl-like upstream. Black and wood ducks scatter or loudly clap away around a bend. Every so often there is the soft dipping graceful flight of a blue jay, my favourite. And then I hear the whistle and click and I see the painted beauty of a bee-eater scything through the sky. Water dragons flop into the river; every so often a water rat glides off a wet bank otter-like. You can sometimes see the painted shards on the shingle where they have feasted on molluscs or small crustaceans.

This first trip here I only got about as far the first day as you could get in a half day if you were vehicle camping (way back there) and the track was already clear. I camped the night on the ground under my old home made 7' by 7' two ounce weight nylon tarp (below), as I was tired and there just weren't any suitable trees in the only suitable spot close to water. This is sometimes the case with hammock camping, so you should be flexible enough that you can camp on the ground. See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hammock-hunting-till-dark/. This tarp cost me $7 a metre to make many years ago, so it cost less than $30 intoto , and I have had about a thousand dollars use out of it!

A tarp of these dimensions is pretty much the minimum for shelter for one person. For two you need something slightly bigger, such as my 8' x 8' 'winged' 200 gram cuben tarp I have mentioned many times. You can sleep sideways in it under the overhang and stay quite dry unless the weather circles the compass, in which case you will have to swing it round too - but that just about never happens. You worry too much!. You can have a nice cheery fire out the front, like this. You can instead use it as a hammock tarp and it will still keep you quite dry. In silnylon it would weigh about 220 grams. In cuben even less. I am going to make up my poncho in this 7'x7' configuration soon, as it will be even handier if it is your raincoat too: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hole-less-ponchoshelter/. The waterproof zios now available are quite magical.

I cooked my meal on the Bushbuddy stove (shown): http://www.theultralighthiker.com/bushbuddy-stove/, some Chinese sausage with mash and Surprise peas. A fair meal, but I have better. (Try a search above for 'Food')

The cuben tarp with one 'wing' closed. You can see it again here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hammock-camping-double-bunking/

I can tell you are thinking I haven't got enough gear for a few night's camping in the bush when temperatures may fall to freezing. That (230 gram cuben fibre) pack looks just too small to contain a change of (warm) clothes, a raincoat, sleeping bag, food, etc. However, I can see that I even had enough space for a small quantity of Bacardi 151 rum in case the nights got just too cold! You take too much! By the time I was sitting down to tea in the tarp (as you see me) the temperature was already falling down to 5C or less, but I am still in my shirtsleeves. This is what having a warm open shelter with a fire out the front is all about! You really need one of those Big Agnes Cyclone chairs I have got (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/cyclone-chair/) and the Thermarest Neoair mat if you haven't already got one to be really comfy. I see from the photo that this was before they came up with the women's model (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/womens-are-great-in-bed/), or perhaps I took the one with the rectangular corners as it is more suitable for hammock camping. I have not bothered with a ground sheet as the ground was nice and dry after that warm sunny day. I had an emergency space blanket I could use ( 50 grams - as above) if it rained. If you want an idea of what I carry for a fair expedition, have a look at the list here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-gorilla-in-the-hand/

I had stopped at this spot where a tree-choked blackberry gully entered the river because the way ahead was closed by bluffs on each side of the river and a hugely dense blackberry thicket. There were good numbers of deer up  the side gully and a dozen or so came down just after dusk to serenade me as I cooked my supper. You could see their eyes winking like fireflies in the light of my head torch just outside the circle of the firelight. They usually vent their disapproval like busy traffic for five minutes or so, then move on about their own cervine business.

It looked too thick to hunt up the side gully though. Perhaps it opens up further up. On the map it is many kilometres long, and carries a lot of water in a wet season judging by the debris where it joins the river. This is sometimes the case. I still haven't checked it out. There are many such stream bends to peer around whose surprises I may never see. The far horizon retreats just as quickly as your footsteps advance. And time waits for no man.

In the morning I put off work long enough to snag a trout for my breakfast on a hand line (See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-ultralight-fisherman/) Alfoil grilled trout with muesli might not be everyone's view of ambrosia, but I felt they were pretty good. These East Gippsland rivers are alive with trout. You should always bring a line. Bait is easy: trout will eat anything. When I went to wash the dishes I noticed signs of an old hand's camp I had missed the night before in much the same spot from years' ago. The remains of a rusted hurricane lamp hung from a nail driven into a tree branch, and there was an old  handle-less frypan scattered amid the tussocks. I bet they had heard a tale or two in times gone by.

The next day I had nearly 200 metres of blackberry regrowth to hack a tunnel through almost straightaway. In places it was 12' high and thick as your wrist, so it was hard going., and as a result I did not get very far the second day. Not even a deer had penetrated this thicket. It was a narrow gorgy section both sides of the river at this point so it was clear no-one had penetrated further for some years either. Of course I was using this: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-worlds-greatest-machete/ You should get one(or two). Up to this point, the first day and a half's hacking had seemed pretty unpromising. Sure, there were deer about. I had several honk at me and a few others crash away into the bush. One had even ploughed across the swollen river, unseen because of the thick regrowth, but you have to be able to actually see them if you are going to take one home.

The bush is sprinkled with scenes of great beauty, yet it can be improved: here a bower bird has scoured the bush to find blue coloured objects (as they do). No other colour stands out quite so well in our forests. He has made a pretty spot for himself underneath the blackberry and dogwood fronds and amongst the wild marshmallow. You hope his efforts were rewarded with a doting mate!

I guess other people had expected that the thick stuff would go on forever and had given up on this particular valley which is why I had it pretty much to myself. I was beginning to think so too, I must confess but once clear of this horror patch of blackberries the river flats on both sides started to open up a bit. Sometimes you could see a hundred yards through the trees, plenty enough to encourage me further on. Also, the deer I was beginning to see were now much less spooky. Instead of honking and crashing off, I was at least getting to see them for a bit. After lunch (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/lunch-on-the-trail/) I watched a doe with twin poddies (very unusual) for a few minutes before she grazed off around the corner of a side gully.

If you are watching deer, or any other animal never look them in the eye. Indeed, when they look at you, lower your gaze, or even bend double as if grazing. If you continue to ignore them in this way, they will usually ignore you too so long as you don't move quickly. Just watch one of Attenborough's documentaries how slowly a tiger for example stalks his prey even though he is always in broad daylight. You can stalk right up to a black wallaby, for example like this without spooking them. I have often demonstrated this to disbelievers, usually concluding the demonstration by snatching the startled hopper up by his tail, something which I do not recommend with a full size kangaroo - or a sambar deer! I have tried - both!

I love to watch the does gliding with their young,  and the young gamboling like little lambs, running in circles, climbing and jumping from anthills, while the does move.ever.so.slowly - almost like wind-up deer, always with a front hoof poised quivering in the air, ready for a warning stomp telling the small flock: 'Fly. Danger! And, in the wink of an eye they all disappear into the hushed silence of the bush.

Kookaburras delight in warning you that deer are moving just ahead: 'Up this side gully. Quickly!' Their raucous cries echo off the ridges. Of course they have their dawn and evening chorus. That's not what I mean. How often have they alerted me to a big doe or stag just out of sight, but which I can then stalk. When I am chain-sawing firewood at home they will swoop between my face and the saw, their wings almost beating against my nose to snatch a grub or a wood roach my sawing has just revealed. Maybe they have feasted oft enough on venison, they are encouraging us onwards, 'Feed me' they call. Anyway, their daytime chorus ought not be ignored. I have followed their advice successfully many times.

As dusk swiftly approached the clearings on the other side of the river at this point were becoming a little more interesting, whereas I was walking along a narrow strip beside the river on mine, with just a thin string of spindly bushes along the river bank. I admit I was concentrating on the other side (though I had no intention of shooting something on the far side) as it seemed there was no cover to hide a deer on mine - only a bit of tussock and the low bushes. Yet suddenly this lovely stag stood right up from among the tussock, appearing as if from nowhere under the overhanging branches of a large bedraggled gum. There he stood glowing with robust health in his glory, framed by the westering sun and the succulent native willow. There was no skillful stalk or triumph of trick shooting in this encounter. It was just a second's effort to throw my lever action up and send a bullet into his chest.

Somehow, no matter how many times you do this, you always expect that the loud report will drop them like a stone - and perhaps half the time this is so, but this guy just steamed off through the river like a locomotive. The water was shoulder high, yet he must have made a bow-wave three feet high as he clove the torrent. I drove another round into his chest as he crossed the river, but he showed no slackening. When he hit the other bank he turned 90 degrees and ran up it at a gallop, quickly disappearing from sight round a slight bend through the thick undergrowth. You always think, 'Damn. Another miss', but your confidence in your practiced skill tells you that both those rounds went soundly home, and this big guy has to be lying dead just around the corner very soon.

It doesn't pay to rush ahead to check though, as likely this will just spook him further if he has any puff left at all, making him just that much harder to find if he manages to run off further, maybe into an acre or two of thick man-ferns. If you give him a spell, he will stop to try and understand what all the noise was, but when he stops he will just lie down quietly and die. So, that's how I found him, just around the corner: he had crashed through that thick stuff behind him, and as soon as he was free and clear he paused an instant, crumpled and was gone. I always feel a terrible sense of loss when I kill anything. I will probably just stop someday when the pain of spoiled beauty becomes too great. But it was not this day!

And there he lies, still. In the photo the river doesn't look all that deep,or the current very great, but it is and it was. It was getting along at quite a fast walking pace here, so would have bowled me over like a straw man had I tried to cross, and swept me over rapids and what I would describe as 'an entertaining drop' if I was white water canoeing! And of course the water was icy. I had also seen nowhere I could have crossed safely either the previous day or this. And there was only a little over an hour of daylight left, as there usually is.

I headed upriver, hoping for a crossing, but I soon concluded I would have to camp and find a way across on the next day. I found a couple of suitable saplings to swing my hammock right next to a splendid sandy beach on the riverbank. Here it is in the morning light. Nothing better than this on the Riviera! You can probably figure I had a tranquil relaxed sleep wrapped in my hammock camped in such an idyllic place (and I did, except for troubled thoughts about having lost my trophy to the river - and time). As you can see, the weather was quite warm, and by now the stag had been lying out on the river shingle amid the native willows for 12 hours. I would need to find a safe way across the river very quickly if I was to recover anything.

If you have not tried hammock camping, you should. I was using a homemade hammock back then made of the same 2 oz stuff (coated ripstop nylon) as the tarp. It weighed around 350 grams including the dyneema suspension 'ropes'. I am currently trialing one of these: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-hummingbird-in-the-hand/ which weighs less than 150. They are truly splendid hammocks.

Here is a snap of me taking the sun in one on the shores of Dusky Sound Fiordland last month (April, 2017) while I watched some miniature (Hector's) dolphins playing and frolicking in the limpid waters of the fiord. If you have not yet been there, put it on your 'bucket list'. See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/from-dawn-to-dusky/ BTW: I have now realised that I just missed a moose in the Hauroko Burn on my second day out. A photo would have been rewarded by a $100,000 prize, but would have been worth far more in achievement and memory than any money. Whether I will live to have another such opportunity, who can tell? Never ignore your sense of smell! - see Dusky 2.

The moving light-play over the embers in the fire, the soft roar of the river, the mournful note of the mopoke and the moonlight creeping low over the frosty mountains are better than any entertainment on TV. What need is there of other company? You can safely give your heart to the mountains, knowing you will need no other friend. The awesome stillness of solitude is all the balm the troubled soul hearkens for. You can still fairly feel the warmth glowing out at you from the colas of my modest campfire. It was a colder night than my first and quickly fell to freezing, yet I was warm, sheltered in my hammock by the tarp, listening to some pleasant music and enjoying a quiet tipple of rum, some macadamias, beef jerky - and a hearty trail soup, such as this: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-coconut-fish-curry/

I always sleep on my back in the hammock (insulated by my Neoair sleeping mat and a couple of small pieces of closed cell foam for my elbows. I have a small pillow which I put under my knees, not under my head; this is necessary: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/exped-ultralight-pillow/. It is more comfortable than any bed. There are no lumps or sticks to poke at you, and no creepy-crawlies running over your face as sometimes happens on the ground. A gentle, rhythmic sway quickly eases you to sleep, and you wake free of aches and pains which hard ground sometimes brings. There is also no danger your bed will get inundated if it rains in torrents, and you don't need a flat spot. There is also no danger of being struck by lightning!

I was moving in the dawn after a breakfast just of muesli chased down with a cup of black coffee next morning. Not long afterwards I tripped over this heavy hunting stand in the long tussocks. It had clearly lain there these twenty years or more. What an incredible thing to have lugged so far through the wild bush! The placid bend where I had camped had it seems many times before been the camp of others - as it will doubtless be in future when I too am dust. In Fiordland, moose hunting I had tripped over a barbed wire fence deep in the near impenetrable jungle. There are few places others have not trod before, yet it is the feeling of solitude, of being the first, of being quite alone in the wilderness which leads us back again and again to push on and explore the wild places by ourselves.

There were plenty of other deer about in the dawn, as indeed there had been in the gathering dusk the night before. I had watched a pair of does with their young frolicking and grazing not 200 yards from where I had shot the stag, and not half an hour afterwards! This is quite normal in undisturbed country. I passed a much better stag busy in a wallow right out in the open on the river margin next morning, again something you frequently see in undisturbed habitat, but not so much elsewhere. I had pretty much walked right by him (no more than twenty metres away) before he deigned to abandon his joyful smelly excesses, let forth a desultory bugle at me and rush off into the whippy undergrowth. Soon I discovered a truly beautiful flat, and clearly an old route once 'properly' blazed. Look at that feed! Note also the coprosma have been stripped of berries, yet it is fruit time! A promising sign. Deer do love mast.

Many wild fruits are edible (some even palatable). Both prickly (shown here) and sweet coprosma are quite pleasant. Also lillypilly, pittosporum and wild cherry. (I doubt deer get many wild cherry as they usually browse it as high as they can reach - if you are ever in Fiordland 'moose hunting' as I am fond of doing, you will notice the browse line is nearly 3' higher. Those guys really are monsters!). Contrary to popular belief plants which ooze white sap are not universally poisonous (though the sap may be) . Figs are a case in point, though there are not many wild figs in Victoria, save in far East Gippsland. Similarly the belief that red fruits should not be eaten is completely wrong, as the majority of fruits are red (especially the edible ones!) The clear to yellowish sap especially of wattles is quite edible and nutritious. We used to often eat it as children. Pretty much all fish, crustaceans and molluscs found in Victoria are not only edible, but delicious. So too are pretty much any animal or insect you will find if you roll over a log or stone, though a little roasting improves their taste I find. The heart of tree ferns is pure carbohydrate and has kept many folks well filed for protracted periods in the bush. It is better baked. All the rushes and sedges, including cumbungi have edible tubers, also best baked. There is no need to go hungry if you happen to find yourself lost in the bush. Nor need you be wet or cold. I will do some posts about such matters soon. Meanwhile, it is always worth practicing such survival skills as you never know when you will need them, and it boosts your self-confidence - particularly if, like me you prefer to hunt alone.

These fruits are fine (providing you have correctly identified them), but if you are tempted to try an unfamiliar fruit, you should first split it and touch the damp flesh to your lip, then wait five minutes. If nothing untoward happens, then touch it to your tongue and wait again. Next chew it a couple of times, then spit it out. If nothing at all has happened it is almost certainly fine to eat, though some things can make you scour especially in large doses. Interestingly enough, we know a lot about the edibility of many Australian plants from the likes of Sir Joseph Banks who was always keen to try eating new things. Again, the colony nearly starved a number of times (particularly 1791), so lots of plants were tried perforce, sea purslane and pigface for example. Europeans rapidly discovered just about as many edible plants in a decade as the previous inhabitants had in a much longer time. The latter were masters though at extracting poisons from otherwise inedible things, like cycads. Don't even try.

As the morning wore on, the river continued deep and swift with nothing in the way of a single safe crossing. The flats on the other side were truly beautiful though. Like a manicured park sprinkled with ash and peppermint gums. They would make good hunting once I discovered the fords the deer used. Fords are one of the best spots to lie in wait for them actually (if you are an ambush predator, which I am not; I get bored waiting, ever eager for new sights and sounds, and not much worried whether I ever take another deer). You can use the westering sun as a kind of spotlight to get a clear shot at the deer as they tiptoe across. This way you can (legally) take them quite close to dark. You need to position yourself though so that your shot will impact a river bank upstream and not skate along the river perhaps endangering someone else kilometres away. And, ideally you need to have already established a campsite quite close by. At least there will be plenty of water for your billy. There is also plenty of fallen timber for your campfire opposite. You could camp there for a year without using it all up, by the looks. Notice the animal drinking spot, centre. That would be a great side gully beyond. I bet there are many adventures to be had there.

Look at this beautiful wallow I found. You can see how the stag has been using the trunks of the trees as his towel. They are well coated with malodourous mud. Here would be a good spot to search for a cast antler, or to wait for him to return as dusk or dawn. You should drag a branch through the bottom if you want to find one,as they are usually found rolled into it. If you find one it will give you a good indication of the size of the resident stag.

Finally I found just such a crossing: the water is slower and shallower here, but still waist deep. You can just make out a deer path on the opposite bank. The bracken flats opposite would make a sheltered 'nursery' area. It had taken nearly half a day to find a suitable crossing. I still needed a stout branch as a prop to prevent myself from being toppled over. I took another three hours to walk back to 'my' stag by which time I was long dry. Unfortunately he had now been lying there for a full twenty-four hours, all day in quite hot sun. His skin would 'slip' and I could not trust the meat would not have begun to spoil since he had not even been gutted. A sad waste really.

I deeply regretted my precipitate action in shooting him in the first place now. So often it is just much better to admire and wonder. I have done so many times since. Deer hunting is mostly an excuse for me to get out hiking and camping (sometimes into places you otherwise could not go, such as our 'National Parks' which are being saved for future generations, rather than ourselves).

And here he is, lying as he fell (with my gun tangled in his rack!) I know the river looks as if you might cross there, but I can assure you I would have been swept away - and there were some particularly nasty rapids downstream. You just can't take such a chance particularly when you are all alone in the wilderness. He was, as you can see, as fat as mud!

On another trip I found these (two) beautiful crossing points a further hour's walk up the river. If only they had been a bit closer to where the stag had fallen, I could have had his meat and cape in the cold water of the river overnight, and back to my car before mid-day the next day if I had hurried - or if I had had my pack raft with me. Life is replete with 'what-ifs'. You just can't let them trouble you. The dice falls as it falls. That is all. You should have 'no regrets', as Edith Piaf said so mellifluously. We are just passing quietly through life. We arrive with nothing, and leave with nothing. Hopefully, you accumulate a few special memories along the way, such as the photo below, taken by my lovely wife Della on my next trip.

And mine of her: There she is, taking her ease on the riverbank opposite me. While we were camping there, a platypus swam around and around this huge pool for half an hour i guess. Such an enchanting sight.

On an even later trip, the river came down in an awesome torrent, and did this whilst I was there. This was just around the corner from the photo above. I just had to wait it out. It pays to have a cache of food in a canoe drum (or similar) against such eventualities; anyway to have enough spare tucker. Tie it under a log well out of reach of any potential floodwaters, so the wombats and possums don't p[lay games with it! You can easily see you could be trapped by floodwaters for a week or more. Half the forest must have ended up at this spot. I know the roar and grinding of the river overnight and sounds like gunshots as vast logs snapped like kindling when this happened was ominous in the extreme

We have explored much further up the river since on a number of trips - and of course, now we can take the dogs. There are many splendors further up. We have gone five more days up. I know most folks find one day's walk away from their vehicle quite enough, mainly because they carry too much, but the further you go the more fascinating things you see. Always, the Victorian bush is a riot of wildflowers, even in winter when I most love to enjoy ot. That's why we have so many honeyeaters such that our State bird is one - I have even seen a little 'helmeted' guy here, though I never tell 'the powers that be' anything they don't need to know! On this occasion every gully was bedecked with snowy clematis, and there were any number of parti-coloured wild peas in bloom.

We have found a truly splendid flat on a magnificent sweeping bend. It must be close to 100 hectares (as square kilometre) where we love to camp. the fishing and swimming is even good in summer. It resembles one of those beauteous English parks, the deer have done such a fine job manicuring it. Further on there is a wonderful hidden valley which you would just about step across without even noticing, but a day's exploration up it will bring many delights: waterfalls, orchids, postcard-perfect clearings...Further on a second small river joins this one. It has a small plain a kilometre or so up which in the summer is a riot of everlasting daisies.

The best part is that when we want to head back to the car we can just blow up the packrafts and enjoy a delightful day or two (like Huck and Tom - or Ratty and Mole) just drifting and 'mucking about' on the river.

Of course this was not the end even of this trip. I was in no hurry to get back and had two days' walk in any case, so I took my ease for a couple or three of delightful days lying about in my hammock in the sun, fishing, nosing up a side gully or two... Just in general really enjoying our beautiful Australian bush - and my solitude!

Alas, this is pretty much all I managed to recover from the stag. This was also just about the only time I have left meat in the bush. I had forgotten to pack my 'embryo wire' or even a folding meat saw, so I had to take the antlers off one at a time (I could not even remove the skull cap whole). I only managed to do this by standing back a ways and putting a couple of shots into his skull so I could recover each antler with a shard of broken bone. Sometimes I am not so well organised either! Still, at least I have the antlers, arranged decoratively in a vase by Della as a reminder of a mountain adventure years ago. Hopefully, even at 68 there will yet be many more...

Unfortunately others have followed our trail, though most only travel one day upriver camping approximately where I crossed on this occasion, so that the deer thereabouts are much more skittish nowadays. Sometimes I venture a further five days upriver (as I said) where in winter there is never anyone about, and the deer are as common as rabbits!

27/05/2017: Hunting Thumbtack Reflectors: Thumbtack reflectors such as ‘Fire Tacks’ are a great way to mark any route you may need to travel after dark – eg after sitting up over a wallow or game trail for a sambar deer until the light fades and then wanting to get back safely and quickly to your camp. NB the Stealth ones visible only at night or in UV light. A search for ‘hunting relectors’ or ‘reflective thumbtacks’ will find you quite a range. They are usually only a few dollars for a pack of 25, so you can economically mark quite a long trail. Of course they have a million and one uses other than for hunting. See eg: https://www.firetacks.com/

At night they look like this. You shouldn't have any trouble following them!

26/05/2017: Happy Birthday Ultralight Hiker: My blog is two years old today. Many thanks to my daughter, Merrin for helping create and maintain it, and to my many readers and supporters for enjoying it. There are now 924 posts here, so plenty of things to enjoy! My post about canoeing the Seaforth River Fiordland is also two today, so I have moved it up the list so you could enjoy it again: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/dusky-track-canoeing-the-seaforth/

I also could not resist reposting two of my most popular photos, this wilderness river stag:

and this snap of us on Cox's Bight from our 2011 trans Tasmania hike:

26/05/2017: Dusky Track: Canoeing the Seaforth: Some folks are just downright suicidal, and sometimes I am one of them! In 2009 I had conceived a plan to be the first person (I think) to canoe the mighty remote Seaforth River in Fiordland NZ. I had a brand-new Alpacka ‘Fjord Explorer’ packraft (https://alpackarafts.com/product/fjord-explorer/) courtesy of Kevin Rudd’s bushfire compensation scheme following the 2010 fires here which left us trapped at home for weeks with fires burning all around us.

That year I walked in from Lake Hauroko to Loch Marie (3 days) with my raft and gear in my trusty Gossamer gear G4 pack: http://gossamergear.com/g4-ultralight-backpack-all-bundle.html. On the fourth day I canoed across the lake, then walked down to just past the Bishop Burn and spent the rest of the day canoeing the Seaforth. I had carefully checked out the river from Google Earth which misses some big rapids -Trust Me! I had also walked around that lower section of the Seaforth quite a lot of times so I thought it was pretty safe. Well, I knew there were a couple of quite deadly rapids, but I was indecently confident I would hear them coming up and could safely portage them. (Every man has a plan which will not work!)

Most of the river is deep and wide and consists of pebble races or Grade 1-2 rapids at most. Unfortunately, there are 2-3 rapids which come up on you pretty quickly, which it would be death to attempt, and which are quite difficult to portage. The worst was in the general vicinity of the old Supper Cove Hut. Suddenly on a left-hand bend, there it was: with perpendicular river banks both sides, but no other option but to grasp a tree root on the right bank and hang on for dear life! I did manage to climb 5 metres up that vertical bank pulling myself up by the tree root, then haul up my pack and the raft (both of which I had tied to a line) after me. There was one other nasty rapid below this - which I had never seen even though I had walked that section near the mouth of the Henry Burn (Moose Creek) extensively.

Once I was in the flat water below I thought I was home safe. By then it was getting pretty cold and daylight was fading. I had realised that there were oodles of sharks in the Fiord but I thought to avoid them by paddling the shallows on the margins of Supper Cove. I had forgotten the 2-3 kilometres of tidal deep river above the Fiord, which teemed with them! They were mighty curious too, repeatedly cruising underneath the raft, gently lifting it as they rubbed underneath. It was a little unnerving!

Steve must not have been on their menu that day! I had this experience about twenty times before I made Supper Cove where you can be sure I hugged its margins like a drunken sailor! However, as you can see I made it – much to the astonishment of the (few) onlookers, including my daughter Irralee, who had been anxiously awaiting me there for three days! The Seaforth River is a beautiful and exhilarating trip. I somewhat regret I might not paddle it again though!

I have been back for other looks though, as recently as a month ago. See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/from-dawn-to-dusky/ & ff.

Thousands of beautiful tarns on the way across from Lake Roe - Seaforth in the background

Thousands of beautiful tarns on the way across from Lake Roe - Seaforth in the background

A very steep descent to Loch Marie

A very steep descent to Loch Marie

First view of the Seaforth coming across from Lake Roe

First view of the Seaforth coming across from Lake Roe

Putting in to cross Loch Marie

Putting in to cross Loch Marie

Some beautiful serene stretches of river along the way

Some beautiful serene stretches of river along the way

Some awesome views

Some awesome views

One of those vertical banks I had to climb

One of those vertical banks I had to climb

Quite a few log jams along the way

Quite a few log jams along the way

Some beautiful views along the river

Some beautiful views along the river

One of those 'killer' rapids i avoided

One of those 'killer' rapids i avoided