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

Finnsheep.com

NEW MOBILE FRIENDLY SITE: THE ULTRALIGHT HIKER

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

ULTRALIGHT HIKING BLOG:

24/05/2017: Man is the Measure of All Things (Protagoras) Some handy estimation tricks.

 

https://c1.staticflickr.com/3/2798/4070224502_15fe75a2c6_b.jpg

This astonishing Pre-Socratic was a brilliant mind. I guess everyone knows his 'Theorem" about right angle triangles. The saying above might not be quite so well known (or his enjoiner, 'Eschew beans'! I think I know why!), but we can use some of the proportions of the human body and the a property of an Isosceles Triangle (ie one with two equal sides) to do some pretty handy estimations.

You hold a stick at arm's length as shown in the drawing on the left so that the top of the branch exactly aligns with the top of the object whose height you want to measure. You can do one of two things: drop the stick over as in the drawing on the right, or pace the distance between you and the object. The height of the tree will be exactly the same as the distance from you to the object (Isosceles triangle, you see) Or the point on the ground where the stick on the right indicates.

You have formed a little isosceles triangle with your eye, your arm and the stick This triangle projects forward to the larger isosceles triangle formed by your feet, the distance to the base of the tree and the height of the tree itself, so the height of the tree is always exactly the distance from you to the tree..

Here is an interesting proportion. The distance between your eyes is almost exactly 1/9th of the length of your arm to the tip of your thumb (as shown below). By alternatively closing one eye and then the other, and estimating how far the object aimed at with your thumb 'jumps' sideways, then multiplying that estimated distance by 9 (it might be easier to multiply by ten which is close enough really) you can get a pretty good estimate of the distance to that remote object (ie it will be distant roughly ten times the distance your thumb jumps!) Neat eh?

This can be useful if you are taking a long shot (eg at a deer) with a rest, or eg if the object is your destination and you wish to know how far away it is, or if you need to cross a river and you want to know how wide it is so that you can judge how far upstream you need to start swimming or paddling (on your Thermarest Neoair mat) to safely get across. Always cross at the deepest, slowest straightest spot. You will already have measured the speed of the current by throwing s floating twig in and timing it.

If you dropped the stick to the side as in the right hand drawing in the first illustration, you can use the approximate number of tree lengths to estimate how far your thumb has jumped. If you assume that a similar tree near you which you measured by pacing is the same height as the one on the far bank, you will have a very clear idea of the distance to the remote object in tree lengths. From then on, it’s only a matter of simple multiplication.

The featured image is Da Vinci's famous 'Vitruvian Man' where Da Vinci sets out his ideas of the ideal human proportion: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitruvian_Man

23/05/2017: Epirbs are not Taxi Hailers: Lots of people are misusing these tiny devices. I guess because they are (relatively) cheap, but really if you want to spend time in the wilds, spend some money to get a decent communication system eg either a satellite messenger or a satellite phone – or both.

 So many people are pressing the panic button because they have a sniffle or ran out of Oreos occasioning hugely expensive search and rescue operations for them that eventually governments are going to have to charge everyone for the thoughtlessness of the few. Mostly people just want a specific thing eg a helicopter pick-up from a specific point (which will be an extra for a search and rescue operation) but which is relatively inexpensive (say $1-2,000) and ought to come out of your own pocket. Often such a pick-up is non-urgent as well.

 Val from Hauroko Tours related to me an example from a few years back. He had dropped a group off at the Hauroko Hut to begin the Dusky Track (See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/from-dawn-to-dusky/). Later the very same day they hit their Epirb. Within an hour of starting out on the Dusky, they found the Hauroko Burn flooded. In my opinion they could have proceeded, but in any case it would likely have gone down by the next day (and they had a lovely dry hut to stay in whilst waiting it out).

 Any walk on the Dusky is likely to encounter flooding/ waiting etc. Such is wilderness experience. Also, Val would have been back in three days, so they only had to wait. Clearly they had food for 8-10 days if walking the Dusky. Instead they hit the Epirb occasioning an urgent and expensive search which in my opinion they should have been charged for! Such ‘Crying Wolf’ behaviour is likely to cause the authorities to become less interested in launching into such wasteful exercises. The public purse is not infinite.

PS: Over reliance on electronic knick-knacks is problematic at best. before folks venture into the wild, they ought first have properly equipped themselves with a functioning set of the equipment they were born with: brain, eyes, ears, hand feet, back etc. The first of these needs some training. I will be posting some ideas about this soon, but in the meantime you might review this http://finnsheep.com/HIKING.htm

20/05/2017: Ultralight Ultra-Sharp Knives: Ceramic knives are sharper than metal ones and their edge can last 10 times longer. They can also be lighter. I have been thinking that this ‘ceramic escape knife’ would fit well in an ultralight fishing kit such as this: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-ultralight-fisherman/ This little guy weighs only 3 grams, has a blade 1.25” (3.175cm) and is 1.75” long  x .4” wide (4.445 cm x 1.016 cm) It may be illegal to import or sell this product in Australia. There is a metal version which weighs a colossal 8 grams: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/dermasafe-ultralight-knives-and-saws/

 

 

Some options:

 

http://www.dudeiwantthat.com/outdoors/tools/ceramic-escape-knife.asp

http://www.dudeiwantthat.com/outdoors/tools/covert-non-dulling-razor-blade.asp

http://www.derma-safe.com/product/the-derma-safe-folding-utility-knife/

This guy has an enchanting range of ceramic knives: http://ceramicknife.org/

 

19/05/2017: Antarctic Flights from $1199: Well $1999 if you want a better view, but really not bad for the visual feast of a lifetime. I know it’s a lot of money to spend for a 12 hour flight where you end up right back in Melbourne where you began, but ‘you can’t take it with you’, and it is unlikely you will be trudging across the icy wastes in pursuit of Scott and Amundsen. Della has already put her hand up for a flight when I find that tiny pot of gold I buried in the backyard some time – perhaps sooner: http://www.antarcticaflights.com.au/ https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=70&v=TfprD5OVtPU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=5&v=9qS_ShexHd0

 

https://scontent.fmel2-1.fna.fbcdn.net/v/t31.0-8/12132519_10153351107787730_4235972578757294318_o.jpg?oh=8cf74a06036597b0062432a841c125ec&oe=59A2872D

 

18/05/2017: Wings and Water: My favourite airline operates out of Te Anau Fiordland, New Zealandhttp://www.wingsandwater.co.nz/ I have flown in to or back from Supper Cove a number of times, so I have a collection of snaps which will maybe whet your appetite to the visual delights in store. It is almost impossible to take really good photos through a plane’s windows (as I’m sure you know), but these will give you some idea of the magnificence of Fiordland from the air. Some of the beautiful views I have experienced from their plane over the years:

Their pilot, Kylie ready to take you on the flight of your life at the lake’s edge, Te Anau.

Here is their plane at beautiful Supper Cove, Dusky Sound. The DOC hut is just a few steps up the path behind the plane.

And here it is taking off at Supper Cove

View of the Fiord

How steep the edges of the fiords are - notice all the fuschia regrowth (light green): this is a favourite moose food.

View of supper Cove Hut from the air.

Me at Supper Cove.

Leaving Supper Cove - view down the fiord.

A little further down the fiord.

Loch Marie - hut in centre.

Wet Jacket Arm.

Lake Manapouri.

 

Tarns in one of the passes probably Pillans.

Just look at this patch of fuschia regrowth - how many moose could such feed support? And how hard would it be to ever see one?

Pass.

Probably Doubtful Sound.

These new slips will regrow with Fuschia. Moose can travel around these steep sides, but I doubt you or I can!

Look at this wonderful perched lake. So many beautiful secret spots in Fiordland where no man's foot has ever trod.

Fiord after fiord after fiord.

Those mountains are certainly steep.

Looking up the Seaforth River, Supper Cove.

Trampers Transport : Supper Cove - Dusky Track. Take the easy way to the Dusky Track at 9am daily. Fly from Te Anau to Supper Cove or return. They can also ferry stores to and from Supper Cove. Duration: 30 Minutes flight time approximately - $330.00 per person (2017).

They also do a range of wonderful ‘joy’ or scenic flights. There are numerous places they can take you into the Fiordland National Park. Fancy a bit of hunting or maybe you are joining a cruise somewhere in the fiords - let them take you there!

Here are just some of their destinations: Blanket Bay (Doubtful Sound), Bligh Sound, Breaksea Sound, Caswell Sound, Chalky Inlet, Charles Sound, Charles Sound – Helipad, Dagg Sound, Deep Cove, Doubtful Sound, Dusky Sound / Supper Cove, Dusky Sound / Cascade / Luncheon, Earshell Cove, George Sound, Glade House, Te Anau Downs to Glade House, Glasinoch River, Gorge Burn, Junction Burn Hut, Lake Alabaster, Lake Hakapoua, Lake Hankinson, Lake Hauroko, Lake McIvor, Lake McKerrow, Lake Manapouri, Lake Marchant, Lake Mavora, Lake Monowai, Lake Poteriteri, Lake Rakatu, Lake Wapiti, Lake Wilmot, Long Sound, Martins Bay, Milford Sound, Nancy Sound, Preservation Inlet, Stewart Island, Sutherland Sound,Te Anau Downs, West Arm, Wet Jacket Arm, Worsley Arm,,Queenstown.

17/05/2017: Water from thin air: A New Dehumidifier: This device pulls water from dry air, powered only by the sun. It is still a long way off being available, but it may someday make long desert journeys much more possible:Imagine a future in which every home has an appliance that pulls all the water the household needs out of the air, even in dry or desert climates, using only the power of the sun...

The prototype, under conditions of 20-30 percent humidity, was able to pull 2.8 liters (3 quarts) of water from the air over a 12-hour period, using one kilogram (2.2 pounds) of MOF. Rooftop tests at MIT confirmed that the device works in real-world conditions.'

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-04-device-air-powered-sun.html

  Device pulls water from dry air, powered only by the sun

16/05/2017: Hiking Crayfish Bisque

First catch your crayfish...Once again here's a delicious soup to cook in the wild after you have been doing a spot of fishing. Naturally it uses only dried, concentrated and lightweight ingredients. I based it on a traditional bisque recipe we have eaten for years but with ultralight ingredients. My tastes run to peppery and my wife is a lover of tomato flavour, so at just these proportions the dish may be a little intense for you (or not enough), so you can play with the proportions a bit until you get it just right. I hope you enjoy it.

To 1 Litre of water add:

10 teaspoons of milk powder (add cold and stir in - it mixes better)

1 x 40 gram packet Continental French Onion Soup (NB low salt is good)

1-2 50 gram sachets of tomato puree (to taste)

1-2 small cubes or teaspoons of chicken stock

1/2 Teaspoon ground black pepper (to taste)

1 Teaspoon (to taste) of sweet paprika.

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Bring to the boil. Simmer 3-4 minutes Stir oiccasionally. Add:

200 gram can of shrimp (if you don't have a cray) A 100 gram can of tuna will do in a pinch!

1 x 85 gram packet of Magi 2 minute noodles well broken up (into 1 cm lengths)

Simmer a further 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Enjoy.

For other hiking food ideas, try a search for 'food' in the search bar at the top right hand corner of the page.

See Also:

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/steves-ultralight-fish-chowder/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hand-line-fly-fishing

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hiking-crayfish-bisque/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-ultralight-fisherman/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-coconut-fish-curry/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hand-line-fly-fishing/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-ball-of-string-and-a-feed-of-cray/

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16/05/2017: So, they just discovered 5 million square kilometers of extra forests no-one had noticed before: that’s more than half an Australia. Pretty hard to miss: http://joannenova.com.au/2017/05/scientists-discover-an-extra-5-million-square-kilometers-of-forest/

15/05/2017: A Ball of String and a Feed of Cray: Once you have your feed of trout (See Below) you will have some heads, tails, fins etc left over. Now you have your cray bait for the next course! All you need to catch them is a bit of string. I have wound 50lb line on my ultralight hand line http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-ultralight-fisherman/ (because it was what I had lying around) – it would cast a lot further still with lighter line. Certainly though, a few 3-4 metre lengths of this is all you need to catch a feed of crays. You might need to mark the location of your lines with some tiny pieces of fluoro tape as this Dyneema line will be very hard to see.

If I am vehicle camping, as in the photo, I usually use a length of fluoro ‘builder’s line’ because it is hard to miss in the bush. When I am in the camper, I also have a small folding trout landing net with an extendable handle. It is very good for scooping them out. If you are lightweight hiking you will have to make use of a forked stick to pin them down, and maybe get your feet wet as well as you wade in to pick them up just behind the claws (as shown) – but the feed of crays will be worth it. NB: You cannot kiss a cray – definitely don’t try this at home! When there are lots of them on the move (they are easy to see particularly if you have polarising lenses) you can often just walk along the side of a shallow stream and just pin them down with a forked stick. I have sometime caught half a dozen in this way in a few minutes!

 They can grow to quite a size, as you can see! I am going to pretend my eyes are closed as I am dreaming of the Lobster Bisque in the next post, but I was just not ready for Della to take the snap, and in the next one, the cray was blurred from too much wriggling.

All you need to do is tie something smelly (like the fish heads) to one end of the line. I often use chicken necks because they are cheap and easy to tie on a line. Here and there along the bank in the vicinity of overhangs or upstream from logs, drop a bait into the water then tie the other end of the line to a branch. Don’t leave enough slack so the cray can pull the bait underneath his log as you may not be able to pull him out with it. Go have a cup of tea or something more refreshing, then come back in say half an hour. In most mountain rivers in Victoria there will be a cray on the end of the line, indicated by its having grown taut.

Very, very slowly without jerking pull the cray towards you until you can observe him. You need to be patient. He is greedy and doesn’t want to let go of his prize, but he will if you are foolish. You need to get him to where you can quietly scoop him from behind (or give him a little slack and he will back into your net). Or, if you only have a forked stick, you need to slowly move it from behind him until you can deftly pin him to the bottom just behind the claws. Then you can step into the river whilst holding him immobile and pick him up with the other hand.Watch those claws. They could almost sever a finger!

There are not so many about in the winter as they are less active. The old saw was that as soon as the wattle was on the water, they would be ready to bite. You can keep them in a bag in a cool place for hours, or tether them to a sapling with a length of string. I brought a bag back from deer hunting once (so they are about even in winter!) put them in the fridge in a supermarket bag for at least a week. When I remembered them, I was surprised they were all alive and ready to bite me!

There is a gender, size and number limit you must conform to if you don’t want to incur a penalty – and you want them to remain always abundant. If you have a billy large enough  to boil them in, that is the best solution. If you are car camping you will be able to first anaethesise them by adding some salt to the water (The reverse is true of sea crays – fresh water will knock them out). It is heartless to drop them straight into boiling water and is also likely to get you scalded as they will leap!

They only need a very few minutes to cook. Watch the colour. They do not go quite so red as sea crays. If you do not have large billy because you are hiking, you will need to kill them first eg by driving a knife (carefully) through their brain. Then you can just cook the bits with the meat. 1-200 grams of fresh cooked meat will be enough to make the accompanying bisque recipe if you are hiking. This will make them ‘go’ a lot further. There are few things quite so delicious as fresh caught crays, so enjoy!

PS: However, yabbies, their smaller cousins are just as delicious - but you will need more of them, a couple of dozen would be good. Most streams also contain 'ghost shrimp' which are smaller again but a few dozen still make a fine feed. They are very sweet. The method for catching yabbies is the same as for crays. Shrimp will come to all sorts of attractants (eg soap or crushed leaves) and will swarm all over a landing net laid on the stream bottom. Shrimp also make excellent bait for fish - so you can begin again!

See Also:

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/steves-ultralight-fish-chowder/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hand-line-fly-fishing

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hiking-crayfish-bisque/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-ultralight-fisherman/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-coconut-fish-curry/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hand-line-fly-fishing/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-ball-of-string-and-a-feed-of-cray/

If you enjoyed this post and would like to make a small donation to the upkeep of this page, you can do so by clicking the PayPal button below. Even a small amount would be appreciated.


13/05/2017: Vargo Titanium Pocket Cleats: Vargo has this lighter traction device for snow and ice slippery clay, etc:  They weigh 2.3 oz 66 grams nearly 1/3rd the weight of the competition so they might find a place in yoiur pack if you are going somewhere slippery. Cost is US$59.95

Ultralight Traction Device

 

‘Improve speed and traction on winter runs or ultralight hiking with the Vargo Titanium Pocket Cleats™.  The titanium alloy spikes claw into snow and ice yet weigh nearly a third the weight of the competition without reducing strength or durability.  When not in use the legs fold down and nest to easily fit into packs or pockets. Nylon carrying case included. 

 

Available in three sizes:

 

Small: Women’s 6.0 – 9

Medium: Women’s 9.5 – 12; Men’s 8.0 – 10.5

Large: Men’s 11 – 13

 

Note: Pocket Cleats™ will not fit or work well with shoes that have extra-thick soles ("Fat Shoes") or shoes with a non-hourglass shape sole.

 

 Features

 

Titanium alloy contstruction

 

Compact folding legs

 

Reliable Duraflex™ fastners

 

High strength nylon webbing

 

Convenient nylon carry case

 

 Specifications

 

Weight (medium)     Size Open            Size Closed

 

2.3 ounces each       5.9"L x 1.8"W       4.3"L x 1.8"W   

 

(66 grams)                (150 x 45 mm)     (110 x 45 mm)’

 

https://www.vargooutdoors.com/titanium-pocket-cleats.html

 

See Also:

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/boot-chains/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/4wd-boots/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/keen-shoes/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/foot-care/

12/05/2017: East Tyers Walking Track: I spent six hours yesterday working on some of this excellent track which had been long neglected and overgrown. Apparently there were six other people there though I never saw them, which indicates you can have a lovely solitary experience on the track. It connects O'Shea's Mill to Caringal Scout camp and thus comprises an interesting addition to the Upper Yarra Track Winter route - see: http://www.finnsheep.com/THE%20UPPER%20YARRA%20WALKING%20TRACK.htm.

The first third of it is roughly cleared now - starting from Caringal, but it is marked all the way now with tape, so it needs about two similar days' work to complete the job apparently expected to be done by Spring, but it is now walkable, so the more people walk it (with one of these: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-worlds-greatest-machete/) over the winter, the less work there will be to do.

I will now investigate re-opening the West Tyers walking track which has been similarly neglected and which links Caringal with Western Tyers/Morgans's Mill and the similar loop from Palmers to Growlers along the Western Tyers - both of which I have walked years ago. They are extraordinary beautiful sections which deserve to be open to everyone - not just the intrepid!

The track begins auspiciously. The track follows an old logging tramway linking bush mills (such as O'Sheas) to Collins siding where the railway ine to Melbourne was. NB: You can also walk along the tramway from Caringal to Collins siding.

There are some lovely stretches if river, somewhere to try this out: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-ultralight-fisherman/

Here's another.

And yet another.

There are some interesting bridges.

Some best avoided. You should never worry about getting your feet wet: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/why-you-should-get-your-feet-wet-when-hiking/

Some beautiful timber.

Mountain ash are magnificent - you can see why they were logging along here in the past.

An interesting geological formation.

It will be such a splendid track when the clearing is quite finished - and even better when it links both to Collins siding (Erica) and to Western Tyers (Morgans Mill) and beyond eg to Tanjil Bren and Newlands Rd so that a circuit of the Baw Baws can be had. Well, it already can. See below:

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/upper-yarra-track-osheas-mill/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/upper-yarra-track-winter-route-caringal-scout-camp-tyers-junction/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/upper-yarra-track-winter-route-western-tyers-morgans-mill-skinners-camp/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/upper-yarra-track-winter-route-western-tyers-to-tanjil-bren/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/upper-yarra-track-winter-route-downey-to-newlands/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/kirchubel-if-you-go-nowhere-else-in-the-world-at-least-go-here/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/up-into-the-singing-mountains/

12/05/2017: Dude I want that: Dude I want that... Indeed! This is not strictly ‘ultralight’, but I just thought you might nonetheless like this amazing gift site -at least the 'outdoors' section. If you have perhaps become jaded by the pedestrian offerings of your local outdoors store, check out some of these amazing products: http://www.dudeiwantthat.com/outdoors/  Here’re ten of my favourites:

Banana Lounger

Onegee Bungee

Onak Foldable Canoe

Swim Fingers

Folding Survival Bow

Pocket Bellows:

 

Trac-Grabber

Pocket Cleats:

Thermal Breaching Tool:

Gazebox retractable garage:

12/05/2017: Couple Marry on Everest: `It is a really catchy headline and image isn’t it - and a great idea? A friend of mine noticed a wee bit of Photoshopping but s/he was being pedantic. I suppose the next ‘logical’ step is for folks to marry on the summit of Everest where they could quickly combine the two important ceremonies (ie marriage and funeral) into one –if there was any celebrant foolish enough to accompany them! See: http://www.boredpanda.com/everest-camp-wedding-photos-charleton-churchill/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=link&utm_campaign=BPFacebook

For info on how to do this in an ultralight manner see eg: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/i-saw-below-me-that-golden-valley/ 

11/05/2017: The Ultralight Fisherman: Today is using a 1 oz (30 gram - including a selection of flies and leaders) hand line made from a 100 ml plastic 'spice'  bottle which easily and accurately casts 30 - 40 metres - as you can see! A pill bottle of roughly the same size  though slightly heavier, would work just as well. I tried an empty Nurofen bottle, for example. Another half an ounce or so would add a couple of lures, hooks, split shot, etc suitable for bait fishing as well. (This particular bottle is 14 gram 100 ml about 43mm wide and 80mm long and has the advantage you can see through it).

I must stock the repaired farm dam with trout! It already has eels.

Amid the windfall quinces in the garden.

The scales do not lie.

The pink 1 mm Dyneema string is a wrist strap in case you drop your hand line. A dab of silicon around the hole I had to drill to thread it would make it completely waterproof as well. Everything you need fits right in the bottle, in a few mini snap lock bags. You could even take some artificial bait with you.

I went for a walk around to 'The Weir' (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/invisible-worlds-the-weir/) again this afternoon - no fish trying to climb it, alas. It is a very small log-choked stream for fly fishing, but in 2-3 casts I did have a small trout following my fly - unfortunately the stream was too small, so he saw me and headed South. I will be going up the bush sambar deer hunting soon where there are much bigger streams and bigger trout. I will be eating some!

See Also:

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/steves-ultralight-fish-chowder/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hand-line-fly-fishing/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-coconut-fish-curry/

Soon to come: 'The Ultralight Deer Hunter'.

10/05/2017: Ultralight Coconut Fish Curry: We found this soup to be just about the most delicious we have ever eaten at home - and we eat a lot of soup, so just imagine how delicious it will be on the trail. Again it uses Continental French Onion Soup as a base and makes use only of dehydrated ingredients (or ingredients which will not leak, or which can be 'caught' on the trail).

1 Litre water

25 grams of Coconut Milk Powder (comes in 50 gram aluminium sachets. You could use the whole sachet)

50 gram sachet Tomato Paste.

40 gram packet of Continental French Onion Soup

2  Teaspoons (Clive Of India) curry powder

1/2 Teaspoon ground black pepper

Bring to the boil

Add

100 gram sachet Safcol Yellowfin Tuna

16 teaspoons Surprise Peas

Simmer 5 minutes

Add (slowly, stirring as you go) approx 12 Teaspoons Continental Deb Mashed Potato.

Serve and eat. Try this at home. You will be delighted.

PS: My daughter, who is more a coconut than a curry person says, 'Halve the curry and double the coconut'. You might try that if you think your tastes are more that way. If you don't like fish (what?) you might also try the recipe with a can of this: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/backcountry-meat/ The cans would also be perfect for making a 'Supercat Stove': http://www.theultralighthiker.com/supercat-hiking-stove/

See Also:

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/steves-ultralight-fish-chowder/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hand-line-fly-fishing/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-coconut-fish-curry/

09/05/2017: Invisible Worlds: The Weir: Just around the corner (about 2 km) from our house lies the Billy's Creek, the Morwell National Park, (the start of) a lovely walk (the Grand Stzelecki Track) and just a kilometre up the track and stream this lovely old weir (built in 1913) set amongst majestic blue gums in a lush narrow, steep valley. The weir used to be part of the Morwell Water Supply.

You can see it has a hole in it about 200mm/8" in diameter through which much of the stream flows. The hole has an enchanting history. It was created as an act of anarchy by local farmers who were incensed at how much of their own water supply had been stolen by the Government. A pity moe of us weren't as galvanised by government theft.

The hole is 2.1 metres/7'  above the pool at the bottom which is only 35mm/14" deep. On pretty much just one day of the year, trout try to swim up the outflow of that pipe, tunnel through that hole and so emerge in the stream above the weir to lay their eggs. Unbelievably some make it. We observed (and filmed) this on Mothers day 2006, May 14. Sometime in the next week, if you visit this weir every day you too will witness this natural miracle.

Below the picture I have attached a very poor quality video of the event, but you can still make out what the trout are doing. Unfortunately dogs are not allowed in the national park (which would not worry me) but there are some very busybodying locals (alas!) who will make a fuss if I take the dogs for a walk there every day, so I may not manage a better piece of film due to other work commitments - but you may!  http://www.theultralighthiker.com/invisible-worlds-the-weir/

It is a beautiful walk up amid the blue gums:

There are fine bridges to play on:

Milo spots a trout:

There is a lovely picnic spot at the weir with a sign implying no tents under this tree - but nothing about hammocks!

Milo is learning to be an ultralight hiker. He can really use that Gossamer gear pole.

It is quite hard work though and needs lots of concentration.

04/05/2017: 900th Post: Another milestone today: my 900th post here at the Ultralight Hiker. I am just back from walking the Dusky Track in Fiordland as my recent posts no doubt inform you. It is getting harder and longer as I age, but I am just glad to be able to be there and other wonderful places, and doing it. Plenty of time for the easier walks later on, I hope!

In my Hummingbird Hammock, (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-hummingbird-in-the-hand/) Supper Cove, Fiordland New Zealand 2017.

It's been a busy 5ive and one half months! What are some of the highlights of the last one hundred posts?

Well...Trekking in Nepal: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/thatendlessskyway/

And a much more modest walk on the Mirboo North Rail Trail: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-birthday-treat-mirboo-north-rail-trail/

Some ideas for pack rafting in Gippsland: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/gippsland-pack-rafting-routes/

and canoe hunting: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/you-take-the-high-road-and-ill-take-the-low/

A visit to the 'lost' Yarra Falls by 'a reader': http://www.theultralighthiker.com/yarra-falls-3/

A week canoeing the Wonnangatta/Mitchell: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/wonnangatta-waterford-to-angusvale-day-one/

A new $10 tent: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/poly-tent-by-the-ultralight-hiker-on-the-cheap/

Some thoughts on hunting: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-ethical-hunter/

A trip to Mt Horsefall: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/escaping-the-heat/

Camper Mods: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/found-space/

A new ground sheet idea: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/inflatable-bathtub-groundsheet/

An excellent ultralight hiking soup: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/steves-nepali-dahl-soup/

At last a map for the Upper Yarra Track: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/upper-yarra-track-map/

A canoe/motorbike trailer insert: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/canoe-motorbike-trailer/

A visit to Blond Bay, Gippsland: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/blond-bay-roseneath-reserve-hollands-landing/

and much more...

What have I planned ahead: well, I aim to complete a last prototype of my Deer Hunter's Tent http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-deer-hunters-tent/and make a cuben fibre version with a poncho floor http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hole-less-ponchoshelter/. I will be going into the Victorian High Country with a one-legged friend fishing and hunting for a week at least. I hope to complete the 'Four Rivers Circuit' I have mentioned several times before, to canoe the Wonnangatta from Hearnes Spur to Kingwell Bridge, to canoe/clear the Hawthorn Creek section of the Latrobe, walk some of Victoria's Wilderness Coast, complete a circuit in Wilsons Prom, take a trip to Western Vic and walk some of the hundreds of kilometres of coast walks there, get some more work done on my idea of a Gippsland hiking circuit, make a motorcycle carrier for the Discovery/Defender...I will be busy. And of course there are jobs around the farm that get in the way of such pleasures too! Today I am working on completing the pump house move so we can finish repairing the lower dam before winter. There is one shed to re-roof, one to demolish and rebuild. Many fences to build and many trees to plant...Life just gets in the way of making plans!

09/05/2017: Hunter, angler, gardener, cook. Interesting website. Some great recipes: http://honest-food.net/

08/05/2017: Steve's Ultralight Fish Chowder: Following my post about hand Line Fly Fishing I have had several requests for the Hiking Fish Chowder recipe so that I had to make it for lunch, and it was excellent. I doubt you have had a better hiking meal. Try it at home, then make sure you take the ingredients when you next head out to the hills (and streams) with your handy new hand line! http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hand-line-fly-fishing/

Take:

1 packet Continental French Onion Soup 460 kJ 112 calories 40 grams

1 Litre Water

4 (heaped) Teaspoons of milk powder -approx 350 kJ 80 calories 17 grams

16 Teaspoons Surprise Peas (4 Teaspoons per 250 ml) - 300 kJ 72 calories 80 grams

100 gram Sachet Safcol Yellowfin Tuna (or equivalent filleted fresh brook trout) - 616  kJ 150 calories

12 Teaspoons (Approx) Continental deb Mashed Potato - 150 kJ 35 calories 40 grams

Pepper or curry powder to taste (unnecessary)

Bring to the boil and simmer 5 minutes

Delicious! Total 1876 kJ 460 calories. 177 grams - not including the fish!

PS: The French Onion Soup makes a great base for many meals. I will be adding more! You can just make one cup of nit up on the trail and save the rest for later. Adding some peas makes for an interesting taste and makes it go a little further. The dehydrated mash thickening also makes it feel like you are eating more (and you are). (Weight and calories are approximate)

08/05/2017: Hand Line Fly Fishing: Fishing with a bubble or float is an old technique. I’m sure most of us have used this method with live baits to catch a variety of fish. It also works well with flies and other floating lures to catch trout.

My handline of choice is Streamlines Tideland which weighs 2.4 oz. I cut the rubber handle off mine (saving an ounce). It now weighs 1.5 oz (43 grams). You can easily cast over 20 metres accurately. It is as good as most spinning rods, better where there are overhanging branches, as you can cast underarm. It is ideal for getting a trout dinner out of small wooded alpine streams. I could trim its weight some more by cutting off the corner with the angle grinder and smoothing the finish. I might get it down to a functional 1 oz (or 30 grams), yet still have a superlative casting hand line.

Below are typical rigs taken from Martin Joergensen’s and Will Rietveld's articles below.

The technique is simplicity itself. Cast and slowly retrieve. The splash of the bubble hitting the water attracts the fish’s attention which is then directed at the fly tied to the invisible line. When it strikes you need only set the hook, reel it in, prepare it and eat it. More detailed tips in the articles below.

‘The Streamlines handline has landed trout in the Sierra Nevada mountains, bass in low land lakes, and up to six pound snook in Costa Rica. The Tidelands model is an inexpensive lifetime tool, ideal for backpackers, kayakers, or as a part of any complete survival kit. Casting handline has been used for decades in Costa Rica as the primary tool of ocean shore-line fishermen who must live on what they catch. Streamlines has evolved this tool, combining improved design with modern materials. It casts far and accurately, limited only by the skill of the fisherman. This go anywhere, fish anytime tool is patented and molded of plastic strengthened with 40% fiberglass reinforcing. It is overmolded with a rubber Santoprene handle.’ http://www.moontrail.com/accessrs/a-misc/handline.html US$ 17.90

You could even do it with my 4 gram fishing hand lines below:

2015-09-23 13.43.23 comp

Some great articles on the technique (and related matters):

 Fishing a bubble: Martin Joergensen: http://globalflyfisher.com/fish-better/fishing-a-bubble

 Spin Fishing Using The Fly And Bubble Method: Mike: http://fishingmyway.com/uncategorized/spin-fishing-using-the-fly-and-bubble-method

 A Simple, Minimalist, and Ultralight Approach to Catching, Cleaning, and Cooking a Backcountry Fish Dinner By Will Rietveld: http://ultralightinsights.blogspot.com.au/2017/02/a-simple-minimalist-and-ultralight.html

http://blog.gossamergear.com/how-light-is-your-fishing-tackle

 Ultralight Tic Tac Fishing Kit: Rik Christensen: http://blog.gossamergear.com/how-light-is-your-fishing-tackle

 For an ultralight hiker/fisherman I think Will Rietveld’s method of cooking trout takes some beating (particularly if you were using twigs in the Caldera Cone). However, I have also been experimenting with various dry ingredients to make up a tasty fish chowder. Continental French Onion Soup is probably already a standby with you (though it takes a five minute simmer). A packet contains about 8 teaspoons full which makes four cups, so you can make them individually. Added to the (filleted) fish, it makes a tasty broth. You can thicken it (as I have mentioned before) with some Continental Deb mashed potato. A little milk powder will add to the chowdery effect. I know you don’t have to add pepper or curry powder to everything (so my wife, Della says) but these can add some zest to the overall effect. Enjoy.

If you enjoyed this post and would like to make a small donation to the upkeep of this page, you can do so by clicking the PayPal button below. Even a small amount would be appreciated.


 Other Posts:

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/lightweight-fishing-rods-reels/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/pen-fishing-rods/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/3d-fishing/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/four-gram-fishing-handlines/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/fishing-with-floss/

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

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/bcb-fishing-kit-as-good-as-it-gets/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/lightweight-fishing-rods-reels/

07/05/2017: From Dawn to Dusky # 8: Upper Spey to West Arm is somewhere between 4 and 6 hours, nearer six for me these days. There have been a number of contradictory signs over the years. As the last hour or so is on a hard gravel road, and much of the walk is along flattish river banks and this is your last day,  there is a temptation to hurry. Most likely all this will achieve will be to finally tear your feet to pieces (especially your toenails) and you will miss or have to wait for the bus/boat anyway, so chill out and enjoy the scenery along the beautiful Spey River valley.

The mountain which hangs over Upper Spey resembles one of the Easter island heads.

Upper Spey sunset.

The colours are beautiful.

Leaving Upper Spey in a dewy dawn. The orb spiders have been hard at work on the coprosma.

Detail of the orbs and fruit.

Lots of duckboards at the beginning. This used to be quite swampy patch in years past.

All day is just a gentle incline following the Spey River valley downhill.

With some hobbity bits.

The Spey is a pretty little river. You can walk along in it for kilometres instead of on the track when the level is low. Good trout fishing too!

Bryn just could not resist the temptation to revel in some Fiordland mud one last time!

Eventually I tire of walkwires. There are three this day. The very last one over the Dashwood Stream I chose to wade.

But as I have said before, Bryn just loves them! That stream is really steaming...

A light in the forest.

Still a few muddy patches.

Spey river scene.

Lunch by the Spey River.

Easy fishing.

The very last walkwire over the Dashwood Stream.

One last glimpse of the Spey River

And we are out on the Wilmot Pass Rd - the end of the Dusky Track! We have made it!

Wilmot Passs Rd at the end of the track - with Steve Hutcheson 2012.

Bryn 2008.

An enigmatic Kiwi sign on the Wilmot Pass Rd echoes our feeling exactly!

Just in time to catch the Doubtful Sound bus - you wish!

 

Wilmot Pass - just a couple of kilometres off-route towards Doubtful Sound. When they were constructing this road in the 1970s a bulldozer driver saw  a live moose cross right here.

View of Doubtful Sound from Wilmot Pass, not such a clear day, unfortunately.

The Mica Burn.

Likewise.

 

Here we are at West Arm. Methinks they have cold beer on that 'real journeys' boat.

Inside the Manapouri Power Station hundreds of metres underground at West Arm. Unfortunately you can no longer see this.

 

I was right: A well-earned beer on the boat across Lake Manapouri.

Heading back to 'civilisation'.

It is a beautiful lake.

Hitching back to Te Anau from Manapouri 2012.

Fiordland Birds: An Aside: If you thought it was quiet (and peaceful) walking the Dusky track and that you don not see anything but a handful of birds as you traversed it, that's because New Zealand has lost 99% of 99% of its birds. Most were eaten by stoats or possums. This is a stoat trap along the Spey River intended to catch some of these pests. in places where there are lots of such traps and they are regularly checked (such as the South Coast Track) the birds are very slowly making a comeback - but it will be touch and go. Do not interfere with a stoat trap as someone has done here.

You are lucky to get snaps of more than a handful of birds, such as these:

 

It is such an awful change from what I am used to in the Gippsland bush, Victoria where you are likely to see up to 500 bird species, and at any time walking =in the bush there are probably fifty birds visible and audible of probably upwards of a dozen species - almost more than you are likely to see in a lifetime in Fiordland. They have a plan t recover their bird life. I hope they succeed with it.

02/05/2017: From Dawn to Dusky #7: You have a big climb and descent today: over a kilometre up and then down again from the Kintail Hut to the Upper Spey Hut. You don't have to worry. Though it takes me longer now, I did this section in 2006 when I was a mere 58, the first time I walked over Centre Pass, in five hours. I'm afraid today it takes me nearer 7. Still good to be out there. If you are young and fit and get an early start it might be possible for you to walk all the way from here to West Arm and catch the last boat across Manapouri (about 5:15, but don't quote me). I know I just missed it in 2006, and I was really hanging out for a cold beer in the Moose bar Te Anau after nearly two weeks in the wet forests of Fiordland!

Resting in the Kintail Hut with Steve Hutcheson 2012.

Crossing the Seaforth: I usually walk across the river at this point, but Bryn actually prefers walk wires!

My turn.

Beautiful flat stalking to begin with: one of the denizens seems to have lost something.

The track follows the Kintail stream upwards towards Centre Pass.

The Kintail Stream is quite gorgey. There are many beautiful views of water crashing down.

Like this.

The walkwire across the Kintail Stream. I find this the most frightening of the trip. It is so long, such a long way down and car sized rocks below with water torrenting over them should you fall. Bryn just finds it fun! If the stream is low you can cross in the stream below.

High on the face overlooking Tripod Hill and the Gair Loch there is a huge 'new' slip. You can see plants are beginning to colonise it. look out for moose browse on fuchsia here in 20 years' time!

You would not want to be here when this slip formed. Unfortunately (or fortunately if you are a moose - due to the edible regrowth) slips in Fiordland are very frequent. The 'Christchurch' earthquake of a few years back created thousands of them. They are as unavoidable as being struck by lightning but if you can you should avoid overhangs. that being said, I have never walked the Dusky without hearing a number of them!

The track becomes steeper. 

A bit of a scramble in places.

And steeper. Some places it is so steep you have to climb up a chain for support. Bryn Jones. But it is nowhere near so bad as the descent from lake Roe to Loch Marie. Soon you break out into leatherwoods and then into extensive snowgrass tops.

The mountains tower over you. There are many beautiful views back down along the Seaforth whence you came. if you are like me you will wonder whether you will ever see this view again . In 2006 oI thought I would never see it again, yet as it turns out it has become almost routine. Still i wonder whether I will ever gaze down upon Tripod Hill and the Seaforth ever again - or hear a lonely moose call. As I am quite old now, and ought to go places where Della can accompany me, this may be my last Dusky trip.

The awesome view back down the Seaforth somewhat spoiled by Bryn And me. Tripod Hill on my left shoulder.

Here it is without us. You have followed the Seaforth up from Loch Marie which you can just make out left of centre behind the Tripod Hill to the right of the Gair Loch (at the right base of the hill, then pretty much straight up to where you are now.

Finally you break free of the leatherwoods and have a view of Centre Pass - still a long way up, another half an hour or more! Some of the younger folk leave their packs near Centre Pass and climb Mt Memphis - risking the keas! I must say I have never been tempted, but then I have seen the view many times flying over it.

The cliffs certainly beetle overhead.

There are many strange plants in these high alpine meadows.

The last pinch is a bit of a climb - you wonder whether you will ever make it!

Centre Pass.

Time for a drink. You will miss that beautiful cystal clear Seaforth River water.

Now you have all that way down again to go to the Spey.

In Centre Pass in 2008 Bryn and I were visited by a pair of Kea who entertained us for quite some time with their many tricks.

I suspect they would have eaten out of our hands - or nipped our fingers off!

Again the cliffs beetle overhead.

You feel quite small in this grand scenery.

Just before you enter the leatherwoods you can turn back and view Centre Pass one last time. There is an hour or so of tree-root hopping to go - nowhere near so bad as the descent from lake Roe to Loch Marie though.

There is a substantial slip to cross. You may not be able to see the markers on the other side - look out for the cairns.

Finally you are down to flat going along the Spey River.

The Dusky still has the odd muddy patch awaiting you.

Finally you arrive at the Upper Spey Hut. Your last night in the wilderness of Fiordland. Time for a feast on all your remaining food (except tomorrow's lunch and breakfast).

02/05/2017: From Dawn to Dusky #6: Loch Marie to Kintail is another long section much like coming up from Supper Cove. It takes me 7-8 hours, but I am not a racer. Much of the trip is walking along pleasant river flats. Some of the clearings are so big you have to look out for the (large) triangles on the other side. There would be pleasant camping along this section, as in similar parts of the trip up from Supper Cove. I have seen fish in the river above Loch Marie, and there is a mounted photo on the wall of the Loch Marie hut of one such caught in the upper reaches of the Seaforth River above Kintail. It would also be a fine area for deer hunting during the 'roar'.

The first approx 3/4 of an hour are not so pleasant, hillsiding, rocks and tree roots, etc. this can be avoided if the river is low. You can walk up along the other side (or in the river) and cross once it flattens out on the true right bank as I have done here:

Looking back towards the Loch Marie Hut (centre) you can see it was easier going walking up the river.

You can avoid this bit of difficult going at the start when the river is low.There are a couple of  bits of hobbit country where you climb over tree roots for about an hour I guess, but it is very pretty, and not too bad.

This new bridge is a pleasant spot for a breather. It was not so nice wading across here up to your neck in the past.

There are some quite big clearings (more on the other side of the river - usually easily crossed in this section). this one complete with waterfall.

Hobbit country.

Some places you have to hang on so you don't fall in the river.

This debris gully is a good spot for a morning break.

And to check your map - you should have it laminated (as shown) for Fiordland weather.

You wouldn't want to be here when it was really raining though!

Lunch stop about half way you can get down onto these boulders and have lunch in the sunshine on a nice day.

Tripod Hill and waterfall.

 

We often stop for a break at the Kenneth Burn walk wire. Bryn taking it easy. Bryn and Irralee are both immune to sandflies. that would be nice!

Kenneth Burn.

After the Kenneth Burn there is a bit of a rocky climb around a giant slip and a bit of tree-root hopping going down to the head of the Gair Loch (which can be quite unpleasantly swampy when it is wet). After that it is easy river flat going to the Kintail Hut which is off the track a bit to the left. It is a very damp spot, so you probably won't be having a fire. You also have to walk back about fifty metres to get a sat phone signal.

The Kenneth Burn 'slip' has regrown with hundreds of acres of fuschia. This is a favourite food plant of the NZ moose, and you will see many examples (mostly old) of moose browse and barking if you keep an eye out. If you are very quiet and lucky you might even snap a photo of one -- there is reputed to still be a $100,000 prize! When I was walking out in 2012 there was one spot in particular to the right of the track just about the top where a moose had obviously stayed and grazed the tops of every plant for several days - just days before I passed, worse luck!

This is the Fuchsia slip I have been talking about. Hundreds of acres. You can imagine thousands such throughout the moose range in Fiordland.

Irralee pointing out some moose browse about 2.5 metres up a fuchsia on the Kenneth Burn slip.

Detail: You can see they have bitten through twigs between 1-2 cm in diameter and broken them off. Nothing else could do this 2.4-2.7 metres (8'-9')off the ground.

A bit of rougher going heading down to the Gair Loch.

A bit of swampy going near the Gair Loch.

Easy to go down to your hips!

Looking down on the Gair Loch from near Centre Pass. The track has circled behind the Tripod Hill(from left to right in the photo) then come along the right hand side of the Loch. There would be good fishing, I imagine.

And then pleasant walking for an hour or so until you come to the Seaforth walk wire and the Kintail Hut.

Like this.

Seaforth Walk Wire. The hut is a little further along about 200 metres back from the river on the true right bank

Kintail Hut.

28/04/2017: From Dawn to Dusky # 4 & 5: The trip to Supper Cove is a side trip taking two days - but really worth it! The walk up/down from Loch Marie to Supper Cove takes me 7-8 hours. I know you may be younger and in more of a hurry - who know why? Most of the distance is very pleasant, flat walking along a river/lake. There are two exceptions: the hour you have to spend climbing around the giant slip which created Loch Marie until after the Bishop Burn (which is not too bad actually), and the last hour if you cannot cross Supper Cove at low tide before you reach the Supper Cove Hut. It is one of the nastiest tree/rock hopping bits on the whole track, seeming doubly worse as it comes at the end of a long day. Many folks have turned their knee or ankle on this section (including me), so leave early enough you are not hurrying at the end of the day when you are tired.

Supper Cove itself is one of the pleasantest spots on earth, and you should plan to spend a few days there. It has likely got the very best toilet view in the world too! You might be able to prearrange (as I sometimes have) a helicopter or the float plane to leave some supplies tied up in a bag in the rafters of the boat shed so you can extend your stay. You will be able to have fresh fish three times a day if you have a hand line, some sinkers and hooks - or you may be lucky enough to find some there that the DOC has not confiscated. You should plan on this and have some oil/Alfoil (and a little salt to taste) to cook the fish with. The Blue Cod particularly, easily caught in the deeper water off the rocks behind the hut are perhaps the best eating fish in the world. Maybe include a cheap frying pan in that bag.

In 2009 I paddled this section with my Alpacka 'Fiord Explorer'. I am not going to do so again!

There it is on the shores of Loch Marie! See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/dusky-track-canoeing-the-seaforth/

I even paddled across the lake itself though I can't imagine why now.

First the track follows the old miner's track along the edge of the lake. A few rocks, but easy going.

The loch is beautiful in the dawn.

Everywhere there is the beauty of water moving.

My son Bryn crossing the first walk wire in 2008.

Some beautiful views of the lake through the ancient trees.

Sometimes when the lake is very low it is easier to walk along the edge of the lake. Look out fro moose tracks in the soft mud and sand. Such tracks have often been seen here.

At one point as you climb around the slip listening to the roar of the water as it crashes over the giant boulders and wondering that trout can find their way past it, you will come upon the remains of the iron tools C19th miners used to make this section of the track. What hardships they must have endured.

Lots of places DOC have put in new steel or wooden bridges (even a new walk wire) since I first walked it nearly twenty years ago. It certainly cuts out some difficult scrambling up and down.

Eventually you meet up with the Seaforth River again below the Bishop- Burn. This must be about where I put in on my raft trip in 2009. There are many beautiful river vistas ahead.

Mind you there were some rapids to avoid!

Real 'Huck Finn' stuff this.

The flat going is split by an unexpected ladder.

Crossing the Mcfarlane Burn 2008.

The Old Supper Cove Hut site. Just before you leave/join the river you will see (if you look carefully) the remains of the old hut. Right in the centre of the photo you can just make out the parallel lines of the tree fern trunks which formed its floor. It was the last point you could get to by boat. It would have been a useful shelter if the river and particularly the Henry Burn swamps were flooded. It would have been a cold, wet camp to have lived in whilst you were building the track in the C19th though!

My son Bryn demonstrating just how swampy it gets between the two arms of the Henry Burn in 2008.

My daughter Irralee crossing the 'Waterfall Burn' in 2007.

The Waterfall Burn. There is a 160 metre waterfall at the top of this unnamed stream. You can climb up with difficulty by following the next gully (ie on the true right down Fiord). in 2000 the top of this higher waterfall was shrouded in mist and it appear4ed to simply fall from the clouds. It was pouring with rain and photography was impossible/disappointing. There was fresh moose sign (tracks/droppings) up this burn then too.

 

 

Easy walking, as you can see. If the tide is not so full you can still cut off a fair bit of nasty stuff. The track is usually not far from the shore (after crossing) the first ridge. If you are looking across the Cove facing the hut you will see some white rocks on the other side. if you aim for the right hand end of those rocks, you might still see a taped trail leading up to the main track when you get near. This is the view looking from the hut side towards the 'Waterfall Burn' side. The low tide at Supper Cove is approximately 2 1/2 hours earlier than Port Craig (so, if Port Craig's low was at 1:30 pm for example (as it was on 21/04/2017), Supper Cove's was at approximately 11:00 am.. You can check the tide info at the Met Service NZ before you start on the track to see whether you will be able to cross Supper Cove.

If the tide is fully low you can walk all the way across the cove. You can just walk out past the boat shed and helipad, cross the Hilda Burn, then head straight across the Supper Cove flats. Only 'thermometer deep' as you can see Bryn crossing in 2008.

This is the first view of Supper Cove looking towards the hut (unfortunately at high tide). The hut (invisible) would be almost exactly centre. See the white rocks on the shore opposite. You would aim just to the right of them if you were walking across at a lowish tide, then walk up (approx 50-100 metres to the true left bank of the Hilda Burn) to intersect with the track. I did mark the low tide trail in 2014 with tape and a buoy hung from a tree on the shore. You might still spot them.

First view of the hut from the air (with Della 2011: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/10-days-in-fiordland/)

My daughter Irralee crossing the Hilda Burn 2009.

Arriving at the Supper Cove Hut.

This is the beautiful view from the verandah looking up the Seaforth. The moose were released on that sandbar (centre) in 1905. Many delights await at Supper Cove.

Such as fishing off the rocks for blue cod: my son Bryn demonstrates.

A Hummingbird hammock comes in handy at Supper Cove 2017: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-hummingbird-in-the-hand/

It is becoming a busy switch over point for tour boat operators.

You can often 'catch a lift' to/from Supper Cove from a a helicopter:

Or a float plane.

About 100 metres behind the Supper Cove Hut there are the remains of another 'mystery' hut guarded by a fantail. You can continue up that ridge (past the cataract) and drop down into the Hilda Burn upstream (if you are intrepid/foolhardy). Just after where the Burn splits in two I glimpsed a cow moose in 2000.

27/04/2017: From Dawn to Dusky # 3: It will take you slightly longer to walk from Lake Roe to Loch Marie than it did from Halfway Hut, though this will come as a surprise when you seem to have walked 3/4 of the way there over pleasant snow-grass tops sprinkled with myriad jewel lakes and you are gazing down on the Loch and its tree trunks just a kilometre below you. That last kilometre is a doozy!

Looking back towards the hut from lake Roe look-out reveals the way ahead towards Loch Marie.

Looking down from the climb in the previous photo.

Last view of Lake Roe and its hut. 

A myriad jewel lakes.

Mist magic.

Looking up the Seaforth towards Centre Pass.

First view of the Fiord and the sea faraway.

The last tarn before the perilous descent.

Loch Marie seems so close down there: It is. One false move and you will be there.

But it is not without its beauty.

It is horrendously steep. Not a track at all, but more like some horrific ladder mostly made of tree roots and rocks. Here and there a chain for support.

 

It is a nightmare descent which seems as if it will go on forever.

But finally it does come to an end (after 3+ hours!)

There is an emergency shelter in case the river is too high.

A very long, high walk wire if it is not quite so high, or you can cross below the walk wire if it is low, like this,

A very pretty waterfall to look at.

The lake of course with its many tree trunks.

And just a quarter hour's stroll from the walk wire the cosy Loch Marie hut on a n elevated peninsula overlooking the lake and the river - shown here with a fairly cold son Bryn in 2008.

27/04/2017: From Dawn to Dusky #2: If it took a little over 6 hours to walk from Hauroko to the Halfway Hut (as it did me this year - I was quicker seven years ago, no surprise), then it will take slightly longer to walk to Lake Roe Hut. Do not time yourself to arrive after dark. The hut would be very difficult to find in poor light as it is off-track to the right.

The view ahead out the front door of the Halfway Hut on a fine sunny Fiordland morning. Deer have kept the lawn well mown.

The same view from the air. It is a large valley. Room for a few moose there.

The trail begins: most of the day is tree root hopping (but it is not bad going) save between the two walk wires and after yoiu break out onto the snow grass tops for the last half hour or so.

Beautiful vistas.

Pretty views of the Hauroko Burn below.

Very roughly it is about one-third of the journey to the first walk wire, one third to the next, and the last third to lake Roe.

You could walk along the river fishing between the two walk wires. The track is almost always close by and in sight on the true right bank in this section.

Lunch at the first walk wire. I was in no hurry. My new Icebreaker 'Departure 2' wool shirt (http://au.icebreaker.com/en/midlayers/-departure-ii-long-sleeve-shirt-plaid/103036.html?dwvar_103036_color=301) worked wonderfully in Fiordland. It was soft and comfortable and protected me from sandflies. The breast pocket was just the right size for my pocket camera (Nikon Coolpix S7000). It was a beautiful temperature for the days' walking (about 15C) and had no unpleasant smell to it even after more than a week of wear without washing (it did get wet a couple of times though - as when I fell over in the Jane Burn for example). Once wet it did not strike cold after less than a minute, and dried out completely (from soaking) on my back in less than an hour. Highly recommended. It now comes in a beautiful green and black plaid - something for my Xmas list!

A note on sandflies: Generally they do not bother you when moving or of a night but some places especially near water they can be terrible. It is easy to believe that folks have been driven to suicide by them. Some places they will cover every exposed piece of skin in the blink of an eye. Most folks are allergic to their bites and come up like the surface of the moon in an agony of itching. There is a solution: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/insects-can-ruin-a-camping-trip/ Come prepared. I always carry extra repellent and ointment as it is easy to lose one from your pockets.

It is relatively easy flat going between the two walk wires; time for a spot of fly-fishing perhaps.

Through a serene and peaceful forest.

Until you come to the second walk wire.

After which the track starts to gradually rise until it eventually breaks out onto the snow grass tops. You know you are about there by the strong smell of deer in the leatherwood forests near this boundary.

You climb up the Hauroko Burn which becomes quite steep in places, falling in small cascades.

You begin to get views of the tops ahead and to the sides.

And the view behind down the valley is quite spectacular.

It is a pleasure though to at last start to break out into snow grass country.

The way ahead is now clear (if not well marked). it is straight over that hill in the centre.

Finally you come to Lake Laffy on your right. The hut is at the head of the lake behind those leatherwoods. As this lake empties into the Hauroko it may even hold trout. Worth a try at dusk.

First view of the hut.

Lake Roe Hut is just off to the right behind Lake Laffy snuggled amongst the leatherwoods.

Just in front of the hut a comfy seat has been provided.

The view in front of the seat is quite spectacular.

You can walk up the hill behind the hut and get some spectacular views of Lake Roe after which the hut is named.

25/04/2017: From Dawn to Dusky #1: Regular readers will know I have just returned once more from hiking the Dusky Track, Fiordland New Zealand - probably NZ's toughest and most beautiful. I have now been on the Dusky nine times. For most of its length it is more a route than a track. Take away the track markers and it would disappear completely. So many places too it goes where no sane route would take you: straight down a drop-off in the section from Lake Roe to Loch Marie, for example when any experienced off-trail person (a hunter perhaps) would follow the easier route down the Jane Burn.

You need to beware of kea in the Lake Hauroko car park - and elsewhere. They will tear unatttended packs and tents to shreds.

Most sections take all day, so it pays to get started early (at dawn - as you will need to do on the first day if you are to catch the bus and boat) as many places it would be extremely dangerous to be walking in poor light or at night. Also, being one of the wettest places in the world and with lethal changes of weather, it is essential you have some kind of shelter as you may easily find yourself caught out at night. Rain strips heat from your body 25 times faster than dry air. See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-importance-of-a-roof/ I chose a hammock and tarp as the often torrential rain may mean that it is impossible to find anywhere dry on the ground. At very least take a hiking umbrella: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hiking-in-the-rain/ It might be even more desirable and less tiring to slow your pace and plan to camp put some nights instead of staying in the huts (if the weather is pleasant). Most places, except when journeying across the tops, there are plenty of trees to swing a hammock - and if you are near a stream, there is the likelihood of fresh fish for supper - or breakfast!

Dawn breaks through clouds over Lake Hauroko

I find the Backcountry Navigator App and the NZ Topo maps which are free, really useful for keeping track of just where you are: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/nz-topo-maps-app-for-hiking-in-nz/ You can switch the GPS on on your phone to check this from time to time, leaving it usually in the default GPS off and Flight mode to conserve batteries. This way you would not walk past the hut, and might have a feed of fish as well. The Halfway Hut may be the last hut in NZ which has the old-style open fire places which were so warming and efficient. The new 'green' stoves are absolutely hopeless. I am not convinced they put out any warmth at all for a large expense of effort and fuel. You certainly cannot cook anything on top of them, or even warm it.

You should also download (to your phone) the map here: http://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/places-to-go/fiordland/places/fiordland-national-park/things-to-do/tracks/dusky-track/ and the brochure here: http://www.doc.govt.nz/Documents/parks-and-recreation/tracks-and-walks/southland/dusky-track-brochure.pdf so that you can study them beforehand and refer to them as you go along.

Especially in autumn there are often long periods of high pressure where you can walk for days without taking your raincoat out of your pack. I have found Elders 28 day Rainfall forecast for the bottom of Tasmania (http://www.eldersweather.com.au/raindates.jsp?dc=disableCookies&lt=wzdist&lc=t03) to be a pretty good indicator of the onset of such periods (allowing three days for them to cross the Tasman). By paying careful attention I have managed to visit Fiordland many times without getting wet. The GFS and NOAA’s Air Resources Laboratory also give a pretty good 16 day forecasts: http://ready.arl.noaa.gov/READYcmet.php

Finally a beautiful clear day as we chug North towards the Hauroko Hut and the beginning of the Dusky Track.

Most folk walk from South to North, ie from Lake Hauroko to Lake Manapouri. This is dictated by the availability of transport to begin/end the trek. Both ends are on a lake which has to be crossed, usually by boat. The regular Lake Hauroko boat drops off twice per week whilst there are several boats a day across Lake Manapouri. This means that if you wish to walk the track largely by yourself, you have only to wait at the Hauroko Hut for a day or two (fishing) whilst others get well ahead of you. I usually bring in some canned food to last these days, leaving them in the hut if I don’t need them where they are available to others who might be stranded there for a few days - but without causing a rodent problem. Of course you can charter a boat, plane or helicopter anytime.

Johan & Namu tied up at the mouth of the Hauroko Burn

It is also possible to do shorter sections of the track by availing oneself of ‘back loads’ on helicopters or the ‘Wings and Water’ float plane (http://www.wingsandwater.co.nz/ ) which operates a ‘regular’ service to Supper Cove at the head of the Fiord. It can land in many other places in Fiordland too, such as Lake Hauroko in this example. Another brilliant spot it can take you is to Cromarty on Preservation Inlet from where if you are very intrepid you can walk back all the way to Tuatapere or Lake Hauroko. The float plane is cheaper per hour than a helicopter and can take five passengers, so the cost can be divided in such a way as to cost only $100-150 ea. perhaps less if there was a full load both ways. This flight from Te Anau to Supper Cove would have to rank as the most beautiful plane journey in the world! The various helicopter operators can also often provide discounted ‘back load’ type fares, so it is well worth asking them about availability: http://southernlakeshelicopters.co.nz/ & http://www.teanauhelicopters.com/ & http://www.fiordlandhelicopters.co.nz/ In any case you need to take their telephone numbers with you and a (hired) satellite phone so you can call them in if you ever need them.

The Hauroko Hut, a comfortable hut a minute's walk from the lake and the burn.

Boat transport to the Hauroko Hut is usually organised with Johan and Joyce at Lake Haoroko Tours https://www.wjet.co.nz/pages/lake-hauroko-tours/ and bus transport to meet with them at the Clifden suspension bridge with Trips and Tramps https://tripsandtramps.com/product-detail/dusky-track-transport Johna & Joyce also operate a jet boat on the Wairaurahiri River (as does another operator) which has to be just about the best jet boat ride in the world (and a convenient way to begin or end the wonderful South Coast Track (see eg: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/south-coast-track-fiordland-nz-dellas-version/) You would probably leave your car at the long-term car-park at View St, Pearl Harbour, Manapouri, or you can catch a bus back to Te Anau from there.

The Track begins.

Track times are pretty fluid as with many NZ tracks. For reasonable fit people of my age (68) it is rare for a section to take less than six hours, and some will take more than 8. If you have a late start here, it might be better to wait until next morning so you won't have to hurry. That way you could also do some trout fishing in the Burn which the track parallels for many hours. It is possible to walk along in the stream in many places, then rejoin the track - if the water levels are low. The sign on leaving the Lake reckons about 6 hours to the Halfway Hut, which I reckon is about right.

The Hauroko is a beautiful little trout stream.

With more delights around every corner.

The first 3/4 of an hour after leaving the hut you are walking along on basically river flats quite by the true right bank of the Burn more or less until you come to a walk wire on a side burn. After that the track climbs and the tree hopping begins. Nonetheless it is fairly easy going until you arrive at the walk wire near the junction of the Gardner Burn. After that the track climbs around a gorge and the going gets pretty rough for an hour or so until you come out onto the flats along the Burn again (now the true left). You have nearly two hours walking along here until you come to the hut, set back a little from the stream so that you might not see it if you were walking in the stream fishing, for example.

The track begins to climb after you cross this pretty side burn.

There are some lovely views still down to the river.

And it is not without beautiful 'ents'.

It is a magical path.

Then you come to the Gardner Burn confluence walk wire

After the Gardner Burn there is a rough section.

Once you break out onto the flats again you could easily walk along in the stream fishing for your tea.

Bracket fungi make excellent fire starters when dry: some fine examples.

My daughter Irralee at the Halfway Hut 2009.

A note on getting lost: From time to time you will lose the track markers. probably about twice a day! There are many deer paths, and many wrong turnings others have taken to follow. As soon as you realise you have lost sight of the markers, Stop. Before ever thinking of panicking, have a cup of tea. My mother Marie always advised this, and it is damned good advice. Spending s a little time doing something else, then being warmed by a refreshing 'cuppa' does wonders to allay fears and settle your thinking. Consult your map. Try to work out where the track must be. Often the track follows one side of a stream or another. Try to remember when you were last on track, and how far back you think you went wrong. Try to remember the last little bit of your path. Mark your current position so you can find it again, eg by a small cairn, breaking branches, etc. Backtrack to where you think you went wrong, marking or at least noting your route as you go (so you don't get even more lost). You shouldn't ever be more than a hundred metres from where the last marker was unless you were really wool gathering and there was a very pronounced deer path (or etc) you have followed.

Sometimes it will be the way ahead that is unclear (even if you have the markers behind you.) Again, try to work out (from your map and the lay of the land) where the track must go. Make little forays forward and back to your marked position along obvious routes until you find the path ahead. If this does not work, try forays (back and forth) a little further off what you thought was the 'line' of the track until you find it. If you are starting to panic, have another cuppa! Unfortunately the 'obvious routes' are not always correct There are a couple of places (eg one below Loch Marie as the track skirts the huge slip which created the Loch) where the track switchbacks unexpectedly, and the markers are missing or hard to see, yet lots of folks have forged straight ahead making a very pronounced path where the real path is just about impossible to see. Remember that whoever fixed the markers ensured that you could always see one before or behind when they nailed them to the trees. I know many will have fallen off, but if you are 'lost' and careful, you should after less than 100 metres find one leading one way or another. You should by now have refound the track.

If you really find it impossible to follow the track in one direction, then follow it in the other. It is better to give up the idea of completing the track than to die! In the (very) unlikely event that you cannot find the track in either direction, go back to the map and try to work out where the track must be (eg it is roughly following the true right bank of a stream. If you follow the stream you will find it again (eg at a walk wire where it crosses). Be very careful walking off-track as the ground often has large holes which can open up beneath you. This whole area is an ancient moraine. You are much better carefully trying to find your own way out of a situation like this than immediately setting off an Epirb/Plb which might not work from the location you find yourself in - or the batteries might be flat! I carry both a satellite phone and a satellite messenger/Epirb hybrid (such as this: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-poor-mans-satellite-phone/). However both may fail, whilst you should always have your wits about you! You should in any case have let someone know your intentions and when/where to start looking for you. If you have a shelter and warm clothing, and do not stray even further from the general position of the track, you will be found alive, or you will find your own way out.

Perhaps the worst places to get lost are on the tops (which are often not as well marked as they might be). Frequently you cannot see the way ahead (especially in heavy rain, fog or cloud). You need to take extra care in those sections as it is colder, windier and harder to find shelter. Some folks decide they will walk all the way from Lake Hauroko to lake Roe Hut on the first day, for example. Once you break out onto the tops the route is marked by snow poles or such but they are often far apart and you sometimes cannot see the next one. Try to make sure you don't get in a position where you can't see the last one too! As the lake Roe hut is not on the direct line of the track (but off it to the right - walking in this direction) you would pass it by in the dark (which could be quite disastrous on a cold, wet night). Try not to have a fire at Lake Roe. There is very little wood thereabouts which should be conserved for real emergencies. I strongly advise people to take each section a day at a time. This is not a race. Haste will only mean you see less of the outstanding beauty of Fiordland. No-one will appreciate that you are some super hero able to run the whole track in one day as some kind of super-marathon. Such haste will also only make it more likely that some disaster will befall you: a fall, serious injury, becoming lost or hyperthermic in the dark, or etc. Plan to take at least seven days to finish this track, and allow for more like ten. It is likely to be nicer than you thought, or nastier - in either case more time will be required.

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.

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. Already two confirmed C21st DNA samples have been collected, and one indistinct photo. It is only a matter of time...

You are now one seventh of the way - More installments to come...

See also:

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/insects-can-ruin-a-camping-trip/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/dusky-track-canoeing-the-seaforth/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/dusky-track-adventures-1/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/eddie-herrick-moose-hunting-at-dusky-sound/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/eddie-herrick-moose-hunting-at-dusky-sound/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-friend-i-met-on-the-dusky-track-fiordland-nz/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/dusky-south-coast-tracks/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/dreaming-of-the-dusky-track/

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

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/moose-hunting/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/fiordland-moose/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/fiordland-moose-2/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hunting-in-fiordland/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/off-to-fiordland/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/shadowland-fiordland-video/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-best-toilet-view-in-the-world/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/10-days-in-fiordland/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/fiordland-2009/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/fiordland-nz-with-bryn/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/fiordland-april-2007/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/weather-for-fiordland/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/more-dusky-adventures/

05/05/2017: Jelly, The Smallest 4G Smartphone. This is a neat little phone – fits in your fob pocket, but has all the functionality of your regular smart phone. Only 60 grams, less than $100. It would be excellent for ultralight hiking. You might also consider it as a spare phone – if only you could have duplicate sim cards. Well, you can illegally, actually. Try Google. Personally, I am tired of phones being too big, and getting lost, broken or in the way. This is the solution: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jellyphone/jelly-the-smallest-4g-smartphone?_ga=2.148572213.380118193.1493830329-1204359062.1493816838

 

Super portable

15/04/2017: A Hummingbird in the Hand: I just took delivery of these fabulous new ultralight hammocks. One, (the lightest of course -147 grams) will be coming with me on my upcoming Dusky Track adventure. I would not be ‘betting my life’ on one for ten days in the wilderness unless I had every confidence they are a superior product.

These are the cleverest and best engineered hammocks I have seen – and I’ve seen (and made!) a lot of hammocks.  They are made from reserve grade parachute nylon and are designed, engineered and built to rigging specifications - meaning you can be confident their weight ratings will not fail you.

Button End.

The suspension system and button-link connectors are brilliant. The suspension system weighs just two ounces (60 grams) and is easily attached with the button-links. I know I could probably reduce the weight a fraction (maybe 20 grams) by replacing the ultra-light webbing with dyneema, but as this would harm the trees more, I hardly think it is worth it. Chris & Kathy have worked out the design and parameters of these hammocks just about perfectly. They have also ensured that everything packs down into the smallest imaginable packages for stowing in your ultralight pack.

Ultralight Whoopie Sling.

However, you know I can’t stop tinkering: I have already added dyneema gear loops to each end of mine so I can attach bits and pieces there instead of leaving them on the ground overnight – and I have added an adjustable centre line (these added 8 grams) to a see if I can achieve ‘the perfect hang’, though I am pretty sure the folks at ‘Hummingbird’ have so designed the hammock that you lie pretty flat in it, and the sides don’t press in too  much – more about that later.

Ultralight Tree Strap Suspension System - 30 grams/1 oz each end!

They have three sizes of ultralight hammocks:  Single 147 grams/5.2 oz - weight rated: 136 kg/300lb, Single + 210 grams/7.6oz – weight rated: 158kg/350lb, and Double 289 grams/10.2oz weight rated: 181kg/400lb. I will be using their Single ultralight hammock as emergency sleeping quarters in Fiordland (in case of flooding), and I might do some off-trail camps as well, as I usually do. It will also be excellent (along with my cuben tarp) for eating lunch on those (inevitable) wet days. Look out for a full(er) review on my return home.

Chris & Kathy also sell many hammock accessories (such as tarps eg ‘Heron’ from 243 grams/8.6oz) to complete your hammock home. All their gear is competitively priced given the high quality of their products.

'Heron' tarp.

Check out their page here: https://hummingbirdhammocks.com/

15/04/2017: 19 Gram Dyneema Camp Shoes: I just finished making this pair of ultralight camp shoes for my Dusky track walk which I start on Monday. They are made from 3.6oz/yd2 Dyneema fabric. Paired with a pair of  down socks from https://goosefeetgear.com/products/down-socks/ (approx 50 grams per pair), I should have nice dry, warm feet at the end of what is usually a fairly wet slog each day. I will post the pattern and instructions when I get back (promise).

See also: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/fifteen-gram-blue-foam-flip-flop/

 

14/04/2017: Camper Crane: As you know we have a slide on camper for our Defender. These usually come with detachable wind-up legs which are quite awkward to operate. I decided to instead suspend the camper on this crane arrangement in the old dairy for easy installation/removal. In addition, I bolted some 4”x4”s to the floor so that the truck would be forced into exactly the right position when I wanted to place the camper on it, then it is a quick and simple matter to bolt it to the deck. A couple of minutes and we are off on our next trip . See you!

 

Camper suspended above tray height. There is a crane (red above) at each of four corners.

The camper is connected to the crane with eye bolts and chain.

Detail from above.

 

This is quite a simple arrangement and really makes it enormously easier to fit the camper to the truck. I recommend you do something similar. I bought these cranes from eBay for about $150 each.

 

12/04/2017: Yarra Falls Shelter House: A reader has located the ruins of this magical place and forwarded some wonderful photos: ‘It is on the SouthWest side of the junction fairly high up, where the treeferns diminish (beneath one of the highest on the edge of the spur). It is extremely difficult to find and you could walk within a few metres and pass it.’

The chimney. The blue and white "Gentlemen" sign was found in the debris on the concrete slab and is fired enamel on steel.

The Fireplace.

Tag inside chimney.

Evidence of split timber formwork in chimney construction. Fireplace.

 

Henry Short and Robert Hoddles oil and water colour paintings of Upper Yarra Falls. Short incorrectly assumes this is Starvation Creek.

Main falls 2011.

Main fall Upper Yarra Falls 1910 and 2011

 

11/04/2017: More Dusky Adventures: I start on the track on Monday for ten days. As you travel to work on Monday, you can imagine me at the same time standing on the deck of a small boat (Nimu) chugging across beautiful Lake Hauroko en route to the Dusky. Walking the track takes seven days though if you are young and very fit, you might double up a couple of shorter sections into one day reducing the trip to five days or less. If you do not travel to Supper Cove (sheer insanity – it is the most beautiful part of the trip), it could be shorter yet. I will be taking my time, spending a couple of days at Supper Cove fishing and moose ‘hunting’.

 

 

See also:

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/insects-can-ruin-a-camping-trip/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/dusky-track-canoeing-the-seaforth/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/dusky-track-adventures-1/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/eddie-herrick-moose-hunting-at-dusky-sound/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/eddie-herrick-moose-hunting-at-dusky-sound/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-friend-i-met-on-the-dusky-track-fiordland-nz/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/dusky-south-coast-tracks/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/dreaming-of-the-dusky-track/

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

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/moose-hunting/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/fiordland-moose/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/fiordland-moose-2/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hunting-in-fiordland/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/off-to-fiordland/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/shadowland-fiordland-video/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-best-toilet-view-in-the-world/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/10-days-in-fiordland/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/fiordland-2009/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/fiordland-nz-with-bryn/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/fiordland-april-2007/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/weather-for-fiordland/

 

11/04/2017: Ultralight Travel Toothbrush: Not an ultralight hiking toothbrush perhaps. For that most folks cut their standard toothbrush in half, but this one is really good for travel, being very slim, compact and light and giving very nearly as good a result as a rechargeable such as the Braun or OralB, but without needing a power socket or all that extra space/weight. It is also very comfortable and non-slippery to the hand.  Colgate® 360°® Optic White™ Battery-Powered Toothbrush: 36 grams inc battery, comes in Soft and Medium. I have tried a heap of battery powered toothbrushes over the years: this one is by far the best, smallest and lightest. At that weight too I have no doubt some people will take it (and some floss) hiking too. The floss can come in handy for repairs, or for fishing: http://www.colgate.com.au/en/au/oc/products/toothbrush/colgate-360-optic-white-battery-powered-toothbrush

 

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/cf/1e/31/cf1e3199766e956a370ca26c5203afb1.jpg

See also:

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/self-threading-needles/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/fishing-with-floss/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/four-gram-fishing-handlines/

10/04/2017: You may want to get a pet raccoon after this: https://laughingsquid.com/two-raccoons-hilariously-playing-with-soap-bubbles/  

10/04/2017: Guy Builds Water Cooled, 72,000 Lumen LED Flashlight and Takes it for a Nighttime Stroll: http://twistedsifter.com/videos/water-cooled-72000-lumen-led-flashlight/

 

09/04/2017: Super Simple Trail Meal: Take one packet of Ainsley Harriot's Spice Sensation Cous Cous (100 grams) 1492 kj (352 calories) plus ½ packet (65 grams) Craisins Fruit & Nut Trail Mix 1389 kj(332 calories) Totals (165 grams) 2881 kj (684 calories) = 4.14 calories per gram. Just boil 2/3 of a cup of water (approx 6 mls meths) and add to the couscous, stir and wait a couple of minutes for it to fluff up, toss through the trail mix. Eat. Delicious!

https://img.tesco.com/Groceries/pi/945/5050665005945/IDShot_540x540.jpg

https://buy.oceanspray.com/getmetafile/b846bbea-1c5c-478b-a872-f8038ef54e96/Ocean-Spray-Trail-Mix-Fruit---Nut-8-oz?maxSideSize=700

 

08/04/2017: The Thylacine Returns: Here’s hoping that ‘Tassie’ follows the Night Parrot and other such ‘beasties’ back from extinction. We once tried to hunt ‘The Inverloch Tiger’ with hounds, but the hounds just would not give chase, and only behaved very strangely. Perhaps this was because it really was something different (from the foxes and deer they were used to trailing) - as I understand hounds have to be specially trained eg to hunt big cats such as mountain lions in the US. On the oher hand I have encountered both a striped fox and a striped dingo over the years, so I will wait until they have the ‘snark’ in their hands before I agree ‘Tassie’ is back from the dead: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-24/tasmanian-tiger-sightings-spark-scientific-study/8383884

Benjamin, the last thylacine in captivity, at Beaumaris Zoo Hobart in 1933.

06/04/2017: Catching Your Breath - Walking Uphill: I am often gob-smacked by just how bright Willis Eschenbach is, but THIS observation was astonishing. Could breathing OUT more combat the breathlessness you get by strenuous walking uphill. I tried this out on my recent hunting trip, and it’s TRUE. I was able to walk in one go to the top of hills I normally have to pause several times to ascend and arrive completely NOT out of breath. Try it yourself: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/09/23/catching-my-breath/

The 'Road' to Lobuche.

'He said “You’re not breathing out enough.”

He explained that particularly when we’re swimming, but also with any exercise, people usually end up panting, taking very rapid, shallow breaths. We focus on breathing in, on forcing more air into our lungs. He said that the way to break that habit was simple—when you start running short of air, don’t mess with the in-breath, just breathe out for one count longer.

He pointed out that when we swim or run, we usually fall into a pattern. With me, when I swam I breathed out and then took an in-breath with every alternate stroke of my arms. He said when I ran short of air, there was no need to mess with the in-breath—what I had to do was just add one more beat to the out-breath. So for example, if I was running, I was in the habit of breathing in for two steps and out for two steps. When I started running out of breath, I needed to lengthen my out-breath to three steps … and then if that wasn’t enough, lengthen the out-breath to four steps, and so on.

And that was it. There’s no need to make any alteration to the in-breath, we’re all really good at that part. Filling up the lungs isn’t the problem, it’s emptying the lungs.'

Another useful breathing technique: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/breathing-trick-that-puts-you-to-sleep-in-seconds/

First Published on: Sep 29, 2013

06/04/2017: Breathes There The Man... from The Lay Of The Last Minstrel

Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832)

 

Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,

Who never to himself hath said,

'This is my own, my native land!'

Whose heart hath ne'er within him burned,

As home his footsteps he hath turned,

From wandering on a foreign strand!

If such there breathe, go, mark him well;

For him no Minstrel raptures swell;

High though his titles, proud his name,

Boundless his wealth as wish can claim;

Despite those titles, power, and pelf,

The wretch, concentred all in self,

Living, shall forfeit fair renown,

And, doubly dying, shall go down

To the vile dust, from whence he sprung,

Unwept, unhonoured, and unsung.

05/04/2017: Breathing Trick That Puts You to Sleep in Seconds: I always go straight to sleep as soon as my head hits the pillow, but I know some people toss and turn, especially in the wilds. Here's how to go out to it just like flicking a switch:

1. Before you begin, place the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth just above your teeth and keep it there throughout the exercise.

2. Exhale completely through your mouth quite forcefully so you make a "whoosh" sound.

3. Close your mouth and inhale quietly and softly through your nose for a mental count of four.

4. Hold your breath and count to seven.

5. Next, exhale completely through your mouth, making another whoosh sound for eight seconds in one large breath.

6. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three times for a total of four breaths.

http://www.popularmechanics.com/home/how-to/a15524/sleep-breathing-technique/

A good pillow is a big help. here's one I use:

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/exped-ultralight-pillow/

Another useful breathing technique: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/catching-your-breath-walking-uphill/

03/04/2017: An early morning reflection:

 

.

02/04/2017: Saw my first waterspout today! It was only a small one, about a metre high, and it appeared suddenly while we were gazing at the Mitchell River, at the Mitchell River Silt Jetties where the river flows into Lake King. Of course, I didn't have my camera to hand and this picture was taken after the event....and no doubt I missed the only chance I will ever have to photograph one...but it was so exciting! There was no wind detectable and I heard a sound very similar to leaves in a willy willy. Then the spout appeared, a twirling vortex of misty spray dancing about a metre high above the water surface. I stood mesmerized (well, apart from calling to Steve to "Look at that" without any indication of what "that" was). We both gazed transfixed as it danced on past us and then meandered over to the other side of the river, taking about 2 minutes or so before it disappeared. I was sure that it was a "watersprite ", a word that came go me from Shakespeare, I suspect. My googling of the phenomenon threw up the more mundane term "spout", but it will always be a magical sprite to me after taking 63 years to show itself! Must be time for a unicorn sighting next!

Image may contain: sky, tree, plant, cloud, outdoor, nature and water

01/04/2017: Blond Bay, Roseneath Reserve, Hollands Landing…Gippsland is just magical. Where else can you drive right to a wild lakeshore amongst the banksias to camp for the night, be serenaded by vast flocks of black swans (and the occasional bark of a hog deer) then be woken to a glorious sunrise where waterbirds hunt the dawn? (And with an internet connection!)

Spot is mesmerised by it too.



Pelican at Holland’s Landing.


Gulls scour the surface watching for minnows rising.



Then drop and pounce.


A family of divers on their morning swim.


A gull combs the surface: So many birds.

31/03/2017: More Gippsland Secrets: Here are another half dozen beautiful Gippsland places that I love

 

Sale Common: This is a truly wonderful walk starting at the old Port (on the right as you enter Sale from the West). You can easily spend a whole day meandering along its many paths and enjoying breathtaking wildlife views just a toddle from the town centre.

 Ross Creek: A little more out-of-the-way. As you travel up from Erica/Walhalla to Woods Point, after you pass the Mt Victor Spout on your left you will see a number of tracks marked Ross Creek. You should take the last (third) of these (which has the gentlest incline). At the end of the track walk up the creek to the ruins of this delightful C19th mining settlement.  This is a huge boiler which the forest is making its own.

 Macailster Gorge: You will have to canoe down the Macalister from Basin Flat to Cheynes Bridge river height permitting (or walk downstream from Burgoyne's Track). The cliffs which mark the beginning of the gorge have a distinctive Chinese look.

Snowy Bluff: Again this is a walk into one of our fabled 'wilderness areas'. The Mt Darling-Snowy Bluff Wilderness was set aside by Joan Kirner back in the 1980s. Few people visit. You walk in from Dimmock's Lookout on the Mt Howitt Rd above Arbuckle Junction. The going is thick in places as the road has overgrown (this will lessen as more people make their way to it). It is better treated as an overnight trip. There is water in the Mt Darling creek (right of photo). So many things named after Governor Darling.

Wingan Inlet: Little Cormorants make their home right at the inlet's mouth. You access this trip (on good gravel roads) from Cann River. So many beautiful things to see along the Croajinalong Coast.

Combienbar: In East Gippsland is one of those places you have often seen the turn-off to but never ventured nearer. Do! It is a place of utterly astounding beauty.

See also:

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/gippslands-hidden-secrets/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-great-gippsland-circuit/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/gippsland-pack-rafting-routes/

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

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/canoeing-the-thomson-river-gippsland-victoria/

30/03/2017: Cooking for men? Or you could try Steve's Nepali Dahl Soup. Now with Della’s ‘seal of approval’!

 

29/03/2017: From Shirt To Puffy: Imagine a light shirt that automatically puffs out into a jacket when the temperatures drop. A textile lab is working on a fabric to do just that. This is a step upwards from the inflatable clothing I have written about before. I think it still has a way to go before it replaces wonderful down garmens such as Montbell’s, but it sure is an interesting development: https://gearjunkie.com/watch-fabric-transform-t-shirt-puffy

 

Like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-shuegwsrI

 

See also:

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/unbearable-lightness-of-being/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/inflatable-insulated-clothing/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/montbell/

 

29/03/2017: Some good news: Brownie The Town Dog's Grave.

Owned by no one but beloved by all, Brownie was a good dog: http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/brownie-the-town-dog-grave  

28/03/2017: New Ultralight Survival Shelter: Terra Nova Superlite Bothy Bags. There are occasions when you just may not survive unless you have a roof, even when you are planning to arrive at a hut or paid accommodation (See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-importance-of-a-roof/) If you are not carrying a tent (or even an umbrella See eg http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hiking-in-the-rain/ or http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-umbrella-redesigned/)  you should think about one off these. This new model from Terra Nova weighs only 253 grams, shaving 100 grams off the one I own. I carried this one: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/survival-shelter/ on my Everest Base Camp walk (see eg: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/i-saw-below-me-that-golden-valley/)

It weighed 350 grams which may seem a lot to haul 5 ½ kilometers into the sky when I didn’t need it! Then again, I haven’t needed a funeral plan yet either, and I’m not complaining! http://www.terra-nova.co.uk/tarps-bivis-bothies/all-bothies-bothy-bags/superlite-bothy-2/

Available at Massdrop right now for US$79.99: Superlite Bothy Bag

Superlite Bothy 2

For 2 people

Fabric: 70gsm polyester with PU coating

Silicone-coated fabrics

Dimensions, packed: 5.1 x 4.3 in (13 x 11 cm)

Weight: 8.9 oz (253 g)

If you were sitting on your Neoair Xlite Women's in there on your CycloneChair you should survive the night in warm clothes even if it gets down well below freezing, and the rain is pouring down - otherwise you would die!

Superlite Bothy 4

For 4 people

Dimensions, packed: 7.9 x 4.7 in (20 x 12 cm)

Weight: 14.1 oz (400 g)

28/03/2017: Snow Goose is Good food: Absolutely. I’m sure there are many interesting ‘bush meats’ might be added to that cornucopia too here in Oz. Throw for koala, echidna, platypus…on the barbie: http://maggiesfarm.anotherdotcom.com/archives/29657-A-Snow-Goose-is-good-food.html Includes recipes!

 

27/03/2017: Astronaut who walked on the moon: ‘why I know aliens haven’t visited Earth’. I thought it was a great headline too. I really liked his argument. But there is much more to Alan bean than that. He is also a gifted artist who encompasses real moon dust in his works: http://www.news.com.au/technology/science/space/astronaut-who-walked-on-the-moon-why-i-know-aliens-havent-visited-earth/news-story/cf021030a1a1b21d712512eb118d6b61

 

27/03/2017: Ultralight Keyboard Warriors: I took a side-trip to Reddit to re-post some of my ideas/adventures thinking ‘like minded’ people there might be interested, people at such sub-reddits as Bushcraft, Ultralight, Wilderness Backpacking, Camping and Hiking for example. You would think so, wouldn’t you? There was considerable interest from the readership, as you might imagine.

 

Unfortunately, like much of the media, these ‘sub-reddits’ are controlled by a small clique of control-freaks and extremists – by and large very rude people as well! Even though I sought (and gained) prior approval to share these posts from their ‘moderators’, nonetheless they were universally condemned and/or removed by the moderators and their extremist allies even though clearly the great majority of Reddit readers (ie 19 out of every 20) just came over for a look and most stayed for a much longer visit –and I thank them for it! The clique staged a massed campaign of ‘down-voting’ as well as frivolous, rude and contemptuous commenting – this from folk who have not a shadow of our bush experience - and much of it carried on in secret (from the 'community') in that it occurred after my posts were taken down in contravention of an expressed promise otherwise. I should mention that neither the moderator at MYOG or Trail Meals acted like this, indeed quite the contrary (and thank you) - but there are many negative commentators nonetheless who serve only to alienate people like me from engaging with Reddit.

 

If such social media is to persist, the 95% need to wrest control from the 5%, else it will ultimately fail, or society itself will fail. This extremist ‘cell’ revolutionary method has ever been the means by which democracy has been overthrown by fascists, communists and other enemies of society. Evidently much the same behaviour applies also at Twitter. Facebook (with its emphasis on ‘liking’) seems much friendlier. Pinterest and Instagram even moreso.

 

Needless to say, I will be abandoning Reddit. It is (at least as presently constituted) a quite anti-social ‘social medium’, and I suggest you also avoid it, as it is likely only to upset you, as it has me. I will concentrate on improving the acessability of my site.

 

I noticed, whilst this was going on, that for some mysterious reason Word Press has shrunk nearly all my photos (some so that they are almost impossible to make out). It is a mysterious vehicle. Apparently you can click on them to see a larger version, but I’m sure people would like a larger, clearer image at the outset – so, I will work my way gradually through the nearly 900 posts and enlarge all the photos, many thousands of them. This may take some time, and naturally posting will be a bit lighter while I get this done.

 

I also noticed that the meta tags (at the bottom of each post - which is what helps the search engine find the post when you do a search for a particular topic) are missing on most of my posts. A search engine therefore might not find some of my ‘camp shoe’  or ‘South Coast track Fiordland’ & etc posts (to give an example), even though there might not be any other appropriate posts anywhere on the net on that topic. This is an even bigger job and will take some time. Please bear with me.

 

Oh, and thank you for your continuing support (including many messages of such) here at ‘The Ultralight Hiker’. So far I have only ever had one slightly negative comment which was down to poor wording rather than malice – which is nice. As I’m sure you understand, this blog is ‘a labour of love’. Such support is appreciated.

 

Meanwhile, my wonderful new NBN interent connection is playing up again (as always) and is just so slow. I need to see if I can negotiate with the ISP/NBN to get this improved. The ‘information super highway’ is just crawling along here…No doubt others have the same problem.

23/03/2017: Breakfast this morning: Growlers on the Western Tyers: even with an internet connection (external antenna) so that I could send these pics! The two river views are outside my 'bedroom window'. With Spot & Tiny. Off to Kirchubel today!

The river is just outside the window:

View upstream:

Image may contain: plant, tree, outdoor, nature and water

View downstream:

Image may contain: plant, tree, outdoor, nature and water

23/03/2017: Ultralight Glasses Case: 12 grams: If you have got to my age (or had other bad luck) you no doubt need glasses. I now wear progressive frameless titanium glasses (14 grams) all the time, but I also need a spare pair in case I lose or break them. The quite lightweight case they came in from Zenni weighs 47 grams (blue below). I knew I could do better. Like this:

As you can see I have also managed to fit in a pair of clip on sunglasses, Weight 4.5 grams eg to prevent snow blindness!

This is 350 ml (12 oz) PET drink bottle I cut down with a craft knife (I should have left a tiny bit more of the neck) and some bubble wrap = 12 grams, a saving over over an ounce ie more than the weight of a muesli bar on the trail, or more than enough weight of fuel (metho) to cook a meal. Every little bit of weight saved helps lighten the load and means you can go a little bit further, easier. I could have even cut down on the (used) bubble wrap a little more.

Here it is compared with my old glasses case.

2016-09-11-15-15-04-comp

Indeed switching to these frameless glasses (two pairs) also saved me over an ounce (28.5 grams)! I have simply rolled the glasses up in the bubble wrap and squeezed them through the neck. These flexible titanium frames are quite difficult to break anyway: you can just about stand on them, so they will be fine in the ‘possibles’ bag in my pack.

This ultralight glasses case has been safely stowed (without any due care) in my pack now for over a year and maybe a thousand miles. All its contents came out perfectly for a photo this morning.

See also:

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-spare-glasses/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/zenni-the-hearing-company/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/securing-hearing-aids/

22/03/2017: O’Shanessy Aquaduct Trail:

 

Upper Yarra Track Side Trip: This excellent trail which parallels the Warburton-Lilydale Rail Trail for most of its length is an alternative way to begin or end the fabulous Upper Yarra Track.

 

It starts/ends at the original weir built in 1914 just below the current large dam which is probably 20 times the original size. Then continues for about 40 km until it meets up with the aqueduct from Badger weir Healesville. You can now walk along the decommissioned section. There is an internet page about the story. http://oshannassyaqueduct.weebly.com/

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-hTrsYxT9VcE/UCH17xjUipI/AAAAAAAAJMQ/J7X4hZkWku4/s1600/Mt+Lofty,+O%27Shannassy,+Aug+3+and+8+2012+083.JPG

 

The trail runs in parallel with the Warburton Rail Trail, however, the O’Shannassy Trail is set into the mountain ranges, and therefore provides a different perspective to the environment. Surrounded by tall trees, and ferns, the trail follows the historic open channelled O’Shannassy Aqueduct, and allows for spectacular views of the Yarra Valley.’

http://bpadula.tripod.com/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderpictures/oshannassy1920.jpg

 

Warburton is in the middle of the trail. The trail is on the north side of the Yarra. About 700 metres from the Yarra to the aqueduct on a well marked path. It's a good alternative to the rail trail and you can also access the weir from the Warburton -Woods Point Road about 15 km east of Warburton. There is a locked gate there which was closed to walkers until about 4 years ago but now there is a 6 km walk, that goes along a road then follows a pipeline.

 

http://oshannassyaqueduct.weebly.com/uploads/6/9/6/7/6967277/4651572_orig.jpg

 

If you finished the Upper Yarra Track at Big Pats Creek, you could walk into Warburton, then cross the Yarra and go up hill on Yuonga Rd to the trail. At the other end you would get off at Parrot Rd, walk along McMahons Rd, Healesville-Dalry Rd and Koo Wee Rup Rd and rejoin the Warburton-Lilydale Rail Trail for the walk in to Lilydale Railway Station.

 

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-OM1766YxnlI/U_ugbrUYVlI/AAAAAAAAPK0/XgszizCzN40/s1600/O%27Shannassy%2BYuonga%2BAug%2B23%2B2014%2B013.JPG

 

If you are exiting the Upper Yarra Track from Big Pat's Creek Road you could instead of walking towards Warburton turn right and head upriver for a couple of kilometres to Cement Creek road and that takes you to the aqueduct via a place called Redwood Forest that has become really popular and has a huge cleared area for camping plus the clear cement creek. Map available here: http://www.visitwarburton.com.au/activity/oshannassy-aqueduct-trail

20/03/2017: The Ultralight Trail Baker: You can make a baking stand (‘the Flashbaker’) out of aluminium flashing.  You just need to cut a circle a little smaller than your pot and leave three approx 1 ½” ‘legs’ on the outside of the disc which you fold down to support whatever you are cooking. (OK, this one has four legs!) This works well with a thick dough. I have often made ‘damper’ in my cook pot with such an arrangement. My original flashing ‘baker’ weighs 13.5 grams.

 

 L to R: Snowpeak 1400 ml Titanium Cook pot Frypan Lid, Brasslite Turbo 1D Stove, Brasslite Traillbaker, ‘Flashbaker’,  Evernew Titanium Sierra Cup, Snowpeak 1400 ml Titanium Cook Pot

 Or you can also buy Brasslite’s excellent ‘Trailbaker’ here: http://brasslite.com/products/brasslite-trailbaker/ which weighs 50.5 grams. It would be possible to make a suspension system for an Evernew Titanium Sierra Cup (Weight 63.5 grams) which does the same thing – and doubles as a cup (Remember the ‘Hot Lips’ though: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hot-lips/). Some titanium windscreen material (if it had enough holes in it) or lightweight weldmesh rolled into a cylinder ends joined with a paper clip would probably ‘do the trick’ or a circle of thin wire with three attached hooks for suspension from the top of the billy.

 I gave up cooking 'bread' on the trail maybe ten years ago - just got so many other recipes happening I guess, and was finding it a bit tedious, especially due to advancing arthritis. I find these  good for: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/lunch-on-the-trail/ Of course another alternative is 'Johnny Cakes' or 'fried scones' - a great colonial Australian favourite, and a favourite with me for many years too!

The ‘Flashbaker’ just goes in your normal cook pot. This is all you need (except for a simmer stove. I use these: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/alcohol-simmer-stoves/) You don't need two pots at all, one inside the other. Of course this only worked with a stiff dough which sits on the baking disc or stand. If you want to bake a cake, or something with a runny dough, you will need something like the Trailbaker or Sierra Cup (above)

PS: Use a wad punch to make the baking disc even lighter. I figure you could take off at least 1/3 of its weight to bring it down to say 8 grams! Or you could make the baking disc (The Meshbaker') out of 1 cm stainless steel weld mesh. The holes would distribute the heat better too when baking bread.

I only ever baked bread (or 'damper' usually) usually to use for my lunch the next day, along with eg a sachet of tuna or some peanut butter. It is actually just as easy (and quicker) to make 'Johnny Cakes' or ‘Bannock’, maybe in the traditional way: on a stick! More about them, later…and my damper recipe!

19/03/2017: 2WD Folding Motorbike: Here’s just the thing to cut up those bush tracks even more – or you could think about walking, and saving both your money and the bush! http://www.moto2x2.com/en/  & http://newatlas.com/taurus-2x2-2wd-fat-wheel-motorcycle/44616/?li_source=LI&li_medium=default-widget

 

Taurus 2x2: two wheel drive system makes it very capable in boggy mud

 

Taurus 2x2: disassembles quickly to fit in the back of the car

 

See also; http://www.theultralighthiker.com/rokon-scout-a-2wd-motorbike/

18/03/2017: Steve’s Nepali Dahl Soup: I made this dahl entirely with dried ingredients so I could make it on the trail. It made over a litre. I had trouble eating half. Very filling, tasty and nutritious. Do try it at home first. I would put the lentils in one small snap-lock bag and all the other dried ingredients in another. This soup will make a welcome change from whatever you are eating now and is very light and cheap to make.

Ingredients:

1 cup red lentils

 3 ½ cups water

20 grams Hormel dried bacon pieces

1 table milk powder

2 teaas powdered/dried onion

½ packet Tomato cupasoup

½ teas turmeric

1 teas ground gunger

½ teas hot paprika

½ teas garam masala

½ teas coriander

Pinch groundblack papper

2 teas dried chives

1 teas garlic powder

1 teas cumin

Instructions:

Soak lentils 10 + minutes

Add ingredients

Bring to boil, then simmer 20 minutes.

Salt/pepper &/or curry powder (not needed) to taste

Thicken continental deb mash (not needed)

Comment: Delicious!

17/03/2017: Hoons: Recently we were up near Toorongo trying to work out a hiking route from Noojee to Tanjil Bren &/or to Mt Horsefall. (More about that soon!) We walked along this ‘closed’ road from the Toorongo No 3 Bridge to ‘Rabbit Flat’ (an interesting part of the world). The road had been ruined by dozens of these huge bog holes caused jointly by folks not owning a shovel (with which to drain them), no maintenance by the DOC, and sub-human 4WD ‘hoons’ entertaining themselves with plowing the road. The puddles were so deep poor Tiny had to swim them.

This kind of madness has to end. So does the policy of the DOC closing roads rather than maintaining them – a situation caused by their employing an army of university ‘educated’ bludgers who want to spend all day in offices having meetings or playing at computer screens or driving round in Hiluxes. Instead they should employ folks who actually want to do (physical) work (the only kind really) such as driving 4WD tractors and actually fixing the roads and/or creating and maintaining firebreaks (we have an out of control fire near Caringal this morning in an area where the tracks have also become impassable) also spraying noxious weeds and eradicating pest animals.

Neither the ‘hoons’ behaviour, nor the DOC’s strikes me as ‘conservation’ – if the greenies have not made that a dirty word for you too!

There was also some Himalayan Honeysuckle fringing parts of this track, a beautiful invasive plant much to be preferred to the ‘usual’ blackberries (also present):

16/03/2017: Weird and wonderful: the Strandbeest, a new life form:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gPbWSx_FW9E & www.strandbeest.com

beach robot experiment strandbeest

15/03/2017: Canada’s Great Trail: Canada has quietly been linking and constructing walking trails so that now it has a continuous trail that is over 20,000km long! We could so easily employ otherwise indoolent folk on such a worthy national project here in Australia. Much as I have been doing with this: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/upper-yarra-track-map/ or plan to do with this: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-great-gippsland-circuit/ See: https://thegreattrail.ca/

 

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-wjfRkDp3CQc/UVwQ-6KY3sI/AAAAAAAAWgM/0ReNwqoDVlQ/w659-h494-no/img_2362.jpg

14/03/2017: Upper Yarra Track Map: Here is a map showing the whole of the (Extended) Upper Yarra Track from Lilydale all the way to Moe, approximately 250 km and 8-10 days: Australia's oldest and best long distance hiking track. It could be a better map, but it is better than no map. You should be able to zoom in on it if you (Right Click) 'View Image', then Zoom (Control +) a few times. In the Track Instructions you can find suggested maps (and Apps) you should buy for walking the track. I am working on a better map which will be posted on the Track Instructions page in the near future. For further information go to: http://finnsheep.com/THE%20UPPER%20YARRA%20WALKING%20TRACK.htm 

 

 

14/03/2017: Canoe/ Motorbike Trailer: I modified our ancient 6’ x 4’ ‘box’ trailer to carry our two Old Town Pack Angler canoes and my 225 cc Yamaha Serow motorcycle. I achieved this with three simple ‘drop-in’ welded steel sections which come out/in in a minute when you need the trailer for something else -  such as transporting sheep. It may not be apparent that I have welded four pieces of box section to the corners of the trailer so that the two end steel pieces simply slide in (and hold down the motorcycle track). It is a simple and effective arrangement.

 

I can tie the second canoe right side up on top of the first one (shown). This arrangement proved perfectly sound even on rough 4WD tracks such as we often frequent. It gives us single car access to sections of river which we want to canoe together. I realise some aspects of it could be done much better (and the whole arrangement could be finished (and painted), but I don’t need to ‘get a life’. I already have one!

 

It was all done somewhat hastily so we could complete our Wonnangatta canoe trip – whilst there was water. See eg: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/wonnangatta-waterford-to-angusvale-day-one/

 

 

13/03/2017: Killer Bees: Yesterday afternoon we took a drive to Yanakie just doing some research for an idea of mind which I will call ‘The Great Gippsland Circuit’, a hiking trail which ‘circumnavigates Gippsland.

We drove down Red Bluffs Road to the beginning of the Marine & Coastal Park, took the track to the right, parked the car at a turning circle  about 100 metres in.and got out. We were instantly attacked by these vicious black bees which we at first mistook for March flies. They just wanted to sting and sting for no reason at all. We desperately leapt back into the car. If we had been on foot I hate to think what would have happened – we probably wouldn’t be here to tell the tale!

Not a pretty sight (at best)!

My parents were apiarists, so I have had a lot to do with bees, but I have never encountered anything like this before. They just attacked and attacked – even though we were nowhere near their hive. At least it was not in clear sight of the car. It was just like when you knock a paper wasps’ nest down accidentally and they all go for you – but these were not wasps. They were bees. They left black stings in the bites. I did not notice any gold colour to them at all.

I will report this tomorrow to Parks Victoria. If this is some new type of bee, they need to be curtailed before they spread more widely.

 Our bee attack wasn’t quite as bad as this one though: Dangerous Swarms - 'Africanized Bees Attack and Kill Man': https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lkkUYvn0VPs&spfreload=10

13/03/2017: The Great Gippsland Circuit: A hiking trail which ‘circumnavigates Gippsland. This is an idea I have been turning over in my mind for some time. Much of it is already in place, but someone (me?) needs to ‘join the dots’, work out connection water and resupply points, camping spots, track instructions, times and a map. It will take some time – and may be revised a number of times.

Thurra River Mouth

Gippsland is unquestionable the most beautiful area in Australia (perhaps in the world) and deserves a wider’audience’. This trail will create it. There is an immense amount of work to be done, so it will take me some time (I have not yet finished work on the Upper Yarra Track yet (http://finnsheep.com/THE%20UPPER%20YARRA%20WALKING%20TRACK.htm) – but keep coming back. I will add details over time.

The Alpine Walking Track (Kosciosko to Mt Whitelaw) and Upper Yarra Track (Mt Whitelaw to lilydale) constitute one long leg of the trail. Other ‘bits’ in place include the Bundian Way (Bega to Kosciosko),  the Wilderness Coast Walk (Bemm River to Eden), the Bruthen to Orbost Rail Trail, the Traralgon to Maffra Rail trail, The Grand Strzelecki Track, The Great Southern and Tarra Rail Trail (eg Fish Creek to Yarram), the Old Port Walking Track (Port Albert), various hiking circuits in Wilsons Prom (eg Tidal River to Sealers Cove, Sealers Cove to Five Mile Beach? Five Mile Beach to Johnny Souey to Tin Mine Cove, etc), existing beach walks (eg Waratah Bay, Cape Liptrap to Bear Gully, Point Smyth Reserve (Venus Bay) to Cape Liptrap,  Screw Creek Walk (Inverloch), Inverloch to Cape Paterson,  the Bass Coast Walk (Phillip Island to Wonthaggi), etc.

Clearly the walk will be over 1,000 km long and will take 2-3 months. There will be many resupply points and many (public transport) connection points, so that shorter sections of the track can obviously be undertaken. There will be many places you can find paid accommodation, restaurants etc as well as camping spots. It will take some time to work this all out but you will survive and enjoy even if you just begin tomorrow and carry on following your nose (and a map of Victoria)!

08/03/2017: Hiking With Dogs #1: I am heading up the bush for a week soon with the two JRs, Spot and Tiny. Tiny is now 17, has slowed down a fair bit  and has failing eyesight and hearing, so that she gets left behind a bit. She still has a good nose, so she is not going to get lost permanently. As she cannot hear me call, she can be a bit hard to find, so I decided I would buy one (actually three – for US$59!) of these: https://buy.thetrackr.com/ to help me find her.

 

They work off Bluetooth and are connected via an App to your phone, so that you can make them sound a beep when you are looking for them &/or your phone can also indicate direction/distance. If you are somewhere the phone will actually work, they also have many other useful features too numerous to mention. They can utilize the SMS service, for example. They would also be great for keeping track of small children, motor cars, keys, etc.

 

At the moment they only have a range of 30-50 metres, but that is better than nothing (especially when I am deaf too!) Soon there will be a new Bluetooth Standard: Bluetooth 5 will have four times the range and twice the speed of Bluetooth 4.2: http://www.pcworld.idg.com.au/article/606609/faster-longer-range-bluetooth-5-reach-devices-soon/ which will have a working range of 120 metres and a maximum range of 400. This will make such devices really useful.

 

Of course the dogs have their own Tyvek raincoats (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/tyvek-jack-russell-rain-coat-13-grams/), down beds, groundsheets, ultra light bowls, dehydrated mince, Smackos & etc, etc. So far they have not been called upon to carry any of this gear (They are busy pointing out the deer!), but I could construct little packs for them I suppose. These ;little guys are so small I have to portage them across rivers as they would be swept away. I carry Tiny in an ultralight day pack worn pack to front (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/osprey-ultralight-stuff-pack/), Spot has mastered a trick of riding on my shoulders, like this:

 

 2016-12-07-16-35-45-comp

 

07/03/2017: Side Insulation: Gossamer Gear’s Sitlight Pads are just great for this if you cut them in half lengthwise. They can be still used in your pack’s pad sleeve but when it comes time to make your bed, either on the ground or in your hammock, these little fellows will keep your elbows and shoulders toasty warm.

 

You lay them egg-crate side down to get maximum insulation. The egg-carton shape makes them effectively 2 cm or nearly an inch of foam, and all those little hills and hollows makes them ‘stick’ to your groundsheet or hammock so they don’t move around.

 

There are three sizes available now. Mine don’t seem to be any of those. Mine are 9 ¾ x 18 ¾ ( 25 x 48 cm) and weigh 34.5 grams. This is a pretty small weight penalty for the comfort they bring – and they still do double duty as a pack frame and a trail seat! Mine are also used as my dog’s mattresses, but you pretty much need to have a JR(as you should) if this is going to work for you.

See also:

http://gossamergear.com/sitlight-sit-pad-group.html

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/womens-are-great-in-bed/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/does-spot-like-to-hunt-deer/

05/03/2017: Womens Are Great in Bed: You have probably noticed before how much I have extolled the virtues of Thermarest’s wonderful sleeping pads. I particularly adore this one (the Noeair XLite Womens) as it as light as a feather (340 grams), ‘fits’ me perfectly at 20” x 66” (51 x 168 cm) and is superbly comfortable (moreso I think than my own bed) at 2.5” thick (6.3 cm) and warm enough to sleep on a block of ice (I have) with an R-rating of 3.9! https://www.thermarest.com/mattresses/womens-neoair-xlite

You will probably have glimpsed this little piece of yellow in many of my hiking photos, often folded up into a chair, eg here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-last-of-the-mountain-men/

I am about 5’8” so my heels just hang over the edge, and the rest of my body fits its mummy shape just about perfectly – which is what you want to make an inflatable pad super-comfy. I also think the horizontal tubes have an edge comfort wise over longitudinal ones but this may well be a subjective thing.

The first point is the most important one anyway: If you have surplus mat at the ends, sides or corners your weight will drive the air there and you will sink further into the mat. This means that the mat has to be inflated more to support your weight from sinking to the ground (usually your buttocks or hips) at the heaviest point.

To me a tightly inflated mat is less comfortable than one that is less so. I prefer a softer bed. I realise this may not be so for everyone, just most people, but if you are like me you will want to chose a mummy shaped pad and cut it to just 2” shorter than your actual height (as I explain how to do here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/modifyingshortening-hiking-mats/) so that it is both exquisitely comfortable and the minimum weight!

From Thermarest’s page:

‘Product Details

The women’s NeoAir XLite mattress delivers more warmth and comfort per ounce than any other three-season air mattress available. Cold sleepers will appreciate our Women’s version, featuring an added layer of our reflective ThermaCapture™ technology for added warmth. New softer fabrics bring better next-to-skin comfort and boost in durability with no added weight. For the discerning alpinist, thru-hiker or backcountry minimalist who’s counting every ounce, there is simply no better choice to assure the kind of rest you need to get done what you’ve got planned for tomorrow. Stuff sack and repair kit included.

Ultralight: Advanced fabrics and a tapered design make this the lightest 3-season backpacking air mattresses available, with no peer in its warmth-to-weight ratio.

Warm: Multiple ThermaCapture™ layers trap extra radiant heat for cold sleepers, without the bulk, weight or durability issues of down and synthetic fills.

Comfortable: 2.5” (6 cm)-thickness, soft-touch fabrics and baffled Triangular Core Matrix™ structure provide unrivaled stability and support.

Ultra-Packable: Low-bulk materials make the XLite mattress the most compact NeoAir mattress ever – as packable as a water bottle.’

PS: Repairs: Though they are quite tough you will inevitably manage to puncture your pad. Mine was punctured within a day of my having bought it by a certain puppy (you will have met Spot if you have been here before) grabbing it in his needle teeth and dragging it backwards out the dog door onto the front lawn where he engaged in a full-blown mock battle with it until I intervened. I have found that nothing beats cuben tape (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/cuben-tape/) for patching holes in them, The cure is instantaneous, efficacious and has not had to be repeated (Spot is now four years old). This tape is also excellent for a wide range of other repairs (raincoats, tents etc) and should always be carried!

PPS: Thermarest also have a chair which will do this but I own the Big Agnes Cyclone Chair ( I think slightly lighter) which has served me as furniture for many years in many wild places: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/cyclone-chair/

PPPS: Another feature of inflatable mats is that you can get yourself and your pack (dry) across swollen rivers relatively safely with them by using them as a kick board. I have had to do this numerous times. Usually it is winter, so it’s not much fun, but if you need to cross...I usually take all my clothes and my shoes off first and put them inside my pack liner.

PPPPS:The RRP for this pad is US$159.95 if you buy it from the States and use (eg) Shipito (https://www.shipito.com/en/?id_affiliate=5249&countrycode=AU) to get it to Oz (Recommended).

See also: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-soft-pillow-and-a-warm-bed-under-the-stars/

05/03/2017: I know I probably shouldn’t like this, but I do: William Wordsworth:

‘The World Is Too Much With Us’

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.

05/03/2017: Fire Tent:

Steve Hutcheson and myself Wonnangatta-Moroka Winter 2012

Further to my post about being able to light a fire in the rain, (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/how-to-light-a-fire-in-the-wet/) I have also long toyed with the idea of carrying/constructing a fire rain hat or raincoat so that heavy rain doesn’t put out your fire.

The two occasions when it is really important to be able to light a fire are when it is very wet and cold and when there is a bushfire approaching (so that you can create burned ground as a refuge!) On such occasions if you don’t have a lighter, or can’t light a fire you’re a dead duck. Smokers clearly have an advantage here over more sanctimonious folk, and even though I gave up smoking more than a generation ago (! – there is an interesting method of measuring time) I still always carry a ‘Mini-Bic’).

Above: Steve Hutcheson and myself Wonnangatta-Moroka Winter 2012

See also: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/fire-on-the-snow/

We always camp in a shelter which allows a fire outside. A tent is a cold, creeping thing to have to retreat to when you can sit/stand in a warm open shelter, drink rum, play games, read etc in front of a cheery fire – and with a warm back! If you pitch any rectangular tarp high you can have a (small) fire at one end (though the wind tends to catch the tarp if it isn’t pegged to the ground on at least 2/3 sides).

I think it should be possible to suspend over the fire (eg a 1 metre square) diamond of eg ‘Tyvek’ @ 1.75 ounces /square yard and a melting point of 800C. You need to be careful that the fire can’t ignite its ‘roof’ or use it as a wick to ignite your tent, but this shouldn’t be much of a problem in the rain. Set-up obviously needs to be when furled (a couple of rubber bands should achieve this) so you can pitch it over the fire when it is already lit. Weight should be able to be kept to less than 3 ounces (90 grams) including stakes and guys. Tyvek, with its 800C melting point should make a good material for this ‘rain hat’. It might be better to use the material that fire blankets are made from for this purpose.

A ‘Standard’ Australian Fire Blanket (cost approx A$20 such as has lived in our kitchen for 20+ years) appears to be made of woven fibreglass and measures exactly 1 metre by one metre and weighs 427 grams, so it will (pitched diagonally - like the tyvek shelter in the photo) make an excellent small waterproof shelter for a fire. The fact that it will reflect otherwise wasted heat straight back into your tent will also mean you use much less fuel and can have a much smaller, safer fire. I would use a stainless steel fishing ‘leader’ as the guy on that side of the tent (with a ring at an appropriate point on it to secure the top corner of the blanket) and pitch the fire tent over it and pegged to th ground on the other three sides.

I see now that someone is selling just such an idea, the Fire Defender (They even have an 'ultralight' version):

http://theupscout.com/gear/campfire-defender/

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N4RRYM5?m=A2CWO6R96322MU&ref_=v_sp_widget_detail_page

https://www.amazon.com/Campfire-Defender-Complete-Kit/dp/B01M046H56/ref=sr_1_1?m=A2CWO6R96322MU&s=merchant-items&ie=UTF8&qid=1488582890&sr=1-1

Above, their 'ultralight' version

You might be interested in buying some flame resistant fabric to make your own. You could look eg here; http://www.auburnmfg.com/product-category/mro/heat-resistant-cloth/

Tyvek Fire Tent’: We always camp in an open shelter (something like the one above in he photo) with an open fire out the front. So warm and cozy even on cold,wet days. This shelter is very easy to make. It consists of a square of Tyvek ‘Homewrap’ (available Bunnings in 30 metre rolls for a bit over $150) 8’ x 8’ square. The ‘wings’ consist of another square the same size cut in half. One of these can be cut right off the roll; the other has to be sewn or stuck on (using Tyvek tape). (You end up with an isosceles triangle @ 16' x 23' x 16' on which you pitch like this. You can bring the 'wings' in towards the tree if rain/wind moves around to that direction - which it almost never does!) The tie-outs are tarp holders from Aussie’s.

I have a more compact model (shorter wings) made out of .48oz/yd2 cuben fibre which weighs 200 grams (as seen here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hammock-camping-double-bunking/)! This is my ‘always’ emergency tent which goes with me everywhere – even on day walks: so often these can turn into an overnight trip

I have spent a night sitting (on a piece of thick bark) in front of a fire in the open on frozen ground, in a light snowstorm wrapped only in one of those mylar ‘space blankets which fit inside your breast pocket (Never be without one!). It wasn’t very comfortable, and I didn’t get a lot of sleep – but I am still here to tell the tale. Expect things like this to happen to you, and be prepared!

Two of those ‘blankets’ can make quite a serviceable tent and a sleeping bag. You will need some dental floss or similar to make tie-outs: simply lasso (& capture with the material) a rolled up ball of earth or a gum nut etc with the floss and you can tie out to trees, rocks  or sticks driven into the ground. I always carry some dental floss/Dyneema fishing line in my first aid kit (and a self-threading needle – old eyes, you see) for making repairs to my clothes, (hounds sometimes!) – or myself! See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/pitching-the-poncho-warning-this-may-save-your-life/

03/03/2017: Backcountry Radio: Most radios on offer will just not cut it at all once you get a few miles from the broadcast tower. This little gem has amazing sensitivity and will pull in stations from all over the world. I have owned this little guy for over 10 years (and it looks like it). It has been everywhere with me, provided me with countless hours of listening pleasure (I’m not sure whether I have ever changed the two Duracell batteries) and kept me in touch with world affairs, weather & etc. it is the Grundig Mini 300 World band Receiver at 127 grams bare and takes two AA batteries.

It has now been replaced by the 400 mini weighing 91 grams using two AAA batteries, a significant weight saving. Here is its Amazon listing: Pricey at US$129.99 but it works, is durable, so it is worth it. https://www.amazon.com/Grundig-Compact-Shortwave-Digital-Display/dp/B001QTXKFG

Grundig Mini GM400 Super Compact AM/FM Shortwave Radio with Digital Display (NGM400B)

  • More details: AM/FM-stereo and shortwave bands
  • Analog tuner, with digital display
  • Digital display shows frequency, time, and alarm activation
  • Clock and alarm function

Product Description

The ETON Mini GM400 Super Compact AM/FM shortwave radio features AM/FM-stereo and shortwave bands and an analog tuner with digital display. The digital display shows frequency, time, and alarm activation.Clock and alarm functions are also included. It runs on two AAA batteries (not included). Other features include: 3.5 mm headphone output; telescopic antenna for FM and SW reception; internal ferrite bar antenna for AM reception; DC input (5V). Includes: owner’s manual, warranty card, carrying case, and earphones. Dimensions: 2.75 inches x 4.3 inches x .472 inches.

From the Manufacturer

M400

Grundig Super Compact AM/FM Shortwave Radio with Digital Display M400

A powerful shortwave radio with awesome features!

Super compact and light weight, the Mini 400 features AM/FM and shortwave radio frequencies. The analog tuner and easy-to-read digital display completes the simplicity of enjoying shortwave listening. Extend the telescopic antenna for better FM and SW reception and plug in a pair of headphones (included) to get a personal experience. It even has a clock and alarm function.

It's portable and versatile

The Mini 400 is a super compact radio that is perfect for all your adventures. Small enough to slip into a shirt pocket or backpack you can take it on your world travels or your daily hike. It keeps you informed and entertained with Shortwave as well as AM/FM and includes a sleep timer with alarm so you can wake to your favorite radio station. Digital display shows frequency, time and alarm activation. It even includes a telescopic antenna for FM and SW reception.

Side View

Anywhere is your playground with the MINI 400

It has an internal ferrite bar antenna for crisp and clear AM reception, anytime, anywhere. It has dual power sources: 2 AAA batteries (not included) and included DC input (5V). So the MINI 400 is the perfect companion for wild adventures or simple use at home.

Logos

Features:
  • AM/FM-stereo and shortwave bands
  • Analog tuner, with digital display
  • Digital display shows frequency, time, and alarm activation
  • Clock and alarm function
  • 3.5 mm headphone output
  • Telescopic antenna for FM and SW reception
  • Internal ferrite bar antenna for AM reception
  • Power source: 2 AAA batteries (not included)
  • DC input (5V)
  • Includes: owner's manual, warranty card, carrying case, earphones
  • Another offering: https://countycomm.com/collections/radio/products/countycomm-gp-5-ssb-general-purpose-radio 85 grams plus 3 AA batteries.

02/03/2017: My Top Five Knives

1. Gerber: 'LST Ultralight'
2. Outdoor Edge:  'Razor Blaze'
3. Deejo: '27g Minimalist 3in'
4. Leatherman:  'Micra'
5. Spyderco 'Honeybee'

I've purchased and tested numerous pocket knives over the years. This is my current top five that I use day to day (as you can see from the photo these aren't brand new and have been used a countless number of times). Each has it's own advantages depending on your need. You can read more about each of these knives on my blog by following the links below. All are modesty priced workaday tools which have served me very well...

1. Gerber: 'LST Ultralight'
http://www.theultralighthiker.com/gerber-knives-light-cheap/

2. Outdoor Edge:  'Razor Blaze'
http://www.theultralighthiker.com/never-have-to-sharpen-yo…/

3. Deejo: '27g Minimalist 3in'
http://www.theultralighthiker.com/deejo-minimalist-3in-fol…/

4. Leatherman:  'Micra'
http://www.theultralighthiker.com/leatherman-micra-multito…/

5. Spyderco 'Honeybee'
http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-perfect-keychain-kni…/

02/03/2017: Deejo Minimalist 3in Folder 27grams

This is the Deejo Minimalist 3 inch Folder weighing 27 grams (as configured). You could probably shave 3-5 grams off that by deleting the pocket clip, but you might also just ruin the knife, so don't. The pocket clip comes in handy anyway as it allows the knife to be worn on the outside of your clothing or pack where it is always ready for immediate use.

There is a bit of a story behind this particular knife. When Della and I traveled to NZ to walk the South Coast Track back in April 2016 (see: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-walk-in-fiordland/ and etc: Oh, Wow, It was so good!) when I went through the scanner I had forgotten that I had a credit card knife in my wallet, (one of these: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/small-thin-pocket-knives/ and they picked up on it - something which had not happened the last 2-3 times I had flown!

I always carry a knife - i have been a farmer for 40 years). It is just such a normal part of my life, of course I forget that I am carrying it. I just automatically put it on with my trousers every morning. I probably use a knife over ten times a day! When this has happened to me before (twice) they just let me check in my carry on luggage. This time I encountered the Gestapo. The airport police were called and they decided I had a concealed and prohibited weapon and were going to charge me. They kept me stressed out and on tenterhooks for three months over it despite my pointing out to them that they had mistaken a nearly 70 year old retired farmer for someone else entirely: a young thug or a potential terrorist perhaps. I suspect they are afraid to challenge these types and that I was an easy target.

Anyway, I found myself in NZ in the market for an ultralight knife to replace the wonderful Clive Sinclair Cardsharp (recommended, but maybe not legal!) so I just happened to buy the Deejo, and it has been in my pocket ever since. Its only disadvantage is that it is so small  and light I sometimes have trouble finding it, but it works really well, and holds an edge brilliantly. Get one.

See also: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/my-top-five-knives/

Some more details:

'Light as a feather with the strength of a pocket sword, the Deejo is wildly efficient in action, in weight, in use and in portability. It's the pleasure of a perfect fit and performance in the service of utility. Select one to suit your specific needs, taste or personality.

The Deejo Naked is the famous ultra-light design in its purest form. Three exclusive weights, 15g, 27g and 37g, in mirror-finished steel or in tinted shades of matte titanium, in three ranges of varying materials. The Deejo Wood comes in 3 species of precious wood with beautiful grain designs. From the deep black of the grenadilla to russet hues of rosewood and the curves of juniper wood, subtly peppery in scent. The Deejo Colors comes in 8 eye-catching hues, one for every style or occasion. Dress the Deejo in bright color and sharp flashes, get it in its minimalist version with the Naked, or it's most luxurious with the Wood.

Ultra-light, ultra-flat, with a 420 stainless steel blade with titanium finish. It has a comfortable Polycarbonate handle, secure liner lock system, belt clip, and ample sized chisel ground blade. Polycarbonate is a thermal-resistant plastic with excellent mechanical properties and able to withstand temperatures of -135° to 135°C. It has a high degree of transparency which filters light better than glass for deep, vibrant colors. Safely slips into any bag or pocket with ease.

Specifications

27/02/2017: Adventure Unlimited: https://gearjunkie.com/mike-horne-pole2pole-expediton

26/02/2017: Inflatable Bathtub Groundsheet: The lack of a bathtub floor is one of the chiefest comparative drawbacks of tarp camping vs tenting. I have been toying with this idea for some time. I used to usually collect some suitably lengthed dead branches and drape the edges of the tarp over them on the appropriate uphill side if rain threatened to inundate the ground.

I played with various means of suspending the edges of the tarp with mitten hooks attached to the tarp. This works but is awkward and slow with my arthritic fingers, then I thought, what if I made an inflatable tube which circumnavigates the tarp? I thought this was a genius idea till I Googled it and found someone else had already been there before me. https://www.esvocampingshop.com/en/air-barrier-tent-ground-sheet-inflatable/ Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I did come up with the idea independently though. Theirs is quite heavy and only really suited to car camping not hiking.

Before I ever looked to see if there was such a thing I was thinking mylar or silnylon (both possibilities still – further experimentation needed), then I hit on the DIY packraft site I posted about here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/new-diy-pack-raft/ and realised they could supply the materials for the tube and valve and that I could simply sew this to the edge of my 1.3 oz/yd2 silnylon tarp then seam seal the join.

Unfortunately the lightest heat sealable material (eg from http://www.seattlefabrics.com/nylons.html) is (I believe) 3 oz/yd2. I would need a tube 22’ long to circle double (7’ x4’) groundsheet. If I wanted the tube to be 2” in diameter, this would mean the tube would be in excess of 11ft2 or 1.3yds x 3 = 4 oz plus the 1.3 oz/yd2 silnylon 3yds x 1.3 = 3.9 Total 7.9oz or approx 240 grams. Good, but too heavy. If I can make the whole thing out of silnylon the first figure will become (1.3 x 1.3) 1.69 oz giving a total of 5.6 oz – or approx 160 grams. Much better.

A silnylon dry bag seems to hold air quite well though it is not designed to, so I suspect that if I glue up a tube of silnylon it will serve quite well, even if I have to add additional silicon as in this post: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/waterproofing-tent-floors-and-ground-sheets/

Why not try it yourself, and get back to me?

PS: This groundsheet will go very well with this tarp:

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/poly-tent-by-the-ultralight-hiker-on-the-cheap/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/make-your-own-tarp-or-hammock/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/henrys-original-tarptent-tarptent-for-2/

I realise this inflatable tube could be added to my Holeless poncho to make it into a better groundsheet: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hole-less-ponchoshelter/ eg for my http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-deer-hunters-tent/

PS: As with my other design ideas, feel free to make one yourself but if you want to manufacture them I would appreciate some credit.

26/02/2017: Waterproofing Tent Floors and Ground Sheets: I have mentioned this brilliant idea before but apparently I had not done a post about it. Jim Woods has this great treatment which dramatically increases the waterproofness of silnylon (or other) tent floors or groundsheets. It simply involves mixing some (tube) silicon with odourless turpentine (ratio approx 1:3), painting it on and waiting for it to dry. I have done this myself and it works well. Simple, but highly effective. More details here: A Treatment for Silnylon Floors: http://jwbasecamp.com/Articles/Silnylon1/index.html as mentioned here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/trapped-by-flood-waters/

26/02/2017: The Silverback: This is the new Gossamer Gear 58 litre pack. Total weight (Medium) 1060 grams with removable options, ie bare = 595 grams (ie without lid, hipbelt pad and frame).

This new pack is the ‘Big Daddy’ of the Gossamer Gear Gorilla (48 litre total) pack which I reviewed some time ago eg here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-gorilla-in-the-bush/ I also pointed out here http://www.theultralighthiker.com/pimping-a-gorilla/ that you could leave the aluminium pack frame at home and attach a much simpler hip belt and switch in the Air Beam pad for the Sitlight pad to reduce the weight to 644 grams, a very acceptable weight for a 48 litre pack.

If you performed the same mod on the Silverback you would have a 58 litre pack (and left the lid at home which weighed 651 grams, meaning the extra approx ten litres has cost you just 10 grams, not very much for all that space! If the Silverback lives up to the wonderful standards of past Gossamer gear packs – I started many years ago with their redoubtable G4 – and I’m sure it will, you will have an outstandingly robust and comfortable ultralight pack at a very reasonable price (from US$215) http://gossamergear.com/silverback.html

If you add some tie outs to this pack (as I did with my Gorilla: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/attaching-tie-downs-to-your-pack/) and you utilise some compression bags ( http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-tardis-folding-space/) this pack will suit you for the longest expedition. I would be able to carry all my gear and supplies for an unsupported month with this pack.

More good news: Gossamer Gear have listened to my suggestion (above) about lowering the weight of the hipbelt and now offer a much lighter, simpler hipbelt with pockets http://gossamergear.com/fast-belt.html at 82 grams and US$21. It looks something like this:

 

 

See also:

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/diy-hiking-gear/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/dusky-track-canoeing-the-seaforth/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hip-belts/

PS: If you find some discrepancy between Gossamer Gear’s stated volumes for this pack and mine, note that GG do not state the volume any of its packs above the extension collar ( approx 8 litres) or in some cases the volumes of the pockets (my estimate: 13 litres).

25/02/2017: Ultralight Hiking USB cables, etc: This is my tiny bag of cables and other electronic goodies. The cable (17 grams) is only 6″ (15 cm) long and comes with interchangeable tips (5 grams each). Shown USB, micro USB (x2) and Sat Phone charger plug (comes with, so total = 27 grams) – this will get all my hiking devices charged on the trail: phone, camera, torches http://www.theultralighthiker.com/11-gram-rechargeable-head-torch/, sat phone, sat messenger, or etc). Also see below it a 5 gram white USB/Micro USB SD (& micro SD) card reader – great for sharing files on the trail (eg someone else’s photos. Also a couple of spare micro SD cards and adapter/s and a 3 gram case for extra photo etc storage – just in case I get the opportunity to make a movie about Fiordland moose! Note to self: I can save 4 grams here! The solar set-up below can recharge  a couple of AA/AAA batteries and all these devices as I walk along.

NB: Solar charging http://www.theultralighthiker.com/powerfilm-usb-aa-solar-charger/ (well charging in general) did not work at all well at high altitude (as on my Everest Base Camp trip), though it works fine at home in the Victorian mountains (never above 2,000 metres), and usually much less – there will be a future post about this, but to cut a long story short; everyone’s batteries discharged (even when not in use) at at least twice the normal rate in Nepal, eg: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/i-saw-below-me-that-golden-valley/

Weights:

Cable inc sat phone tip 17 grams

2 x micro USB tips 5 grams ea

USB/Micro USB reader 5 grams

3 micros SD cards, adapter, case 5 grams

Cuben stuff sack 2 grams

Total 39 grams.

Solar pack setup. See also: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/attaching-tie-downs-to-your-pack/

I bought the cable and adapter tips from these folk: http://www.tekkeon.com/products.html

Some other Tekkeon tips: Adapter Tips: http://www.tekkeon.com/productcart/pc/viewCategories.asp?idCategory=15

They also sell this interesting AA charger: http://www.tekkeon.com/products-tekcharge1580.html 125 grams Uses AA alkaline or rechargeable batteries TekCharge MP1580 doubles as a battery charger, so you can charge your rechargeable NiMH or lithium batteries as needed.

They also have a number of power banks such as this one: http://www.tekkeon.com/products-tekcharge1820-specs.html 125 grams for 4800 mAh

This is a reasonable weight for a power bank (I will also have a later post about them), but my spare battery for my Samsung Galaxy S4 camera weighs 35 grams for 2900 mAh, so about 15 grams per each amp hour. At that rate of conversion a 4800 mAh power bank should weigh less than 90 grams! I need to walk around the city sometime with an electonic scales in my posket weighing these ubiquitous little guys. I have done very poorly searching eg for ‘lightest power bank’ on the net. Good luck with that! But, if you have better information, please let me know.

I figure you need a minimum of approx. twice the capacity of your phone, so likely over 6000mAh. This would need to weigh (much) less than the above solar setup or this lighter version, the Bushnell Solarwrap Mini: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/charging/ which can be cut down by about 7 grams and still attach to your pack (as above) so will weigh < 80 grams for 1,000 mAh, plus whatever the sun delivers!

25/02/2017:

Image may contain: tree, plant, outdoor, text and nature

 

18/02/2017: Found Space: Underneath our caravan sink was a mess of plumbing. As you can see a large fitting and poorly routed hose stole most of our already limited storage space. I purchased the much shorter and more compact fitting online and installed it myself (rerouting the drain hose in the process) and now have space for another storage box.

Before:

 

A comparison of the two fittings. The white one is nearly 120 mm tall and the one on the right is 35 mm.

Lots more space now:

The plumbing which remains still leaves much to be desired but it would be lots of work now for little gain (save neatness) but when the caravan was being manufactured it would have been (relatively) easy to install the plumbing in a workmanlike and tidy fashion and to have the caravan delivered with storage containers which actually fitted the space. Every caravan whose cupboards I have opened seems to have just the same issues – yet many folk paid tens of thousands of dollars (more) for their vans than we have.

See also:

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/girard-tankless-water-heater/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/staircase-for-camper/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/tray-top-camper/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/tray-back-campers-and-other-heavy-loads/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/twin-shock-absorbers/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/second-air-bead-locks/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/mobile-phone-antennae/

17/02/2017: Vargo Titanium Knives: Vargo now have a 2.7” (68mm) fixed blade knife which weighs 28 grams (inc sheath) and a 2 ¼” (57mm) folder at 30 grams. https://www.vargooutdoors.com/titanium-wharn-clip-knife.html & https://www.vargooutdoors.com/ti-carbon-folding-knife.html The RRP on these beauties is US$59.95 (though they are available on Massdrop for US$44.99). These knives would be hard to beat for the ultralight hiker.

PS: I always carry a fixed blade knife for its ability to split wet wood for emergency fire lighting. See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/how-to-light-a-fire-in-the-wet/ & http://www.theultralighthiker.com/fire-on-the-snow/

Some more specs:

Fixed Blade:

  • Material, blade: Japanese titanium alloy
  • Single-bevel grind
  • Wharncliffe point
  • Integrated carrying clip
  • Hardness: Rockwell C 50
  • Sheath: Kydex
  • Blade length: 2.7 in (69 mm)
  • Blade thickness: 0.1 in (3 mm)
  • Overall length:: 5.4 in (138 mm)
  • Knife weight: 0.7 oz (20 g)
  • Overall weight: 1 oz (28 g)

Vargo Titanium Knives

Folder:

  • Material, blade: Japanese titanium alloy
  • Material, handle: Carbon fiber
  • Wharncliffe point
  • Double-bevel grind
  • Liner lock
  • Lanyard hole
  • Hardness: Rockwell C 50
  • Blade length: 2.25 in (5.7 cm)
  • Blade thickness: 0.1 in (0.25 cm)
  • Total length, opened: 5.5 in (14 cm)
  • Total length, closed: 3.3 in (8.4 cm)
  • Weight: 1 oz (30 g)

Vargo Titanium Knives

16/02/2017: Henry Shires’ Tarptent: This is one of the best and cheapest DIY tents around. With Henry’s permission I am reprinting his full instructions here: ‘The following document has appeared in print since 1999 and details plans for making your own tarptent. While neither is as easy to set up, nor is as storm and wind resistant as the next generation Tarptents, these tents are excellent do-it-yourself projects for even the first-time sewer. We will be happy to offer tips and suggestions should you decide to make one.

The Tarptent sleeps 1+ (me, gear, +) and weighs 18 ounces complete with poles, stakes, tie lines etc. The Tarptent-for-2 sleeps 2 (or huge for one), weighs 24 ounces complete including generous beak, and has some additional room for gear. Both tents are floor-less, completely screened with zipper opening door and made from 1.1 oz silicone-coated nylon. Here's everything you need to know to make your own. https://www.tarptent.com/tarpdesign.html

 

 


Introduction

A goal of every ultralight backpacker is to carry a comfortable shelter that offers maximum protection from wet weather and bugs, while minimizing weight, difficulty of setup, and cost. The Tarptent is my solution to the problem.

 

Shelter Comparison

There are three traditional shelter types. Here is a summary of their relative performance. My rankings are subjective.

 

Type

Rain

Bugs

Weight

*Setup

Cost

Space

tent

4-3

4

3-1

3-1

3-1

4-3

bivy

3-2

4

3

4

3-2

1

tarp

4-3

1

4

4-2

4

4

 

4=excellent, 3= good, 2=fair, 1= poor

* setup for tarps is often a factor of available trees.

 

Each shelter type excels in certain categories. The tarp is at or near the top in all categories except bugs. My goal was to create a modified tarp that eliminated the bugs while maintaining excellence in all other categories. The Tarptent weighs about 18 ounces, sleeps one person plus gear, and costs about $60 to make. The Tarptent-for-2 costs costs a few dolllars more.

Disclaimer: Snowy, winter conditions create additional shelter needs. The Tarptent will be fine in light snowstorms but is NOT intended for winter use.

All in the Fabric

While researching tents for myPacific Crest Trail thru-hike, I found and subsequently purchased a tent from Stephenson (603-293-7016), a producer of very light, high quality, but expensive tents. This bug-tight, 4-season tent weighs just over 3 pounds (less if you don't get the extra window screening), sleeps 2 very comfortably, and offers easy setup. It would rate a "4" in nearly all categories except cost. At 1.5 lbs/person, it's hard to beat, except if you're hiking solo.

What really got me thinking about making my own tent was the Stephenson tent material. Stephenson tents are able to achieve their remarkable lightness because they use 1.4 oz./sq. yd. silicone coated ripstop nylon. Urethane coated nylons weigh well over 2 oz./sq. yd, some approaching 3 oz/sq. yd. While this may not sound like much of a savings, it really starts to add up when your tent contains 10+ sq. yds of material. The Stephenson catalog offers the 1.4 oz. fabric for sale. It also references the material that was used in previous model years but discontinued because of an apparent problem with the supplier's ability to meet demand. This material is 1.1-ounce silicone-coated nylon (silnylon). Silnylon is available now from several mail order suppliers, and it is the material I used to make my Tarptent. It is very strong, extremely lightweight and must, of course, be protected from abrasion to withstand extended use.

Update 9/5/01: "1.1-ounce" refers to the fabric weight before the coating is applied. Actual fabric weight is variable, depending on manufacturer, and can range from 1.3 to 1.5 ounces/ sq. yd. This variability will impact the final Tarptent weight by up to 1 ounce. Recently I have begun using a silicone-coated, "zero-porosity, high performance rip stop nylon fabric" from Aerodyne Research Corp that is used for parachutes. It's called Zero Porosity Fabric (ZPF) and the company claims that it weighs 1.3 ounces/ sq. yd. On my scale it weighed 1.5 ounces/sq yd. My last batch of "1.1-ounce" silnylon from Outdoor Wilderness Fabrics also weighed 1.5 ounces/sq yd. so either my scale is off or the variability is just to be expected. What's great about the ZPF fabric is that it has a smooth, rather than slippery, finish and is MUCH easier to sew than standard 1.1-ounce silnylon. Sort of like the difference between matte and glossy photographic paper. This fabric is extremely strong--you wouldn't want your parachute to be weak--but seems to have a bit more elasticity than standard silnylon. The 3-point rear pullout on the Tarptent-for-2 is designed to eliminate the small amount of extra sag caused by the increased elasticity. Your mileage will vary.

Anatomy of a Design

When I started working on this design, I began with an Integral Designs 8'x5' 1.1-ounce silicone coated tarp. It weighed about 6 oz, cost $50, and came with all the guyline pullouts already installed. I created a simple a-frame design, using 26" straight poles (I-poles) in the front and back. I sealed the triangular open ends with coated nylon doors, bounded at the apex by small mosquito netting vents for ventilation. I sewed one door edge to the tarp and used Velcro to attach the other edge for easy opening and closing . A groundcloth formed the floor of the enclosure. I attached guylines to the front and back and staked all 4 corners to the ground. There was just enough room to wriggle in and out of the tent and it kept the bugs out. Serviceable, cheap, lightweight, no view and no fun. It also suffered from condensation and showered on me when I brushed the material while exiting the tent. Next I decided to raise one long side of the tent and add mosquito netting along the entire length. This increased ventilation and provided a bit of a view. It also dramatically increased floor space while extending the drip line away from the interior.

Original Design                    Raised Side Modification

 

I modified the door and added guylines along the edge of the raised side at the corners and in the middle. While testing this tent I discovered that the netting actually blocks most of the driven rain. Small spray that gets through the netting will not reach more than a foot or so into the interior so as long as you keep the groundcloth/sleeping bag away from the netting you will stay dry. Subsequently I changed the front and back doors to all netting to increase ventilation and views with minimal increase to rain exposure. The original 8' x 5' tarp was then transformed into something like this:

I field tested this tent on a '98 JMT hike and it performed quite well. I still got a few drips of condensation when exiting the tent and I couldn't sit up to move around, eat, or put on a shirt. I yearned for more freedom of movement.

This time I needed my calculator and a little help from simple trigonometry. I wanted to maintain the floor space but increase the headroom without adding much to the overall weight. By raising the front and lowering the rear I added less than 7 sq. ft. (less than 1 ounce) but increased headroom by 1 foot. I'm 5'11" and can just sit up in the Tarptent. So without further ado, here's how to make your very own 18-ounce Tarptent™.

 

Materials

  • 1.1-ounce, silicone-coated nylon (silnylon) - 6 yds.
  • No-see-um mosquito netting. Tarptent: 4 yds; Tarptent-for-2: 4 1/2 yds
  • 3/4" nylon tape/webbing - 2 yds.
  • 3/4" or 1" Velcro tape (both halves) - 7" (4" if not including beak)
  • Grommet kit - size 1. If you plan to use trekking poles, make sure the grommet diameter fits your pole tips (and you may need 1" or wider webbing for a wider grommet).
  • Easton aluminum poles (.340"). Tarptent: 36" front and 18" rear; Tarptent-for-2: 40" front and 20" rear. (Note: larger poles can also be used with the original Tarptent at some loss to interior space) Easton poles are extremely strong, slightly flexible, and very light. A set of poles weighs 2.5 ounces for the Tarptent or 3 ounces for the Tarptent-for-2. Poles should have grommet tip on one end and be capped on the other end. The front pole should be shock-corded to prevent losing a section and for easier and faster set-up. Trekking poles may also be substituted.
  • 6-8 stakes. In the absence of trees, rocks, or other tie off points you will probably want all 8 stakes to pull out the midpoints on both long sides. I recommend titanium stakes as they are incredibly strong and weigh only 12 grams/stake (3.4 ounces/8 stakes).
  • #3 or #5 coil zipper w/double tab for opening from inside and out. Tarptent: 42"; Tarptent-for-2: 50".
  • Nylon cord for guylines. I recommend The Kelty "Triptease" ultralight spectra cord - 15'. Not only is it exceptionally strong and light but it's highly reflective and very easy to see. Burn the cut ends to prevent unravelling.
  • GE Silicone II Clear Sealer. Mix with some mineral spirits and paint on the seams, especially the outside (top side) of the main roof seam.
  • Scrap nylon for reinforcing pullouts. Use scrap from 1.1 oz. nylon or whatever else you have but uncoated ripstop is probably better to prevent water from getting trapped between the layers. Be sure to heat seal uncoated fabric with a match or soldering iron.
  • Home or industrial sewing machine. Be sure to use 100% polyester or spun nylon thread--I use polyester thread made by Guterman--and use a small needle size. Do NOT use heavy duty thread.
  • Pins for marking seams.
  • Measuring tape, yardstick, and scissors. Optional but very useful is a rotary fabric cutter and mat.

A good place to order materials is Outdoor Wilderness Fabrics (1-800-693-7467). Poles can be assembled from sections available at REI and other sources. My local REI did not have the grommet tips when I inquired so I had my poles custom made by TA Enterprises (1-800-266-9527) for about $10.

Pole Notes: Adjustable Trekking poles can also be used. If you turn the poles over you should be able to insert the pole tips into the existing grommets. Adjust the poles to match the specs for the front and rear heights (though most trekking poles will not collapse down to 20" and you'll have to get creative to use one for the rear).

For those using Glen Van Peski's G4 pack, the 18" or 20" Easton poles will double as excellent pack stays. Simply shove them down between the folds in the Z-Rest frame sheet. Using the Tarptent poles, I find the G4 comfort and load carrying capacity to be greatly improved

The Plans

The following designs are intended for 1 person and gear (Tarptent) or 2 people and some gear (Tarptent-for-2). The Tarptent can sleep two in a pinch but the Tarptent-for-2 is intended for extended 2-person use or as a more luxurious shelter for one.

 

Fabric Dimensions:

Cut 2 identical pieces of silnylon. Click here for printable pattern.

Cut 4 pieces of no-see-um netting. Click here for printable pattern.

Left Side (raised side)

Right Side (low side)

Front Door

Rear Door

Cut 8 identical pieces of nylon tape or webbing for pullouts.

Cut 1 piece of Velcro tape (both sides) for netting tie or 2 pieces if you're adding a beak.

 

Some Assembly Required

Place the two identical pieces of silicone-coated nylon together and stitch along the long horizontal side. Use a 0.5" inch seam allowance. The Tarptent should now look like this:

 

Now fold over each edge 3/4" and stitch to form a border. The Tarptent should now look like this:

 

The Pullouts

Pullouts are used to attach the Tarptent to the ground, via a stake or guyline.

The areas around the pullouts will be subject to stress and it is imperative that these areas be reinforced to spread the load. Cut scrap nylon and reinforce as shown :

You will need to cut scrap nylon to fit each corner and the midway point of each parallel side (the ridgeline pullouts). You can also add reinforcing patches along the midway point of each long side though those points do not experience much stress. Make each piece several inches wide/long and stitch along the direction of stress.

 

Front and Rear Pullouts

The front and pullouts are grommeted to support the Tarptent poles. Adjustable Trekking poles can also be used but be sure the grommet and associated webbing is large enough or just affix the trekking pole to the webbing loop and leave out the grommet.

Make two identical grommet loops as follows:

Fold a piece of nylon tape in half. Insert a #1 grommet near the end of the loop, through both pieces of tape, and spread the free ends as shown:

Repeat with a second piece of tape. Now, attach the grommet loops to the middle of the front and rear parallel sides. Be sure to spread out the tape so that there is more surface area to sew.

Side pullouts

Now attach the remaining webbing strips to the 4 corners and the two remaining midpoints. Fold each piece in half, turn it so it faces you edge on and then open it like a book to form a loop that looks like this:

Attach the loops to the remaining areas in the same manner as the grommet loops. Your Tarptent should now look like this:

 

Out, Damned Mosquitoes

Blessed be the ones inside the netting for they shall remain sane...

Before you attach the netting you should determine which long side of your Tarptent you want to raise up. If you sleep on your left side as I do you will want to raise up the left side (as viewed from the front) of the Tarptent so you can see out the side of the tent while lying down. Reverse the instructions for a "right-sided" design.

A Velcro closure is nice so that you can prop open the door when the bugs are low. Peel apart the two halves of the Velcro and stick them together again so that they form one long piece with about 1/2" overlap.

Sew the overlap area to the edge of the tarp, about 1/3 of the way up the fabric, so that it forms a right angle to the tarp.

Be sure to attach the Velcro to the left side of the Tarptent before you sew the netting. When the netting is held open by the Velcro it will look like this:

Now, sew each of the long pieces of netting to the edges of the Tarptent roof as shown below. Be sure to center each piece of netting so that there is enough material on both ends to overlap with the adjoining netting. For now, do not sew past the center of each corner.

Tip: The netting/nylon interface is slippery. You will want to use a short stitch length to prevent seam puckering. Practice with scrap before you proceed or you will have to rip out your first attempts. I also recommend cutting each long side netting in half and sewing each half separately. Once the tent is set up, pin and re-sew the break in the vertical wall. This will help eliminate the stretch in the netting.

You are now ready to set up the Tarptent and adjust the netting for good fit and finish. Be sure the Tarptent is taut before proceeding. Walk to the back of the Tarptent and pull the back window netting flap across until it's taut.

Pin the netting to the edge of the roof

Specifications

line. Now go the front of the Tarptent and repeat the sequence with the front door flap but leave a little slack to compensate for the zipper. Draw a line along the netting corresponding to the pins. This is the zipper line and you will need to trim the netting back to this line. Take down the Tarptent and sew the zipper to the right side of the Tarptent You will need to sew one side to the right edge of the roof and the other side to the edge of the netting.

Be sure to block the top of the zipper to prevent complete separation by sewing an extra piece of nylon tape across the zipper. Stitch over the area a few times. Do the same thing to the bottom of the zipper by separately taping each bottom edge and stitch to prevent unraveling.

Finish sewing the rear window along the pin line.

Set up the tent again and pin the corners of the netting so that they hang straight and slightly inward. Each corner should form a pocket (for placing rocks/shoes/etc. to hold the netting) and the netting should fold to the inside. There should be about 7 inches of netting to the inside of the tent. Trim the netting as desired. In the field, place objects along the netting border, as needed, to complete the bug seal.

When you have finished pinning the material, take the Tarptent down and sew the netting along the pin lines.

Options (Why? Because we got 'em.)

Sorry no moon roofs or 4-speaker stereos. But if it's beaks or floors you want, you came to the right place.

Adding a Beak

Tarptent with optional beak; beak rolls up and can be tied off with velcro

A beak is an awning that partially covers the front of the tent. I have made it a standard part of the Tarptent-for-2 and consider it optional for the original Tarptent. It adds about 1 ounce to the overall weight of the finished product. In either case, it will not be needed except when the tent front is aimed into the blowing rain. A beak will, however, allow the front netting to be left open during most storms--a benefit for increasing airflow in wet weather--and allow you to scootch up toward the front. Like the door netting, the beak is designed to be rolled up and stored with velcro when not needed.

Click here for printable pattern

 

Adding a Floor

The Tarptent is designed to have an open floor with netting border. Typically a groundcloth forms the interior. I always carry a groundcloth made of Tyvek Housewrap--a very tough and highly water resistant fabric used in building construction--and center it inside the Tarptent. My groundcloth measures 3 x 6 1/2 feet and weighs about 5 ounces.



Top-down view of Tarptent interior

 

Another option is to fill the space with a full netting, Tyvek, Silnylon, or combination floor.

A removable floor is the best of all worlds because it gives you flexibility to sleep out or in without having to carry an extra groundcloth. Here's how to make one.

Determine the dimensions of your groundcloth. Now cut or piece together a netting floor insert to match the interior dimensions of the "hole" in the Tarptent or Tarptent-for-2 (see above) and create a another hole in the middle of the netting insert that is an inch or two smaller than your groundcloth. Sew velcro to the corners and middle of the long sides as shown.


Note
: The interior profile will appear slightly different, depending on the tension of the side pullouts. Actual profile will be more square across the front end (left end in this picture) and then taper toward the rear. Create the floor insert using the "stretched" dimensions so the netting insert will not be stretched during setup.

Sew corresponding velcro patches to your groundcloth as shown.

Sew the netting insert to the netting flaps on the tarptent (except the front door) and press the groundcloth velcro patches onto the netting insert. Your completed floor should now look like this,

A combination netting/removable floor should add 1-1.5 ounces to the overall Tarptent weight (not including the weight of the groundcloth). A full netting floor would add about 4 ounces.

Finishing Touches

Set up the Tarptent again and seam seal the main ridge seam and, if you wish, the seams around the pullouts. You may also wish to sew small loops at the front of ridgeline and about 1 foot toward the rear for use as a small clothesline or flashlight holder. An additional benefit of these two loops is that they double as a ridgeline tightener.

Click here for additional Tarptent-for-2 finishing touches.

But Do I Really Want to Make One...

Since I first published this document, many people have asked me if I have any original Tarptents to sell. The answer is no because the new, next generation Tarptents are so much better. If you'd still like an original Tarptent, I've authorized Moonbowgear to produce them.

Five Months on the PCT

Goat Rocks Wilderness, Washington

I put the Tarptent through an extensive field test during my hike. For nearly 5 months on the trail, the Tarptent was truly my home. Overall, it performed like a champ and I stayed exceptionally dry and warm during my walk. I do, however, have a few comments and suggestions for future Tarptent users.

  • Over time, thin poles will sink into wet or loose soil. To solve the problem, place small, flat rocks under each pole during set-up.
  • The original design called for 6" netting flaps around the perimeter. Despite security measures, there were still times when a few mosquitoes managed to evade the defenses. If you plan to camp in very buggy conditions I suggest another inch or two to the netting width. The key to whatever width you choose is to press the netting to the ground with rocks, sticks, shoes, overlapping ground cloth, etc. Properly pinned, the netting will stop all flying insects from entering. Ants are a bit more clever and a few will find their way in no matter what you do. If you must stop ants, a full netting floor will add about 4 ounces to the tent weight and is a reasonable ultralight solution. A full tyvek floor is only slightly heavier.
    Update 9/5/01: I have ammended the plans in this document to include 7" flaps and suggestions for a full floor.
  • I sewed small velcro patches to the inside of the front door, two along each seam. Since I carried a poncho, I also sewed matching patches along the edges of the poncho. During windy storms, when I had neglected to aim the low end of the tent into the blowing rain, I attached the poncho to the velcro patches and was able to stop the mist and droplets from entering. Any piece of fabric, coated or otherwise, will accomplish the same thing. Another option would be to add a beak to the front entry area.
    Update 9/5/01: I have included plans for a beak.

The Tarptent will be forever linked with the most incredible journey of my life.

That's it! I hope you enjoy your original Tarptent or Tarptent-for-2 and please feel free to contact me with comments or suggestions.

Henry Shires

info@tarptent.com
 

Tarptent is a trademark of Henry Shires. I assume no responsibility with regard to the Tarptent's performance or use.

© 1999-2016 by Henry Shires. All rights reserved.

 

16/02/2017: ‘It is easy to forget that the memoirs of a little girl who watched Native Americans on horseback and saw herds of buffalo on the plains happened within living memory of my elders when I was born’.  Australia’s history too is encapsulated in the memories of a very few generations: I remember my grandfather telling me he had known someone who was on the first Fleet. Della’s grandmother certainly did, as her grandmother’ grandmother gave birth to a son on the voyage out. (Her husband was a soldier in the NSW Corps): http://www.intellectualtakeout.org/blog/happy-150th-birthday-laura-ingalls-wilder

14/02/2017: An Excursion to the Upper Yarra Falls: This is the third part of a 3 part article. Leader (Melbourne, Vic, Saturday 22 November 1884, page 16 The Contributor: By G. Much of it is incredible, to say the least. The author has explained the value of solitude and the preservation of wilderness so well – his conclusion: ‘It would seem well, therefore, that some steps should be taken permanently to preserve these forests in their present state.’ Might have been written yesterday!

‘After bathing in the Thompson, which we found about up to our waists, and very cold, we had breakfast, and made another start. We crossed the bridge and ascended the opposite hill. The track was good, and after a time we got among the green saplings and wattles. They were about 9 inches at the butt and about 30 feet high. They grew thickly on each side of the track, and were often fallen across it. So we continued for about 2 miles, apparently keeping near the ridge of a spur. At this point the track turned a little off the ridge to the right, crossing the head of a valley, which ran south, to join the Thompson.

Just as we got across this valley we came to a pile of huge granite holders, and from this spot we got a fine view down the valley, and up the Thompson, with Mount Baw Baw in the back ground. Just beyond there was a heavy fall of dead, timber, which we got past with some difficulty. The track was again clear for a little. It then crossed the ridge, and we got on to a sideling sloping to our left. Here we came to another heavy fall of dead timber. Some logs 100 feet long and several feet through at the butt had fallen across the track, bringing down with them great quantities of the sap-lings and wattles. The track was blocked in this way for 100 yards or more. We had to endeavor to carry our packs over the obstacle, and then find places where the horse would jump the logs, or they were sufficiently broken to enable him to scramble over them, and move the saplings for him to get there.

We loaded again, and proceeded a few hundred yards. Here we came to a worse block, and extending a long way ahead. It had taken us two hours hard work to traverse the eighth of a mile. We were then 12 miles from Mount Lookout, and at this stage R. advised that we should separate, the three of us returning with the horse to Reefton by the way we had come, he going on alone to Mount Lookout. This we consented to the more readiiy, as it would enable us to get another view of the Yarra Falls. We accordingly separated, R. taking with him a light swag, proceeding alone, and the three of us returning to our camp of the night before. R, expected to reach Mount Lookout that night. If he found that he would not get through he expected to be able to rejoin us before we left Mr. Thompson's the next morning. We could not but feel that R. had embarked on rather a perilous journey. On the other hand we did not doubt that he was well able to take care of himself. He had before travelled with me in the wilderness in a somewhat similar way. As to ourselves we felt that we had lost the best man of our party; it was due no doubt mainly to his excellent pioneering that we had got thus far.

On our return to the granite knoll we admired the view at greater leisure. The undulating ridge of the plateau, covered with foliage of diverse tints; the red of the gum saplings contrasting with the deep green of the wattles and the huge black and white trunks that at intervals towered above it. In the back ground were Mt. Baw Baw appearing as an isolated group of rounded pyramids or conical domes rising to a great height above the plateau on the south-east, and that notwithstanding that the granite knoll was 2600 feet above M'Mahon's, or between 3000 and 1000 feet above the sea, and the ground between us and Baw Baw was rising. We returned to the Thompson, and camped a second time upon the same spot.

The next day we left our camp standing and walked to the Yarra to have another cooler at the falls. We had a pleasant walk through the beech forest, the dark shade of which was set off by the straggling gleams of bright sunlight which found their way between the trees. We had lunch under a small fall. A little above this was a great fall, which was shaded by the ferns, and very pretty. We then began to descend the great fall from the top, keeping near the edge of the creek, and saw a fine series of cascades. Still, we could see but a small por-tion at once. After getting over 100 or 200 feet, we came to a high rock, jutting out on the left bank of the stream. To the top of this we climbed, and were rewarded with a magnificent view. The face of the fall was visible for 300 or 400 feet, the upper and lower portion gleaming through a pale green veil of ti-tree. Looking outwards, we could see far down the Yarra Valley a countless succession of wooded ridges, rising to the right and left, one behind the other, with tints varying with the distance.

The next day we struck our camp on the Thompson, and for the two succeeding days we proceeded without difficulty till we got to Mount Horsefall, where we found it impossible to retrace the track we had come by. After wasting some time in looking for it, we determined to act on R.'s advice and abandon the track, and try and make our way through the beech forest on the south side of the range. This we did, keeping under the beech trees, but in sight of the white logs on the top of the mount. The ground was so soft that the horse could keep his footing, not-withstanding the steepness of the incline, and in about twenty minutes we got round into our track again without any difficulty.

At tbe foot of Mount Horsefall we saw a track coming in from the south, which we had not noticed coming. We took it to be a a track marked on our tracings as Bennett's track. When as we returned to our old camp at the ten miles water, we had no oats for our horse, but he was sufficiently hungry to eat plenty of the rank grass, On reaching the top of hill where the finger post ought to have been we saw a track turning towards the south, A little after we plunged again into the dense scrub. We found it impossible to keep our former track, but finding ourselves by the ridge we fought our way through it as best we could.

We were not a little glad when we again made the Excelsior shaft. After this the travelling was easy. On reaching the place where the old track turned off to Alderman's Creek, we thought we would follow it and camp there. But finding the descent would be very great, we turned back and camped on the ridge, which the supply of water in the hut enabled us to do.

The next day we set out for Reefton. Not withstanding the rain which had taken place, the little water holes were quite dry. Going down the thick spur we had a fine view of a nameless mountain mass on the opposite side of the Yarra, whose steep and rugged sides were seamed with an irregular network of foliage. We descended the deep spur, and arrived at Reefton. We had eaten up all our provisions, our boots were nearly worn off our feet, our garments were ragged, but we were in good spirits, for we had seen the falls.

Here we met Mr. Lewis, and were hospitably entertained by him and his wife, which we thoroughly appreciated, and next day left for the metropolis. On reaching Melbourne I found a letter from R., narrating his adventures. He wrote : — " After I left you on Wednesday, I had a fearful rough walk for four miles. In fact the logs were lying so thickly together and the scrub so high that it looked as if it had never been cleared. After the first four miles or so the want of water caused me much delay, as I could not find the track, and had to guess where it was, and very nearly having to return; however, I guessed where it was, and followed it on till I come to a spur leading down to the river, when I picked it up again, the blazes being well marked here where they were not so much required.

When I arrived at the river, I saw cattle tracks along the bank and knew there must be somebody living not far off. After following it down for about three miles, I suddenly came upon a selector's bark mansion. To my surprise there were some girls outside, more surprised than I was, not only as to my state of dress, but as to where I had come from, as there had not been anybody through this part for about five years. After regaling myself with a delicious glass of gooseberry wine, I passed on to the next crossing, where a miner lives, who kindly gave me a good tea and put me on the track to Mount Lookout a distance of two miles, uphill all the way (by the clock), where I arrived at eleven o'clock at night, and was refused a bed till I convinced the proprietor that I was not a sun-downer on the wallaby track.

... It would have taken at least a week to do the four miles after I left you with the pack horse." We saw lyre birds at intervals all the way along the South Dividing Range of the Yarra, and thence as far as we went, and we also saw trace of wombats, and we killed a snake on Mount Horsefall, bnt we neither saw nor heard any other animals, whether birds or beasts. This absence of life made the part we passed through particularly silent, except for the sound of the wind among the trees, or of falling water when we were near the Yarra, Different members of the party drew com-parisons between the Yarra Falls and other waterfalls they had seen— the Stevenson, the Erskine, the Watts, the Eurobbin, the Wentworth, the Wannon.

In general character the Yarra Falls resemble those of the Stevenson more than any of the others. They are higher and have more water in them, but it is difficult to obtain a good sight of them. The views now to be got of the Yarra Falls more nearly resemble those to be got of the Stevenson before the new track was cut which exposed the entire face of the fall, I am not aware that the height of the falls of the Watts have ever been measured, but I should say from recollection that it is considerably greater than the height of the Yarra Falls, and that there is more water. On the other hand, the fall of the Watts is less abrupt, being interrupted by long slides, where the water, unbroken and transparent, comes down an excessively steep incline with a rapidity dazzling to look at.

I saw none of these slides on the Yarra, the fall being broken by short slopes only. While the Yarra falls over the edge of a precipitous and wooded declivity, the Watts rushes down the bottom of a vast and steep gorge between Mount Juliet and Mount Strickland, the wooded sides of which descend to the water's edge in steep unbroken slopes of, I should say, at least 2000 feet. As compared with the Eurobbin Falls in Victoria and the Wentworth in New South Wales, the Yarra Falls were considered to contain more water, but do not present the feature of an unbroken fall of vast height which distinguishes the former. As compared with the Loutit Bay Falls, I do not think I saw on the Yarra any one cascade unbroken by steps as high as the Splitter's Falls, or even as the falls of the Erskine. But both these latter falls are seen from valleys where the view is much shut in, and where consequently, the actual height is not liable to be dwarfed by comparison with greater heights or depths.

A further question that may arise is how far the Yarra Falls will repay a visit, and that is a matter that must depend much upon the idiosyncrasy of the questioner. The Stevenson, the Erskine or even the Wentworth Falls can be seen with much less expenditure of time and labor. On the other hand, a journey of 20 miles through virgin forests intersected by the Splitter's Creek would to many be an additional attraction. It is a great change for a man who passes his life in a large city to find himself in a few hours transferred into utter solitude. There is also a certain interest in seeing things which few people have seen, especially if they relate to something, as the River Yarra, with which we are all well acquainted.

There is a certain pleasure to be derived from encountering and surmounting difficulties. The mind is completely taken out of its accustomed train by the immediate necessity of devoting the whole attention to the passing incidents of the journey. The extent to which this is the case few people will conceive who have never taken a trip of the kind. One appears to forget, for the time, everyday life, as if he had been all his life a wanderer in the wilderness. To those who look at things in this light I would recommend a trip to the Yarra Falls. The high plateau from the opposite edge of which flow the Latrobe, is altogether uninhabited. In winter it is covered with deep snow, In spring the waters of the Goulburn, the Yarra and tbe back forests become swamps. During the summer the water sapped up by the ground will slowly drain off, making the streams perennial.

At the present time settlement is prevented by the inaccessible nature of the country, but this would not be a permanent obstacle ; a little engineering skill would no doubt carry a dray road on to the plateau, after which there would bo no further difficulty, except from vegetation. Some years hence, therefore, there may be a movement to take up this country. Since my return I have been questioned as to the character of the soil; I said it was good, but of course no grass would grow under the timber, "That," the answer was, "is a small matter. If the soil is good it is easy to ring the trees."

It is a matter, therefore, for consideration what ought to be done in anticipation of such a movement. It would add to the colony some square miles of summer pastures and perhaps of cornfields, but it would have other effects of a different character. The snow no longer shaded by the dark foliage of the beech trees would, melt more rapidly. The ground exposed to the summer sun would harden and absorb less water, and there would be a probable diminution of the rainfall, The result would be disastrous floods in the spring when the snow melted, followed by a quickly diminished pe-manent flow of the stream during the summer. It would seem well, therefore, that some steps should be taken permanently to preserve these forests in their present state. How far this is now done incidentally by reason of tbe country being included in auriferous reserves I do not know.’

Turns out there is still more to find out about the Yarra Falls hut:

‘State Party Marooned. Trafalgar and Yarragon Times Friday 8th February 1918.

Tourist Hut Gives Shelter.

Under the above heading the Herald on Monday last says:-

When the storm broke on Saturday a Parliamentary and departmental party led by Mr. Barnes, M.L.A., which was returning on horseback from a trip to the head of the Yarra to inspect the district timber resources took shelter in the tourist hut near Yarra Falls.

"The rain fell in bucketsfull", said one member of the party today in describing his experience.

​"Men and horse soon looked as if they had been wading through a stream. Our boots were full of water. When we reached the tourist hut we had to strip off our clothes and dry them at a fire. While our clothes dried we had to be content with less raiment than is ordinarily worn in the busy haunts. We had a Railway Department photographer with us but he refrained from snapshoting us as we wore rags and other coverings, which are stored at the hut. We stayed all Saturday night at the hut, and left on Sunday morning."

The party, in addition to Mr. Barnes consisted of Mr. M. Hannah, M.L.A. vice-chairman, and members of the New Industries Institute.’

Once again I am grateful to Thomas Osburg for finding and sharing these historic treasures.

See also:

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-trip-to-the-upper-yarra-in-1907-camping-near-mcveighs/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/yarra-falls-shelter-house/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/from-1925-the-baw-baw-track-notes-of-a-recent-visit/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/secrets-of-the-yarra-walshs-creek-yarra-falls/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/yarra-falls-3/

13/02/2017: Don’t like Google’s intrusiveness? You can get most Apps here without a Google account: http://en.uptodown.com/android If you go to their site you will see that each App has already been checked by perhaps 50 Anti Virus programmes to be safe – no doubt you can also run it past your own. This may be the next best thing to outright ‘jailbreaking’ your phone, which you might alos consider if yout are obsessed by privacy issues.

 

For example you can download the old version of ‘Pdf Maps’ which allows you to open an infinite number of maps. You have to uncheck 'Update' to continue its functionality. This is really good for opening GPS enabled Vicmaps on your mobile phone.

 

http://blog.uptodown.com/wp-content/uploads/Uptodown-logo-cabecera.jpg

12/02/2017: Tanjil River East Branch: We were up that way during the week and happened to cross the East Branch on Webbs Track which is a 2WD road. This branch would not need very much more water (< 5 cm) to make it canoeable. You might even get down it at this height. It would be fun trying anyway!

I would estimate it to take at least three hours from Webbs Track to Rowleys Hill Rd (See Vicmap Noojee South T8122-3-S). The gauge height at Tanjil Junction is .45 metres today which I have found makes the West branch canoeable (certainly from Rowleys Hill Rd down. See http://www.theultralighthiker.com/tanjil-river/.

You can also put in at the intermediate point Burns Track (just a km above the junction). This would be a good place to check the canoeability of the East branch before you try it from Webbs all the way down. Keep an eye on the river heights gauge http://www.bom.gov.au/cgi-bin/wrap_fwo.pl?IDV60154.html to see if there is enough water. A decent summer shower should provide you with some fun!

Webbs Rd bridge.

View downstream.

View upstream.

A PS: I had not thought about canoeing the section of the Tanjil downstream from Blue Rock but apparently they let out 'Environmental Flows' from time to time which makes this possible. I will post when I know more.

12/02/2017: What a great poem! Especially the last stanza, and the last line:

Ulysses - Tennyson

 It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Match’d with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.

I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
Life to the lees: All times I have enjoy’d
Greatly, have suffer’d greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone, on shore, and when
Thro’ scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vext the dim sea: I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known; cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honour’d of them all;
And drunk delight of battle with my peers,
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro’
Gleams that untravell’d world whose margin fades
For ever and forever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish’d, not to shine in use!
As tho’ to breathe were life! Life piled on life
Were all too little, and of one to me
Little remains: but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this gray spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.

   This is my son, mine own Telemachus,
To whom I leave the sceptre and the isle,—
Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfil
This labour, by slow prudence to make mild
A rugged people, and thro’ soft degrees
Subdue them to the useful and the good.
Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere
Of common duties, decent not to fail
In offices of tenderness, and pay
Meet adoration to my household gods,
When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.

   There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail:
There gloom the dark, broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toil’d, and wrought, and thought with me—
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads—you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;
Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
’Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

11/02/2017: Strange Stone Circles: I am sick to death of seeing these ubiquitous idiotic ‘structures’. They do nothing to contain the campfire – indeed they are likely to harbour smouldering embers which wind will later re-ignite into conflagrations. They are a tripping hazard responsible for many burns injuries. They are visual squalor. They are almost always in the wrong place. They are impossible to see once the grass has regrown. I hate to think how many times I have srubbed my toes on them or come close to damaging my vehicle with them. They make it almost impossible to slash the grass in summer to prevent bushfires and are annually responsible for thousands of dollars of damage to equipment. It is almost always better not to have the fire in the same place all the time. Individual small campfires cause interesting regrowth responsible for the propagation and preservation of many rare species, particularly orchids. Permanent campfires just sterilize that spot and create no renewal opportunities. In any case, they are almost always symptomatic of summer campers who should have no campfire at all given the likely enhanced wildfire danger, and that it is not cold enough to require a fire. You almost never see these structures erected by winter campers such as deer hunters. Let’s stamp them out, please!

10/02/2017: Escaping the Heat: Who needs an air conditioner? Go up a thousand metres and you lose approx 8C. The Baw Baw Plateau this week has been beautiful with maximums in the low twenties whilst folks below in the Latrobe Valley or Melbourne sweltered in the high thirties. We are so lucky we have the Upper Yarra Track (http://www.finnsheep.com/THE%20UPPER%20YARRA%20WALKING%20TRACK.htm) to retreat to in these circumstances. We were camped on the top of Mt Horsefall during the worst of this ‘heat wave’ where there was also a lovely cool breeze.

There are lots of spots you can camp all along eg the Forty Mile Break Rd (North of Noojee) which is mown to a width of nearly two chains all around the magnificent mountain ash which form a broad avenue along it. Certainly one of the five most beautiful (2WD) roads in Australia (open November to May). Along the Baw Baw Plateau (4-600 metres higher) it was even cooler. How glorious to be camped eg at Mt Whitelaw or Mt St Phillack saddle in this weather.

Here we are set up in a sheltered shady spot atop Mt Horsefall – with even a mobile and internet connection!

The view out our front door.

Spot takes a closer look at that magnificent view over the Yarra Ranges National Park.

Of course we were even able to cool off on the way with a quick trip to the beautiful Toorongo Falls just outside Noojee on the way.

Map: See Rooftop’s ‘Yarra ValleyWest Gippsland’.

08/02/2017: Hammock Pad Extender: Ed Speer hit on this lightweight way to ensure that you stay warm in your hammock many years ago. You could make this yourself in a lightweight nylon (eg .7 oz/yd2, such as this: http://www.tiergear.com.au/11/online-shop/argon-67) I don’t need the insulation for my knees as I always sleep on my bnack in a hammock, so mine would weigh half of the one shown in the photo ie less than a square yard of fabric plus two pieces of evazote 1 ½’ x 6”, so less tha 2 ounces anyway.

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/600x315/d8/64/5b/d8645b7e336f0ae9eed3a9eb1635cc78.jpg

https://web.archive.org/web/20060115191541/http://www.speerhammocks.com/Products/SPE.htm

08/02/2017: The secret of true happiness: Study, Majority Of Humans Happiest When Rest Of Family Still Asleep: http://www.theonion.com/article/study-majority-humans-happiest-when-rest-family-st-55243

07/02/2017: DIY Netless hammock: Over the years we have made lots of hammocks, but we would have made a better job of we had followed some expert instructions. The following instructions and photos were kindly provided by Simon McGuire at Tier Gear, Australia’s own Hammock and Tarp manufacturer and Outfitter. See them for all the materials needed to build this and many other projects. If you do not feel up to building your own, you can purchase the completed items at a very reasonable price and with speedy delivery for your next big trip. This looks to me to be a very sound lightweight hammock and tarp duo - see: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/make-your-own-tarp-or-hammock/ which should serve you well on many a camping/hunting trip. I am particularly impressed by the suspension system. NB; the fixed or adjustable centre line is a great addition to comfort too.

Tier Gear: http://www.tiergear.com.au/

Above: the Goshawk hammock. This is what your completed hammock should look like (minus the insect netting).

‘Part 1 - Sewing the hammock body

Tools required:
a. Sharp scissors or rotary cutter
b. Fabric marking pencil or similar
c. Measuring tape or ruler
d. Long straight edge
e. Sewing machine

Materials used:

  1. A good quality polyester or nylon fabric. In this instance I used Argon 1.6 which is a ripstop nylon designed specifically for hammocks.
  2. Good quality sewing thread. Gutermann's Mara 70 would be a popular choice for the DIYer as would Rasant 75.

Procedure

  1. Cut your fabric to the length you require, taking into account the end channels and some loss of length when you gather the hammock. For a 3.3metres length hammock I start with 3.6 metres of fabric, as my end channels take up 100mm at each end and there is also some loss when the hammock is gathered. Fabric width is usually around 1500mm.
  1. Sew a rolled hem along both long sides. Start by folding the edge over once, and then over again. My hems are usually around 10mm in width but you can go bigger or smaller. Start by sewing along the inside edge of your hem. A single line of stitching is adequate but a second line of stitching adds a professional touch, and some extra reinforcement to your hem. The second line of stitching should be just inside the outside edge of the fabric.
  2. Repeat Step 2 on the other side of your fabric. Once finished the hem on both sides it's time for the end channels to be sewn on the short sides of the fabric.4. There are a number of ways to sew the end channels. I measure down 100mm from the end of the fabric and mark a line across the width of the fabric. I then take the end of the fabric and fold it over so that it is a couple of mm before the marked line. Now I fold the end of the fabric over again to just past the raw edge and this time right on the marked line. This hides the raw edge inside the channel, and gives you four layers of fabric making up your channel at a width of about 25mm. If you are going to use the end channels to run your suspension directly through then this end channel may be made larger if required.5. Now you are going to sew the end channel down. Depending on how you are going to gather the hammock you will need to sew at least 2 lines of stitching, though 1 would be adequate, or 3 if you are going to run the suspension through the channel and hence making the stitching on the end channel weight bearing. I do not run the suspension through the end channel so I only sew 2 lines of stitching.6. Sew the first line of stitching along the inside edge of the end channel, and then the second line of stitching 4-5mm inside of the this. This second line of stitching ensure you capture the raw edge of the fabric inside the end channel.
  3. Repeat steps 4-6 at the other end of the fabric.8. Congratulations that is your hammock body sewn. Basically I could have broken it down to: sew a rolled hem on both long sides, then sew a bigger rolled hem along the short sides and then gather - job done! It really is that simple.

Part 2: Gathering the hammock, and attaching the suspension

Once your hammock is sewn the next step is gathering the ends. There are numerous ways to do this, including methods which don't require the sewing of end channels in your fabric but I will leave those methods to people who have experience with them. These methods require the sewing of an end channel as detailed in part 1 of making a net-less camping hammock.

Essentially when gathering the ends of your hammock, you are simply inserting something through the channel and tightening it in order to essentially a ball of fabric.

Method 1:

The first method involves running your suspension directly through the channel e.g. your whoopie sling or continuous loop, and cinching tight. This produces a clean looking finish, and is the method probably most commonly used by camping hammock manufacturers. This method places stress on the end channel stitching so you want to ensure you lay down some solid stitches, and have at least 3 parallel rows using quality sewing thread. It is not recommended for lightweight fabrics, where failures have been known to occur. It also produces a consistent gather of the hammock without much fuss.

If attaching a whoopie sling insert the fixed loop through the end channel

Run the adjustable loop of the whoopie through the fixed loop

Cinch tight and you are done. (Note: in the photo below there is only 2 rows of stitches, 3 are recommended for this method)

Method 2:

This method involves running a cord, or some people use a cable (zip) tie, to gather the ends. Your suspension, e.g. whoopie sling or fixed loop, is then girth hitched over the hammock fabric below the gather you have just created. The gather prevents the suspension from slipping off the end of the hammock. This method does not place any stress on your end channel stitching, and is fine to use on lightweight fabrics as well as heavier fabrics. There is some minor fiddling required when attaching your suspension to ensure a consistent gather of the fabric. If you like being able to change out your suspension quickly or play with different setups this is the method for you.

Insert cord through end channel. In this instance I am using 2mm VB cord.

Next you can tie a knot as per Knotty's method on Hammock Forums, insert a cable (zip) tie, or use a small cord lock as I have done below.

The cord lock method leaves a length of cord, depending on how long you cut it, I use around 600-650mm, which you can attach a mitten hook to the end and this gives you an attachement point for a peak bag, pillow of whatever you want at the ends of the hammock.


Next you need to attach your suspension by girth hitching to the fabric below the gather. If using a whoopie sling you simply run the adjustable loop of the whoopie sling through the fixed loop of the whoopie, and cinch tight. You may need to move the fabric around a little to ensure the fabric is gathered consistently.

You can run the suspension over the top of the gather as per below,

or run your suspension through the middle of the gather as per the photo below

Rather than attach the whoopie sling directly to the hammock, another option is use a continuous loop which allows you to disconnect your whoopie sling from the hammock, or allows you to easily change between whoopie slings or webbing based suspensions. Another advantage is if the distance between your two anchor points is too close then the loops can be attached directly to your tree straps through the use of a marlin spike hitch.


Whoopie hook spliced onto whoopie sling adjustable bury and attached to continuous loop.


Loop girth hitched to titanium cinch buckle for webbing suspension

Loop attached to TATO biner, Whoopie sling adjustable bury attaches to biner.

There are many options when making hammocks, and those options listed above are but a few.

Happy hanging.’

See also:

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/diy-netless-hammock/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/make-your-own-tarp-or-hammock/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hammock-camping-double-bunking/

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

06/02/2017: If Bernardi does quit tomorrow, will there be a spill?

 

05/02/2017: I just love the wild places, and have long ago discovered Teddy’s various books about hunting too; I think I started with a book about hound hunting mountain lions in what is now Yellowstone. It should never be forgotten that this, the first national park in the world was declared by this great Republican President - & famous hunter. One of my all-time favourite films is the one about him starring Sean Connery and Candice Bergman; ‘The Wind & the Lion’. Do watch it. What a treat!

 

http://www.whaleoil.co.nz/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/treed-cat.jpg

 

The most memorable photo in the book was of a treed ‘lion’ maybe 100’ up a pinon pine with a huge hound baying at him from about 6’ below: "The encouragement of a proper hunting spirit, a proper love of sport, instead of being incompatible with a love of nature and wild things, offers the best guaranty of their preservation." Theodore Roosevelt. Yes! You might begin your ‘love affair’ with Teddy perhaps with this book, ‘The Wilderness Hunter’ https://www.amazon.com/Wilderness-Hunter-Classic-Reprint/dp/1332803369

 

04/02/2017: How to fall and not break your bones: ‘The other thing to avoid…is “foosh,” an acronym for “falling onto outstretched hands.” If you do that, all the force of impact will be concentrated there, raising the risk of breaking your wrist. You similarly don’t want to come crashing down on your knee so you break your kneecap or do that manoeuvre where you kind of pedal with your feet to catch yourself, which can lead to broken bones in your foot and ankle. Instead, if you feel yourself falling, experts said you should bend your elbows and knees and try to take the hit on the fleshiest parts of your body, like the side of your thigh, buttocks and shoulder. “Aim for the meat, not bone,” said Kevin Inouye, a stuntman and assistant professor of acting, movement and stage combat at the University of Wyoming…The key is to not fight the fall, but just to roll with it, as paratroopers do’. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQtt2bCZdSU

03/02/2017: The Ethical Hunter: I really appreciate feedback such as this - and what a stunning photograph:

 

 

I recently read your sambar stalking articles and really appreciated your old school view point. I have been a hunter/bushy for most of my life, but what I haven’t taught myself I learnt from my old man, who is very much and old school bushy. I've mostly traveled the bush on my own (in a 4x4) all through the Vic high country.

 

Although new to sambar stalking as such, ever since I was a kid, I used to try and stalk rabbits, read their body language, anticipate their next move, practice moving slowly, quietly, etc. I still need to pull my finger out and get a decent deer gun, and my game license, but I had a bit of a stalk while away over the Xmas break, and managed to get this photo of a doe and fawn.

 

I don’t have the best camera gear yet so the longest focal length lens I have is 135mm. I stalked these two up to about 30 yards, got this one photo, and they bolted (I swear it was the sound of the shutter that set them off!) Had I had a 270 rather than a camera, I'd probably be butchering now rather than talking to you.

 

That said, its always been about the hunt for me, not the kill. I've taken 50 odd rabbits in a night, and not had the same feeling of accomplishment as I did after stalking these two deer. I couldn't agree more with the points you make (camo clothes, trail cameras, 500 yard shots, scopes, pretty much all of the points you make). I've always loved the elusive sambar stag, I guess I kind of relate to them, to their solidarity, the way everybody is gunning for them, the untamed country they call home, reminds me a lot of myself a bit.

Anyway, I wanted to thank you for your articles. I have bookmarked your website, and I will no doubt refer to it many times in the future. I really appreciated your view, tips, tricks etc. Especially the iron sights, and no camo. Thank you very much for putting it out there, very much appreciated from a not so young bloke that’s just getting into sambar, but trying to do it the right way, the respectful, ethical way...
Thank you. Thanks heaps mate.

 

I've spent way more time than I should have reading your articles the past day or so. For me at least, its great to read the ethical hunter point of view, and without firing a shot, I’ve learnt more from reading your website than I have from years of listening to others talk crap about the latest and greatest camo gear, or trail cameras. I genuinely do appreciate the info you have put out for us all. Any ethical, respectful (of the animal) hunter would be well advised to take the advise of blokes like you. Thank you,’ Matt Elder. (And thank you, Matt Elder).

03/02/2017: Amazing Earth: a lava ‘waterfall’ in Hawaii! How close is that boat? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HzwuTBx93uA

03/02/2017: Bend That Knee to No Man: This was always bad advice: the reason old men and women shuffle is they have followed it, so that their legs have weakened and stiffened. They need to be doing really lots of squats and legwork in general if they are to remain decently mobile including at least 10,000 steps a day as I have recommended before here. Society would avoid the cots of lots of knee/hip operations and aged care if they did. Too many young people are also developing this stiff-legged shuffle after too many hours on the couch . The bad news: Nine Unexpected Things That Happen When You Abandon Your Workout Routine: Use it or lose it. Strength and power diminish measurably after two weeks, cardio fitness after one week without stress. The older you are, the quicker the loss. http://www.livestrong.com/article/1011617-9-unexpected-things-happen-abandon-workout-routine/

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/fe/83/1a/fe831a41693dbe6a476ffc6ccfa06666.jpg

02/02/2017: Poly Tent by The Ultralight Hiker on the Cheap: As part of a series on economy backpacking, I bring you my new poly tent made from a ‘standard 8’ x 10’ poly tarp bought from the local Churchill $2 shop. This one cost me A$7.99 and took only minutes to make. Mark out the tie-out positions as shown. Use Tarp clips or polystyrene balls as tie outs - so actual tie out position will be about 2” inside the fabric edge. Tie Apex to an extended hiking pole (4’ height) as shown. Peg out Rear point, then two End points approx 6” forward. Then loosely toe out two Front points (as shown) then two Side points. Cut slit. Attach tie downs to Flaps for closure. Place ground sheet (and dog) inside. Enjoy.

As you can see, Spot is now an uncle.

Fully open.

Interior: inside 6’ x 4’ poly tarp ground sheet.

Fully open.

Storm mode.

Rear.

Made in minutes from one of these.

Plan.

See also:

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-egg-ring-ultralight-wood-burner-stove/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/diy-side-burner-metho-stove/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/super-cat-metho-stove/

01/02/2017: Yarra Falls Shelter House: Anyone searching for this ‘lost’ ruin may be helped by these ‘new ‘ photos which have just come to light, and these wonderful historical accounts. The three photos show the old hut. I presume the new hut was built very close by it. They show the hut to be much further up the ridge (not near the flat at all!) and much further up the Falls Creek valley than one might have imagined. The remains of the concrete chimney of the ‘new’ hut should be fairly obvious – even though the timber there is quite thick! (Photos as usual courtesy of Thomas Osburg).

 

See: http://finnsheep.com/THE%20UPPER%20YARRA%20WALKING%20TRACK.htm

Early Trips to Upper Yarra Falls: This is from 1911 with the writer looking back many decades. Yarra Falls was known as Panton Falls, then Campbell Falls and Falls Creek was once called Queens Birthday Creek:

 

Upper Yarra Falls: To the Editor of the Argus: Sir, Mr. Panton's letter on the discovery of Mount Donna Buang, that appeared in "the Argus" of the lst inst, brought back to me recollections of the time-half a century ago when I was one of the many hardy prospectors who penetrated the dense scrubs and steep mountain ranges of the Upper Yarra, in search of gold. I have still a vivid recollection of the night -a most uncomfortable one-I passed with Mr. Panton on Queen's Birthday Creek, on May 24, 1866; but I think that gentleman makes an error when he alludes to me as the discoverer of the falls near the head of the river.

 

I am under the impression that they were visited by a party of surveyors in the year 1845. I certainly re-discovered them in 1867, and named the waterfall (there are several) after Mr. Panton. It would be a graceful act to abandon the present name (Campbell) bestowed on the lower fall, long after my visit, and revert to the original one, as it would keep green the memory of a gentleman who did much to open up the Upper Yarra valley, and develop their mineral and other resources. Yours, &c., July 19. J. Blackburne.

 

Yarra Falls 1888. This is the middle part of a 3 part article. Leader (Melbourne, Vic. 1862 - 1918), Saturday 22 November 1884, page 16 The Contributor: An Excursion to the Upper Yarra Falls By G. No. II:

 

We struck camp next morning at half-past nine. Just after starting we noticed a tree marked W. From this we understood that we had been encamped on the two mile water. This made our march of the previous day a little over 8 miIes, The height of our camp measured by the barometer was 1700 feet above McMahon's, We proceeded along the south watershed of the Yarra in a general easterly direction. The prevailing character of the country was the same as on the evening before, The track was often perceptible as a sort of avenue through the scrub, though in the clearest places knee deep in ferns and wire grass and obstructed by logs.

 

We passed through several saddles separated by small rills. At about twelve o'clock we could see a great spur coming in to join the ridge we were following from the north - that is on our left, This could be nothing else than the right watershed of Alderman's Creek. We were, therefore, making good progress, and might hope to reach the Yarra that night. So we went on for another half hour, when our horse, in getting over a log, slipped and fell. He could not rise again with the pack and we had to unload him, but he was none the worse.

 

As we began to ascend the hill we found the sides and top of it covered with huge logs hundreds of foot long, as if it had been cleared by a survey party, The interstices between them were filled with tall bracken and scrub with white flowers, and the track seemed altogether obliterated. We made our way very slowly round and over the logs, and presently the horse got another fall, and we had to unload and reload again.

 

There was a good look out from many places down the valley of Alderman's Creek and of the ranges across the Yarra, We found the top of this mountain was 1200 feet above our camp of the previous night, or about 4000 feet above the sea level. It is unnamed on the maps. We christened it Mount Horsefall. The fallen logs gave It a prevailing white appearance, but it contrasted with the pale green which had hitherto characterised the crest of 'the range.

 

At about four o'clock we began to descend a little, and get into a forest, in which the beech tree was the prevailing timber, though largely mixed with tall gums and messmates. But little vegetation grows under a beech tree; what there was was the blue gum fern with the crimped frond I have noticed before. Moreover, the beech tree is seldom uprooted. It slowly decays as it stands and falls piecemeal, The ground in a beech forest is therefore encumbered by but little fallen timber.

 

As soon as we got under the beech trees the track improved very much. They were mingled, however, with very tall messmates, from which large quantities of dry bark in strips 4 or 5 inches across and 30 or 40 feet long or more had fallen to the ground, and lay in large coils. These continually tangled our feet, and it was difficult to get free of them, One would continually find one was dragging a tail behind many feet long. On getting under the beech trees the prevailing tints again changed. The black earth was bare, and varied shades of brown or dark green met the eye in every direction.

 

Towards the south and east the slope was so steep that we got a look out over Gippsland as far as the ranges in the neighbourhood of Baw Baw. The earth seemed everywhere moist; in places one could hear the water under one's feet. The track continued slowly to descend, and our view became shut in on all sides. About six o’clock we found ourselves in a saddle. This we identified upon our tracing as about 6 miles from our camp of the night before And 4 miles from the Yarra. It seemed a likely place to find water. There were a few beech trees and messmates on the saddle, and a forest of white gums, tall, slender poles like the mast of a ship, 300 feet high at the least, with a tuft of foliage at the top. There was a fern tree gully coming up to the saddle on each side. The earth was black and moist, and for the most part bare.

 

R. found a good stream of water a little way down on the south side of the saddle, so we determined to camp. We pitched the tent under two beech trees, whose thick foliage would protect us from any sticks that might be blown off from the gums, and made our bed of fronds cut from the ferns. When we got up the next morning a strong north wind was blowing, shaking the tall, white ferns like corn stalks, bending them as if to break with a great roaring noise. We did not make a start until about half-past ten, when we at once began to ascend out of the saddle, and soon came out into the sunshine on to a hill covered with fallen timber and sword grass, and from which there was a good view of the opposite ranges. The logs had rotted and broken into fragments, and were therefore not the obstacle they had been on Mount Horsefall.

 

After a little we again descended into a beech forest. Here the track was clearer than we had yet found it. It was obstructed by little else than small sticks. There was a little of the usual green fern, but except for that the ground was clear of undergrowth on all sides. The dark foliage of the beech trees overhead shut out the sky. In order to keep the track it was necessary to keep a sharp look out for blazes.

 

After about a couple of miles gum trees again appeared mixed with the beech trees, and we were again troubled by fallen timber. About the same time we found growing in the track tall solitary stalks of grass like oats which shot up with a stem as thick as one's finger, seven or eight feet high. Finding the horse would eat the two gathered bundles of it, as we went along. A little after twelve o'clock the horse got another fall getting over a log. We had to unload, and determined to have lunch.

 

When we again made a start we found it had been raining heavily, and that the scrub was very wet. In a little while we got out of the beech forest, and began to ascend a hill covered with tall standing gums and thick bracken up to our shoulders. Through this we pushed our way, getting drenched through. When we gained the top of the hill we found our track appeared to leave the ridge, and turn down the sideling to the north-east. After turning down on the sideling we were soon again in a beech forest, and out of the high wet bracken.

 

In about half a mlle we came to tho creek, which was broad and shallow, scarcely covering the ground. It crossed the track from left to right- not from right to left, as marked in our tracing. The descent from the ridge to this creek was not more than 200 or 300 feet, and not at all steep, considering it was on a sideling. We crossed the creek and ascended to tho ridge on the opposite side. Crossing it we descended on a sideling to the Yarra, which we at once passed over. It was a much smaller stream than that we have left at McMahon’s, being about 30 feet wide and about up to our ankles, with, however, a good current.

 

The scene was a peculiar one. It was still raining hard. Heavy clouds rested on the tops of the beech trees from 50 to 70 feet above us, which lined the river banks and covered the slopes, and hung in festoons between them, but below it was clear. We had no time to stand and watch it, however, being wet through. We had to get to work and camp at once. In about twenty minutes we had a fire big enough to roast an ox. Having pitched our tent we looked about for something to make a bed of, and the best thing we could find was a heap of bark at the foot of a neighbouring messmate. This we dragged in front of the fire and dried, after which we had our evening meal round the fire. We stood up round it for some time drying clothes, while the horse stood warming his nose on the opposite side of the fire. Finally we turned in.

 

We were up at six the next morning. There was still a slight rain, We had breakfast, and at half-past eight we started in search of the falls. Our camp was shown by the barometer to be 2100 foot above McMahon’s or only 500 feet lower than the top of Mount Horsefall. It was distant from Reefton by the road we had come just 20 miles, or in a straight line about 15. Now, the Yarra did not change its level to any great extent between McMahon’s and Reefton, or for some miles above the latter place. The difference in elevation therefore gave room for a high fall. Moreover, the country we were in appeared to be an elevated plateau, to which we had ascended abruptly at Mount Horsefall, and which would probably come to an abrupt termination.

 

We accordingly started down stream, crossing a considerable tributary on the right bank just below our camp, Tho river ran through a beech forest, and as nothing will grow under the beech trees, its banks were without that fringe of peculiar vegetation which is usually such a marked feature in an Australian river or creek. After a little we went over to the left bank, and crossed a small creek which joined the river on that bank, we then came upon a series of small hills, perhaps altogether fifty or sixty, There was, however, a good indication of something better. We could see a light through the trees ahead as from a largo clearing. This appearance could only be occasioned by the edge of an abrupt declivity.

 

We pushed on and soon began to get glimpses of a valley a long way below us, and to hear tho roar of a great fall. The beech forest ceased with the edge of that declivity, and the slopes below, when not too steep and bare for anything either to grow or stand on, were covered with undergrowth, mostly ti-tree. To see the fall we must get below it. We accordingly descended as rapidly as a regard for our necks would permit several hundred feet, and made our way on to a ledge down to the water. From this point we could see the water falling above and below us over a face of dark rocks in a series of steps. The fall was shaded by ti-tree, with occasional tree ferns on the ledges. The spray fell like rain. We were too close to the face of the fall, and tho ledge we were on would not permit us getting further out.

 

We were not the first persons who had viewed the Yarra falls from this spot, for we saw a tree with a blaze on it, on which was a name, partly overgrown with bark, which we mado out to be A. Burns. We then crossed over, scrambled along the face of the cliff and made our way down another hundred feet or two, and got another view of the falls, with, however, the disadvantage that we were too close to see far up or down. This point was by the barometer 550 feet below the top of tho fall. We could see the fall for about 50 feet below it. It was a continuous fall all the way, interrupted only by small ledges. There is, however, no reason to suppose that the lowest point to which we could see was anywhere near the bottom of the fall. Judging from the appearance of the valley it was far from being so. The total height of the fall therefore, can scarcely be less than 700 feet or 900 feet; it is probably 1000 feet.

 

We had not seen by any means as much of the falls as we should have liked, but we were compelled to return. It was Tuesday, and R. had to be In a distant part of Victoria by the following Monday morning. For this purpose it was necessary that he should be in Melbourne by Saturday. We could scarcely do this unless we moved on that day. Moreover, our oats were running out, and there was not a scrap of feed at our present camp, while our tracing showed that on the Thompson, 4 miles on, there was grass. We accordingly turned back towards our camp.

 

In returning we got a view of a great cascade, forming the top-most rip on the fall, which we had not seen going down. By half-past one we had regained our camp. We then bathed in the Yarra, had lunch, struck our camp, and started for the Thompson, where we hoped to camp that night. It was shown by our tracing to be 4 miles distant. The track in the first instance followed the ridge of the very low spur between the main arm of the Yarra and tho tributary that joined it just below our camp. After a little the track forked; we took, the left fork, which took us down to the tributary at a point where two creeks united to form it; beyond this the track was not apparent.

 

After a little we found a place where a tent had been pitched, with a rude platform of round timber to raise it off the ground. We had evidently come upon an old surveyor's camp. That explained how it was that the track ran out. We accordingly returned and took tho right hand fork of the track. After we had gone about three quarters of a mile the track turned down to and crossed the creek on our left, and shortly afterwards began to ascend a ridge on a sideling. The top of this ridge was not. more than 100 feet or so above our camp. On it we found white gum timber. The ridge was narrow, and the track immediately descended on a sideling on the other side, about 300 feet into a narrow valley containing a fine stream of water. The sides of the valley were lined with beech trees, with a few tree ferns. This creek must form the right fork of the Yarra as laid down on the maps; and as its level appeared lower than the top of the falls, must join, the left fork below them.

 

Crossing the creek we ascended on a steep sideling on the other side to a height somewhat greater than that from which we had descended, and found ourselves in a forest of white gums mixed with beech trees, with a good deal of undergrowth. The creek, however, continued tolerably clear. We were now upon the crest of the dividing range, between the waters of the Yarra and the Thompson, marked on the maps as Wright's Range. A little before seven o'clock the track began to descend gently, and we reached a fine stream of water crossing the track from north to south, spanned by a good log bridge. This stream, which was much larger than either fork of the Yarra, or, I should say, than both of them together, we made out to be the Thompson. Here we determined to camp.

 

A little way up from the river, to the right of the track we had come by we found an open glade carpeted with good grass. On this were the remains of an old survey camp, consisting of log platforms, similar to that we had noticed on the Yarra. There appeared to be a succession of rich glades along the river, divided only by low scrub, tall timber not being found till some little way up the slopes on either side. There was, therefore, a clear view up and down tho river for some way over the top of the scrub. We could see the sky, too, overhead and in front of us. All this was a change after the dense grass through which we had been travelling for the last four days, The edge of the other valley was lined with large white gums, say 100 foot high, with straight, thick limbs tapering to the top, and wide spreading arms a little more than half way up. The slopes behind were covered with a mass of plants of different kinds. Every here and there above this rose to a great height huge logs, white with age and black with fire, without limbs, broken at the top.

 

Though generally impressed by the view, there was a feeling of solitude connected with this camp not experienced elsewhere in the course of this trip. The height of this camp was 2300 feet above McMahon’s, or only 100 feet lower than our camp on the Yarra. We were still, however, above a high plateau, as high or higher than the top of Mount Macedon. We were now about 23 miles from Reefton, and about 14 from Mount Lookout. (Thanks once again to Thomas Osburg for these accounts)

01/02/2017: This is truly astonishing: Images of giant planets orbiting a star 129 light years away. I do so love progress: https://astrobiology.nasa.gov/news/a-four-planet-system-in-orbit-directly-imaged-and-remarkable/

31/01/2017: Extreme kayaking: Watch Kayakers Take a Beating In 90-Foot Falls: https://gearjunkie.com/kayakers-take-beating-tomata-two


https://s3.amazonaws.com/images.gearjunkie.com/uploads/2017/01/kayak-beating-700x369.jpg

PS: This is not for me and Della!

If you liked this you might also enjoy reading this book: Hell or High Water, Surviving Tibet’s Tsangpo  River by Peter Heller. The title is a bit of a misnomer as not all did survive. The surprise to me is that any did! https://www.amazon.com/Hell-High-Water-Surviving-Tsangpo/dp/B000776K1E

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51Hxh%2BrHg%2BL._SX376_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

30/01/2017: Restore Pdf Maps Functionality: I recommended this App back in Nov ’14: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/gps-phone-apps-25k-vicmaps/ Many folks have probably noticed that their Pdf Maps App has updated to Avenza and that now they are only able to open three maps for free instead of an unlimited number of maps, and that Avenza would like them to pay over $30 per year to restore the functionality they had before!

As I understand it, Pdf Maps (version 1.7.3) is free software – indeed it seems that its functionality may well have been created by someone else ie TerraGo – see this Wikipedia article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geospatial_PDF. In any case you can download it for free from a variety of sources, eg https://allfreeapk.com/avenza-maps,407396/

This Youtube (and others) tells you how to uninstall Avenza and put Pdf Maps in its place. You have to be sure to cancel the ‘Update’ function so this doesn’t happen to you again. Once again you will be able to open an unlimited number of Pdf maps for free - such as can be bought from: http://services.land.vic.gov.au/maps/imf/search/Topo30Front.jsp some of which you may need to walk The Upper Yarra Track, for example: http://finnsheep.com/THE%20UPPER%20YARRA%20WALKING%20TRACK.htm

Happy mapping!

29/01/2017: Wonnangatta: Waterford to Angusvale Day Three: We were so glad we stopped at the (first) Surprise rapid; The dawn was spectacular! As I went down to check the water just as the sun was lighting the hill to the East, its warmth caused the whole pool to 'boil' with mist. My eye was at first caught by a mysterious patch of foam drifting on the limpid pool, then I looked up and was enchanted by the dawn. I managed to catch it in the photo here. You have to be in the right place at the right time!

The strange circle of foam...

And then, the dawn:

We just could not stop snapping away at it.

Della of course took the best photo with her new birthday Galaxy S7.

 

Then I looked upstream to try to understand where the foam had come from. There was a weird gyre at the head of the pool.

Here it is in detail.

Della also took this photo of Spot and me examining the gyre. The river was so reflective in the early morning light.

Then a small black diver swirled through the mist.

Upstream the pool had become a magic mirror.

Whilst downstream it was a dream of silver...

Then to check out the first rapid. Churning away in a tumult. I opined I could shoot it with each boat in turn as I had the last but one grade 2 rapid (we had portaged the last). Della urged caution as we were far from help. We checked out an old pack track on the true right bank and decided we could carry the boats the 100 metres around it. So we did.

Then we came to the second 'Surprise rapid. A somewhat shorter portage over mostly flattish rocks. This one would definitely have you out. One rock would hurl you one way whilst instantly another would hurl you the other. Paradoxically it might be better with more water. We portaged three times in all, then after a tricky Grade 2 rapid with a sharp right turn in it we were mostly safe on placid waters. We should have portaged it as well as it gave Della quite a fright.

The calm after the storm.

And so it (mostly) went on.

Past these beautiful, interesting trees - the greenest, shadiest most luxuriant native tree I have ever seen in Victoria. They were 10 metres high, had smooth bark...

And these pretty sweet smelling yellow flowers - perhaps a reader can help me out. I would plant some.

Still half a dozen small rapids before Angusvale. Like this one...

And this.

A bee-eater (one of many we saw) atop this dead bush.

Della was still going strong even though she had quite a shock on the tricky Grade 2 rapid (which we ought have portaged)!

The dogs still showed a lot of interest in our progress...

These bushes are what we used to call 'native willow' They will not do such a good job of retaining the riverbanks though!

The second last rapid.

The last small drop (and Angusvale) are just around the bend. What a delightful three days' adventure. The Wonnangatta is certainly a river to dream of...

You can check the river heights here: http://www.bom.gov.au/fwo/IDV67202/IDV67202.084118.tbl.shtml

Check suggested river heights below. If you are unsure whether there is sufficient water, you can canoe the short (half-hour) section from Meyers Flat to the Cobbanah Creek confluence to check it out.

Appropriate Vicmaps: Cobannah North T8322-4-N and Tabberabbera North T8322-1-N available here: http://services.land.vic.gov.au/maps/imf/search/Topo30Front.jsp Use Avenza App.

See Also:

Section 1: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/wonnangatta-kingwell-bridge-to-black-snake-creek/

Section 2: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/wonnangatta-black-snake-to-hut-creek/

Section 3: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/wonnangatta-hut-creek-to-waterford-bridge/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/canoe-wonnangatta/

For River Heights: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/canoeing-the-wonnangatta-catching-the-wave/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/pack-rafting-the-wonnangatta-mitchell/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/videos/dawn-surprise-rapid-wonnangatta-river-australia-day-2017/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/wonnangatta-waterford-to-angusvale-day-one/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/wonnangatta-waterford-to-angusvale-day-two/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/wonnangatta-waterford-to-angusvale-day-three/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/videos/canoe-wonnangatta-the-movie/

28/01/2017: Wonnangatta: Waterford to Angusvale Day Two: The second day we ventured as far as the 'Surprise Rapid' which took us five hours (this is including brief halts for lunch, snacks, etc - and at retiree speeds), but mostly speed is related to water flow, and we are canoeing the Wonnangatta this summer with very low flows because of the effects of the bushfires years ago.

We had camped the first night just before the complete end of private property on the right bank. In most cases there is a public margin where you can camp even though there is private property along the river. It was not long before I spied an enormous stag (without antlers) running with two wild cows and calves which I thought an amazing thing. He was too quick for a photo though! Not long afterwards though our passage was blocked by a party of wild bulls which we waited to disburse - as they were not behaving in the most friendly manner! I judged all of these stock to be wild as they were running on public land/National park and had no eartags and they were clearly all sorts of crossbreeds.

They do look daunting, don't they. I was pretty keen to stop Spot barking and antagonising them!

There were a few more interesting rapids in this section.

And we finally came to the end of the dread willow blight! The riverbanks resumed their beauty.

Some of these rapids would disappear at a greater river height - or become more difficult!

Della is hiding behind that island before she comes down this one:

With a very professional style!

Spot and Tiny look back towards her, most impressed.

After an hour or two a break for a snack.

And then onwards again!

The various herbivores are keeping this national park well mown. There is much more grass on various private properties across the river.

A wedge-tailed eagle combs the cloudy sky.

Another pleasant rapid.

The remains of an old swing bridge I guess.

And Spot investigates a bathtub which may come in handy in case we lose our canoes!

There are some fearsome predators as in these waters (river monsters perhaps - well there are giant carp anyway, nearly a metre long). No carp chewed open this freshwater mussel though.

Paddling on.

You can see the damage the absence of willows creates!

The river has become wider.

Towards the end of the trip there were a couple of Grade 2 rapids, which we checked out before we committed ourselves. This one was OK, but another we portaged. there is no sense in getting yourself injured so far from help - and we are here for a good time.

After five hours we came to the (first of) the Surprise rapids. There are several in quick succession. I reckoned I could get down this one safely. Della demurred, so next day we portaged all of them (there is an old pack track) on the right bank.

Thre is a long languorous deep pool upstream the 'Surprise', a pleasant harbour and a shady spot to rest. We pitched our tent on a little flat about three metres just behind me to my right.

The residents began to come to check us out. Here is a wood duck. Then a giant carp began to repeatedly broach in the deep pool. I tried for an hour to snap a photo of him but to no avail.

You can see how close our tent was to the water. It was a lovely camp. The water was warm enough for a bath (as on the first night). The ground was soft and flat. We enjoyed a pleasant night's rest in the wild.

I went for a little walk back along the river for a couple of kilometres (there are substantial clearings all along it). I saw two does and a stag - again they departed too quickly to get a photo. Della utilised part of one of their relatives to make a 'Clan of the Cave Bear Mask'. Here, she is one of the 'People of the Deer'. Well, she is a dear person anyway to come with me on these wild adventures!

27/01/2017: Wonnangatta: Waterford to Angusvale Day One: This is a truly wonderful section of the river. One of Australia's greatest treasures and one of our last wild rivers! It took us fourteen hours (paddling and portaging) to make it from Meyers Flat (15 minutes below Waterford by canoe - but easier to put in) to the first take-out point at Angusvale. The car/bike shuttle took 50 minutes each way. We began the trip when the Waterford river height was 1.72 metres and finished it at 1.67 so would confidently say it would be fine at 1.65, probably even good at 1.6 with a few portages over pebble races. If you wonder whether you too can do this trip, may I remind you we are both retirees.

This is our rig. We spent the first night in the camper. I have arranged a simple drop-in frame which carries the motorbike on one side of our 6 x 4 trailer and the two canoes on the other. I will perfect this and do a separate post about it

.

We begin the journey.

Many beautiful European trees in this first third.

The first two days were all just pebble races or Grade 1+ rapids. Really enjoyable. We never had to get out of the boats.

A heron watches us pass. The birdlife on the river is rich and varied. Unfortunately it is not possible to get very good photographs with a waterproof pocket camera.

Catleburn Creek confluence about half an hour in. It would be easy to put in here. there is also a lovely car camping spot. The dogs enjoy playing in the sand.

Leaving the Castleburn Creek confluence.

Just cruising.

A splendid long race.

Lots of fun Grade 1 rapids.

These wood ducks were playing 'hide the duckling'.

Some willows needed here.

Spot keeps a close check on Della's progress. Tiny is just' grocking'!

These relict brachychitons (kurrajongs) are a feature of the river (as are bee-eaters!)

Spot wondering whether Della is going to ever make it down this easy race. Here she comes.

The Dargo River confluence, lunch stop for us on a beautiful beach. The willow haters have been at work here.

Della powers along.

Spot surveys with distaste the kilometres of dead willows and wonders, 'Why?'

We usually approached complex rapids (eg this one with its many rocks) carefully, even getting out to check whether it was safe if necessary. This one is fine.

A pair of blue cranes sombrely watch us pass.

A dead tree kangaroo. Possibly a victim of the willow spray!

Just so many beautiful, easy sections of river. You could go to sleep. But don't!

This old-timer had a delightful garden. A good crop of prickly pears there. For the first 5-6 hours there are occasional patches of private land interspersed with bush on either side of the river.

Lichen has taken a lot of trouble to paint these cliffs. The deer are keeping the grass well mown.

I had stopped to look at something when Tiny (faintly) saw Della go past. Thinking she had been abandoned our 17 year old heroine Jack Russell (centre) swam clear across this mighty river to 'save' Della. Six hours in. Time to make camp, perhaps.

And what a delightful river bank camp it is. This is my 'Honey I Shrank' tent (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/honey-i-shrank-the-tent/). Della enjoys a well-deserved cuppa. Spot keeps her company. Tiny hits her bed. I quite agree with Ratty, 'There is simply nothing quite like messing about in boats'!

Right behind our camp (<20 yards away) there was this monstrous wallow, so you can be sure we were serenaded by sambar by moonlight! No cast antlers found unfortunately!

See Also:

Section 1: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/wonnangatta-kingwell-bridge-to-black-snake-creek/

Section 2: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/wonnangatta-black-snake-to-hut-creek/

Section 3: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/wonnangatta-hut-creek-to-waterford-bridge/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/canoe-wonnangatta/

27/01/2017: Dawn, Surprise Rapid, Wonnangatta River, Australia Day 2017:

27/01/2017: A trip to the Upper Yarra in 1907, camping near McVeigh's:

 

‘On the morning of the 9th inst. a party of seven, consisting of a councillor (hereafter called " The General"), his two sons (" The Farrier" and "The Baker"), a local chemist (" Dr. Pills") and* his son (" Norme"), a contractor known as "The Champion" (tea drinker), and the son of one of Kew's oldest councillors (known as "Captain Moonlight"), left Kew at 8 P.m. with a caravan drawn by two small horses, and two bicycles, en route to the falls at the source of the Yarra River.

Brushy Creek (16 miles) was reached, and a halt was made for lunch, thence through Lilydale to Worri Yallock (32 miles), where the camp was pitched for the night. Fishing was indulged in at night and shooting in the morning.

January 10 -A start was made at 8.30, but at Oak Hill (a few miles further on) the hames broke, and a .new pair had to be purchased. Another start was proposed, but one of the horses objected; consequently, the services of a draught horse were called into requisition, and the whole caravan was safely towed up to the top of this steep hill. Launching Place was reached at 11.30, where the midday meal was disposed of. One thirty to 2 p.m. was occupied in covering the distance to Yarra Junction, where a halt was made until 4 30 p.m. There negotiations were made for the hire of a pair of heavier horses, which were secured at the exorbitant (save the mark !) fee of 10s per day for two horses, a driver, and the keep of the horses. The party then pushed on to the Little Yarra and camped for the night, and were joined at 9 p.m. by "The Measurer."

January 11 -We were met by the driver with the two hired horses, and a start was made at 7.40 a.m., and we passed through Old Warburton, the new township of Hillgrove, and thence along the banks of the Yarra to Warburton itself, the present terminus of the railway extension into this part of the state. The scenery here and further along the route is best described by the word, " Grand "- grandeur everywhere. From this point almost to the furthest point of our journey we have the beautiful ever-flowing rapid waters of the Yarra on our left, and steep, precipitous mountains on our right, lifting their heads up into the clouds.

Here and there bridges have been thrown across the river to connect the settlers on the far side of the river with civilisation on this. The whole scene is picturesque. The timber trade with this railway station is enormous - timber trains are sprung upon you at nearly every turn of the road, and the cartage from outlying districts by bullock wagons has cut the roads up terribly. For the past two years (so we were informed, and we could readily believe it) no attempt at repairs has been made. The consequence is that from this point onwards you have to keep your eyes open continuously for large holes and deep ruts. The balance of the roadway is covered inches deep in dust.

Having laid in a further supply of provisions, we pushed on to Sunnydale (3 miles), where we camped for dinner. This spot is as pleasant a one as the eye could rest upon. The river is almost horse-shoe shape, the soil is of a chocolate volcanic origin, planted with English grasses, and the cattle grazing thereon were in prime condition. The beautiful green tinge of the grass, contrasted very strongly with the brown, sunburnt, natural grasses hitherto met with. Having refreshed the inner man and consoled ourselves with a game of crib, we set out for Starvation Creek, where we purposed camping for the night.

Some three miles short of our destination we were overtaken by two young men on rather flash horses, from whom we made enquiries as to the distance yet to be covered. They were as deficient in knowledge of the locality (if not more so) as we were ourselves. At the conclusion of our inquiries our "corner man"- mounted on his white charger, wearing blue dungarees and leggings, minus a coat, shirt-sleeves rolled up, and hat well drawn down over his eyes - asked, in sonorous tones, " Have you got any money?" The elder youth laughed, but the younger lad's face blanched, and he edged his horse away quick and lively. Thereafter our corner man was known as "Captain Moonlight."

Starvation Creek was reached about 6 p.m., and immediately on passing over the bridge your eyes were drawn to a signboard affixed to a tree, bearing the name, "Starvation Creek" Fastened on to the sign-board was the dry thigh-bone of a bullock, indicative of miners' results in fossicking for gold at that place. We pitched our camp on the flat, and, after tea, went fishing.

At 10 30, when the last of us were retiring for the night, we were attracted by the sound of bullock teams approaching, and, shortly afterwards, two wagons, loaded with 1500 palings each, and drawn by 16 and 14 bullocks respectively, hove in sight. Here, also, the drivers camped for the night, the bullocks being let loose (each with a bell round its neck) to forage as best they may. The bullock drivers had been at work since 5 a.m. They made their bed on some dozen bags of chaff, under a tarpaulin covering, which had been left there by Mr Buller, of the store at McMahon's Creek, three miles further on. Mr Buller is accustomed to leaving half his load at this point on account of the steep hill between Starvation Creek and McMahon's Creek, and so great is the code of honesty in this part that he has never been known to lose a bag.

January 12 -Up at 5.30 a m., our usual hour, and after bathing, breakfast, and repairing punctured bicycle tyres, the two cyclists covered the three miles to McMahon's Creek in 25 minutes, notwithstanding the hills and dust. The peculiarity of this dust, viz., powdered schist rock was that no matter, what its depth you could always ride through it. A similar depth of dust around Kew would invariably bring you to a stand still. At Mr Buller's store at McMahon's Creek we laid in our stock of provisions, as this was the last store on our road, and we had still 26 miles to go and return before replenishing the larder.

By 12.30 we reached the old mining town of Reefton (which now consists of two houses), and camped for dinner. Whilst the meat, potatoes, and onions were cooking in the camp oven we adjourned to the river for a swim, but, so strong was the current, that not one of us could make any headway against the stream, and those who swam across made a decided diagonal course. Whilst at dinner, two cyclists rode up. They were the sons of Councillor Wilson, of the Lilydale shire, and were on their way to the Yarra Falls. Their tents, &c., had gone ahead of them in the coach. They had heard of us along the road, and had been keeping their weather eye open. We asked them to join our party, which they readily agreed to do, and right good campmates they were. The elder one is at the training college in Melbourne, and expects during this year to put in a portion of his time under our worthy friend, Mr McCrae, at the Kew East school.

McVeigh's hotel, at Walsh's Creek, was reached at 5 p.m., and our camp was pitched about a quarter of a mile beyond his house, at the junction of the Wood's Point and Clear Creek roads. Owing to the kindness of Mr McVeigh, five of our number (now increased to 11) were able to sleep in a tent he has had permanently erected on the roadside on a wooden floor, and under a bark roof instead of a fly. Here we met Jimmy Clark, the man who cut the track to the Falls, and received full instructions as to the route to be taken.

Here two curious incidents were noted. The whole of this portion of the country has been permanently reserved for future water supply purposes for Melbourne, yet Mr McVeigh has the pick of the land, and has erected a large hotel. He has been resident there for nine years, and his house is the only one for miles around. The other incident is a printed notice of the Education Department re "compulsory attendance at school." The youngest resident is the proprietor's daughter (about 22 summers), and the nearest state school is a single-roomed paling dwelling fully half way to Warburton.

January 13 -After an early breakfast we started to pack our four horses in a peculiarly up-to-date style of our own, and just before starting, at 10.55, a photo was taken of the turnout. It will be interesting to see how they develop. From this point to the Falls Creek (16 miles) a pack track is followed, which for the most part skirts the Yarra. It is good solid plugging following this track up hill and down dale. At first the four horses were led, but "The General" soon became full of "Captain Moonlight's" charger, and practised his 'prentice  hand at bullock driving, and was successful in soon reducing his steed to a worthy pack-horse.

At 2.10 (7 miles) we reached Contention Camp (Bromley's Reef Goldmine), but of this you shall hear more later on. After dinner we caught a few fish, and then pushed on with the intention of camping at Fall's Creek, but at Poverty Bend (3 miles short) we were blocked by fallen timber and had to camp for the night on the track. Bed was sought at 9 p.m. About 11.30 p m. one of our number was awakened by a crashing sound, and on investigation it was found that one of the horses had got loose and had fallen off the track. All hands turned out, and until 2 am axes and tomahawks were used in cutting away timber to free the poor brute, who was jammed between two saplings, with his feet hanging over the creek.

After two and a-half hours' solid graft we were able to pull the horse clear and roll him into the creek, about 2ft. deep. Then "The General" and "The Champion," with lantern and axe, proceeded to lead the horse along the bed of the creek to the crossing, about 200 yards up, but being blocked by fallen timber, tethered him on the further bank for the night, and repaired to the camp-fire to dry their boots and socks. A billy of tea was soon brewed, and bed once more sought.

January 14 -A stir was made at 5.15 a.m., and a reconnoitre being made, it was found necessary to cut a zig-zag track up which to lead the horse. The barometer gave the fall of 47ft. down a 1 in 1 slope. At 9.30 a start was made, the horses being left behind with the driver, as the track was blocked. Falls Creek was reached at 10.30, after passing through a forest of beautiful beech trees, the timber previously being black butt and stringy bark. Here we found the brand of Mr A. J. Campbell, of the Mines Department, on a sassafras tree.

Mr Campbell gave the height of the Falls Creek as 1760ft. above sea level. Our barometer gave only 1550ft. From this point there is a steady climb of two miles and a-half up the spur, rising over 1000ft. in that distance. Turning to the right we reached the top of the falls at midday, where we had lunch. Four different photos of the falls were taken. Owing to want of time and shortness of provisions we were unable to climb from the top to the bottom - a distance of 700ft in less than half-a-mile.

The sight was one of exceeding grandeur, double falls, single falls, and cascades following one another in quick succession. The country itself was disappointing-trees there certainly were in plenty, but small plant life was rare. Snow lies on these mountains (2800ft. above sea level) for about eight months of the year. The water which soaks into the schist rock, of which the whole of these mountains are composed, freezes, and, expanding, splits the surface stones along their cleavage planes, thus rendering it exceedingly dangerous when climbing in parties. Once a stone is loosened from its bedding, it thunders down the hill and over the precipices (many of them from 50 to 100ft.), and never ceases until the foot of the falls is reached. One should never die of thirst in this country, but animal and bird life are practically an unknown quantity. At 2.10 p.m. we set out on our return picked up our horses at Poverty Bend at 4.15, had afternoon tea, and pushed on to Bromley's Reef and pitched camp at 7.15.

January 15 - After breakfast, Mr Victor, the manager of the mine, which is the first opened up in this country, very kindly showed us all that there was to be seen. Two reefs have been discovered. No. 1 gave 4580z. from 130 tons; No. 2, about 150ft. west, 17oz from 15 tons. No. 2 is being worked at present. From the side of the hill a tunnel runs 160ft. west, and then the drive turns up north and south along the reef 130ft., which outcrops on the surface 60ft. above. The stone is run out on the trucks, and then sledged down to the 4-head battery worked by waterpower. The cost from first to last works out at 16s. per ton. From the battery a tunnel is being driven on a grade of 4ft. in 100ft. to intercept the No. 1 reef, which outcrops on the surface 670ft south, and has been opened out to a depth of 130ft, showing a reef 2ft. in thickness, carrying good gold the whole way. This tunnel has already been opened out 490ft., and it is expected that in nine weeks the shaft will be reached. Steel rails are being laid for the tram track in this tunnel, and it is the intention to tunnel across to No. reef, which will mean a considerable reduction in working expenses. The mine has been floated into a company of 30,000 shares at 5s. each, half paid up, and today are quoted on the market at 6s. 2d. The Hon. E. Miller is chairman of directors. I believe there is a big future before this district as regards mining. Our camp at McVeigh's was reached at 1.50 pm, and the rest of the day was devoted to fishing.

January 16 - At 10 a.m. a start on the return home was made. We camped for the night at Big Pat's Creek, and reached Little Yarra at 1 pm. on the 17th. There half the party returned by the night train, the remainder visited the Britannia Falls on the 18th, and on the 19th went up the Cockatoo Creek on a fishing expedition, leaving there on the morning of the 22nd, and arriving in Kew at 5 the same evening. All had a thorough good outing, and the event was carried out on strictly teetotal principles.’ Thanks to Thomas Osburg for this account.

20/01/2017: A Mongolian Eagle Huntress: What a beautiful mini documentary. Do have a look: http://www.wimp.com/a-beautiful-documentary-about-the-life-of-an-eagle-huntress/

20/01/2017: Secrets of the Yarra: Walsh’s Creek & Yarra Falls: Now underneath the Upper Yarra Dam Walsh’s Creek was once one of the delights of walking the Upper Yarra Track .You can get some idea of how beautiful it once was from these old photos kindly sent to me  by Thomas Osburg. See: http://finnsheep.com/THE%20UPPER%20YARRA%20WALKING%20TRACK.htm

And this was McVeigh’s Hotel at the junction of the Yarra & Walsh’s Creek, a transit stop on the way to the famous Yarra Falls (Victoria;s highest):

  

And this was what the (now forbidden) Yarra Falls looked like back in 1909 & etc:

 

Here is a more recent photo of the bottom fall:

This may even be an 1845 painting by Hodddle of the Yarra Falls:

They certaoinly are spectacular waterfalls, deserving to once again become one of Victoria's premier tourist attractions.

And this is an interesting shield of a cycling tour of the Yarra Track in bygone days:

19/01/2017: Wonnangatta: Hut Creek to Waterford Bridge: This is a quite committing section of the river. it also contains many hours of outstandingly beautiful, serene forest containing many beaches and grassy flats where you can swim or camp. It is likely to take you up to six hours (with a couple of refreshment stops). You might prefer to do it as an overnight trip, or even begin at Black Snake Creek which would add about two hours to this trip. Hut Creek is between Maguires Flat and the RPC Scorpion Track. There is a small strip of public land where you can get down to the river here. It is canoeable above about 1.70, and is quite excellent at 1.75 (which is what it was when we did it last). You can get out at Scrubby Creek Track (if you have 4WDs) which would cut about 11/2 hours from the trip. It is also possible to camp along this track. There used even to be a hut you could stay in. The photos are in order, so should give you a good idea of what to expect.

The section begins with a long, deep race down to the Scorpion Track crossing. Until closed, there used to be a couple of kilometers of lovely car camping on grassy flats on both East and the West bank of the river here. Alas, our masters have decreed, 'no more' - and no more fire access, or pest animal management access, etc either. Canoe camping though is a different matter!

Outstanding swimming beaches.

Delicious long, placid pools.

Lovely pebble races.

Ducks. Well: birds, lots of birds. This section is a bird watcher's paradise. There were literally flocks of dozens of bee-eaters for example - and enough bell miners to almost deafen one!

And the water is as clear as crystal!

The Rock of Gibraltar looms overhead.

Lots of great Grade 1+ rapids.

A cool shady place to stop for lunch on a hot day.

Look at this wonderful long deep pool.

And this beach!

And this one: what a majestic gum!

And another vast deep pool. There were giant fish along this section; carp which must have been nearly a metre long!

Spot caused me to sweep under a branch and the boat filled up with long-legged spiders - which had built webs in two minutes!

So that I had to get out on this delightful bar and foist them out.

One of the fords (Scrubby Creek Track) is in the background as Della negotiates this interesting rapid.

Then comes this enchanting labyrinth.

The westering sun is brilliantly glistening off this pebble race.

Suddenly you break out into Guys.

This appeared to be a sandpiper - a long way from the sea.

These spur-winged plovers just took off as I pressed the shutter.

Guys' giant walnuts were loaded with fruit nearly the size of tennis balls!

They, and the weeping willows transform the river into a European landscape.

The blue hills behind Della make a delightful backdrop.

She finishes the very last rapid in a halo of sunlight!

You can drag your boats out on the North-East side of the bridge - or you can go two kilometres downstream (another half an hour) and get them out more easily at Meyers Flat.

See Also:

Section 1: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/wonnangatta-kingwell-bridge-to-black-snake-creek/

Section 2: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/wonnangatta-black-snake-to-hut-creek/

Section 3: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/wonnangatta-hut-creek-to-waterford-bridge/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/canoe-wonnangatta/

For River Heights: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/canoeing-the-wonnangatta-catching-the-wave/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/pack-rafting-the-wonnangatta-mitchell/

18/01/2017: Wonnangatta: Black Snake to Hut Creek: This is the second section downstream from the Kingwell Bridge. It takes about two hours including rest stops. It makes a delightful after-lunch canoe trip if you are camped at Black Snake Creek or at Kingwell Bridge. You put in where the Creek joins the river and there is a small pebbly beach.

Straightaway you are into a long right-curving chute which goes on for nearly a kilometre. Delightful.

With a couple of pebble races thrown in just for fun. Like this one:

And this:

About a kilometre in there is a splendid swimming hole with a beach on one side and a deep pool complete with diving rock on the other.

Another Grade 1 rapid.

A long deep section.

Spot is on lookout. What a great swimming hole this is on a right hand bend. The long  flat on the true right bank below it has many possible grassy campsites if you are planning a lazy, multi-day canoe odyssey from Kingwell Bridge all the way to Waterford..

The river is so clean and clear.

Some of these interesting trees have spring up here and there. I suspect they are weeds and are inedible - at least the birds have been ignoring them. Can anyone identify them? They are not loquats: the fruit have hundreds of tiny seeds like tomatoes.

Here is what the flowers looked like some months ago.

Maguires Flat is on the true left bank here. Scorpion Creek is on the right.

The last straight. At the end of Maguires Flat there is a pebble race (you go down the left hand side). Hut Creek is straight ahead of you on the left bank. It is easy to be swept past, particularly at high water (ie over 1.8 metres) so you should have checked this out before you started at Black Snake Creek when you were leaving your vehicle here. You have to drag your boats about fifty yards back along the bank of the creek to your car, but it is easy. Someone else could clear some of the fallen branches - after all what is the 'Dept of Many Names' for? Well, I wonder...

See Also:

Section 1: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/wonnangatta-kingwell-bridge-to-black-snake-creek/

Section 2: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/wonnangatta-black-snake-to-hut-creek/

Section 3: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/wonnangatta-hut-creek-to-waterford-bridge/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/canoe-wonnangatta/

For River Heights: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/canoeing-the-wonnangatta-catching-the-wave/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/pack-rafting-the-wonnangatta-mitchell/

17/01/2017: Wonnangatta: Kingwell Bridge to Black Snake Creek

This section and the next (to Hut Creek) are the best family canoeing opportunities on the river. When our kids were little (just a quarter century ago) we must have canoed them a hundred times. In the morning you can drop in at the Kingwell Bridge, spend two delightful hours on the river (much more with swims!) yet be back at your camp at the Black Snake Creek for lunch. After lunch you can canoe the two hours down to Hut Creek (between Maguires and the RPC Scorpion Track).

The photos that follow are of this first section. (I will post about the second section later). The photos are in sequence so I hope give some indication of what you will encounter (many delights) along the way. Both sections are just pebble races or Grade 1+ rapids. Of course you can fall out. Your kids should be wearing life jackets but I confess that once ours could swim we found it just about impossible to keep them on them.

Every now and then you might encounter something (a tree down perhaps, or a log sitting in a dangerous position) where you want to get out and walk the boats around. Della does not see as well as she used to, so reverts to this strategy more than I do. Also, sometimes she misses the deepest channel and has to get out – but she has only 38% vision, so if she can still canoe this river, I’m sure you can! You need about 1.70 metres at the Waterford gauge to canoe from the Kingwell Bridge to the Waterford Bridge http://www.bom.gov.au/cgi-bin/wrap_fwo.pl?IDV60078.html

Setting out just above the Kingwell Bridge. There is a large cleared area on the upriver side where you can easily turn a car and trailer around – or camp if you wish!

There was some heavy roan traffic on the bridge that day!

Some majestic gums line the river.

Mostly, as you see, it is fun pebble races.

And pleasant deep sections just right for a swim. We could never go far before the kids wanted a dip!

A great little rapid.

And another deep section where you can ‘raft up’.

Hawkhurst’s sheep slumbering under their ancient poplars didn’t like the look of us – or our dogs!

What a lovely deep lead!

The gums and European trees get on together just fine.

Some wood ducks enjoying the river.

Della missed the channel here below the willows and poplars.

This gum tree though seems to be trying to avoid these poplars! Neighbours!

A great swimming hole.

And a lovely beach opposite.

Della always loves to have a fossick.

This time she has turned up a treasure!

She wanted to avoid this little rapid though she has canoed it scores of times before.

The dogs Tiny and Spot are all attention.

Some interesting cliffs for climbing.

And around the bend we go!

Another beautiful deep lead.

Looking back at the last little drop, the light catches the water splendidly.

As it does here.

Always some beautiful flowers to see.

This swing bridge is just above the Black Snake Creek. Time to start looking for the small landing beach (left) where the creek joins the river.

What a delightful trip! Hope you enjoy it too.

Nowadays there is a free camping ground (with fire pits, toilet, etc) at Black Snake Creek (which was a town with a PO etc during the Depression). The remaining hut is the home of its last inhabitant, Harry Gee who stayed on here alone for many years. His house used to have a huge walnut tree on the Downstream side and a vast loquat on the upstream side. There was a bridge spike in the walnut tree about 8′ up where he used to hang the carcass of a sheep, etc he was to eat.

The mine which was the purpose of the town lies further up the valley. There is a walking path. We used to park the camper under the deep shade of his walnut tree where the Gang Gangs and Major Mitchells rained down green walnuts on us! Before the kids could swim they would make a wading pool in the creek just behind his house. We had many lovely holidays there – I hope you do too!

17/01/2017: End the Misery of Insect Bites: After a trip to NZ’s Fiordland all my exposed skin used to resemble a very angry surface of the moon for weeks afterwards, but one application of this wonderful cream on any troublesome bite makes it go away completely (also works on leech bites). For some bizarre reason antihistamine cream to treat insect bites is banned in Australia, but you can buy it online eg here: http://www.pharmacydirect.co.nz/anthisan-cream-25g.html & here: https://www.amazon.com/Anthisan-Bite-Sting-Cream-20G/dp/B0017TL8P4

https://www.ibuypharmacy.co.nz/content/images/thumbs/0000007_anthisan-cream-25g.jpeg

16/01/2017: Ten delightful hours so far canoeing the beautiful Wonnangatta River from Kingwell Bridge to Waterford Bridge, as ‘we catch the wave’ http://www.theultralighthiker.com/canoeing-the-wonnangatta…/ (See also: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/pack-rafting-the-wonnang…/) In this section the river journeys for many hours through the most serene and beautiful forest you can imagine – and full of beautiful camping spots! More photos to follow. Here is a foretaste. PS: Delightfully we have found a campsite here where our mobile phones and internet both work!

 

Image may contain: dog, outdoor, water and nature

 

Image may contain: 1 person, tree, sky, outdoor, nature and water

 

Image may contain: tree, plant, outdoor, nature and water

 

Image may contain: tree, outdoor, nature and water

12/01/2017: Canoeing the Wonnangatta, Catching the Wave: Rainfall at Mt Hotham is a pretty good analogue for river flow on the Wonnangatta-Mitchell. The river flows at approx 4km/hr. Use that fact to time the canoeability of sections.

On Monday (9 Jan) it rained steadily all afternoon and there was 63 mm of rainfall at Mt Hotham by the time it stopped around 9pm.  The whole valley got a good soaking. You can check this is happening by comparing eg rainfall at Dargo. You can see that it is raining by checking the radar.

By 2.52am on the 10th the river had started rising at Waterford (from a low of 1.72metres). By 14.22pm it had reached 1.80 metres which is the recommended canoeable height for the section downstream of Waterford (& indeed all the way from the Humffray). I would be fairly confident of setting out from the Kingwell Bridge at 1.75 metres height as measured at Waterford with a flow like this coming down behind me.

It rose to 1.84 metres at 21:17pm on the 10th, stayed there until 8: 52am on the 11th and then began falling. By 19:17 on the 11th the river had returned to 1.80 at Waterford. So, the river remained canoeable for 29 hours.

Since the bushfires summer flows have been deplorably low and will likely remain that way for many years. You have to catch the wave! If you started out from Waterford before 19:17 on the 11th you would ride that wave all the way to Glenaladale (except you would have to sleep!

If you anticipated the wave you would be able to start at Waterford on the morning of the 10th and still have two days of beautiful canoeing down to Angusvale. There is going to be 12-20mm of rain again at Hotham on Friday 13th. The rain is going to come in about midday and continue until after midnight.

Saturday and Sunday the river should be canoeable anywhere from Eaglevale down and the weather should be fine and about 26C. This should be a good weekend on the Wonnangatta. Enjoy! I know I will!

Waterford Water Levels & Mt Hotham rainfall (below):

Station Date/Time

Water Level
(m)

07/01/2017 02:53

1.75

07/01/2017 05:53

1.75

07/01/2017 08:53

1.75

07/01/2017 11:53

1.75

07/01/2017 14:53

1.75

07/01/2017 17:53

1.75

07/01/2017 18:23

1.74

07/01/2017 20:53

1.74

07/01/2017 23:52

1.74

08/01/2017 02:18

1.75

08/01/2017 02:52

1.75

08/01/2017 05:52

1.75

08/01/2017 08:52

1.75

08/01/2017 09:32

1.74

08/01/2017 09:37

1.75

08/01/2017 10:22

1.74

08/01/2017 11:52

1.74

08/01/2017 14:52

1.74

08/01/2017 16:52

1.73

08/01/2017 17:52

1.73

08/01/2017 20:52

1.73

08/01/2017 23:52

1.73

09/01/2017 02:52

1.73

09/01/2017 05:52

1.73

09/01/2017 08:52

1.73

09/01/2017 11:52

1.73

09/01/2017 13:27

1.72

09/01/2017 14:52

1.72

09/01/2017 17:52

1.72

09/01/2017 20:52

1.72

09/01/2017 23:52

1.72

10/01/2017 02:52

1.72

10/01/2017 03:22

1.73

10/01/2017 05:52

1.73

10/01/2017 07:47

1.74

10/01/2017 08:52

1.74

10/01/2017 09:57

1.75

10/01/2017 11:42

1.76

10/01/2017 11:52

1.76

10/01/2017 12:52

1.77

10/01/2017 13:32

1.78

10/01/2017 14:02

1.79

10/01/2017 14:22

1.80

10/01/2017 14:47

1.81

10/01/2017 14:52

1.81

10/01/2017 15:02

1.82

10/01/2017 15:47

1.83

10/01/2017 17:52

1.83

10/01/2017 20:52

1.83

10/01/2017 21:17

1.84

10/01/2017 23:52

1.84

11/01/2017 02:52

1.84

11/01/2017 05:52

1.84

11/01/2017 08:52

1.84

11/01/2017 10:47

1.83

11/01/2017 11:52

1.83

11/01/2017 13:22

1.82

11/01/2017 14:52

1.82

11/01/2017 16:07

1.81

11/01/2017 17:52

1.81

11/01/2017 19:17

1.80

11/01/2017 20:52

1.80

 

 

 

 

Weather Graph

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31

41

12.3

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9.5

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62.6

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35

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9.3

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62.6

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31

35

12.2

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9.3

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62.6

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43

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33

37

12.4

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9.5

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62.6

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39

44

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9.2

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62.4

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9.4

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62.4

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33

37

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9.5

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62.4

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Mon 22:40 EDT

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39

44

12.4

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9.2

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Mon 22:30 EDT

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35

46

12.3

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9.3

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0.0

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Mon 22:20 EDT

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28

31

12.2

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9.6

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-

62.2

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33

41

12.1

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9.1

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-

62.2

-

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28

39

12.1

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9.4

-

-

62.2

0.0

-

Mon 21:50 EDT

N

37

43

11.9

-

8.7

-

-

62.2

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-

Mon 21:40 EDT

-

33

35

12.0

-

9.0

-

-

62.0

-

-

Mon 21:30 EDT

NNW

31

39

12.0

-

9.1

-

-

62.0

0.0

-

Mon 21:24 EDT

N

31

50

12.1

-

9.2

-

-

62.0

0.0

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Mon 21:20 EDT

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28

30

12.0

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9.3

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-

62.0

-

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Mon 21:10 EDT

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37

41

12.0

-

8.8

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-

62.0

-

-

Mon 21:00 EDT

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30

37

12.1

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9.3

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61.8

0.0

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Mon 20:50 EDT

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20

30

12.1

-

10.0

-

-

61.8

-

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Mon 20:40 EDT

NNE

33

39

12.0

-

9.0

-

-

61.8

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-

Mon 20:30 EDT

NNW

26

37

12.1

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9.6

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61.8

0.0

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Mon 20:20 EDT

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31

41

12.0

-

9.1

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-

61.8

-

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Mon 20:10 EDT

N

35

39

12.0

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8.9

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61.6

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Mon 20:00 EDT

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28

33

11.9

-

9.2

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61.4

0.0

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Mon 19:50 EDT

N

22

26

11.9

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9.6

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61.4

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Mon 19:40 EDT

NNW

17

22

11.6

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9.7

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61.2

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Mon 19:30 EDT

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24

30

11.8

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9.3

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61.0

0.2

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Mon 19:20 EDT

NNW

22

24

11.8

-

9.5

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60.8

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Mon 19:10 EDT

N

26

30

11.8

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9.2

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60.6

-

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Mon 19:00 EDT

NNW

24

33

11.7

-

9.2

-

-

60.0

0.6

-

Mon 18:50 EDT

NNW

22

28

11.4

-

9.0

-

-

59.6

-

-

Mon 18:40 EDT

NW

24

28

11.0

-

8.3

-

-

59.2

-

-

Mon 18:30 EDT

NNW

22

35

11.1

-

8.6

-

-

58.8

0.4

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Mon 18:20 EDT

NW

22

24

11.4

-

9.0

-

-

58.6

-

-

Mon 18:10 EDT

NW

28

31

11.6

-

8.8

-

-

57.8

-

-

Mon 18:00 EDT

NW

26

33

11.7

-

9.1

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56.8

0.4

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Mon 17:50 EDT

W

28

33

11.4

-

8.5

-

-

56.4

-

-

Mon 17:40 EDT

W

30

35

11.0

-

7.9

-

-

55.8

-

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Mon 17:30 EDT

W

28

41

10.7

-

7.6

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-

54.8

1.6

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Mon 17:20 EDT

W

35

39

10.4

-

6.8

-

-

53.4

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Mon 17:10 EDT

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39

44

11.1

-

7.5

-

-

50.6

-

-

Mon 17:00 EDT

NNW

22

31

12.0

-

9.7

-

-

46.2

2.6

-

Mon 16:50 EDT

N

22

28

12.2

-

10.0

-

-

44.0

-

-

Mon 16:40 EDT

N

28

35

12.4

-

9.8

-

-

43.0

-

-

Mon 16:30 EDT

NNW

28

39

12.7

-

10.2

-

-

42.6

0.4

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Mon 16:20 EDT

NW

31

35

12.6

-

9.8

-

-

42.2

-

-

Mon 16:10 EDT

NW

26

30

12.8

-

10.5

-

-

41.6

-

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Mon 16:00 EDT

NW

28

43

12.6

-

10.1

-

-

41.4

0.6

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Mon 15:50 EDT

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28

35

12.7

-

10.2

-

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40.8

-

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Mon 15:40 EDT

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24

28

12.6

-

10.3

-

-

40.6

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-

Mon 15:30 EDT

NW

26

39

12.4

-

10.0

-

-

39.6

0.4

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Mon 15:20 EDT

WSW

17

20

12.9

-

11.3

-

-

39.2

-

-

Mon 15:10 EDT

NNW

20

24

12.9

-

11.0

-

-

38.6

-

-

Mon 15:00 EDT

NW

28

44

12.8

-

10.4

-

-

37.6

0.2

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Mon 14:50 EDT

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20

28

12.8

-

10.9

-

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37.4

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Mon 14:40 EDT

NNW

30

35

12.9

-

10.3

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-

36.4

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Mon 14:30 EDT

NW

31

43

12.9

-

10.3

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34.8

0.4

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Mon 14:20 EDT

NW

28

41

12.9

-

10.5

-

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34.4

-

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Mon 14:10 EDT

NW

35

43

12.9

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10.1

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-

31.6

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Mon 14:00 EDT

NW

33

44

13.0

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10.3

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29.0

3.8

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Mon 13:50 EDT

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33

41

13.0

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10.3

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25.6

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Mon 13:40 EDT

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35

44

13.1

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10.3

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22.8

-

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Mon 13:30 EDT

N

39

61

13.1

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10.2

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20.0

1.4

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Mon 13:25 EDT

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35

56

13.0

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10.2

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19.2

1.8

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Mon 13:20 EDT

NNW

37

46

13.0

-

10.1

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18.8

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Mon 13:10 EDT

N

19

24

13.0

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11.2

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16.0

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Mon 13:00 EDT

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39

50

13.0

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10.0

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-

12.4

1.8

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Mon 12:47 EDT

NNE

39

44

12.9

-

9.9

-

-

10.6

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Mon 12:37 EDT

N

43

63

12.8

-

9.6

-

-

6.4

1.6

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Mon 12:30 EDT

N

37

50

12.7

-

9.7

-

-

5.4

2.6

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Mon 12:20 EDT

NNW

35

41

12.6

-

9.7

-

-

3.4

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Mon 12:00 EDT

N

31

43

12.9

-

10.3

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-

0.2

0.2

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Mon 11:50 EDT

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33

39

13.0

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10.3

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-

0.0

-

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Mon 11:30 EDT

N

26

33

13.3

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11.1

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-

0.0

0.0

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Mon 11:20 EDT

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26

31

13.5

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11.4

-

-

0.0

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Mon 11:10 EDT

N

37

41

13.7

-

11.0

-

-

0.0

-

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Mon 11:00 EDT

N

39

48

13.9

-

11.2

-

-

0.0

0.0

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Mon 10:50 EDT

N

39

43

13.7

-

11.0

-

-

0.0

-

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Mon 10:40 EDT

N

37

43

13.6

-

10.9

-

-

0.0

-

-

Mon 10:34 EDT

N

33

52

13.7

-

11.2

-

-

0.0

0.0

-

Mon 10:30 EDT

N

39

52

13.8

-

11.1

-

-

0.0

0.0

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Mon 10:20 EDT

NNW

35

48

14.9

-

12.7

-

-

0.0

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-

Mon 10:10 EDT

N

39

44

15.5

-

15.5

-

-

0.0

-

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Mon 10:00 EDT

N

33

44

15.3

-

15.3

-

-

0.0

0.0

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Mon 09:50 EDT

N

30

35

15.7

-

15.7

-

-

0.0

-

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Mon 09:36 EDT

N

33

52

16.0

-

16.0

-

-

0.0

0.0

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Mon 09:30 EDT

N

35

44

16.4

-

16.4

-

-

0.0

0.0

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Mon 09:20 EDT

N

33

39

16.4

-

16.4

-

-

0.0

-

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Mon 09:10 EDT

N

30

37

16.5

-

16.5

-

-

0.0

-

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Mon 09:00 EDT

N

33

44

16.1

-

16.1

-

-

0.0

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12/01/2017: Klymit Hammock Pad:

This new pad from Klymit is definitely worth a look if you are planning on some hammock camping, hunting or fishing: https://www.klymit.com/hammock-v-1.html. Its design tackles the single biggest issue of hammock camping head on, ie how to keep your back, shoulders, elbows, arms & knees comfy and warm.

I find any insulated rectangular pad big enough to keep me warm, but if you are any wider than me, you might want a wider pad (as I have mentioned in earlier posts) or some ‘wings’ to warm up your arms etc where the sleeping bag’s insulation will be compressed against the hammock. Mind you at an R rating of 1.6 this pad would only keep you warm enough in summerish weather - though your sleeping bag insulation would drape into its valleys and add somewhat to its insulative ability.

Speer Hammocks used to make a Segmented Pad Extender which kept your arms and shoulder nice and warm. We made one of these too and it worked well. Here’s a link to making one yourself: http://www.tothewoods.net/HomemadeGearSPE.html

I recently posted a number of other hammock items you might also find of interest: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hammock-camping-double-bunking/ & http://www.theultralighthiker.com/make-your-own-tarp-or-hammock/ & http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hammock-hunting-till-dark/

11/01/2017: Self-Balancing – The New Way Forward (This is neat!): http://newatlas.com/honda-self-balancing-motorcycle/47257/ & http://newatlas.com/honda-new-uni-cub-personal-mobility-device/29771/ & http://newatlas.com/honda-u3-x-experimental-vehicle/13008/

09/01/2017: Super AAA Torch 145 Lumens:

Maratac have upgraded the Cree emitter in their latest AAA flashlights so they now output a massive 145 lumens. This is one mighty little torch. Available from US$41.25 Special deals regularly on Massdrop: https://countycomm.com/collections/aaa-flashlights/products/aluminium-anodized-aaa-flashlight-by-maratac-rev-3 Also available in Titanium: https://countycomm.com/collections/aaa-flashlights/products/polished-titanium-maratac-aaa-flashlight-rev-4 You can also rig it as a head torch  http://www.theultralighthiker.com/mini-super-torch-a-weeks-light-weighs-50-grams/  & http://www.theultralighthiker.com/diy-head-torches/ The white rubber light diffuser  (see photo) turns it into a superb tent lantern. The pocket clip weighs almost nothing and makes carrying and accessing it a breeze.

08/01/2017: A Mini Rechargeable Aqualung: At under 2 kg with enough air for 6-8 minutes to a recommended depth of 3 metres and rechargeable with a hand pump or car compressor this device is rather cute: https://www.minidive.com/minidive-pro/

07/01/2017: Making Small Things Smaller to save Weight and Space:

Diane Sioni has some fine advice here. http://gossamergear.com/wp/making-small-things-smaller-to-save-weight-and-space It pays to go through your gear again and again. It is always a game of ‘putting and taking’ (one of the first games we learn and still lots of fun at nearly 70!) What you take and what you leave is matter both of individual choice and dependent on the trip you are doing. Eg; How long. How long between resupply. Likely conditions…

Some time ago I posted about making containers out of straws. If you have tried this, you probably hate yourself, but lots of folks are still reposting it on Pinterest, so I guess it’s cute. My advice: try getting some really small snaplock bags from eBay instead. eBay is also an excellent source for small bottles, test tubes, atomisers, etc. A small plastic test tube can have some Dyneema fishing line wound on it (glue one end, snap the other with the lid). It can contain your needle (a self threader I think, Diane), a few fish hooks and sinkers and still weigh just a few grams. Some polystyrene balls for floats will double as spare tarp clips: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/worlds-lightest-tarp-clip/.A fish for tea one night will generously repay carrying that little extra weight - as will being able to repair gear, or yourself – and not stabbing yourself with that needle!

I did a little ‘show and tell’ a little while back of some of my gear here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-gorilla-in-the-hand/ Some things surprise: eg I would not have thought of taking a musical instrument – but then being deaf, I hate music. Then again, not being a woman I would not have considered a DIY ‘Lady J’, but I have also had my bottom attacked pretty ferociously eg by sandflies in Fiordland. The article is a good starting point for a review of your gear. You can always save a little – but do not jeopardise your safety!

Above: ‘Possibles’ bag contents: on green cuben bag: ulralight fishing kit, 2 handlines containing hooks, sinkers, bait, self threading needle (repairs), two springers, 4 polystyrene balls, alum foil for cooking fish; on green S to S bag, Iridium Sat Phone; on white cuben bag: spare glasses in plastic case, Kabar knife, Adventure Medical Kits space blanket bag (emergency day pack & ground sheet); snaploc with glasses cleaner; Bushnell mini solarwrap charger; on white cuben bag: cuben bag with charging connectors AAA to AA battery converters, in blue bag spare batteries = 6 Eneloop AAA, 2 camera, 2 phone, 2 Photon, 2 hearing aid; USB AA/AAA battery charger; first aid kit: Antisan (bites) ointment, Mylanta (indigestion), earbuds in snaploc, Leucotape on cuben bag containing variety of plasters and blister pads, triangular bandage (sling) below: elastic bandage, cuben bag with variety of tablets eg pain, inflammation, diarrhoea, allergy etc; Toiletries on white cuben bag: wet tissues, 2 pocket Kleenex (enough for a week!); below on small green cuben bag S to S ultralight head net (mozzies – sleep) and microdripper of insect repellent (Deet); magnifier on mirror; square of silnylon for repairs with 2 stickon tie outs on top; spare trekking pole basket; clip on glasses cleaner; bottom row: on snaplocc bag length Dyneema, glasses repair kit, various bits and pieces: 2 safety pins, 3 line locs, 2 tarp tie outs, I carabiner, I mitten hook, 1 cord loc, 1 spare mini compass; on cuben bag, cuben tape (repairs) rubber band, spare bottle cap; on white cuben bag: 2 lightload towels, comb, Aloksack (for camera); on blue cuben bag: microdripper bottles containing: handcream, suncream, deodorant, iodine, wash, anti fungal cream, tube anti inflammatory cream, tub toothpaste, tub heel balm; anti allergy cream.

Some of these things I have cut down substantially since then (eg for my Everest hike see eg here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/thatendlessskyway/ For example I have made an ultralight glasses case: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-glasses-case/ I have substituted these http://www.theultralighthiker.com/11-gram-rechargeable-head-torch/ for the Photons and reduced the number of batteries needed, and so on. The quest to be 'ultralight' goes ever on and on...

05/01.2017: Pack Rafting the Wonnagatta-Mitchell:

We took a day off today, it being 30C and there being enough water, to revisit one of our favourite spots when our kids were little over 20 years ago…Hot summers then (they were hotter) and there was plenty of water (before the ‘noughty’ fires) we used to camp at one particular spot and either spend the day drifting down to our camp, swimming and playing, or else start off from camp and drift down to another exit point way downriver.

Now most of the campsites are gone – locked off. Our public lands are progressively being stolen from us. Those that remain are crowded, and they now have toilets and ‘designated campsites – both represent the end of freedom! Yet there is no-one on the river. It is just as idyllic as ever…And you can still put in where we used to and get out nearly where we used to – there are tiny snippets of (hidden) public access. You have to look carefully for them, and there may be a little bush-bashing, but not much.

You can canoe this wonderful river all the way from the Humffray confluence way inside the Alpine National Park just below the Station, all the way to Lake King (three weeks later!) The top section (down to Eaglevale) needs two 4WDs or a motorbike and one, or a long, tough walk from your 4WD from Moroka Glen. From Eaglevale it can all be done with two 2WDs or a motorbike and one. There is one section from Angusvale to the Den of Nargun  which can be done with one vehicle – as  a packrafting trip, as there is a walking track which joins them. This section would take approx three days (two walking).

Here we are, ready to set off.

As you can see we are one car plus one motorbike.

Della is away first, keen to start.

These two snaps are for the kids: remember this old abandoned orchard and its apricot tree where we used to feast those Xmases past

?

And this swimming hole where you wiled away so much long summertime…

Away we go! Just here the river is like a mirror!

Della prefers to follow because of her eyesight – she has less than 40% vision – and you think you have problems? Nonetheless even in just this last year she has followed me to many places those with two good eyes have seen; the South Coast Track & Westies Hut, NZ for example: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/westies-hut/

And remember this deep, cool swimming hole too?

Nonetheless, she is a champ!

Just to prove I was there too.

This, believe it or not, is a deer path on public land! This would be a good place to be at dusk with a .308 – if you were hungry!

Huck Finn, eat your heart out!

There be monsters here:

And interesting flotsam. This vast length of 1/2″ rope was caught up in a huge pile of flood-wrack. i souvenired it!

Look at that girl go!

Here near the wallows she shot ahead of me eager to find a great antler of her own just as our son did many years ago. All we found today was some very muddy sticks, alas!

Once more she is following faithfully behind down this entertaining little drop.

Here is an interesting historical curio, the cab of an old jinker – and Della!

I have the Alpacka Fiord Explorer, and Della has the Alpacka model, just perfect for someone who is just 5′. Hers has an airtight zip so you can stow your dry bags inside the craft’s tubes. What a clever idea. Or you can tie your packs etc on the bow and stern as I have done with my dry bag above.

And here is a dragon wondering what is going on.

Who we will leave to wait for our next trip to find out – a multi day one, I think. And soon!

PS: Today there was exactly 1.80 metres on the Waterford gauge. This is what you need to canoe the entire river. Any lower and the sections above the Kingwell Bridge (especially) will become difficult. From the Kingwell down to Waterford you ought to be OK at 1.75. Below Waterford you might get by with a little less, perhaps even 1.70 – if you don’t mind getting out at shallow pebble races. River heights here; http://www.bom.gov.au/cgi-bin/wrap_fwo.pl?IDV60154.html

Even at this height there will be lots of lovely long deep sections, and anyway lots of beautiful camping spots and cool swimming holes. Have fun! Time was, there was water aplenty every day of the year. There used to be much more water summertime. The bushfires stole the river folks. It will not be back until the forest is all growed back again – by then I will be gone!

The section we canoed today was one which escaped the fires. The birdlife was beautiful and exhuberant. I must have spotted a hundred different species of birds; both the kinds of wood swallows, (very noisy) leather heads, scads of bell miners, many kinds of honey-eaters, many kinds of parrots including gang gangs, three kinds of ducks, two kinds of doves, wagtails, kingfishers, mutton birds, warblers, wrens, currrawongs, sitellas, beautiful purple cuckoo-shrikes with their graceful dipping flight, resplendent bee-eaters, the improbable blue eyes of bower birds…

See Also:

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/gippsland-pack-rafting-routes/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/more-about-diy-pfds/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-pack-rafting-life-vest/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-paddle/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/canoe-clearing/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-gorilla-in-the-bush/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/klymit-packraft/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/pack-rafts/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/dusky-track-canoeing-the-seaforth/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/canoeing-gippslands-rivers/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/home-made-pack-raft/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/faux-packraft-vs-alpacka-raft/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/canoeing-the-thompson-river/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/canoeing-the-thomson-river-gippsland-victoria/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/videos/thomson-river-canoe-trip/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/tanjil-river-canoe-trip/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/canoeing/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/tanjil-river-canoe-trip/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/tanjil-river-canoeing-update/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/canoeing-the-macalister/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/tin-canoes/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/canoeing-the-macalister-river/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/canoeing-the-macalister-2/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hornet-lite-pack-raft/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/pack-raft-saves-the-day/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/packraft-video/

03/01/2017: New DIY Pack Raft: You have probably caught up with the price of a brand new Alpacka raft (http://www.alpackaraft.com/alpacka-raft-series/) and put your canoeing dreams on hold but there are cheaper options.

There is for example my home made pack raft (which costs less then A$40) that I posted about way back here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/home-made-pack-raft/ for example. I have since thought that it would be better to attach the reinforcing bottom with a circle of tarp clips (such as these: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/easyklip/) connected together with a thin rope. It can be easily taken off to dry and put back on again before you re-inflate. And it is easy to replace if it wears out.

I have also mentioned Klymit’s much cheaper rafts (from around US$100: eg here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/klymit-packraft/ & here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-best-laid-schemes/

Now there is an even better option: http://www.diypackraft.com/shop/ What a resource this is! These folk offer a DIY kit from US$125! This  is a very good price for a real packraft able to canoe serious white water! Their rafts start with an ultralight version815 grams!

Their page comes with every bit of useful advice you could possibly want. The site is positively encyclopaedic. Their DIY seat plan is handy. Even their blog http://www.diypackraft.com/blog/ is imnpressive. It even includes a DIY paddle! Check them out.

I may start with their fabric sample kit (US$5.99 – free international shipping) and their http://www.diypackraft.com/2016/07/09/diy-heat-sealing-iron/ (I have some other projects in mind for heat sealable fabrics).

Their fabric prices are quite good. I compared them with a couple of other suppliers such as Quest:  http://www.questoutfitters.com/Coated_2.htm#HEAT%20SEALABLE and Seattle: http://www.seattlefabrics.com/nylons.html Of course you can get them cheaper if you buy in bulk, eg Rockywoods: http://www.rockywoods.com/Fabrics-Kits/Heat-Sealable-Nylon-Fabrics

You will still need a paddle: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-paddle/

See Also:

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/faux-packraft-vs-alpacka-raft/

http://blog.hillmap.com/2013/02/raft-valves-and-dreams-of-homemade.html

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/gippsland-pack-rafting-routes/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-pack-rafting-life-vest/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/more-about-diy-pfds/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/you-take-the-high-road-and-ill-take-the-low/

PS: I have the Fiord Explorer pack raft from Alpacka, what they call their ‘Moose Boat’, because you can pack a whole moose carcass in it. You need to consider just how much you might carry before you purchase or make your first/next pack raft.

Happy Paddling!

 

02/01.2017: Make Your Own Tarp or Hammock: Tier Gear DIY Guides: Aussie Outfitter Tier Gear has an absolutely wonderful page of instructables here: http://www.tiergear.com.au/28/diy-guides which show in profound detail how to eg make your own superb hammock &/or hammock tarp - amongst other things. You can also buy all the materials from them. They deliver incredibly fast Australia-wide from their home in Tasmania. If you have any special order needs or questions they are exrtremely helpful and quick to answer.

If you don’t feel up to making your own gear (yet) you can order the same item from them already craftsman manufactured right here in Oz! And at a good price. For example, the Torrent 3.3 tarp shown in the photo is currently A$160. It is obviously a wonderful tarp which you could use instead of a tent (with a groundsheet) or as a hammock tarp. Its specs are as follows:

Ridgeline length: 335cm

Width: 280cm

Distance between bottom corners: 165cm
Panel pulls: None

Weight (in the stuff sack without cords or pegs):

Xenon Sil 1.1 (1500mmHH): 334grams (basic)

 

You might go on to make the same item later in .5 oz/yd2 perhaps in olive drab or camo. Available eg here: http://www.zpacks.com/materials/waterproof-fabric.shtml ) at about half the weight. Also check out their great range of interesting gear, eg suspension systems & etc For example: http://www.tiergear.com.au/11/online-shop/hammock-suspension-and-hardware

 

01/01.2017: Hammock Camping - Double Bunking:

This is an 8’ x 8’ (2.4 x 2.4 metres) cuben tarp to which we sewed two 4’6” x 8’ (1.35 x 2.4 metres) ‘wings’ so we could close it off as a tarp shelter like this:

It weighs 200 grams. Joe Valesko at zpacks made it for me. You can see what it looked like before we sewed the ‘wings on it here; http://www.zpacks.com/shelter/tarps.shtml. I/we have slept in it many nights. Here I was using a space blanket as a ground sheet. This works well. At this point I had not made my bed. It can also be erected as a hammock tarp like this:

Of course it can be tied/pegged out much tauter than this. I am not expecting to be camping on the verandah (though that is where many ideas are first tried out – as I’m sure you have already noticed!)

As you can see it will provide you with plenty of shelter from rain, and you can peg the downwind side up high enough that you can have a fire slightly to one side and enjoy the fire whilst relaxing on the hammock out of the wind and rain.

Della is reclining on a Nano 7 hammock here (https://www.grandtrunk.com/products/nano-7-hammock) which (with the caribiners removed and with dyneema ropes attached) weighs 187.5 grams. I would just throw one of our Thermarest Neoair Womens mats (340 grams) in it and a Montbell Ultralight Super Spiral #3 down sleeping bag (600 grams) for a perfect night’s sleep (Total: 1327.5 grams). Perhaps you would like to compare that weight to your current tent, sleeping bag and mattress combo! My arrangement is also much more comfortable, safer and drier.

 

We already know we can sleep in two Nano 7s pitched one above the other. You have to pitch the tarp slightly higher (4’6” instead of 4’). You have to boost the top person in, and then the bottom person (me) is closer to the ground than I would like (so far as getting in/out easily is concerned), but it works!

Now to check out whether we can both sleep head to toe in a double hammock. Side by side definitely doesn’t work! Here’s Della:

 

And here’s me at the other end:

 

As you can see, Spot figures there is plenty of room for him too – and he’s comfy! This is a Trek Light Gear Double Hammock (https://www.treklightgear.com/double-hammock.html). We were playing around with mattresses here. Della is lying on a ¾ length Neoair. I am on a Neoair Womens. We are using the new Klymit Ultralight pillows (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/klymit-ultralight-pillow/ ) and the Airbeams (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/air-beam-pad/ ) from our packs (both of which we would be carrying anyway) for side insulation on the side where our sleeping bags will be compressed. It is comfy enough.

Hummingbird Hammocks (https://hummingbirdhammocks.com/shop/single/) have a double hammock which weighs 10.2 ounces (289 grams), and a single+ one which weighs 7. 6 ounces (210 grams) which could also be used  for two. I should also mention their ultralight single here which weighs 5.2 ounces (146 grams) – even lower than the Nano 7! I need to try their products out!

I think a single wider (possibly longer) mattress would work better. The Klymit Ultralight I ordered from Massdrop is on its way. It is 23” wide. I am also eying some Exped mats which look really good.

So, what is our strategy here. What are we about doing? There are places we go where we may not need a shelter at all (because there are huts a day apart (Fiordland for example). However, you would be a damned fool to have no shelter as you can be very dead (as I have seen) if you don’t make it to a hut in torrential rain, for example. You must have a roof (see: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-importance-of-a-roof/) There, and other places it might be good to have the option to sleep on the ground, or if the ground is too wet/rough etc, to sleep in the trees.

We are looking at what is the minimum we can jointly take so we can do this. We are pretty close here to the solution. We will be looking into some wider pads which might better suit two people in a double hammock such as Big Agnes Q-core slx, and Exped Synmat UL7 MW & etc.

If you have a (wife or) youngster at home you want to start on camping/hiking/hunting, a double hammock plus tarp shelter such as I have explained here will mean s/he has to carry very little and will be safe in the tree with you - away from nasties such as spiders and snakes!

PS: I don’t know whether you noticed the eye bolts in the verandah posts to which I have attached two lengths of chain and some caribiners so I can quickly swing a hammock on the verandah if one of us wants to have a lazy day (Della actually went to sleep in the Nano 7 whilst I was off cleaning out a sheep trough!) I recommend this arrangement for your consideration.

PPS: If you are considering just a single hammock configuration you might want to know how light you can go with a tarp. This guy has been making cat curve tarps for ages: http://www.outdoorequipmentsupplier.com/maccat_tarps.php His Mac Cat Standard is obviously all you would need. In 1.3 oz/yd2 silnylon it weighs 270 grams (and costs US$105) which means it would weigh above 104 grams in cuben (let’s say less than 120). For comparison Joe Valesko makes an asym one which weighs 136 grams. Add a hammock at 146 = 266, plus 30 grams dyneema suspension , some pegs and some guylines for the tarp. You are still looking at a hammock/tent at less than 350 grams!

My first homemade hammock and hammock tarp were both fashioned from some green 2.2oz/yd2 nylon ripstop from Spotlight (you can see what it looked like in the 'poncho shelter' link below). We simply cut the required length for the hammock (leaving the full width of the fabric 5' - 150 cm), folded it over and double hemmed it at the ends (to take the rope). The selvage was enough for the sides. For the tarp we used a 7' x 7' (210 x 210 cm) square flat felled at the join and hemmed all round, to which we sewed grossgrain tie-outs at the corners and halfway along the sides. This arrangement worked fine for years and in all kinds of weathers hunting sambar deer in the Victorian mountains. Indeed I have been bone dry under this minimalist tarp when a couple of fellow hunters were soaked to the skin inside a tent pitched under a tarp not ten yards away! I am talking a tarp of 49 square feet here - and some of that area is almos6t certainly superfluous! In cuben 49 ft2 would weigh 2.7 ox or78 grams! Now you see what my 300 gram 'limit' is about!

See also:

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

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/all-in-one-hammock-tent-poncho-backpack-at-1-2-kg/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/laybag/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hole-less-ponchoshelter/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hammocks/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hammock-camping/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/sleeping-pad-reinvented-big-agnes-q-core-slx/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/klymit-insulated-static-v-lite-sleeping-pad/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/modifyingshortening-hiking-mats/

28/12/2016: Ultralight Toothpaste: ‘Tactical skills weblog Imminent Threat Solutions shares a simple method for making toothpaste dots by squeezing small, chocolate-chip sized "dots" of toothpaste onto aluminum foil, allowing those dots to harden for a week or so, and then transferring to a small waterproof bag. To use, all you need to do is pop a toothpaste dot in your mouth, chew for a few seconds, and start brushing.’ http://lifehacker.com/5979236/toothpaste-dots-keep-down-toiletry-bulk-when-carrying-light & http://gossamergear.com/wp/toothpaste-dots

https://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/s--MGMga1HD--/c_fit,fl_progressive,q_80,w_636/18cpm210gl48ejpg.jpg

27/12/2016: The Diamond Desert: Everest Base Camp Trek # 8: Once you reach Pangboche you are definitely out of the trees and the vista changes utterly. The absence of softening vegetation makes the panorama seem larger and harsher – and of course the colours change. You start to see lots more snow and ice, as well as vast shiny grey scree slopes as the Himalayas catapult downwards under their own steepness. In places huge mountainsides have simply cleaved and fallen off, sometimes damming vast ice rivers and forming beautiful turqoise lakes.

Even along the river it is barren lands.

View from Nangartschang Hill of one such cataclysmic lake.

About half way looking back towards Pangboche.

About half way looking towards Dingboche – could be out of a ‘spaghetti western’!

It is not until you see this that you are aware that the mountains are a vast crystalline growth on a truly gigantic scale. Of course you knew this intellectually all along: it is what the clash of continental plates and the uplift of crustal magma which creates them is all about, but not until you see the monstrous facets of stone mountains fissuring and fracturing away onto valley floors thousands of feet below are you truly aware that this is the same process yous see in your salt shaker or on your battery terminals at home but on a garagantuan scale.

Tsola River: Turnoff to Pheriche.

Dingboche: Nangachang Hill left

In Dingboche you are right below the Western slopes of Ama Dablam where there were apparently intrepid souls making their best efforts to commit suicide trying to reach the top. It looked impossible to me! Maybe the other side. It is the most photogenic of mountains. Some such suicide victim was clearly being rescued by this chopper in the morning. I did not notice when I snapped the scene the really super, supermoon hovering in the sky above it – yet that was weeks before the ‘official supermoon’! They do things differently in Nepal!

To me Ama Dablam is forbidding.

We had an acclimatisation day in Dingboche 4410 metres during which we climbed Nangartschang Hill just behind the French bakery where we were staying to approx 5200 metres. BTW the bakery also have a small Ph