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:

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

 

 

 

 

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-

Mon 15:40 EDT

NNW

24

28

12.6

-

10.3

-

-

40.6

-

-

Mon 15:30 EDT

NW

26

39

12.4

-

10.0

-

-

39.6

0.4

-

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

-

Mon 14:50 EDT

NNW

20

28

12.8

-

10.9

-

-

37.4

-

-

Mon 14:40 EDT

NNW

30

35

12.9

-

10.3

-

-

36.4

-

-

Mon 14:30 EDT

NW

31

43

12.9

-

10.3

-

-

34.8

0.4

-

Mon 14:20 EDT

NW

28

41

12.9

-

10.5

-

-

34.4

-

-

Mon 14:10 EDT

NW

35

43

12.9

-

10.1

-

-

31.6

-

-

Mon 14:00 EDT

NW

33

44

13.0

-

10.3

-

-

29.0

3.8

-

Mon 13:50 EDT

NW

33

41

13.0

-

10.3

-

-

25.6

-

-

Mon 13:40 EDT

N

35

44

13.1

-

10.3

-

-

22.8

-

-

Mon 13:30 EDT

N

39

61

13.1

-

10.2

-

-

20.0

1.4

-

Mon 13:25 EDT

N

35

56

13.0

-

10.2

-

-

19.2

1.8

-

Mon 13:20 EDT

NNW

37

46

13.0

-

10.1

-

-

18.8

-

-

Mon 13:10 EDT

N

19

24

13.0

-

11.2

-

-

16.0

-

-

Mon 13:00 EDT

N

39

50

13.0

-

10.0

-

-

12.4

1.8

-

Mon 12:47 EDT

NNE

39

44

12.9

-

9.9

-

-

10.6

-

-

Mon 12:37 EDT

N

43

63

12.8

-

9.6

-

-

6.4

1.6

-

Mon 12:30 EDT

N

37

50

12.7

-

9.7

-

-

5.4

2.6

-

Mon 12:20 EDT

NNW

35

41

12.6

-

9.7

-

-

3.4

-

-

Mon 12:00 EDT

N

31

43

12.9

-

10.3

-

-

0.2

0.2

-

Mon 11:50 EDT

N

33

39

13.0

-

10.3

-

-

0.0

-

-

Mon 11:30 EDT

N

26

33

13.3

-

11.1

-

-

0.0

0.0

-

Mon 11:20 EDT

-

26

31

13.5

-

11.4

-

-

0.0

-

-

Mon 11:10 EDT

N

37

41

13.7

-

11.0

-

-

0.0

-

-

Mon 11:00 EDT

N

39

48

13.9

-

11.2

-

-

0.0

0.0

-

Mon 10:50 EDT

N

39

43

13.7

-

11.0

-

-

0.0

-

-

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

-

Mon 10:20 EDT

NNW

35

48

14.9

-

12.7

-

-

0.0

-

-

Mon 10:10 EDT

N

39

44

15.5

-

15.5

-

-

0.0

-

-

Mon 10:00 EDT

N

33

44

15.3

-

15.3

-

-

0.0

0.0

-

Mon 09:50 EDT

N

30

35

15.7

-

15.7

-

-

0.0

-

-

Mon 09:36 EDT

N

33

52

16.0

-

16.0

-

-

0.0

0.0

-

Mon 09:30 EDT

N

35

44

16.4

-

16.4

-

-

0.0

0.0

-

Mon 09:20 EDT

N

33

39

16.4

-

16.4

-

-

0.0

-

-

Mon 09:10 EDT

N

30

37

16.5

-

16.5

-

-

0.0

-

-

Mon 09:00 EDT

N

33

44

16.1

-

16.1

-

-

0.0

0.0

-

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 Pharmacy which can be very handy if you are beginning to feel some symptoms of altitude sickness &/or Khumbu cough (they stock both Diamox and antibiotics, for example – also throat lozenges which you will also probably need by now!) If you take ½ a Diamox twice per day this will help prevent the symptoms of altitude sickness, which if you begin to suffer from, you must immediately descend – as it can be fatal! You should have begun this prevention strategy before you left Kathmandu (or Jiri).

View od Dingboche from Nangartschang Hill: all the tiny brave potato fields.

Literally hundreds of folk were attempting the ascent of  Nangartschang Hill as I set out after breakfast (Steve had preceded me – the young are always rushing ahead or lagging behind – why is it so?) Most turned back before the summit. When I arrived there I had only three others for company, including Steve. It was definitely a photo opportunity, but I must say I prefer greenery!

The Ultralight Hiker on top of Nangartscang Hill @ 5200 metres.

My head cold and sore throat became worse over the next 24 hours. I also felt very tired after the descent so reasoned that the planned foray to Chukkung Ri and the Kongma La Pass were not for me. I decided I would go on to Luboche and meet up with Steve at Gorek Shep. He would take my sat phone and I would take the sat messenger. I offered him the Escape Bivi but he still would not take it. The young. How they ever get to be old is a mystery – well, many of them don’t!

We parted just after breakfast and I headed off towards Luboche. However, I had to climb a couple of hundred metres over the hill I had climbed to the top of the day before with relative ease and after a while I could tell I was not going to make it. I could not tell whether it was altitude sickness or an onset of pneumonia at that stage, but I needed to get downhill immediately whichever it was and get well, so I headed off back towards Namche instead. I had a terrible two day walk there and on to Lukla as I decribed elsewhere, then a long, tortuous month recovering from the pneumonia which also struck young Steve down a couple of days later. I will let him carry on with his story of venturing on to Everest Base Camp:

Views (above and below) up the valley from Nangartschang Hill towards Chukkung.

‘I left Dingboche early (after saying goodbye to Steve J) and didn’t leave Chukkung until just before noon. I made it to the false summit of Chukkung Ri at 2 pm at 5,404 meters (17,725 feet). My lungs were feeling surprisingly strong. The views were unbelievable. You could even see the iconic Pumori in the distance to the north.

Steve H atop Chukkung Ri

And a friend!

When I realized that the actual summit was further up, I pushed on, but it was already quite late. The route was rather difficult as I was climbing across loose rock on a ledge that dropped several hundred meters. Very close to the top, I even became bluffed out and had to turn back around to find the correct route marked by small cairns. I reached the summit at 4 pm, which is rather late for Himalayan standards, as I still had a very long descent.

From the summit, I could see that clouds were rolling into the valley and began whipping up and over the saddle, from which I would descend. So, I did not stay long. The descent took forever. It was late in the evening and the sun began to set, casting its beautiful golden light on the high peaks to the east. I took a lot of pictures of this evening magic, which is why I didn’t arrive back in Chukkung until a long while past darkness.

I’ve done some crazy hikes before, but the next day was definitely the hardest hiking day of my life. It’s one thing to hike above 18,000 feet and another thing to do it with a 30 lb backpack. I’ve now had two consecutive days above 18k feet – higher than the altitude of Everest Base Camp.

It was freezing this morning when we left Chukkung and we had a few initial problems crossing the icy, glacial-fed stream, as the ‘local’ advice was completely inaccurate. We eventually headed upstream and found a makeshift bridge to cross.

Once on the true right, we traversed the Nuptse Glacier and picked up the unmarked Kongma La Pass trail…Hiking further, a beautiful bowl opened up with frozen waterfalls and glacial peaks looming high as a backdrop. Even a massive condor or eagle with a wingspan of some six feet soared above us.

Once we turned the corner, it became clear that we had to climb straight up. With my pack fully loaded, I could only manage climbing five meters at a time before I had to catch my breath. The secret is to keep your heart beat as low as possible and just move slowly in a zombie-like fashion with one foot in front of the other…

Upon reaching a plateau, I passed these beautiful frozen lakes before climbing again to the main plateau en route to the pass. On the main plateau, I was starting to feel a bit sick. Not overly nauseous, but just enough to make me unsteady. The weight of my backpack was really holding me back, but I knew that I had to push on.

Walking further on the plateau, I could see the pass and the prayer flags in the distance. All of a sudden, a beautiful turquoise lake opened up out of nowhere, so I took the opportunity to rest and to munch on two Snickers bars.

Eventually, I jumped back on the path again and began the final ascent to the pass. It was very steep with a huge drop down to the lake. There was so much sediment on the ground that it was very difficult to have much traction. A hiker from New Zealand coming down slipped and almost went over the edge. Finally, I made it to the pass at 5,535 meters (18,159 feet) feeling absolutely shattered. My body was completely spent. Fortunately, the views were just incredible.

On the back side, the route descended through huge boulders before giving way to loose scree. It was a tough descent after already reaching exhaustion at the pass. After descending for well over an hour, I reached the bottom of the valley. The moraine from the Khumbu Glacier was just massive. Traversing it for roughly 1.5 km was slow going, as the rocks were loose and the route was not well defined. I was utterly exhausted, but had to push beyond my limits again in order to concentrate and avert injury.

Finally, I reached the other side. Turning around, I stood in awe at what I had just descended and traversed. The size of the Khumbu Glacier was just unreal. I then proceeded to descend into the village of Lobuche, where I stumbled around looking for a room. Eventually I found a dark and dingy tea house where I could rest my head. I changed my clothing and immediately passed out.

Next day I made it to Everest Base Camp (and also climbed Kala Pattar). Normally, people hike from Lobuche and do this itinerary in 2-3 days. I’m feeling pretty good. It is the third day in a row above 18,000 feet. Everything is literally freezing up here so I cannot write much of a message. For now, here are some pictures. Everest is absolutely beautiful…

Just a bit of an additional update. Yesterday was an amazing, but it is very, very cold to sleep up here at 17,000 feet. It was less than 5 degree F weather overnight here in Gorakshep. My Nalgene froze within 15 minutes. I could barely sleep due to the extreme cold and could definitely feel the altitude after such a long day. Throughout the night, you could hear huge chunks of glaciers careening off the mountains, creating a rumble that also keeps you awake…

Khumbu Glacier.

I can’t believe just how many people are doing the EBC trek, which is precisely why I elected to do the much less trodden and much more challenging Three Passes Trek. From Lobuche to Gorakshep, I was literally running past groups just so that I could reserve a room in Gorakshep. Almost everything was booked out, but fortunately, the Snow Land lodge had one more room available…

Upon reaching Everest Base Camp…You could only see a small section of Everest, but the real view was of Nuptse, the Khumbu Glacier and the infamous Khumbu Icefall. It was crazy to think that I was only one kilometer from Tibet

Once we headed back to Gorakshep, I grabbed a plate of spaghetti and then began climbing Kala Pattar…I kept pushing on to 5,465 meters. The sun was beginning to set, so I stopped and began to watch one of the most amazing sunsets of my life. The view of Everest was clear as crystal, with Chomolungma nestled between Nuptse and another unnamed peak…How could you not be spiritual in that moment. It really was an incredible sight.

Even long after the sun had gone over the horizon and was no longer shining brilliant gold on these majestic peaks, these mountains remained as white as ever. The glow of orange and red and pink behind these mountains was also stunning…I then descended for the next 45 minutes using the moon glow to find my way back down. It was freezing. Every other person had his/her headlamp out, but I’ve done enough night hiking in my life to see and know the path…

Today, I am hiking all the way to Dzongla, which is supposed to be the most beautiful mountain town in Sagarmatha. I’m still batting a lump in my throat (due to a combination of cold and exhaustion), so I may spend an additional night there in order to recharge my batteries for the very challenging Cho La Pass…

So, I’ve arrived in Dzongla with a rather nasty throat cold. While hiking, the wind has, at times, been ferocious and, while sleeping, the air temperature has been averaging 5-10 degrees F. In the morning, I always find my window frozen with ice crystals due to the moisture coming from my exhalation. It is so cold in the lodges that the bathrooms are always frozen over with urine and faeces, presenting a not-so-appetizing trip to the loo. How people are able to avoid water-borne illnesses is beyond me. Mix in the Khumbu dust or cow dung smoke that you are constantly breathing in, and you have the perfect recipe to get sick. Tea houses are generally filled with a cacophony of coughs, of which I am now a contributor…

Walking from Gorakshep to Lobuche, I was really moving quickly. Unfortunately, due to my cold, the second portion of the hike to Dzongla really wore me down. I was very, very tired and struggled to put one foot in front of the other…my throat is completely swollen, which restricts my breathing – not a great attribute to have at 16,000 feet. My nose has constantly been running and it is very apparent that I must take a ‘zero’ day tomorrow so that I can rest. I need to be very fit to make it up and over Cho La Pass, so I’ll have to make a decision on my fitness tomorrow night.

My eyes keep crying…my throat still hurts, and I have fluid constantly dripping from my nose. I’ve already gone through two rolls of toilet paper and that’s just from blowing my nose 🙂Last night, my throat and lungs were so constricted that I could barely breathe in the thin air. Hopefully, tonight will be more bearable…

For all of these reasons, I have decided to throw in the towel and descend to Namche tomorrow.’

26/12/2016: Best Deer Hunter’s Cap, Best Ultralight Cap: At 76 grams in 61% Merino wool, 19% Tencel, 14% Nylon, 6% Lycra these are just the best caps I have ever found. (Black colour only) Your head stays drier and either cooler/warmer (depending on season) than any other head wear I have worn when you are working hard: http://au.icebreaker.com/en/mens-hats-neckwear/cool-lite-quantum-cap/102249.html?dwvar_102249_color=001

They are on special now (Boxing Day) at A$39.96, so snap one up; I did. You will note they also have a camo version in a slightly heavier, warmer merino fabric for winter hunts: 111 grams & A$29.97: http://au.icebreaker.com/en/accessories/explore-hat-real-tree/102359_WS.html?dwvar_102359__WS_color=901

http://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/b7cAAOSwIgNXviLe/s-l300.jpg

 

25/12/2016: The New Science of Exercise: http://time.com/4475628/the-new-science-of-exercise/ “We almost completely prevented the premature aging in the animals,”

‘Doctors, researchers, scientists--even ancient philosophers--have long claimed exercise works like a miracle drug. Now they have proof.

As I have said before, a rigorous exercise program might not extend your life. It will definitely enhance and extend your quality of life even if you begin it at any age. Everybody knows that they ought to do it, but it's hard and it hurts and we're lazy and "busy."  Plus there is that terrible part: delayed gratification. Everybody hates that. As I say, "The flesh is willing but the spirit is weak."

Our quite well-informed recommendations for general fitness and conditioning for the ordinary person who wants to achieve or maintain maximal functionality for life:

1. Nutrition: Don't be visibly overweight - it's the worst thing you can do to yourself besides being an addict, and no exercise can help being fat. Does a demanding exercise program require a specific pattern of nutrition? Yes. We have discussed that in previous posts here. With a serious exercise program, you have to keep up with the protein and fats - approx. 70-100 gms of protein/day.

2. Weight training - as heavy as possible, approx 50 minutes twice a week

3. Approx one hr total of calisthenics/wk for mobility, balance, and athleticism

4. 2 or 3 twenty-min sessions of cardio intervals/wk  (HIIT). (For HIIT, I do stairs once, elliptical once, rowing once. Occasionally sprints in the pool.)

Under age 35, it can take 12 months to be whipped into decent shape. Over 35-40, depending on your fitness starting point, 18-24 months. Intense sports like basketball can substitute for calisthenics. Yoga is excellent, but does not substitute for any of the above. Many men find Yoga to be quite challenging and helpful. Lots of pro football players do it. If your day job is physical, all of the above recommendations would differ.’

24/12/2016: Yarra Falls 3:

There are some amazing wilderness areas in Victoria. Some maybe only a half dozen living eyes have seen. Such as this. People have been forbidden to venture here since c1955. This is the junction of Falls Creek and the Yarra River forwarded to me by an anonymous reader. Falls Creek is seen entering from the left.

S/he writes: 'It is about 11,000 steps in from the main road to here, some very short ones as the terrain is quite steep in places, particularly the last few hundred metres. There is also some horizontal scrub to negotiate, very tricky unless you are shown the way, or keep a careful look out. On the way in you walk North across the head of a gully then follow the ridge (just north of centre) sloping roughly NE for a couple of kilometers until you reach the top of the first waterfall, one of six falling a total of over 250 metres, the highest in Victoria. There is a very small spot you might pitch a tent about fifty metres before the first fall. A hammock or two could be pitched at the falls. There is no water for the next 9,000 steps till you reach the Yarra confluence.

Some beautiful wildflowers on the way.

You cross above the top waterfall, climb diagonally onto the ridge to the West then follow it all the way to the bottom, keeping exactly on the top. After about 2,000 steps there is a view of some of the falls seen poorly through the tall timber. There is a clearish view of probably the second one, whilst others below it, glimpsed only indistinctly give an impression of their immense height. A side track needs to be contoured in from just downhill of this spot to access a better view of these five falls. It used to be possible to climb them on the Eastern (true right) side.

The last couple of hundred metres of the ridge the path leads a little to the left of its centre through some horizontal scrub bringing you out onto the Falls Creek about 100 metres upstream from the confluence. There is a substantial flat area downstream of the creek where several tents could be pitched.

You can camp right on the Yarra here and catch a trout for your breakfast.

The 'Shelter Hut' was on that ridge above the tent. It would have had a superb view.

Trout are plentiful and easy to catch in this section of the infant Yarra. The old Shelter House used to lie just up the ridge from the river flat on the downstream side of the creek. There are a number of flattish areas where it might have been, but no sign of the concrete chimney, so further investigation is needed. The vegetation here is quite thick.

It is probably not too difficult to push your way from this campsite through the vegetation up to the base of the Main Falls which lie at least a kilometre below the five falls. You would need the best part of a day to do just that and return. I suspect.

Possibly site of 'Shelter Hut'.

It will take you a day to walk in to the confluence and a day to walk out. Or you can walk in to the top of the first falls and out again in a day. Especially along the ridge the forest litter is probably nearly a foot deep. Underlying it there are many stones. Your feet are constantly rolling on the deep litter, and as you crash through it you are often pitched in unexpected directions by the stones etc. You will need hiking poles to minimise falls but they are quite awkward to use in the densely vegetated sections.' It would be useful if you brought a machete (such as this: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-worlds-greatest-machete/) and some pink fluoro tape to improve the path for others.'

See also:

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

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/yarra-falls-2/

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

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/upper-yarra-track-early-visits-to-yarra-falls/

http://archive.bigben.id.au/victoria/melb/yarra_falls.html

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/yarra-falls-1928/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/upper-yarra-track-historic-photos/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/1925-sketch-map-of-yarra-falls/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/upper-yarra-track-heres-a-little-treasure/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/upper-yarra-track-some-history/

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

Video of Main Falls (2007): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dUZwDjiO-sk

20/12/2016: A Merry 'Shear-mas' to all! Della: ‘Yesterday was our 'Shear-mas Day'. Sing along with the words, and token apologies to John Lennon whose lyrics were much more trite than mine!
"And so this is Shear-mas
A day in the sun
Another fleece over
A new one just begun.
A very merry Shear-mas
And a Happy New Year
We're all sleek and neat now
No dags on our rears!"

And we celebrated the end of Shear-mas Day with a dinner of roast lamb and freshly picked raspberries with lashings of cream and ice-cream. Almost makes up for the tired muscles and excess sun-exposure!’

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Lining up.

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Even the lambs got a short back and sides.

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Steve in fine fleece throwing form.

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All over and a fresh paddock to graze.

So nice these days to finish the shearing in one day (early afternoon) instead of at least five days of hard grind in the blazing heat. Retirement has its blessings! We are proud though of having for nearly 40 years participated in and contributed to what was once Australia’s greatest industry: the Pastoral Industry. Just a hobby for us now though! See also: http://www.finnsheep.com/index.htm

19/12/2016: Golden Triangle Fallow: I visited Dunolly in Central Victoria briefly last week to see an old friend. Although the bush thereabouts looks like (and is described by locals even as) ‘lizard country’ my friend showed me a grassy rise as well as a couple of promising gullies thereabouts where he has seen good fallow. In one such secret place he had picked up this enormous fallow antler which Della has turned into a Xmas decoration as you can see - before its eventual descent into knife handle, towel rail or etc…Gold is where you find it! It looks more like a moose antler to me! Anyway. Merry Xmas!

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19/12/2016: Sambar Stalking #104: A lot can be learned about deer by observing their behaviour; I have been a sheep farmer for thirty years (longer now than I have worked at anything else – it looks odd on my census return: Occupation: Sheephusband!): They are quite like sheep. Particularly in their routines, the topography they prefer, their family behaviour, their caution and nervousness, their ability to choose a pleasant spot to be. They are also personally unsurprisingly docile and affectionate towards each other. If you have ever tried to force sheep somewhere they decided not to go you would not doubt their intelligence. It has been established that sheep can identify over 1,000 plants from a single experience of them; apparently this equates to an IQ over 60. A human being with that level of intelligence would be considered below normal – but would have the vote! We would not be able to shoot, kill and eat such a person, however.

NB: This is a draft. I will be adding to it a little later on…but folks have been asking me when I was going to post (yet) another deerhunting ‘story’ – so here it is!

There have been a number of studies of sambar deer (eg employing tracking collars) which are quite instructive about the areas they chose to inhabit and the way they travel them. I recommend you pay some attention to them rather than opinion (eg that they migrate!) Had you looked at such studies you would not doubt my opposition to trail cameras as unfair ‘hunting’ aids. Such studies also indicate their preferred food (mast ie fruit, nuts etc, not blackberries, for example). You can be paying attention to such things as you move through the bush: eg the prevalence of coprosma fruits (both sweet and prickly), lilly-pillys, etc: mast which is equally palatable to people, by the way! The early settler adopted such fruits as desserts and preserves. It is worthwhile knowing what can be eaten (by people too) in the bush and trying it out (even beetle larvae and the hearts of tree ferns, etc) as you never know when you may be lost and hungry!

Deer’s fondness for such foods leaves no surprise that orchardists view deer in much the same way as they view cockatoos and corellas. The main sign deer have feasted well on prickly coprosma may just be the absence of the fruits from suitable heighted branches as they run them through their mouths to suck off the succulent fruit. I have observed this many times. Blackberries are more of a desperation food for deer – as they are just so prickly. You will see them browsing the fresh shots in late winter/early spring when less alternative fodder is available. If it were their number one choice they would have eradicated blackberries from all those otherwise choked riverbanks and gullies!

Some folk ask whether they can be called – and indeed they can (odd times – I have). But you will need to study hard to learn what sound it is might make them come. By then you will likely have shot enough deer anyway! You will for a long while (if you ever hear it) and think something else made THAT sound. In such a situation likely two will come. You will also likely only hear such calls as may attract them if you are in quite a remote place, rarely if ever frequented by humans. Such calls as they do make are usually at the borders of two stags’ territories, though does and young make many small sounds each to each which you will have to be very close to hear. Because of my deafness, I no longer can. The voices of bats too, and many other sounds are lost to me. It is far better though than going blind as my wife has been doing.

Not unlike other herbivores one stag will often have several does (though he may tolerate a spiker or two with them). This means there are other spots where lone stags hang out or (quite often) where groups of stags hang out together, as with many of the deer family – moose for example. My old late friend, the ‘legendary’ Arthur Meyers shot three such stags out of one small gully (Poole‘s) in quick succession (I believe) in the Jordan catchment in 1962. I have personally seen a group of five stags living placidly together in a very small patch (about an acre) at the head of a gully in one of the many Stoney Creeks. The dominant stag is not always the biggest stag. Often another solitary stag is, one who was long ago beaten (perhaps because he tried too early) and has given up trying.

Having nothing else to do but grow, he might grow to an enormous size, as one Arthur’s mate George shot off my great hound Harpoon in Red Jacket in the 1990s. Harpoon and I had put this monster stag up from one of those small perched gullies high up (this one surprisingly on the South side of the Bald Hill) where deer love to shelter in wet weather (when you think they have all but disappeared from the terrain). I guess there is a spring there which keeps some fresh food alive; the vegetation is often thick (in this case all but impassable and choked with ‘wait-a-while’ or ‘lawyer’ vines). It is sheltered, warmer and drier than the surrounding bush – if you are ‘laying up’ anyway.

Harpoon put him up mid-morning. Within I guess less than an hour the stag had commenced a ‘walking bail’ where he would neither run nor stand. This is a tactic oft employed by large stags and is enough to shake most hounds, but not Harpoon. He stuck with him thus for many hours, until he cruised past George at the head of a side gully of the Ross Creek about 3:00 in the afternoon. George managed to get only one shot off into him with his trusty .308, as the stag immediately bolted over the ridge, George (and Harpoon) in hot pursuit. The single shot was enough (it was a heart shot) but as is quite normal the stag still ran for maybe half a kilometre on pure adrenaline until he collapsed on the side of a gully, where George found him, limping up to him with a twisted ankle.

He had perforce to spend a very cold night with him, huddled over a miserly fire with a couple of muesli bars for company. The radio communication there is always very bad, and we could not find him though we combed the bush until about 1:00am. Our search was made more difficult by an immigrant whom Arthur had brought along who was tasked to merely ‘keep the home fires burning’. This chap was of an excitable Italian disposition and had brought along a ready supply of ‘grappa’. Every time we would let off a shot in an attempt to zero in on George’s answering shot, ‘Giovani’ becoming increasingly inebriated would let off a shot of his own (unbeknown to us) which completely threw off our efforts to locate poor George.

He was much easier to find the next morning when we ‘rescued him around 8:00am, having driven into Woods Point to beg a loan of the gate key from the local policeman, who kindly offered to come along and assist. As I previously mentioned George was huddled against a giant log over a small smoky fire. He quickly assured us he needed a swig of rum before a drink of water. Everyone carried spirits in their hunting kit in those days. I was looking around for the stag. It took me a while to realise that the ‘log’ was the stag. He was so large he could not be rolled over (downhill) by one person. The head would not fit in the back of a Nissan Patrol, so had to be strapped to the bonnet where it over-reached both mudguards. There are monsters out there still!

At the top of this post you will see a snap of my first deer, taken off Alan Green’s hounds near Brunton’s Bridge in, I guess 1984. In the background you can see Alan’s lovely wife Carol and his faithful old hound Harry, father of my ‘Harpoon’. How young we were! 35mm photos are so eclipsed by the new digital photography though, aren’t they? There were often nearly as many women on our team as men. It would be good to see more women hunters today. I had been hunting deer for nearly two years before I took this one, so you can see why I think many potential hunters are too impatient today. We enjoyed many splendid days in the bush (ethically) trying to bag a deer. Usually we came back with lots of stories (and scratches) but not many deer. It was a great adventure however, and I deeply cherish the memories of those wonderful friendly hunts!

PS: Carol & Alan are now the proprietors of https://www.caoutdoors.com.au/ 61 Tramway Rd, Morwell. They sell all your hunting, fishing and camping needs. Also there really is no-one who is more knowledgeable as them – especially regarding hunting.

This doe came out of ‘The Flourbag’. I was waiting for her just off the B2 track, and had been for some time – with no sound of hounds or men. The old 27 meg CB radios we used in those days (often only one channel) were little better than two tin cans tied with a length of string! Mine was a 1 watt Tandy special. I still have it somewhere. She had been bedded near the willows in the Flourbag. She had gone up and down that stream a few times, then up the river getting further and further ahead of the hounds all the time. She had then crossed the Flourbag and come across into the Thomson where I waited with no sound of an accompanying hound to warn me.

Having heard nothing for hours (and it being  a warm afternoon), I confess I had sat down on a log and was having a smoke – and reading a book actually, thinking the hunt was lost to me and had gone far upriver. I must have heard the slightest sound as she crept past me, as when I looked up, there she was. This was the only day in my long deer hunting career when I had forgotten my gun! Fortunately Alan had an old ‘sporterised’ .303 exactly like mine which he was able to lend me.

As you can see, a .303 will make a deer quite satisfactorily dead if you hit it squarely in the chest. This is the main thing. I have mentioned before that I only ever use iron sights. It takes a bit more practice to hit a running target with them, but once you are adept it is easier, as you never lose sight of your target. It is also fairer on the deer. Also, if you drop the gun or fall over with it as you are bound to do sometime, nothing will move those iron sights on an SMLE or a Mauser – which is mostly what everyone had once. I still have mine. Every so often they get a ‘run’ with some novice I am training.

I was watching Attenborough’s Planet Earth 2 ‘Grasslands’ just last night and noticed that the armed rangers in India’s National Parks still use them – and that would be in case of a charging elephant or a tiger, perhaps. They used to be touted as the quickest bolt action rifle in the world. In WW1, our soldiers were supposed to be able to shoot a German or a Turk every second (or quicker) and at 500 metres plus+. It would be good if our young were still trained to that level of skill with firearms – as the world is no freer of dangers today than it was in 1914 – and never will be! Col Townsend Whelen (after whom the rifle round and tent are named) used to train US soldiers to shoot their .30-06 bolt action rifles. He could reliably put a round a second (or better) into a target the size of a man’s chest at 200 yards every time. If you can do that, you need no artificial aids to take sambar deer.

The ‘crew’ that day: Alan & Carol Green, Ray and Val Quinney.

I shot from my seated position so as not to further alarm her – she was going quite quickly enough. As sambar often do she just hunched down with the shot and kept steaming along, so that (if you were someone else) you might think you had missed her, but I had grown up busting bunnies on the run with a .22 in Western NSW, so I knew she was hit in the boiler room and would soon be down. Even so I first walked right by her even though she was leaving a quite impressive blood trail. Sambar blend in  impressively well to their surroundings: I can’t imagine how those unsporting types who haul off and shoot at deer at 1,000 metres ever manage to find them again. Judging by the heads I have picked up in the bush over the years, they often don’t!

It was celebrations all round. Our tradition was that it was the successful hunter’s ‘shout’ – in the Erica pub of course! Hunting ethically you don’t take anywhere near many deer as unethical folks are doing these days with their GPS collars and computer assisted ‘culling’ systems. We even caped this doe out and took the cape to the taxidermist – as I wanted my ‘first deer’ mounted. I cared not a jot whether it was a stag or a hind. Unfortunately the taxidermist ‘lost’ the cape, so it was not to be. I have never had much interest in other trophies since so I have not bothered. I used to give away heads if someone else wanted them until my kids once asked why I never brought a stag’s head home, though I brought the meat they grew tall on, so naturally I said I would bring the next one I shot home and have it mounted – which I did.

Our kids were quite chuffed by my first deer – and just as happy to eat it!

Curiously enough it was also a deer I put up one weekday in the Flourbag though I had not been there in years. At this time I had taken to hunting mostly weekdays, often by myself or maybe (as on this occasion) with maybe one friend – to help with the carry out! Not a particularly fine specimen of a stag, though perhaps a descendant of my first deer. Nonetheless it is ‘on the wall’ somewhere in our house. I have many better antlers now which I could swap on it, but it would not be the same. It would not be the stag I shot off ‘Harpoon’ that day off that track, long ago…

And here he is!

Some Other Hunting Related Posts (there are many more):

Adventures:

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/sambar-stalking-101/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/sambar-deer-stalking-102/

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

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

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/spots-hunting-adventures-1-mystery-river/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/spots-adventures-mystery-river-2/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/spots-hunting-adventures-mystery-river-3/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/not-quite-alone-in-the-wilderness/

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

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

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

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

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/westies-hut/

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

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-gorilla-in-the-bush/

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

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-last-of-the-mountain-men/

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

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/if-you-could-only-carry-two-things-in-the-bush-what-would-they-be/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-importance-of-a-roof/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-deer-hunters-tent/

19/12/2016: More amazing facts about pigeons: http://www.popsci.com.au/science/nature/pigeons-can-read-a-little-bit-new-research-shows,437745 & http://www.popsci.com.au/science/nature/pigeons-know-when-theyre-getting-bad-leadership-advice,437740

18/12/2016: Lewis and Clark Weren't the Only Explorers to Map the American Frontier: http://mentalfloss.com/article/86268/lewis-and-clark-werent-only-explorers-map-american-frontier

17/12/2016: 10 Things We All Did in School That Are Banned for Kids Today: https://pjmedia.com/parenting/2016/11/10/10-things-we-all-did-in-school-that-are-banned-for-kids-today/

17/12/2016: Klymit Insulated Static V Lite Sleeping Pad: This pad is available on Massdrop (https://www.massdrop.com/buy/klymit-insulated-static-v-lite?referer=EJ89BQ) for US$62.99 (so about A$100 delivered) just now. It has a very good R rating and is 23” wide! Just what you need to keep those elbows warm! I do not need it to be so long as this but can probably cut approx 6” (15 cm) off it and reseal it with a hot iron (so bringing its weight down to 509 grams. Della would only need 5’ (150 cm) of it, so hers would weigh 463 grams!) This is heavier than my  beloved Thermarest Neoair Women’s but it is wider, has a slightly higher R rating (.7) and looks to be made of a tougher material, so worth a try. ‘Lite has an R-value of 4.4 and weighs just 19.6 ounces (556 grams) . The body-mapped V shape and dynamic side rails reduce air movement and hug your body as you sleep, while the Klymalite synthetic insulation offers reliable thermal performance for all seasons—from summer backpacking to winter ski tours. Made from tear- and abrasion-resistant 30d polyester, this pad inflates easily in 10 to 15 breaths through the twist-pull valve, and when you’re done, packs down to 5 by 8 inches in the included stuff sack.’

PS: I recently received a Klymit X Ultra Light Pillow (Weight 53 grams http://www.theultralighthiker.com/klymit-ultralight-pillow/). I am most impressed with it. Though a few grams heavier than my Exped pillow, it appears to be tougher. You can sit on it (it has a screw down valve instead of a plug) , so it makes an excellent comfortable trail seat. The configuration allows for a number of sleeping strategies but the 'X' in the middle will be ideal for back sleepers. I slept on it last night and found it superbly comfortable.

See also:

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ul-pillows/

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

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/more-about-diy-pfds/

Specs

Sleeping Pad

Fabric: 30d polyester with antimicrobial laminate

Color: Orange

Insulation: Klymalite synthetic fibers

R-value: 4.4

Inflation: 10 – 15 breaths

Dimensions, inflated: 72 x 23 x 2.5 in (183 x 59 x 7 cm)

Dimensions, packed: 5 x 8 in (13 x 20 cm)

Weight, pad: 19.6 oz (556 g)

Weight, stuff sack: 0.5 oz (13 g)

Included

Stuff sack

Patch kit

Klymit’s lifetime warranty

Klymit Insulated Static V Lite Sleeping Pad

 16/12/2016: Blocked from Pirate Bay: Just as in the Islamic and Stalinist dictatorships our great ex-Communications Minister, Malcolm has just ‘made’ it so you can no longer ‘access’ your favourite torrent site – well not unless you use a VPN (which Pirate Bay has been recommending for nearly a decade themselves - for privacy reasons!) and as I recommended here back in October 2015; http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ipvanish/ As you can read here this is the solution to all our Government’s interference with your internet freedom: http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/…/how-download-torrents-downloa…/ An update; I have been using IPVanish for over a year now and they are great!

16/12/2016: Woman tricks husband into thinking she 'adopted' a coyote. This is very funny: www.someecards.com/life/digital-life/woman-adopts-photoshop-coyote-husband-freaks/

13/12/2016: Swallow Update: The missing birds have at last returned. They came in day before yesterday in a veritable swarm. They all wanted to check out the garage (where many of them were born) and I was standing in their way. They were swooping and diving only inches away from me as they passed by. They must have experienced a period of low food somewhere along their migratory path which delayed them until they were fat enough again to fly. Really glad to seee them back though! Welcome home for the summer little guys! See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/welcome-swallows/

http://weknowyourdreams.com/images/swallow/swallow-04.jpg

12/12/2016:The things they sell at the Yinnar General Store:

11/12/2016: Adler 7-Shot Ban: I have rarely seen anything quite so silly. Or the extraordinary waste of all the ‘important’ meetings which preceded it! Two cartridges just cannot make a difference of two categories. At the very best /worst a 7-Shot lever action should be category C, as is a 7-shot pump action shotgun (indeed all pump action shotguns!) whereas a 5 shot pump action high calibre rifle is Category B! There needs to be some rationality here.

 

The Category system after all only applies to legal gun owners who are subject to the most rigorous identity, suitability and storage requirements so that it surely can’t make a whole lot of difference if one of us should perhaps squeeze through the net and (using our two extra bullets) go on to commit some awful offence (as has not happened since long before Port Arthur actually – whoever was the perpetrator there was not a legal gun owner).

 

You can purchase a 10-shot Category B .303 bolt action rifle (once touted as the fastest bolt action in the world) capable of accurately delivering slightly more rounds per minute (and with a range of more than 2 km) than an Adler lever action with its miserable 5/7 shot magazine (with a range of approx 200 metres) and which need to be reloaded one at a time, whereas the .303 magazine can be reloaded or switched instantly! The .303 has been available now for well over a century - as has the lever action shotgun actually. You would think with all the hype you have read that the Adler is some startling innovation in firearms technology.

 

I shall probably go out an buy a 5-shot lever action in 12 gauge for myself and a matching .410 gauge for Della, just because we can! Meanwhile, does anyone actually care that deaths from heroin overdoses now exceeds gun deaths in the USA? http://www.ibtimes.com/heroin-overdose-epidemic-deaths-exceed-gun-homicides-first-time-us-report-2458116 

 

11/12/2016: Lamping rabbits with hawks in Sussex. Meanwhile, enjoy this excellent video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6UMIkwQ8GI

10/12/2016: Miniature Pens: Some of these would make an interesting stocking filler. Whilst nowhere near as Ultralight as my own http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-pen/ some of them are quite interesting. Being able to have a pen handy on your keychain is a good idea, as is the pen which expands to full size when needed; 

http://www.lamy.com/eng/b2b/pico

https://www.massdrop.com/buy/tec-accessories-picopen-keychain-pen?referer=EJ89BQ

http://www.thewritingpenstore.com/c-121-wallet-and-keychain-pens.aspx

Pico Keychain Pen

Beta Inkless Keychain Pen

Lamy Pico Pen

See Also: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/waterproof-notepads/

09/12/2016: You Take the High Road and I’ll Take the Low: Canoe Hunting: A canoe (or better yet, a pack raft) can get you to many spots which would be almost impossible with a 4WD or just on foot (even just across a swollen river, or much further along a lake), and it can get you (and your quarry) out again with a minimum of effort. Victoria possesses a wonderful network of navigable rivers/lakes often linked to walking tracks or off-road vehicular tracks which can provide an unsurpassed wilderness experience. See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/gippsland-pack-rafting-routes/

What is Pack rafting?: I just realised that many readers may not realise what pack rafting is, so I’ll try to explain. A number of folk (eg Alpacka: http://www.alpackaraft.com/ ) have developed these ultralight (but tough ie suitable Grade 3 rapids – and above!) inflatable rafts/canoes which weigh approx. 2 kg (4lb) - or less. Coupled with a paddle of 800 grams (or less) and a life vest of 500 grams (or less), you can stow this boat and what you need to ‘drive’ it safely in your hiking/hunting/fishing backpack (which should itself weigh 500 grams or less empty!)

imgp3383-comp

My Fiord Explorer descending the 'Boulder Rapid' (Grade 3) on the Thomson River.

You will need a reasonable waterproof liner, and I would recommend a second one inside the first to contain your sleeping bag and change of clothes. Throw in all your other ultralight hiking gear (and maybe some fishing gear) you’ll be going where they’re biting obviously - and maybe a packable rifle, and you are good to go for quite a different adventure. I use a ‘take-down’ (Browning) BLR ‘Lightning’ .308 myself in ‘take-down’ form, (meaning it ‘breaks’ into two and can be stowed inside the waterproof pack liner) in my hunting pack. This is great for keeping the rifle clean and dry. I also carry it stowed like this in my pack on walks out when carrying a heavy load. I have two shortened hiking poles (@100 grams ea – they also serve as my tent poles, selfie stick, tripod, fishing rod, etc) which help enormously with a ‘carry out’ – at least at my age! They transfer around 40% of the effort from your legs to your upper body, and mean that you can maintain your balance with ease.

Now you can walk and paddle to some really inaccessible spots. These are the places where folks with only 4WDs or motorbikes can’t get. Often they can’t get to them without several days’ walk (both in and out – or not at all), whereas you will be getting in and out relatively easily. It might be that you will also want to combine canoe hunting with a motorcycle carrier so that you can ‘do’ one long section of a river and recover your vehicle when you finish. Something like this: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/motorbike-hitch-carrier/ but there are many potential ‘loops’ as well where all you will need is your canoe and your feet.

Of course I am assuming you already have a fair degree of canoeing skill and experience. If you do not, I suggest you get it before heading off into the bush on your own – or with a friend. The three golden rules used to be: don’t get side on (particularly to a log), lean into rocks (this rule is reversed with inflatables – as you will quickly find out - splash!), stay on the inside of bends (avoid overhangs and logs). If there is likely to be a ‘stopper’ (eg a waterfall), or just anything you are unsure of, get out and walk. This is one of the beauties of pack rafts; they are so light and portable. An older style Canadian canoe could easily weigh 35+ kg. Then you maybe put in it 50+kg of gear. Portaging that becomes a serious problem sometimes. On the trip in you will have perhaps 15 kg including the pack raft and gun! You may have considerably more on the way out!

The ‘rule’ about side on/logs etc is because if your canoe fills with water with you still in it (or you stuck downstream of it), the water can easily weigh half a tonne – or more! You will not be able to lift yourself out of it, or it off you – and you will drown, as so many have! If you must cross a lake, go all the way round within 20 metres of shore. Lakes frequently have large standing waves which form suddenly and can tip you out. Anyway, you might find yourself in the lake water far from shore for one reason or another. It may be too far to swim, or as is often the case lake water is frequently just above zero (from shading, snow melt etc) just a few inches below the surface. Many folks have died of hypothermia before they could swim to shore, only 100 metres or so! ‘You live and learn, or you don’t live long’! Lazarus Long, ‘Time Enough for Love’, Robert Heinlein.

One of the beauties of raft hunting is that you can move your camp easily, so that you can check out much more territory. Access to cool water also makes keeping meat fresh (and clean) easier. You can easily take more food with you as it won’t be so much work carrying it, and you can catch some fresh fish/crays to supplement your diet.

Another advantage is that you can set up semi-permanent camps if you want. It is no big deal to take a canoe drum in (each) when you go, and to leave it there - so that some useful equipment is hidden away against future use. There is little risk that nefarious folk ill find or interfere with it. You might want a larger shelter, a saw, axe, some comfier folding furniture, some emergency supplies - & booze!, a quantity of salt, a hammock or two, dynamo radio, etc, etc. A good idea might be to write your contact details inside the drum lid so that if anyone should need to use them in an emergency they can contact you to arrange their replacement.

Happy Hunting!

Whitewater Rivers of Victoria: A very useful resource: (of course it is not an exhaustive list, but it might be a good start): https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=1KquqzZygh-1toyLq3DTt_ItC-UM&ll=-37.852948477811616%2C146.85638701650396&z=14

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/dusky-track-canoeing-the-seaforth/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/tanjil-river-canoe-trip/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/canoeing-gippslands-rivers/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/canoeing/

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/tanjil-river-canoeing-update/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/canoe-clearing/

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/canoeing-the-thompson-river/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hornet-lite-pack-raft/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/klymit-packraft/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/home-made-pack-raft/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/faux-packraft-vs-alpacka-raft/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/pack-raft-saves-the-day/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/pack-rafts/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/packraft-video/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-gorilla-in-the-bush/

09/12/2016: John Glenn who became the first man to orbit the Earth on February 20, 1962, dies. I remember this like yesterday. I even had the record once! What a man he was! Talk about ‘the right stuff’! Hope America (and us) is still making heroes like him! http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2016/12/08/publish-advance-glenn-obit/95110820/

09/12/2016: More about DIY PFDs 114 grams: You can make a lighter non compliant PFD which you fill with other inflatable items, eg Platypus bottles (I carry a 1 and 2 litre bottle, pillows (I carry the Exped Ultralight), wine bladders (who doesn’t have a few of them lying around?) and etc.

Here is the link to Mountain Laurel Designs ‘Thing’ or ‘Mopacka’: https://web.archive.org/web/20100403230340/http://www.mountainlaureldesigns.com/shop/product_info.php?products_id=141  which weighed 4 oz (114 grams) not including its flotation ie the Platypus bottles or inflatable pillows (eg Exped’s Ultralight pillow: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/exped-ultralight-pillow/) but you carry them anyway!

Some folk have made their own. See these two discussions (I have ‘borrowed’ their photos for reference purposes – I hope they don’t mind. Thanks guys): http://packrafting.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=880 Wine bladder PFD: http://bushwalk.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=37&t=23122

MLD 'Thing'

MLD ‘Thing’

DIY ‘Thing’

DIY ‘Thing’

 photo RoaringLion2008138.jpg

DIY ‘Thing’

 photo RoaringLion2008136.jpg

DIY ‘Thing’

NB: There is a Facebook Packrafting group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/156445288089260/ as well as an Australian Packrafting Association for folks who like to join things. Myself, I am like Groucho Marx: ‘I wouldn’t join anything which would have me as a member’!

09/12/2016: The Do’s and Don’ts of Memory Cards: Tips for Photographers: Some great tips here. Another you may not know. You can recover ‘lost’ photos from a memory card. There are a number of programmes which will do this. I have used (them) with success. Just Google ‘memory card recover’: http://petapixel.com/2016/12/07/dos-donts-memory-cards-tips-photographers/

http://www.storagereview.com/images/StorageReview-SanDisk-Ultra-Plus-Memory-Card-Bottom.jpg

07/08/12/2016: Ultralight Pack Rafting Life Vest: PFDs are often pretty heavy. Alpacka have this one http://www.alpackaraft.com/product/astral-v-eight-pfd/ at 554 grams which is (I imagine) about as light as they get. I discovered that inflatable PFDs you buy from boating supplies shops have an airline PFD inside them. When I stripped one down it weighed 282 grams as shown and should be adequate for the job.

You can (though not legally) go lighter. You can utilise an inflatable vest such as the Aerovest or Xerovest (at about 60 grams) as I did on the Seaforth. They are a bit awkward to let down again and are really not intended for the purpose.

As I have mentioned before Erin McKittrick (in her ‘Long Trek Home’: http://www.groundtruthtrekking.org/Journeys/WildCoast.html) used a converted Thermarest which she had cut a hole in for her head, and fastened it with a belt. Given thet you will need a sleeping mat anyway, this option means that your PFD maybe weighs next to nothing. You should explore this option further if you want to save more weight. The prospect of cutting down one of eg Klymit’s pads for the purpose but keeping it usable for sleeping also appeals.

Mountain Laurel Designs used to make a thing he called ‘The Thing’ which allowed you to utilise your Platypus bottle as part of a PFD system.

I suspect Alpacka’s ‘Fiord Explorer’ & etc  seats could be modifiedf slightly to make a light (non-compliant) PFD. They weigh 224 grams without the straps and buckles which would be needed, so it might not be worth the trouble compared with the first example.

Another option would be to buy some of the waterproof nylon which Klymit etc use in their products which sticks to itelf with a hot iron - and make your own.

See Also:

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

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

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/tanjil-river-canoe-trip/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/canoeing-gippslands-rivers/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/canoeing/

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/tanjil-river-canoeing-update/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/canoe-clearing/

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/canoeing-the-thompson-river/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hornet-lite-pack-raft/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/klymit-packraft/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/home-made-pack-raft/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/faux-packraft-vs-alpacka-raft/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/pack-raft-saves-the-day/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/pack-rafts/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/packraft-video/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-gorilla-in-the-bush/

08/12/2016: Do you need a good wind up watch: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2050848594/redefining-italian-luxury-watches-filippo-loreti?ref=ewr9sx&amp;utm_source=facebook&amp;utm_medium=desktop&amp;utm_campaign=KS&amp;utm_content=AU_Look4-6

07/12/2016: Gippsland Pack Rafting Routes:

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It’s summer already, so time to get out and about and get wet all over. I want to suggest some interesting pack rafting that you can do by public transport (eg from Melbourne). Some of the following you can mix and match a bit, but I hope they give you some ideas. I need to add some more details, which I will fill in later on but this will be a good start. I need to work out times (river/track) campsites, water and resupply points.

  1. Obviously the easiest trip is to begin with the Yarra. It is canoeable from MacMahon's Creek upstream from Warburton (public transport, walking). It is almost 24 hours of paddling before you arrive back at Flinders St, so this is likely to take you at least 4 days! Or,
  2. You can catch public transport to Warburton (or to Lilydale) then begin walking the Upper Yarra Track (See: http://www.finnsheep.com/Track%20Instructions.htm) You can continue on it until you reach Rawson (resupply - some supplies also at Baw Baw Village) and the nearby Poverty Point Bridge, then canoe the Thomson River until you reach the Cowwarr Weir. NB You will have to walk around the Horseshoe Tunnel just below the Thomson River Road Bridge (See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/upper-yarra-track-sidetrip-horseshoe-tunnelcoopers-creek/) You can carry on with the Thomson to Sale or you can walk back from Cowwarr (resupply) till you are just out of Traralgon where you cross the Latrobe River. Put in there and drift down via Rosedale (resupply) to Sale. Catch a train back to Melbourne.dscn1160-compThomson River Horseshoe Tunnel.
  3. Catch a bus to Noojee (weekdays - supplies), then canoe the Latrobe river all the way to Sale. (Supplies Noojee, [Willow Grove], Yallourn North, Rosedale) Catch a train back, or
  4. For a shorter trip, you could canoe from Noojee to the Yallourn Power Station - exit the bridge across the Eastern end of Halls Bay, Lake Narracan or Sir John Monash Reserve opposite the cooling towers. Walk back along the Moe-Yallourn North Rail Trail (See 4). I suspect you can put in uptream of Noojee (so that you could access the river via a shortcut from the Upper Yarra Track not long after Starlings Gap - this requires exploration). The section from the Noojee Road Bridge/Toorongo River confluence has been checked: (though you should be able to put in at Noojee township); there are a number of spots where you will have to get out. If canoeists bring along some clearing tools (See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/canoe-clearing/) the trip/s will become easier for subsequent 'adventurers'. There are many lovely spots where you can camp. Trout and spinyback crayfish abound - so bring some tackle! I estimate 2-3 days Noojee-Yallourn Power Station. Train Back from Moe, or
  5. You can catch a train to Moe, walk out along the Yallourn North Rail Trail (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/upper-yarra-track-update-section-one-moe-yallourn-rail-trail/), put in to the Latrobe near the Yallourn Power Station and canoe to Sale. There is a weir to negotiate shortly after the Yallourn North Road bridge. You can see it from the road. Train return, or
  6. You can catch a train to Moe, walk up the Upper Yarra Track sections (See 3) until you reach the Thomson Bridge, (supplies Yallourn North, Erica, Cowwarr) canoe the Thomson, walk back along the rail trail from Cowarrr to Traralgon. Catch a train back.dsc01101-compTom's Bridge Latrobe River.
  7. Arriving at Noojee (supplies) whether by public transport or on foot via the Upper Yarra Track & etc, put in and canoe down the Latrobe River to Camp Rd near Hill End. Walk up Russell Creek Rd &/or Rowley Hill Rd (or hitch to Costin’s Rd). Canoe down some of the Tanjil River (eg to Old Tanjil Rd) then walk up to the Western Tyers via Burns Rd & eg Wombat Rd & Tanjil Bren Rd. You can put in at Christmas Creek or Growlers. Canoe down the Tyers to Caringal. Walk across to the Thomson via Erica (supplies) as in 7 or continue on to the Latrobe and Sale (Resupply Tyers, Rosedale).dsc01185-compTanjil River downstream Rowleys Hill Road.
  8. Walk across from Noojee to the Western Tyers via Tanjil Bren (See: Upper Yarra Track winter route in Track Instructions above). You can continue on the Tyers till you reach the Latrobe and follow it to Sale OR
  9. You can get out at Tyers Junction (Caringal) and walk up the rail trail to Collins Siding and thence to Erica. You can continue to follow the rail trail http://www.theultralighthiker.com/upper-yarra-track-section-five-erica-to-walhalla/ to the Thomson Road Bridge, then canoe the Thomson as in 1.dscn0758-compWestern Tyers River.
  10. Interrupt your voyage down the Thomson at Deep Creek which you can walk up (see 9 following) or canoe to the Weir, cross it North on the old wooden bridge, follow the road North till you turn left at the intersection with the Stoney Creek Rd. Walk up the Stoney Creek Rd. When you get to the T10 track, no longer marked – it is opposite a fire dam on the right hand (East) side of the road, you can either continue on to Binns intersection with the McEvoys track (also called Springs Rd) or
  11. You can walk down the T10 till you reach Deep Creek and walk all the way up Deep Creek till it splits in two. Just where it splits, if you walk up the left (West) fork about twenty yards you will find you can walk up the ridge to your right. You can follow this ridge (on an overgrown logging track after a while) all the way to Binns. The walk up Deep Creek is extraordinarily beautiful. It is quite a lot of bush bashing, but worth it. There are some flat camp sites here and there at the end of ridges. After Binns you can carry on up and over Mt Useful until you arrive in Licola (resupply) or
  12. Cross the Glenmaggie Creek at (eg) Porters Track to the Black Range Rd. Go up the Black Range Rd to Burgoynes Track, follow it to the Macalister. Canoe down the Macalister till you get to Sale (resupply Maffra).dsc01006-compMacalister River upstream Cheynes Bridge.
  13. If you continued on towards Licola along South Road you can turn East and walk down to the Barkly/Macalister (Primrose Gap - off the Jamieson Rd) at the Barkly Bridge North of Glencairn then canoe down the Macalister to Licola where you can continue on till you come to Sale , or
  14. You can get out at Licola and walk up to the Wellington as in 13
  15. Instead of continuing on the Macalister, get out at Cheyne’s Bridge and hitch a ride past Licola (resupply) to the Wellington River. Walk up the Wellington past LakeTali Karng and continue till you come out on the Moroka Rd. Turn west onto the Moroka Rd. After a few km you can pick up the Moroka Walking track which takes you down to the Moroka River near Higgins yards. You can put in here and follow the Moroka to its confluence with the Wonnangatta, ordsc00981-compMoroka Falls
  16. You could walk to the Moroka Bridge near Horseyard Flat and canoe the Moroka down to the Wonnagatta, thence to Bairnsdale. The huge waterfalls and gorge in the Moroka are very dangerous!
  17. Instead of starting at the Tali Karng car park on the Wellington, you could hitch all the way either to the Moroka Bridge near Horseyard Flat (12) then canoe down the Moroka or
  18. You could hitch up the Howitt Rd to near Guy’s Hut, then walk down the Dry Creek track to the Wonnangatta. Carry on walking down the Wonnangatta till you come to the Humffray Confluence whence you can canoe the river all the way to Bairnsdale as in 17.dscn0264-compWonnangatta River Mt Darling Creek.
  19. From the Wonnangatta confluence you can continue all the way to Bairnsdale where you can catch a train back to Melbourne. Resupply Guy’s Caravan Park, (Waterford) by arrangement & Lindenow (or hitch into Dargo and back.)dscn2656-compWonnangatta River.
  20. Alternatively you can walk up the Wonnagatta from the Moroka to the Humffray Confluence following the true right bank (there is an old pack track). Put in there and canoe down to Bairnsdale.dsc01524-compMitchell/Wonnagatta River downstream of Waterford
  21. PS; If you walk the Upper Yarra Track (Warburton to Mt Whitelaw) then the Alp Track to near Woods Point, you can pick up McMillans Walking Track which gives you access to the head of the Macalister (downstream of Glencairn), the Moroka (near Higgins Yards), the Wonnagatta (Moroka confluence).
  22. PS: Massdrop has the Klymit Lightwater Pack raft (<1kg) on sale again for around $US100. With care (and a little repair it will get you lots of places or you can go the whole hog and buy an Alpacka here: http://www.alpackaraft.com/ Their lightest raft is the ‘Ghost’ Scout at 600 grams! But you might be better with the Alpacka at 2166 grams. I also have one of these. I have the Manta Ray Carbon paddle at 840 grams. It is a very tough paddle You will find the lightest paddles here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-paddle/
  23. Have fun and Happy Paddling!
  24. PS: Don't forget to take some fishing tackle. Some hand line is really all you need to catch blackfish and trout (using set lines on whippy saplings if you like) You can use the heads etc as bait for crays. A folding landing net would be an asset (and some Alfoil!)
  25. I'm sure readers can help me with some of extra information, as well as suggesting some additional/alternative routes - I know you can get to Hotham and Omeo by bus, for example This gives one walking access to the Mitta Mitta (canoeable downstream from above the Glen Valley Bridge) Resupply Dartmouth. Mitta Mitta. Train back from Albuty. You could walk up along the Alps Track from Mt Whitelaw to reach Woods Point (supplies) which might begin a journey for you down the Goulburn (public transport back from Shepparton/Seymour) & etc Getting onto the Snowy would also be good. I will think about that some more...
  26. The Snowy: You may not know there is public transport to Bombala from Melbourne/Canberra: https://www.ptv.vic.gov.au/timetables/linemain/1718 The Snowy is canoeable from Cambalong Road 6km West of Bombala. (Ask: the bus driver may let you off at the Cann River turnoff saving you a few miles walk). You will need plenty of food! It is almost two weeks from here to Orbost…Also, note: The bus stops at the Bemm River turnoff. This means you can walk ‘The Wilderness Coast’  (19 days) using public transport! A packraft ewould help with getting across some of the inlets along the way!
  27. Top Photo; Latrobe River near Noojee Road Bridge.

28.  See Also:

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

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/tanjil-river-canoe-trip/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/canoeing-gippslands-rivers/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/canoeing/

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/tanjil-river-canoeing-update/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/canoe-clearing/

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/canoeing-the-thompson-river/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hornet-lite-pack-raft/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/klymit-packraft/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/home-made-pack-raft/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/faux-packraft-vs-alpacka-raft/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/pack-raft-saves-the-day/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/pack-rafts/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/packraft-video/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-gorilla-in-the-bush/

06/12/2016: A Birthday Treat: Mirboo North Railtrail: As one of us was a year older, we took the day off for a leisurely stroll on this lovely nearby walking/riding track which stretches between the delightful Gippsland towns of Boolarra and Mirboo North.

You can park your car at the beginning of the trail between the Brewery and the Recreation Reserve in Mirboo North or at Railway Park, Boolarra opposite the Post Office and General Store. Beginning in Boolarra in the morning (after a coffee) means you can stop for lunch in Mirboo North, then walk back downhill refreshed. There are many food establishments in the main street; the hotel also has excellent counter meals. You can finish the day with a meal at one of several venues in Boolarra or at the excellent nearby Yinnar Community hotel – the only community owned hotel in Victoria!

Plenty of tucker:

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There are many other interesting shops in Mirboo North including this one, The Wren’s Nest: dscn3396

We are off!

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You must:

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Plenty of park benches and seats along the way for your dogs:

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Lots of lovely wildflowers;

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And other interesting things. Amazing what you could make out of bricks. Note the lovely fresh water approx 2 km from Mirboo North

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Interesting (possibly luminous - some are) bracket fungi: dscn3422

More wildflowers:

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More interesting brickwork. Tiny enjoying herself:

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Della and Spot exploring an underground tunnel:

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Tea trees can put on a fine display:

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Spot admired these lovely blue lilies:

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A lovely trail:

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This is the deadliest plant in Australia: the Dogwood. So many people are allergic to these blooms. We used to call them 'wild sago' in NSW when I was a boy:

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You can rest a minute at lots of pleasant spots along the way. Spot doesn't want to:dscn3459

There are two interesting bridges like this across clear flowing streams where you could camp:

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A lovely campsite:

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It was a warm day. The dogs became thirsty:

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Some fine timber;

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An excellent stand:

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More interesting brickwork:

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Coming in to Boolarra (about 1 1/2 km out):

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You start and end each of the trail with a beautiful park: Railway Park in Boolarra. And Baromi park in Mirboo North. Both are delightful spots to stop, rest and refresh. Both have nearby food establishments: the Bollarra General Store at one end and quite a number in Mirboo North including this wonderful bakery and this café to name just two.

Along the way every 3-4 km you can find good sources of fresh water and pleasant campsites off the track a bit. Of course in Australia (as elsewhere) all that is not compulsory is verboten; you should naturally ignore this. Maybe you are considering adding this lovely trail to perhaps a walking tour of South Gippsland including Mt Worth State park, the Grand Ridge Road (to Mirboo North), the Mirboo North Rail trail, The River Road Boolarra, maybe parts of the Grand Strzelecki Track, Tarra-Bulga National Parks, Great Southern Trail and Tarra Trail, Bass Coast Rail Trail, Old Port Trail, Wilsons Prom, http://www.visitvictoria.com/Regions/Gippsland/Things-to-do/Outdoor-activities/Walking-and-hiking/South-Gippsland , & etc...

The trail is about 13km. It takes approx 2 ½-31/2 hours on foot, or as I said at the beginning you can make a delightful day of it.

PS; The photos show the trail beginning at Mirboo North and ending in Boolarra.

04/12/2016: Welcome Swallows: Something terrible happened to ‘our’ swallows this year; though they arrive back like clockwork (as I have often observed: See below) only less than half returned. I watched and waited for their brethren but they were lost! Some calamity has befallen them. Naturally one thinks first of human predation as there are so many folk (here) who resent the mess they make on their walls, whilst dismissing all the good they do in their gardens! However, I suspect some natural calamity is a more likely scenario. The failure of an important food source due to seriously inclement weather is much more likely. There has been a huge ‘cold blob’ formed in the Northern Pacific (which many view as a presage of a return of ‘The Little ice Age’ – we shall see) but it might well have affected the bloom of midges, mosquitoes, etc which they would otherwise have gone North to feed and fatten on, so that many may have starved…it is a simple, yet poignant tragedy. Hopefully they have just not had the energy to make it all the way back and we shall see them again next year. Thankfully (due to my hearing aids) I am delighting in their singing on the verandah this morning. See eg: ‘17/08/2014: At last, the swallows are back scything the air into long swift arcs as they herd the mayflies and mozzies into their sharp beaks: there is nothing quite like a (mud-brick) verandah they opine anywhere between here and Siberia to build a messy nest. I used to hear their sharp shrill calls to each other as they raced across the sky, but like the bats (to me at least) they have fallen silent. Fortunately (at least) we both still have eyes to follow their progress…’

03/12/2016: That Endless Skyway: Everest Base Camp Trek #7:

We had a programmed ‘acclimatisation day’ at Namche and another at Dingboche. Tully had decided we would use these days to climb up to the next 500 metre ‘step’ and then descend again to sleep. This proved to be a good preventative for altitude sickness as was taking half a Diamox twice a day starting on the morning you are to leave Kathmandu. An acclimatisation day spent wandering the hills around Lukla is also a good idea.

Some views of the Namche ‘Skyway’:

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Leaving Namche

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Walking ‘across the top’ to the ‘Everest View’ Hotel:

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A number of trekkers told me that the track up from Jiri to Lukla is the best and most beautiful part of the trail and that there are very few people on it. What a bonus! I suspect this is true. If I had my time again I would probably have walked from Jiri and flown out from Lukla, but after fighting with this terrible lung infection for a month now I doubt I will be eager to retrace my footsteps in Nepal!

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Gazing up the valley towards Everest (right of centre).

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Everest View.

Thus we ascended from Namche to the eponymous ‘Everest View’ Hotel, (a facsimile of Douglas Adams’ ‘The Hotel at the End of the Universe’ – and peopled identically!), then circled back through the prosperous potato towns of Khumjung and Kunde. ‘Green Towns’ a Sherpa told me, presumably because of the ‘Colorbond’ rooves. In Khumjung we sampled our first ‘Garlic Soup’ and found it good!

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Another view ‘across the top’ to the ‘Everest View’ Hotel.

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View up the valley from the ‘Everest View’ Hotel. Tengboche is atop that green hill centre.

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Khumjung – a ‘Green Town’.

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Interesting stone building outside the ‘Hilary School. Netball seems enormously popular.

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The practice of burning (yak) dung must deplete the nutrients of their fields.

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The eponymous ‘garlic Soup’, Khumjung version. Cafe opposite the ‘Hilary School’.

Someone (I will not mention who!) took a wrong turn at Syanboche on the descent (the turn-off being temporarily obscured by a camel, fit of coughing, lapse of intelligence, or etc) and ended up nearly all the way to Thame before he found a cattle pad or game trail which would allow him to descend into Namche just on dusk. A good thing he has well-honed wilderness skills!

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Coming down from Kunde there was some attractive vegetation.

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Even some pretty flowers.

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Porters have to bear some pretty primitive accommodation – this cave on the road from Thame to Namche.

A guide or porter might help prevent such mishaps, but I encountered many such with zero English language skills. Too often they rushed ahead of their ‘guests’ forcing the pace dangerously in the low oxygen environment. In my experience they were almost universally completely unable to understand or answer any question in English, though I asked many.

For example, I was curious (at the higher altitudes) to learn when the Sherpa first ventured there – as there were no abandoned ruins at higher points which might indicate they had colonised them during the medieval warm period. None knew – or understood! Those who forget their past are destined to repeat it! The answer is clearly that they have only inhabited these regions relatively recently- ie the last 500 years or so

On my ‘trail of tears’ pneumonic return journey I staggered along with a middle aged Norwegian nurse (Lise) for two days. She had been abandoned by her entire party, including her personal guide and two porters. She was nearly as sick as I (or sicker) and also had limited English skills, but we were thankfully able to help each other, despite her being an avowed feminist (to which I replied, ‘How sad’) and my being, as I’m sure you know, a shocking misogynist who would never help a woman!

However I grew up with the tradition of the ‘Birkenhead’ to inspire me. There was so much that was great about the old Empire. Nepal (and Tibet) must sorely regret they rejected it when they once had the opportunity to welcome its blessings with open arms!

If you do not have years of wilderness experience such as I do, you might be better to venture out with a group, guides, porters etc. I prefer the dignity of carrying all my own gear – and being self-sufficient no matter what happens to me. So, for example, I carried my Delorme Inreach SE PLB http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-poor-mans-satellite-phone/ whilst Tully carried my Sat Phone – in case of real emergencies, and if we were separated. Sound practice – as it turned out! I had my Escape Bivy and My Thermorest Neoair Women’s mat, my re-engineered sleeping bag (good to -30C http://www.theultralighthiker.com/adding-down-to-a-sleeping-bag/), and lots of warm Montbell clothes (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/?s=montbell in case I had accidentally to spend a night stuck high in the snowy passes.

I even had with me my trusty Vango 450 ml cup, a titanium windscreen and an 11 gram Esbit stove in case I wanted a hot cup of Mocca on some icy mountaintop! I also had a second (and third) tranche of antibiotics in case the first (Cipro) did no good – it got me back! The second and third are yet doing battle with this dreadful lurgi. I still have no idea whether I will survive it. Some days it has the upper hand, other days I forge ahead of it. Five crises so far! Life is ever a race to the grave which you one day lose.

I am a pessimist by preparation, not by nature. I know that the larger parties were not nearly so well prepared, which would mean only that people would die en masse (as they did on the Annapurna circuit a couple of years back http://www.theultralighthiker.com/survival-shelter/) rather than alone – or not at all.

It is akin to the spurious ’safety’ such folks feel in crowds – vowing eg that cities are safer than the wilderness, imagining ‘Wolf Creek/Deliverance’ dangers lurking behind every rock, whilst ignoring the nuclear missiles aimed squarely at their cherished megapolises! Strangely though, such folks had porters to carry their gear, nonetheless they all had day packs clearly weighing more than my pack – which contained all my gear. Their sheer superfluity overwhelms my sense of wonder at their vapidity

I was appalled at how some (foreigners) treated their ‘servants’. Often I witnessed folks making what I (having grown up in an egalitarian culture) considered outrageous demands of them. For example, one person waited until his guide sat down to his own meal before demanding a bottle of water (which was in his own reach in his pack pocket). The Sherpa patiently rose and fetched it for him. When he was seated once more, his ‘master’ then demanded that he open it! The Sherpa once more patiently rose and did so. I fear one day the Sherpas may rise against such treatment in greater earnest; some of them at least are Ghurkas, remember. They appear to be the most pleasant and friendly people imaginable though.

We stayed in Namche for three days altogether, two on the way up; one on the way back. We found the Shangri La Lodge (just off to the East of the main street a block above the pharmacies) quite pleasant and the food good. A lot of local people ate there – which is no doubt a good sign!

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The rooms were clean and comfy, a toilet close by – and a welcome hot shower downstairs.

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Warm dining room.

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This business in Namche (there are dozens of shops) was really good at fixing phones/photographic equipment etc, else I would not have been able to contact my wife (to arrange my rescue for example!).

After Namche you follow the river high on its true right bank the first few hours past a monument to Tensing, one of the first two men on top of Everest – at least if Mallory and Irvine’s camera never emerges from the ice atop the mountain. (Interestingly the Sherpas had not yet been enlisted into mountain climbing in the 1920s when Mallory perhaps stood on Everest).

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Looking back down the valley towards Namche hidden behind Tensing’s chorten behind the hill (right)

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Tensing’s chorten.

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View up the river from Tensing’s chorten. Tully posing.

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Crowds of folk flowing towards Everest.

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View up the river. Tengboche is atop the green ‘hill’ centre.

The track goes along on the level for quite a distance, this section well maintained by the collections of an old man who has climbed Everest five times. You descend 300 metres to yet another river crossing sheltering a pleasant little town complete with its ubiquitous military outpost. (You soon get used to the level of fascism in Nepal – no doubt so long as you are not a member of the Royal Family or such it should cause no disquiet!) We enjoyed a pleasant lunch at a café just before the bridge.

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Some lovely villages along the way. Each has its tea house/s and gift shops.

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Lunch at the bridge.

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As you can see i am having the ‘Vegetable fried Potatoes’ We stuck to vegetarian food after Pangboche – no fresh meat.

There follows a long (but pleasant) climb up a beautifully wooded hill complete with delightful skyline views to the monastic town of Tengboche – where you used to be able to fondle a Yeti’s skull – till someone stole it! Tengboche has a tasty bakery where you can enjoy a delightful lunch complete with views of frozen waterfalls on the surrounding hills & etc. We had afternoon teas here: biscuits, doughnuts, buttered sweet rolls, etc and of course the ubiquitous lemon tea.

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View to the east as you climb the Tengboche hill.

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You can ogle frozen waterfalls as you sip your latte and devour your croissants – who could ask for more?

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Main Street Tengboche.

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Bakery Tengboche.

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This religious gibberish is ubiquitous in Nepal: the Tengboche Monastery.

After Tengboche there follows another reasonable descent again through some quite pretty forest to Duboche (the bridge across the river there marks the end of the forest). In Duboche is a pretty tea-house named ‘Rivendell’ framed by a beautiful view – somewhat spoiled by the 3 metre high barbed wire fence around it. Just a little repellent if it expects numerous customers – or perhaps you ought not want to leave?

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Descending through rhododendron forests.

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A forbidding ‘Rivendell’.

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This bridge was well broken.

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And its replacement somewhat rickety.

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View upriver from the bridge.

After Duboche the bridge had been washed out and an interesting temporary bridge crafted to replace it. Because there is a detour after the bridge you might lose your way and head back downstream to where the old bridge crossed unless you remember that Pangboche is upstream on the true right bank, so that all you need to do is scramble up the yak tracks to the old path to continue your journey.

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First view of Pangboche- a potato town.

As soon as you cross the river you are in quite a different type of low, straggly vegetation which I at first thought marked the treeline until I spied a seedling pine/cypress just poking above a patch of well-gnawed shrubbery. Clearly the yaks have been very busy on the forests hereabouts; maybe also the banished goats.

An easy climb (and descent) brings you to the potato town of Pangboche where we spent the night (on a guide’s recommendation) at the Mountain Peace Lodge which actually charged nothing for accommodation (the usual price is $US1-2 per night so long as you eat in), and which had an excellent hot shower (which always cost more than the accommodation – $US3-5). The host was a very friendly, entertaining chap with whom we spent many hours yarning. His ‘wealth’ had been founded on his owning an adjoining ¼ hectare potato ‘farm’  We tourists were clearly of immense benefit to him.

That night there was a beautiful sunset (and dawn) somewhat obscured by clouds/mist, though it had Tully scrambling around in the dark and cold trying to get that perfect photograph. The Young! The mountains surrounding the towns of Dingboche and Pangboche are quite awesome.

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Quite startling – Everest is up there somewhere!

See also:

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/to-the-roof-of-the-world/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/i-followed-my-footsteps/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/i-saw-below-me-that-golden-valley/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/thatendlessskyway/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/everest-base-camp-three-passes-trek/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/cold-weather-face-masks/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/my-life-was-wide-and-wild-and-who-can-know-my-heart/

01/12/2016: 800th Post: There is really a lot to read on TheUltralightHiker, but maybe you didn’t realise there was quite this much. (And there are now also over 1,000 pages here: http://finnsheep.com/HIKING.htm, as well as more in the Archives section, & etc) ) What a lot of work it has been (keeping me from my hiking, hunting and camping too much, perhaps!) and I know I still have lots more to do. I have the next 50+ posts already worked out, and I’m sure many more will occur to me before I have completed them.

I have been very sick of late (since my trip to Everest – and have not fully recovered) which is why most of my posts lately have not involved any new ‘adventures’, but soon I will be off again, eg to complete my explorations of the Tanjil Bren-Noojee section of the http://www.finnsheep.com/THE%20UPPER%20YARRA%20WALKING%20TRACK.htm including a loop which will allow you to view (via public transport/foot) the three main waterfalls - and including a night camped at Mt Horsefall, completion of the track clearing from Downeys to Newlands Rd allowing a loop of the Baw Baw Plateau and Western Tyers, and of course completion of the exploration of the ‘Mystery Falls’ (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/upper-yarra-track-mystery-falls/) including maybe a (loop) route from the 18 Mile Road to the Forty Mile. I also plan some walks on sections of and posts about the Alps Walking Track (Victoria). Watch this space!

PS: Why not try a 'Search' using the facility at the top of the page? For example, try typing the words 'deer', or 'tent' or 'canoe' then pressing 'Enter'. You may be surprised what you find! Now might be a good time to 'Follow' The UltralightHiker (by clicking the button at the top right of the page), or by 'liking' our Facebook page, here: (https://www.facebook.com/theultralighthiker/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel).

01/12/2016: Gravity Light: Our Renewable Energy Future: Green folks are just nuts! Check out the Specs on this ‘innovation’ https://wattsupwiththat.com/2016/11/25/gravity-light-our-renewable-energy-future/ and see if it is any better than Coghlans ‘Eternal Head Torch’: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-eternal-headtorch/

30/11/2016: The Ultimate Guide to Hiking Boots: Acouple of  interesting infographics. Sometimes it is the basics we are a little unclear on…

The Ultimate Guide To Hiking Boots

Over the past decade, the variety of hiking boots and shoes has exploded, as designs become increasingly specialised. Here’s a guide that outlines your choices and will help you narrow down what you’ll need to find the perfect pair. 

Anatomy of a Hiking Boot

Knowing the components of walking boots will help you choosing the perfect type of boot for whatever activity you decide to do.

http://www.gooutdoors.co.uk/expert-advice/hill-walkingboots 

1.         Outsole

           The outsole is the first thing everyone looks at when buying new walking boots.

           This is the strip of rubber or TPR along the bottom of the boot which features the tread.

           Tread patterns will vary depending on brand and boot, but all serve a purpose for a certain type of terrain.

           Chunkier patterns are better in mud, while shallow tread is better suited for a rockier path.

           When it comes to the outsole, the most popular and best known brand is 'Vibram'.

           A Vibram sole has long been a sign of quality, but that isn't to say standard soles won't be suited to your activity.

2.         Midsole

           The midsole fits between the insole and the outsole.

           The job of a midsole is to act as a shock absorber, helping to cushion and protect your feet as you walk.

3.         Upper

           The upper is everything on the outside of the boot above the midsole.

           Uppers are often made from different materials such as sturdy and hard wearing leather, or synthetic fabrics which make for lightweight boots.

4.         Liner

           Some boots will feature a waterproof liner such as GORE-TEX, whilst this makes the boot waterproof and therefore ideal for wet weather walks, it can compromise breathability.

           For hot weather walking, it's advised that you choose a boot with no liner to help your feet breathe.

5.         Toe Bumpers

           The purpose of toe bumpers is to protect your toes from knocks, which is particularly important on rocky terrains.

           Toe bumpers also protect the boot from damage so they last longer.

Best Walking Boots For Your Activity

The activity you have planned is one of the main factors of consideration when choosing walking boots.

Trail Running Shoes are best for:

           Trail running.

           Lightweight hiking and backpacking.

           Short day hikes on easy terrain.

Hiking Shoes are best for:

           Day hikes.

           Hiking.

           Moderate backpacking.

           Long distance lightweight hiking and backpacking.

Hiking Boots are best for:

           Day hiking (added ankle support).

           Backpacking with loads heavier than 20-30 pounds

           Hiking in rough terrain or off-trail.

           Spring or summer hiking where snow will be encountered.

Mountaineering Boots are best for:

           High alpine travel.

           Winter hiking and climbing.

           General mountaineering.

Approach Shoes are best for:

           Climbing approaches.

           Easy to moderate climbing.

           Peak bagging on 4th and 5th class terrain.

You’ve Picked Out a Shoe— But How’s the Fit?

Because you’re going to be spending so much time in a hiking shoe or boot, fit is paramount. Here are some things to look for:

           Your feet tend to swell over the course of a day, try your shoes or boots on towards the end of the day or after some activity.

           If you wear orthotics, bring them along. They impact the fit of a boot.

           When you put them on, you should feel plenty of space in the toe box.

           You should not feel squashed on the sides of your forefoot but shouldn’t be too spacious.

           A good way to test the length of the shoe is to stand upright in unlaced shoes, and then slide your foot forward until it does touch the front.

           You should be able to comfortably slip your index finger in between your heel and the heel of the shoe.

           Once you have your shoe laced, the feel should be snug enough that, as you roll up onto your toe, you don’t feel your foot sliding forward to touch the front of the boot.

           It shouldn’t be so snug that it cuts off your circulation or causes hot spots.

           You should also not feel any heel lift or slip as you walk around.

           A loose fit on the heal increases the risk of painful blisters and could lead to injury on rough terrain if your boot goes one way and your foot the other.

How To Care for Your Walking Boots

Your walking boots will last longer if you take care of them. Caring for your boots is simple, and here are a few things to remember:

           Rapid drying, heater drying and not nourishing the leather of the boots can all lead to a boot cracking and eventually splitting.

           Clean your boots, thoroughly removing all mud and debris.

           Boots need nourishing when they look dry.

           Reproof little and often.

           Do not dry boots in a hot room or near a heater, this can cause leather and material to shrink and crack.

           If stuffing with paper to help dry, try not to overstuff and misshape the boot.

References

http://www.gooutdoors.co.uk/expert-advice/hill-walking-boots 

http://www.outdoorgearlab.com/Hiking-Shoes-Womens-Reviews/Buying-Advice 

http://www.mountainwarehouse.com/expert-advice/walking-boots-guide 

http://www.backcountry.com/explore/how-to-choose-the-right-hiking-shoes-backpacking-boots 

Coutesy of: https://www.walshbrothersshoes.ie/blogs/news/147312007-the-ultimate-guide-to-hiking-boots 

See:

http://www.gooutdoors.co.uk/expert-advice/hill-walking-boots

https://www.fortheloveofoutdoors.com/guide-hiking-boots/

I must say I am not fond of Vibram soles. The only two pairs of shoes I have owned I must say I am not fond of Vibram soles. The only two pairs of shoes I have owned with this type of sole would not grip in the wet (particularly rocks, leaves, logs, twigs) so that I quickly ended up crashing down onto the back of my neck (which is not pleasant). It may be that there are Vibram soles which are not like this. I also do not favor waterproof shoes. You are going to get wet feet. Don't be a sissy. And don't muck around trying not to get wet feet. Shoes which are not waterproof are lighter - and dry quicker! Carry a pair of ultralight camp shoes (such as these http://www.theultralighthiker.com/toughened-foam-flip-flop/  or these: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/no-sew-sandals /) so you have something comfy to put on at the end of the day.

See also:

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

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

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

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

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

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/shoe-laces/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/survival-laces/

28/11/2016: Are You Beautiful in the Buff: Sleeping out in the mountains you often get a cold nose which is annoying. Obviously you can’t tuck your nose and mouth (unlike the rest of your face) in your sleeping bag otherwise it will become saturated from your breath and no longer keep you as warm. Until now I just put up with it. Recently though I discovered this wonderful product which when worn over your nose and mouth of a night warms the air (and your nose) so giving you a much more pleasant night. The Buff: It can also be worn in a bewildering array of other combinations. It weighs only 37.5 grams. Stow one in your pack. You will not regret it. It is made of 100% pure merino wool. As you can see, it improves my appearance no end! This is a good camo colour too! http://buffusa.com/ & https://www.buffwear.com/

http://blog.runningwarehouse.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Buff.jpg

27/11/2016: Pimping a Gorilla: You can readily shave around 300 grams off Gossamer Gear’s Gorilla (http://gossamergear.com/gorilla-ultralight-backpack-all-bundle.html or Mariposa, etc) backpack by taking out the aluminium stay, removing the hipbelt and replacing it with an ultralight webbing belt, and replacing the Sitlight pad with an Airbeam pad. The pack will ride just about as well (well, just as well when you are only carrying a few kgs) and transfer weight to your hips, and you will have saved the weight of over half a day’s food!

If this is to be a permanent alteration you can also cover over the holes where the stay went through the body of the pack both sides with some Tenacious tape (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/gear-repairs-tape/) to make the pack a little more watertight. You need a double buckle, some 1” webbing and a piece of 1” Velcro and about five minutes on the sewing machine to effect the change. As I have pointed out elsewhere (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-tardis-folding-space/), you can make the pack carry a lot more than its rated 48 litres by utilising Sea to Summit’s Ultrasil Compression Bags (or similar) and by adding some tie-downs so you can carry another bag on top (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/attaching-tie-downs-to-your-pack/).

Completed belt ready for fitting. Note piece of velcro sewn on reverse side in the middle for attaching to pack.

Standard hip belt removed and ultralight belt fitted.

The final result; a very comfy pack which weighs a third of a kilo less!

Weights (my scales):

Gorilla Belt: 275 grams.

Alum Stay: 88 grams.

Replacement Belt: 32.5 grams.

Weight saving: 330 grams.

Pockets: If you need hipbelt pockets, you can add these

eg here: http://gossamergear.com/hipbelt-pocket.html 38 grams and US$8.80ea

or here: http://www.zpacks.com/accessories/beltpouch.shtml 21 grams and $US22.50ea.

NB: Gossamer Gear may not have the Air Beam pads at the moment.Mountain Laurel Designs still stock the Klymit (Air Beam) Pad in 11” x 25” size and US$35ea. You can cut it down and reseal with a hot iron to 20” if needed. It will then weigh approx 70 grams as compared with the Sitlight’s 50 grams: http://www.mountainlaureldesigns.com/shop/product_info.php?cPath=46&products_id=186 They also stock Pack Pockets (if needed) at US$19ea.

Conclusion: With my Cyclone Chair (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/cyclone-chair/) in behind the Sitlight pad the Gorilla is more comfortable under load (for me) than it was with its original stay and hip belt, yet significantly lighter. According to the Specs it should weigh 624 grams in this configuration, (575 without the Sitlight) not too bad for a very tough comfortable 48 litre pack.  I suspect that a narrow hip belt is normally better for folks who carry a bit of weight around their midriff themselves – as I do!

See also:

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-gorilla-in-the-hand/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-gorilla-in-the-bush/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-best-laid-schemes/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/pimping-a-gorilla/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/linelok-pack-tie-down/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/attaching-tie-downs-to-your-pack/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-tardis-folding-space/

27/11/2016: Klymit Inertia O Zone Ultralight Exclusive Sleeping Pad and Pillow combined: An interesting idea: fits inside your sleeping bag for extra warmth. R = 1.3, from US$51.99 11.9 oz (339 grams):  http://www.klymit.com/inertia-ozone.html  & now on Massdrop; https://www.massdrop.com/buy/klymit-inertia-o-zone-ultralight?referer=EJ89BQ

Klymit Inertia O Zone Ultralight Exclusive

27/11/2016: The Eternal Headtorch:  Coghlans Dynamo Flashlight: http://www.coghlans.com/products/dynamo-flashlihgt-1202 available eg Anaconda @ $10.99: Wind the handle for 1 minute to get up to 7 minutes of light. Features 2 bright LED lights, 10 Lumens. Positive feeling ON/OFF switch. Convenient key chain clip. Configured as a headlamp as shown, total weight 21 grams. This would make a good emergency torch. Will still work after all your batteries fail. Bright enough to read a book at night, to cook your dinner and do your camp shoes.

27/11/2016: Cool Brother is watching you: Orbi Prime: The First 360 Video Recording Eyewear: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/orbi-prime-the-first-360-video-recording-eyewear-camera-travel#/

http://www.telepresenceoptions.com/ORBI_Prime.png

http://media.gadgetsin.com/2016/11/orbi_prime_sunglasses_with_1080p_360_camera_2.jpg

26/11/2016: Camo merino wool for deer hunting. This is the gear you need: https://gearjunkie.com/icebreaker-hunting-fishing-merino-apparel

Snapped this one at Icebreaker’s Shop 9 403 Smith St Collingwood Factory Outlet. Tell Jo I sent you; you may get a special deal – at least a warm welcome!

I have this hat in black and I have a few more on my Xmas ‘wish list’. It is the best hat I have ever owned. It keeps the sun off your face and out of your eyes well (so you won’t miss that critical shot because of glare). It is warm enough on a cold day, but can be paired with one of their UL merino beanies yet on hot days it wicks wonderfully and dries so quickly you are never aware it is wet.

More merino wool/icebreaker posts to come…

The raincoat made it into the Xmas basket.. I bought a beautiful green hoodie and a lovely brown dress shirt. They were an incredible bargains!

26/11/2016: Supernovae sport Mickey Mouse ears: Just why alien civilisations should blow up whole stars just to send us poor quality pictures of Mickey Mouse, or why they are such admirers of the works of Walt Disney at all remains a mystery: https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg23230992-300-mickey-mouse-ears-may-explain-universe-biggest-explosions/

24/11/2016: Backpacking Gear Advice: I wrote this in reply to a query from a reader about what backpack, tent sleeping bag he should buy. As you can see, I do not always recommend people buy.

 Hi (Reader) - and Thanks. As you can probably see from my light posting - and from my post this morning (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/pneumonia/) , I haven't quite recovered yet from my trip to Nepal. Nonetheless I tried to respond to your post the other day, and had written a couple of paragraphs when I lost the lot with a power outage! So, I will try again:

I have had the old Mariposa (@600 grams) for years. For some reason GG have blown the weight out to nearly 1,000 grams. Mostly this is in the ridiculously heavy hip belt (See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-gorilla-in-the-bush/ ) In contrast, my Zpacks Zero (previously called: Blast) pack in Dyneema weighs 380 grams with pad sleeve, rear and side pockets (one long for a tent), tie downs etc. Add @ 60 grams for the Air Beam pad. It carries about 54 litres inside. Della has sewn a handy inside pocket in mine for stowing important things like passports etc in a secure, easy reach manner).

If you use Sea to Summit Ultrasil Compression bags (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-tardis-folding-space/ ) you can fit much more than this, and you can tie stuff on top as well (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/linelok-pack-tie-down/  or http://www.theultralighthiker.com/?s=tie+down ). Plenty big enough even for a trip of once month carrying all your own food and even a pack raft for crossing rivers (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/klymit-packraft/ & http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-paddle/)! Joe (says he) will not do the pad sleeve any more, but he has a shock cord pad attachment which will work just as well (See: http://www.zpacks.com/backpacks/zero.shtml Scroll down). This will provide plenty of load transfer and comfort for a pack up to eg 15 kg - and you should try to keep under 10 (inc food) and say 6 for your lady!

I think you would be hard put to find something lighter and warmer than Zpacks double sleeping bag (or quilt). If you are used to a hood, you should buy (eg) two of these as well. they are also great for cold nights/mornings: http://www.zpacks.com/accessories/goosehood.shtml Others make a similar thing. The Triplex tent is very good for weight, but I think my designs are better – and certainly cheaper. I have not yet completed them (I know) and when I do I think I will offer them to the public as a pattern to purchase – maybe as a kit  Later I may think about having them made in a low labour cost country – I am getting ahead of myself here. However I will give you one/more for your own use, but I have not quite finished the http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-deer-hunters-tent/  yet (Soon - I will get better!), but in the meantime I think you should have a go at this one (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/honey-i-shrank-the-tent/ ) in Tyvek yourself – which I think the instructions are transparent enough for the intelligent person to work out (with maybe a bit of prompting) See also: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/new-decagon-octagon-tyvek-igloo-tent-design/ ).

When you are happy with it, you can order the silnylon from http://www.tiergear.com.au/11/online-shop/diy-gear and make an even lighter one. I think you will be happier with it, have a tent which goes up (and stays up) quicker than Joe's and which will cost you a fraction of the price. You will find it quite easy to make (the roof), and once you have that, you can play around with the floor to your heart's content – and will get it right (eventually). The roof (in Tyvek) weighs 607 grams. In silnylon it will weigh 560 grams with the poncho floor -  a little more if you want a sewn in floor with overlapping mosquito net door, but still not much more than 600 grams plus pegs and guys (@100 grams). It will be much cheaper than a cuben fibre tent - and you can now make field repairs to silnylon with http://www.theultralighthiker.com/gear-repairs-tape/  so that cuben is (almost) obsolete!

PS: Backpack Sizing: Some really good advice here: http://gossamergear.com/wp/how-to-size-and-fit-an-ultralight-backpack & http://gossamergear.com/wp/which-gossamer-gear-backpack-is-right-for-you . The advice applies equally well to other brands of backpack.

PPS: Your height/weight is not a reliable guide. NB: My opinion is that hip belts do not work well for everyone. Some folks may be more comfortable and walk more freely without them altogether. Fatter people (as I have been most of my life) will probably do better with a simple webbing (3/4’ even) hip belt. Thinner folks might benefit from a wider hip belt. They do not need to add much weight. Zpacks hip belts - available separately for sewing on yourself (enquire) weigh approx 50 grams! (See ‘Padded Belt’ here; http://www.zpacks.com/backpacks/zero.shtml Scroll down).

PPPS: Instead of buying a pack, you might think of making one. I recommend Ray Jardine’s backpack Kit (http://www.rayjardine.com/ray-way/Backpack-Kit/index.htm). As you will see, there are two options, one with a hip belt. Be careful which you order, as the hip belt can’t be added later (according to Jenny). If you are happy with it, you could always make a tougher one eg out of Dyneema at a later date. (Two weights of Dyneema available eg. here: http://thru-hiker.com/materials/coated.php You will notice they also have many other interesting projects – including a backpack/s. One advantage of making your own is that you will know exactly how to fix it in the field – should you ever need to!

PPPPS: Please also read: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-pack/ For example, I really think you should consider Mountain Laurel Designs Exodus pack (though I have not yet owned one – I will), Zpacks Arc Blast (which I am going to borrow from my son-in law soon and review) and Gossamer Gear’s Gorilla backpack (which I reviewed here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-gorilla-in-the-bush/) and which I will figure a way to put a lighter hip belt on (stay posted).

PPPPPS: You can readily shave around 300 grams off Gossamer Gear’s Gorilla (or Mariposa, etc) backpack by taking out the aluminium stay, removing the hipbelt and replacing it with an ultralight webbing belt, and replacing the Sitlight pad with an Airbeam pad. The pack will ride just about as well (well, just as well when you are only carrying a few kgs) and transfer weight to your hips, and you will have saved the weight of over half a day’s food! See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/pimping-a-gorilla/

I think if you utilise these: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-tardis-folding-space/ or their heavier completely waterproof Event iterations or tie one on top as needed you can fit enough in a Gorilla-sized pack which is a much more comfortable size on shorter journeys. However, I reckon that I can carry all my gear and 30 days food in/on a 54 litre pack!

 

23/11/2016: Leonard Cohen: Hallelujah: https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=RD4imJ7wWB9FU&v=YrLk4vdY28Q

23/11/2016: Pneumonia: Three weeks ago now since I left Namche Bazar for Everest with this awful life form growing in my chest like some incubus from ‘Alien’. Since then it and my body have waged an uncivil war back and forth with my life for stakes. Sometimes one has the ascendancy, sometimes the other. The medicos have been entirely unsuccessful in isolating it, and the three types of antibiotic I have quaffed so far have only managed to hold the line – if that. The outcome remains uncertain, though some days I do seem almost myself. Others though I am back to being as weak as a kitten, even if (as today) I have pumps to fix, or other jobs must be done.

I have had I think five crises since it hit; once between antibiotics, I was so weak I could not rise from my couch, and could not even call loudly enough to alert Della , (whom I could actually see just in the next room) to take me to hospital. Fortunately, instead of slipping away, the other antibiotic kicked in after about an hour, and I was able to rise and resume my conversation with the world.

Pneumonia is not particularly distressing: when you are at your weakest you feel quite unconcerned that you are slipping away, though I must say I do not particularly enjoy the not breathing! The most unpleasant it has been was on my ‘trail of tears’: the 60+ km interminable two day journey (normally four short!) staggering myself back from Dingboche to Lukla desperate that Della would have a chance to save my life. (She still seemed to want to – habit is a funny thing!) And she has, so far, succeeded! ‘It is the physician’s love heals the patient’ was Ferenczi’s dictum.

Many people succumb to this dreaded ‘Khumbu Cough’ on the Everest Base Camp Trek. The trail is suffused with the most awful dust during the dry season as there are thousands of trekkers on the trail with their attendees of yet more thousands of guides, porters, yaks, donkeys, horses, dogs…all of them defecating , hacking and spitting on the trail which is bleached dry by an eternal sun, so that the dust ever whirls up, become a loathsome fug of bacterial stew which you means must breath in. The air is too thin to breath through your nose so you are eternally gulping in huge but unsatisfactory lungfuls though your mouth which you make your best effort to keep covered with a neck warmer, buff , scarf or balaclava (against the cold mostly) – but it is not enough to keep whatever these bugs are out.

The excessively dry air probably aids its malevolence. The altitude, exhaustion, poor diet & etc no doubt do not help, so that many people become quite ill and may take long to recover – if at all. Some cough so much they break ribs – thankfully not me! Pneumonia used to be such an infection: ‘the ‘old man’s Friend’ they once described it as – as it gently led him to his end). If you survived, a long sea voyage of rest and recuperation for six months was normally prescribed – for the well to do. The poor, no doubt simply perished. It may be possible to wear a more serious dust mask to keep it out. I would do some research on that if you are silly enough to be contemplating this awful trek. I will have a subsequent post with recommendations. Watch out for it!

For my own, I wish I had cleaved to my nearby haunts. I may not travel overseas again – certainly not to the Third World, or anywhere so crowded. I confess I have a passion to see the boreal Forests, perhaps in Canada. The Baw Baw Plateau has ten times the delights of the chewed over, nutrient depleted or bare hills of Nepal. It is also much less crowded and less than two hours drive from Melbourne – so that you can be back in your own bed the same night (if you wish) after a delightful day exploring such magical places as Kirchubel (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/kirchubel-if-you-go-nowhere-else-in-the-world-at-least-go-here/) , Downey, (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/up-into-the-singing-mountains/ & http://www.theultralighthiker.com/upper-yarra-track-winter-route-downey-to-newlands/ ) , Newlands Rd (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/upper-yarra-track-baw-baw-to-newlands-rd/) , Toorongo (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/upper-yarra-walking-track/),  Tanjil Bren (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/upper-yarra-track-winter-route-western-tyers-to-tanjil-bren/),  Western Tyers (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/upper-yarra-track-winter-route-western-tyers-to-tanjil-bren/),  Yarra Falls (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/upper-yarra-track-mystery-falls/) , the Forty Mile Break Rd, the Ada Tree, Mt St Phillack Saddle(http://www.theultralighthiker.com/upper-yarra-track-sidetrip-baw-baw-to-mt-st-phillack/) , Whitelaws Hut Site (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/upper-yarra-track-st-gwinear-track-junction-to-whitelaws-hut/) , the Mushroom Rocks (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/upper-yarra-track-section-seven-mushroom-rocks-carpark-to-phillack-saddle/),  & etc. Just so much nicer too, really.

23/11/2016: The Not So Ultralight Hiker’s Tentpeg: What a buy these guys were at Aldi for my old mate Jock at $2 a pack of four! He reckons on at least a dozen uses for them including as: markers for night-time fishing set lines, toilet markers, guy line markers, camp lanterns, night lights…38 grams ea inc AAA battery. I know you could do the same thing in ultralight with Clam Cleat Lineloks (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-perfect-guy-line-for-a-hiking-tenttarp/) or with the Nitecore Tube Lights (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/11-gram-rechargeable-head-torch/) and probably at much greater expense, but would they have the same panache or style?

20/11/2016: Boys, and their toys: https://www.massdrop.com/buy/jl-lawson-spin-tray?referer=EJ89BQ

 

20/11/2016: The Sunset of the West:

The Sunset of the West:

Mind you, for every faltering, penultimate step it takes it edges towards a dazzling apogee far greater than any the world has ever seen… Secular humanism

I grew up in the long tradition of secular humanism (as you just imagine ‘we’ all did). Yet when I see a post from a friend who cleaves yet to ‘Christianity’ (or yet ‘Islam’ Judaism’, ‘Buddhism’ etc) it saddens me. It seems (to me) that they have had just that same opportunity to liberate their minds from such shibboleths and fetishes as the remainder of us did. The ‘humanism’ implicit in Christianity is one thing, indeed a grand thing - the old fogey in the sky quite another!

 

Such ‘humanism’ is a tradition stretching back to the Ancient Greeks (indeed also to Judaism), though in many ways I ever prefer the bluff pragmatism of the Romans. You can imagine someone suggesting to them that they build another temple. ‘Or we could build an aqueduct or a mighty straight road will last folks two thousand years’ they might reply. Engineering is so eloquent!

 

I know I made a study for many years of Philosophy and the Western intellectual tradition in general, through Literature, History, etc. Just last night I was half fevered dreaming (with this dread pneumonia I carried back with me all the way from Everest; see eg: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/i-saw-below-me-that-golden-valley/) of my little 1970s upstairs room in the (Phil) corner of the ‘Quad’ at Sydney Uni (a replica of C10th Oxford!) whose tiny lead-light window overlooked the doppelganger of Bishop Berkeley’s famous tree, which I’m sure yet persists - though neither I nor (the late) Prof David Armstrong is there to see it, though I remember well how we watched the Transit of Venus seated on its lower branches back in the days when the world (or I at least) was young. The lass (Moira) who has ‘The Chair’ today I once knew as a pre-pubescent slip of a girl - though she is no doubt an aged matriarch now. There but for fortune, go I. I passed on that one and enjoyed another life, but I did not so doing forfeit the life of the mind, as so many seem to do (even’ alas, some Professors of Philosophy today! I know not if Moira is one of them – I would hope not).

 

I recognise, honour (indeed espouse) many of the moral teachings and precepts of the Christian tradition, but even moreso the greater lessons of Socrates! Everyone should read Jowett’s timeless translation of the ‘Socratic dialogues, ‘The Trial and Death of Socrates’ (http://www.bookdepository.com/The-Trial-and-Death-of-Socrates-Pla/9780486270661?ref=grid-view), then read it again, and again. The New Testament is a poor creature besides. You can read the first, ‘The Apology’ for free right now here in its entirety: http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/apology.html

 

The tradition of western Civilisation encapsulates these – and much more. I used once peripatetically to recommend to people Bertrand Russell’s timeless work, ‘A History of Western Philsosophy’ (and I still do) written when Nobel prizes were still given out for true greatness (Russell won Three!) Not since Steinbeck won the Nobel (‘Grapes of Wrath’) has there been anyone rewarded for true greatness of thought or expression, so far as I can see. Dylan notwithstanding. Jowett’s work is still a stand-out as a great work of Western literature (along eg with Freud’s ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’, Nikos Kazantzakis’ ‘Freedom and Death’, Dylan Thomas’ ‘Under Milk Wood’, Aeschylus’ ‘Agamemnon’, Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’…thankfully the list goes on…It is long since time we celebrated the West; it may not be the fount of all that is good and noble on earth, but it comes awfully close!

 

Socrates used (often) to espouse (that) ‘the unexamined life’ had no worth (often mis-translated as ‘is not worth living’). If you re-read eg ‘The Gorgias’ carefully you will be stricken again and again that Socrates is asking, ‘What makes a life enviable – or admirable’? It is not the life of maximising one’s pleasures (or power) - as Gorgias thought (even though his minions could put Socrates to death, yet fail to silence him! And as so many in the West (and elsewhere) seem bent on advocating today. Indeed such aims and goals are frivolous and meaningless. The quest for truth ought (to be) paramount. As a (near contemporary) Siddhartha is alleged to have observed: ‘if a man should glimpse a truth from a solitary cave and (in) so doing die, the truth will not die with him, but will emanate from his fastnesses and reverberate around the world’.

 

The quest for truth ought be the defining centre of our lives, not the quest for ephemeral pleasures, nor fleeting fame. In such regard it ought also be emphasized that not only is it not so that ‘everyone is entitled to his own opinions’ as so many demur. Indeed, the contrary is the case. No-one is. (Leaving aside the implied theology of the word, ‘entitled’: ie: that to be ‘valued by God’, which is to be valued by nothing, which is what ‘God’ is, equals to have no value at all!) ‘Opinions’ are not axioms. They are not truths in themselves. Indeed there are no axioms, reassuring as Euclid was once to adolescents force to learn it. They are working hypotheses which if they are not backed up by reasoned argument capable of robust truth testing are totally worthless. No-one should have an ‘opinion’ at all! Certainly I never have!

 

Many folk (including me) re-posted this homily yesterday: ‘Cheers to all the people who change their minds when presented with information which contradicts their beliefs.’ I like the simplicity of the refrain, and its impressive wisdom! I would see much more of what it advocates.

 

The key tradition of humanism is the examined life. The robust questioning of all received wisdom which is at the heart of the Western ‘scientific method’ (so eloquently espoused by the great  Karl Popper eg in ‘The Open Society and Its Enemies’ (https://archive.org/stream/opensocietyandit033120mbp/opensocietyandit033120mbp_djvu.txt). There is little hope of material or ethical progress unless we cleave utterly to rational discourse and the careful examination of all that comes before us. Truth testing is ever the ultimate arbiter of worth. Nothing (at all) has any value if it is not true. Nothing follows (logically) from a false proposition. This is the first principle of (Symbolic) Logic and ought be graven in stone everywhere. Therefore, the single most important quality of any proposition is, Is it true’. Nothing else matters! Especially, it matters not a jot who you upset by asking that very question about whatever ‘they’ say. They must either defend themselves, or if they cannot do so, withdraw. QED.

 

19/11/2016: Google's New PhotoScan App Makes it Easy to Digitize Old Prints: Is there anything at all you can no longer do with your phone? https://www.engadget.com/2016/11/15/google-photos-photoscan-app-editing-tools/?utm_source=pocket&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=pockethits

 

18/11/2016: The Rolls Royce of Backcountry Trowels. PS: I used to think these doohickies were pretty silly when I had a pair of heels would mostly do the same sort of thing, and had done for decades – then I began thinking of digging for survival water sources, purifying the water found & etc. I decided that it might well be 13 grams well spent: https://www.massdrop.com/buy/suluk-46-tark-trowel?referer=EJ89BQ 7 http://www.suluk46.com/

 

Suluk 46 Tark Trowels

 

See also:

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/water-hiking-desalinator/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/sawyer-water-filter/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/dehydrated-water/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/rivers-in-the-sky-never-die-of-thirst/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/survival-still/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/water-filter/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/collecting-water/

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

18/11/2016: Aloksak make really great waterproof to 200 metres snaplock bags. This one is even big enough to put your rifle in (great for canoeing/boating/hunting trips. It is the only waterproof gun bag I know of: http://www.survival-pax.com/aLOKSAK-Bags-Extra-Large.html Of course the smaller ones are great for your phone, camera etc.

aLOKSAK - 12x44"

16/11/2016: The ‘Moon Illusion’: I knew I had done posts about this intellectual ‘phenomenon’ long since, so I set off amid my old posts (with the aid of Control + F) to find it/them. I had thought to just be able to quote where I wrote that if you cut out a circle of cardboard that just exactly covers the full moon at arm’s length that you would find that it always does, whether the moon seems to swell like a balloon or shrink like a pin-head in your mind’s eye. As well, I found this rich horde of moon lore which I cannot restrain myself from sharing once more:

 

27/12/2012: What a fascinating article; I HAVE noticed the 'terminator' wind, but I confess regretfully I have not been outdoors enough on warm full-moon nights to notice the moon wind: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/12/24/sailing-on-the-moon-wind/#more-76322

 

26/06/2013: We checked out the ‘super moon’ but it looked just like any ordinary moon to us, but this super hurricane on Saturn IS really something out of the ordinary: http://arstechnica.com/science/2013/06/cassini-captures-gigantic-hurricane-on-saturn-in-exquisite-detail/

 

22/07/2013: APOLLO 11! Still thrills me 44 years later. These WERE the rocket engines which took those three brave men to the moon back when Detroit (and America) was STILL great! (http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2013/07/bezos-apollo-11/) Watching the launch is still exciting: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSLRMdYSA9M

 

24/07/2013: WHAT a STUNNING photograph: our solar system is brilliant – and look how small all our concerns really ARE (Earth & Moon arrowed): http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/saturn_earth_cassini.jpg?w=640&h=419

 

13/12/2014: Moonlight casts shadows; sometimes you forget…most places there is so much ambient light, you see nothing, know nothing. Last night during one of my elderly nightly sojourns to the bathroom I glanced out the back window and was surprised to see several small black creatures sitting on the new steps in the moonlight. I had to go fetch my glasses to see what they were as I was curious as to what critters had so early claimed this structure as their own. Alas, they were but moon shadows. I did notice yesterday however whilst working on the steps that a colony of ants had already claimed the vertical rails as a highway, so no doubt it won’t be long before others follow! Nature has a way of seizing every opportunity as its own.

 

05/11/2014: The FUTURE: what WILL it be like? First of all we will (soon) have virtually free, virtually unlimited energy from nuclear fusion with generators sized according to need: ones maybe as big as a railway engine or two to power a fair sized city to ones the size of a shoebox to power a homestead. With such abundant energy we will be able to do and have anything we wish. We will not have to chase rich lodes of ore in inaccessible places to harness the resources we need. Any piece of rock, earth or water will be able to be broken down easily into its component elements to provide whatever resource we need, whenever we need it. Such unlimited energy will make growing food completely independent of seasons, indeed independent of available light, water and nutrients as we will easily be able to provide all these. There will be no shortage of food, and most of the land now used to produce it will be returned to nature. Indeed, we will rework photosynthesis. It is dependent on rubisco, the best that nature has evolved, but we will re-engineer photosynthesis with more efficient processes so that plants will yield many times what they are capable of now. Both these things will happen in YOUR lifetime, possibly within a decade. Poverty and want will completely vanish. And this is only the beginning: we WILL have habitats at the L5 points and on the moon and Mars in the next twenty years. Life expectations will soon soar by 20-50 years! The future will be MUCH better than the past…

 

29/06/2014: Ain’t it the truth: A plea from the new imperialists (the Greens, etc): ‘Please give me the power. I promise to make everything new and beautiful for you ignorant little people who do not understand what you really want or what is best for you. Furthermore, I'll turn your slob husbands into young studs, your wives into Miss Americas, your bank accounts into mountains of gold, and I'll make the oceans recede by shipping water to the moon (with apologies to those with waterfront property).’

 

12/06/2014: Quotable quote: Patrick Lion: ‘The ABC is massively over-funded. Consider this: if the ABC received similar per capita funding in the US as it does in Australia, its budget would be somewhere in the vicinity of $16.6 billion. That’s pretty much equal to the entire annual budget of NASA, yet the only person the ABC has ever put on the moon is Mr Squiggle.’

 

(I had forgotten I ever owned a spaceship); 18/05/2014: So, my $100 helped: something to look forward to on my birthday; if all goes well ‘the team’ will reboot ISEE-3 and buzz the moon with it on 10 August @50km altitude! Thanks to our donations the project is, ‘GO!’ http://www.rockethub.com/42228

 

16/05/2014: Vale: David Armstrong: A VERY great TEACHER (of mine, and SO many others) and courageous man. I spent many pleasant hours with him, in his rooms (or mine) and in the quad (under the tree which remains even when no-one is there to see, & etc) at Sydney Uni in the 1970s. I remember watching (with him) a peculiar 'transit' of Venus which appeared to traverse the crescent of the moon under that tree, about 1973. It seems a long while ago now – and it IS. I AM sorry I did not live up to his estimation of me. We have only ONE life, and I chose this one. I will MISS HIM, as I miss our mutual friend ‘Sandy’ Anderson (son of John), with whom I spent many pleasant hours at Newcastle Uni in the 1960s; gone these many years now. Philosophy (& many other things) are much poorer with their passing: http://quadrant.org.au/opinion/qed/2014/05/david-armstrong-great-philosopher-great-man/ (I was recalling about this again last night amid my pneumonia driven fevered dreams when my life unrolled like a carpet before me instead of the rapid flash of drowning)

15/03/2014: This poem, ‘Dover Beach’ by Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) was for many years my favourite. (I DO also really like Dylan Thomas’ ‘Fern Hill’ though!) You may be surprised to learn that I (as an atheist) particularly like the penultimate stanza. To be an atheist does not mean that one is without the deeply felt beliefs or moral principles without which a person is scarcely human. I too lament that so many today grow up without having developed any consistent set of ethical values to inform their lives…

The sea is calm to-night.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand;
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.

Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Aegean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.

The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.


Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

23/02/2014: The small survey I recently completed on the ‘moon illusion’ convinced me that rather more folks here not only do not know the earth orbits the sun; they still believe the earth is flat: http://news.discovery.com/space/astronomy/1-in-4-americans-dont-know-earth-orbits-the-sun-yes-really-140214.htm

 

12/02/2014: MORE on the ‘moon illusion’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXkYjL_7jME#t=239

 

09/02/2014: I asked several people today whether they thought the moon was bigger when it first appears on the horizon or whether it was an optical illusion. Without wanting to spoil the answer for you, I should like to report that a number of people were sure that it WAS closer when it was near the horizon. These flat-earth advocates no doubt also eat organic food because it contains no chemicals and totally eschew di-hydrogen monoxide!

 

30/09/2015: This from my post Not Quite Alone in the Wilderness: (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/not-quite-alone-in-the-wilderness/) I had 'picked' a poor time for a hunt (though a good time for a walk). The Spring growth, the warm weather, the full moon all meant that the deer were very seldom down along the river during daylight hours (much moreso in winter when feed is scarcer). Of course they can see excellently in moonlight. Every night they visited us in our camps, honking constantly to keep us wake. I could have shot a number of fine stags by torchlight. http://www.theultralighthiker.com/mini-super-torch-a-weeks-light-weighs-50-grams/ I'm sure others would have. Who, but for conscience is to know?

 

25/10/2016: The wildlife seems to get wilder everyday: … ’ When I was a kid folk  used to ‘spotlight’ critters like this (mainly possums – everything was tucker back then) by walking the full moon along the branches of a tree, then plinking them down with the help of the old Lithgow .22 single shot. PS. We usually see one or more of these little guys too. There must be plenty of ants around. There are also almost innumerable swamp wallabies and grey kangaroos.

 

07/08/2016: Bill Leak and PJ O’Rourke: …Bill: When Neil Armstrong walked on the moon July 20, 1969, the whole world was inspired. On August 15 the same year 400,000 hippies rolled in the mud at Woodstock and no one’s been inspired by human ingenuity since. What the hell happened during the three weeks between?’

 

02/08/2016: Her Craft or Sullen Art:

 

‘In my craft or sullen art

 

Exercised in the still night

 

When only the moon rages

 

And the lovers lie abed

 

With all their griefs in their arms,

 

I labour by singing light

 

Not for ambition or bread

 

Or the strut and trade of charms

 

On the ivory stages

 

But for the common wages

 

Of their most secret heart.

 

Not for the proud man apart

 

From the raging moon I write

 

On these spindrift pages

 

Nor for the towering dead

 

With their nightingales and psalms

 

But for the lovers, their arms

 

Round the griefs of the ages,

 

Who pay no praise or wages

 

Nor heed my craft or art.’

 

15/11/2016: Supermoon: I got up in the middle of the night and looked at this phenomenon; if anything the moon looked smaller than usual to me. But I have spent years of my life sleeping on the ground, camped under the stars gazing up at the night sky. Clearly folks will believe anything!

 

14/11/2016: I Saw Below Me That Golden Valley:

 

Soon you will see no more playful goats as they are banned from the National Park.

Pretty and well cared for donkeys along the way.

It is a pleasant and easy couple of km descent through a pretty forest from Lukla to the  prosperous looking agricultural town of Chheplung (though it is much harder struggling back up the other way on the return journey with a chest full of pneumonia!)

 

Chheplung is a well laid out and prosperous looking agricultural area.

From there you follow the Dudh Khosi River upstream with only slight rises and falls of the path until you ascend sharply 7-800 metres into Namche Bazar after a walk of approx 8 hours. Most complete this section over two days.

 

MThere are many small villages.

And places to take a break.

Some more salubrious than others: Of course along the well-travelled section of the EBC most everything is dressed up to its best. In smaller rural villages you often find rougher accommodation.

There are lots of big and little villages to stop along the way to enjoy a cup of coffee (or something stronger), a snack or a meal. We planned to stop at Monjo (because of its altitude rather than its being half way), but we spent a little too long ‘catching up’ before we set off, so that we ended up staying at the Himalayan Guest House (nice), Bengkar instead. Most folk stay at Phakding (quite a big town) which is about half way to Namche, but there is no need; every tiny hamlet has its tea houses for food and accommodation.

Quaint agricultural practices: this hay is being 'raked' with a stick. I saw it cut with a kitchen knife!

Sun drying barley, I guess. Strangely in the tea houses everyone eats Dahl Bat (Rice) even though no rice could grow here.

I found the intercropping interesting; beans and grain grown together.

Everywhere the mountains tower over the valley:

 

And the river churns in its bed:

 

All along the route telephone and/or internet reception is mixed/patchy, but usually available – though it may surprise you that there is any at all. Often there is wifi eg in guest houses, etc. Sometimes it is free; at others it might cost eg US$5 for 200 megs. It is lovely though to be able to use ‘Whats App’, ‘Facebook Messenger’ or etc to conduct telephone or video calls with your loved ones on the other side of the world! (I know I did.)

Endless religious gibberish pollutes the scenery.