The countdown is on!

Aside from downloading topographic maps on my iPhone, mending holes in my tent mesh, purchasing random bits of gear on mum and dad’s credit card, creating complex resupply spreadsheets, practising my daily back and glute exercises from the Osteo and planning my first ever solo overnight hike, my time in Sydney has been quite relaxed.

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My new French Foreign Legion style hat for the desert.

I am suppressing some pretty major one month to go anxieties which vary between ‘I’m almost there’ to ‘holly crap there’s still so much to read, plan and do’. In the last week I’ve settled on a start date for the trail (Thursday April 18), secured a lift to the Mexico/US border (thanks to Don and Donna in San Diego), finally purchased travel insurance from World Nomads (who did confirm they would insure me for the trail), booked a car in San Diego, secured pick up from Vancouver airport (thanks BJ), educated myself about bear safety, and hiked with my ULA pack for the first time.

On Friday mum and I walked from their apartment in Manly to the Spit Bridge (approx 7.5km) along the Manly Scenic Walkway. I carried my pack with about 4L of water, tent, sleeping mat, sleeping bag and clothing, weighing close to 8kg.

IMG_2245My lower back was still giving me grief so the walk there was quite painful, requiring two Nurofens to keep me going. The scenery was beautiful though and we past at least a dozen lizards along the way. It took us 2.5 hours to get to a little cafe near the Spit Bridge where dad brought us a homemade wrap for lunch (won’t be getting this kind of service on the trail) and we enjoyed a COFFEE (still not sure how I’m going to live without it).

Dad drove mum home and I tackled the return journey solo. I used hiking poles going back which made an incredible difference to my speed and the pressure on my back, getting me home in 1.5 hours. Tomorrow I’m going to set off on a two-day, 34km hike starting from Thornleigh to Cowan.

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Stunning views looking back towards Manly.

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The ULA pack and solar panel in action.

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Mum and I ready for some serious hiking alongside shirtless joggers and mums with strollers.

No stove in sight

Everyday this week I’ve been waiting for the postman to deliver my Caldera Cone Stove from Trail Designs in the US, and sadly the night before I head to Sydney it still hasn’t arrived. It’s disappointing because the solar panel I ordered at the same time came a few days ago, plus I was planning to do my FIRST EVER solo overnight hike up there with my main pieces of gear (now minus the stove).

Canada permit

Approved to enter Canada via the PCT.

I did happily receive my permit to enter Canada via the PCT in the mail today though. I’ll need to decide what to do with this precious document during the hike. I think most people send it to their last resupply point in Washington before crossing the border. My biggest fear is that it could possibly get lost in the mail. I think people also send their passports to their last resupply point but this makes me even more nervous, and considering I’m not a US citizen I think I’ll need my passport and visa on me at all times anyhow.

It’s now less than a month before I’m on the plane to Vancouver. I’m going to do some serious planning, training and bits of gear purchasing over the next week with only mum and dad to distract me. When I get back to Melbourne I’ll have 10 days to go! Frightening!

Fairfield to Bentleigh (along the Outer Circle Trail)

My weekly hike today was more like a walk, however it was the toughest one so far on my body. Not only because it was the longest, but because I was terribly equipped was an ordinary overweight backpack.

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Start of the trail in Fairfield.

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Relieved to find this was in fact a marked trail.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Trail over the Yarra River.

The Outer Circle/Anniversary Trail is an 18km stretch of paved bike/walking trail from Fairfield to Hughesdale Station. This walk appealed to me because Hughesdale is close enough to home to walk once completed (5km). However, what should have been a 23km walk, turned into 27kms after some iPhone navigation issues which resulted in me taking the wrong turn at a crucial junction and having to backtrack.

The trail has a few road sections but I was surprised at how complete and continuous it actually was. An hour in, I emptied my entire 3L bladder and saved only one water bottle simply because my pack was so incredibly awkward and heavy to carry. This helped a little but the pains in my lower back had already taken hold, forcing me to walk VERY slowly.

There was a severe lack of public toilets along the trail, especially after my standard pre-hike coffee. I was in the process of sizing up some bushes when finally I found some kind of scout hall/cricket club/abandoned council building that had their public toilet open. Glorious!

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Survival kit

It wasn’t long after the quick bathroom break when heat, pain and mental exhaustion started to take hold. I pulled out all the stops, Nurofen and my iPod being the main remedies, to get me through the more monotonous part of the walk.

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The trail in all its glory.

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And again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The trail is probably better for cycling than walking, although for distance training it wasn’t bad. I think my back pain and feeble meandering made it less enjoyable, however I still got a kick out of self portrait photography, and my favourite section, the ‘Urban Forest’.

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ME, taking a break.

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ME, inside the Urban Forest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strangely towards the end of my walk my body seemed to loosen up a little. Could have been the Nurofen, the lighter backpack or the walking stick I acquired, but by the end of the trail I managed the final 5km walk home without too many complaints. After an icepack, a warm bath and an appointment with the Osteopath tomorrow my back and body should be good as new!

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Saved by the walking stick.

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The end of the trail, no bells or whistles in sight.