Urban Hiking

Firstly I’m impressed that WordPress has finally updated their phone app just as I’m testing out posting from my iPhone. Today I was on my own and decided it would be easier to train close to home than take the bike all the way to Sugarloaf Reservoir as I’d planned to do. My hike began from home, detoured past the coffee shop for a small soy cap (this is urban hiking after all), then headed down to Karkarook Park to circle the 2.5km loop around the lake.

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Self portrait whilst waiting in Bentleigh’s busiest Sunday morning cafe in my hiking get up.

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Karkarook Lake.

This ended up being an exercise of heat and distance conditioning as I walked in the heat of the afternoon between 10am – 3pm on a 30+ degree day, managing a total of 23km in 5 hours.

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More of the typical scenery enjoyed during my hike.

I have to say I was waddling the last few kms home after doing 30 mins on the elliptical machine earlier this morning and taking the dog for a leisurely stroll before the hike.

The new shoes were a hit except for a few stones that got stuck in the base of the shoe and rubbed my heel (should have worn gaiters!) May have to order another pair this week. I should also add that after only 5 hours of walking in the heat my shoes and clothes absolutely wreaked. There’ll be no jumping into a hot shower and throwing the clothes into the washing machine on the trail. Thank goodness I’m doing this hike solo!

Top of the Range

There’s been so much happening this week that I haven’t yet shared my latest training adventures from Mt Macedon on the weekend. This was a milestone for Katie and Amy as it was the longest hike they’d ever attempted in one day.

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Amy and Katie after 1.5 hours walking to the top of Mt Macedon.

The hike starts from Old Scout Campsite and heads straight up the mountain for around 3km. I was thankful of my new Black Diamond hiking poles which gave me a little extra push on the uphill. One of the many random thoughts that entered my mind during the climb was regarding coffee, and when I should start weening myself off caffine. I figure it will take a week for the withdrawal headaches to subside, and gladly reconciled with myself that the weening would not have to take place until I land in Vancouver.

With my head on the subject of coffee, I was drawn to the Top of the Range Café when we reached the end of the climb. I had the intention of stocking up on a few more carbs, but instead treated myself to a skinny cap which seemed like an absurd thing to be doing in the middle of the hike. Nevertheless it was divine and I would do it again gladly!

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Coffee comfortably in hand!

I knew the trail pretty well having completed the hike at least three times previously during my Kilimanjaro training. In some ways it’s good to know where you’re going, in another way you know all the steep parts coming up and all the sections you’re not looking forward to.

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Great views but the start of a VERY steep descent.

The weather was perfect, sunny but cool, and despite the usual stops for water, toilet breaks, lunch, general nature observations and the like, we made very good time. We even stopped to chat to a couple of ladies who were training for Everest Base Camp. I had my Runkeeper tracking our distance and timing and at the end of the trail determined we’d walked approximately 20kms in 8 hours including all of our breaks. Not too shabby at all!

The training wheels come off

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There was more strapped to my pack than inside it.

This past Australia Day weekend saw me setting off with trusty companions Katie and Amy for my first ever overnight hike. I have hiked and camped overnight before during my Kilimanjaro climb, but there we had porters carrying our food, tents and the majority of our gear. This time I had my tent, sleeping bag and mat, clothing, a third of the food and water to carry in my not so flashy 60L backpack. As I set off out the door you could tell I was a complete amateur.

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Still smiling as we set off into the rain.

We left about 2 hours after our designated latest time of departure which saw us leaving Coburg around 10am. After stopping for coffee, filling up the air in our tyres and having a short break for lunch, we found ourselves entering Wilsons Promontory around 3pm. Just as we had all managed to strap our overweight packs to our backs, the rain started coming down.

The first stretch of the hike was along the beach at Tidal River. It was at this point I started to wonder how on earth people move with such a gigantic amount of weight on their backs. It just didn’t feel right that my back was in agony so soon. We’d barely gone one kilometer.

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What should have been a glorious stroll down the beach.

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My moment of realisation.

After about an hour I decided something had to be done about my pack.

Before rearranging the contents both Katie and Amy took turns at carrying it. Seeing the pack on Katie’s back made me realise just how ridiculously it was packed.

Watching her walk with it hurt my back and the fact I could almost run wearing hers renewed my faith in my ability to walk the remaining distance to the campsite.

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The total distance from Tidal River to our campsite at Halfway Hut was 12.5km.

The rain continued all the way to the campsite. When we arrived at Halfway Hut our site had been taken by another hiker who we’d met along the trail. He’d told us previously that he hadn’t booked anywhere to stay, and as he’d taken the last spot we kindly asked him to relocate a few meters away, so that we could squish our two $30 tents next to one another in the space he’d taken with his one tent.

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The three of us keeping warm in a two man tent fit for one.

Despite the rain and the fact most of our belongings were drenched, Amy still managed to cook a delightful meal of red kidney beans and rice from inside the tent.

We had no space to store our packs in our tents and nowhere underneath the rain cover, so we simply left them outside in the rain all night, only to realise in the morning we could have stored then in the small hut which gave the campsite its name. Luckily the next day we simply took a daypack and left our gear behind to dry.

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Sparkling blue water of the Prom.

Day 2 was a complete contrast to the previous day with blue skies and sunshine. We walked a total of 15km from Halfway Hut to Waterloo Bay and turned around not far beyond there when we realised we had almost run out of water. We spent the afternoon at the beach watching the spectacular bright blue waves crashing into the shore.

On the final day we packed up camp with the majority of out kit dry. We were all a little weary from two nights of restless sleep, but felt ready to tackle the hike back to Tidal River. The difference a little sun made was remarkable. The walk seemed ten times faster than our first day and one hundred times more enjoyable!

In total we hiked 40km over three days. We bumped into people who had hiked 39km in one day but we didn’t let that cloud our achievement. There’ll be plenty of days hiking 39kms on the PCT.

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Day 1

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Day 3

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Day 1

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Day 3

Dipping into the Gorge

Our weekly hike took us to Werribee Gorge State Park for what we expected to be a 10km hike. It felt like 10km in the heat of the day but my RunKeeper said we only did 7km by the time we were huffing and puffing back at the car park. The walk was a lot more challenging than last week; there were some steep inclines, lots of rocks to scramble over, and a section where we needed to hold onto a rope to get around the cliff face. I realised how little grip my poor worn out sneakers have and how desperate I am to get new shoes.

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Amy and Katie walking through the Gorge

My favourite part of the hike was dipping into the Werribee River to cool off. Katie was attacked by slimy reeds when she ventured too far down the river, but despite a little algae the water was devine. I could have spent the entire day floating there.

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Katie taking an extra dip!

I took a heavier day pack today which made me realise that carrying the weight of my gear, food and water is going to be a real challenge. We’ve decided to do a three day hike next weekend at Wilson’s Promontory which should really test this theory, although I will need to borrow most of my gear and take an old backpack until I make some serious PCT gear decisions.

Back on the beaten track

On Saturday Josie, Katie, Amy and I reunited for another walk at Woodlands Historic Park just north of Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport. This location was my pick for its close proximity to Melbourne, length of walk and grade of track, although the girls were not overly impressed to begin with. It wasn’t the most challenging of hikes, but the 10kms we walked provided us with views of the city from the top of Gellibrand Hill and exposure to a troop of Kangaroos, including a very intimidating male Roo who towered well above our heads.

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Amy the Roo.

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Standard sign pose.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Though we were all experiencing hunger pains and slight headaches caused by our lackadaisical packing of water, we reached the top of Gellibrand Hill in 1:18:00 hours. I was missing my walking stick from Jervis Bay but we found some new additions (not quite the standard of my previous one). I carried Josie’s kettlebell in my backpack for additional weight but will soon need to purchase my actual PCT pack and start filling it to between 15-20kg for training.

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Me, Josie, Katie and Amy.

Training begins

Before the New Year began I thought it wise to begin my training for the hike to start 2013 off on a good foot. Not only did I start reading ‘Wild’ by Cheryl Strayed who solo hiked the trail for 3 months back in 1995, I also got out and walked. My first official training hike took place with friends Josie, Katie and Amy in Booderee National Park in the ACT. We walked a 12km circuit from Steamers Beach parking, down to Whiting Beach for a quick swim before walking back around to Steamers Beach and back to the parking. I found a great walking stick which after growing quite attached to we used as fire wood much to my dismay. Can’t imagine taking a large wooden stick from the Australian bush over to the US anyway I suppose.

My second walk took place yesterday on the Great Southern Rail Trail with my mum down in Foster, VIC in the high 30 degree heat. We were averaging 1km every 10.5 minutes but we were walking on a pretty flat trail without a pack. Sadly I was still wearing my regular runners after returning my Saloman shoes to Kathmandu on Boxing Day.

On Monday I plan to begin my training at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre (MSAC) who have ever so kindly given me full membership until the end of April to train for my hike. I trained at MSAC in 2011 before climbing Mt Kilimanjaro so I’m looking forward to getting back into the Peloton and Yoga classes, and hitting the gym and swimming pool. I’m also planning to incorporate 10km of walking each day while getting to and from work in South Melbourne during January.

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My second official training walk on 03 Jan 2013