Preparing for another hike:

The moment I got back from my last hike in September to Lake Tali Karng, I couldn’t wait to plan another one.  You can read about the Tali Karng hike here.  For me, it was a return to hiking after quite some years of not really being free to drop the role of single-parent and dash into the wild for a 3 day voluntary boot camp.  I had such a fantastic time and the hike provided just the right balance of hard walking, awesome scenery and challenging river-crossings.  You could say I’d whet my appetite for more.

So within a week or two of the last hike, I’ve planned another with my hiking companion Peter, and we’ll be off soon to tramp through the wilds of the Victorian Alpine country again.  This time we will hike to Mt Howitt from Howitt Plains carpark and via Macalister Springs (Vallejo Gantner Hut).  From there we will join the Australian Alps Walking Track for a short way, before veering west along Stanleys Name Spur Walking Track to Queens Spur and Mt Buggery.  After conquering that steep rocky outcrop, it’s up to Mt Speculation for a visually splendid campsite for the night.  The following day we will return to the carpark via the Crosscut Saw.

Sounds easy sitting at my desk typing this blog post, but there will be some sweat and struggles involved to make the trip something to remember.  Which is why I have been doing a bit of preparation and training…(and buying new goodies)!

I started by buying myself a new Osprey Hydraulics 2L bladder, which is pictured above in my day-pack (not the one I will take hiking).  I’m really happy with the design and performance of the bladder, and I think it stands apart from many others on the market.  This is mainly due to the supportive backing on the bladder, and the generous carry handle, which you can see in the photos above and below.

It’s also really easy to fill with such a large diameter opening, and the convenient handle allows you to guide the bladder easily into your pack.  The supportive plastic backing makes the bladder retain its shape, even when there’s minimal water left in it, so there’s no risk that the bladder will collapse and prevent you from sucking up water.

The bladder comes with a magnetic disc which you position on the sternum strap of your pack.  You then match up the magnetic disc on the bite valve, and your hose piece and valve stay where you want them.

So the bladder’s taken care of, and I’ve been testing it out in my little day-pack, that I take on all my training walks.  My pack has a couple of 1 kg weights in it, 2 litres of water  (equals 2kg), and some other bits and bobs that take it up to about 5 kg of weight to carry, as a minimum.  I don’t like putting much more weight in this size pack because its not designed for heavy loads, and can put undue stress on my back due to not having a thick, padded hip belt. So for now this is enough weight to make my training walks just a little more challenging

I’m doing a 10-12 km walk about 4 – 5 times a week with the day-pack on, and do a fairly steep uphill section for about 20 minutes each time I do the walk.  This also equates to a steep downhill section on the return journey, which is an important part of the training program.  I’m trying to stimulate the sort of terrain I will actually be hiking on so that my leg muscles have time to adjust to these sorts of conditions.

As I get closer to the hike date, I’ll switch over to my Osprey multi-day pack and gradually put some more weight in it (up to 12-15kg).

Then all that’s left is to do a couple of longer walks to simulate the distance we will cover on the hike (around 15+km each day), which will give me more endurance fitness.  In between walks, there’s always the opportunity to do some core-strength training, like doing squats and lunges which target the major leg muscles and glutes as well.

Meanwhile, last week I went into Melbourne to visit a few of the really good outdoor gear shops that I don’t have access to where I live, like Bogong and Paddy Pallin, and was blown away by all the gear on offer. Naturally I managed to come home with a few ‘essential items’ for the hike.  A Sea to Summit brand waterproof map protector, and waterproof smart phone case.  The phone case is waterproof, freezeproof and abrasion resistant, as well as being touch screen compatible with its clear cover.  This means I can use the phone even if its raining, and it’s reassuring to know that my phone is safe even if I forget that I left it in a mesh pocket of my pack when it starts drizzling.

Last hike we went on we were blessed with fine weather, but I realised our kit needs to be gradually upgraded to be better prepared for inclement weather.  Besides, the long term plan includes hiking the Overland Track, Tasmania in September next year, which will involve some more serious 3-4 season items to cope with the variety of weather conditions that can be experienced at any time of year.  That’s as good a reason as any to get some new gear.  Don’t you think? My sleeping bag will definitely need to be upgraded to a light-weight version that can handle the possibility of snow.  It’d be good to think there was also a light-weight price tag to go with it, but unfortunately such items are very pricey!

So, it’s time to start saving……………..

I’ll blog about the hike in a few weeks time, when we return.  Naturally there will be loads of awesome photos to go with the story.

Meanwhile, I’m still thinking of getting the wine bladder that I saw in Paddy Pallin……………and how are we going to keep the cheese cold if the weather is warming up? And the chocolate/  Hmm, there is definitely a lot to think about when preparing for a hike :).