About Me

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Sydney, Australia
A natural curiosity for what's over the next hill has taken me on a vast array of trips over the years, most of which involve human powered travel. There's so much more to do. All images © Darren Mckenzie.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

HEAVYWEIGHT HIKING.


Lately I've been toying with idea of going light......well a little lighter at least. With all the great blog's showcasing the latest Cuban fibre skirts, titanium toothpicks and 850 loft down sweatbands, I figured I'd balance things out a little with some heavyweight hiking tips.

For years I thought going light meant cutting the tags off your undies, handles off cups and taking an 80 litre pack instead of an 110 litre monster. It always left me feeling a little under prepared, especially if it meant leaving that extra piece of gear behind.

Whats so abnormal about smoked oysters, fresh strawberries and brewing up Japanese tea in your favorite expensive and very fragile ceramic teapot while in the backcountry. On a recent trip, a group of ten or so suddenly went quiet and were passing concerned glances around like Chinese whispers when I pulled out a 4 serve Plum pudding and cream complete with the biggest can opener they had seen. Jealousy hung thick in the air as they licked and slurped their lightweight sporks long after finishing some very bland looking 2 minute noodles.
"Oh that's just too heavy to justify....it would slow you down....you'll be feeling it on the trail tomorrow"

Funny thing was, we had all left the trail head at the same time or even after in some cases and had been setup for an hour or two before the first tired souls came drifting in to camp and collapsed before finding the energy to setup the tents.

I buy light gear so I can take more for longer. I don't want to race through a two day walk in one, and miss out on the joy of struggling under an immense load while trying to take in the scenery.

Doesn't anybody else feel a surge of competitiveness when you watch a 16 year old sherpa pick up 50Kg's using a strap over his head and proceed to carry it at twice the speed of everyone else and their puny daypacks? No?

Well here's a few tips and tricks of mine which should assist you in reversing that soft mentality and hopefully return the sheen to your new found hardened exterior.

Have your existing large capacity pack modified and extended to fit another 20-30 litres of gear in....and fill it to the brim.


Take large bottles of grog instead of the tiny hip flask that just leaves you craving more and possibly exacerbates your alcoholic tendencies.
 

Travel through steep and overgrown terrain content with the knowledge that you will have enough to drink upon arrival at your destination.


 Buy your wife an AT setup, load her up with gear then teach her how to ski in the backcountry. Her first time on skis needs to be done with a pack so she can build up an understanding of balance whilst touring.

Introduce her to large volume snowshovels and teach her to dig pits which you cleverly shape in the form of the evenings tent platform.


Keep the alchohol away from your wife.

 Buy her an expensive DSLR and many heavy lenses.

Build a home made solar setup so you can carry ridiculous amounts of electronic gadgetry which you may or may not use.

If you cant carry everything in your pack then drag a pulk loaded with all your new found lightweight geekery.

Bring skis and snowboards along even when there is no snow just to build up some endurance for when it arrives. Don't forget to carry a lightweight 4 person tent for two people.

You will thank me later for teaching you to push through and embrace the pain of blisters as the soft spots will eventually build up enough scar tissue that taping will be a thing of the past.

 Even day packs should be at least 70 litre capacity with plenty of tech looking junk hanging off it.


Teach your mates Heavyweight hiking techniques and make them practice....and practice some more.

Load your van up with gear then upon arrival at your destination try and fit everything on a bike and ride to the trailhead.

Make sure when bikerafting that you take an all mountain setup weighing at least 17Kg's.

 Your comfort has to come second in the cockpit.

 You don't want to be in the less impressive pleasure vessels at the back.

 Packraft's are a great way to carry more than you can carry on your back.

Two people, two rods and one esky is showing a little inexperience. Two separate esky's are proper heavyweight etiquette.

This next shot is a much better example of how things are done.

Heavyweight hiking has it's drawbacks when it comes to durability so use the motto "heavy is durable" and you will be on your way.

If you are destroying gear then finding heavier materials to make it from will annihilate the saying, "Your mileage may vary".

Wearing heavy boots that fatigue you can build up strength for longer more taxing journey's in years to come.


 So with these Heavyweight skills you should be able to attack your local hills with a new mindset that leaves your Cuban mates shaking their lightweight handbags in your wake.
Keep it Funky.....

Monday, June 13, 2011

GROSE RIVER Via VICTORIA FALLS

In a rushed attempt to get fit for the ski season, Dana and I have been doing as many pack hauling trips as possible. Add in the odd fast trail walk/run in the hope of building up some endurance and we may just take the edge off the pain when the first trip comes up.

I've enjoyed taking a back seat in the trip plans lately as Dana has discovered the joy of learning to navigate properly by map and compass. On this particular trip we headed to Mt Vic to visit the falls, then on to Bluegum Forest following the Grose river before camping the night. The following day it was on to Blackheath via Perry's Lookdown.

The weather forecast for cool conditions and scattered showers made great walking weather. We caught the train to Mt Vic and headed off a little late (10am) after missing the first train.

The first days distance was around 15 or more K's including the road bash from the station. I fiddled around taking photo's and generally slowing the progress down knowing the head torches would be used to finish the last few K's into camp.


Dana has been battling an ongoing knee problem but as usual gritted her teeth and dealt with the pain quietly while climbing down to the Falls.

The falls were looking good with a bit more water than I have seen in the past, and I wasted some more time with the camera at each of the cascades.

 I think this sign has been in place for a while!












 We had a late lunch at Burra Korain flat before following the Grose river on to Bluegum Forest. I can see a potentially great packrafting river in the Grose, but need to get back for a visit in higher water. Unlike the Colo, this would be a consistent series of rapids which would require a bit more concentration to descend safely. I'd like to do the junction of Victoria creek down to Bluegum Forest but I don't think the catchment is all that large to run this upper section. It may require a huge dump of rain which would probably dissipate quickly.


I was surprised at how clear the water was after packrafting other creeks and rivers, although it wouldn't be all that clean from a pathogen perspective.
I found THIS to be an interesting story on the river.
We bumbled along and arrived at camp under head torch and after dinner and tea, fell asleep to the sound of rain setting in.


The rain continued on and off for the next days walk which saw us wander through some fairly impressive Gums. As we climbed out of the valley the wind picked up and the temp dropped noticeably.

 

....and so began the road bash back to Blackheath station, pies, coffee and eventually the hustle that is Sydney.