Fungi are still prolific around the south west and I see them everywhere while I’m out walking. I love taking their pictures though it’s not a pretty sight, me with my backpack on and walking poles flailing around as I try to get down low on the ground trying to take pictures, then getting back up again with 15 kg on my back? Yeah, not pretty. I’m still weighing up possibilities as to what I’ll do in the coming months. My original plan was to ride the Munda Biddi mountain bike trail from Albany to Perth, then walk back down the Bibbulman track to Albany, total distances of about 1000 km up and then 1000 km down.
Everything is set, I have the bike pretty much ready, it carries all my gear with the two panniers and front handlebar roll, and the hiking pack is also ready, I have all my gear ready and tested.
This photo shows an interesting contrast of travelling methods, from the caravan, to the troopy camper, to the mountain bike set up and then the backpack for hiking.
I’ve been training lots, walking 10-20km a day for weeks now with the pack on, but I haven’t done a lot of cycling, in fact I’d say I’ve done basically no cycle training at all. Mainly because the bike needed some work done to bring it up to scratch and by the time I finally got it back from the second extended stay in the bike shop I had really got into the walking. I’ve been for a couple of rides but it just hasn’t grab me like the walking, so for the moment I’ve settled on plan 24b.
I’ll walk up the Bibbulmun, then see how I feel after walking 1000 kms, I’ll certainly be a lot fitter. So I take the bike to Perth and leave it with friends then I can decide after I get up to Perth. I’ll have many options, I can catch a bus back south if I’ve had enough, or I can turn around and walk back down if I’m loving the walking and feeling like I want to do more. Or I can jump on the bike and ride back down the Munda Biddi. Spoiled for choices really. Oh yeah, listen to me making all these plans, I’ve still got to walk all the way up to Perth first and it’ll be in the middle of winter.
A walk in the park surely, 50 days of walking 20km every day with a loaded pack in the rain and wind. Freezing cold nights sleeping on a thin air mattress, last week they had multiple nights down to -3 degrees in the Collie area, what could possibly go wrong. I’ve been reliably informed that no one has ever died on the trail, or did I imagine that.
I’ll have one change of clothes and these are my camp/sleeping clothes so if I get wet during the day I’ll stay wet all day, then get up the next morning and put the wet clothes back on before starting to walk, my camp clothes have to stay dry and be saved for sleeping.
So what will I be taking? I’ve been researching this and putting together my gear for many months now, in fact perhaps for a little too long, my original base weight of gear was under 9 kg but somehow that’s crept up to 10.5 kg. So that’s 10.5 kg for everything I will be carrying except the clothes I’m wearing my food, water and fuel, which looks a little like this.
At least that’s how it looks all packed up, emptied out of the pack spread on the ground it looks more like this.
That’s everything, clothes, tent, cooking gear, the lot, everything except what I’ll be wearing. And I could pack it quite a bit smaller, the large blue bag top left is my sleeping bag which I keep uncompressed in a large bag as there’s plenty of room in my pack and down is better left uncompressed as much as possible. The orange bag bottom left contains my clothes, all except my silver down jacket sitting next to it, and the raincoat top right near the water bottles.
On the right are the clothes I’ll be wearing and on the left are all the clothes I’m carrying. I’m wearing a cap with sun protector, a pair of light running shorts, an Exofficio long sleeve shirt, socks and Loan peak shoes. All day every day, they will be my only clothes apart form changing out socks each day. I’ll have one other pair of socks for hiking, then one pair of socks for sleeping in which must always stay dry. So each night I’ll have to clean the socks I wore that day, let them dry over the next day so I can wear them the following day.
There’s a Berghaus rain jacket which is a little heavier than I’d like but it will have to do, a Mountain Hardware ghost whisperer down jacket which is super light and very warm, a beanie, some thin wool gloves and a buff or perhaps 3 buffs, I love buffs and their versatility. The other clothes are a long pair of Columbia pants with zip off legs, a woolen Tshirt, 2 x woolen thermal tops to layer as needed, woolen thermal leggings, woolen boxers and a pair of lycra shorts. Camp shoes were a hard decision, I went with some very heavy Teva sandals for a couple of reasons, firstly and most importantly, I had them already and didn’t need to spend $200 on a pair of sandals which weighed half as much, and secondly, I can hike in these very comfortably if I need to.
Enough of the closet, onto the bedroom, I’ve got a Thermarest neo air inflatable sleeping pad on the right with a fitted sheet, then a Nemo fillo inflatable pillow and a buff as a pillowslip, lastly a Thermarest corus quilt. I was concerned with this quilt because it’s rated to 2 degrees and I’m likely to hit much colder night temperatures, this is part of the reason I’ve packed an extra thermal top to wear.
My house is packed in 3 parts, it’s an MSR hubba hubba 2 person tent. In one bag is the inner mesh and groundsheet, in the other in the outer fly and tent pegs, with the poles in the red bag. It’s not the lightest tent at about 1.8kg all up, but it will be roomy. The stubby holder is to protect my pack from the end of the poles.
This is everything else. I have my 13L green food bag with music/book player and reading glasses on top. Above that is the Zseat, a foam pad for sitting and kneeling, getting into the tent etc. A small green towel for towel activities, a fold up umbrella, my kitchen, first aid kit, water bottles and finally the bag of tricks.
The kitchen is fairly minimalist but functional with a small Soto gas stove and a bandanna for many purposes. I have a cut off plastic spoon, a cut off sponge/scrubber, a folding cup and a titanium 850ml pot with a home made pot cosy made from a car windscreen reflector. I’ve used this set up many times now and have meal cooking quite well sorted, though you have to be careful with the titanium pot as food sticks to it very easily.
I won’t detail everything in the first aid kit but there should be everything I need, from earplugs to a needle and dental floss, for repairs to all things body, pack and gear.
And finally my bag of tricks which is everything else I may need. Toilet paper, wet wipes, water filter, pocket knife, soap leaves, tooth paste/brush, headlamp, fly net, hand sanitiser, cord, battery and an assortment of electronic cables and chargers.
So that’s everything I’ll have apart from the phone, my sunglasses and money/credit card/ID which will be in a ziplock bag.
Sometimes you just have to break things up with a fungi. After all, it’s fungi season down this way.
This one would have looked far better if I hadn’t dragged a big tree limb over the top of it just moments before taking this picture. Perhaps I should stick to things up off the ground.
I’m still taking all pictures with my phone getting used to it though I miss my DSLR and macro lens. OK, intermission over, I need to finish this post. So what about food you might ask?
This is 34 days of food packaged up ready to go along with three packs of tea/coffee/milk in the top left corner. Now begins the process of working out what to send where, I have quite a few food drops to organize for the different towns along the way. Some I will drop off myself, like down here in the south and then drop some more up near Perth when I drive up to drop off my bike. The rest will have to be posted to towns along the way, the towns along the track are quite used to this and post offices, information centres and accommodation places will happily hold parcels for people walking or riding the trails.
To give you a random idea of my daily food parcels, here’s one day. Starting with porridge in the morning with dried fruit and cinnamon. There are a few snack bars in this pack for during the day as well as a bag of trail mix (dried fruit and nuts) and a bag of “nuts and bolts” I made, remember that from years back? For dinner I have Mexican beef, vegetables and rice. All the veggies, meat and rice I’ve dehydrated myself.
Porridge again for this day, bars for snacking and some freeze dried mango then a cup a soup and biltong if I stop for lunch, or I could save the biltong to add into the evening meal. Dinner is macaroni cheese with dried vegetables and maybe biltong.
A different breakfast for this day there’s a bag with dehydrated ham, onion, tomato and peas, then the other bag has dehydrated eggs, powdered cheese and some milk powder. Hmmm, soak the ham and veggies then bring it to the boil, add the egg/cheese mix and deb potatoes, throwing in a small wedge of processed cheese for good measure. Lunch is crackers, tuna, cup a soup and bars for snacking along the way, then dinner is beef and vegetables with couscous.
Porridge for breakfast again, snacking on peanuts and dried fruit during the day though I must try to save some peanuts. Tuna, crackers and a cup a soup for lunch then for dinner it’s vegetable and noodle curry with some peanuts. This curry is great, a mild curry powder along with powdered coconut milk. You may have noticed that in all the meals the powders are packaged separately, this is partly due to my titanium pot and the way you cook to save fuel. The process goes a little like this.
In the meal above I will put the noodles and vegetables into the pot add some water and leave it for a while to let things begin re-hydrating. Then pop it on the stove and slowly bring it up to a boil, once it’s boiling add the powders, in this case curry powder and coconut milk powder and the nuts. Stir for a minute or so, turn off the stove, pop on the lid and stick the pot into it’s cosy. Leave for 10 minutes or as long as you can bare to leave it depending on hunger levels, open up and dig in. The bottom half of the cozy helps to keep your hands from burning and keeps the food warm. Hmm, this is making me hungry.