Ultralight Hiking 2016:

See also:

Ultralight Hiking Advice

The Upper Yarra Walking Track

Hiking 2015

Hiking 2014.htm

Hiking 2013 & Earlier

Steve's Blog

World Travel Kit for Son



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Della & I (combined age then 120) heading off from Freney Lagoon on the second day of our walk across Tasmania in 2011. We took seven days. Between us we were carrying @ 20 kilos & enough food (& booze!) for 10 days. These zpacks ‘Blast’ packs are 52 litres including pockets. Today we would be carrying several kilos LESS.

All about light weight, ultra light hiking, backpacking, bushwalking, hunting, tracks, trails, adventures, gear, reviews…

I have been hiking/hunting now for over sixty years, a little more slowly than I once did, walking in the Victorian Alps & elsewhere often in winter and in all weathers. I have camped out a lot, more than two years of my life in toto. I have seen the failure of just about every type of gear, and experienced most disasters which can befall you in the wilderness, and survived. So, if you dream of doing a bit of camping/hiking, maybe I can offer some useful advice?

This is a ‘work in progress’. I will be adding to it on a regular basis adding new photos, adventures, product/ideas, suggestions, etc. You should also look at HIKING ADVICE also a section of gear advice for my son written in 2011 WORLD TRAVEL KIT FOR SON. You can also see my older posts here: Hiking 2014.htm & Hiking 2013 & Earlier. Hope you find something interesting.

PS: UPPER YARRA TRACK: I have recently created this site The Upper Yarra Walking Track Australia’s oldest (& best), an approx. 10-14 day walk with numerous resupply points, plentiful water and camping spots now extending from Moe railway Station @ 150 kilometres up the Latrobe, Tyers & Thomson River valleys, via Yallourn North, Erica & Walhalla, across the Baw Baw Plateau, along the Upper Thomson River, past the Yarra Falls & Mt Horsefall, along the Little Ada, Ada and Yarra valleys via Warburton to Lilydale Railway Station. Now, complete with Track Instructions

28/12/2016: Ultralight Toothpaste: ‘Tactical skills weblog Imminent Threat Solutions shares a simple method for making toothpaste dots by squeezing small, chocolate-chip sized "dots" of toothpaste onto aluminum foil, allowing those dots to harden for a week or so, and then transferring to a small waterproof bag. To use, all you need to do is pop a toothpaste dot in your mouth, chew for a few seconds, and start brushing.’ http://lifehacker.com/5979236/toothpaste-dots-keep-down-toiletry-bulk-when-carrying-light & http://gossamergear.com/wp/toothpaste-dots


27/12/2016: The Diamond Desert: Everest Base Camp Trek # 8: Once you reach Pangboche you are definitely out of the trees and the vista changes utterly. The absence of softening vegetation makes the panorama seem larger and harsher – and of course the colours change. You start to see lots more snow and ice, as well as vast shiny grey scree slopes as the Himalayas catapult downwards under their own steepness. In places huge mountainsides have simply cleaved and fallen off, sometimes damming vast ice rivers and forming beautiful turqoise lakes.

Even along the river it is barren lands.

View from Nangartschang Hill of one such cataclysmic lake.

About half way looking back towards Pangboche.

About half way looking towards Dingboche – could be out of a ‘spaghetti western’!

It is not until you see this that you are aware that the mountains are a vast crystalline growth on a truly gigantic scale. Of course you knew this intellectually all along: it is what the clash of continental plates and the uplift of crustal magma which creates them is all about, but not until you see the monstrous facets of stone mountains fissuring and fracturing away onto valley floors thousands of feet below are you truly aware that this is the same process yous see in your salt shaker or on your battery terminals at home but on a garagantuan scale.

Tsola River: Turnoff to Pheriche.

Dingboche: Nangachang Hill left

In Dingboche you are right below the Western slopes of Ama Dablam where there were apparently intrepid souls making their best efforts to commit suicide trying to reach the top. It looked impossible to me! Maybe the other side. It is the most photogenic of mountains. Some such suicide victim was clearly being rescued by this chopper in the morning. I did not notice when I snapped the scene the really super, supermoon hovering in the sky above it – yet that was weeks before the ‘official supermoon’! They do things differently in Nepal!

To me Ama Dablam is forbidding.

We had an acclimatisation day in Dingboche 4410 metres during which we climbed Nangartschang Hill just behind the French bakery where we were staying to approx 5200 metres. BTW the bakery also have a small Pharmacy which can be very handy if you are beginning to feel some symptoms of altitude sickness &/or Khumbu cough (they stock both Diamox and antibiotics, for example – also throat lozenges which you will also probably need by now!) If you take ½ a Diamox twice per day this will help prevent the symptoms of altitude sickness, which if you begin to suffer from, you must immediately descend – as it can be fatal! You should have begun this prevention strategy before you left Kathmandu (or Jiri).

View od Dingboche from Nangartschang Hill: all the tiny brave potato fields.

Literally hundreds of folk were attempting the ascent of  Nangartschang Hill as I set out after breakfast (Steve had preceded me – the young are always rushing ahead or lagging behind – why is it so?) Most turned back before the summit. When I arrived there I had only three others for company, including Steve. It was definitely a photo opportunity, but I must say I prefer greenery!

The Ultralight Hiker on top of Nangartscang Hill @ 5200 metres.

My head cold and sore throat became worse over the next 24 hours. I also felt very tired after the descent so reasoned that the planned foray to Chukkung Ri and the Kongma La Pass were not for me. I decided I would go on to Luboche and meet up with Steve at Gorek Shep. He would take my sat phone and I would take the sat messenger. I offered him the Escape Bivi but he still would not take it. The young. How they ever get to be old is a mystery – well, many of them don’t!

We parted just after breakfast and I headed off towards Luboche. However, I had to climb a couple of hundred metres over the hill I had climbed to the top of the day before with relative ease and after a while I could tell I was not going to make it. I could not tell whether it was altitude sickness or an onset of pneumonia at that stage, but I needed to get downhill immediately whichever it was and get well, so I headed off back towards Namche instead. I had a terrible two day walk there and on to Lukla as I decribed elsewhere, then a long, tortuous month recovering from the pneumonia which also struck young Steve down a couple of days later. I will let him carry on with his story of venturing on to Everest Base Camp:

Views (above and below) up the valley from Nangartschang Hill towards Chukkung.

‘I left Dingboche early (after saying goodbye to Steve J) and didn’t leave Chukkung until just before noon. I made it to the false summit of Chukkung Ri at 2 pm at 5,404 meters (17,725 feet). My lungs were feeling surprisingly strong. The views were unbelievable. You could even see the iconic Pumori in the distance to the north.

Steve H atop Chukkung Ri

And a friend!

When I realized that the actual summit was further up, I pushed on, but it was already quite late. The route was rather difficult as I was climbing across loose rock on a ledge that dropped several hundred meters. Very close to the top, I even became bluffed out and had to turn back around to find the correct route marked by small cairns. I reached the summit at 4 pm, which is rather late for Himalayan standards, as I still had a very long descent.

From the summit, I could see that clouds were rolling into the valley and began whipping up and over the saddle, from which I would descend. So, I did not stay long. The descent took forever. It was late in the evening and the sun began to set, casting its beautiful golden light on the high peaks to the east. I took a lot of pictures of this evening magic, which is why I didn’t arrive back in Chukkung until a long while past darkness.

I’ve done some crazy hikes before, but the next day was definitely the hardest hiking day of my life. It’s one thing to hike above 18,000 feet and another thing to do it with a 30 lb backpack. I’ve now had two consecutive days above 18k feet – higher than the altitude of Everest Base Camp.

It was freezing this morning when we left Chukkung and we had a few initial problems crossing the icy, glacial-fed stream, as the ‘local’ advice was completely inaccurate. We eventually headed upstream and found a makeshift bridge to cross.

Once on the true right, we traversed the Nuptse Glacier and picked up the unmarked Kongma La Pass trail…Hiking further, a beautiful bowl opened up with frozen waterfalls and glacial peaks looming high as a backdrop. Even a massive condor or eagle with a wingspan of some six feet soared above us.

Once we turned the corner, it became clear that we had to climb straight up. With my pack fully loaded, I could only manage climbing five meters at a time before I had to catch my breath. The secret is to keep your heart beat as low as possible and just move slowly in a zombie-like fashion with one foot in front of the other…

Upon reaching a plateau, I passed these beautiful frozen lakes before climbing again to the main plateau en route to the pass. On the main plateau, I was starting to feel a bit sick. Not overly nauseous, but just enough to make me unsteady. The weight of my backpack was really holding me back, but I knew that I had to push on.

Walking further on the plateau, I could see the pass and the prayer flags in the distance. All of a sudden, a beautiful turquoise lake opened up out of nowhere, so I took the opportunity to rest and to munch on two Snickers bars.

Eventually, I jumped back on the path again and began the final ascent to the pass. It was very steep with a huge drop down to the lake. There was so much sediment on the ground that it was very difficult to have much traction. A hiker from New Zealand coming down slipped and almost went over the edge. Finally, I made it to the pass at 5,535 meters (18,159 feet) feeling absolutely shattered. My body was completely spent. Fortunately, the views were just incredible.

On the back side, the route descended through huge boulders before giving way to loose scree. It was a tough descent after already reaching exhaustion at the pass. After descending for well over an hour, I reached the bottom of the valley. The moraine from the Khumbu Glacier was just massive. Traversing it for roughly 1.5 km was slow going, as the rocks were loose and the route was not well defined. I was utterly exhausted, but had to push beyond my limits again in order to concentrate and avert injury.

Finally, I reached the other side. Turning around, I stood in awe at what I had just descended and traversed. The size of the Khumbu Glacier was just unreal. I then proceeded to descend into the village of Lobuche, where I stumbled around looking for a room. Eventually I found a dark and dingy tea house where I could rest my head. I changed my clothing and immediately passed out.

Next day I made it to Everest Base Camp (and also climbed Kala Pattar). Normally, people hike from Lobuche and do this itinerary in 2-3 days. I’m feeling pretty good. It is the third day in a row above 18,000 feet. Everything is literally freezing up here so I cannot write much of a message. For now, here are some pictures. Everest is absolutely beautiful…

Just a bit of an additional update. Yesterday was an amazing, but it is very, very cold to sleep up here at 17,000 feet. It was less than 5 degree F weather overnight here in Gorakshep. My Nalgene froze within 15 minutes. I could barely sleep due to the extreme cold and could definitely feel the altitude after such a long day. Throughout the night, you could hear huge chunks of glaciers careening off the mountains, creating a rumble that also keeps you awake…

Khumbu Glacier.

I can’t believe just how many people are doing the EBC trek, which is precisely why I elected to do the much less trodden and much more challenging Three Passes Trek. From Lobuche to Gorakshep, I was literally running past groups just so that I could reserve a room in Gorakshep. Almost everything was booked out, but fortunately, the Snow Land lodge had one more room available…

Upon reaching Everest Base Camp…You could only see a small section of Everest, but the real view was of Nuptse, the Khumbu Glacier and the infamous Khumbu Icefall. It was crazy to think that I was only one kilometer from Tibet

Once we headed back to Gorakshep, I grabbed a plate of spaghetti and then began climbing Kala Pattar…I kept pushing on to 5,465 meters. The sun was beginning to set, so I stopped and began to watch one of the most amazing sunsets of my life. The view of Everest was clear as crystal, with Chomolungma nestled between Nuptse and another unnamed peak…How could you not be spiritual in that moment. It really was an incredible sight.

Even long after the sun had gone over the horizon and was no longer shining brilliant gold on these majestic peaks, these mountains remained as white as ever. The glow of orange and red and pink behind these mountains was also stunning…I then descended for the next 45 minutes using the moon glow to find my way back down. It was freezing. Every other person had his/her headlamp out, but I’ve done enough night hiking in my life to see and know the path…

Today, I am hiking all the way to Dzongla, which is supposed to be the most beautiful mountain town in Sagarmatha. I’m still batting a lump in my throat (due to a combination of cold and exhaustion), so I may spend an additional night there in order to recharge my batteries for the very challenging Cho La Pass…

So, I’ve arrived in Dzongla with a rather nasty throat cold. While hiking, the wind has, at times, been ferocious and, while sleeping, the air temperature has been averaging 5-10 degrees F. In the morning, I always find my window frozen with ice crystals due to the moisture coming from my exhalation. It is so cold in the lodges that the bathrooms are always frozen over with urine and faeces, presenting a not-so-appetizing trip to the loo. How people are able to avoid water-borne illnesses is beyond me. Mix in the Khumbu dust or cow dung smoke that you are constantly breathing in, and you have the perfect recipe to get sick. Tea houses are generally filled with a cacophony of coughs, of which I am now a contributor…

Walking from Gorakshep to Lobuche, I was really moving quickly. Unfortunately, due to my cold, the second portion of the hike to Dzongla really wore me down. I was very, very tired and struggled to put one foot in front of the other…my throat is completely swollen, which restricts my breathing – not a great attribute to have at 16,000 feet. My nose has constantly been running and it is very apparent that I must take a ‘zero’ day tomorrow so that I can rest. I need to be very fit to make it up and over Cho La Pass, so I’ll have to make a decision on my fitness tomorrow night.

My eyes keep crying…my throat still hurts, and I have fluid constantly dripping from my nose. I’ve already gone through two rolls of toilet paper and that’s just from blowing my nose 🙂Last night, my throat and lungs were so constricted that I could barely breathe in the thin air. Hopefully, tonight will be more bearable…

For all of these reasons, I have decided to throw in the towel and descend to Namche tomorrow.’

26/12/2016: Best Deer Hunter’s Cap, Best Ultralight Cap: At 76 grams in 61% Merino wool, 19% Tencel, 14% Nylon, 6% Lycra these are just the best caps I have ever found. (Black colour only) Your head stays drier and either cooler/warmer (depending on season) than any other head wear I have worn when you are working hard: http://au.icebreaker.com/en/mens-hats-neckwear/cool-lite-quantum-cap/102249.html?dwvar_102249_color=001

They are on special now (Boxing Day) at A$39.96, so snap one up; I did. You will note they also have a camo version in a slightly heavier, warmer merino fabric for winter hunts: 111 grams & A$29.97: http://au.icebreaker.com/en/accessories/explore-hat-real-tree/102359_WS.html?dwvar_102359__WS_color=901



25/12/2016: The New Science of Exercise: http://time.com/4475628/the-new-science-of-exercise/ “We almost completely prevented the premature aging in the animals,”

‘Doctors, researchers, scientists--even ancient philosophers--have long claimed exercise works like a miracle drug. Now they have proof.

As I have said before, a rigorous exercise program might not extend your life. It will definitely enhance and extend your quality of life even if you begin it at any age. Everybody knows that they ought to do it, but it's hard and it hurts and we're lazy and "busy."  Plus there is that terrible part: delayed gratification. Everybody hates that. As I say, "The flesh is willing but the spirit is weak."

Our quite well-informed recommendations for general fitness and conditioning for the ordinary person who wants to achieve or maintain maximal functionality for life:

1. Nutrition: Don't be visibly overweight - it's the worst thing you can do to yourself besides being an addict, and no exercise can help being fat. Does a demanding exercise program require a specific pattern of nutrition? Yes. We have discussed that in previous posts here. With a serious exercise program, you have to keep up with the protein and fats - approx. 70-100 gms of protein/day.

2. Weight training - as heavy as possible, approx 50 minutes twice a week

3. Approx one hr total of calisthenics/wk for mobility, balance, and athleticism

4. 2 or 3 twenty-min sessions of cardio intervals/wk  (HIIT). (For HIIT, I do stairs once, elliptical once, rowing once. Occasionally sprints in the pool.)

Under age 35, it can take 12 months to be whipped into decent shape. Over 35-40, depending on your fitness starting point, 18-24 months. Intense sports like basketball can substitute for calisthenics. Yoga is excellent, but does not substitute for any of the above. Many men find Yoga to be quite challenging and helpful. Lots of pro football players do it. If your day job is physical, all of the above recommendations would differ.’

24/12/2016: Yarra Falls 3:

There are some amazing wilderness areas in Victoria. Some maybe only a half dozen living eyes have seen. Such as this. People have been forbidden to venture here since c1955. This is the junction of Falls Creek and the Yarra River forwarded to me by an anonymous reader. Falls Creek is seen entering from the left.

S/he writes: 'It is about 11,000 steps in from the main road to here, some very short ones as the terrain is quite steep in places, particularly the last few hundred metres. There is also some horizontal scrub to negotiate, very tricky unless you are shown the way, or keep a careful look out. On the way in you walk North across the head of a gully then follow the ridge (just north of centre) sloping roughly NE for a couple of kilometers until you reach the top of the first waterfall, one of six falling a total of over 250 metres, the highest in Victoria. There is a very small spot you might pitch a tent about fifty metres before the first fall. A hammock or two could be pitched at the falls. There is no water for the next 9,000 steps till you reach the Yarra confluence.

Some beautiful wildflowers on the way.

You cross above the top waterfall, climb diagonally onto the ridge to the West then follow it all the way to the bottom, keeping exactly on the top. After about 2,000 steps there is a view of some of the falls seen poorly through the tall timber. There is a clearish view of probably the second one, whilst others below it, glimpsed only indistinctly give an impression of their immense height. A side track needs to be contoured in from just downhill of this spot to access a better view of these five falls. It used to be possible to climb them on the Eastern (true right) side.

The last couple of hundred metres of the ridge the path leads a little to the left of its centre through some horizontal scrub bringing you out onto the Falls Creek about 100 metres upstream from the confluence. There is a substantial flat area downstream of the creek where several tents could be pitched.

You can camp right on the Yarra here and catch a trout for your breakfast.

The 'Shelter Hut' was on that ridge above the tent. It would have had a superb view.

Trout are plentiful and easy to catch in this section of the infant Yarra. The old Shelter House used to lie just up the ridge from the river flat on the downstream side of the creek. There are a number of flattish areas where it might have been, but no sign of the concrete chimney, so further investigation is needed. The vegetation here is quite thick.

It is probably not too difficult to push your way from this campsite through the vegetation up to the base of the Main Falls which lie at least a kilometre below the five falls. You would need the best part of a day to do just that and return. I suspect.

Possibly site of 'Shelter Hut'.

It will take you a day to walk in to the confluence and a day to walk out. Or you can walk in to the top of the first falls and out again in a day. Especially along the ridge the forest litter is probably nearly a foot deep. Underlying it there are many stones. Your feet are constantly rolling on the deep litter, and as you crash through it you are often pitched in unexpected directions by the stones etc. You will need hiking poles to minimise falls but they are quite awkward to use in the densely vegetated sections.' It would be useful if you brought a machete (such as this: https://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-worlds-greatest-machete/) and some pink fluoro tape to improve the path for others.'

See also:












Video of Main Falls (2007): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dUZwDjiO-sk

20/12/2016: A Merry 'Shear-mas' to all! Della: ‘Yesterday was our 'Shear-mas Day'. Sing along with the words, and token apologies to John Lennon whose lyrics were much more trite than mine!
"And so this is Shear-mas
A day in the sun
Another fleece over
A new one just begun.
A very merry Shear-mas
And a Happy New Year
We're all sleek and neat now
No dags on our rears!"

And we celebrated the end of Shear-mas Day with a dinner of roast lamb and freshly picked raspberries with lashings of cream and ice-cream. Almost makes up for the tired muscles and excess sun-exposure!’

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Lining up.

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Even the lambs got a short back and sides.

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Steve in fine fleece throwing form.

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All over and a fresh paddock to graze.

So nice these days to finish the shearing in one day (early afternoon) instead of at least five days of hard grind in the blazing heat. Retirement has its blessings! We are proud though of having for nearly 40 years participated in and contributed to what was once Australia’s greatest industry: the Pastoral Industry. Just a hobby for us now though! See also: http://www.finnsheep.com/index.htm

19/12/2016: Golden Triangle Fallow: I visited Dunolly in Central Victoria briefly last week to see an old friend. Although the bush thereabouts looks like (and is described by locals even as) ‘lizard country’ my friend showed me a grassy rise as well as a couple of promising gullies thereabouts where he has seen good fallow. In one such secret place he had picked up this enormous fallow antler which Della has turned into a Xmas decoration as you can see - before its eventual descent into knife handle, towel rail or etc…Gold is where you find it! It looks more like a moose antler to me! Anyway. Merry Xmas!

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19/12/2016: Sambar Stalking #104: A lot can be learned about deer by observing their behaviour; I have been a sheep farmer for thirty years (longer now than I have worked at anything else – it looks odd on my census return: Occupation: Sheephusband!): They are quite like sheep. Particularly in their routines, the topography they prefer, their family behaviour, their caution and nervousness, their ability to choose a pleasant spot to be. They are also personally unsurprisingly docile and affectionate towards each other. If you have ever tried to force sheep somewhere they decided not to go you would not doubt their intelligence. It has been established that sheep can identify over 1,000 plants from a single experience of them; apparently this equates to an IQ over 60. A human being with that level of intelligence would be considered below normal – but would have the vote! We would not be able to shoot, kill and eat such a person, however.

NB: This is a draft. I will be adding to it a little later on…but folks have been asking me when I was going to post (yet) another deerhunting ‘story’ – so here it is!

There have been a number of studies of sambar deer (eg employing tracking collars) which are quite instructive about the areas they chose to inhabit and the way they travel them. I recommend you pay some attention to them rather than opinion (eg that they migrate!) Had you looked at such studies you would not doubt my opposition to trail cameras as unfair ‘hunting’ aids. Such studies also indicate their preferred food (mast ie fruit, nuts etc, not blackberries, for example). You can be paying attention to such things as you move through the bush: eg the prevalence of coprosma fruits (both sweet and prickly), lilly-pillys, etc: mast which is equally palatable to people, by the way! The early settler adopted such fruits as desserts and preserves. It is worthwhile knowing what can be eaten (by people too) in the bush and trying it out (even beetle larvae and the hearts of tree ferns, etc) as you never know when you may be lost and hungry!

Deer’s fondness for such foods leaves no surprise that orchardists view deer in much the same way as they view cockatoos and corellas. The main sign deer have feasted well on prickly coprosma may just be the absence of the fruits from suitable heighted branches as they run them through their mouths to suck off the succulent fruit. I have observed this many times. Blackberries are more of a desperation food for deer – as they are just so prickly. You will see them browsing the fresh shots in late winter/early spring when less alternative fodder is available. If it were their number one choice they would have eradicated blackberries from all those otherwise choked riverbanks and gullies!

Some folk ask whether they can be called – and indeed they can (odd times – I have). But you will need to study hard to learn what sound it is might make them come. By then you will likely have shot enough deer anyway! You will for a long while (if you ever hear it) and think something else made THAT sound. In such a situation likely two will come. You will also likely only hear such calls as may attract them if you are in quite a remote place, rarely if ever frequented by humans. Such calls as they do make are usually at the borders of two stags’ territories, though does and young make many small sounds each to each which you will have to be very close to hear. Because of my deafness, I no longer can. The voices of bats too, and many other sounds are lost to me. It is far better though than going blind as my wife has been doing.

Not unlike other herbivores one stag will often have several does (though he may tolerate a spiker or two with them). This means there are other spots where lone stags hang out or (quite often) where groups of stags hang out together, as with many of the deer family – moose for example. My old late friend, the ‘legendary’ Arthur Meyers shot three such stags out of one small gully (Poole‘s) in quick succession (I believe) in the Jordan catchment in 1962. I have personally seen a group of five stags living placidly together in a very small patch (about an acre) at the head of a gully in one of the many Stoney Creeks. The dominant stag is not always the biggest stag. Often another solitary stag is, one who was long ago beaten (perhaps because he tried too early) and has given up trying.

Having nothing else to do but grow, he might grow to an enormous size, as one Arthur’s mate George shot off my great hound Harpoon in Red Jacket in the 1990s. Harpoon and I had put this monster stag up from one of those small perched gullies high up (this one surprisingly on the South side of the Bald Hill) where deer love to shelter in wet weather (when you think they have all but disappeared from the terrain). I guess there is a spring there which keeps some fresh food alive; the vegetation is often thick (in this case all but impassable and choked with ‘wait-a-while’ or ‘lawyer’ vines). It is sheltered, warmer and drier than the surrounding bush – if you are ‘laying up’ anyway.

Harpoon put him up mid-morning. Within I guess less than an hour the stag had commenced a ‘walking bail’ where he would neither run nor stand. This is a tactic oft employed by large stags and is enough to shake most hounds, but not Harpoon. He stuck with him thus for many hours, until he cruised past George at the head of a side gully of the Ross Creek about 3:00 in the afternoon. George managed to get only one shot off into him with his trusty .308, as the stag immediately bolted over the ridge, George (and Harpoon) in hot pursuit. The single shot was enough (it was a heart shot) but as is quite normal the stag still ran for maybe half a kilometre on pure adrenaline until he collapsed on the side of a gully, where George found him, limping up to him with a twisted ankle.

He had perforce to spend a very cold night with him, huddled over a miserly fire with a couple of muesli bars for company. The radio communication there is always very bad, and we could not find him though we combed the bush until about 1:00am. Our search was made more difficult by an immigrant whom Arthur had brought along who was tasked to merely ‘keep the home fires burning’. This chap was of an excitable Italian disposition and had brought along a ready supply of ‘grappa’. Every time we would let off a shot in an attempt to zero in on George’s answering shot, ‘Giovani’ becoming increasingly inebriated would let off a shot of his own (unbeknown to us) which completely threw off our efforts to locate poor George.

He was much easier to find the next morning when we ‘rescued him around 8:00am, having driven into Woods Point to beg a loan of the gate key from the local policeman, who kindly offered to come along and assist. As I previously mentioned George was huddled against a giant log over a small smoky fire. He quickly assured us he needed a swig of rum before a drink of water. Everyone carried spirits in their hunting kit in those days. I was looking around for the stag. It took me a while to realise that the ‘log’ was the stag. He was so large he could not be rolled over (downhill) by one person. The head would not fit in the back of a Nissan Patrol, so had to be strapped to the bonnet where it over-reached both mudguards. There are monsters out there still!

At the top of this post you will see a snap of my first deer, taken off Alan Green’s hounds near Brunton’s Bridge in, I guess 1984. In the background you can see Alan’s lovely wife Carol and his faithful old hound Harry, father of my ‘Harpoon’. How young we were! 35mm photos are so eclipsed by the new digital photography though, aren’t they? There were often nearly as many women on our team as men. It would be good to see more women hunters today. I had been hunting deer for nearly two years before I took this one, so you can see why I think many potential hunters are too impatient today. We enjoyed many splendid days in the bush (ethically) trying to bag a deer. Usually we came back with lots of stories (and scratches) but not many deer. It was a great adventure however, and I deeply cherish the memories of those wonderful friendly hunts!

PS: Carol & Alan are now the proprietors of https://www.caoutdoors.com.au/ 61 Tramway Rd, Morwell. They sell all your hunting, fishing and camping needs. Also there really is no-one who is more knowledgeable as them – especially regarding hunting.

This doe came out of ‘The Flourbag’. I was waiting for her just off the B2 track, and had been for some time – with no sound of hounds or men. The old 27 meg CB radios we used in those days (often only one channel) were little better than two tin cans tied with a length of string! Mine was a 1 watt Tandy special. I still have it somewhere. She had been bedded near the willows in the Flourbag. She had gone up and down that stream a few times, then up the river getting further and further ahead of the hounds all the time. She had then crossed the Flourbag and come across into the Thomson where I waited with no sound of an accompanying hound to warn me.

Having heard nothing for hours (and it being  a warm afternoon), I confess I had sat down on a log and was having a smoke – and reading a book actually, thinking the hunt was lost to me and had gone far upriver. I must have heard the slightest sound as she crept past me, as when I looked up, there she was. This was the only day in my long deer hunting career when I had forgotten my gun! Fortunately Alan had an old ‘sporterised’ .303 exactly like mine which he was able to lend me.

As you can see, a .303 will make a deer quite satisfactorily dead if you hit it squarely in the chest. This is the main thing. I have mentioned before that I only ever use iron sights. It takes a bit more practice to hit a running target with them, but once you are adept it is easier, as you never lose sight of your target. It is also fairer on the deer. Also, if you drop the gun or fall over with it as you are bound to do sometime, nothing will move those iron sights on an SMLE or a Mauser – which is mostly what everyone had once. I still have mine. Every so often they get a ‘run’ with some novice I am training.

I was watching Attenborough’s Planet Earth 2 ‘Grasslands’ just last night and noticed that the armed rangers in India’s National Parks still use them – and that would be in case of a charging elephant or a tiger, perhaps. They used to be touted as the quickest bolt action rifle in the world. In WW1, our soldiers were supposed to be able to shoot a German or a Turk every second (or quicker) and at 500 metres plus+. It would be good if our young were still trained to that level of skill with firearms – as the world is no freer of dangers today than it was in 1914 – and never will be! Col Townsend Whelen (after whom the rifle round and tent are named) used to train US soldiers to shoot their .30-06 bolt action rifles. He could reliably put a round a second (or better) into a target the size of a man’s chest at 200 yards every time. If you can do that, you need no artificial aids to take sambar deer.

The ‘crew’ that day: Alan & Carol Green, Ray and Val Quinney.

I shot from my seated position so as not to further alarm her – she was going quite quickly enough. As sambar often do she just hunched down with the shot and kept steaming along, so that (if you were someone else) you might think you had missed her, but I had grown up busting bunnies on the run with a .22 in Western NSW, so I knew she was hit in the boiler room and would soon be down. Even so I first walked right by her even though she was leaving a quite impressive blood trail. Sambar blend in  impressively well to their surroundings: I can’t imagine how those unsporting types who haul off and shoot at deer at 1,000 metres ever manage to find them again. Judging by the heads I have picked up in the bush over the years, they often don’t!

It was celebrations all round. Our tradition was that it was the successful hunter’s ‘shout’ – in the Erica pub of course! Hunting ethically you don’t take anywhere near many deer as unethical folks are doing these days with their GPS collars and computer assisted ‘culling’ systems. We even caped this doe out and took the cape to the taxidermist – as I wanted my ‘first deer’ mounted. I cared not a jot whether it was a stag or a hind. Unfortunately the taxidermist ‘lost’ the cape, so it was not to be. I have never had much interest in other trophies since so I have not bothered. I used to give away heads if someone else wanted them until my kids once asked why I never brought a stag’s head home, though I brought the meat they grew tall on, so naturally I said I would bring the next one I shot home and have it mounted – which I did.

Our kids were quite chuffed by my first deer – and just as happy to eat it!

Curiously enough it was also a deer I put up one weekday in the Flourbag though I had not been there in years. At this time I had taken to hunting mostly weekdays, often by myself or maybe (as on this occasion) with maybe one friend – to help with the carry out! Not a particularly fine specimen of a stag, though perhaps a descendant of my first deer. Nonetheless it is ‘on the wall’ somewhere in our house. I have many better antlers now which I could swap on it, but it would not be the same. It would not be the stag I shot off ‘Harpoon’ that day off that track, long ago…

And here he is!

Some Other Hunting Related Posts (there are many more):























19/12/2016: More amazing facts about pigeons: http://www.popsci.com.au/science/nature/pigeons-can-read-a-little-bit-new-research-shows,437745 & http://www.popsci.com.au/science/nature/pigeons-know-when-theyre-getting-bad-leadership-advice,437740

18/12/2016: Lewis and Clark Weren't the Only Explorers to Map the American Frontier: http://mentalfloss.com/article/86268/lewis-and-clark-werent-only-explorers-map-american-frontier

17/12/2016: 10 Things We All Did in School That Are Banned for Kids Today: https://pjmedia.com/parenting/2016/11/10/10-things-we-all-did-in-school-that-are-banned-for-kids-today/

17/12/2016: Klymit Insulated Static V Lite Sleeping Pad: This pad is available on Massdrop (https://www.massdrop.com/buy/klymit-insulated-static-v-lite?referer=EJ89BQ) for US$62.99 (so about A$100 delivered) just now. It has a very good R rating and is 23” wide! Just what you need to keep those elbows warm! I do not need it to be so long as this but can probably cut approx 6” (15 cm) off it and reseal it with a hot iron (so bringing its weight down to 509 grams. Della would only need 5’ (150 cm) of it, so hers would weigh 463 grams!) This is heavier than my  beloved Thermarest Neoair Women’s but it is wider, has a slightly higher R rating (.7) and looks to be made of a tougher material, so worth a try. ‘Lite has an R-value of 4.4 and weighs just 19.6 ounces (556 grams) . The body-mapped V shape and dynamic side rails reduce air movement and hug your body as you sleep, while the Klymalite synthetic insulation offers reliable thermal performance for all seasons—from summer backpacking to winter ski tours. Made from tear- and abrasion-resistant 30d polyester, this pad inflates easily in 10 to 15 breaths through the twist-pull valve, and when you’re done, packs down to 5 by 8 inches in the included stuff sack.’

PS: I recently received a Klymit X Ultra Light Pillow (Weight 53 grams http://www.theultralighthiker.com/klymit-ultralight-pillow/). I am most impressed with it. Though a few grams heavier than my Exped pillow, it appears to be tougher. You can sit on it (it has a screw down valve instead of a plug) , so it makes an excellent comfortable trail seat. The configuration allows for a number of sleeping strategies but the 'X' in the middle will be ideal for back sleepers. I slept on it last night and found it superbly comfortable.

See also:





Sleeping Pad

Fabric: 30d polyester with antimicrobial laminate

Color: Orange

Insulation: Klymalite synthetic fibers

R-value: 4.4

Inflation: 10 – 15 breaths

Dimensions, inflated: 72 x 23 x 2.5 in (183 x 59 x 7 cm)

Dimensions, packed: 5 x 8 in (13 x 20 cm)

Weight, pad: 19.6 oz (556 g)

Weight, stuff sack: 0.5 oz (13 g)


Stuff sack

Patch kit

Klymit’s lifetime warranty

Klymit Insulated Static V Lite Sleeping Pad

 16/12/2016: Blocked from Pirate Bay: Just as in the Islamic and Stalinist dictatorships our great ex-Communications Minister, Malcolm has just ‘made’ it so you can no longer ‘access’ your favourite torrent site – well not unless you use a VPN (which Pirate Bay has been recommending for nearly a decade themselves - for privacy reasons!) and as I recommended here back in October 2015; http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ipvanish/ As you can read here this is the solution to all our Government’s interference with your internet freedom: http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/…/how-download-torrents-downloa…/ An update; I have been using IPVanish for over a year now and they are great!

16/12/2016: Woman tricks husband into thinking she 'adopted' a coyote. This is very funny: www.someecards.com/life/digital-life/woman-adopts-photoshop-coyote-husband-freaks/

13/12/2016: Swallow Update: The missing birds have at last returned. They came in day before yesterday in a veritable swarm. They all wanted to check out the garage (where many of them were born) and I was standing in their way. They were swooping and diving only inches away from me as they passed by. They must have experienced a period of low food somewhere along their migratory path which delayed them until they were fat enough again to fly. Really glad to seee them back though! Welcome home for the summer little guys! See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/welcome-swallows/


12/12/2016:The things they sell at the Yinnar General Store:

11/12/2016: Adler 7-Shot Ban: I have rarely seen anything quite so silly. Or the extraordinary waste of all the ‘important’ meetings which preceded it! Two cartridges just cannot make a difference of two categories. At the very best /worst a 7-Shot lever action should be category C, as is a 7-shot pump action shotgun (indeed all pump action shotguns!) whereas a 5 shot pump action high calibre rifle is Category B! There needs to be some rationality here.


The Category system after all only applies to legal gun owners who are subject to the most rigorous identity, suitability and storage requirements so that it surely can’t make a whole lot of difference if one of us should perhaps squeeze through the net and (using our two extra bullets) go on to commit some awful offence (as has not happened since long before Port Arthur actually – whoever was the perpetrator there was not a legal gun owner).


You can purchase a 10-shot Category B .303 bolt action rifle (once touted as the fastest bolt action in the world) capable of accurately delivering slightly more rounds per minute (and with a range of more than 2 km) than an Adler lever action with its miserable 5/7 shot magazine (with a range of approx 200 metres) and which need to be reloaded one at a time, whereas the .303 magazine can be reloaded or switched instantly! The .303 has been available now for well over a century - as has the lever action shotgun actually. You would think with all the hype you have read that the Adler is some startling innovation in firearms technology.


I shall probably go out an buy a 5-shot lever action in 12 gauge for myself and a matching .410 gauge for Della, just because we can! Meanwhile, does anyone actually care that deaths from heroin overdoses now exceeds gun deaths in the USA? http://www.ibtimes.com/heroin-overdose-epidemic-deaths-exceed-gun-homicides-first-time-us-report-2458116 


11/12/2016: Lamping rabbits with hawks in Sussex. Meanwhile, enjoy this excellent video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6UMIkwQ8GI

10/12/2016: Miniature Pens: Some of these would make an interesting stocking filler. Whilst nowhere near as Ultralight as my own http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-pen/ some of them are quite interesting. Being able to have a pen handy on your keychain is a good idea, as is the pen which expands to full size when needed; 




Pico Keychain Pen

Beta Inkless Keychain Pen

Lamy Pico Pen

See Also: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/waterproof-notepads/

09/12/2016: You Take the High Road and I’ll Take the Low: Canoe Hunting: A canoe (or better yet, a pack raft) can get you to many spots which would be almost impossible with a 4WD or just on foot (even just across a swollen river, or much further along a lake), and it can get you (and your quarry) out again with a minimum of effort. Victoria possesses a wonderful network of navigable rivers/lakes often linked to walking tracks or off-road vehicular tracks which can provide an unsurpassed wilderness experience. See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/gippsland-pack-rafting-routes/

What is Pack rafting?: I just realised that many readers may not realise what pack rafting is, so I’ll try to explain. A number of folk (eg Alpacka: http://www.alpackaraft.com/ ) have developed these ultralight (but tough ie suitable Grade 3 rapids – and above!) inflatable rafts/canoes which weigh approx. 2 kg (4lb) - or less. Coupled with a paddle of 800 grams (or less) and a life vest of 500 grams (or less), you can stow this boat and what you need to ‘drive’ it safely in your hiking/hunting/fishing backpack (which should itself weigh 500 grams or less empty!)


My Fiord Explorer descending the 'Boulder Rapid' (Grade 3) on the Thomson River.

You will need a reasonable waterproof liner, and I would recommend a second one inside the first to contain your sleeping bag and change of clothes. Throw in all your other ultralight hiking gear (and maybe some fishing gear) you’ll be going where they’re biting obviously - and maybe a packable rifle, and you are good to go for quite a different adventure. I use a ‘take-down’ (Browning) BLR ‘Lightning’ .308 myself in ‘take-down’ form, (meaning it ‘breaks’ into two and can be stowed inside the waterproof pack liner) in my hunting pack. This is great for keeping the rifle clean and dry. I also carry it stowed like this in my pack on walks out when carrying a heavy load. I have two shortened hiking poles (@100 grams ea – they also serve as my tent poles, selfie stick, tripod, fishing rod, etc) which help enormously with a ‘carry out’ – at least at my age! They transfer around 40% of the effort from your legs to your upper body, and mean that you can maintain your balance with ease.

Now you can walk and paddle to some really inaccessible spots. These are the places where folks with only 4WDs or motorbikes can’t get. Often they can’t get to them without several days’ walk (both in and out – or not at all), whereas you will be getting in and out relatively easily. It might be that you will also want to combine canoe hunting with a motorcycle carrier so that you can ‘do’ one long section of a river and recover your vehicle when you finish. Something like this: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/motorbike-hitch-carrier/ but there are many potential ‘loops’ as well where all you will need is your canoe and your feet.

Of course I am assuming you already have a fair degree of canoeing skill and experience. If you do not, I suggest you get it before heading off into the bush on your own – or with a friend. The three golden rules used to be: don’t get side on (particularly to a log), lean into rocks (this rule is reversed with inflatables – as you will quickly find out - splash!), stay on the inside of bends (avoid overhangs and logs). If there is likely to be a ‘stopper’ (eg a waterfall), or just anything you are unsure of, get out and walk. This is one of the beauties of pack rafts; they are so light and portable. An older style Canadian canoe could easily weigh 35+ kg. Then you maybe put in it 50+kg of gear. Portaging that becomes a serious problem sometimes. On the trip in you will have perhaps 15 kg including the pack raft and gun! You may have considerably more on the way out!

The ‘rule’ about side on/logs etc is because if your canoe fills with water with you still in it (or you stuck downstream of it), the water can easily weigh half a tonne – or more! You will not be able to lift yourself out of it, or it off you – and you will drown, as so many have! If you must cross a lake, go all the way round within 20 metres of shore. Lakes frequently have large standing waves which form suddenly and can tip you out. Anyway, you might find yourself in the lake water far from shore for one reason or another. It may be too far to swim, or as is often the case lake water is frequently just above zero (from shading, snow melt etc) just a few inches below the surface. Many folks have died of hypothermia before they could swim to shore, only 100 metres or so! ‘You live and learn, or you don’t live long’! Lazarus Long, ‘Time Enough for Love’, Robert Heinlein.

One of the beauties of raft hunting is that you can move your camp easily, so that you can check out much more territory. Access to cool water also makes keeping meat fresh (and clean) easier. You can easily take more food with you as it won’t be so much work carrying it, and you can catch some fresh fish/crays to supplement your diet.

Another advantage is that you can set up semi-permanent camps if you want. It is no big deal to take a canoe drum in (each) when you go, and to leave it there - so that some useful equipment is hidden away against future use. There is little risk that nefarious folk ill find or interfere with it. You might want a larger shelter, a saw, axe, some comfier folding furniture, some emergency supplies - & booze!, a quantity of salt, a hammock or two, dynamo radio, etc, etc. A good idea might be to write your contact details inside the drum lid so that if anyone should need to use them in an emergency they can contact you to arrange their replacement.

Happy Hunting!

Whitewater Rivers of Victoria: A very useful resource: (of course it is not an exhaustive list, but it might be a good start): https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=1KquqzZygh-1toyLq3DTt_ItC-UM&ll=-37.852948477811616%2C146.85638701650396&z=14

See Also:


























09/12/2016: John Glenn who became the first man to orbit the Earth on February 20, 1962, dies. I remember this like yesterday. I even had the record once! What a man he was! Talk about ‘the right stuff’! Hope America (and us) is still making heroes like him! http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2016/12/08/publish-advance-glenn-obit/95110820/

09/12/2016: More about DIY PFDs 114 grams: You can make a lighter non compliant PFD which you fill with other inflatable items, eg Platypus bottles (I carry a 1 and 2 litre bottle, pillows (I carry the Exped Ultralight), wine bladders (who doesn’t have a few of them lying around?) and etc.

Here is the link to Mountain Laurel Designs ‘Thing’ or ‘Mopacka’: https://web.archive.org/web/20100403230340/http://www.mountainlaureldesigns.com/shop/product_info.php?products_id=141  which weighed 4 oz (114 grams) not including its flotation ie the Platypus bottles or inflatable pillows (eg Exped’s Ultralight pillow: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/exped-ultralight-pillow/) but you carry them anyway!

Some folk have made their own. See these two discussions (I have ‘borrowed’ their photos for reference purposes – I hope they don’t mind. Thanks guys): http://packrafting.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=880 Wine bladder PFD: http://bushwalk.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=37&t=23122

MLD 'Thing'

MLD ‘Thing’

DIY ‘Thing’

DIY ‘Thing’

 photo RoaringLion2008138.jpg

DIY ‘Thing’

 photo RoaringLion2008136.jpg

DIY ‘Thing’

NB: There is a Facebook Packrafting group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/156445288089260/ as well as an Australian Packrafting Association for folks who like to join things. Myself, I am like Groucho Marx: ‘I wouldn’t join anything which would have me as a member’!

09/12/2016: The Do’s and Don’ts of Memory Cards: Tips for Photographers: Some great tips here. Another you may not know. You can recover ‘lost’ photos from a memory card. There are a number of programmes which will do this. I have used (them) with success. Just Google ‘memory card recover’: http://petapixel.com/2016/12/07/dos-donts-memory-cards-tips-photographers/


07/08/12/2016: Ultralight Pack Rafting Life Vest: PFDs are often pretty heavy. Alpacka have this one http://www.alpackaraft.com/product/astral-v-eight-pfd/ at 554 grams which is (I imagine) about as light as they get. I discovered that inflatable PFDs you buy from boating supplies shops have an airline PFD inside them. When I stripped one down it weighed 282 grams as shown and should be adequate for the job.

You can (though not legally) go lighter. You can utilise an inflatable vest such as the Aerovest or Xerovest (at about 60 grams) as I did on the Seaforth. They are a bit awkward to let down again and are really not intended for the purpose.

As I have mentioned before Erin McKittrick (in her ‘Long Trek Home’: http://www.groundtruthtrekking.org/Journeys/WildCoast.html) used a converted Thermarest which she had cut a hole in for her head, and fastened it with a belt. Given thet you will need a sleeping mat anyway, this option means that your PFD maybe weighs next to nothing. You should explore this option further if you want to save more weight. The prospect of cutting down one of eg Klymit’s pads for the purpose but keeping it usable for sleeping also appeals.

Mountain Laurel Designs used to make a thing he called ‘The Thing’ which allowed you to utilise your Platypus bottle as part of a PFD system.

I suspect Alpacka’s ‘Fiord Explorer’ & etc  seats could be modifiedf slightly to make a light (non-compliant) PFD. They weigh 224 grams without the straps and buckles which would be needed, so it might not be worth the trouble compared with the first example.

Another option would be to buy some of the waterproof nylon which Klymit etc use in their products which sticks to itelf with a hot iron - and make your own.

See Also:
























08/12/2016: Do you need a good wind up watch: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2050848594/redefining-italian-luxury-watches-filippo-loreti?ref=ewr9sx&utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=desktop&utm_campaign=KS&utm_content=AU_Look4-6

07/12/2016: Gippsland Pack Rafting Routes:


It’s summer already, so time to get out and about and get wet all over. I want to suggest some interesting pack rafting that you can do by public transport (eg from Melbourne). Some of the following you can mix and match a bit, but I hope they give you some ideas. I need to add some more details, which I will fill in later on but this will be a good start. I need to work out times (river/track) campsites, water and resupply points.

  1. Obviously the easiest trip is to begin with the Yarra. It is canoeable from MacMahon's Creek upstream from Warburton (public transport, walking). It is almost 24 hours of paddling before you arrive back at Flinders St, so this is likely to take you at least 4 days! Or,
  2. You can catch public transport to Warburton (or to Lilydale) then begin walking the Upper Yarra Track (See: http://www.finnsheep.com/Track%20Instructions.htm) You can continue on it until you reach Rawson (resupply - some supplies also at Baw Baw Village) and the nearby Poverty Point Bridge, then canoe the Thomson River until you reach the Cowwarr Weir. NB You will have to walk around the Horseshoe Tunnel just below the Thomson River Road Bridge (See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/upper-yarra-track-sidetrip-horseshoe-tunnelcoopers-creek/) You can carry on with the Thomson to Sale or you can walk back from Cowwarr (resupply) till you are just out of Traralgon where you cross the Latrobe River. Put in there and drift down via Rosedale (resupply) to Sale. Catch a train back to Melbourne.dscn1160-compThomson River Horseshoe Tunnel.
  3. Catch a bus to Noojee (weekdays - supplies), then canoe the Latrobe river all the way to Sale. (Supplies Noojee, [Willow Grove], Yallourn North, Rosedale) Catch a train back, or
  4. For a shorter trip, you could canoe from Noojee to the Yallourn Power Station - exit the bridge across the Eastern end of Halls Bay, Lake Narracan or Sir John Monash Reserve opposite the cooling towers. Walk back along the Moe-Yallourn North Rail Trail (See 4). I suspect you can put in uptream of Noojee (so that you could access the river via a shortcut from the Upper Yarra Track not long after Starlings Gap - this requires exploration). The section from the Noojee Road Bridge/Toorongo River confluence has been checked: (though you should be able to put in at Noojee township); there are a number of spots where you will have to get out. If canoeists bring along some clearing tools (See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/canoe-clearing/) the trip/s will become easier for subsequent 'adventurers'. There are many lovely spots where you can camp. Trout and spinyback crayfish abound - so bring some tackle! I estimate 2-3 days Noojee-Yallourn Power Station. Train Back from Moe, or
  5. You can catch a train to Moe, walk out along the Yallourn North Rail Trail (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/upper-yarra-track-update-section-one-moe-yallourn-rail-trail/), put in to the Latrobe near the Yallourn Power Station and canoe to Sale. There is a weir to negotiate shortly after the Yallourn North Road bridge. You can see it from the road. Train return, or
  6. You can catch a train to Moe, walk up the Upper Yarra Track sections (See 3) until you reach the Thomson Bridge, (supplies Yallourn North, Erica, Cowwarr) canoe the Thomson, walk back along the rail trail from Cowarrr to Traralgon. Catch a train back.dsc01101-compTom's Bridge Latrobe River.
  7. Arriving at Noojee (supplies) whether by public transport or on foot via the Upper Yarra Track & etc, put in and canoe down the Latrobe River to Camp Rd near Hill End. Walk up Russell Creek Rd &/or Rowley Hill Rd (or hitch to Costin’s Rd). Canoe down some of the Tanjil River (eg to Old Tanjil Rd) then walk up to the Western Tyers via Burns Rd & eg Wombat Rd & Tanjil Bren Rd. You can put in at Christmas Creek or Growlers. Canoe down the Tyers to Caringal. Walk across to the Thomson via Erica (supplies) as in 7 or continue on to the Latrobe and Sale (Resupply Tyers, Rosedale).dsc01185-compTanjil River downstream Rowleys Hill Road.
  8. Walk across from Noojee to the Western Tyers via Tanjil Bren (See: Upper Yarra Track winter route in Track Instructions above). You can continue on the Tyers till you reach the Latrobe and follow it to Sale OR
  9. You can get out at Tyers Junction (Caringal) and walk up the rail trail to Collins Siding and thence to Erica. You can continue to follow the rail trail http://www.theultralighthiker.com/upper-yarra-track-section-five-erica-to-walhalla/ to the Thomson Road Bridge, then canoe the Thomson as in 1.dscn0758-compWestern Tyers River.
  10. Interrupt your voyage down the Thomson at Deep Creek which you can walk up (see 9 following) or canoe to the Weir, cross it North on the old wooden bridge, follow the road North till you turn left at the intersection with the Stoney Creek Rd. Walk up the Stoney Creek Rd. When you get to the T10 track, no longer marked – it is opposite a fire dam on the right hand (East) side of the road, you can either continue on to Binns intersection with the McEvoys track (also called Springs Rd) or
  11. You can walk down the T10 till you reach Deep Creek and walk all the way up Deep Creek till it splits in two. Just where it splits, if you walk up the left (West) fork about twenty yards you will find you can walk up the ridge to your right. You can follow this ridge (on an overgrown logging track after a while) all the way to Binns. The walk up Deep Creek is extraordinarily beautiful. It is quite a lot of bush bashing, but worth it. There are some flat camp sites here and there at the end of ridges. After Binns you can carry on up and over Mt Useful until you arrive in Licola (resupply) or
  12. Cross the Glenmaggie Creek at (eg) Porters Track to the Black Range Rd. Go up the Black Range Rd to Burgoynes Track, follow it to the Macalister. Canoe down the Macalister till you get to Sale (resupply Maffra).dsc01006-compMacalister River upstream Cheynes Bridge.
  13. If you continued on towards Licola along South Road you can turn East and walk down to the Barkly/Macalister (Primrose Gap - off the Jamieson Rd) at the Barkly Bridge North of Glencairn then canoe down the Macalister to Licola where you can continue on till you come to Sale , or
  14. You can get out at Licola and walk up to the Wellington as in 13
  15. Instead of continuing on the Macalister, get out at Cheyne’s Bridge and hitch a ride past Licola (resupply) to the Wellington River. Walk up the Wellington past LakeTali Karng and continue till you come out on the Moroka Rd. Turn west onto the Moroka Rd. After a few km you can pick up the Moroka Walking track which takes you down to the Moroka River near Higgins yards. You can put in here and follow the Moroka to its confluence with the Wonnangatta, ordsc00981-compMoroka Falls
  16. You could walk to the Moroka Bridge near Horseyard Flat and canoe the Moroka down to the Wonnagatta, thence to Bairnsdale. The huge waterfalls and gorge in the Moroka are very dangerous!
  17. Instead of starting at the Tali Karng car park on the Wellington, you could hitch all the way either to the Moroka Bridge near Horseyard Flat (12) then canoe down the Moroka or
  18. You could hitch up the Howitt Rd to near Guy’s Hut, then walk down the Dry Creek track to the Wonnangatta. Carry on walking down the Wonnangatta till you come to the Humffray Confluence whence you can canoe the river all the way to Bairnsdale as in 17.dscn0264-compWonnangatta River Mt Darling Creek.
  19. From the Wonnangatta confluence you can continue all the way to Bairnsdale where you can catch a train back to Melbourne. Resupply Guy’s Caravan Park, (Waterford) by arrangement & Lindenow (or hitch into Dargo and back.)dscn2656-compWonnangatta River.
  20. Alternatively you can walk up the Wonnagatta from the Moroka to the Humffray Confluence following the true right bank (there is an old pack track). Put in there and canoe down to Bairnsdale.dsc01524-compMitchell/Wonnagatta River downstream of Waterford
  21. PS; If you walk the Upper Yarra Track (Warburton to Mt Whitelaw) then the Alp Track to near Woods Point, you can pick up McMillans Walking Track which gives you access to the head of the Macalister (downstream of Glencairn), the Moroka (near Higgins Yards), the Wonnagatta (Moroka confluence).
  22. PS: Massdrop has the Klymit Lightwater Pack raft (<1kg) on sale again for around $US100. With care (and a little repair it will get you lots of places or you can go the whole hog and buy an Alpacka here: http://www.alpackaraft.com/ Their lightest raft is the ‘Ghost’ Scout at 600 grams! But you might be better with the Alpacka at 2166 grams. I also have one of these. I have the Manta Ray Carbon paddle at 840 grams. It is a very tough paddle You will find the lightest paddles here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-paddle/
  23. Have fun and Happy Paddling!
  24. PS: Don't forget to take some fishing tackle. Some hand line is really all you need to catch blackfish and trout (using set lines on whippy saplings if you like) You can use the heads etc as bait for crays. A folding landing net would be an asset (and some Alfoil!)
  25. I'm sure readers can help me with some of extra information, as well as suggesting some additional/alternative routes - I know you can get to Hotham and Omeo by bus, for example This gives one walking access to the Mitta Mitta (canoeable downstream from above the Glen Valley Bridge) Resupply Dartmouth. Mitta Mitta. Train back from Albuty. You could walk up along the Alps Track from Mt Whitelaw to reach Woods Point (supplies) which might begin a journey for you down the Goulburn (public transport back from Shepparton/Seymour) & etc Getting onto the Snowy would also be good. I will think about that some more...
  26. The Snowy: You may not know there is public transport to Bombala from Melbourne/Canberra: https://www.ptv.vic.gov.au/timetables/linemain/1718 The Snowy is canoeable from Cambalong Road 6km West of Bombala. (Ask: the bus driver may let you off at the Cann River turnoff saving you a few miles walk). You will need plenty of food! It is almost two weeks from here to Orbost…Also, note: The bus stops at the Bemm River turnoff. This means you can walk ‘The Wilderness Coast’  (19 days) using public transport! A packraft ewould help with getting across some of the inlets along the way!
  27. Top Photo; Latrobe River near Noojee Road Bridge.

28.  See Also:























06/12/2016: A Birthday Treat: Mirboo North Railtrail: As one of us was a year older, we took the day off for a leisurely stroll on this lovely nearby walking/riding track which stretches between the delightful Gippsland towns of Boolarra and Mirboo North.

You can park your car at the beginning of the trail between the Brewery and the Recreation Reserve in Mirboo North or at Railway Park, Boolarra opposite the Post Office and General Store. Beginning in Boolarra in the morning (after a coffee) means you can stop for lunch in Mirboo North, then walk back downhill refreshed. There are many food establishments in the main street; the hotel also has excellent counter meals. You can finish the day with a meal at one of several venues in Boolarra or at the excellent nearby Yinnar Community hotel – the only community owned hotel in Victoria!

Plenty of tucker:


There are many other interesting shops in Mirboo North including this one, The Wren’s Nest: dscn3396

We are off!


You must:


Plenty of park benches and seats along the way for your dogs:


Lots of lovely wildflowers;


And other interesting things. Amazing what you could make out of bricks. Note the lovely fresh water approx 2 km from Mirboo North


Interesting (possibly luminous - some are) bracket fungi: dscn3422

More wildflowers:


More interesting brickwork. Tiny enjoying herself:


Della and Spot exploring an underground tunnel:


Tea trees can put on a fine display:


Spot admired these lovely blue lilies:


A lovely trail:


This is the deadliest plant in Australia: the Dogwood. So many people are allergic to these blooms. We used to call them 'wild sago' in NSW when I was a boy:


You can rest a minute at lots of pleasant spots along the way. Spot doesn't want to:dscn3459

There are two interesting bridges like this across clear flowing streams where you could camp:


A lovely campsite:


It was a warm day. The dogs became thirsty:


Some fine timber;


An excellent stand:


More interesting brickwork:


Coming in to Boolarra (about 1 1/2 km out):


You start and end each of the trail with a beautiful park: Railway Park in Boolarra. And Baromi park in Mirboo North. Both are delightful spots to stop, rest and refresh. Both have nearby food establishments: the Bollarra General Store at one end and quite a number in Mirboo North including this wonderful bakery and this café to name just two.

Along the way every 3-4 km you can find good sources of fresh water and pleasant campsites off the track a bit. Of course in Australia (as elsewhere) all that is not compulsory is verboten; you should naturally ignore this. Maybe you are considering adding this lovely trail to perhaps a walking tour of South Gippsland including Mt Worth State park, the Grand Ridge Road (to Mirboo North), the Mirboo North Rail trail, The River Road Boolarra, maybe parts of the Grand Strzelecki Track, Tarra-Bulga National Parks, Great Southern Trail and Tarra Trail, Bass Coast Rail Trail, Old Port Trail, Wilsons Prom, http://www.visitvictoria.com/Regions/Gippsland/Things-to-do/Outdoor-activities/Walking-and-hiking/South-Gippsland , & etc...

The trail is about 13km. It takes approx 2 ½-31/2 hours on foot, or as I said at the beginning you can make a delightful day of it.

PS; The photos show the trail beginning at Mirboo North and ending in Boolarra.

04/12/2016: Welcome Swallows: Something terrible happened to ‘our’ swallows this year; though they arrive back like clockwork (as I have often observed: See below) only less than half returned. I watched and waited for their brethren but they were lost! Some calamity has befallen them. Naturally one thinks first of human predation as there are so many folk (here) who resent the mess they make on their walls, whilst dismissing all the good they do in their gardens! However, I suspect some natural calamity is a more likely scenario. The failure of an important food source due to seriously inclement weather is much more likely. There has been a huge ‘cold blob’ formed in the Northern Pacific (which many view as a presage of a return of ‘The Little ice Age’ – we shall see) but it might well have affected the bloom of midges, mosquitoes, etc which they would otherwise have gone North to feed and fatten on, so that many may have starved…it is a simple, yet poignant tragedy. Hopefully they have just not had the energy to make it all the way back and we shall see them again next year. Thankfully (due to my hearing aids) I am delighting in their singing on the verandah this morning. See eg: ‘17/08/2014: At last, the swallows are back scything the air into long swift arcs as they herd the mayflies and mozzies into their sharp beaks: there is nothing quite like a (mud-brick) verandah they opine anywhere between here and Siberia to build a messy nest. I used to hear their sharp shrill calls to each other as they raced across the sky, but like the bats (to me at least) they have fallen silent. Fortunately (at least) we both still have eyes to follow their progress…’

03/12/2016: That Endless Skyway: Everest Base Camp Trek #7:

We had a programmed ‘acclimatisation day’ at Namche and another at Dingboche. Tully had decided we would use these days to climb up to the next 500 metre ‘step’ and then descend again to sleep. This proved to be a good preventative for altitude sickness as was taking half a Diamox twice a day starting on the morning you are to leave Kathmandu. An acclimatisation day spent wandering the hills around Lukla is also a good idea.

Some views of the Namche ‘Skyway’:

  dscn3054     dscn3066                                    


Leaving Namche


Walking ‘across the top’ to the ‘Everest View’ Hotel:



A number of trekkers told me that the track up from Jiri to Lukla is the best and most beautiful part of the trail and that there are very few people on it. What a bonus! I suspect this is true. If I had my time again I would probably have walked from Jiri and flown out from Lukla, but after fighting with this terrible lung infection for a month now I doubt I will be eager to retrace my footsteps in Nepal!


Gazing up the valley towards Everest (right of centre).


Everest View.

Thus we ascended from Namche to the eponymous ‘Everest View’ Hotel, (a facsimile of Douglas Adams’ ‘The Hotel at the End of the Universe’ – and peopled identically!), then circled back through the prosperous potato towns of Khumjung and Kunde. ‘Green Towns’ a Sherpa told me, presumably because of the ‘Colorbond’ rooves. In Khumjung we sampled our first ‘Garlic Soup’ and found it good!


Another view ‘across the top’ to the ‘Everest View’ Hotel.


View up the valley from the ‘Everest View’ Hotel. Tengboche is atop that green hill centre.


Khumjung – a ‘Green Town’.


Interesting stone building outside the ‘Hilary School. Netball seems enormously popular.


The practice of burning (yak) dung must deplete the nutrients of their fields.


The eponymous ‘garlic Soup’, Khumjung version. Cafe opposite the ‘Hilary School’.

Someone (I will not mention who!) took a wrong turn at Syanboche on the descent (the turn-off being temporarily obscured by a camel, fit of coughing, lapse of intelligence, or etc) and ended up nearly all the way to Thame before he found a cattle pad or game trail which would allow him to descend into Namche just on dusk. A good thing he has well-honed wilderness skills!


Coming down from Kunde there was some attractive vegetation.


Even some pretty flowers.


Porters have to bear some pretty primitive accommodation – this cave on the road from Thame to Namche.

A guide or porter might help prevent such mishaps, but I encountered many such with zero English language skills. Too often they rushed ahead of their ‘guests’ forcing the pace dangerously in the low oxygen environment. In my experience they were almost universally completely unable to understand or answer any question in English, though I asked many.

For example, I was curious (at the higher altitudes) to learn when the Sherpa first ventured there – as there were no abandoned ruins at higher points which might indicate they had colonised them during the medieval warm period. None knew – or understood! Those who forget their past are destined to repeat it! The answer is clearly that they have only inhabited these regions relatively recently- ie the last 500 years or so

On my ‘trail of tears’ pneumonic return journey I staggered along with a middle aged Norwegian nurse (Lise) for two days. She had been abandoned by her entire party, including her personal guide and two porters. She was nearly as sick as I (or sicker) and also had limited English skills, but we were thankfully able to help each other, despite her being an avowed feminist (to which I replied, ‘How sad’) and my being, as I’m sure you know, a shocking misogynist who would never help a woman!

However I grew up with the tradition of the ‘Birkenhead’ to inspire me. There was so much that was great about the old Empire. Nepal (and Tibet) must sorely regret they rejected it when they once had the opportunity to welcome its blessings with open arms!

If you do not have years of wilderness experience such as I do, you might be better to venture out with a group, guides, porters etc. I prefer the dignity of carrying all my own gear – and being self-sufficient no matter what happens to me. So, for example, I carried my Delorme Inreach SE PLB http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-poor-mans-satellite-phone/ whilst Tully carried my Sat Phone – in case of real emergencies, and if we were separated. Sound practice – as it turned out! I had my Escape Bivy and My Thermorest Neoair Women’s mat, my re-engineered sleeping bag (good to -30C http://www.theultralighthiker.com/adding-down-to-a-sleeping-bag/), and lots of warm Montbell clothes (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/?s=montbell in case I had accidentally to spend a night stuck high in the snowy passes.

I even had with me my trusty Vango 450 ml cup, a titanium windscreen and an 11 gram Esbit stove in case I wanted a hot cup of Mocca on some icy mountaintop! I also had a second (and third) tranche of antibiotics in case the first (Cipro) did no good – it got me back! The second and third are yet doing battle with this dreadful lurgi. I still have no idea whether I will survive it. Some days it has the upper hand, other days I forge ahead of it. Five crises so far! Life is ever a race to the grave which you one day lose.

I am a pessimist by preparation, not by nature. I know that the larger parties were not nearly so well prepared, which would mean only that people would die en masse (as they did on the Annapurna circuit a couple of years back http://www.theultralighthiker.com/survival-shelter/) rather than alone – or not at all.

It is akin to the spurious ’safety’ such folks feel in crowds – vowing eg that cities are safer than the wilderness, imagining ‘Wolf Creek/Deliverance’ dangers lurking behind every rock, whilst ignoring the nuclear missiles aimed squarely at their cherished megapolises! Strangely though, such folks had porters to carry their gear, nonetheless they all had day packs clearly weighing more than my pack – which contained all my gear. Their sheer superfluity overwhelms my sense of wonder at their vapidity

I was appalled at how some (foreigners) treated their ‘servants’. Often I witnessed folks making what I (having grown up in an egalitarian culture) considered outrageous demands of them. For example, one person waited until his guide sat down to his own meal before demanding a bottle of water (which was in his own reach in his pack pocket). The Sherpa patiently rose and fetched it for him. When he was seated once more, his ‘master’ then demanded that he open it! The Sherpa once more patiently rose and did so. I fear one day the Sherpas may rise against such treatment in greater earnest; some of them at least are Ghurkas, remember. They appear to be the most pleasant and friendly people imaginable though.

We stayed in Namche for three days altogether, two on the way up; one on the way back. We found the Shangri La Lodge (just off to the East of the main street a block above the pharmacies) quite pleasant and the food good. A lot of local people ate there – which is no doubt a good sign!


The rooms were clean and comfy, a toilet close by – and a welcome hot shower downstairs.


Warm dining room.


This business in Namche (there are dozens of shops) was really good at fixing phones/photographic equipment etc, else I would not have been able to contact my wife (to arrange my rescue for example!).

After Namche you follow the river high on its true right bank the first few hours past a monument to Tensing, one of the first two men on top of Everest – at least if Mallory and Irvine’s camera never emerges from the ice atop the mountain. (Interestingly the Sherpas had not yet been enlisted into mountain climbing in the 1920s when Mallory perhaps stood on Everest).


Looking back down the valley towards Namche hidden behind Tensing’s chorten behind the hill (right)


Tensing’s chorten.


View up the river from Tensing’s chorten. Tully posing.


Crowds of folk flowing towards Everest.


View up the river. Tengboche is atop the green ‘hill’ centre.

The track goes along on the level for quite a distance, this section well maintained by the collections of an old man who has climbed Everest five times. You descend 300 metres to yet another river crossing sheltering a pleasant little town complete with its ubiquitous military outpost. (You soon get used to the level of fascism in Nepal – no doubt so long as you are not a member of the Royal Family or such it should cause no disquiet!) We enjoyed a pleasant lunch at a café just before the bridge.


Some lovely villages along the way. Each has its tea house/s and gift shops.


Lunch at the bridge.


As you can see i am having the ‘Vegetable fried Potatoes’ We stuck to vegetarian food after Pangboche – no fresh meat.

There follows a long (but pleasant) climb up a beautifully wooded hill complete with delightful skyline views to the monastic town of Tengboche – where you used to be able to fondle a Yeti’s skull – till someone stole it! Tengboche has a tasty bakery where you can enjoy a delightful lunch complete with views of frozen waterfalls on the surrounding hills & etc. We had afternoon teas here: biscuits, doughnuts, buttered sweet rolls, etc and of course the ubiquitous lemon tea.


View to the east as you climb the Tengboche hill.


You can ogle frozen waterfalls as you sip your latte and devour your croissants – who could ask for more?


Main Street Tengboche.


Bakery Tengboche.


This religious gibberish is ubiquitous in Nepal: the Tengboche Monastery.

After Tengboche there follows another reasonable descent again through some quite pretty forest to Duboche (the bridge across the river there marks the end of the forest). In Duboche is a pretty tea-house named ‘Rivendell’ framed by a beautiful view – somewhat spoiled by the 3 metre high barbed wire fence around it. Just a little repellent if it expects numerous customers – or perhaps you ought not want to leave?


Descending through rhododendron forests.


A forbidding ‘Rivendell’.


This bridge was well broken.


And its replacement somewhat rickety.


View upriver from the bridge.

After Duboche the bridge had been washed out and an interesting temporary bridge crafted to replace it. Because there is a detour after the bridge you might lose your way and head back downstream to where the old bridge crossed unless you remember that Pangboche is upstream on the true right bank, so that all you need to do is scramble up the yak tracks to the old path to continue your journey.


First view of Pangboche- a potato town.

As soon as you cross the river you are in quite a different type of low, straggly vegetation which I at first thought marked the treeline until I spied a seedling pine/cypress just poking above a patch of well-gnawed shrubbery. Clearly the yaks have been very busy on the forests hereabouts; maybe also the banished goats.

An easy climb (and descent) brings you to the potato town of Pangboche where we spent the night (on a guide’s recommendation) at the Mountain Peace Lodge which actually charged nothing for accommodation (the usual price is $US1-2 per night so long as you eat in), and which had an excellent hot shower (which always cost more than the accommodation – $US3-5). The host was a very friendly, entertaining chap with whom we spent many hours yarning. His ‘wealth’ had been founded on his owning an adjoining ¼ hectare potato ‘farm’  We tourists were clearly of immense benefit to him.

That night there was a beautiful sunset (and dawn) somewhat obscured by clouds/mist, though it had Tully scrambling around in the dark and cold trying to get that perfect photograph. The Young! The mountains surrounding the towns of Dingboche and Pangboche are quite awesome.


Quite startling – Everest is up there somewhere!

See also:








01/12/2016: 800th Post: There is really a lot to read on TheUltralightHiker, but maybe you didn’t realise there was quite this much. (And there are now also over 1,000 pages here: http://finnsheep.com/HIKING.htm, as well as more in the Archives section, & etc) ) What a lot of work it has been (keeping me from my hiking, hunting and camping too much, perhaps!) and I know I still have lots more to do. I have the next 50+ posts already worked out, and I’m sure many more will occur to me before I have completed them.

I have been very sick of late (since my trip to Everest – and have not fully recovered) which is why most of my posts lately have not involved any new ‘adventures’, but soon I will be off again, eg to complete my explorations of the Tanjil Bren-Noojee section of the http://www.finnsheep.com/THE%20UPPER%20YARRA%20WALKING%20TRACK.htm including a loop which will allow you to view (via public transport/foot) the three main waterfalls - and including a night camped at Mt Horsefall, completion of the track clearing from Downeys to Newlands Rd allowing a loop of the Baw Baw Plateau and Western Tyers, and of course completion of the exploration of the ‘Mystery Falls’ (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/upper-yarra-track-mystery-falls/) including maybe a (loop) route from the 18 Mile Road to the Forty Mile. I also plan some walks on sections of and posts about the Alps Walking Track (Victoria). Watch this space!

PS: Why not try a 'Search' using the facility at the top of the page? For example, try typing the words 'deer', or 'tent' or 'canoe' then pressing 'Enter'. You may be surprised what you find! Now might be a good time to 'Follow' The UltralightHiker (by clicking the button at the top right of the page), or by 'liking' our Facebook page, here: (https://www.facebook.com/theultralighthiker/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel).

01/12/2016: Gravity Light: Our Renewable Energy Future: Green folks are just nuts! Check out the Specs on this ‘innovation’ https://wattsupwiththat.com/2016/11/25/gravity-light-our-renewable-energy-future/ and see if it is any better than Coghlans ‘Eternal Head Torch’: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-eternal-headtorch/

30/11/2016: The Ultimate Guide to Hiking Boots: Acouple of  interesting infographics. Sometimes it is the basics we are a little unclear on…

The Ultimate Guide To Hiking Boots

Over the past decade, the variety of hiking boots and shoes has exploded, as designs become increasingly specialised. Here’s a guide that outlines your choices and will help you narrow down what you’ll need to find the perfect pair. 

Anatomy of a Hiking Boot

Knowing the components of walking boots will help you choosing the perfect type of boot for whatever activity you decide to do.


1.            Outsole

              The outsole is the first thing everyone looks at when buying new walking boots.

              This is the strip of rubber or TPR along the bottom of the boot which features the tread.

              Tread patterns will vary depending on brand and boot, but all serve a purpose for a certain type of terrain.

              Chunkier patterns are better in mud, while shallow tread is better suited for a rockier path.

              When it comes to the outsole, the most popular and best known brand is 'Vibram'.

              A Vibram sole has long been a sign of quality, but that isn't to say standard soles won't be suited to your activity.

2.            Midsole

              The midsole fits between the insole and the outsole.

              The job of a midsole is to act as a shock absorber, helping to cushion and protect your feet as you walk.

3.            Upper

              The upper is everything on the outside of the boot above the midsole.

              Uppers are often made from different materials such as sturdy and hard wearing leather, or synthetic fabrics which make for lightweight boots.

4.            Liner

              Some boots will feature a waterproof liner such as GORE-TEX, whilst this makes the boot waterproof and therefore ideal for wet weather walks, it can compromise breathability.

              For hot weather walking, it's advised that you choose a boot with no liner to help your feet breathe.

5.            Toe Bumpers

              The purpose of toe bumpers is to protect your toes from knocks, which is particularly important on rocky terrains.

              Toe bumpers also protect the boot from damage so they last longer.

Best Walking Boots For Your Activity

The activity you have planned is one of the main factors of consideration when choosing walking boots.

Trail Running Shoes are best for:

              Trail running.

              Lightweight hiking and backpacking.

              Short day hikes on easy terrain.

Hiking Shoes are best for:

              Day hikes.


              Moderate backpacking.

              Long distance lightweight hiking and backpacking.

Hiking Boots are best for:

              Day hiking (added ankle support).

              Backpacking with loads heavier than 20-30 pounds

              Hiking in rough terrain or off-trail.

              Spring or summer hiking where snow will be encountered.

Mountaineering Boots are best for:

              High alpine travel.

              Winter hiking and climbing.

              General mountaineering.

Approach Shoes are best for:

              Climbing approaches.

              Easy to moderate climbing.

              Peak bagging on 4th and 5th class terrain.

You’ve Picked Out a Shoe— But How’s the Fit?

Because you’re going to be spending so much time in a hiking shoe or boot, fit is paramount. Here are some things to look for:

              Your feet tend to swell over the course of a day, try your shoes or boots on towards the end of the day or after some activity.

              If you wear orthotics, bring them along. They impact the fit of a boot.

              When you put them on, you should feel plenty of space in the toe box.

              You should not feel squashed on the sides of your forefoot but shouldn’t be too spacious.

              A good way to test the length of the shoe is to stand upright in unlaced shoes, and then slide your foot forward until it does touch the front.

              You should be able to comfortably slip your index finger in between your heel and the heel of the shoe.

              Once you have your shoe laced, the feel should be snug enough that, as you roll up onto your toe, you don’t feel your foot sliding forward to touch the front of the boot.

              It shouldn’t be so snug that it cuts off your circulation or causes hot spots.

              You should also not feel any heel lift or slip as you walk around.

              A loose fit on the heal increases the risk of painful blisters and could lead to injury on rough terrain if your boot goes one way and your foot the other.

How To Care for Your Walking Boots

Your walking boots will last longer if you take care of them. Caring for your boots is simple, and here are a few things to remember:

              Rapid drying, heater drying and not nourishing the leather of the boots can all lead to a boot cracking and eventually splitting.

              Clean your boots, thoroughly removing all mud and debris.

              Boots need nourishing when they look dry.

              Reproof little and often.

              Do not dry boots in a hot room or near a heater, this can cause leather and material to shrink and crack.

              If stuffing with paper to help dry, try not to overstuff and misshape the boot.






Coutesy of: https://www.walshbrothersshoes.ie/blogs/news/147312007-the-ultimate-guide-to-hiking-boots 




I must say I am not fond of Vibram soles. The only two pairs of shoes I have owned I must say I am not fond of Vibram soles. The only two pairs of shoes I have owned with this type of sole would not grip in the wet (particularly rocks, leaves, logs, twigs) so that I quickly ended up crashing down onto the back of my neck (which is not pleasant). It may be that there are Vibram soles which are not like this. I also do not favor waterproof shoes. You are going to get wet feet. Don't be a sissy. And don't muck around trying not to get wet feet. Shoes which are not waterproof are lighter - and dry quicker! Carry a pair of ultralight camp shoes (such as these http://www.theultralighthiker.com/toughened-foam-flip-flop/  or these: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/no-sew-sandals /) so you have something comfy to put on at the end of the day.

See also:








28/11/2016: Are You Beautiful in the Buff: Sleeping out in the mountains you often get a cold nose which is annoying. Obviously you can’t tuck your nose and mouth (unlike the rest of your face) in your sleeping bag otherwise it will become saturated from your breath and no longer keep you as warm. Until now I just put up with it. Recently though I discovered this wonderful product which when worn over your nose and mouth of a night warms the air (and your nose) so giving you a much more pleasant night. The Buff: It can also be worn in a bewildering array of other combinations. It weighs only 37.5 grams. Stow one in your pack. You will not regret it. It is made of 100% pure merino wool. As you can see, it improves my appearance no end! This is a good camo colour too! http://buffusa.com/ & https://www.buffwear.com/


27/11/2016: Pimping a Gorilla: You can readily shave around 300 grams off Gossamer Gear’s Gorilla (http://gossamergear.com/gorilla-ultralight-backpack-all-bundle.html or Mariposa, etc) backpack by taking out the aluminium stay, removing the hipbelt and replacing it with an ultralight webbing belt, and replacing the Sitlight pad with an Airbeam pad. The pack will ride just about as well (well, just as well when you are only carrying a few kgs) and transfer weight to your hips, and you will have saved the weight of over half a day’s food!

If this is to be a permanent alteration you can also cover over the holes where the stay went through the body of the pack both sides with some Tenacious tape (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/gear-repairs-tape/) to make the pack a little more watertight. You need a double buckle, some 1” webbing and a piece of 1” Velcro and about five minutes on the sewing machine to effect the change. As I have pointed out elsewhere (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-tardis-folding-space/), you can make the pack carry a lot more than its rated 48 litres by utilising Sea to Summit’s Ultrasil Compression Bags (or similar) and by adding some tie-downs so you can carry another bag on top (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/attaching-tie-downs-to-your-pack/).

Completed belt ready for fitting. Note piece of velcro sewn on reverse side in the middle for attaching to pack.

Standard hip belt removed and ultralight belt fitted.

The final result; a very comfy pack which weighs a third of a kilo less!

Weights (my scales):

Gorilla Belt: 275 grams.

Alum Stay: 88 grams.

Replacement Belt: 32.5 grams.

Weight saving: 330 grams.

Pockets: If you need hipbelt pockets, you can add these

eg here: http://gossamergear.com/hipbelt-pocket.html 38 grams and US$8.80ea

or here: http://www.zpacks.com/accessories/beltpouch.shtml 21 grams and $US22.50ea.

NB: Gossamer Gear may not have the Air Beam pads at the moment.Mountain Laurel Designs still stock the Klymit (Air Beam) Pad in 11” x 25” size and US$35ea. You can cut it down and reseal with a hot iron to 20” if needed. It will then weigh approx 70 grams as compared with the Sitlight’s 50 grams: http://www.mountainlaureldesigns.com/shop/product_info.php?cPath=46&products_id=186 They also stock Pack Pockets (if needed) at US$19ea.

Conclusion: With my Cyclone Chair (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/cyclone-chair/) in behind the Sitlight pad the Gorilla is more comfortable under load (for me) than it was with its original stay and hip belt, yet significantly lighter. According to the Specs it should weigh 624 grams in this configuration, (575 without the Sitlight) not too bad for a very tough comfortable 48 litre pack.  I suspect that a narrow hip belt is normally better for folks who carry a bit of weight around their midriff themselves – as I do!

See also:








27/11/2016: Klymit Inertia O Zone Ultralight Exclusive Sleeping Pad and Pillow combined: An interesting idea: fits inside your sleeping bag for extra warmth. R = 1.3, from US$51.99 11.9 oz (339 grams):  http://www.klymit.com/inertia-ozone.html  & now on Massdrop; https://www.massdrop.com/buy/klymit-inertia-o-zone-ultralight?referer=EJ89BQ

Klymit Inertia O Zone Ultralight Exclusive

27/11/2016: The Eternal Headtorch:  Coghlans Dynamo Flashlight: http://www.coghlans.com/products/dynamo-flashlihgt-1202 available eg Anaconda @ $10.99: Wind the handle for 1 minute to get up to 7 minutes of light. Features 2 bright LED lights, 10 Lumens. Positive feeling ON/OFF switch. Convenient key chain clip. Configured as a headlamp as shown, total weight 21 grams. This would make a good emergency torch. Will still work after all your batteries fail. Bright enough to read a book at night, to cook your dinner and do your camp shoes.

27/11/2016: Cool Brother is watching you: Orbi Prime: The First 360 Video Recording Eyewear: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/orbi-prime-the-first-360-video-recording-eyewear-camera-travel#/



26/11/2016: Camo merino wool for deer hunting. This is the gear you need: https://gearjunkie.com/icebreaker-hunting-fishing-merino-apparel

Snapped this one at Icebreaker’s Shop 9 403 Smith St Collingwood Factory Outlet. Tell Jo I sent you; you may get a special deal – at least a warm welcome!

I have this hat in black and I have a few more on my Xmas ‘wish list’. It is the best hat I have ever owned. It keeps the sun off your face and out of your eyes well (so you won’t miss that critical shot because of glare). It is warm enough on a cold day, but can be paired with one of their UL merino beanies yet on hot days it wicks wonderfully and dries so quickly you are never aware it is wet.

More merino wool/icebreaker posts to come…

The raincoat made it into the Xmas basket.. I bought a beautiful green hoodie and a lovely brown dress shirt. They were an incredible bargains!

26/11/2016: Supernovae sport Mickey Mouse ears: Just why alien civilisations should blow up whole stars just to send us poor quality pictures of Mickey Mouse, or why they are such admirers of the works of Walt Disney at all remains a mystery: https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg23230992-300-mickey-mouse-ears-may-explain-universe-biggest-explosions/

24/11/2016: Backpacking Gear Advice: I wrote this in reply to a query from a reader about what backpack, tent sleeping bag he should buy. As you can see, I do not always recommend people buy.

 Hi (Reader) - and Thanks. As you can probably see from my light posting - and from my post this morning (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/pneumonia/) , I haven't quite recovered yet from my trip to Nepal. Nonetheless I tried to respond to your post the other day, and had written a couple of paragraphs when I lost the lot with a power outage! So, I will try again:

I have had the old Mariposa (@600 grams) for years. For some reason GG have blown the weight out to nearly 1,000 grams. Mostly this is in the ridiculously heavy hip belt (See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-gorilla-in-the-bush/ ) In contrast, my Zpacks Zero (previously called: Blast) pack in Dyneema weighs 380 grams with pad sleeve, rear and side pockets (one long for a tent), tie downs etc. Add @ 60 grams for the Air Beam pad. It carries about 54 litres inside. Della has sewn a handy inside pocket in mine for stowing important things like passports etc in a secure, easy reach manner).

If you use Sea to Summit Ultrasil Compression bags (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-tardis-folding-space/ ) you can fit much more than this, and you can tie stuff on top as well (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/linelok-pack-tie-down/  or http://www.theultralighthiker.com/?s=tie+down ). Plenty big enough even for a trip of once month carrying all your own food and even a pack raft for crossing rivers (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/klymit-packraft/ & http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-paddle/)! Joe (says he) will not do the pad sleeve any more, but he has a shock cord pad attachment which will work just as well (See: http://www.zpacks.com/backpacks/zero.shtml Scroll down). This will provide plenty of load transfer and comfort for a pack up to eg 15 kg - and you should try to keep under 10 (inc food) and say 6 for your lady!

I think you would be hard put to find something lighter and warmer than Zpacks double sleeping bag (or quilt). If you are used to a hood, you should buy (eg) two of these as well. they are also great for cold nights/mornings: http://www.zpacks.com/accessories/goosehood.shtml Others make a similar thing. The Triplex tent is very good for weight, but I think my designs are better – and certainly cheaper. I have not yet completed them (I know) and when I do I think I will offer them to the public as a pattern to purchase – maybe as a kit  Later I may think about having them made in a low labour cost country – I am getting ahead of myself here. However I will give you one/more for your own use, but I have not quite finished the http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-deer-hunters-tent/  yet (Soon - I will get better!), but in the meantime I think you should have a go at this one (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/honey-i-shrank-the-tent/ ) in Tyvek yourself – which I think the instructions are transparent enough for the intelligent person to work out (with maybe a bit of prompting) See also: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/new-decagon-octagon-tyvek-igloo-tent-design/ ).

When you are happy with it, you can order the silnylon from http://www.tiergear.com.au/11/online-shop/diy-gear and make an even lighter one. I think you will be happier with it, have a tent which goes up (and stays up) quicker than Joe's and which will cost you a fraction of the price. You will find it quite easy to make (the roof), and once you have that, you can play around with the floor to your heart's content – and will get it right (eventually). The roof (in Tyvek) weighs 607 grams. In silnylon it will weigh 560 grams with the poncho floor -  a little more if you want a sewn in floor with overlapping mosquito net door, but still not much more than 600 grams plus pegs and guys (@100 grams). It will be much cheaper than a cuben fibre tent - and you can now make field repairs to silnylon with http://www.theultralighthiker.com/gear-repairs-tape/  so that cuben is (almost) obsolete!

PS: Backpack Sizing: Some really good advice here: http://gossamergear.com/wp/how-to-size-and-fit-an-ultralight-backpack & http://gossamergear.com/wp/which-gossamer-gear-backpack-is-right-for-you . The advice applies equally well to other brands of backpack.

PPS: Your height/weight is not a reliable guide. NB: My opinion is that hip belts do not work well for everyone. Some folks may be more comfortable and walk more freely without them altogether. Fatter people (as I have been most of my life) will probably do better with a simple webbing (3/4’ even) hip belt. Thinner folks might benefit from a wider hip belt. They do not need to add much weight. Zpacks hip belts - available separately for sewing on yourself (enquire) weigh approx 50 grams! (See ‘Padded Belt’ here; http://www.zpacks.com/backpacks/zero.shtml Scroll down).

PPPS: Instead of buying a pack, you might think of making one. I recommend Ray Jardine’s backpack Kit (http://www.rayjardine.com/ray-way/Backpack-Kit/index.htm). As you will see, there are two options, one with a hip belt. Be careful which you order, as the hip belt can’t be added later (according to Jenny). If you are happy with it, you could always make a tougher one eg out of Dyneema at a later date. (Two weights of Dyneema available eg. here: http://thru-hiker.com/materials/coated.php You will notice they also have many other interesting projects – including a backpack/s. One advantage of making your own is that you will know exactly how to fix it in the field – should you ever need to!

PPPPS: Please also read: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-pack/ For example, I really think you should consider Mountain Laurel Designs Exodus pack (though I have not yet owned one – I will), Zpacks Arc Blast (which I am going to borrow from my son-in law soon and review) and Gossamer Gear’s Gorilla backpack (which I reviewed here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-gorilla-in-the-bush/) and which I will figure a way to put a lighter hip belt on (stay posted).

PPPPPS: You can readily shave around 300 grams off Gossamer Gear’s Gorilla (or Mariposa, etc) backpack by taking out the aluminium stay, removing the hipbelt and replacing it with an ultralight webbing belt, and replacing the Sitlight pad with an Airbeam pad. The pack will ride just about as well (well, just as well when you are only carrying a few kgs) and transfer weight to your hips, and you will have saved the weight of over half a day’s food! See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/pimping-a-gorilla/

I think if you utilise these: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-tardis-folding-space/ or their heavier completely waterproof Event iterations or tie one on top as needed you can fit enough in a Gorilla-sized pack which is a much more comfortable size on shorter journeys. However, I reckon that I can carry all my gear and 30 days food in/on a 54 litre pack!


23/11/2016: Leonard Cohen: Hallelujah: https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=RD4imJ7wWB9FU&v=YrLk4vdY28Q

23/11/2016: Pneumonia: Three weeks ago now since I left Namche Bazar for Everest with this awful life form growing in my chest like some incubus from ‘Alien’. Since then it and my body have waged an uncivil war back and forth with my life for stakes. Sometimes one has the ascendancy, sometimes the other. The medicos have been entirely unsuccessful in isolating it, and the three types of antibiotic I have quaffed so far have only managed to hold the line – if that. The outcome remains uncertain, though some days I do seem almost myself. Others though I am back to being as weak as a kitten, even if (as today) I have pumps to fix, or other jobs must be done.

I have had I think five crises since it hit; once between antibiotics, I was so weak I could not rise from my couch, and could not even call loudly enough to alert Della , (whom I could actually see just in the next room) to take me to hospital. Fortunately, instead of slipping away, the other antibiotic kicked in after about an hour, and I was able to rise and resume my conversation with the world.

Pneumonia is not particularly distressing: when you are at your weakest you feel quite unconcerned that you are slipping away, though I must say I do not particularly enjoy the not breathing! The most unpleasant it has been was on my ‘trail of tears’: the 60+ km interminable two day journey (normally four short!) staggering myself back from Dingboche to Lukla desperate that Della would have a chance to save my life. (She still seemed to want to – habit is a funny thing!) And she has, so far, succeeded! ‘It is the physician’s love heals the patient’ was Ferenczi’s dictum.

Many people succumb to this dreaded ‘Khumbu Cough’ on the Everest Base Camp Trek. The trail is suffused with the most awful dust during the dry season as there are thousands of trekkers on the trail with their attendees of yet more thousands of guides, porters, yaks, donkeys, horses, dogs…all of them defecating , hacking and spitting on the trail which is bleached dry by an eternal sun, so that the dust ever whirls up, become a loathsome fug of bacterial stew which you means must breath in. The air is too thin to breath through your nose so you are eternally gulping in huge but unsatisfactory lungfuls though your mouth which you make your best effort to keep covered with a neck warmer, buff , scarf or balaclava (against the cold mostly) – but it is not enough to keep whatever these bugs are out.

The excessively dry air probably aids its malevolence. The altitude, exhaustion, poor diet & etc no doubt do not help, so that many people become quite ill and may take long to recover – if at all. Some cough so much they break ribs – thankfully not me! Pneumonia used to be such an infection: ‘the ‘old man’s Friend’ they once described it as – as it gently led him to his end). If you survived, a long sea voyage of rest and recuperation for six months was normally prescribed – for the well to do. The poor, no doubt simply perished. It may be possible to wear a more serious dust mask to keep it out. I would do some research on that if you are silly enough to be contemplating this awful trek. I will have a subsequent post with recommendations. Watch out for it!

For my own, I wish I had cleaved to my nearby haunts. I may not travel overseas again – certainly not to the Third World, or anywhere so crowded. I confess I have a passion to see the boreal Forests, perhaps in Canada. The Baw Baw Plateau has ten times the delights of the chewed over, nutrient depleted or bare hills of Nepal. It is also much less crowded and less than two hours drive from Melbourne – so that you can be back in your own bed the same night (if you wish) after a delightful day exploring such magical places as Kirchubel (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/kirchubel-if-you-go-nowhere-else-in-the-world-at-least-go-here/) , Downey, (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/up-into-the-singing-mountains/ & http://www.theultralighthiker.com/upper-yarra-track-winter-route-downey-to-newlands/ ) , Newlands Rd (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/upper-yarra-track-baw-baw-to-newlands-rd/) , Toorongo (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/upper-yarra-walking-track/),  Tanjil Bren (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/upper-yarra-track-winter-route-western-tyers-to-tanjil-bren/),  Western Tyers (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/upper-yarra-track-winter-route-western-tyers-to-tanjil-bren/),  Yarra Falls (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/upper-yarra-track-mystery-falls/) , the Forty Mile Break Rd, the Ada Tree, Mt St Phillack Saddle(http://www.theultralighthiker.com/upper-yarra-track-sidetrip-baw-baw-to-mt-st-phillack/) , Whitelaws Hut Site (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/upper-yarra-track-st-gwinear-track-junction-to-whitelaws-hut/) , the Mushroom Rocks (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/upper-yarra-track-section-seven-mushroom-rocks-carpark-to-phillack-saddle/),  & etc. Just so much nicer too, really.

23/11/2016: The Not So Ultralight Hiker’s Tentpeg: What a buy these guys were at Aldi for my old mate Jock at $2 a pack of four! He reckons on at least a dozen uses for them including as: markers for night-time fishing set lines, toilet markers, guy line markers, camp lanterns, night lights…38 grams ea inc AAA battery. I know you could do the same thing in ultralight with Clam Cleat Lineloks (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-perfect-guy-line-for-a-hiking-tenttarp/) or with the Nitecore Tube Lights (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/11-gram-rechargeable-head-torch/) and probably at much greater expense, but would they have the same panache or style?

20/11/2016: Boys, and their toys: https://www.massdrop.com/buy/jl-lawson-spin-tray?referer=EJ89BQ


20/11/2016: The Sunset of the West:

The Sunset of the West:

Mind you, for every faltering, penultimate step it takes it edges towards a dazzling apogee far greater than any the world has ever seen… Secular humanism

I grew up in the long tradition of secular humanism (as you just imagine ‘we’ all did). Yet when I see a post from a friend who cleaves yet to ‘Christianity’ (or yet ‘Islam’ Judaism’, ‘Buddhism’ etc) it saddens me. It seems (to me) that they have had just that same opportunity to liberate their minds from such shibboleths and fetishes as the remainder of us did. The ‘humanism’ implicit in Christianity is one thing, indeed a grand thing - the old fogey in the sky quite another!


Such ‘humanism’ is a tradition stretching back to the Ancient Greeks (indeed also to Judaism), though in many ways I ever prefer the bluff pragmatism of the Romans. You can imagine someone suggesting to them that they build another temple. ‘Or we could build an aqueduct or a mighty straight road will last folks two thousand years’ they might reply. Engineering is so eloquent!


I know I made a study for many years of Philosophy and the Western intellectual tradition in general, through Literature, History, etc. Just last night I was half fevered dreaming (with this dread pneumonia I carried back with me all the way from Everest; see eg: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/i-saw-below-me-that-golden-valley/) of my little 1970s upstairs room in the (Phil) corner of the ‘Quad’ at Sydney Uni (a replica of C10th Oxford!) whose tiny lead-light window overlooked the doppelganger of Bishop Berkeley’s famous tree, which I’m sure yet persists - though neither I nor (the late) Prof David Armstrong is there to see it, though I remember well how we watched the Transit of Venus seated on its lower branches back in the days when the world (or I at least) was young. The lass (Moira) who has ‘The Chair’ today I once knew as a pre-pubescent slip of a girl - though she is no doubt an aged matriarch now. There but for fortune, go I. I passed on that one and enjoyed another life, but I did not so doing forfeit the life of the mind, as so many seem to do (even’ alas, some Professors of Philosophy today! I know not if Moira is one of them – I would hope not).


I recognise, honour (indeed espouse) many of the moral teachings and precepts of the Christian tradition, but even moreso the greater lessons of Socrates! Everyone should read Jowett’s timeless translation of the ‘Socratic dialogues, ‘The Trial and Death of Socrates’ (http://www.bookdepository.com/The-Trial-and-Death-of-Socrates-Pla/9780486270661?ref=grid-view), then read it again, and again. The New Testament is a poor creature besides. You can read the first, ‘The Apology’ for free right now here in its entirety: http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/apology.html


The tradition of western Civilisation encapsulates these – and much more. I used once peripatetically to recommend to people Bertrand Russell’s timeless work, ‘A History of Western Philsosophy’ (and I still do) written when Nobel prizes were still given out for true greatness (Russell won Three!) Not since Steinbeck won the Nobel (‘Grapes of Wrath’) has there been anyone rewarded for true greatness of thought or expression, so far as I can see. Dylan notwithstanding. Jowett’s work is still a stand-out as a great work of Western literature (along eg with Freud’s ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’, Nikos Kazantzakis’ ‘Freedom and Death’, Dylan Thomas’ ‘Under Milk Wood’, Aeschylus’ ‘Agamemnon’, Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’…thankfully the list goes on…It is long since time we celebrated the West; it may not be the fount of all that is good and noble on earth, but it comes awfully close!


Socrates used (often) to espouse (that) ‘the unexamined life’ had no worth (often mis-translated as ‘is not worth living’). If you re-read eg ‘The Gorgias’ carefully you will be stricken again and again that Socrates is asking, ‘What makes a life enviable – or admirable’? It is not the life of maximising one’s pleasures (or power) - as Gorgias thought (even though his minions could put Socrates to death, yet fail to silence him! And as so many in the West (and elsewhere) seem bent on advocating today. Indeed such aims and goals are frivolous and meaningless. The quest for truth ought (to be) paramount. As a (near contemporary) Siddhartha is alleged to have observed: ‘if a man should glimpse a truth from a solitary cave and (in) so doing die, the truth will not die with him, but will emanate from his fastnesses and reverberate around the world’.


The quest for truth ought be the defining centre of our lives, not the quest for ephemeral pleasures, nor fleeting fame. In such regard it ought also be emphasized that not only is it not so that ‘everyone is entitled to his own opinions’ as so many demur. Indeed, the contrary is the case. No-one is. (Leaving aside the implied theology of the word, ‘entitled’: ie: that to be ‘valued by God’, which is to be valued by nothing, which is what ‘God’ is, equals to have no value at all!) ‘Opinions’ are not axioms. They are not truths in themselves. Indeed there are no axioms, reassuring as Euclid was once to adolescents force to learn it. They are working hypotheses which if they are not backed up by reasoned argument capable of robust truth testing are totally worthless. No-one should have an ‘opinion’ at all! Certainly I never have!


Many folk (including me) re-posted this homily yesterday: ‘Cheers to all the people who change their minds when presented with information which contradicts their beliefs.’ I like the simplicity of the refrain, and its impressive wisdom! I would see much more of what it advocates.


The key tradition of humanism is the examined life. The robust questioning of all received wisdom which is at the heart of the Western ‘scientific method’ (so eloquently espoused by the great  Karl Popper eg in ‘The Open Society and Its Enemies’ (https://archive.org/stream/opensocietyandit033120mbp/opensocietyandit033120mbp_djvu.txt). There is little hope of material or ethical progress unless we cleave utterly to rational discourse and the careful examination of all that comes before us. Truth testing is ever the ultimate arbiter of worth. Nothing (at all) has any value if it is not true. Nothing follows (logically) from a false proposition. This is the first principle of (Symbolic) Logic and ought be graven in stone everywhere. Therefore, the single most important quality of any proposition is, Is it true’. Nothing else matters! Especially, it matters not a jot who you upset by asking that very question about whatever ‘they’ say. They must either defend themselves, or if they cannot do so, withdraw. QED.


19/11/2016: Google's New PhotoScan App Makes it Easy to Digitize Old Prints: Is there anything at all you can no longer do with your phone? https://www.engadget.com/2016/11/15/google-photos-photoscan-app-editing-tools/?utm_source=pocket&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=pockethits


18/11/2016: The Rolls Royce of Backcountry Trowels. PS: I used to think these doohickies were pretty silly when I had a pair of heels would mostly do the same sort of thing, and had done for decades – then I began thinking of digging for survival water sources, purifying the water found & etc. I decided that it might well be 13 grams well spent: https://www.massdrop.com/buy/suluk-46-tark-trowel?referer=EJ89BQ 7 http://www.suluk46.com/


Suluk 46 Tark Trowels


See also:









18/11/2016: Aloksak make really great waterproof to 200 metres snaplock bags. This one is even big enough to put your rifle in (great for canoeing/boating/hunting trips. It is the only waterproof gun bag I know of: http://www.survival-pax.com/aLOKSAK-Bags-Extra-Large.html Of course the smaller ones are great for your phone, camera etc.

aLOKSAK - 12x44"

16/11/2016: The ‘Moon Illusion’: I knew I had done posts about this intellectual ‘phenomenon’ long since, so I set off amid my old posts (with the aid of Control + F) to find it/them. I had thought to just be able to quote where I wrote that if you cut out a circle of cardboard that just exactly covers the full moon at arm’s length that you would find that it always does, whether the moon seems to swell like a balloon or shrink like a pin-head in your mind’s eye. As well, I found this rich horde of moon lore which I cannot restrain myself from sharing once more:


27/12/2012: What a fascinating article; I HAVE noticed the 'terminator' wind, but I confess regretfully I have not been outdoors enough on warm full-moon nights to notice the moon wind: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/12/24/sailing-on-the-moon-wind/#more-76322


26/06/2013: We checked out the ‘super moon’ but it looked just like any ordinary moon to us, but this super hurricane on Saturn IS really something out of the ordinary: http://arstechnica.com/science/2013/06/cassini-captures-gigantic-hurricane-on-saturn-in-exquisite-detail/


22/07/2013: APOLLO 11! Still thrills me 44 years later. These WERE the rocket engines which took those three brave men to the moon back when Detroit (and America) was STILL great! (http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2013/07/bezos-apollo-11/) Watching the launch is still exciting: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSLRMdYSA9M


24/07/2013: WHAT a STUNNING photograph: our solar system is brilliant – and look how small all our concerns really ARE (Earth & Moon arrowed): http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/saturn_earth_cassini.jpg?w=640&h=419


13/12/2014: Moonlight casts shadows; sometimes you forget…most places there is so much ambient light, you see nothing, know nothing. Last night during one of my elderly nightly sojourns to the bathroom I glanced out the back window and was surprised to see several small black creatures sitting on the new steps in the moonlight. I had to go fetch my glasses to see what they were as I was curious as to what critters had so early claimed this structure as their own. Alas, they were but moon shadows. I did notice yesterday however whilst working on the steps that a colony of ants had already claimed the vertical rails as a highway, so no doubt it won’t be long before others follow! Nature has a way of seizing every opportunity as its own.


05/11/2014: The FUTURE: what WILL it be like? First of all we will (soon) have virtually free, virtually unlimited energy from nuclear fusion with generators sized according to need: ones maybe as big as a railway engine or two to power a fair sized city to ones the size of a shoebox to power a homestead. With such abundant energy we will be able to do and have anything we wish. We will not have to chase rich lodes of ore in inaccessible places to harness the resources we need. Any piece of rock, earth or water will be able to be broken down easily into its component elements to provide whatever resource we need, whenever we need it. Such unlimited energy will make growing food completely independent of seasons, indeed independent of available light, water and nutrients as we will easily be able to provide all these. There will be no shortage of food, and most of the land now used to produce it will be returned to nature. Indeed, we will rework photosynthesis. It is dependent on rubisco, the best that nature has evolved, but we will re-engineer photosynthesis with more efficient processes so that plants will yield many times what they are capable of now. Both these things will happen in YOUR lifetime, possibly within a decade. Poverty and want will completely vanish. And this is only the beginning: we WILL have habitats at the L5 points and on the moon and Mars in the next twenty years. Life expectations will soon soar by 20-50 years! The future will be MUCH better than the past…


29/06/2014: Ain’t it the truth: A plea from the new imperialists (the Greens, etc): ‘Please give me the power. I promise to make everything new and beautiful for you ignorant little people who do not understand what you really want or what is best for you. Furthermore, I'll turn your slob husbands into young studs, your wives into Miss Americas, your bank accounts into mountains of gold, and I'll make the oceans recede by shipping water to the moon (with apologies to those with waterfront property).’


12/06/2014: Quotable quote: Patrick Lion: ‘The ABC is massively over-funded. Consider this: if the ABC received similar per capita funding in the US as it does in Australia, its budget would be somewhere in the vicinity of $16.6 billion. That’s pretty much equal to the entire annual budget of NASA, yet the only person the ABC has ever put on the moon is Mr Squiggle.’


(I had forgotten I ever owned a spaceship); 18/05/2014: So, my $100 helped: something to look forward to on my birthday; if all goes well ‘the team’ will reboot ISEE-3 and buzz the moon with it on 10 August @50km altitude! Thanks to our donations the project is, ‘GO!’ http://www.rockethub.com/42228


16/05/2014: Vale: David Armstrong: A VERY great TEACHER (of mine, and SO many others) and courageous man. I spent many pleasant hours with him, in his rooms (or mine) and in the quad (under the tree which remains even when no-one is there to see, & etc) at Sydney Uni in the 1970s. I remember watching (with him) a peculiar 'transit' of Venus which appeared to traverse the crescent of the moon under that tree, about 1973. It seems a long while ago now – and it IS. I AM sorry I did not live up to his estimation of me. We have only ONE life, and I chose this one. I will MISS HIM, as I miss our mutual friend ‘Sandy’ Anderson (son of John), with whom I spent many pleasant hours at Newcastle Uni in the 1960s; gone these many years now. Philosophy (& many other things) are much poorer with their passing: http://quadrant.org.au/opinion/qed/2014/05/david-armstrong-great-philosopher-great-man/ (I was recalling about this again last night amid my pneumonia driven fevered dreams when my life unrolled like a carpet before me instead of the rapid flash of drowning)

15/03/2014: This poem, ‘Dover Beach’ by Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) was for many years my favourite. (I DO also really like Dylan Thomas’ ‘Fern Hill’ though!) You may be surprised to learn that I (as an atheist) particularly like the penultimate stanza. To be an atheist does not mean that one is without the deeply felt beliefs or moral principles without which a person is scarcely human. I too lament that so many today grow up without having developed any consistent set of ethical values to inform their lives…

The sea is calm to-night.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand;
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.

Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Aegean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.

The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

23/02/2014: The small survey I recently completed on the ‘moon illusion’ convinced me that rather more folks here not only do not know the earth orbits the sun; they still believe the earth is flat: http://news.discovery.com/space/astronomy/1-in-4-americans-dont-know-earth-orbits-the-sun-yes-really-140214.htm


12/02/2014: MORE on the ‘moon illusion’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXkYjL_7jME#t=239


09/02/2014: I asked several people today whether they thought the moon was bigger when it first appears on the horizon or whether it was an optical illusion. Without wanting to spoil the answer for you, I should like to report that a number of people were sure that it WAS closer when it was near the horizon. These flat-earth advocates no doubt also eat organic food because it contains no chemicals and totally eschew di-hydrogen monoxide!


30/09/2015: This from my post Not Quite Alone in the Wilderness: (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/not-quite-alone-in-the-wilderness/) I had 'picked' a poor time for a hunt (though a good time for a walk). The Spring growth, the warm weather, the full moon all meant that the deer were very seldom down along the river during daylight hours (much moreso in winter when feed is scarcer). Of course they can see excellently in moonlight. Every night they visited us in our camps, honking constantly to keep us wake. I could have shot a number of fine stags by torchlight. http://www.theultralighthiker.com/mini-super-torch-a-weeks-light-weighs-50-grams/ I'm sure others would have. Who, but for conscience is to know?


25/10/2016: The wildlife seems to get wilder everyday: … ’ When I was a kid folk  used to ‘spotlight’ critters like this (mainly possums – everything was tucker back then) by walking the full moon along the branches of a tree, then plinking them down with the help of the old Lithgow .22 single shot. PS. We usually see one or more of these little guys too. There must be plenty of ants around. There are also almost innumerable swamp wallabies and grey kangaroos.


07/08/2016: Bill Leak and PJ O’Rourke: …Bill: When Neil Armstrong walked on the moon July 20, 1969, the whole world was inspired. On August 15 the same year 400,000 hippies rolled in the mud at Woodstock and no one’s been inspired by human ingenuity since. What the hell happened during the three weeks between?’


02/08/2016: Her Craft or Sullen Art:


‘In my craft or sullen art


Exercised in the still night


When only the moon rages


And the lovers lie abed


With all their griefs in their arms,


I labour by singing light


Not for ambition or bread


Or the strut and trade of charms


On the ivory stages


But for the common wages


Of their most secret heart.


Not for the proud man apart


From the raging moon I write


On these spindrift pages


Nor for the towering dead


With their nightingales and psalms


But for the lovers, their arms


Round the griefs of the ages,


Who pay no praise or wages


Nor heed my craft or art.’


15/11/2016: Supermoon: I got up in the middle of the night and looked at this phenomenon; if anything the moon looked smaller than usual to me. But I have spent years of my life sleeping on the ground, camped under the stars gazing up at the night sky. Clearly folks will believe anything!


14/11/2016: I Saw Below Me That Golden Valley:


Soon you will see no more playful goats as they are banned from the National Park.

Pretty and well cared for donkeys along the way.

It is a pleasant and easy couple of km descent through a pretty forest from Lukla to the  prosperous looking agricultural town of Chheplung (though it is much harder struggling back up the other way on the return journey with a chest full of pneumonia!)


Chheplung is a well laid out and prosperous looking agricultural area.

From there you follow the Dudh Khosi River upstream with only slight rises and falls of the path until you ascend sharply 7-800 metres into Namche Bazar after a walk of approx 8 hours. Most complete this section over two days.


MThere are many small villages.

And places to take a break.

Some more salubrious than others: Of course along the well-travelled section of the EBC most everything is dressed up to its best. In smaller rural villages you often find rougher accommodation.

There are lots of big and little villages to stop along the way to enjoy a cup of coffee (or something stronger), a snack or a meal. We planned to stop at Monjo (because of its altitude rather than its being half way), but we spent a little too long ‘catching up’ before we set off, so that we ended up staying at the Himalayan Guest House (nice), Bengkar instead. Most folk stay at Phakding (quite a big town) which is about half way to Namche, but there is no need; every tiny hamlet has its tea houses for food and accommodation.

Quaint agricultural practices: this hay is being 'raked' with a stick. I saw it cut with a kitchen knife!

Sun drying barley, I guess. Strangely in the tea houses everyone eats Dahl Bat (Rice) even though no rice could grow here.

I found the intercropping interesting; beans and grain grown together.

Everywhere the mountains tower over the valley:


And the river churns in its bed:


All along the route telephone and/or internet reception is mixed/patchy, but usually available – though it may surprise you that there is any at all. Often there is wifi eg in guest houses, etc. Sometimes it is free; at others it might cost eg US$5 for 200 megs. It is lovely though to be able to use ‘Whats App’, ‘Facebook Messenger’ or etc to conduct telephone or video calls with your loved ones on the other side of the world! (I know I did.)

Endless religious gibberish pollutes the scenery.

Everywhere in Nepal (as in many such places) bullshit religious iconography is ubiquitous. Such a country is enormously held back by such religious and (leftist) political primitivism. Of course it does not help you much if your Maoist Government somehow still pathetically claims that the entire royal family just shot itself (perhaps this is what happened to the Romanovs too?) I am minded of a similar bizarre (unsolved murder?) case in Vic where the victim managed to shoot herself twice in the head with a bolt action rifle! Meanwhile they inflict punitive taxes eg on antisocial things like autos (250%!) and stow the purloined cash into their vast bureaucratic coffers to later be used (at personal need) for their own Apparatchik purchases (dachas/limos – surely you know the story by now?)


Of course religion can be beautiful too. I was particularly impressed by these automated 'prayer mills'. This must save some time grovelling in the dust muttering incantations!

A 'Prayer-o-matic'!

Any damned fool (from Cecil Rhodes on, (with his Cape to Cairo Railway) though he was not one – what an amazing man; the only person in history to have not one, but two whole countries named after him!) can see that Nepal must have a modern conduit to the sea, else the efficient transport of goods/services and all the wealth that trade brings will never emerge. The Maoists will not even build roads. These (hiking) tracks we stumble along are funded entirely by the donations of kind passers by.

Freeway construction Nepali style.

An old man whose sign indicated he had summitted Everest five times was collecting for just such track repairs just out of Namche – and the track was being repaired right there with the proceeds. You scarce ever see that sort of thing from any government! Once they get hold of your money, it’s gone!


Meanwhile folk stagger by carrying loads on their backs which small lorries would not be ashamed of. We often saw young teenagers (girls and boys) carrying 15 slabs of canned booze up huge mountains for the later delectation of rich foreignors. PS: Is ‘Everest’ so named because of the likelihood that if you climb it you will ‘ever rest’ there - as some hundreds (starting with Mallory), do?


No 'Worksafe' here.

This poor guy staggered along under the weight of over half a cubic metre of plywood. Some other poor devil had hauled in on their backs the huge steel stoves used to heat the lodges, weights of 150 kg, I’d guess! You just know that in many of the huts you pass by there must be just such dreadfully broken human beings weeping and praying to Buddha, just as other poor beggars call out uselessly to Allah or Christ elsewhere.


Santa Claus has lost his reindeer.

I saw one poor man staggering along under a monstrous load, a huge swelling on the side of his face where a tooth was abscessed or etc. He clutched at it tenderly and shuffled on, tears in his eyes – you know it will be ever so, until his death. Dental problems are yet the world’s single biggest killer. There is not a lot really romantic about living in those mountains even if they might seem pretty to us – which is why the seething millions hanker for the smogs and overcrowding of Kathmandu, etc.


Of course the UN and other such Leftist ‘aid’ organisations hold lots of meetings there to discuss what ‘small is beautiful’ world solutions might help, then find (mysteriously) at meeting’s end that all the funding has been spent on the meetings! The population is left to pull itself up by its own bootstraps - which it will, but much more slowly than it might if it got just a little help up. A road here and there, for example.

Bridge at Phakding. Keep and eye out for the turnoff here on the way back.

There is a very long bridge across the river at Phakding which you would be well served to give the yaks first turn at, and maybe count how many others are aboard before you venture forth your feet. It is not near so high as the highest ‘double bridge’ just as you begin the climb up the mountain towards Namche. ‘Tully’ reckoned it to be 150 metres down to your death on the sharp teeth of the river far below. I did not demur - being too fearful to look down!


Old and new bridge.

Tully surges off the high bridge.


On the slopes climbing up to Namche (and elsewhere) there are some interesting plants – many extensively gnawed by yaks or hacked by folk for kindling. Others appear sacred to man and beast alike. I noticed a beautiful blackberry with pure white canes, for example.



Coming up the rise in to Namche:

See also:






11/11/2016: I followed my footsteps: I creep into Kathmandu in the small hours when only giant mountain dogs and stray donkeys roam the streets. After two nights at the wondrous Himalayan Traveller’s Inn, Thamel (http://www.himalayantravellersinn.com/), I creep out again in the dawn to fly to Lukla. It is the best of times. The twin-prop alights like a butterfly on a rhododendron blossom on the steeply sloping runway at this, the ‘most dangerous airport in the world’. Of a sudden you are in a Middle Ages overlain with 1950’s holiday camp. It is simply awesome, as are the dizzying vistas. This is clearly not the First World. If you are not proofed against Rabies, Hepatitis, Cholera, Encephalitis, Meningitis, Typhoid…the juxtaposition of the First and Third World, stay home.


Garden Restaurant, Himalayan Travellers Inn, Thamel, Kathmandu.

Early morning at Kathmandu airport: the smog completely obliterates the vast Himalayas which otherwise tower over this 5 million + city.

Our plane abandoning us in Lukla, falls off the mountainside.

I have a day waiting for my friend Steve (Tully) Hutcheson to arrive. I leave Lukla for a walk, first towards Bom, delightfully pronounced ‘bum’. If I had my druthers I would exclusively walk such backcountry trails and eschew the EBC altogether. There is so much peace and quiet, and no doubt the ‘real’ Nepal. Just outside Lukla these Himalayan dogs are clearly worshipping the Buddha in the westering light as they await further reincarnations. Further on I encounter another reality of the Third World in the raw. Two beautiful pre-teen girls were just returning to their makeshift mud floored home with teetering baskets of firewood twigs to unchill their leaky abode. Their goats always happy with this life played on the roof. A tricky power cable snakes through the thatch. They were also connected to satellite, their feet in the dust and their heads in the stars.


Dogs awaiting reincarnation contemplate the Buddha.

Quaint accommodation perhaps, but I am glad of our own modest home at Jeeralang Junction built also from the local earth and entirely with our own hands.

Close up. To underline that culture is humanity’s primary 'need', NB that a woman’s flowers bloom in pride of place even amidst this humble dwelling. The clothes are washed; the children clean.

Further down the valley I visit the local power station and the power station worker’s abode. Clearly no militant trade unions here! In Lukla I stay at the Lama Lodge in the main street http://www.booking.com/hotel/np/lama-lodge-and-restaurant-lukla.html. It has the virtue that you can book online and safely leave a bag for your return, which I did. The food is also excellent and the owners cheerful and delightful. Net it is as cheap as anywhere.

The immense physical effort of creating and linking these micro-hydro projects all over Nepal with sheer muscle power is astonishing.

Our CFMEU (union) would have the workers 'out' if forced to live and work in such accommodation...they do have power and satellite however!

My cosy room at the Lama Lodge.

In the afternoon I climb the hill behind the town into the rhododendron forests to gain some extra altitude acclimatisation. This is our strategy here: ‘Climb high, sleep low’, climb higher. You must also add in a ‘rest’ day where you sleep at the same altitude twice every 500 metres’ increase in elevation. I added ½ tab of Diamox twice daily to this regime (on my doctor’s advice) to prevent altitude sickness. All are excellent stratagems.

View from the tarmac (Lukla).

Climb up into the rhododendron forests above and you can see the town laid out below you.

Lukla is a pretty town perched high on a flattish space on the side of a mountain at 2800 metres. It has a modern high school accommodating 400 students. The Nepalis are busily pulling themselves up by their own bootlaces. There are many shops selling practically everything imaginable. NB: If you arrived here to start the EBC in just your shorts and thongs, providing you had a wallet full of money you could purchase all you need along the way. It would no doubt be even chaper than purchasing your supplies elsewhere. Right here in the main street a seamstress crafts perfect copies of North Face, Columbia & etc. Each town and village you pass is cluttered with goods and folks eager to sell them to you.


The High School nestled below the forest.

Part of the main street. The shops stretch this for hundreds of metres.

Donkeys and oxen are everywhere.


Next morning I meet Steve at the airport. We ‘do’ a quick tour of the town (Lukla), have some breakfast then are away on our EBC hike. Right at the edge of town the path begins. Throughout it is ‘constructed’ of irregular broken stone, requiring a peripatetic step-up, step down, step carefully…avoid the dizzying abysses. Cleave to the inside edge. Give way to yaks and porters wielding heavy loads…

Steve arrives and begins immediately to get into the spirit of things, contemplating his navel, etc.

The path goes ever on and on... To be continued.

See also:






11/11/2016: To the Roof of the World: I have just limped back from a visit to Everest - if you wonder why I have been so quiet this last fortnight. I will be posting about this at greater length in the next few days. I developed an awful chest infection and am still very weak, so you will have to be satisfied for now with just this teaser. I will survive, I hope.


Everest View: I console myself with the thought that only a tiny fraction of humankind has seen this view.

Summit of Nangartschang hill, Dingboche, Nepal @ 5100 metres (16,700 feet).

Himalayan Sunset.

10/11/2016: Home safe from the EBC after 32 hours sitting up and 36 hours awake. Thanks to Bryn and Della for coming to pick me up from the airport. More later - after a nap!

09/11/2016: Checking in at Khatmandu. On my way home at last:

09/11/2016: My memories show that four years ago exactly I was sharing another adventure with Steve Tully Hutcheson. May there be many more hopefully not so arduous for either of us as the current one.

08/11/2016: In Kathmandu I went to the zoo. To the beautiful botanic gardens too. When I woke this morning and this was the view from my window I just knew I was not home in Jeeralang Junction! Thanks to Ram K Pyakurel manager of the Himalayan Travellers Inn for his thoughtfulness and for a very pleasant day.

Clearly the world needs old men's erections much more than it needs weird critters like that!

08/11/2016: Breakfast in the delightful back garden at the Himalayan Travellers Inn Thamel Kathmandu. Feeling a lot better today.

07/11/2016: Sadly I have had to pull out of the EBC trip as the morning after climbing to 5100 metres my lungs betrayed me. I have something like pneumonia. I have managed to drag myself painfully back to Khatmandu over three horrific days two of them walking over ten hours each from where Della Jones has arranged for my safe repatriation on Wednesday. There was a lot of time yesterday when I thought I would not make it but here I am still. No more adventures for a little while. I would like to point out that this was an unsupported hike - no porters or guides, carrying all my own gear etc. I just checked my walk logger.It says I walked 27 km yesterday and 29 the day before!

04/11/2016: Today we climbed this big hill just outside Dingboche. 750 metres straight up starting above the elevation of Mt Cook. This feather was the only sign of life I saw apart from innumerable crows and tourists.

03/11/2016: Steve Tully Hutcheson: ‘Believe it or not, that is Steve Jones down below.’ Near Namche Bazar.

Famous quotes of our time (Steve Jones): ‘Everything is bullshit’!

01/11/2016: First view of Everest. These lovely blue flowers were everywhere. Garlic soup for lunch and dinner. With Steve Tully Hutcheson.

01/11/2016: A very hard 800 metres uphill today to Namche. Some great views along the way. With Steve Tully Hutcheson.

29/10/2016: How the other half live. Rural Nepal is stunningly beautiful and the people who lived in this humble house appear delightfully happy.

25/10/2016: The wildlife seems to get wilder everyday: Yesterday afternoon on our walk two four legged critters crossed the track at speed and at a considerable distance such that I could not quite work out what they were. The only giveaway was the white spot I noticed on the rump of the second one. When I arrived at the place they had crossed the ground was too hard for tracking. Then I began to hear their infernal growling which indicated a war was in progress between two of these guys. (Apologies for the poor quality shot – I only had my phone with me).

They do say that once you start to see them there are already too many koalas and that they are beginning to destroy the forest. Anyway there are probably enough to begin harvesting them for their beautiful coats. This one had a particularly luxuriant growth. They would be easy enough to drop out of a tree eg with a .22 short, or a sling, or a spear.

When I was a kid folk  used to ‘spotlight’ critters like this (mainly possums – everything was tucker back then) by walking the full moon along the branches of a tree, then plinking them down with the help of the old Lithgow .22 single shot. PS. We usually see one or more of these little guys too. There must be plenty of ants around. There are also almost innumerable swamp wallabies and grey kangaroos.

24/10/2016: Cold Weather Hut Booties: I made two pairs of these (one also for my friend Steve Hutcheson who I am going with) for my upcoming Everest Base Camp and Three Passes Nepal Walk. They weigh 78 grams per pair (as you can see). They are a bit rough as I was in a hurry and they are prototypes really, but I’m sure they will work. (PS; They weighed 36 grams each next day after the glue dried)

I wanted something with plenty of insulation (3/4” of closed cell foam) as the unheated floors up there are bound to be pretty cold. I used this toughened closed cell foam intended for making workshop floors more comfortable. I reasoned that if it is up to a bit of wear and tear from walking on it should work well upside down on the bottom of a pair of shoes too.

I figure this pair will last many camping trips, and they cost next to nothing to make. I already had the 2 oz ripstop, the foam mat, the Velcro, the glue, the sewing machine…When I work out a slightly better pattern I will post it. I just cut this one by standing on the material (wedged between the two soles) and trimming it. They work OK.

24/10/2016: Must Take a Gun With Us on our afternoon walks. This afternoon, a fine fallow stag had just crossed the track in front of us and had dropped this excellent antler. When I have time I will have a look around his rub lines (and he must have a wallow in the gully nearby) to see if I can find its mate. As I have mentioned before the game around here (Jeeralang and Yinnar is really building up. Probably if I went out with a spotlight of a night I would see something interesting betimes on our top flat! In the picture I am trying to teach Spot what the stag looked like. He seems quite non-plussed!

24/10/2016: No Sew Sandals: I made this pair as an experiment as I know there are lots of folk who don’t sew. This pair can be made with a pair of scissors, some blue hiking mat foam, a car inner tube, some Velcro and some contact adhesive (eg Selley’s Gel Grip) Should take you less than half an hour. They weigh 80 grams each in US size 9.5 , but could be trimmed a little. They would make excellent hut booties or for river crossings - or you could walk a long way in them if your shoes gave out.

24/10/2016: Toughened Foam Flip Flop: This foam which is toughened on one side making it suitable for quieting and insulating concrete workshop floors makes a more durable foam flip-flop which also has some grip.

You can cut it out in a minute with a pair of scissors. All you need is a little contact adhesive and some Velcro to finish the job. The result is a camp shoe which should last many trips which weighs just 30 grams (each)

23/10/2016: Everything you never wanted to know about mice. Bet you didn’t know they originated in India: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_mouse

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21/10/2016: Progress: it always seems more than it really is. The good news: I did eventually finish that fence; http://www.theultralighthiker.com/fencegarden/ and today I managed to plant a couple of dozen new fruit trees in the new orchard area…and the photos prove I am only half the man I once was! The new area is not quite finished I admit. The fence is not yet quite JR proof. There are still some half dozen or so trees to add, but it will look great next Spring. Hopefully by then the supports for the garden seat will be something other than plastic pots – though they seem to work very well!

Merrin, Milo and Della enjoy it anyway - and it has Spot's seal of approval!

Spot has been such a big help. I would like to tell you he dug all these holes himself!

Spot relaxing in the Santa Rosa plum at the end of a long hard day while I enjoy a well earned apple.

19/10/2016: Lever Action Shotguns (and rifles) have been available legally since the late C19th (along with bolt actions). Most folk go with a double barrels (most side-by-side but some under-and-over) because they are lighter, yet you can still get that second shot off quickly (or simultaneously) if needed. Most folks (traditionally) used shotguns to hunt small game, especially birds where more than two shots without reloading was less likely and had to be weighed against the additional weight often lugged through cloying swamps and other treacherous ground.  All along however some folks had a need for multiple shots or hunted larger (sometimes dangerous game) where a multi-shot shotgun firing ‘buckshot’ (.30 gauge pellets) or solids were needed. Nothing has changed. Only the law. There has been no increase in firearms offending by law-abiding gun owners. Practically all firearms offences are perpetrated by unlicenced users with illegal firearms. A further restriction on legal firearms owners does not make the public safer. The contrary is the case. Rather than outlawing the Adler shotgun (and all other lever action shotguns - I favour a Winchester .410 lever action for Della for example), law-abiding folks ought to be allowed to carry handguns for self-protection. Neither the law nor the police protect you. At best they make you less safe and/or mop up the pieces (and apportion blame) afterwards. A ban on lever action shotguns will also only lead to a call to outlaw lever action rifles (like the ones you see on Western movies for example). I admit I mostly use nothing but lever action rifles. It is not so much their quick second-shot capability which attracts me to them but their quick first-shot capacity from unloaded – a configuration which I always prefer over relying on ‘safety catches’ which are arguably the cause of more unintentional gun incidents than anything else!

20/10/2016: An 8 cm long metal tube approx 2 cm in diameter is what separates the two sides in the ‘Lever Action Shotgun Debate’. This is nearly of the level of nicety as the ‘Little Endians and Big Endians of Gulliver’s Travels or the two sides who tore each other to pieces centuries ago in what Gibbon described as the war of the Significant Dipthong’ when two words (now unspellable with a Qwerty keyboard) between the ‘Homoousians’ and the ‘Homoiousians’ all but destroyed Christendom. Was Jesus of the same kind or of the same substance as God? Somewhat therein as I recall swung the bitter dispute (At last settled by the Nicaean Creed you may have been taught at Sunday School). Five shot Adler lever actions (with a tubular magazine holding four shot-shells are permitted, but a very like tube holding seven shots is the scourge of the ages and a source of indescribable peril from which the public must be protected at all costs (whilst the venerable .303 Enfield which saw sterling service for us in two World Wars with its 10 shot magazine (in its heyday, and arguably still the ‘fastest bolt action rifle in the world’) is freely available…Ah, the sanity of it all!

18/10/2016: Powerfilm USB +AA Solar Charger:

I fixed the broken wire I had in this unit yesterday. You should never allow a solar charger to flap uncontrollably in a heavy wind! I can see that a lot of reviewers of such units have had them fail. I suspect excessive flexing is the cause. I have mounted it to my Zpacks Blast (Zero) pack with some Lineloks and Dyneema. This is a very light option but will prove too inconvenient in practice, so I will be switching them for plastic buckles and 1 cm webbing today. Then I will quickly be able to move it out of the way when I want something out of my pack.

With the batteries straight out of the storage drawer (so not quite charged) it happily charged my Samsung galaxy 4 Mini (1900 mAh battery) in this configuration at 1% a minute in dappled sunlight (cloudy Spring 20C day) yesterday.

As configured the unit weighs 176 grams including batteries (ie minus the ‘tail’). My Bushnell Mini Solarwrap weighs 116 grams including the AA/AAA battery charger, so an increase of 60 grams. For that 60 grams you get more storage (and you can always have a couple of extra charged AAs for additional storage - at 30 grams each). Bushnell do not quote their storage capacity but I suspect somewhere between 1500 and 2000 mAhs. The Powerfilm unit also has 50% more solar cells and they are clearly much more efficient. The Bushnell unit says it will take 10 hours of sunlight to charge its internal battery. The Powerfilm unit says it will take about 4 hours to charge the two 2000 MAh batteries it comes with, so it has2 ½ times more muscle. Well worth the 60 grams.

Many reviewers of such units clearly have no understanding whatsoever of how such a unit works. Many return them saying they will not charge their iphones & etc. Now electricity (like water) will not run ‘uphill’. If you have a larger battery to charge and it is already filled to over the capacity of the charging unit it will not charge at all.

Another delusion is that the unit should fully charge the appliance to be charged. If you view the two connected batteries as a full water tank connected (on the level) to an empty water tank you will understand that the water will only flow until they are both half full. It is the same with batteries. A full 2400 charge in the charging unit will  (in the absence of sunlight) charge the appliance’s 2400 mAh battery to 1200 mAhs ie 50%. When the phone etc has run down some more, it will charge it some more, eg to 40%...and so on.

Notwithstanding the above, in the Powerfilm unit, if the two AA batteries are fully charged and the unit is in full sun it has a capacity above the 2000 or 24000 mAhs the batteries supply so it will charge a battery which is larger (eg 3500 mAhs).

I swapped out the standard 2,000 mAh batteries http://www.theultralighthiker.com/eneloops-rechargeable-batteries/ for the Eneloops Pro 2400mAh versions http://www.theultralighthiker.com/eneloop-pro-aaa-battery/ to give the unit a little more muscle. I also cut off the unnecessary ‘tail’ the unit (photo below) comes with saving 10.5 grams. A new unit may weigh even less than this one.

You can charge AAA batteries if you carry a couple of AA to AA A converters.

17/10/2016: Everest Base Camp & Three Passes Trek:

I am busy getting ready for this (and trying to finish some jobs around the farm so posts have been rather light of late. I am a guest on this trip, so this is mostly Steve Hutcheson’s itinerary for the trip. I will be editing/adding to it over time, so come back and check. I am posting it now so you can check where I am if I happen to eg post a photo on Facebook or etc. If the going gets too rough for me and I have to drop the passes (I am more than twice Steve’s age), I will just go up (and down) from Lobuche to Gorek Shep - but I have been training for this (and I suspect it is relatively much easier than much of what I have done in my life), so I’m hoping for the best. We will carry all our own stuff but we might hire a porter/guide for the passes as the way can be harder to find there and you can’t afford to be wasting time on such long days. Keep you posted:

Day Minus 1: Fly to Kathmandu

Options for Kathmandu (stay relatively close to airport - Thamel):

Elbrus Home – LINK (#2 of 101 specialty lodging) - $14 per night, 1 room (2 adults) **

Hotel Osho Home – LINK (#6 of 175 hotels in Kathmandu) - $29 per night, 1 room (2 adults)

Backyard Hotel – LINK (#14 of 175 hotels in Kathmandu) - $15 per night, 1 room (2 adults)

 ** Pilgrim’s Guest House – LINK (#10 of 424 B&Bs in Kathmandu) - $12 per night, 1 rm (2 adults)

Recommended by this guy on Backpacking Light. 

Himalayan Travellers Inn. Good Reviews $11 per night.

Day 0 - Flight to Lukla: Acclimatisation day Lukla

Stay at Lama Lodge and restaurant A$13/night twin room with ensuite.

A bag can be left here. Booked for return trip.

Better to get on first flight in morning due to fog. 

Get a window seat on the LEFT (port) side for views of Everest. 

Airport sits at 9,300 feet, 12% grade and drops over a 2,000 foot valley. 

Labeled the most dangerous airport in the world. 


Depart Kathmandu at 6:15 AM

Arrive Lukla at 6:45 AM

Simrik (Andrei flew this), Tara Air

The reason why Tara Air isn’t as popular (crash in 2016). 

Tara Air – (10 kg permitted, $147 USD, refundable)

Kathmandu (6:15 AM) to Lukla (6:45 AM)**

Kathmandu (8:30 AM) to Lukla (9:00 AM)

Kathmandu (7:45 AM) to Lukla (8:15 AM)

Simrik Air – Oct 30 (10 kg permitted, $160.22 USD, refundable)

Kathmandu (8:45 AM) to Lukla (9:10 AM)**

Kathmandu (10:00 AM) to Lukla (10:25 AM)

Day 1: Lukla (2800 meters, 9186 feet) to Monjo (2835 meters, 9301 feet)

 Time: 4 hours

 STAY: Monjo Guesthouse (Stingy Nomads recommendation)

  Freshly squeezed juices, hot shower (200 NPR, $2), TEMS permit (NPR 3000, $30). 


Lukla to Cheplung (1:15 hours)

Cheplung to Phakding (1:45 hours)

Phakding to Benkar (1:30 hours)

Benkar to Monjo (1:00 hour)

TOTAL: 5 hours, 30 minutes

Day 2 - Monjo (2835 meters, 9301 feet) to Namche Bazaar (3440 meters, 11286 feet)

Time: 2 hours, 40 min.  Short, hard, steep climb. 

Bakery: Everest Bakery (chocolate cake)

STAY: Thamsecko Lodge (pay permit on way – NPR 2000 ($20 USD). 


Monjo to Namche Bazaar (3:00 hours)

TOTAL: 3 hours

Day 3 - Namche (3440 meters, 11286 feet) to Khunde/Khumjung (3970 meters, 13025 feet) to Namche. Acclimatisation day.

DAY HIKE: Acclimatization Day


Namche Bazaar to Khumjung (1:00 hour)

TOTAL: 3 hours

Day 4 - Namche (3440 meters, 11286 feet) to Pangboche (3985 meters, 13074 feet)


Time: 10 hours

STAY: Buddha Lodge (water now $2 for 1.5L). 

En route to Pangboche, stop at Tengboche to see famed Buddhist monastery. 

Just in case, Pheriche: Stay at Shangri La Lodge (owner is Tashi Dunder Sherpa); very helpful and knowledgeable. 


Namche Bazaar to Sanasa (1:00 hour)

Sanasa to Phunki Thenga (1:30 hours)

Phunki Thenga to Tengboche (1:30 hours)

Tengboche to Pangboche (1:15 hours)

TOTAL: 5 hours, 15 minutes

Day 5 - Pangboche (3985 meters, 13074 feet) to Dingboche (4410 meters, 14470 feet)

Time: 3 hours


Pangboche to Orsho (1:15 hours)

Orsho to Dingboche (1:00 hour)

TOTAL: 2 hours, 15 minutes

Day 6 - Dingboche (4410 meters, 14470 feet) to Nangartschang Hill (5085 meters, 16700 feet) to Dingboche. Acclimatisation Day.

DAY HIKE: Nangartschang Hill is close to Dingboche and has great views of Ama Dablam


Dingboche to Nangartschang Hill (one-way, 1:30 hours)

TOTAL: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Day 7 - Dingboche (4410 meters, 14470 feet) to Chhukung (4700 meters, 15420 feet)

 Time: 5 hours, 4730 meters. 

Head to Chhukung Ri.  Good to acclimatize.  “Climb high, sleep low”.

Details: Can be difficult finding trail at times, especially in a little bit of snow. 

There are two peaks at the top.  The saddle b/t them is filled with many cairns. 

Smaller summit is 17,700 feet. 


Dingboche to Chhukung (2:30 hours)

Chhukung to Chukkung Ri (one-way, 3 hours)

TOTAL: 7 hours

Day 8 - Chhukung (4700 meters, 15420 feet) to Kongma La (5535 meters, 18160 feet) to Lobuche (4940 meters, 16210 feet)


Chhukung to Kongma La (3:30 hours)

Kongma La to Lobuche (3:00 hours)

TOTAL: 6 hours, 30 minutes

 Note: Lobuche is known to have the worst accommodation. 

 PASS AND LONG DAY: Kongma La Pass

 Time: 9 hours

Start at 4-5 am.

If recent snow, it may be too difficult to go over pass.  Go around to Lobuche. 

Details: Lots of climbing and then flat sections.  Pass waterfalls and lakes en route. 

Final climb is rather steep. 

Best view of the three passes. 

The way down can be difficult.  Many huge boulders. 

At bottom of pass, large moraine. 

Follow meandering path on the glacier (marked by cairns).    

Head down moraine on opposite side to Lobuche. 

Day 9 - Lobuche (4940 meters, 16210 feet) to Gorak Shep (5164 meters, 16942 feet)

Time: 3 hours

Details: Short trek. 


Lobuche to Gorak Shep (2:30 hours)

Gorak Shep to Kala Pattar (one-way, 2:00 hours; return, 3:00 hours)

(for sunset if it is clear, unlikely)

TOTAL: 5 hours, 30 minutes

Day 10 - Gorak Shep (5164 meters, 16942 feet) to Everest Base Camp (5364 meters, 17598 feet)


Gorak Shep to EBC (one-way, 2:30 hours; return 5:00 hours)

Gorak Shep to Kala Pattar (one-way, 2:00 hours, return, 3:00 hours)

** Do Kala Pattar in the EARLY morning. 

TOTAL: 8 hours


Time: 3 hours up, 1.5 hours back (4.5 hours total)

Tip: Start at 6 am to avoid hiking with HUGE groups!

 EXTRA DAY HIKE: Kala Pattar (5643 meters, 18513 feet) for sunset

Time: 1.5-2 hours up. Take it slow. 

These are the best views of Everest that you can get from anywhere (as a trekker).

 Make sure that it is a beautiful day. 

However, in the evenings, you risk low clouds/no view. 

The entire base camp is located on the Khumbu Glacier. 

Day 11 - Gorak Shep (5164 meters, 16942 feet) to Dzongla (4800 meters, 15748 feet)

Time: 5-6 hours

Suluk: Stay at Himalayan Lodge.

360-degree view of Himalayan Mountains

** Most beautiful mountain town on the hike (right next to large lake). 


Gorak Shep to Lobuche (2:00 hours)

Lobuche to Dzonglha (3:00 hours)

TOTAL: 5 hours

Day 12 - Dzongla (4800 meters, 15748 feet) to Cho La Pass (5420 meters, 17782 feet) to Gokyo (4750 meters, 15584 feet)


Dzonglha to Cho La (3:00 hours)

Cho La to Gokyo (5:00 hours)

TOTAL: 8 hours

PASS DAY: Cho La Pass

Time: 5.5 hours + 1.5 hours for lunch

Suluk: Stay at Namaste Lodge (ALSO RECOMMENDED BY ‘LIVING IF’ blog). 

Favorite place. 

**NOTE: Most lodges can arrange porters, guides, or porter-guides for the relevant day. **



Details: Favorite pass (in terms of climb, not review). 

There is a huge boulder field en route to pass. 

Near the top of pass, there is a glacier, which can be very slippery.  Trekking poles are essential for this section, and microspikes are recommended (need to do a cost-benefit analysis to see if the micropsikes are worth carrying). 

For the last 20 feet, there is a big scramble where you have to use your hands.

Descent: Cross another glacier (Ngozumba Glacier), but it is just a wasteland of rocks. 

The path across the glacier is further north than the map shows. 

Head north out of Dragnag and you’ll find the path.

There is green paint on many rocks indicating the way.  

Day 13 - Gokyo (4750 meters, 15584 feet) to Gokyo Ri (5357 meters, 17575 feet) to Gokyo (4750 meters, 15584 feet)


Gokyo to Gokyo Ri (one-way, 2:30 hours)

TOTAL: 4 hours

Gokyo to Gokyo Ri (1.5 hours up, confirmed)


2000 feet straight up. 

Stunning view of Cho Oyu (6th highest mtn in world) and Ngozumba Glacier

Ask Andrei if he went up for sunrise or sunset? 

DAY HIKE/CLIMB: Gokyo Ri has great views of the mountain range. 

Back in Gokyo, should have great views of Cho Oyu. 

Sunrise or sunrise. 

Sacred Lakes of Gokyo! 

Beautiful lake (Gokyo Lake)

Details: Gokyo is a big village in the Khumbu. 

Has several teahouses (a few on higher end), a bakery, and small shops. 

Gokyo Lake shines brilliantly blue. 

Day 14 - Gokyo (4750 meters, 15584 feet) to Renjo La Pass (5360 meters, 17585 feet) to Lungdhen (4300 meters, 14107 feet)


Gokyo to Renjo La (3:00 hours)

Renjo La to Lumde (Lungdhen) (3:00 hours)

TOTAL: 6 hours

PASS DAY: Renjo La Pass

Time: 7 hours   

Details: First hour is pretty gradual and easy. 

Many snowcocks across path (hilarious Himalayan birds).

Second hour is very steep until it opens up near the top of pass into a huge bowl. 

Difficult to find path this day.  Wind is ferocious and kept changing directions (b/c of being in a bowl).

The pass has gorgeous views of Everest and Lohtse. 

The descent has a long set of rock steps.  Easiest descent.  Wind dies down once down below. 

Ends up in a grassy valley with huge mountains on one end. 

That valley joins up with another valley that is full of sand (frozen lakes, boulders, mountains). 

Tons of potato farms. 

Made it to Thame (town hit very badly by earthquake). 

If fit, consider going to Thame (longer day, but lower elevation). 

Day 15 - Lungdhen (4300 meters, 14107 feet) to Namche Bazar (3440 meters, 11286 feet)


Lumde (Lungdhen) to Thame (2:00-3:00 hours)

Thame to Namche Bazaar (3:00 hours)

TOTAL: 6 hours

LONG DAY: Long day in terms of distance, but all downhill

Time: 7-8 hours

Day 16 - Namche (3440 meters, 11286 feet) to Lukla (2800 meters, 9186 feet)

LONG DAY: Another long day in terms of distance, but all downhill. 

Time: 8 hours   

Stay: North Face Resort   


Namche Bazaar to Monjo (3:00 hours)

Monjo to Benkar (1:00 hour)

Benkar to Phakding (1:30 hours)

Phakding to Cheplung (1:15 hours)

Cheplung to Lukla (1:15 hours)

TOTAL: 8 hours

Day 17 – Return to Kathmandu/Buffer Day #1. 

Rest day in Lukla (if too foggy)

Simrik Airlines – (10 kg permitted, $160.22 USD, refundable)

Lukla (6:50 AM) to Kathmandu (8:10 AM)

Lukla (8:10 AM) to Kathmandu (8:35 AM)

Lukla (9:20 AM) to Kathmandu (9:45 AM)

Lukla (10:35 AM) to Kathmandu (11:00 AM)

Tara Airlines – (10 kg permitted, $147 USD, refundable)

Lukla (8:30 AM) to Kathmandu (9:00 AM)

Lukla (7:00 AM) to Kathmandu (7:30 AM)

Day 18 - Buffer Day #2


Simrik Airlines

Depart Lukla at 6:50 AM. 

Arrive Kathmandu at 7:15 AM. 

Lukla to Kathmandu

Fly earlier. 

Book an open ticket.  Talk with representatives.  Contact them in Lukla. 

Get a seat on the RIGHT (starboard) side for views of Everest. 

16/10/2016: Adding Down to a Sleeping Bag: I have a Montbell Super Spiral Down Hugger #3 (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/montbell/) which will take me comfortably just below freezing (-1C) but on my upcoming Everest Base Camp and Three Passes hike it is likely to get down to maybe -14C (at Gorek Shep) so I need a little more warmth. I will be adding approximately 3 ounces of 900 fill power down to the bag. I also have a Montbell Superior Down vest, coat and trousers which I can wear (plus a down balaclava and down socks!) so I will be cosy enough.

Spot would like to come too, as you can see.

If you turn the bag inside out you can see where the baffles have been closed. It is a relatively easy task to push all the existing down to the bottoms of the baffle tubes, carefully rip the stitching which closes the baffles, then push handfuls of extra down into the tubes until you are satisfied they are full enough, then sew them up again. You can buy 3 ounces (90 grams) of 900 fill power down for US$39.95 here: http://thru-hiker.com/materials/insulation.php or 800 fill power dry down here: http://www.tiergear.com.au/11/online-shop/duck-down-insulation-425g-15oz for A$30.80 This should drop the (comfort) temperature rating of your bag by approx 7C degrees.

Some additional useful instructions here: http://www.doityourself.com/stry/how-to-replace-feathers-in-a-down-sleeping-bag See videos here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRMJUZFTnHM & here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCJp2C4EFjU

16/10/2016: That’s 2,000,000,000,000 galaxies! There will sure be some interesting things amongst them: http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/2-trillion-galaxies-astrophysics/2016/10/13/id/753275/

12/10/2016: Ultralight Paddle: If you have an ultralight packraft you will need an ultralight paddle. Our lightest weighs 409.5grams. It was an Alpacka ultralight model, now alas discontinued. They also used to sell ‘Ninja paddles’ which fitted on your hiking poles. (Perhaps check the Wayback Machine: http://archive.org/web/) – they may still be available elsewhere; A comparable one is still made by these folks: 406 grams: https://supaiadventuregear.com/shop/paddle/

Here are some others: 670 grams: http://www.advancedelements.com/accessories/paddles/; 822 grams : http://www.king-cart.com/cgi-bin/cart.cgi?store=pacificdesigns&product=Paddles&exact_match=exact (I believe used to make our14 ounce 409.5 gram models; maybe ask); 826 grams: http://www.alpackaraft.com/product/sawyer/; 840 grams: http://www.alpackaraft.com/product/manta-ray-carbon/

 We have the Sawyer and Manta Ray paddles as well. They are excellent whitewater paddles. I guess it works like this: If you are using a packraft for mostly flat water and river crossings you will want to go with the lightest raft (possibly a Klymit: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/klymit-packraft/) and the lightest paddles. If you are exploring more technical water you will want to go with a tougher raft such as an Alpacka (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/dusky-track-canoeing-the-seaforth/) and a tougher paddle. ‘Horses for courses’, as they say.

I am contemplating walking from Macquarie Harbour (Strachan Tasmania) to Bathurst Harbour (Melaleuca) which will take a month and involve crossing several rivers and other bodies of water. As I will have to carry a month’s food, the choice of watercraft is also crucial.


Pictured; Subai Ultralight paddle (NB: The four pieces on the left are the paddle; the other bits are extraneous)

11/10/2016: 11/10/2016: Foam Kayak: An enchanting DIY tale, a work of pure genius: http://www.instructables.com/id/Seafoam-Kayak-the-Unsinkable-Foam-Kayak-Anyone-Can/


10/10/2016: Collecting Water: This is a great tip from JJMathes: ‘Have you ever needed to fill your water container only to find there wasn’t enough clearance for you to get the opening of your container under the flow?  When water levels are low the flow doesn’t always shoot out far enough to catch the water, it rolls around the contour of the rock making it nearly impossible to fill a bottle or bladder. Altering the flow is an easy fix by using the windscreen from your cook kit to form a spout; or anything flat that won’t absorb water will work, even a broad leaf.’ http://gossamergear.com/wp/ever-have-trouble-collecting-water

collect water

Sometimes you find water oozing down a vertical rock face. If there is a tiny crack in it you can drive a sharpened twig or matchstick in the crack to bring the water out to your drink bottle as in the photo above.

09/10/2016: Self-Threading Needles: You will notice that there are (amazingly) several kinds of self-threading needle you can use for repairs. I know the Calyxeye fits in a floss container as I have had mine there for over twenty years (and effected many repairs with it!). It was the type Lincraft (where I bought mine) sold, so I make no special claim. It works. If you are a fumble fingers (like me) or need reading glasses (same) you need a self-threading needle. Also good in poor light!


You can see Della repairing my backpack on our recent South Coast (NZ) Track walk here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/backpack-repairs/  A needle, some thread and a small square of ripstop nylon can fix many things which have let you down in the backcountry. (I usually carry a handkerchief size piece of 1.3 oz silnylon myself as it makes for a dry seat on an otherwise wet day). The thread I now carry is here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/four-gram-fishing-handlines/


I was particularly proud of a rip I repaired in a pair of hiking trousers a few years back: I had slid down a steep bank on my derriere and whilst doing so caught the pants in a tree root which tore them all the way from the calf to the crotch. Luckily it was not me! I have since thrown them out else I would post a photo of my handiwork.


I also once performed a particularly neat repair on a dinner plate sized rip on one of my hounds (he had from a recalcitrant stag, soon deceased). I admit ‘Harpoon’ did not much enjoy the surgery (he thought quite seriously about biting me) but he demurred, healed up without so much as a mark and went on to hunt many another day, at least until he was stolen by some lowlife off the Cowwarr Rd many years ago now. He would have been dead of old age last century (and hound hunting has quit me altogether now), yet still it galls.


Easy needle


Easy needle

Calyxeye Needle


Calyxeye Needle

Spiral Eye Needle


Spiral Eye Needle

08/10/2016: Cold Weather Face Masks: A life saver: I ordered one of these for my upcoming Everest Base Camp trek. It will keep my nose (& face) warm, a plus as this is one of the things that most bothers me about camping out in winter. More importantly though is that it warms incoming air by more than 20C and keeps it humid. This really protects the sinuses and linings of the lungs. The air up there is so  really dry you need to drink at least 4 litres of fluid a day to keep up with moisture loss from your lungs, so it is no surprise if your lungs take a punishing. At Gorek Shep (EBC) it will be -14C! In the Everest region it is not all that uncommon to succumb to ‘Khumbu Cough’ which can be so racking that you can break ribs! Definitely don’t want that. Worse though is that it reduces lung function. This Cold Avenger face mask has been independently tested to show that it improves lung function by very significant amounts eg particularly in asthmatics who would suffer more in winter conditions such as I am planning for. I am thinking that some of the effects of altitude sickness are no doubt brought on by reduced lung function which could be prevented with one of these. These little gadgets weigh less than 100 grams (4 ounces) and cost around US$60: http://coldavenger.com/ I am thinking that the face mask will get lots of future use sleeping out during winter deer hunting expeditions in Victoria. I will also be carrying one of these: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/survival-shelter/

ColdAvenger Pro SoftShell

See also: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/my-life-was-wide-and-wild-and-who-can-know-my-heart/

Below is a map of our intended route. We plan to do the ‘Three Passes’ walk in conjunction with the Everest Base Camp walk which will get us away from the crowds. We are carrying all our own gear. We are walking anti-clockwise. I fly into Lukla from Kathmandu and begin walking after an ‘acclimatisation day’. It is important that you add in these extra days every 500 metres of altitude so that you don’t succumb to altitude sickness. We will be at Everest Base Camp 9 days later and back to Lukla on the evening of the 6th day after that. I have a few days in reserve. More details to follow.


04/10/2016: And, just to show that venery is not yet dead: Hunting rabbits with hawks in Sussex: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_eQv2qt6iI

01/10/2016: Dog Waits on Ice Cream Truck: http://imgur.com/dcPUBcN?r

30/09/2016: The Frogs: The Sequel. Every dam and waterhole around here is now fringed with frog spawn such as Tiny is investigating here. The frogs are still singing their musical choruses and charmingly I thought each is guarding his/her own patch of spawn. It is going to be ‘the year of the frog’ around Yinnar this year. Listen to them sing here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/videos/frogs/ No doubt there will also be a plague of snakes etc to eat them!



29/09/2016: Repurposing Camping Gear: The rushes which prospered astonishingly during the drought I made quite satisfactorily dead a few weeks’ back. Yesterday seemed like a good day to wipe the hill of them for good. Since Milo and Merrin were visiting everyone got in on the act

Merrin starts the conflagration off.

Those clumps really go up. It shows how terrifying a grass fire can be. Of course the sheep ensure that our greass never gets that long.

Spot and Milo in a supervisory role.

Lighting the clumps is simplicity itself.

Such a satisfying feeling watching them burn.

Spot as usual was a big help.

Time for a cuddle now Boss?

Detail of the impromptu rush burner. There is a story to everything. The children’s paddle I found washed up in some river rack many years ago. The Coleman burner cooked many frypan’s worth of sausages over the years after our hound hunting trips as we yarned around the campfire or waited for hounds to trickle in from the day’s hunt. Putting them together with a couple of cable ties was the work of a moment. And ‘Voila!’ Yet ‘they say’ we don’t need ‘all that junk’ we have mouldering in our sheds!

29/09/2016: 11 More venery: http://www.arkinspace.com/2010/12/collective-nouns-alphabet-of-animals.html

28/09/2016: 11 Gram Rechargeable Head Torch: Two O-rings, a micro cord lock and a short length of 1mm Dyneema transforms this 9 gram wonder into an 11 gram wonder. At 45 lumens for 1 hour or 1 lumen for 48 hours (or anywhere else in between) this Nitecore Tube Light is a wonderful torch. The 1 lumen setting is quite adequate for reading of a night (if you still use books) or for finding your way around in the dark once your eyes are adjusted.


These little guys weigh less than the AA battery used to power most ultralight torches (such as this excellent example: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/mini-super-torch-a-weeks-light-weighs-50-grams/) so it is well worth carrying a couple in your pack especially if you have the means of recharging them (such as this: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/charging/)


See also:






28/09/2016: Another thought about the Plebiscite: there is no guarantee that Labor members would not vote in Parliament to bring in so-called ‘marriage equality’ (even if as seems likely the plebiscite showed Australians were overwhelmingly opposed to it) given that their party position is that it should be enacted by the Parliament and that Labor members who would vote against such a proposal (according to their consciences) would be expelled from the party! This is a divisive issue concerning really only a tiny minority of Australians, less than 1% which could more appropriately be dealt with by a separate form of marriage rather than changing the definition of marriage for everyone else…I can see why Statists might favour it though as it supports a move to tax (by stealth) ‘couples’ who cohabit as married or de facto (or adjust their welfare benefits to more accurately reflect their real status). Some really big budget savings there!

28/09/2016: Spare a thought for the gharial: http://www.arkinspace.com/2012/10/gharial.html

27/09/2016: Gear Repairs: Tenacious Tape: Many folks have long carried some duct tape for this purpose. I have carried cuben tape for many years http://www.theultralighthiker.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=1797&action=edit . I can attest that it successfully repaired a Neoair pad which had been relentlessly chewed by a certain puppy, and that the repair has held now for 3+ years! One of the virtues of this ‘new’ tape (apart from that it sticks to practically everything) is that it comes in rolls up to 3” (75mm) wide, Such a roll weighs 21 grams. It could easily be cut in half: https://www.mcnett.com/gearaid/tenacious-tape#10691


Additional Information

Length    500mm

Weight    21 grams

Color      Clear, various

Width     75mm

26/09/2016: Sleeping Pad Reinvented: Big Agnes Q-Core SLX: Big Agnes has been redesigning some of its great pads. For example, their Big Agnes Q-Core SLX Petite Pad: 15 oz  (427 grams) and rated to 15F (-9.5C ie R = 4.5) and 4.25” (10.5cm) thick! Reputed to be superbly comfortable and dramatically robust. The square ends also make the Q-Core an excellent hammock pad, particularly if you chose one of the wider models. RRT US$139.95 https://gearjunkie.com/big-agnes-q-core-slx-sleeping-pad ‘Offset I-beams, ‘micro’ air-pressure adjustment, and aviation-grade TPU lamination… sleeping pads can be deceptively high-tech. But what does it all mean?


Stability = Comfort It’s all about the I-beams… on the contours of the sleep surface…making the pad surface more even would increase the comfort of the pad…the offset quilted pattern replaces standard parallel I-beam construction, preventing you from sliding on the pad...the outermost I-beams on both sides are slightly larger, which creates a cradle that holds you near the center of the pad.

‘Ultimate Durability’…this pad is 25 percent more durable than its Q-Core SL predecessor. We’ve improved materials and construction with new double rip-stop and aviation grade TPU lamination technology…Superlight,’ Micro Adjustment Total weight for this pad falls between 15-22 ounces, (ie from 427 grams) depending on the model size (66-78 inches long, and 20- or 25-inch widths).

 Its micro air adjustment’ is a tiny ball that sits in the center of the inflate valve. You can press it to allow a little air to escape, reducing the pad’s stiffness. It works just like a presta valve on a bike tire.’ https://www.bigagnes.com/Products/Detail/Pad/qcoreslx


We have owned their Insulated Air Core pads for many years. When we bought them they were the only pads which had anywhere near that thickness (3.25”) and R rating 4.5 (ie good down to 15F or -10C) - and cheap. They have proved incredibly durable and comfortable pads. For example their Insulated Air Core starts off at US$84 for a full-length pad and is under 600 grams, yet over 3.25” thick. We have two, their regular 6’ pad and their Petite Mummy 5’ pad (not currently available) which is around 500 grams and actually long enough for each of us (I am 5’7”, Della 5'). Most folks will really not need a pad longer than 66” (1.675m). It doesn’t matter if your feet overhang.  I am a side sleeper anyway, so they don’t. Your feet won’t touch the ground so your sleeping bag will keep them warm as it is not compressed by your weight.

26/09/2016: Jumping without a parachute…Amazing: http://surprise.ly/v/?PK0Hl0kWELE:0:0:0:100

24/09/2016: There’s no stopping a Jack Russell; the king of beasts: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eccJ9vRHKgo

23/09/2016: How Green Is My Valley: We are so fortunate to live in this beautiful part of the world. Everywhere you point a camera it is something like this. Just snapped this view of Yinnar and the Morwell River valley on the way back from our walk yesterday afternoon. Why travel elsewhere?



22/09/2016: Planting Della: There is no worse fate to contemplate than burying your beloved…but in this case it can be a joyful occasion. Imagine someone having named this lovely cultivar thus - and in my Della’s favourite colour too. Now to see whether it likes the very clayey soil of the native garden on the back slope behind the house where the honeyeater war is a daily occurrence.


22/09/2016: Fifteen Gram Blue Foam Flip-Flop Camp Shoe: A work of pure genius. Can there be a better camp shoe than this? Chris Morgan writes: ‘The Walmart foamy option is fairly durable (about 20 nights of heavy use, but a pad will make about a dozen pairs), very stable, ridiculously cheap and ultra comfortable. About 1oz for the pair:

Step 1: Buy a $4 Walmart blue foamy sleeping pad.

Step 2: Trace your foot and add little less than a cm all around (you can trim to fit later, though I find a little extra is kind of nice and you don't trip over it), and add wings so that when folded up together it looks like an Adidas shower sandal.

Step 3: Cut foam.

Step 4: Apply 1 piece of duct tape across the top – you may have to shorten the wings after trying on to get a tight fit.



Thanks to Chris Morgan at backpacking light forum: https://backpackinglight.com/forums/topic/46709/



QED.’ Indeed!

21/09/2016: Montbell make some awesome Ultralight gear. Mostly I like their sleeping bags and insulated clothing. For many years I have used the UL Super Spiral Down Hugger #3 now called Down Hugger 800 #3 & available at Larry Adler Australia for A$329). Mine was 624 grams and rated -1C. Montbell have even improved this bag by moving to 1 oz more (and) of 900 fill power down. This is the Down Hugger 900 #2 at 690 grams and -5C, which is just awesome! This ‘spiral stretch’ construction means that they are the roomiest sleeping bags you have ever used. You can even cross your legs and sit up in them.


In Australia you will almost never encounter conditions where you will need a warmer bag than this. If you do (and as I do) you carry a down jacket and vest, you can put the jacket on and pull the vest over your lower body. This will provide at least another 5C worth of warmth.


Speaking of jackets and vests: I am particularly impressed by the warmth and lightness of their ‘Superior Down’ range. The coat weighs just over 200 grams and the vest a bit over 150. Their Clo (insulation) rating (eg measured here: https://backpackinglight.com/forums/topic/18950/) indicate that the two garments together should take you well below 0C. Think -10C. Larry Adler have them on sale at the moment for A$140 and $105 respectively, which is a bargain: https://www.larryadler.com/ Larry does not have the complete range. For that look here: http://www.montbell.us/ To purchase from the US you will need (eg) a Shipito account and a virtual US credit card  - available from Shipito.




20/09/2016: ‘My life was wide and wild, and who can know my heart? There in that golden jungle I walk alone.’ Judith Wright, The Sisters. This might as well be TheUltralightHikers’ motto as we march forward into the evenings of our lives, ‘bowed but unbroken’. A young friend (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-friend-i-met-on-the-dusky-track-fiordland-nz/) has invited me to come along with him on his (extended) Everest Base Camp hike in early November in Nepal. This may seem like an insane thing for a man 2/3s of a century plus to be doing. I admit I had my druthers, but Della piped up perfunctorily with this epithet, ‘You only live once’. Remember that.


And this: People are crap at understanding risks/stats.You have to figure risk against probable loss. When you are young you have the probable loss of your entire life to lose (a large proportion), so you ought be more careful. When you are old like me, you have much less life to lose, so you can afford to take more risks! I know, you may think that the morsel of life left is nonetheless more precious because it is all you have left, (but whatever is all you have) and it would not be much of a life if you spent it propped in a wheelchair at some Old Peoples’ Home mumbling inanities and pooping yourself. The high passes, whatever their risks gleam much brighter than that prospect.

It is also like this. Yet another friend’s widow was last week condemned to just such a fate as I hinted above, having been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, her husband having dropped like a stone from a cardiac a couple of years ago. ‘Live & learn or you don’t live long’ as the old saw goes.

‘Give Your Heart to the Hawks’ the old mountain men used to say. There is a solitary rapture about gazing up at the seam where sky and mountain meld which makes one’s heart exalt! The peaks that loom everywhere along the Dudhkoshi River are more than awesome.


19/09/2016: Hornet-Lite Pack Raft: I see there is a new alternative pack raft on the market: ‘The Hornet-Lite is the lightest packraft in Kokopelli's fleet weighing in at 4.9 pounds (2223 grams) including the seat. Kokopelli has designed the Hornet-lite packraft to be functional while reducing weight and maximizing compactness. This packraft is ideal for crossing rivers, high alpine lake fishing and wide calm rivers’ so says their description: http://www.kokopellipackraft.com/adventure-series/hornet-lite It is a bit cheaper at US$525 than (most of) the Alpackas (http://www.alpackaraft.com/) but may not have the same durability as comparably priced models there. Another cheaper still choice for flatter water is Klymit’s offering: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/klymit-packraft/ Cheaper still is my Faux Pack Raft: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/home-made-pack-raft/


Pack Raft Links:













18/09/2016: Vapor Barrier: Whether in hot wet or cold weather humidity is one of the biggest problems. For example, you must never breathe inside your sleeping bag (or sweat). You are filling it with water which must be evaporated, so you are making it colder. There is a solution. The following information is from Stephenson’s Warmlite page. They also sell VB clothing: http://warmlite.com/vapor-barrier-clothing/


Stephenson's VB Sox

‘Ice, solid water, has very low energy. To melt ice to liquid water you must add 144 BTUs per lb. (BTU = British Thermal Units = heat energy needed to warm 1 lb. of water 1°F.) It takes 1080 BTUs to evaporate 1 lb. of water to water vapor. The amount of water vapor in the air is called humidity, expressed either as absolute lbs. of water per lb. of air, or as relative, % of the maximum that could be there at that temperature and pressure. It is common to refer to water vapor as humidity.

 (Steve: I BTU is roughly ¼ of a calorie, so you need approx 18 calories (2.5 ml of meths) to melt 250 ml (1 cup full) of ice and 135 calories (19 mls meths) to evaporate it). If you think of that in terms of the amount of food you would need to eat to do the same work you will understand that handling humidity requires a serious expenditure of energy).

 SWEAT is the liquid water your skin exudes from sweat glands in your skin to COOL you when you are overheated. Unfortunately, that sweat also contains oils and SALT! Salt and soluble oils are moisture absorbents: depending on concentration and type of salt and oil, it can take up to 3 times the heat energy to evaporate water from such absorbents, and all that excess energy goes into chemical change. You have noticed that initial sweat seems to cool you much better than later sweat: dried salt and oil resist evaporation, and release heat to your skin from contact with new sweat (see SUMMIT Oct.’59). A fresh water rinse cools you and restores the cooling of initial sweat. NOTE that the PURPOSE of sweat is ONLY to COOL you. Obviously then, at first sign of sweat wetness you MUST remove any excess insulation (or ventilate to carry off excess HEAT.) If conditions are cool enough that you need ANY clothing, then you want to immediately STOP any sweat loss and use convection, conduction, and radiation to get rid of excess heat. Any moisture lost thru sweat MUST be replaced soon (which may be difficult or impossible at the time, so it’s best to STOP the loss when it starts!)

 Humans have a problem which we are told other animals don’t have: the moisture IN our skin evaporates in dry air, thus losing heat and water. That moisture loss is called “insensible sweat”, which term, like “military intelligence” is an oxymoron (ie, self contradiction). That “insensible sweat” is NOT sweat, and IS sensible: you FEEL it cooling you (but don’t feel it as wetness, thus the “insensible”). Water vapor from evaporation IN your skin, with it’s high energy, diffuses rapidly thru to outer clothes where heat is lost. Usually in cold weather the outside relative humidity is near 100% so outside air can’t accept more humidity, and thus most of that moisture condenses to cold water, soaks your clothes, disables your insulation, lowers humidity again, so more chilling evaporation occurs IN your skin, repeating the cycle of chilling and soaking your clothes. Even if outer fabric is completely porous the vapor WILL condense where temperature reaches dew point in the clothes. The outer layer (“breathable” or not) keeps water IN, out of sight, so you don’t realize you’re losing insulation until later, when miserably COLD. Evaporative cooling and water loss depends only on the relative humidity of the air next to your skin, so you have no control over it. Or do you? (think for a while).

 Heat production and loss is not uniformly distributed over our bodies. We can sweat under our arms while being too cool elsewhere. We detect changes in temperature only on our skin, but can’t determine absolute temperature of our body by what we feel on skin: get cold enough to shiver, then get into a hot tub and you’ll feel too hot while actually being too cold. As you warm, your skin gets accustomed to the warmth so you don’t feel as hot! Get out of the hot tub when sweating from overheat and you immediately feel cold! Dry off and you feel warm. We rely ONLY on wetness of sweat to warn us of overheat.

 If your heat loss equals production you’re comfortable. If activity then increases, overheat causes sweat, for evaporative cooling. WHEN (or IF) you notice wetness from sweat, you’ll vent or remove extra clothes, get cooling of evaporative or convective heat loss, stop sweating and you’re soon dry. Wickable underwear moves sweat from overheat away from your skin so you won’t notice it and it won’t annoy you, (which is fine for comfort indoors or for short periods). That wicking prevents cooling when and where you need it, and wets outer clothes so they won’t be warm LATER. Please note that it’s wickable and moisture absorbing fabric that aids comfort then, not just porous or so called “breathable” junk. Non wicking polyester, acrylic, Goretex and similar won’t provide any comfort, so YOU have to constantly adjust insulation or venting in response to wetness from overheat, (which can be an advantage IF you’re observant and intelligent enough to do proper adjusting). Heat stroke or heat exhaustion is caused by not being aware of and correcting for overheat. Wicking clothing makes you unaware of sweating, so can be dangerous. Instead of sweat cooling you when needed, it soaks your clothes, reduces insulation and chills you later when you need the warmth! You won’t notice overheat until soaked, so delay your normal reaction of venting or removing excess clothing, until too late. When you tire, slow down or stop, and need your insulation, you find it is wet and useless. Instead of the sweat which wicks out evaporating, humidity from within condenses, making outer clothes even wetter. That’s controlled by the temperature in outer layer(s), not whether they are porous or sealed. Before you die of hypothermia from believing false ads claiming their insulation is warm when wet, I suggest you soak your jacket, shake it out and wear it. Experience just how cold, wet insulation really is! False advertising won’t keep you warm.

 Part of the idea of using wickable underwear for warmth is the insane idea that your skin continuously LEAKS, so they want to move leaked moisture away from your skin before it evaporates and cools you. Any kid old enough to talk can tell you your skin stays dry UNTIL you sweat from OVERHEAT, and then you WANT evaporative cooling AT your skin. NOTE: Just to confuse you more, several companies say their materials “wick moisture vapor”, but you know that wicking only applies to LIQUID, not vapor!

 Most of this isn’t a problem if you’re going outside for short periods with steady activity and not overdressed. But for someone jogging, skiing, hiking, or mountaineering it can be a very serious matter.

 Obviously wicking underwear can’t stop chill of moisture evaporating from within your skin (misnamed insensible “sweat”), since that moisture is not on the surface where it can be wicked away. The ONLY way to reduce that evaporative chilling is to raise humidity next to your skin by raising humidity in surrounding air (limited to dew point in that air), or by retaining humidity with vapor barrier (VB) next to the skin. A VB that blocks 95% of evaporative heat and water loss is excellent. (Goretex will block 97%. They call that 3% loss “breathable”).

 If humidity next to your skin reaches 100% (meaning it can’t hold any more water vapor), evaporation stops, chilling stops, and “insensible sweat” stops. That’s why a humid day feels warmer than a drying day. (Note that it’s common to call low humidity dry when the correct term is drying, which low humidity causes.) A wet rainy day feels colder because the rain acts as a condenser, removing humidity from the air, leading to drying condition. Often a “dry” sunny day feels extra hot due to the high humidity the sun has caused by evaporating water that fell as rain before.

When skin moisturizing can’t keep up with rapid drying, your skin gets dry, chapped, and is more likely to suffer frostbite. Evaporative chilling makes 32°F feel like 12°F.

It’s reported that you lose up to four pounds of water each night thru evaporation of “insensible sweat”, when sleeping in a porous “breathable” sleeping bag. Weighing of such bags in the morning shows 2 to 4 lbs. increase, confirming that statement, and also showing that sweat and vapor don’t make it out of those bags: sweat wicks in, and vapor condenses in the insulation, leaving the bag wet. The 4320 BTU of heat stolen from you to evaporate 4 lbs. of sweat is lost at outer surface of your bag, as that sweat condensed to soak your insulation. It takes 144 BTU to melt one pound of ice. Thus the heat to evaporate four pounds of sweat is enough to melt 30 pounds of ice! (4 x 1080/144 = 30). Would you take 30 pounds of ICE to bed with you? That’s the effect you get by not using vapor barrier interior in your sleeping bag.

 If you lose 4 pounds of water during 8 hours of sleep you can expect to lose much more during 16 hours you’re awake and active. That dehydration can lead to serious impairment of circulation due to thickened blood, increasing risk of frostbite (thus the good advice to drink LOTS of fluids in cold dry weather). You can create a warm humid condition around your body all day with VAPOR BARRIER (VB) clothing, and thus reduce dehydration.

 During World War II US cold weather troops used Vapor Barrier (VB) socks to totally cure frostbite and trench foot. Those led to the vapor barrier “Korean Bunny Boots”, still the standard for cold weather use. We started promoting use of VB socks (baggies, bread bags, etc) in 1957, then gloves, shirts, and in sleeping bags since 1967. Others have sold VB clothes and bag liners on and off, but the bad response to uncomfortable coated fabrics, poor education, and problems with tie in bag liners, led most to drop VB. Manufacturers and retailers want to sell what is EASY, and avoid anything that requires educating customers. Heavy promotion of “breathable” materials makes some retailers unwilling to risk big markup sales by telling customers the whole truth. Often they won’t tell you anything about things they don’t sell. The most common excuse we hear from manufacturers and sales persons for not selling VB lined bags and VB clothing is they can’t take the time to explain it to their customers. Mighty inconsiderate! If you want an honest evaluation of VB, get it from someone who uses it. If you want to avoid it, ask someone who hasn’t used it, or sells only “breathable” gear, thus avoiding getting confused by the facts!

VB in a sleeping bag gives no added warmth when vented but always protects the insulation from condensation and sweat soaking, thus it’s advisable to have VB in your bag for ALL seasons. The surface wickability of Stephensons FUZZY STUFF makes it especially desirable for summer use when you’re sure to overheat, (even if nude.)

 A common argument against VB is actually excess praise FOR VB: they say VB will ALWAYS overheat you! Wouldn’t it be nice if we could get ALL needed warmth simply by controlling humidity! Physics limits us to maximum of 20° added warmth from VB. It’s the overheat DETECTION SERVICE that VB provides (by making you immediately aware of sweat when it starts) which “they” think is overheat caused by VB: don’t blame the messenger for the message!

 Will Steger used “breathable” Quallofil sleeping bags for his much advertised dog sled trip to the north pole: those 17 lb. bags (almost as thick as our 4 1/2 lb Goose Down bags) were carried loose on top of sleds “for best drying”, yet weighed over 52 lbs. in a few weeks from sweat condensing to ice. Luckily they were flown out from the pole. Meanwhile a Canadian – Soviet team cross country skied across the pole, using WARMLITE bags they had purchased, which stayed dry and warm for the whole trip. Will Steger bought FUZZY STUFF Vapor Barrier liners from us for his Quallofil (read, $500,000 support from Dupont!) bags for the much longer south pole trip and thus kept the bags dry and warm the whole trip.

 VB clothing that doesn’t wick sweat over it’s surface is likely to be uncomfortable and lead us to frequent insulation changes, or sadly mislead some into rejecting VB and the benefits it can give them. Proper comfortable use of VB requires more intelligence and awareness than some people have, but is made a lot easier with modern VB material having wicking inner surface, such as FUZZY STUFF.

With VB keeping water vapor and wet sweat out of your sleeping bag and clothes, you can use ANY fabric, ANY insulation without concern for wickability, and can use ANY exterior wind breaker without concern for “breathability”.

 How do users of VB react? Generally with orders for more VB clothing and sleeping bags, and recommendations to their friends. From 1967 to 1998 we sold about 9500 VB lined sleeping bags, and only about 1/2% of customers objected to having to consciously adjust insulation. But even they agree that VB is good for extra warmth and insulation protection, and most of those became best promoters of VB! We’ve found many of those people have low metabolism, need more insulation to stay warm, and thus NEED VB the most! No matter what one’s metabolism is, the extra heat produced from activity is the same, and thus the person who wears thicker clothes for warmth when inactive will sweat more when active due to those extra clothes. To stay dry they must adjust clothes more. VB underwear helps them notice the need to adjust, and keeps all outer clothes dry even if they fail to control sweating.

When you are awake and active it is easy to adjust insulation to avoid overheat without venting VB clothing. When asleep the normal reaction to overheat is to push covers away, reducing the extra warmth, while VB still protects the bag from condensation and sweat. Sleeping bags rarely get wet from outside. Bags without VB ALWAYS get wet from INSIDE condensation and sweat!

 Most of you are aware that wind can chill you. If nude, wind reduces the insulating air boundary layer on your skin, increasing conductive heat loss thru that layer. Stop the wind, or block it with wind tight fabric, or get inside a structure, and that chilling stops. Then as you all know, adding ANY layer of even the most porous clothing makes you warmer. At some point any additional layer overheats you, which you notice only when you start to sweat and feel wet. Do a test: In a wind blocking shelter when it’s cool enough to need a warm jacket, replace the jacket with two thick bulky knit sweaters (as open a knit and thick as you can find). Soon you’ll start sweating from the overheat (note that it is only the sweat that tells you that you’re overheated!) Mere porosity or “breathability” clearly can’t keep you cool. Replace the thick sweaters with a light raincoat (after you cool down). Soon you will feel too cool, clearly proving that a simple waterproof coating is not enough to keep you warm or overheat you, but it can help. Assuming condition cold enough so you are wearing an undershirt, 1 or 2 insulating shirts, and the warm jacket: replace just the innermost shirt with a vapor barrier shirt (lacking a proper one, use a plastic bag with holes cut for head and arms). Soon you will notice sweat from overheat and will need to remove the jacket to stop overheat (if smart you’ll speed up the test by not putting the jacket back on after changing to VB shirt, and will then notice you are as warm as before and not sweating.) The VB shirt reduces loss of humidity and thus reduces evaporative cooling at your skin, much like a humid day in summer.

 In each case if you carry test to point of overheat, notice that it is the wet feel of sweat that told you “you are overheated”. Our bodies are very poor at telling us how warm or cold we are, and skin senses changes more than absolutes.

 VB clothing has many other benefits:

 Elimination of condensation in your tent. People who regularly over dress and rely on wickable clothing to carry away sweat, add much more humidity to a tent.

If you must change your shirt in less than 3 days due to sweat odors you will also likely cause excessive condensation in any tent you use. Wearing VB helps you recognize and correct overheat and unnecessary sweating.

 Elimination of sweat odors on clothing and yourself. It’s obvious how outer clothing is protected. Apparently quick sensing and thus avoidance of sweating, plus blocking of air circulation that causes sweat to turn rancid, reduces or eliminates sweat odors on you and the VB clothing as well.

 (Polypropylene underwear is infamous for terrible sweat odors: apparently it passes sweat so well that people sweat excessively with it without realizing it. BUT it absorbs all the oils in the sweat, and those oils turn rancid, stink, and stick to the polypro.)

 Reduces dehydration and amount of water you must obtain and drink. Dehydration is a major contributor to frostbite, hypothermia and altitude sickness. It thickens your blood, impairs circulation (thus decreases proper heat and oxygen distribution), and reduces oxygen intake. It’s especially difficult to drink enough fluids when not wearing VB clothes and ALL your water most come from melting snow! In several days the weight of fuel saved due to use of VB can greatly exceed the weight of the VB clothing.

 With 1st layer VB you can then wear any kind of material for outer layers, no matter how uncomfortable or impractical that material might be otherwise, since you’ll have no concern with it getting wet. Your outer windbreak layer can be any coated or laminated fabric, preferably NOT “breathable” so you don’t have to be concerned with dirt causing it to leak. When weight is a consideration, chose your layers for the most thickness per pound. Use coated Nylon rain wear windbreaker.

 Avoiding winter “colds”: most medical writers say a “cold” is only a “cold virus infection”, (typically with symptoms of irritated nose and throat and clear fluid from your nose), which your body self cures in 3 to 7 days. But, your nasal and throat passages usually have lots of all kinds of infectious bacteria in them, which are harmless to you as long as they can’t get past mucus surfaces. Virus infection, or bad allergy attack, or dry irritated nasal passages due to excessively dry air, can ALL let those bacteria attack, resulting in what we usually know as a “cold” with greenish yellow nasal discharge, sore throat, cough. Untreated that can last a whole winter, or be stopped in 3 days with antibiotic. Wearing VB clothes at home allows you to keep air temperature about 10° cooler resulting in less drying and irritation of throat and nasal passages.

 For some of us with poor circulation to hands and feet, VB gloves and socks are essential to keep hands and feet warm enough to function (other common solution is to move to warm climate!)’

17/09/2016: Listen to the oldest melody in the world — 3400 years old. ‘The hymn was discovered on a clay tablet in Ugarit, now part of modern-day Syria, and is dedicated the Hurrians’ goddess of the orchards Nikkal...The clay tablet text, which was discovered alongside around 30 other tablet fragments, specifies 9 lyre strings and the intervals between those strings – kind of like an ancient guitar tab..... The notation here is essentially a set of instructions for intervals and tuning based around a heptatonic diatonic scale’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tx6v0t5I5SM

15/09/2016: Unsung Genius: Stephenson’s Warmlite: Jack Stephenson invented the inflatable insulated mattress way back in 1958. Their Down Air mattress (DAM http://warmlite.com/down-air-mattress-alone/) is now available in a stand alone for US$140 in a variety of sizes. One of the things most to like about it is its width – it comes in from 22” (56cm) through to 28” (71cm) & in a variety of lengths. People our size would be fine with their smallest models (from 65” (163cm) by 22” (56 cm) and 20 oz (570 grams). Lots of people probably find like I do that their elbows fall off the edge of ‘standard’ 20” (50cm) hiking mats. Probably I would opt for their Model 60 at 70” (178 cm) by 24” (61cm) by 22 oz (627 grams). It is a stretch up from my current Thermarest Neoair Xlite Womens at 20” (50 cm) by 66” 168 cm)  and 340 grams and 12 oz (340 grams) and R 3.9 I know, but may be worth it for the comfort!


Down Filled Air Mattress now Available

List of key ultralight innovations introduced by Stephenson’s Warmlite*

Leader in use of ultralight 700-800 fill power down. Jack Stephenson (Our Founder) worked hard on perfecting down sleeping bags between 1955-1957, after a miserable trip to Rocky Mountain National Park with his new wife in 1955 had been saved by a personal visit to Alice and Roy Holubar, and purchase of Holubar’s down bags. After these few years of development work, Stephenson’s fluffy wonder bags covered with ultra-light nylon were introduced to the public in 1958, chiefly in Dick Kelty’s store in Glendale, California

Warmlite was a real Leader in use of ultralight nylon materials derived from the sailing industry to replace heavy cotton and polyester cotton materials then in use in all tents, packs and clothing. For decades, since about 1956, we have used 1.1 oz. ripstop nylon for our bags and clothing, eschewing the heavier 1.9 oz. which became the standard when Eddie Bauer began using it during this same time period.

Leader in use of a variety of exotic aerospace-derived materials for superlight, superstrong packs, sleeping bags and tents— products which still rival or surpass the lightest of the most modern ultralight gear. Examples include “gold mylar” tent material and aluminized fabrics for heat retention and heat rejection (eg. on tent canopies).

Leader in the use and modern application of Vapor Barriers in outdoor clothing and sleeping bags. We  experimented with various vapor barrier materials (VB) finally perfecting a “warm fuzzy” material that went a long way toward making the VB more comfortable to the wearer.– Hip-Carry Packs with true padded waistbelts. Out “Jack Pack” was being sold with a fully-padded, hip-carry suspension system in 1963, a full ten years before Kelty packs began to use padded hip belts!

Creator of a major new tent design which has become one of the two or three major new tent designs of the Twenty-first Century. The Warmlite design (the Elliptical Arc) threw out the heavy A-frame design tents used everywhere during the first half of the Twentieth-first Century, replacing it with an extremely strong, lightweight, 4-season hoop design constructed with high-tech materials and requiring only 3-4 tent stakes even in severe weather. After 40 years, Stephenson tents are still lighter/stronger than nearly anything else available.   Please note that within the modern ultralight hiking movement, one must take care to compare truly comparable products, eg. in the tent category, one should not confuse 10 or 12 oz. ultralight shelters (most with no floors and requiring 6-12 stakes) with the Warmlite tent, which is a true 4-season tent with a full floor and the strength to withstand any possible extreme weather combination of rain, wind, and snow.

Creator of the DAM  We created an air mattress filled with ultra-high quality down, held in place by baffled channels (DAM = “down-filled air-mattress”)…Our 20 oz. creation was inflated by use of a large stuff-sack, which kept damaging body moisture out of its interior. We had experimented with prototypes of it as early as 1958, but it was not officially added to theWarmlite product line until 1973-74. In very recent years, the new Ultralight backpacking movement has encouaged a new interest in this product.

12/09/2016: Ultralight Glasses Case: If you have got to my age (or had other bad luck) you no doubt need glasses. I now wear progressive frameless titanium glasses (14 grams) all the time, but I also need a spare pair in case I lose or break them. The quite lighteweight case they came in from Zenni weighs 47 grams. I knew I could do better.



This is 350 ml (12 oz) PET drink bottle I cut down with a craft knife (I should have left a tiny bit more of the neck) and some bubble wrap = 12 grams, a saving over over an ounce ie more than the weight of a muesli bar on the trail, or more than enough weight of fuel (metho) to cook a meal. Every little bit of weight saved helps lighten the load and means you can go a little bit further, easier.


Indeed switching to these frameless glasses (two pairs) also saved me over an ounce (28.5 grams)! I have simply rolled the glasses up in the bubble wrap and squeezed them through the neck. These flexible titanium frames are quite difficult to break anyway: you can just about stand on them, so they will be fine in the ‘possibles’ bag in my pack.


See also:





11/09/2016: Linelok Pack Tie Down: For those who don’t sew – or who don’t need to sew: You can use these wonderful little Clam Cleat Lineloks and some eg 2mm Spectra/Dyneema to lash your excess gear to your pack. I always use these lineloks on my tents and tarps: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-perfect-guy-line-for-a-hiking-tenttarp/


Here is my Klymit pack raft (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/klymit-packraft/) attached to my Zpacks Blast (Zero http://www.zpacks.com/backpacks/zero.shtml) @ 200 gram pack:


Here’s how to rig them:




Clam Cleats are available here in eg packs of 100 http://www.cleats.co.uk/browse-by-product/line-lok-guy-runners/cl266-mini-line-lokr-for-1-3mm-lines.html Also available locally (Oz - and quickly) here: http://www.tiergear.com.au/11/online-shop/clamcleat-cl266-mini-line-loks I find the Glow-in-the-Dark best. I always use the reflective line for guys etc too, eg: http://www.tiergear.com.au/11/online-shop/reflective-glowire-15metres The Clam Cleats are made by these folk: http://www.clamcleat.com/products/cleats-for-1-6mm-rope/cleats-rigged-on-a-rope-24.html who have some other interesting stuff.


See also: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/attaching-tie-downs-to-your-pack/

10/09/2016: A Thrush Passes: We have lived in this house now for over 25 years. For all that time (and who knows how much time before?) we have shared our home with a female grey thrush. For many years she was without a mate, then one miraculously arrived. She nested three times that first year – always in a hole in our mud brick wall where we have yet to lay the last brick. We cannot: it is the thrush’s home too. She raised eight chicks that first year. Each year since she raised at least two clutches.

During this winter I spotted some grey feathers in the garden and was concerned that a cat or fox had taken her. Today a thrush was singing in the nest once more, but it was not she. One of her daughters almost certainly, but a voice has been stilled here at Jeeralang Junction. She may be no more, but the valley rings to the songs of her many descendants yet.

She was ever a cheerful and friendly bird, with her clear call of, ‘Cho, Cho Wee!’ I would whistle an answer and she would come to say, ‘Hello’ and practice a medley of birdsong with me. Never quite in arm’s reach but ever so near; she would sit on a twig or perhaps the back of a verandah chair close by. We would sing a round or three. Her daughter’s call is more like, ‘Cho wee, Cho wee, wee’. I answer her with her mother’s song. She cranes her head to the side and gazes at me quizzically. We have a sort of understanding perhaps.

PS: News of her death may be premature. Just as I was posting this right now, a thrush landed just outside the window, not 3′ away. The familiar ‘Cho, Cho, Wee’ seemed to ring out loud and clear. I can hear her yet moving around the garden. She has just answered me thrice! She is back for one more year then. How long do song thrushes live I wonder?

Here she is on 27 September 2014 in her favourite spot in the unfinished wall working on another clutch of her many descendants. I shall miss her.

9/09/2016: Modifying/Shortening Hiking Mats: Sometimes hiking mats just come in the wrong length or width. For example, I would like a wider pad but they only come very much longer. Is it possible to cut a bit off them and reseal them? Yes it is. Here are some links on how to do just that:

cut xlite 2

How to Cut and Reseal a Neoair - On The Trail - Episode #1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kumSl-cbLlY

Shorten Neoair: https://backpackinglight.com/forums/topic/73403/#625778

How to shorten a full length self-inflatable mattress: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AoRTAeKcA0w

Resizing a Therm-a-rest Evolite Sleeping Pad: https://hikelighter.com/2016/08/16/resizing-a-therm-a-rest-evolite-sleeping-pad/

Resizing the Massdrop x Klymit Static V Ultralight Sleeping Pad: https://hikelighter.com/2016/08/09/resizing-the-massdrop-x-klymit-static-v-ultralight-sleeping-pad/

Below are two mats I would consider cutting down to produce a mat which has more width comfort:

Thermarest XLite Large: 25” (63 cm) by 77” (196cm) by 16 oz (460 grams) R 3.2 If I cut this down to the same dimensions as my XLite Womens it would weigh 394 grams. Only 54 grams for that much increase in comfort!

Thermarest Neo Air All Seasons Large 25” (63 cm) by 77” (196cm) by 25 oz (710 grams) R 4.9 2 If I cut this down to the same dimensions as my XLite Womens it would weigh 608 grams.

I could cut an unnecessary 6” off Della’s XLite Women’s saving her 10% of its weight (or 34 grams)!

You might also want to trim a mat to make it more mummy shaped – and to save weight.

Other modifications: Erin McKittrick and her husband Hig during their ‘ A Long Trek Home’ (http://www.groundtruthtrekking.org/Book/) cut down their Thermarest self inflators by cutting a hole (roughly) in the middle of them through which they could push their head. They then passed a string/belt around themselves and the mattress creating a makeshift life jacket!

9/09/2016: Bushbuddy Stove: The original wood burning double walled secondary combustion wood gasifier stove. We have owned the ‘Ultra’ (145 gram) model of this stove for many years and have used it innumerable times. Apart from some expected blackening it shows no sign of wear and still works perfectly. We use the stove on longer trips (to save fuel) and where open fires are prohibited such as some National Parks. As you can see from the picture the stove will not generate enough heat at the bottom to scorch the ground or ignite anything there. I was given the lighter Suluk alternative as a present, so I usually carry it now. Even in relatively treeless areas (or very wet areas) you can usually find enough dry twigs to light such as stove and boil the billy.

Bushbuddy photo IMG_0336.jpg

Of course my egg Ring stove http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-egg-ring-ultralight-wood-burner-stove/ is much lighter, but it will scorch the ground. I personally do not see this as a problem: over the years I have observed that there are many plants which have clearly evolved to grow after such small fires (not surprising when one considers the long prehistory of human habitation of the Australian continent. Indeed I have observed that there are plants which rapidly colonise an old campfire site which grown nowhere else!

The Bushbuddy was originally invented by Fritz Handel of http://bushbuddy.ca/indexs.html & now made by his apprentice Jeff Tinker (sic!) of: http://www.nomadicstovecompany.com/#!/our-story/ A Titanium version (86 grams) is manufactured by: http://www.suluk46.com/products%20%20-%20P14%20TDW%20Stove.html


Like the Bushbuddy Ultra, this stove was designed to provide the cooking needs of one or two people, but can also serve the needs of a family or small group if two stoves are carried.

It weighs just 5 1/2 oz, and makes a compact package 4 1/4" in diameter and 3 3/4" high when nested (the same size as the Bushbuddy Ultra), which will fit inside the Snow Peak Trek 900 titanium pot, and many other pots of similar or larger capacity. It's compact size and light weight make it ideally suited to the needs of the backpacker, cyclist, and other outdoor travelers. Because it burns wood, it is a very economical stove to use.

There is also no need to carry your fuel with you wherever wood is available (it does not need batteries), making it useful for long trips, or when traveling in remote areas of the world where liquid fuels may not be available. It is aircraft friendly too.

Under good conditions (protected from wind and rain and with a lid on the pot) the BUSHBUDDY can boil one quart of water in about 8-10 minutes. It is a very efficient stove, consuming only about 14 oz. of wood per hour at maximum heat, less at lower heat.

Because of its unique design which uses a double wall around the firebox to preheat secondary combustion air, you will find that you can burn wood as cleanly as a candle.

Just be sure to use dry wood only, and add it at regular intervals to 
maintain an open flame.

The BUSHBUDDY is made of high quality 18% chrome 8% nickel stainless steel for many years of trouble free use. The grate is made of nichrome wire, as in the Bushbuddy Ultra, for the longest possible life.                    


First custom made for Ryan Jordan of Backpackinglight magazine, for his Arctic 1000 trek in June of 2006, this stove features the same efficient combustion design as the regular Bushbuddy, but in a lighter weight (5 ounces, instead of 6.5 ounces for the regular model). The two stoves are identical in size.

Specs are:

Can boil 1 liter of water in 8-10 minutes

 (will take longer under adverse conditions)

Weight     5.1 ounces

Size        4 1/4" diameter by 3 3/4"  high

For compact storage, this stove is designed to nest inside the Snow Peak  Trek 900 (.9L) titanium pot, but will also fit inside many other pots of  similar or larger capacity. (Because of the light weight construction of this stove, it is essential to protect it by storing it in your  cookpot.).

To assemble : Place the stove on the ground with the ring of holes at ground level; remove 
the upper section of the stove from within the firebox, invert it and place 
it on top of the stove.
Where to set up : The stove will not perform well in windy conditions. It is very important to set the stove up in a sheltered area or to create a windbreak. Any time spent in searching for or creating shelter will be more than repaid in time saved waiting for water to boil.
The BUSHBUDDY can be safely placed directly on a wooden surface such as an outdoor picnic table, and it will not scorch it in normal use. If you set up the stove on the ground, clear the surrounding area of flammable materials like grass or leaves, because the fire sometimes tosses out sparks. The stove can be picked up and moved to a new location while burning if you are careful to hold only the lower base section. (In hot weather you may need to use gloves or pot holders.)
Do not use the stove indoors unless you have a means of venting the exhaust gases to the outdoors, such as a teepee with a vent at the top.

To start a fire : Use only dry wood. When other fire starting materials are not available, make three or four short fuzz sticks with your knife. Also collect a handful of small dry twigs or split some fine kindling. Light one of the fuzz sticks and place it in the firebox so the flames will climb up the shavings. Add a second fuzz stick, and as the fire grows, some of the fine kindling. If the fire begins to die down, add a third fuzz stick, and then some more kindling. Once the fire is burning well, you can begin adding bigger pieces of wood. The chief cause of difficulty in starting a fire is using wood that is not really dry; in particular avoid using stuff found lying on the ground to start a fire, even if it seems dry.?
Although the stove can be fed with nothing more than twigs broken up by hand, bigger solid pieces of wood will be found much more satisfactory, burning longer with less feeding of the fire. An easy way to cut the short pieces of wood needed is to place the wood over a log and nick each side with an ax, then hit the end with the poll of the ax to break it off. Or, a small saw such as the on a Leatherman tool or Swiss Army Knife can be used to nick each side of the wood lightly, so that it can be easily broken to length. This saves the effort of sawing right through. With an ax, however, larger diameter pieces of wood (such as a small dead tree) can be utilized too, by first splitting and then breaking into shorter pieces. (Lean any leftover wood against a tree to keep it dry for future use by yourself or others.) Twigs, chips, roots, bark, and pine cones all make good fuel once the fire is going well, if they are reasonably dry. Under rainy conditions anything lying on the ground is sure to be too damp. The driest wood available is often the lower dead branches of living trees, particularly conifers such as spruce which shelter their lower branches. If in doubt about the availability of good dry wood at the campsite, collect some along the trail when the opportunity arises, and take it with you.

Cooking : A frying pan or pot can be placed directly on the stove, and wood can be fed to the fire through the opening in the upper section without removing the pot. With a little experience, the heat can be controlled to some extent by regulating the amount of fuel added to the fire. For example, to simmer a pot of rice once it has boiled, add only one medium sized piece of wood at a time and then only just when the flames are about to go out. (If the flames do go out, add a small chip of wood only, and wait for the flames to re-ignite and raise the firebox temperature, before adding more wood.)
For longer or more gentle simmering, it is better to suspend the pot a little above the stove. One of the simplest ways to do this is by using the traditional dingle stick (a stick jammed into the ground at an angle, with a rock or log placed in the angle formed with the ground). The pot is hung on the end of the stick, and can be raised or lowered by adjusting the position of the supporting rock or log. Suspending the pot has other advantages too, among them a reduced likelihood of accidentally spilling it, (especially if the ground is not firm), and a cleaner burning fire with easier feeding. If you have a very large pot or bucket to heat, two stoves can be placed under a suspended pot.

To sterilize water : If you are unsure of the safety of your water supply, bringing it to a rolling boil will kill any microorganisms--no need for prolonged boiling. Boiling will not protect you from chemical contamination.

Using the BUSHBUDDY as a campfire : In moderate weather, the stove makes a great alternative to an open campfire, providing light, warmth and cheer while conserving firewood.

Safety : Use the stove where open campfires are permitted. The stove can toss out sparks (due to tiny steam explosions of slightly damp wood), something that a liquid fueled stove does not do. Set the stove up in an area cleared of combustible materials like leaves and grass, and watch for any sparks tossed out. Before leaving your campsite, dump any remaining charcoal on bare earth and thoroughly drench it with water.’

6/09/2016: How to Magnetise a Screwdriver: If you have a mobile phone which looks something like this you are going to be unscrewing some very tiny screw before you can fix it. They are almost impossible to pick up (at least with my ancient arthritic fingers, and likewise to find when you (certainly) drop them – so you need to know how to do this. And it is just as simple as the picture shows. Wrap a length of insulated wire around the screwdriver then touch the ends a couple of times to opposite poles of a 12 volt battery (possibly not one installed in pone of these modern computerised cars which may not like it). You just have to run a current through the coil for a little while and the metal tip of the screwdriver will become magnetised and will remains so – often for a very long time depending on the steel alloy it is made from. That done you are ready to tackle those tiny screws.

I had not attempted a mobile phone repair before – I only graduated to a smart phone a bit over a year ago when I discovered its wonderful mapping/GPS functions – but I will have a go at petty much anything, and I succeeded first time in replacing the LCD & screen. Next time I will have a go at ungluing the glass screen with a heat gun and replacing it (very carefully). The screens only cost about $2 on the net so it is a knack worth mastering.

PS: A tempered glass screen protector will apparently prevent many such screen mishaps. They too are only about $2 on eBay!

6/09/2016: Mozzie Nets: Lots of folks eschew tarps for tents because they fear they will be invaded by vast swarms of biting and stinging beasties of various ilks, but mostly I find the weight and (usually) the inconvenience/unreliability of zippers is not worth the relatively rare times that need arises.

I admit there are some spots where the hordes of sandflies or mozzies can be quite daunting (and March flies here in Oz are sometimes quite dreadful) but most things can’t sting or bite through well chosen clothing (or your sleeping bag), the critters arrive in great numbers every time you leave or enter your shelter anyway, and all you needed to carry really was a head net (which can also deter flies from bothering you and works while you are walking) and such a head net need only weigh 11 grams (!) as in this iteration from Sea to Summit: http://www.seatosummit.com.au/products/bug-protection/nano-mosquito-headnets/?ref=outdoor  so I misdoubt the desirability of lugging around up to a kilogram of netting inside which you will always be killing sandflies, mozzies etc anyway.

That being said, I am working on  Nano Noseeum mesh doors for my http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-deer-hunters-tent/ which I will close without zippers and which (at .7 oz/yd2) will weigh only about an ounce or 30 grams (the mesh is available here: http://www.tiergear.com.au/11/online-shop/no-see-um-mesh) for such rare occasions as I find myself camped out in sandfly heaven, eg at the Grant Burn on the South Coast track Fiordland NZ: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/south-coast-track-fiordland-nz-waitutu-to-westies/)  You can slowly eliminate the sandflies/mozzies which invade your (netted) tent by clapping your hands together to kill them as they circle below your suspended lantern of a night (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/mini-super-torch-a-weeks-light-weighs-50-grams/) – or you can carry a mini atomiser bottle of insect spray.

5/09/2016: The Twelve Woodlores: Ray Mears. Some excellent advice from the introduction of Ray’s excellent ‘The Survival Manual’. If you have not caught up yet with Ray, you should. He is the original of these poor copies such as bear Grylls having trained the SAS and others for years in survival skills. You can get a taste of his style here: https://www.youtube.com/user/RayMearsBushcraft or purchase his books and DVDs here: https://www.raymears.com/


1. ‘Don't challenge Nature, challenge yourself: Occasionally you will hear people talking about beating the elements by conquering a mountain or crossing an ice cap or some such brave deed. The truth is that the challenge is internal. Have you the skill? Can you overcome your fear? No one can beat the elements; all those who fail to heed the warning signs or have the stupidity to press ahead regardless, die. Instead of taking unnecessary risks challenge yourself to know when to turn back; learn to be more skilful; above all challenge yourself to better understand the way nature works.

2. If you're roughing it, you're doing something wrong: Any fool can be uncomfortable, you gain no points for carrying a heavy backpack, or for any deeds of self-imposed endurance. While you may train for an expedition by roughing it, if there is a way of making yourself more comfortable, without the effort becoming a disadvantage, do so. In emergency situations in particular, just a small amount of hardship can prove to be fatal once your level of morale has dropped.

3. Always give z00% effort the first time: Whether shelter building, firelighting, or whatever, if you don't set about it in the right way the first time you are wasting your energy and will simply have to start from scratch again..

4. Aim to achieve maximum efficiency for the minimum effort: To work you need energy; for energy you need food. In the outdoors finding food is work. When you gather your firewood for your fire do you carry large armfuls to the log pile or do you only fill your hands?

5. Never pass by an opportunity: This is very important. As you travel along, should you find suitable water, food or firelighting materials, gather them as you pass since you may not have the opportunity later when they are needed. This is particularly true of fire building materials where by the end of a day's travel it may be raining or have rained earlier soaking the available tinder. Many of my old shirts and jackets have birch bark pieces in the pockets that I gathered some years ago now.

6. As far as you can, adapt your expectations to a level which you can meet given the circumstances: If you cannot build a large comfortable shelter, be satisfied with a small shelter. If there is not a wide variety of wild foods available to you, be grateful for the one type you can eat. Make your psychology work for you. Be realistic—make yourself comfortable but do not overwork yourself to achieve this: it's no use building a palatial shelter if you then collapse with exhaustion inside it. But also do not underestimate what you can achieve.

7. Only eat that which you have positively identified as edible: Do not trust taste tests or in any way experiment with unfamiliar plants or other materials for use as food. The only real way to eat in safety and confidence is to learn what can be eaten and just how to prepare the food before you set out. If this seems like hard work you should not be eating wild foods.

8. Suspect all water as being infected: Even the cleanest, coolest most alluring water may well be contaminated; you cannot tell at a glance. Boil or purify all water—check in particular for signs of chemical pollution, this may be concentrated by boiling!

9. The state of your fire is directly proportionate to your level of morale: Whatever your level of morale, if you can light a fire it will be raised, but if you fail it will plummet like a stone. If you are not confident of your ability to light a fire in the rain it may well be better to wait until the rain stops before trying.

10. Whenever gathering your resources use natural selection as your guide, this is the `way' of nature: Leave the strong, harvest the weak; when gathering food you should always leave a proportion of healthy plants, shellfish or whatever to continue the line. By this lore stronger healthy creatures will have the best chances for survival and thereby proliferate in the future.

11. Take only memories leave only footprints: Wherever possible minimise your impact upon the natural environment, and always aim to leave a campsite in a better state than you found it.

12. Be fit, able to swim and do not give in: Every single skill or technique which follows is easier to learn and master if you are fit. The outdoors is filled with risks and the danger of unpredictable circumstances. Your fitness may well be your last line of defence in such circumstances.

These lores are the guide to successful backwoodsmanship, but in writing them I have assumed that you are able to carry out basic first aid. If you cannot you should attend a course run by an organised body such as the Red Cross. Almost invariably every outdoors man or woman will have recourse to such knowledge at some time or another. One aspect of first aid of particular relevance in the outdoors is an understanding of how hot and cold environments affect your body, these are problems you will face on a regular basis.’

04/09/2016: Hammock Hunting Till Dark: The best hunting strategy is to be about where the deer are in the dawn and dusk. The easiest way to achieve this is to hammock camp so that you stop hunting when it gets dark, sling your hammock and tarp between two trees and start again at first light. If you have to knock off your hunt so you’re not stumbling around in the dark getting out, you are missing the best time of day to hunt. Walking in the dark is also fraught with dangers best avoided – this is the voice of experience speaking!

2016-09-03 17.19.52 comp

Many hunters either travel too light, or too heavy. The first can be overconfidence or youth, but once you get caught out overnight you may change your mind. At least do this: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/if-you-could-only-carry-two-things-in-the-bush-what-would-they-be/ Better yet though is to work out a lightweight kit so you plan to stay out overnight normally. Here are my thoughts about that from some years ago:http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hunting


 I think I would definitely opt for the Dyneema pack now, with the ability to tie some extra gear to the outside, eg: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/attaching-tie-downs-to-your-pack/

This post however is about planning to stay out overnight as your normal hunting procedure in order to optimise your crepuscular (love that word = twilight) success. A hammock and tarp can always be pitched between two trees no matter how steep the terrain, or how rough or wet the ground. This is worth remembering. I always carry a hammock in Fiordland for just this reason. I have slept dry and warm in my hammock with 6” (15cm) of water running underneath me and torrential rain streaming down (eg on Mt Baw Baw).

You can even pitch two hammocks under one tarp (to save weight). You have to boost the upper person in. Della and I have done this. You can guess who sleeps on top! You can also pitch it as a ground camp if you want to and when the ground is flat. You can use a couple of sticks or hiking poles instead of trees. You will need a few more stakes and guys if you plan to do this where you use the hammock as a ground sheet.

You do not need to buy an expensive hammock or tarp. My first foray into hammock camping was many years ago when we were much more pressed for loose change than we are now. I purchased some 2oz/yd2 waterproof ripstop nylon from Spotlight (for about $7 a yard/metre) and away we went: We made a 7’ x 7’ (210  x 210 cm) tarp with gross grain tie outs at the four corners and half way down each side. We needed a few yards of (approx 2mm) Spectra cord so we could tie it to a tree and peg the other corners (and half way points – if needed) to the ground – so also some stakes (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/?s=stakes)

To construct the hammock we cut a 7’6” (225cm) length of the ripstop (a hammock needs to be approx 2’ or 60 cm longer than you are), single hemmed the edges and double hemmed the ends (ie with an extra line of stitching or two just in  case). We used a pretty heavy duty polyester thread for this. Then all we needed was some approx 500 kg breaking strain Dyneema or Spectra cord for the suspension ropes. You want a fair length of this (say 10-12’ (3-3.6 metres) at each end so you can reach trees which are wider apart and get round thicker trees. Ideally you are looking for two trees approx 6” (15 cm) in diameter (or thicker) and 10-12’ (3-3.6 metres) apart.

There is a special way of tying the hammock to trees so that you can get the knot undone again! Be very attentive about this! As in the picture below you pass the cord around the tree, then under or over itself, back around the tree, then under or over itself again. Three times is enough. Then tie it off with a bow or whatever. Friction will ensure it won’t come undone. If you are worried about damaging the bark of the tree (this can be a problem) a few short lengths of stick pushed underneath the suspension rope will prevent this.

2016-09-03 17.22.23 comp

I slept out in this homemade hammock and tarp lots of times without any grief whatsoever. One night I was camped in the bush near Dargo, Vic with a couple of hunting mates who had a dome tent. It came in to rain. Then it came in to rain lots. After the first spell of rain my mates erected a tarp over their dome tent as it was leaking from the top. After the second lot of rain it was also leaking/flooding from the bottom. All their bedding became soaked. They ‘enjoyed’ a miserable night. Even with only a 7’ x 7’ tarp (and a lot of rain and wind!) I was completely dry and comfortable. That night I was just using a ¾ length self inflating Thermarest. It was a little short and my shoulders and arms were a little cold from where they compressed my sleeping bag’s insulation. Live and learn:

I tried a number of solutions to this. First I moved up to an inflatable pad. My first was Big Agnes Ultralight ROM Insulated pad, still a wonderful (cheap) comfortable pad – highly recommended to anyone on a budget. Later I graduated to the lighter (but dearer) Thermarest Neoair range. Of course I now usually use mummy pads (for lightness) but a rectangular pad is much more suitable for hammock camping as the square ends help keep the hammock from compressing your sleeping bag at the shoulders and arms. You can also shove some closed cell foam in either side to reduce this negative.

I graduated to an Exped ‘Scout’ hammock (it was weight rated) which I reckon I slept in well over 200 times. It is starting to show some sign of wear and tear now but I was very heavy then (100kg) so it should last you a fair while. I also ‘graduated to a slightly larger and lighter tarp : an 8’ x 8’ (240 x 240 cm) cuben tarp made from .5oz/yd2 material which weighed less than 150 grams. Eventually I sewed a couple of ‘wings’ on it so it better suited ground camping (or when heavy weather was really pushing in low from one direction). This pushed its weight out to around 200 grams. I have used it dozens and dozens of times without any sign of wear and tear. It is a quite delicate fabric, so you have to be careful with it. Joe Valesko from Zpacks made it for me. You can see it on his web page here:http://www.zpacks.com/shelter/tarps.shtml

 and on mine here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hammocks/

The key to comfort sleeping in a hammock is to place your (inflatable) pillow underneath your knees. An empty wine cask would suffice.

Della and I both tried the Hennessy Hammocks which I admit are very comfortable. Probably no-one has done so much design work to improve the hammock as Tom Hennessy. Their products are also very well constructed and will give good service. We had two of the bottom entry hammocks (which are a neat idea). Della had no trouble entering through the bottom and positioning herself on her Thermarest Neoair pad for a wonderful night’s sleep. I found it much more difficult but I admit that was before my back operation and before I lost so much weight, so I will have to try again. (PS: And I did & it is now easy!)

2016-09-03 17.14.54 comp

View from inside a Hennessy Hyperlite

If I was starting out now (and cashed up) I might buy an http://hennessyhammock.com/products/hyperlite-asym-zipwhich weighs 793 grams, but the botom entry employs no zips and is so simple and elegant. You can use the optional Underpad: http://hennessyhammock.com/products/replacement-underpad-1-classic-expedition-backpacker-and-hyperlite 284 grams & Undercover http://hennessyhammock.com/products/replacement-zip-undercover-1 164 grams = 448 grams T = 1241 grams. I would probably just use my Thermarest Neoair Xlite Women’s pad http://www.cascadedesigns.com/therm-a-rest/mattresses/fast-and-light/womens-neoair-xlite/product @ 340 grams T = 1133 grams though a Regular rectangular Neoair pad will work better in a hammock.

The problem you have with cold shoulders in hammocks applies much less so with Hennessy’s because you lie much flatter and the material doesn’t compress your sleeping bag so much at the sides. I will try to get hold of one of his new ‘zip’ top loaders to review. Ours are both entered from below.

We both really like the wonderfully safe enclosed feel of their hammocks completely surrounded first by insect netting then by a cosy roof. You really feel that after you have gone to bed there is nothing to worry about until morning. Forget all those things which might slither or bite, or whether the rain do rain or the wind do blow! There are handy stowage points for your pocket gear along the fixed centre line – a Hennessy innovation which is what makes their hammocks so superbly comfortable. (You can add this to your home made hammocks though it is a Hennessy patent). The Hennessys also have some pretty neat ideas for stowing your hammock, for keeping it properly tensioned – even water collection using the covering tarp. It’s all very well thought out and neat! Their ‘Snakeskins’ quick storage solution makes set up a breeze, though it adds a little to the weight and is an optional extra.

The key to quick and accurate setup of any hammock is to get the two suspension ropes of equal length and correct tension. First lay the hammock out on the ground so that one end of the hammock just touches one of the trees. Take the suspension rope out till it just touches the other tree, then halve the rope (ie the distance from the tree to the hammock). This point will be just where the knot goes up against the tree. Tie the rope off to the tree. Then go to the second tree and tie off the second rope to the correct tension. This is much easier with a Hennessy hammock or if you have a fixed centre line as the rope will be quite taut. Without the fixed centre line you need a certain amount of ‘hang’. Aficionados recommend approx 30 degrees. No doubt this is a matter of taste, but once you have worked out just the amount of ’hang’ you prefer you will be able to tie the hammock off in one go using this method.

The Hennessy hammock tarp just hooks on to the suspension rope with two Prussic knots (which is a great idea for easy tensioning of the tarp). If you are using some other tarp a loop of elastic at each end of the tarp will help to keep it tensioned during the night. The tarp needs to start out a little tauter than you might expect (likewise the hammock) as the two trees will bend in slightly when you enter the hammock. A catenary cut tarp will stay tensioned better than a diamond tarp.

The lightest hammock I have found is the Grand Trunk Nano hammock https://www.grandtrunk.com/products/nano-7-hammock which is claimed to carry 300lb (or 136 kg)! I reduced the weight of this hammock further by substituting dyneema suspension ropes so that it weighs 165 grams including the ropes. If you add a cuben tarp to this (136 grams) you have a hammock/shelter setup which weighs just 300 grams! These two items would also just about fit in your two back trouser pockets! I would use a ¾ length Neoair pad (260 grams) plus my Airbeam pad from my daypack to that to complete my shelter and mattress system. Of course (never satisfied) I plan to lighten this even further by making my tarp double as my raincoat. (See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hole-less-ponchoshelter/)

One of the best features of a hammock is what a great seat it makes. When you have mastered the setup it will only take you 1-2 minutes till you have a really comfy dry seat out of the rain to eat your lunch. I have really appreciated this sometimes in Fiordland. Two can usually sit happily side by side (but don’t exceed the load limit!) and you can even boil the billy on an alcohol or bushbuddy type wood burner stove at your feet while you eat. It would also make a great platform for glassing a distant hillside or as a hunting stand where you await your chosen prey. You can even rug up warm and dry in your sleeping bag while you wait.

You can warm your hammock with a fire (if you are careful). Either light the fire to the lee side of one of the suspension trees, or (utilising a stick) lift up one side of the tarp so that you can sit in your hammock in front of the fire. Two guys on that side will obviate this. I would keep the fire at least 6’ (1.8metres) away from the hammock.

If you have a bad back a hammock is definitely for you. Before my successful back operation (neurosurgery – never let an orthopaedic surgeon near your back!) I hung in our lounge room in my hammock for months so I could get a comfy and relatively pain free night’s sleep.

Here are a couple of hammock tarp manufacturers:

http://www.zpacks.com/shelter/hammock_tarps.shtml  (start at 136 grams!)

http://www.outdoorequipmentsupplier.com/maccat_tarps.php  (inventor of the cat cut tarp)

And a couple of hammock manufacturers:

Hennessy: http://hennessyhammock.com

Speer: http://www.tttrailgear.com/brands/Speer-Hammocks.html (Ed’s book is worth a read)

Jacks: http://www.jacksrbetter.com

Exped: http://www.exped.com/international/en/product-category/hammocks/scout-hammock

An Aussie outfit: Tier Gear: http://www.tiergear.com.au

Happy Hammock Hunting!

2016-09-03 17.34.58 comp

Left to Right: Zpacks 8′ x 8′ tarp (150 grams); Nano Hammock (165 grams) ; Exped Scout hammock (320 grams) ; Hennessy Hyperlite hammock – includes tarp (750 grams)

3/09/2016: Statistician Deer Hunters: Three statistician hunters see a deer. First one shoots, 3 yards to the left. Second one shoots, 3 yards to the right. Third one exclaims "We got him!"


1/09/2016: Attaching Tie Downs to Your pack:

First you need to get some ½” gross grain ribbon from you local sewing supplies store - such as Spotlight here in Oz. Then you will need some of the Linelocks you see I have sewn the gross grain to: You can buy these  little guys right here in Oz, eg: http://www.tiergear.com.au/11/online-shop/cord-tension-lock @ A$0.40ea, or in the USA from eg: http://www.questoutfitters.com/Fasteners_%20Misc_Fasteners.htm#LINELOC_3_ US$0.45ea.

You sew a loop at each end of the gross grain ribbon (as shown – perhaps more neatly than this. I blame arthritis. My wife says my sewing will be plenty strong enough anyway which is the main thing!) Then you pass the end loop through the tie out loop on the pack then the Linelock back through the loop. Tie a boot lace on the other loop and pass it through the two holes on the Linelock and you have an adjustable tie down which can be used eg to lash your Alpacka raft to the top of your pack. See below:

The Gorilla has a pair of these orange loops sewn into the pack on each side at front and back. Here I have used three tie downs, the middle one crossing over through the haul loop. Works well. You could also lash a sea to Summit Ultrasil Compression Sack (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-tardis-folding-space/) here to carry extra food for a long hike, or etc.

1/09/2016: Wilderness is just not working out for the critters and things that live there, like so many other Left/Green myths. I should know: I spend a great deal of my life there too: https://quadrant.org.au/opinion/doomed-planet/2016/08/wilderness-myth/

31/08/2016: A Gorilla in the Bush: So, finally I gave myself a couple of days off to go try out my new Gossamer Gear (GG) Gorilla backpack, and the hunting spot I have been wanting to access via packraft. Here is the pack already loaded up in our garden with our necessities and ready to roll. (See: http://gossamergear.com/gorilla-ultralight-backpack-all-bundle.html) As you can see Spot, our JR is eager to be off too. Readers who came in late should read:

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-best-laid-schemes/ &


It is a 3-4 hour drive to where we were going.

My Alpacka Fiord Explorer raft ready to sail with my Gorilla and the faithful Spot, ‘Come on Boss’

Safely across the mighty river we sought out a pleasant flat with access to water and with lots of firewood. It is still winter here, so nights can drop below zero (Celsius), and did. Spot decided it was time for a snooze. I collected a heap of firewood. As you can see from the westering shadows it is already afternoon, but time enough for a ‘look-see’.

And look what we found. By the looks a couple of years back a very old stag had died right by his favourite wallow. I found every part of him except his second antler which I guess has been pressed into the soft earth by many deer’s feet. There were also innumerable cast branches on the ground pretending to be the other antler. This one was only barely visible. His massive leg bones indicate he was a monster, but the size of his antler shows he was going back. His teeth were also well worn down. ‘Broken-mouthed’ we would describe him if he were one of our old sheep. Maybe I will find the other antler another time.

Here is his favourite wallow – and what a beauty it is, more a swimming pool really. The deer love to have a mud bath (perhaps it has to do with insects, or scent marking?) They liberally paint the trunks of trees for nearly 100 metres roundabout using them as towels when they’re ready to dry off.

Back at camp with the fire roaring out the front of http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-deer-hunters-tent/ It is a charming scene.

After tea inside the tent Spot nestles on my sleeping bag whilst I read a book on my phone and enjoy a hot cup of chocolate..

When I reclaim my bed, Spot’s is all made up on the Gorilla utilising it and the GG Sitlight pad as his mattress. He is comfy inside there: you can just make out his tail poking out the end of his sleeping bag. When I climb into bed I will also throw my coat over him.

Next morning and we are off. You can tell what kind of plants nothing likes to eat by the way they are not browsed at all. Most everything edible in this area is heavily browsed. I thing the deer may even manage to eradicate the blackberries. The patches are full of dead canes and well trodden down.

We want to have a look at the big valley about two km downstream around that ridge. It look like it will be a bit of a climb around that stone outcropping on the bend. The river is really steaming here.

And this is the stream we are looking for. I will call it ‘Wombat Creek’.

And here’s why: ‘Wally’ wombat out for a morning stroll. Quite undisturbed by us. A promising sign.

There are many lovely grassy clearings for kilometres along Wombat Creek. I may move my camp further up it another time.

A fresh rub. Another good sign.

And a preaching tree. There is lots of stag sign around here.

Our lunch spot. A lovely warm stop even though it is still winter. I sit on the Sitlight pad on a nice flat rock and enjoy some cheese and salami on Vita Weat biscuits. Spot has some of that as well as his Smackos. http://www.theultralighthiker.com/lunch-on-the-trail/

A little further up the valley we come upon this tragedy. An old doe must have been swept off her feet by this flash flood and trapped under this log. As I said elsewhere: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/you-never-know-when-your-numbers-up/ You can see her skull (upside down) centre right, and her body on the other side of the log in the centre.

A little further on we come upon this promising wallow. It must be nearly 6’ deep, probably utilising an old collapsed wombat city. It pays to scrape the bottom of wallows such as this for cast antlers. Eventually you may have enough of them to make something like this: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/uses-for-antlers/

Another fine preaching tree with some stag scent still lingering according to Spot. The stags clearly stand on their hind legs and rub some scent gland on their noses as high up on the tree as they can reach (over 6’). Like rub lines it is a kind of territorial behaviour.

The deer have really been eating this valley over. Here the apple hazel and prickly coprosma have been well chewed down.

Another of life’s tiny tragedies. (Near Spot’s nose) a yellow breasted robin has succumbed to the winter chill and short rations (as most birds do each year). Its tiny body is bobbing in the stream, adding a sad flash of colour as we pass by.

We come to a really beautiful series of cascades.

And a truly gargantuan wombat burrow. This one was over 6’ deep. This wombat must have been Pharaoh Cheops in a past life!

Now a fine looking rub line. Notice how you can see the line of (three) fresh rubs leading up the hill through the wattles and gums. This line marks the limit of his territory (and his neighbours!) Sometimes you will hear (usually of a night) two stags howling mournfully at each other in just such a spot.

Following the line we decide to go up through the prickly wattle. Showing his disdain for it a stag has thoroughly thrashed this one.

After a little while we are wishing he had thrashed about a billion more! We headed up the ridge through this stuff intending to follow the top of the ridge down towards camp and come at the camped deer from above on their lee side. This is the best strategy. Unfortunately, like so many plans, this one was doomed. The fire regrowth on the ridge was awesome. We expected it to be relatively clear: the usual sort of thing: gums a few dogwoods, easy walking. We were hours pushing through the dreadful stuff and arrived (thankfully) back at camp well after dark where we enjoyed a cold supper. We left plenty of deer to harvest for another day. You are probably wondering why I did not just camp up on the ridge once it became dark (or it was clear I was not going to make camp). A fair point. It had been a 19C day and i was down to <500 ml of water and going to be very thirsty so I pushed on, something I certainly wouldn't have done in an area fraught with mine shafts! I do have a lot of experience walking in the dark.

Next morning we packed up and paddled out, Spot resuming his coxswain’s position, ‘Paddle right Boss.’

All packed back into the trusty Gorilla. If I shoot a deer here (as I have done before many years ago when I swam the river in winter – we were all young once. It is a wonder some of us survived to be any other), I can come back to the river for the boat. I can pack all the contents of my pack into a compression sack and tie that onto the top of the pack, so that I will fit the first 15 or so kg of meat in the pack (in large plastic handle tie bags which I always carry). I will take that load back to the car, then go back for the second, larger load. Might take me three trips say.

Being August the bush was alive with wattle blossoms, particularly on the West facing slopes which are warmer, and where the deer are more likely to be found sunning themselves on a day like this.

Here and there an Erica our Victorian floral emblem lit the forest floor up with its beautiful pink bells.

We always called this purple beauty ‘Traveller’s Joy’ a name which still suits me best. I also like the name ‘Happy Wanderer’ – after those Hardenbergia sounds pretty flat.

You have been wondering whether we saw any deer. We saw heaps of them (at least their orange eyes at night walking out), and of course we had the usual visitations around our camp to disturb our sleep. And we camera glassed these guys probably 500 yards away grazing in a clearing, whilst we were way up on the hill much more than a km’s walk away. And it was well dark before we could have arrived anywhere near them. I know some folk would take a shot at deer at extreme distance like this with their telescopic sights. I always use iron sights, and only shoot deer who can see me too. Having a gun gives you advantage enough; you should leave the deer the use of his senses to escape you.  He has a right to live too.

To tell you the truth deer hunting has always been a good excuse just to get out and enjoy the sights and sounds of our beautiful Australian bush, so whether i shoot a deer is more than somewhat immaterial. I actually prefer lamb anyway, and we have always been sheep farmers after all. BTW: My pedometer tells me I did 25 km yesterday through rough going, thick bush and up and down 500 metres plus. A further 13 km on the afternoon before. Not bad for a gent who is not far off beginning his eighth decade of life!

Oh, you have been wondering how did the Gorilla stand up? I had been hoping that a fog would come in whilst I was away so I could entitle this piece ‘A Gorilla in the Mist’ but the weather remained deliciously clear, so it remains just a companion piece to my previous post, ‘A Gorilla in the Hand’. The pack is beautifully comfortable and easily handles the not inconsiderable quantity and weight of stuff I imposed on it. The Robic nylon may not be bulletproof, but it stood up to a few hours of pushing through horrible prickly wattle without so much as a blemish, more than I can say for myself. It has lashing spots on the top so you can tie things to it (as shown with my packraft). I will show you how in another post soon.

It might be a good idea to have lashing spots on the bottom so you could do the same there. It would not be hard to add them – the material is plenty strong enough to take another compression bag below as well as the one above. I guess the manufacturers of this excellent piece of gear are more figuring on ultralight hikers and a weekend pack, which is why they have trimmed the volume of the pack down from their much larger Mariposa, a pack which I have owned for many years. Mine is in a lighter less durable material than this Robic they are now using though still going strong, but if you really want volume, the Mariposa is something like 68 litres including the extension collar. It also has this improved suspension system which will handle with ease a much bigger carry than the Specs indicate. That sort of volume should get you a month’s hike without resupply. Some wild adventures there. Happy hiking or happy hunting.

28/08/2016: You Never Know When Your Number’s Up. It does no good though to tippy toe through life so you safely arrive at death. We stroll our 10,000 daily steps somewhere in the forests around here (in this case just behind Yinnar). There had been a fair bit of rain which had created this pretty little waterfall just as a backdrop for my pretty little wife, Della.

She has been winding her chronological clock back and has now arrived at where she was when she was fifteen – at least as far as weight and fitness are concerned anyway. I have a similar goal but have still a way to go. I have only made my way back to my late twenties. My goal is 18!

I see lots of folk our age who have just decided to die – or they might as well. They say things like, ‘Time to kick back and take it easy’, or ‘We deserve a rest/break,’ ‘We have worked hard’ ‘At our time of life…’ and so on and so forth. What utter gibberish! Anyway ‘taking it easy’ pretty quickly gets them to where they pretty much can’t do anything else! You must see them hobbling along with their short shuffling steps because they have sat around so much they have lost all strength and muscle tone in their legs.

Now they have to lock their joints together (knees and hips) in order to walk (hence the shuffle). Of course, because they are slamming down on their joints all the time (instead of standing on their muscles) their joints are inflamed all the time (hence the hobble) so they don’t want to do overmuch of this walking. They evince utter amazement when we say we are just off for a hundred kilometre stroll through some remote wilderness. ‘I wish…’ they say. But ‘the wish is the father of the deed.’ They neither wish nor do. Don’t let yourself get into that same death spiral.

This wombat was just out for his evening stroll too when a fire-killed gum came crashing down just where he was walking, and he was no more. He had a cheeky sort of grin on his face though, so perhaps he saw the funny side of it too. I have had about four near-misses with trees like this over the years myself, but clearly my number was no up yet. Unlike Mr Vombatus Ursinus, whose was!

See also:



27/08/2016: The Ultralight Bush Chair

Reader Jenny wrote to tell me about these wonderful chairs she makes when hiking. She thinks she could get the pack weight of her chair down to 50 grams. ‘The material is just a rectangle of fabric, with big seams top and bottom (bottom for the cross piece of wood to thread through; and top for the cord to thread through and tie off at the top of the tripod).

On this one, I was using light plastic raffia type string to hold some of it together (surprising how strong it was) – and much heavier cord at the top than I would ever carry now (I am going to try dyneema thread/cord next time), but it gives the idea. We usually have no trouble finding wood around camp, to make this set up – sometimes I pinch wood that my husband has already innocently gathered for the fire, not realising it’s just what I want; and other times we have to look a bit further afield. If the lower cross piece of wood is put at the right height, and enough slack is allowed, it can be very comfortable to lay back in of an evening in front of the fire.

I am thinking the Robic nylon fabric and dyneema thread ties could do the job for around the 50gm mark (give or take)…

For the knots for the chair, I’ve been working with a system of coming from the back with loops, instead of pulling the full length of cord around – and retrieving the cord without tangle, at pack down time, has usually been OK (I find that four loops on each intersection with the lower cross bar give a reasonable hold – then I go at least a couple more to be sure…. I wrap around the top while all 3 pieces are on the ground) – It is all done ‘girl style’ (slightly different every time) and finished off with some kind of knot that just needs a pull at the end in order for it to come loose when time comes to undo it.’

They look like a great idea. Thanks Jenny . think you could make it even more comfortable by adding your inflatable mat. You can see that the chair is moveable, so you can take it inside your shelter when it rains.

Jenny’s chair, details:

Bush chair comp 2

Sitting back relaxing on the track to Tali Karng. Looks comfy.

bush chair comp 1

Possibly the original. This chair was spied by Ron Edwards ‘Australian Traditional Bush Crafts’ at Dick Rimmings Hut at Kooboora 145 km west of Cairns many years ago.  As you can see it has made use of a forked stick and a hessian bag. Very minimalist.


27/08/2016: We should scrap National Parks and Departments of Conservation, allow much more hunting - and employ some gamekeepers instead. Read the article to see why. This is how nature really works: http://www.rationaloptimist.com/blog/grouse-and-lions/

26/08/2016: The Not-So-Poor Man’s Sat Phone: Thuraya’s Sat Sleeve: Pricewise this offering from sits about half way between Delorme’s InReach SE (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-poor-mans-satellite-phone/) and the Rolls Royce model, Iridium’s Extreme (https://www.iridium.com/products/details/iridiumextreme)  It is also substantially lighter than both (178 grams inc battery) but has to be paired with your phone – which means of course both devices have to work http://www.thuraya.com/SatSleeve though you can make an emergency call with it in stand-alone mode. However unlike the other two it does not have tracking or a SOS (PLB) function and there are areas of the globe where it does not work (New Zealand for example). Most places though, if you want a cheaper, lighter Sat Phone for most purposes it could be a good choice. See also: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-poor-mans-satellite-phone/


24/08/2016: Klymit Ultralight Pillow. I have not tried this pillow. I have been using the Exped UL for some time and find it great. It is a lot pricier than Klymit’s offering though, which is available for <US$20 just now on Massdrop if you are on a budget. It weighs just 48 grams. Certainly looks comfy. The ‘X’ should cradle your nhead nicely. I have been using Klymit’s Air Beam Pad and their pack raft, or Light Water Dinghy. They are fine products. https://www.massdrop.com/buy/massdrop-x-klymit-pillow?mode=guest_open




23/08/2016: A Tardis, Folding Space: How to Fit More in Your Pack: ‘Ultralight’ is not just about weight. It can also be about how to do more with less. In this case I am thinking eg of using a 13 litre Sea to Summit compression sack to compress my clothes to 1/3 of their previous volume, thus saving 8.7 litres of space at a weight penalty of <50 grams. http://www.seatosummit.com.au/products/storage-bags/ultrasil-compression-sacks/?ref=