Ultralight Hiking 2017:

See also:

Ultralight Hiking Advice

The Upper Yarra Walking Track

Hiking 2016

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. 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

31/12/2017: All You Ever Need to Know About Tarps: As you probably know I eschew (conventional) tents. I like to be able to see out, to catch the breeze, to enjoy a warm fire out the front in cold weather, etc. I favour a tarp which keeps the weather out on three sides yet offers a sheltering verandah on the fourth such as my Siligloo and Deer Hunters Tent and Pocket Poncho Tent.

The simplest version of this though, as I have said many times is a simple 8' x 8' square of silnylon or cuben which can be erected a number of different ways depending on circumstances, number of occupants, etc. In fact 7' x 7' is the minimum, but 8' is better. This need only weigh around 150 grams, and can also be used as a hammock tarp, as here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hammock-camping-double-bunking/.

Mine has served me well for many years and kept me dry and snug in all sorts of horrible weather, weather in which sometimes other died for the want of such a simple shelter: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/raincoat-shelter/. See Also: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-importance-of-a-roof/

This guy has an interesting blog post about tarps which you might enjoy: Here is an archived version as the website is down just now: https://web.archive.org/web/20170206200801/http://caseyfiedler.com:80/2017/01/best-silnylon-tarp-backpacking/

One of my favourite DIY tarps is Ray Jardine’s http://www.rayjardine.com/ray-way/Tarp-Kit/index.htm & http://www.rayjardine.com/ray-way/Tarp-Kit/index.htm?g_page=2 Ray also has just about the best detailed explanation of why you should choose a tarp over a tent you will see anywhere. One of Ray (and Jenny’s) tarps will weigh 338 grams (11.89  oz) and cost from US$79.35 (Dec 2017) plus an enjoyable evening's evening's sewing..

See Also:






29/12/2017: 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

28/12/2017: Ultralight Sleeping Bag: Some folk like to lug around a lead sleeping bag. Might be useful in the event of a nuclear attack I guess. The bag I use is the Montbell Ultralight Superstretch Down Hugger #3 (-1C) which weighs about 600 grams. My wife has a Zpacks -7C sleeping bag which weighs even less than mine (400 grams)! The thing I particularly like about the Montbell ‘Stretch’ range is their roominess. There are lots of other light ‘mummy’ down bags (around a pound (500 grams) but most are so narrow you have trouble even doing them up let laone having a con=mfy night’s sleep in them. The Montbell have enough stretch so you can sit up in them with your legs crossed! But they still ‘shrink’ to fit so there is no (wasted) air space your body has to heat up.

A down bag will weigh around half the weight of a synthetic bag of the same rating. Some folk worry about getting cold in them as they have the (undeserved) reputation of losing their insulative ability when wet. This is not true: Anyway, work at keeping your sleeping bag dry. You will be much more comfortable that way!

We use wool thermals & Montbell down clothes to increase the rating of our bags. A liner bag will increase the rating of your bag by 8C for only 248 grams weight penalty http://seatosummit.com/product/reactor-thermolite-mummy-liner/ . This is less than half the weight penalty you would pay for buying a bag with an 8C lower rating – and you only need the one sleeping bag.

I always have an open shelter with a fire out the front. By the same token I usually sleep along the valleys rather than on the tops. This post might also be helpful: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-ultralight-deer-hunter/

I added a lot of down to my bag to increase its rating to -20C for my Everest trip http://www.theultralighthiker.com/adding-down-to-a-sleeping-bag/ . It still only weighed approx 850 grams something like Montbell’s #1/2 – but mostly in Vic you are unlikely to encounter temps of less than -10C. I sleep out in the winter all the time and find that my #3 bag is fine with the additions I mentioned above.

I think the Montbell down trousers weigh 239 grams ( I have never needed them), then I have a vest at 150 and a coat at 200 as well as  the wool, but I can wear the clothes at other times as well. I just don't get lugging the single use sleeping bag weight around all the time.

You can wash down bags in the washing machine and dry them in a tumble drier.

26/12/2017: The plumbus – you need one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JGaBU5cKluU&feature=youtu.be

23/12/2017: Over the Baw Baws to Walhalla 1922: These over 70 fascinating photos of a memorable historic trip on the Upper Yarra Track illuminate a journey by John Jensen in 1922. The photos are held by the Melbourne Walking Club and are available here: http://www.melbournewalkingclub.org/photo-gallery/archives The photos were sent to me once again by Thomas Osburg of Yarra Ranges Bush Camp.

I have tidied them up a bit so they can be viewed individually. I think they are splendid. The captions are Jensen's originals. (No doubt better quality scans could be obtained if I had access to the originals, but these still give some idea of the treasures which exist 'out there'). I think the most wonderful thing about them is that they are in sequence and the captions allow us to locate the points where the photos were taken so that we can really relive this delightful expedition. One of the most enchanting things about this series of photos is that (for Jensen) it was a 'sentimental journey' reliving an earlier trip he undertook in 1907, 110 years ago today!

If you do not know the Upper Yarra Track, it is one of the world's oldest and greatest walking tracks. It predates all of the USA's famous tracks (such as the Appalachian trail, etc) by over 50 years - as well as NZ's, Tasmania.s etc. It was constructed in the late C19th (nearly 150 years ago) linking Walhalla and Warburton via the Yarra Valley and the Baw Baw Plateau. Though the route has been changed to skirt the Upper Yarra Dam Catchment, the track still exists (in reality and on the topographical Vicmaps). It can be walked in sections, and it can be extended (to about ten days) if you want to use only public transport beginning/ending at Moe railway Station or Lilydale. A highlight of the trip (in the past) was an excursion to the Yarra Falls (Victoria's highest at nearly 1,000 feet); though this is still a wonderful experience and possible, it is illegal.

In my Track Instructions I have supplied photographs of much of the route 'today' though in the other direction. You should have a look at them for comparison. Of course the part of the route which is under the Upper Yarra Dam can no longer be traversed and that part which is in the closed dam catchment area may not be (on pain of hefty fines) - though over the years a number of people have traveled parts of it (eg to the Falls and Shelter House) in defiance of such unnecessary and onerous restrictions.

Presumably Jensen and his companions set out from Warburton, and had:

Breakfast at McMahon's Creek:

An Abandoned Farmhouse:

The Yarra:

A Relic of Other Days:

A Halt for Repairs:

Upper Yarra Hotel Walsh's Creek:

The Starting Place:

At Aldermans Creek 3 Miles

The Lusty Young Yarra:

On the Track:

A Glimpse of the River:

Lunch at Contention Gully:

Old Mining Camp at Contention Gully:

Ferns and Flowers:

Our pack Horse:

A Halt 11 Miles:

Dinner in the Shelter Hut 15 Miles:

Near the Upper Falls:

The Upper Falls:

The Lower Falls:

Full Equipment:

In the Beech Forest:

Left Fork Source of Yarra:

Right Fork Source of Yarra:

A Fallen Monarch:

The Thomson Bridge 20 1/2 Miles

Last View of the Yarra:

On the Divide:

Mountain Ash and Fern

Whitelaw Shelter Hut 29 Miles:

Our unstable Residence Also called 'Lizardville'

Photographing the Clouds:

Mountain Tops:

Snow on the Track:

Camp Hole:

Above the Clouds:

A Lookout:

Mount Baw Baw 5130 feet.

On Mt St Phillack - Highest Peak.

Lunch on Mt St Phillack 5140 Feet.

A Watery Track.


A Morass

Snow Gums

Above the Clouds

Cloud Scenes

Where We Slept in 1907

Mount Erica Shelter Hut 37 Miles

Mount Useful in the Distance

Leaving Mt Erica

Granite Rocks

The Track Down Erica

The Granite Rocks

A Rough Track

A Forest of Mountain Ash

A Fern Gully on Erica

On the Rocks

A Timber Winch

A Log Being Hoisted

The Winchman's Hut

Railway Bridge Over Thomson

The Thomson Bridge 48.5 Miles

Entrance to the Town

Walhalla At Last

How We Entered

The 'Star' Hotel Walhalla 57 Miles

A Glimpse of the Town

Left Branch Stringers Creek

Remains of the Long Tunnel Mine

Right Branch Stringers Creek

The Modern Dick Turpin

Left Road



Leaving Walhalla

Walhalla Station

From Watson Station

Moe Station

Yarragon Butter factory

Back at Work

They were following this route: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/upper-yarra-track-1925-tourist-brochure-map/ (NB. I need to update this post. Somehow the images have shrunk) Whereas today we would be following this one: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/upper-yarra-track-map/

PS: A search in the facility on the upper right hand side of this page will reveal lots of other Upper Yarra Track treasures...there are many other interesting historic photos as well as the fascinating books by Annie Hoffa and Robert Croll.

I hope you enjoyed this post. it has taken me five hours!

See Also, eg:











22/12/2017: Grand Canyon Timelapse: I am not much in to videos (or even pictures actually) but I was particularly impressed by the beauty of these two: https://vimeo.com/217407298  


And: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/shadowland-fiordland-video/

21/12/2017: Hike Naked Day:

Now, you can’t get more ‘ultralight’ than that! However, don’t expect to see me there – I have to work! or something…


19/12/2017: Wilderness Siligloo: Nearly 6" of rain had fallen in the Wonnangatta River catchment recently. The river was still 'up' so I reckoned this would be my last opportunity this summer to canoe this section of this wonderful river. Yes, you can hitch a ride in.

At Eaglevale I park under a shady tree and wait for a lift to Hernes Spur (9 hours) or Wombat Spur (11 hours). NB: Better to get there on Friday night. Some folk will go in then, others first thing on Saturday morning. If you arrive late morning Saturday you may miss a lift altogether. Fortunately kindly couple Kay & Ron Locke from Lake Munmora NSW gave me a lift. I grew up in the 1960s within 5 km of their house.

I put in at Hernes Spur. There was plenty of water.Ron and Kay sent me this photo of me setting out - and I took this photo of them. This was their first visit to the station, but I doubt it will be their last!

 A couple of hours down the river I made camp pretty much in the same spot as last time. It was a splendid serene spot with oodles of birdsong. Also, last time a dozen deer came grazing along on the other side of the river just on dusk so I was hoping to see them again. Too late for a photo that time. A couple of quickly cut bush poles and my home away from home is ready for me.This is my Siligloo: It proved to be everything I had hoped for. I had a wonderful refreshing sleep in it. You can see the clothesline worked fine too. I regret my wife Della pulled up lame on the morning we were leaving and missed this trip. She will have to wait for a bit more rain and for the next one. There will be one - or many! She has canoed sections of this trip before.

You have to admit it is a pleasant place to camp. How green it still is (for December) after the 4-6" of rain we had last week. This 'dark olive' is a good colour for a tent: the deer do not seem troubled by it at all. A number came up quite close and honked at me.

My washing up spot (blue cup, etc). Deer had been wallowing right on the river's edge.

Like this:

All packed up and ready to go.

You have heard of 'parallel evolution'. Nature sometime emulates art. These could be 'Cyclopean Walls such as those at Mycenae or Tenochtitlan.

Talk about 'serendipity'. Last trip I had lost my 'Airbeam Pad' (a pity as they no longer make them, alas). My photos showed me around about where it must have come adrift of my pack, but there had been over 2 metres of water down the river since then, so I figured it to be in Bass Strait. However it had washed into a pile of wrack (as you can see below) only twenty yards from where it must have popped out of my pack.

It reminds me of Cherry-Gallard's story ('The Worst Journey in the World') of the midwinter expedition to the Emperor Penguiins in 1912. They went to the windiest place on earth 500 lies from base in Antarctica. It was so windy they had to build a wall of stones around their tent. Lots of places in Antarctica have land. Nonetheless during the night the blizzard took it away. When the blizzard abated they headed off pretty sure they would die, as without a tent it is impossible (because of the wind) to melt water, so you will thirst to death surrounded by millions of cubic miles of ice and snow. On the first day out, they found their tent,and were saved. The exact same thing happened in the same place to Alan Rayment, the CEO of Wings And Water Airline, Te Anau, my favourite airline. Serendipity indeed! Mind you, some of the members of this expedition perished with Scott on his race to the pole the same year - Wilson for example!

Farmers have been planting some kind of 'camel thorn' (at least a very prickly acacia) to consolidate the banks now that the willows are outlawed. They are not doing a bad job either.

I just love synclines.

Of course I saw a few of these on my voyage. I just love watching the does playing with their fawns.

PS: The trip down from Hernes Spur took 8 hours this time. The river height was 1.94 - 1.97 metres (at the Waterford gauge). This is a lovely safe height which avoids a lot of portages over shallow gravel races at the lower height of my last trip (1.78 metres - about the minimum). It would be even better with yet another 6" of water (ie 15 cm) - so around 2.15 would be really excellent.

A couple of little video snippets for you...

Again, the morning chorus when I woke at about 5:30 am was magnificent. The view out the front door of my tent.

[video width="1920" height="1080" mp4="http://www.theultralighthiker.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/20171217060805.mp4"][/video]

I do so love being alone in the wilderness:

[video width="1440" height="1080" mp4="http://www.theultralighthiker.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/201712170700261.mp4"][/video]

See Also:



19/12/2017: The Singing Mice: A fascinating article http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/The-Mystery-of-the-Singing-Mice.html#ixzz1Jw33OqiH (and please pursue it to other articles by the amazing Rob Dunn: http://www.robrdunn.com/)

15/12/2017: A Hands Free Umbrella: What a good idea that would be, especially if you need to use both hands for trekking poles on rough or steep terrain. When the weather is really humid, you really need a roof to keep you dry (and warm). A raincoat in such circumstances will just see you soaked and frozen.

See: The Importance of a Roof   Hiking in the Rain and Raincoat Shelter

In such circumstances my Pocket  Poncho Tent may save your life.

There are several possibilities. For example Antigravity Gear has a model featuring clips which attach your trekking umbrella to your back pack. https://www.antigravitygear.com/shop/rain-gear/swing-handsfree-backpack-umbrella/

There are several other possibilities, such as:





A search for ‘hands free umbrellas’ will provide you with lots of fun and amusement!

One I particularly like is the Ufocap: http://ufocap.tradekorea.com/product/detail/P280367/UFOCAP---Innovative-Umbrella.html?minisiteprodgroupno=32229 These little guys cost about $10 on eBay and weigh about 170 grams. Even if they look a bit silly they should do the job. The ones with transparent panels (at least at the front) would help you see where you were going.

Best of all: A reader recommends this excellent DIY solution to attaching your umbrella to your pack here:https://ramblinghemlock.blogspot.com.au/2014/03/umbrella-rigging.html

I think I would caption this one, 'Fun with Umbrellas'. Well done 'Rambling Hemlock'.

If you are thinking of carrying an emergency hiking umbrella you might choose this one at 128 grams or this one at a mere 86!

14/12/2017: The Siligloo: Here is my new ultralight 'Sil-igloo' tent at 379 grams. As you can see it is huge: big enough to stand up in - I guess it is over 100 square feet (9-10 square metres) of cover. There is plenty of room for two large adults and two small dogs , and to spread out gear all over the place. For scale that  groundsheet is 5' by 8' (150 x 240 cm & 100 grams)

It requires 10-12 Shepherd's Hook stakes to erect it.

The tent has a lovely airy feel to it. I am going to love this tent. Particularly I will love carrying it!

By the way, that is a 3/4 length (4') Thermarest Neoair mat for scale.

It goes up really quickly and simply, but it does not want to come down the same way - unlike so many tents. It will also keep you plenty dry in all sorts of weather, and you can have a warming fire out the front on cold nights without the risk of it raining inside the tent. I have solved a whole bundle of tenting problems right here.

It also has a 6' (1.8 metre) internal clothesline for drying your stuff and five other internal gear hanging points. I made the tent out of a new 1.1 oz/yd 2 'Xenon' silnylon purchased from these guys (I have recommended them before) for A$11.95/metre (Dec 2017).

I could have wasted more material and done less sewing, but my money doesn't grow on trees even if yours does. I made the Pocket Poncho tent out of the same material, and it works splendidly.The material is extremely light and slippery and has a soft feel like silk. I have sewn very few things this delicate, so I am still learning techniques (as you can no doubt see - I also had a problem with my bobbin). No doubt someone else could do a better job, but at least the tent will work, which is the main thing.

I have been working on this tent for some time. I nearly finished it before we went to walk Mt Bartle Frere back in late August when I did this post then I set it aside as I had other things to do - and no need for it. I want it now for a pack rafting expedition Della and I are about to head off on, so we finished it.

Many of you will recognise its evolution from this, to this. Some of you will also have noticed my Pocket Poncho Tent which I thought was quite an achievement at 185 grams and which I intended to be a floor for this tent..

I have now to finish my Deer Hunter's Tent and make a silnylon and perhaps a cuben fibre version of it. It will be an even lighter two person tent than this one. In cuben fire (top) and silnylon (bottom) it will probably be under 300 grams - quite an achievement for a two person tent you can stand up in and warm with a fire! Using the Pocket Poncho Tent for a floor, and with a silnylon roof it should still only weigh around 400 grams - not bad for a two person tent and a raincoat for one!

We have camped out lots of times in the prototypes of these three tents. For example, here we are in the Deer Hunter's Tent. Here in the prototype of the Siligloo. And here I am in the Pocket Poncho tent - so they work fine. And, Yes, I am planning to sell them, some time - but I am old (and still busy about the farm and such) and things just don't get done as quickly as they once did. Please be patient. Next year Jerusalem, as they say.

Tiny isn't it? .

And 379 grams, as you can see.

But plenty of room for two adults and two dogs.

Front view.

Side view.

Rear view - you can see I have sewn a tie-out at the top to brace the top into strong winds.

Some folks might worry about a tent which is always open on one side. In the prototype I sewed in a couple of flaps so I could close this, but I have not found it necessary so I have not included them yet in this model. I guess they would only add about half an ounce (15 grams). If a really bad storm comes you can take out the side pole and space out the pegs so the tent becomes a closed tipi which you would crawl into.

I may sew a couple of vents into the peak so that I don't get condensation in this or the closed configuration. Erected as a tipi it is nearly 10' across! I guess in an emergency you could shelter nearly a dozen people sitting up.

I have not sealed the seams. I doubt they will need it. They are all flat-felled. The Tyvek versions never needed it. The tie-outs would add a bit more but I doubt it is 400 grams with them -  plus about 70 grams for the pegs. I will make a couple of small bags too: one for the tent and one for the stakes.

I will probably also make a floor for it - of course it was intended that I would use my Pocket Poncho tent for a floor, but I would wear it out pretty quickly if I used it all the time for that purpose. I will use it sometimes though - particularly on long trips with my wife, Della when we will also benefit from having a spare raincoat if needed.

The guy lines are the glow in the dark kind as are the micro line locks, as explained here. More about stakes.

Here it is in the bag with the stakes and the groundsheet:

PS: I always carry my tent in the side pocket of my pack. I attach the tent to the pack with the carabiner so I don't lose it.

07/12/2017: Kokoda Track Memorial Walk: This delightful track is located right on the Melbourne fringe near Upper Ferntree Gully Railway Station. For people of my era it is a ‘walk into history’ as so many of our close relatives (fathers, uncles, etc) were involved in this heroic struggle, either in New Guinea (or WW2 in general) in one way or another.

The Japanese onslaught on Australia included the bombing of Darwin and Broome and attacks in many other places in Australia - famously in Sydney Harbour, but less well-known was an assault by a plane flown off a submarine in Bass Strait on the Yallourn Power Station here in the Latrobe Valley, the plane being shot down and crashing in the bush not five kilometers from our house!

The Japanese invasion came within about 20 kms of Port Moresby, so Australia was in imminent danger of invasion  and was successfully repulsed by the sacrifice of our Kokoda heroes. Their campaign and the related battle at Milne Bay was the first time the Imperial Jabnese Forces had ever been defeated, so it was crucial and pivotal to the Allies winning against the encroachments of the Axis.

You can spend a couple of delightful hours exploring this lovely spot, and soaking up some of the history which ought never to be forgotten. Much of it is intelligently displayed in monuments, billboards and brass informational plaques so it it readily accessible.

The entrance: the lush Dandenong Ranges area is Melbourne's best kept secret. Often the Mountain Ash forest has been replaced (as here) with beautiful introduced trees.

A spectacular information board area is worth an hour of closer study. Here you will learn eg about Kingsbury VC who charged the Japanese with a Bren machine gun under his arm, killing many of them - until he himself was killed.

I was particularly impressed by this photo of the Highlanders (the so-called 'Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels') carrying a wounded 'digger' (who has clearly lost a leg - his composure in that circumstance is astonishing!). I was impressed by the elegance of the improvised litter: It would not have occurred to me that the weight of the patient on the ends of the blanket would be enough to secure it in place, as it is clearly doing.

You follow a winding path and are plunged immediately into the forest primeval.

Some very big timber still exists - this is a giant mountain ash. The largest of these were the largest trees which have ever existed on earth.

You pass the remnants of some of these giants which have fallen amongst the ferns.

The track follows a fern gully up the hill. The stream tinkles away only a few metres from the path.

The path is also called 'the 1,000 steps' though I did not count them. Along the way, approximating major points of 'interest' on the real Kokoda track there are brass plaques explaining what occurred at each point. My uncle fought in the New Guinea campaign, so I found these plaques very poignant.

Here is the last one when you reach the Kokoda Village.

A statue and Honour Board to the fallen serve as a permanent reminder of what we owe to these brave soldiers and New Guineans.

06/12/2017: Voyager 1 fires its engines for the first time in 37 years. If only they built machinery like that nowadays: https://www.space.com/38967-voyager-1-fires-backup-thrusters-after-37-years.html

04/12/2017: Ultralight Pen #2:

Valiant Concepts Titanium Keychain Pen: Designed to live on your keychain and go anywhere you go, The Valiant Concepts Keychain Pen is there when you need it, and practically disappears when you don’t.

Featuring a pressurized Fisher ink cartridge and operated simply by twisting the tail to expose the writing tip, this is the highest quality, most compact keychain pen on the market.

Diameter: 0.240"

Length: 2.50"

Weight: 0.235oz (6.7 grams)

Materials: Titanium

US$53.99 Dec 2017)


See Also:






04/12/2017: Credit Card Knives:

Boker Plus Credit Card Knife: A unique design from Massachusetts knifemaker John Kubasek. With its compact dimensions, slim profile, and removable pocket clip, this piece offers a variety of carry options. Fits perfectly in the credit card compartment of your wallet, can be carried via clip in the pocket of your shirt, or on a ball chain (included) around your neck. This extremely lightweight knife also features a reliable and sturdy frame lock mechanism, titanium liner and black-coated 440C stainless steel blade. The finger choils and handle end provide a surprisingly ergonomical and comfortable grip. The perfect everyday companion!


Boker Plus

Blade: 440C stainless steel

Handle: Stainless steel

Titanium liner

Removable pocket clip

Blade length: 2.25 in (5.7 cm)

Closed length: 2.8 in (7.1)

Overall length: 5 in (12.7 cm)

Weight: 1.1 oz (31 g)

Included (2) Ball chains - 1 original, 1 extra

Available: https://www.bokerusa.com/pocketknives/boker-plus/tactical-knives/credit-card-knife-black-01bo011 US$39.95 (Dec 2017)

See Also:



Below: the Cardsharp Knife:


03/12/2017: Away with the birds: http://www.neatorama.com/2017/11/25/Brazen-Bird-Theft/

03/12/2017: Supermoon: the moon is at apogee so it will be 16% brighter, but I doubt you will see it. PS: It’s all because of ‘global warming’: https://wattsupwiththat.com/2017/12/01/supermoon-this-weekend-will-be-biggest-full-moon-of-the-year/

02/12/2017: If you thought jumping out of a plane was bad enough, watch these two guys jump into one: https://laughingsquid.com/wingsuit-pilots-jump-into-passing-plane/

02/12/2017: Waterproof Hearing Aids:


(Pictured above Signia Motion – they also take the ultra-thin ‘Life Tubes’)

If you are pretty deaf like me you can’t do much well in the outdoors without waterproof hearing aids. Unfortunately Siemens (now Signia) have stopped production of the Aquaris model of waterproof hearing aids, so I can no longer buy a spare (though I will be looking out on eBay – Gumtree is better for this)

They have two new models which are mildly water proof 1P67: the Motion and the Cellion. These new models also have updated hearing technology, so if you are after a new pair of hearing aids you will be hearing better than ever with them! They even claim you will hear better than folk with normal hearing!

However, I have spoken to Signia/Siemens at length and they say neither of these products will stand being submerged (particularly the receiver in canal (RIC) of the Cellion, so I can’t imagine what this rating is all about, The Motion is likely to fare better than the Cellion – and should withstand sweat and some light rain, but will not stand being submerged, they say – though it will probably dry out and start working again (and would be covered by a warranty) There is nothing now which is suitable for swimming or canoeing (ie when you fall out, which you always do sometime!) The best you can do is maybe source a pair of second – hand Aquaris. Good luck with that. You will have competition.

Below is what the IP stuff is (supposed to be) all about:

IP (Ingress Protection) ratings IP67 & IP68:


First digit: Solid particle protection:



Dust tight

No ingress of dust; complete protection against contact (dust tight). A vacuum must be applied. Test duration of up to 8 hours based on air flow.


Second digit: Liquid ingress protection:


Immersion, up to 1 m depth

Ingress of water in harmful quantity shall not be possible when the enclosure is immersed in water under defined conditions of pressure and time (up to 1 m of submersion).

Test duration: 30 minutes - ref IEC 60529, table 8.

Tested with the lowest point of the enclosure 1000 mm below the surface of the water, or the highest point 150 mm below the surface, whichever is deeper.


Immersion, 1 m or more depth

The equipment is suitable for continuous immersion in water under conditions which shall be specified by the manufacturer. However, with certain types of equipment, it can mean that water can enter but only in such a manner that it produces no harmful effects. The test depth and/or duration is expected to be greater than the requirements for IPx7, and other environmental effects may be added, such as temperature cycling before immersion.

Test duration: Agreement with Manufacturer

Depth specified by manufacturer, generally up to 3 m


The rechargeable nature of the Cellion (and the ‘soluble RIC!) means that I would have to carry a charger and a power source (as compared with two spare hearing aid batteries - perhaps), so they would increase my pack weight by perhaps 200 grams or more. Unacceptable. I will be going with the IP67 ‘Motion’ model when the time comes to update my Aquatris ones – unless I can find something better! They are available here from US$1195 ea –Nov 2017: http://www.thehearingclub.com/SiemensSignia-MOTION-and-Orion-2-BTE-Models_c_121.html


Siemens claimed their Motion binax was IP67 waterproof to 1 metre for 30 minutes: https://www.bestsoundtechnology.com/pro/siemens-hearing-product-portfolio/binax/motion/


PS: I managed to buy a second hand model of the Motion Binax on Gumtree for A$250. This is wonderful news for me.


See Also:





02/12/2017: Weight-training essential to prevent muscle loss over age 40-50: https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/11/15/well/move/to-maintain-muscle-and-lose-fat-as-you-age-add-weights.html?_r=&referer=

28/11/2017: An Excursion to the Upper Yarra Falls:

This was a three part article in the  Leader Melbourne, Vic, Saturday 15, 22 & 29 November 1884, The Contributor: ‘By G’ kindly provided by Thomas Osburg of Yarra Ranges Bush Camp. Much of it is incredible, to say the least. The author has explained the value of solitude and the preservation of wilderness so well – his conclusion: ‘It would seem well, therefore, that some steps should be taken permanently to preserve these forests in their present state,’ might have been written yesterday! I think it should also be useful to today’s ‘explorers’ keen to retrace these earlier delights of the ‘Upper Yarra Track’ See also: Track Instructions. You will find that the going to the falls is just as difficult as described here, but that the views of the falls are worth every bit of the difficulty of the trip.

Part 1:

No poet has yet sung the beauties of the Yarra. Melbourne people are not usually at all enthusiastic about their river, and beyond a row to the Survey Paddock or Studley Park, during which the offense to the nose compensates not a little for the pleasure to the eye, but few know anything about it. The upper waters of the Yarra present beauties of a high order notwithstanding, and a small party determined to devote their last New Year’s holidays to visiting one of the most notable of them— the Yarra Falls.

It may be asked, Where are the Yarra Falls? There was a well known fall in town, which has been just removed, and there is a but little less known fall in Studley Park, which, if the opposite bank, on which stands the ruins of Dight’s mill, was purchased by the Government and thrown into the park, and restored by the hands of a landscape gardener, would make an object not unworthy to be reckoned one of the beauties of the Yarra; and there is a much less known fall near Templestowe; but the Yarra Falls are none of them. I failed in a previous attempt to reach the Falls, but I determined last summer to try again.

There were several difficulties to overcome. There was a party to get together, neither too large nor too small, that is, not less than three nor more than four. There was the question of accurate information as to the route. I reflected that the track having been cut by a Government party, there would probably be a plan of it somewhere in the archives of the Government department. I will not detain my readers with a narrative of my adventures in the Government offices in search of this plan. I received every assistance from the officers of the various departments concerned, and finally obtained a tracing of it on a scale of forty chains to the inch. I found that the track went from Reefton to Mount Lookout, on the road from Jericho to Walhalla; that the distance was about 17 miles; that it crossed the Yarra about 20 miles from Reefton, and about a mile and a quarter below the crossing were the falls.

The last and most important point was the party. There are always many things to be considered before men of various vocations can arrange to take a holiday together. Finally my companions of the previous year agreed to go, and at the last moment I enlisted a fourth man, whom I shall describe as R., who had been with me on a somewhat similar trip to Mount Baw Baw. This I thought a great accession of strength, and I will explain why. Of my companions of the previous year, one is a man of extensive scientific and professional acquirements, which, though intended for exercise in a larger sphere, are not successful for finding a way through difficult country. To him we were indebted for the aeromatic measurement of the heights, but, like myself, he is a man approaching middle age, living in Melbourne, and following a sedentary occupation. The other is a young man training for a sedentary occupation. R., though he now also follows a sedentary occupation, had been reared in the Australian bush, and was a first rate bush man.

The remaining member of the party to notice is the horse who was to carry the pack. He is an old bush horse (some people may call him a pony), well adapted for rough ground. He had been out at grass some time before the start, and came home, to my great disgust, in by no means good condition. However, we determined that there was nothing for it but to start with him, as another horse that we might obtain for the occasion would probably turn out altogether unfit for the work.

Our equipment amounted to about 2 cwt., when the water tins were empty. It consisted of a calico tent, 6 feet by 8, with a fly, a rug or blanket each, a piece of waterproof to put on the ground, a change of clothes each, captain’s sea biscuits, tinned meats, cold boiled corned beef and bacon, tea, sugar, cocoa, cheese, brandy, lime juice, &c., and oats. The last item may puzzle some readers, but it is absolutely necessary. In the dense forests which cover the ranges one may travel for miles without meeting with a blade of grass or anything else that a horse can eat.

We made our start shortly after the new year. Three of us, with the pack, took the coach from Lillydale to Warburton. The fourth rode the horse. We had dinner at Warburton, loaded the horse, and commenced our tramp. Warburton is situated on Yankee Jim’s Creek, about 3 miles from the Yarra in a little valley shaped like a punch bowl, where several creeks unite. Considerable gold workings have been carried on there, and water has been brought there by races for the purpose of sluicing, which has much increased the natural volume of Yankee Jim, and at the same time giving him a chocolate tint unusual on a mountain stream. There is at Warburton a store and house of accommodation, kept by Mr. Bullen, a State school, and one or two other brick houses. At Warburton we made some inquiries as to the track. We were told it had been cleared to a width of 12 feet right through, and we could have no difficulty in keeping it, and that the water in the Ten Mile hole was permanent. We were able to test the accuracy of the first part of this information by our experience of last year. It was inaccurate in a way information as to a bush track will often be. The informant will have travelled the track when open, and will have omitted to allow for the changes by falling timber and growth of scrub, which in a few years will nigh obliterate an unused track.

From Warburton the track passes through a saddle beneath a lofty plume of timber on to the waters of Scotchman’s Creek. It then becomes a sideling, following the course of a tributary of Scotchman’s, winding in and out with the contour of the hills, and crossing minor tributary creeks or gullies by log bridges or crossings. After a time it crosses Scotchman’s Creek, then crosses the spur on the opposite side on to the waters of Four Mile Creek, near the mouth of which it makes the Yarra. This locality from Warburton is the prettiest to be found in Victoria. The tall timber is not sufficiently thick to obstruct the view of the fern gullies below or the wooded slopes above, while every turn of the track runs into a fresh gully, shaded with tree ferns, out of which flows or trickles a stream of limpid water over boulders covered with small ferns and mosses. As we neared the Yarra we found the ground taken up by selectors, and the forest ringed and dead. When the work of clearing is complete, the open fields showing the wooded hills in the background will add a new feature to the landscape. As it is, the acres of white dead trunks, rising close upon 200 feet into the air, have a melancholy aspect.

On reaching the Yarra the road again becomes a dray track, recently cut along the river, round the spurs of Warburton Hill. Not long after crossing Four Mile Creek we determined to camp before leaving the selections. The selector’s clover which had strayed on to the road would give our horse a good supper. A place was selected for the tent be-tween two live trees which were growing beside the river, near which we u-loaded the trap. We then set about to camp, one lighting the fire, another tethering the horse, another pitching the tent and another cutting ferns for a bed. When all was done we had our evening meal. R. went down to the Yarra and caught several fine black fish. The flying squirrels flew from tree to tree, and screeched a little. After dark we turned in. During the night we heard another fall of timber not far off. The next morning we were up at four a.m. After bathing in the Yarra we breakfasted on the blackfish caught the night before, which were cooked on the embers. We then packed up and started for M’Mahon’s.

Shortly after starting we crossed Big Pat Creek, the dray road still continuing. After this we passed the houses of two more selectors, and the road again became a pack track, and at about noon we reached M’Mahon’s. The road all the way kept at an equal distance from the Yarra, being cut on a sidling, so as to get round the ends of the spurs, and running in and out so as to cross the gullies. The views up and down the Yarra are very pretty — the water perfectly transparent, broken by two or three little falls or rapids in every creek, and the view closed in by a wooded mountain at the end. Sometimes one would pass the valley of a creek joining the Yarra on the opposite bank. Then there would be a view of a succession of wooded ridges one behind the other of successively deepening tints of blue. At M’Mahon’s we met Mr. Ridgell, from whom we had heard of the falls the year before. Mrs. Ridgell set before us a quantity of cherry plums, which were very acceptable after our long walk. Fruit grows well in the Yarra Valley, and Mr. Ridgell had obtained a certificate at the exhibition, but unfortunately it does not pay to take it to market.

We were particularly anxious to identify on our tracing the position of the ten-mile water hole, which we had failed to make the previous year. We learned that it was about a mile beyond the finger post; that the road went up hill to the finger post, and then a gentle slope down to the ten mile water. I showed Mr. Ridgell our tracing, on which the creek which crossed the track before it reached the Yarra was made to run from right to left. He appeared somewhat staggered by this, but I remembered that the year before he had told me distinctly that the creek ran from left to right, and, inwardly determined not to be put out, I found the arrow head upon the tracing, notwithstanding that it did so. Mr. Ridgell here gave us a piece of information, which proved useful, that the track went down to this creek on a sidling. We had determined to go on to Reefton and get some more provisions and horse feed at the store, but we changed our minds, and had dinner at Ridgell’s. This took a little time getting ready, and it was consequently a quarter to four before we were off. Instead, therefore, of keeping along the Yarra we turned up the spur immediately after crossing M’Mahon’s Creek, This would take us by a different road to our camp of the year before at the little water holes. The ascent was longer, and therefore not quite so steep, but this was some what compensated by the track being a good deal overgrown with scrub. We found that the main spur between M’Mahon’s Creek and Alderman’s Creek divided into three spurs at this point, that to the west being the one from M’Mahon’s, by which we had come, the middle being that from Reefton, and there being another to the east.

Turning therefore down the middle spur towards Reefton we soon came to our camp of the year before. This we reached at six p.m. It was much as we had left it— the heap of ferns which had made our bed; the tent pegs and logs we laid at the bottom of the tent; the empty tins, the ashes of our fire. We at once unloaded, and set to work to camp. Next morning we arose at six o’clock, but when going to fill our billies for breakfast were annoyed to find that our consumption of the previous evening had nearly exhausted the little holes. The result was that after we had breakfasted and watered the horse, there was only enough water left to half fill one of our water tins. This was a disappointment; we accordingly loaded up, and moved off at about half-past nine.

At about 5 miles from our camp was marked on the tracing the old shaft of the Excelsior reef. We found the track not so plain as it had been the previous year, and shortly after starting we had some difficulty about it; but our experience enabled us to avoid the branch tracks on to which we had then wandered. We had also the advantage of the pioneering of R. It was a hot day, with a north wind. At about half-past one we came upon the heap of mullock which marked the Excelsior shaft. This was satisfactory. It enabled us to tell our precise position on the track and consequently our rate of progress. We determined to have lunch, so unloaded the horse and sat down in the shade of the scrub. During lunch we discussed our position. We had taken four hours to come 5 miles; our rate of travel, therefore, was one mile and a quarter per hour. Supposing that we proceeded at the same rate or, allowing for the road being probably worse, at a mile an hour, we ought to reach the finger post in two hours, and the ten mile water in three hours. On a clear road we could have traveled 3 miles an hour and upwards without difficulty. But on the sort of track we had come by it was different. In the first place one has every step to look to, so as to avoid slipping upon the sticks and bark with which the ground is strewn. Then one has to see that one is on the track, and for this purpose keep a good look out for blazes, cut timber and other indications. By wandering a little off it the ground becomes much rougher, and traveling proportionately slower. Then one has to step over or go round fallen logs, and also to keep an eye to the general features of the country and attend to the direction in which one is going, either by the compass or the shadows, to be assured that the track one is following is the right one, for a short distance before reaching the shaft we had had to pass through rather dense scrub. All these causes combined reduced our rate of travel from the regular 3 miles an hour to a mile and a quarter. So soon as we reached the old shaft I was convinced that we had passed it the previous year, and upon going forward it now became evident that there had been in the interval a great growth of scrub, obliterating every trace of the track. As we went on matters grew worse. In the hollows

the scrub was high over our heads, the stems close together as thick as a man’s wrist, and matted with wire grass, and continually covering fallen logs, Through this we struggled, hot and panting. A portion of the scrub had a white flower upon it, the pollen from which made us cough and sneeze. The horse came on steadily, pushing aside the scrub and stepping, sliding or jumping over the logs, as the case might require. Mixed with the live scrub and rising above it were tall, dead sticks of considerable weight, which had been killed by fire. These the horse knocked down right and left with his packs, and some of us got nasty knocks from them. Whenever we could see about us we had to keep a good look out for spurs coming in on our left, lest we should miss the finger post and wander on towards the Crossover. One such spur we noticed and spent a little time in ascertaining that our track did not go along it. Our line of march was as follows: R. went ahead to look out for tracks, and the horse was never led out of sight of the last blaze or cut log, until he had struck another blaze or cut log ahead. When this was not for some distance the others would spread out, so that one kept in sight of the horse and one again of him. The signal to come on could then be passed as soon as the track was again struck. In this way the party was never off the track. As we went we made blazes to guide us on our return. Our progress was, of course, slow and toil-some. We were, therefore, not surprised that at half-past four we had not yet seen the finger post, but by five o’clock we were anxiously looking out for it; and about this time a change came over the character of the track. We had been passing through country which had been burnt since the track had been cut, and upon which a growth of scrub had taken place, completely obliterating it. We now came to a place where the original 12 feet clearing could often be seen. It was obstructed by fallen logs, sticks and wire grass, but not by scrub. The scrubs on each side were old, with slender stems and leaves at the top. The ground, moreover, became a black mould in place of the stony surface we had before met with. There was an appearance of musk and tree ferns, and the timber was increasing in size, the prevailing tints becoming a mixture of black and pale green. All this was an indication that we had reached, or were approaching, the crest of the south dividing range of the Yarra, where we ought to see the finger post, but the finger post we saw not, so we went on from five to half-past five, and from half-past five to seven, when we camped.

Part 2:

We struck camp next morning at half-past nine. Just after starting we noticed a tree marked W. From this we understood that we had been encamped on the two mile water. This made our march of the previous day a little over 8 miIes, The height of our camp measured by the barometer was 1700 feet above McMahon’s, We proceeded along the south watershed of the Yarra in a general easterly direction.

The prevailing charactor of the country was the same as on the evening before, The track was often perceptible as a sort of avenue through the scrub, though in the clearest places knee deep in ferns and wire grass and obstructed by logs. We passed through several saddles separated by small sills, At about twelve o’clock we could see a great spur coming in to join the ridge we were following from the north – that is on our left, This could be nothing else than the right watershed of Alderman’s Creek. We were, therefore, making good progress, and might hope to reach the Yarra that night. So we went on for another half hour, when our horse, in getting over a log, slipped and fell; he could not rise again with the pack and we had to unload him, but he was none the worse. As we began to ascend the hill we found the sides and top of it covered with huge logs hundreds of foot long, as if it had been cleared by a survey party, The interstices between them were filled with tall bracken and scrub with white flowers, and the track seemed altogether obliterated. We made our way very slowly round and over the logs, and presently the horse got another fall, and we had to unload and reload again, There was a good look out from many places down the valley of Alderman’s Creek and of the ranges across the Yarra,

We found the top of this mountain was 1200 feet above our camp of the previous night, or about 4000 feet above the sea level. It is unnamed on the maps. We christened it Mount Horsefall. The fallen logs gave it a prevailing white appearance, but it contrasted with the pale green which had hitherto characterised the crest of the range. At about four o’clock we began to descend a little, and get into a forest, in which the beech tree was the prevailing timber, though largely mixed with tall gums and messmates. But little vegetation grows under a beech tree; what there was was the blue gum fern with the crimped frond I have noticed before. Moreover, the beech tree is seldom uprooted. It slowly decays as It stands and falls piecemeal, The ground in a beech forest is therefore encumbered by but little fallen timber. As soon as we got under the beech trees the track improved very much. They were mingled, however, with very tall messmates, from which large quantities of dry bark in strips 4 or 5 inches across and 30 or 40 feet long or more had fallen to the ground, and lay in large colis. These continually tangled our feet, and it was difficult to get free of them, One would continually find one was dragging a tail behind many feet long. On getting under the beech trees the prevailing tints again changed. The black earth was bare, and varied shades of brown or dark green met the eye In every direction. Towards the south and east the slope was so steep that we got a look out over Gippsland as far as the ranges in the neighborhood of Baw Baw. The earth seemed everywhere moist; in places one could hear the water under one’s feet. The traok continued slowly to descend, and our view became shut in on all sides. About s!x o’clook we found ourselves in a saddle. This we identified upon our tracing as about 6 miles from our camp of the night before And 4 miles from the Yarra. It seemed a likely place to find water. There were a few beech trees and messmates on the saddle, and a forest of white gums, tall, slender poles like the mast of a ship, 300 feet high at the least, with a tuft of foliage at the top. There was a fern tree gully coming up to the saddle on each side. The earth was black and moist, and for the most part bare. R. found a good stream of water a llttle way down on the south side of the saddle, so we determined to camp.

We pitched the tent under two beech trees, whose thick foliage would protect us from any sticks that might be blown off from the gums, and made our bed of fronds cut from the ferns. When we got up the next morning a strong north wind was blowing, shaking the tall, white ferns like corn stalks, bending them as if to break with a great roaring noise. We did not make a start until about half-past ten, when we at once began to ascend out of the saddle, and soon came out into the sunshine on to a hill covered with fallen timber and sword grass, and from which there was a good view of the opposite ranges. The logs had rotted and broken into fragments, and were therefore not the obstacle they had been on Mount Horsefall. After a little we again descended into a beech forest. Here the track was clearer than we had yet found it. It was obstructed by little else than small sticks. There was a little of the usual green fern, but except for that the ground wes clear of undergrowth on all sides. The dark foliage of the beech trees over head shut out the sky. In order to keep the track it was necessary to keep a sharp look out for blazes.

After about a couple of miles gum trees again appeared mixed with the beech trees, and we were again troubled by fallen tlmber. About the same time we found growing in the track tall solitary stalks of grass like oats which shot up with a stem as thick as one’s finger, seven or eight feet high. Finding the horse would eat the two gathered bundles of it, as we went along. A little after twelve o’clock the horse got another fall getting over a log. We had to unload, and determined to have lunch, When we again made a start we found it had been raining heavily, and that the scrub was very wet. In a little while we got out of the beech forest, and began to ascend a hill covered with tall standing gums and thick bracken up to our shoulders. Through this we pushed our way, getting drenched through. When we gained the top of the hill we found our track appeared to leave the rldge, and turn down the sideling to the north-east. After turnlng down on the sideling we were soon again in a beech forest, and out of the high wet bracken.

In about half a mlle we came to tho creek, which was broad and shallow, scarcely covering the ground. It crossed the track from left to right- not from right to left, as marked in our tracing. The descent from the ridge to this creek was not more than 200 or 300 feet, and not at all steep, consldering it was on a sideling. We crossed the creek and ascended to tho ridge on the opposite side. Crossing it we descended on a sldeling to the Yarra, which we at once passed over. It was a much smaller stream than that we have left at M’Mahon’s, being about 30 feet wide and about up to our ankles, with, however, a good current. The scene was a peculiar one. It was still raining hard. Heavy clouds rested on the tops of the beech trees from 50 to 70 feet above us, which lined the river banks and covered the slopes, and hung in festoons between them, but below it was clear. We had no time to stand and watch it, however, being wet through.

We had to get to work and camp at once. In about twenty minutes we had a fire big enough to roast an ox. Having pitched our tent we looked about for something to make a bed of, and the best thing we could find was a heap of bark at the foot of a neighboring messmate. This we dragged in front of the fire and dried, after which we had our evening meal round the fire. We stood up round it for some time drying clothes, while the horse stood warming his nose on the opposite side of the fire. Finally we turned in.

We were up at six the next morning. There was still a slight rain, We had breakfast, and at half-past eight we started in search of the falls. Our camp was shown by the barometer to be 2100 foot above M’Mahon’s or only 500 feet lower than the top of Mount Horsefall. It was dlstant from Reefton by the road we had come just 20 miles, or in a straight line about 15. Now, the Yarra did not change its level to any great extent between M’Mahon’s and Reefton, or for some mlles above the latter place. The dlfference in elevation therefore gave room for a high fall. Moreover, the country we were in appeared to be an elevated plateau, to which we had ascended abruptly at Mount Horsefall, and whioh would probably come to an abrupt termination. We accordingly started down stream, crossing a considerable tributary on tho right bank just below our camp, The river ran through a beech forest, and as nothing will grow under the beech trees, its banks were without that fringe of peculiar vegetation which is usually such a marked feature in an Australian river or creek. After a little we went over to the left bank, and crossed a small creek whioh joined the river on that bank, we then came upon a series of small hills, perhaps altogether fifty or sixty, There was, however, a good indication of something better. We could see a light through the trees ahead as from a largo clearing. This appearance could only be occasioned by the edge of an abrupt decllvity. We pushed on and soon began to get glimpses of a valley a long way below us, and to hear tho roar of a great fall. The beech forest ceased with the edge of the declivity, and the slopes below, when not too steep and bare for anything either to grow or stand on, were covered with undergrowth, mostly ti-tree. To see the fall we must get below it.

We accordingly descended as rapidly as a regard for our necks would permit several hundred feet, and made our way on to a Iedge down to the water. From this point we could see the water fa!ling above and below us over a faoe of dark rocks in a series of steps. The fall was shaded by ti-tree, with occasional tree ferns on the ledges. The spray fell like rain. We were too close to the face of the fall, and tho ledge we were on would not permit us getting further out. We were not the first persons who had viewed the Yarra falls from this spot, for we saw a tree with a blaze on it, on which was a name, partly overgrown with bark, whioh we made out to be A. Burns. We then crossed over, scrambled along the face of the cliff and made our way down an other hundred feet or two, and got another vlew of tho falls, with, however, the disadvantage that we were too close to see far up or down. This point was by the barometer 550 feet below the top of tho fall. We could see the fall for about 50 feet below it. It was a continuous fall all the way, interrupted only by small ledges. There is, however, no reason to suppose that the lowest point to which we could see was anywhere near the bottom of the fall. Judging from the appearance of the valley it was far from being so. The total height of the fall therefore, can scarcely be less than 700 feet or 900 feet; it is probably 1000 feet.

We had not seen by any means as much of the falls as we should have liked, but we were compelled to return. It was Tuesday, and R. had to be In a distant part of Victoria by the following Monday morning for this purpose It was necessary that, he should be in Melbourne by Saturday. We could scarcely do this unless we moved on that day. Moreover, our oats were running out, and there was not a scrap of feed at our present camp, while our tracing showed that on the Thompson, 4 miles on, there was grass. We accordingly turned back towards our camp. In returning we got a veew of a great cascade, forming the topmost rip on the fall, which we had not seen going down.

By half-past one we had regained our camp. We then bathed in the Yarra, had lunch, struck our camp, and started for the Thompson, where we hoped to camp that night. It was shown by our tracing to be 4 miles distant. The track in the first instance followed the ridge of the very low spur between the main arm of the Yarra and tho tributary that joined it just below our camp. After a little the track forked; we took, the left fork, which took us down to the tributary at a point where two creeks united to form it; beyond this the track was not apparent. After a little we found a place where a tent bad been pitched, with a rude platform of round timber to raise it off the ground. We had evidently come upon an old surveyor’s camp. That explained how it was that the track ran out. We accordingly returned and took tho right hand fork of the track. After we had gone about three quarters of a mile the track turned down to and crossed the creek on our left, and shortly afterwards began to ascend a ridge on a sideling. The top of this ridge was not. more than 100 feet or so above our camp. On it we found white gum timber.

The rldge was narrow, and the track immediately descended on a sideling on the other side, about 300 feet Into a narrow valley containing a fine stream of water. The sides of the valley were lined with beech trees, with a few tree ferns. This creek must form the right fork of the Yarra as laid down on the maps; and as its level appeared lower than the top of the falls, must join, the left fork below them. Crossing the creek we ascended on a steep sideling on the other side to a height somewhat greater than that from which we had descended, and found ourselves in a forest of white gums mixed with beech trees, with a good deal of undergrowth. The creek, however, continued tolerably clear. We were now upon the crest of the dividing range, between the waters of the Yarra and the Thompson, marked on the maps as Wright’s range. A little before seven o’clock the track began to descend gently, and we reached a fine stream of water crossing the track from north to south, spanned by a good log bridge.

This stream, which was much larger than either fork of the Yarra, or, I should say, than both of them together, we made out to be the Thompson. Here we determined to camp. A little way up from the river, to the right of the track we had come by we found an open glade carpeted with good grass. On this were the remains of an old survey camp, consisting of log platforms, similar to that we had noticed on the Yarra. There appeared to be a succession of rich glades along the river, divided only by low scrub, tall timber not being found till some little way up the slopes on either side. There was, therefore, a clear view up and down tho river for some way over the top of the scrub. We could see the sky, too, overhead and in front of us. All this was a change after the dense grass through which we had been traveling for the last four days, The edge of the other valley was lined with large white gums, say 100 foot high, with straight, thick limbs tapering to the top, and wide spreading arms a little more than half way up. The slopes behind were covered with a mass of plants of different kinds. Every here and there above this rose to a great height huge logs, white with age and black with fire, without limbs, broken at the top. Though generally impressed by the view, there was a feeling of solitude connected with this camp not experienced elsewhere in the course of this trip. The height of this camp was 2300 feet above M’Mahon’s, or only 100 feet lower than our camp on the Yarra. We were still, however, above a high plateau, as high or higher than the top of Mount Macedon. We were now about 23 miles from Reefton, and about 14 from Mount Lookout.

Part 3:

‘After bathing in the Thompson, which we found about up to our waists, and very cold, we had breakfast, and made another start. We crossed the bridge and ascended the opposite hill. The track was good, and after a time we got among the green saplings and wattles. They were about 9 inches at the butt and about 30 feet high. They grew thickly on each side of the track, and were often fallen across it. So we continued for about 2 miles, apparently keeping near the ridge of a spur. At this point the track turned a little off the ridge to the right, crossing the head of a valley, which ran south, to join the Thompson.

Just as we got across this valley we came to a pile of huge granite holders, and from this spot we got a fine view down the valley, and up the Thompson, with Mount Baw Baw in the back ground. Just beyond there was a heavy fall of dead, timber, which we got past with some difficulty. The track was again clear for a little. It then crossed the ridge, and we got on to a sideling sloping to our left. Here we came to another heavy fall of dead timber. Some logs 100 feet long and several feet through at the butt had fallen across the track, bringing down with them great quantities of the sap-lings and wattles. The track was blocked in this way for 100 yards or more. We had to endeavor to carry our packs over the obstacle, and then find places where the horse would jump the logs, or they were sufficiently broken to enable him to scramble over them, and move the saplings for him to get there.

We loaded again, and proceeded a few hundred yards. Here we came to a worse block, and extending a long way ahead. It had taken us two hours hard work to traverse the eighth of a mile. We were then 12 miles from Mount Lookout, and at this stage R. advised that we should separate, the three of us returning with the horse to Reefton by the way we had come, he going on alone to Mount Lookout. This we consented to the more readiiy, as it would enable us to get another view of the Yarra Falls. We accordingly separated, R. taking with him a light swag, proceeding alone, and the three of us returning to our camp of the night before. R, expected to reach Mount Lookout that night. If he found that he would not get through he expected to be able to rejoin us before we left Mr. Thompson’s the next morning. We could not but feel that R. had embarked on rather a perilous journey. On the other hand we did not doubt that he was well able to take care of himself. He had before travelled with me in the wilderness in a somewhat similar way. As to ourselves we felt that we had lost the best man of our party; it was due no doubt mainly to his excellent pioneering that we had got thus far.

On our return to the granite knoll we admired the view at greater leisure. The undulating ridge of the plateau, covered with foliage of diverse tints; the red of the gum saplings contrasting with the deep green of the wattles and the huge black and white trunks that at intervals towered above it. In the back ground were Mt. Baw Baw appearing as an isolated group of rounded pyramids or conical domes rising to a great height above the plateau on the south-east, and that notwithstanding that the granite knoll was 2600 feet above M’Mahon’s, or between 3000 and 1000 feet above the sea, and the ground between us and Baw Baw was rising. We returned to the Thompson, and camped a second time upon the same spot.

The next day we left our camp standing and walked to the Yarra to have another cooler at the falls. We had a pleasant walk through the beech forest, the dark shade of which was set off by the straggling gleams of bright sunlight which found their way between the trees. We had lunch under a small fall. A little above this was a great fall, which was shaded by the ferns, and very pretty. We then began to descend the great fall from the top, keeping near the edge of the creek, and saw a fine series of cascades. Still, we could see but a small por-tion at once. After getting over 100 or 200 feet, we came to a high rock, jutting out on the left bank of the stream. To the top of this we climbed, and were rewarded with a magnificent view. The face of the fall was visible for 300 or 400 feet, the upper and lower portion gleaming through a pale green veil of ti-tree. Looking outwards, we could see far down the Yarra Valley a countless succession of wooded ridges, rising to the right and left, one behind the other, with tints varying with the distance.

The next day we struck our camp on the Thompson, and for the two succeeding days we proceeded without difficulty till we got to Mount Horsefall, where we found it impossible to retrace the track we had come by. After wasting some time in looking for it, we determined to act on R.’s advice and abandon the track, and try and make our way through the beech forest on the south side of the range. This we did, keeping under the beech trees, but in sight of the white logs on the top of the mount. The ground was so soft that the horse could keep his footing, not-withstanding the steepness of the incline, and in about twenty minutes we got round into our track again without any difficulty.

At tbe foot of Mount Horsefall we saw a track coming in from the south, which we had not noticed coming. We took it to be a a track marked on our tracings as Bennett’s track. When as we returned to our old camp at the ten miles water, we had no oats for our horse, but he was sufficiently hungry to eat plenty of the rank grass, On reaching the top of hill where the finger post ought to have been we saw a track turning towards the south, A little after we plunged again into the dense scrub. We found it impossible to keep our former track, but finding ourselves by the ridge we fought our way through it as best we could.

We were not a little glad when we again made the Excelsior shaft. After this the travelling was easy. On reaching the place where the old track turned off to Alderman’s Creek, we thought we would follow it and camp there. But finding the descent would be very great, we turned back and camped on the ridge, which the supply of water in the hut enabled us to do.

The next day we set out for Reefton. Not withstanding the rain which had taken place, the little water holes were quite dry. Going down the thick spur we had a fine view of a nameless mountain mass on the opposite side of the Yarra, whose steep and rugged sides were seamed with an irregular network of foliage. We descended the deep spur, and arrived at Reefton. We had eaten up all our provisions, our boots were nearly worn off our feet, our garments were ragged, but we were in good spirits, for we had seen the falls.

Here we met Mr. Lewis, and were hospitably entertained by him and his wife, which we thoroughly appreciated, and next day left for the metropolis. On reaching Melbourne I found a letter from R., narrating his adventures. He wrote : — ” After I left you on Wednesday, I had a fearful rough walk for four miles. In fact the logs were lying so thickly together and the scrub so high that it looked as if it had never been cleared. After the first four miles or so the want of water caused me much delay, as I could not find the track, and had to guess where it was, and very nearly having to return; however, I guessed where it was, and followed it on till I come to a spur leading down to the river, when I picked it up again, the blazes being well marked here where they were not so much required.

When I arrived at the river, I saw cattle tracks along the bank and knew there must be somebody living not far off. After following it down for about three miles, I suddenly came upon a selector’s bark mansion. To my surprise there were some girls outside, more surprised than I was, not only as to my state of dress, but as to where I had come from, as there had not been anybody through this part for about five years. After regaling myself with a delicious glass of gooseberry wine, I passed on to the next crossing, where a miner lives, who kindly gave me a good tea and put me on the track to Mount Lookout a distance of two miles, uphill all the way (by the clock), where I arrived at eleven o’clock at night, and was refused a bed till I convinced the proprietor that I was not a sun-downer on the wallaby track.

… It would have taken at least a week to do the four miles after I left you with the pack horse.” We saw lyre birds at intervals all the way along the South Dividing Range of the Yarra, and thence as far as we went, and we also saw trace of wombats, and we killed a snake on Mount Horsefall, bnt we neither saw nor heard any other animals, whether birds or beasts. This absence of life made the part we passed through particularly silent, except for the sound of the wind among the trees, or of falling water when we were near the Yarra, Different members of the party drew com-parisons between the Yarra Falls and other waterfalls they had seen— the Stevenson, the Erskine, the Watts, the Eurobbin, the Wentworth, the Wannon.

In general character the Yarra Falls resemble those of the Stevenson more than any of the others. They are higher and have more water in them, but it is difficult to obtain a good sight of them. The views now to be got of the Yarra Falls more nearly resemble those to be got of the Stevenson before the new track was cut which exposed the entire face of the fall, I am not aware that the height of the falls of the Watts have ever been measured, but I should say from recollection that it is considerably greater than the height of the Yarra Falls, and that there is more water. On the other hand, the fall of the Watts is less abrupt, being interrupted by long slides, where the water, unbroken and transparent, comes down an excessively steep incline with a rapidity dazzling to look at.

I saw none of these slides on the Yarra, the fall being broken by short slopes only. While the Yarra falls over the edge of a precipitous and wooded declivity, the Watts rushes down the bottom of a vast and steep gorge between Mount Juliet and Mount Strickland, the wooded sides of which descend to the water’s edge in steep unbroken slopes of, I should say, at least 2000 feet. As compared with the Eurobbin Falls in Victoria and the Wentworth in New South Wales, the Yarra Falls were considered to contain more water, but do not present the feature of an unbroken fall of vast height which distinguishes the former. As compared with the Loutit Bay Falls, I do not think I saw on the Yarra any one cascade unbroken by steps as high as the Splitter’s Falls, or even as the falls of the Erskine. But both these latter falls are seen from valleys where the view is much shut in, and where consequently, the actual height is not liable to be dwarfed by comparison with greater heights or depths.

A further question that may arise is how far the Yarra Falls will repay a visit, and that is a matter that must depend much upon the idiosyncrasy of the questioner. The Stevenson, the Erskine or even the Wentworth Falls can be seen with much less expenditure of time and labor. On the other hand, a journey of 20 miles through virgin forests intersected by the Splitter’s Creek would to many be an additional attraction. It is a great change for a man who passes his life in a large city to find himself in a few hours transferred into utter solitude. There is also a certain interest in seeing things which few people have seen, especially if they relate to something, as the River Yarra, with which we are all well acquainted.

There is a certain pleasure to be derived from encountering and surmounting difficulties. The mind is completely taken out of its accustomed train by the immediate necessity of devoting the whole attention to the passing incidents of the journey. The extent to which this is the case few people will conceive who have never taken a trip of the kind. One appears to forget, for the time, everyday life, as if he had been all his life a wanderer in the wilderness. To those who look at things in this light I would recommend a trip to the Yarra Falls. The high plateau from the opposite edge of which flow the Latrobe, is altogether uninhabited. In winter it is covered with deep snow, In spring the waters of the Goulburn, the Yarra and tbe back forests become swamps. During the summer the water sapped up by the ground will slowly drain off, making the streams perennial.

At the present time settlement is prevented by the inaccessible nature of the country, but this would not be a permanent obstacle ; a little engineering skill would no doubt carry a dray road on to the plateau, after which there would bo no further difficulty, except from vegetation. Some years hence, therefore, there may be a movement to take up this country. Since my return I have been questioned as to the character of the soil; I said it was good, but of course no grass would grow under the timber, “That,” the answer was, “is a small matter. If the soil is good it is easy to ring the trees.”

It is a matter, therefore, for consideration what ought to be done in anticipation of such a movement. It would add to the colony some square miles of summer pastures and perhaps of cornfields, but it would have other effects of a different character. The snow no longer shaded by the dark foliage of the beech trees would, melt more rapidly. The ground exposed to the summer sun would harden and absorb less water, and there would be a probable diminution of the rainfall, The result would be disastrous floods in the spring when the snow melted, followed by a quickly diminished pe-manent flow of the stream during the summer. It would seem well, therefore, that some steps should be taken permanently to preserve these forests in their present state. How far this is now done incidentally by reason of tbe country being included in auriferous reserves I do not know.’

Turns out there is still more to find out about the Yarra Falls hut:

‘State Party Marooned. Trafalgar and Yarragon Times Friday 8th February 1918.

Tourist Hut Gives Shelter.

Under the above heading the Herald on Monday last says:-

When the storm broke on Saturday a Parliamentary and departmental party led by Mr. Barnes, M.L.A., which was returning on horseback from a trip to the head of the Yarra to inspect the district timber resources took shelter in the tourist hut near Yarra Falls.

“The rain fell in bucketsfull”, said one member of the party today in describing his experience.

​”Men and horse soon looked as if they had been wading through a stream. Our boots were full of water. When we reached the tourist hut we had to strip off our clothes and dry them at a fire. While our clothes dried we had to be content with less raiment than is ordinarily worn in the busy haunts. We had a Railway Department photographer with us but he refrained from snapshoting us as we wore rags and other coverings, which are stored at the hut. We stayed all Saturday night at the hut, and left on Sunday morning.”

The party, in addition to Mr. Barnes consisted of Mr. M. Hannah, M.L.A. vice-chairman, and members of the New Industries Institute.’

Once again I am grateful to Thomas Osburg for finding and sharing these historic treasures.

See also:






27/11/2017: Strange things…Dog-faced bat: Buettikofer’s epauletted fruit bat


27/11/2017: Weightless: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oos4ojutOMM&feature=youtu.be

26/11/2017: Hummingbird Knife: What a beautiful little keychain knife (what with Xmas coming up too!) The Rike Knife Damascus Hummingbird Mini Flipper Knife. The overall construction is impressive: The flipper is made with a damascus steel blade, titanium handle, and ceramic ball bearing washer system. It weighs 17 grams and comes in four different colours.

Rike Hummingird Knife


Blade: Damasteel

HRC: 58–59

Blade style: Drop-point

Grind: Flat

Handle: Titanium

Frame lock

Manual opening with flipper tab

Ceramic ball bearing washers

Pocket clip for right-handed tip-up carry

Lanyard hole

Handle thickness: 0.3 in (0.8 cm)

Blade thickness: 0.09 in (2.3 mm)

Blade length: 1.5 in (3.8 cm)

Closed length: 2.25 in (5.7 cm)

Overall length: 3.75 in (9.5 cm)

Weight: 0.6 oz (17 g)


Available on Massdrop US$74.99(Nov 2017)

25/11/2017: The Remote Wonnangatta, Day Two: Posted Monday night on Facebook: 'Listen to the birdsong: 6:30am Monday morning in one of the most remote spots in Victoria, Wonnangatta River Alpine Nat Park. From Melbourne it would take you 7 1/2 hours by car (1 1/2 of them 4WD) and either a solid day's hiking or 4 hours in a pack raft to get there, but it is worth it! (Another 7 hours paddling and 6 hours driving to get home - 4 for me. I will sleep well tonight...well I did last night actually despite the dingo chorus rolling around the mountains. Trip report here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/pack-rafting-the-remote-wonnangatta/'


I had to get out at this rapid (about half way between the Moroka and Eaglevale anyway, so I thought i would record it. The sound alone should kindle a desire in your heart to be there yourself:


As you can see my Pocket Poncho Tent (185 grams) worked a treat, though it did not rain actually. If it had I would have been snug and dry. There was ample room for myself and all my gear scattered around the edges. I could manage to not touch the top or sides so my sleeping bag stayed dry, though there was of course the normal condensation you get from the inside of the shelter being warmer than the outside.There is nothing to be done about 'dew point'. It is a physical reality - but you don't need a double skinned tent (or all the weight). A simple tarp like this (and a Polycro groundsheet - at 46 grams) is quite adequate: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-ground-sheet/)

My breakfast view.  There is certainly plenty of firewood here - which I find very sad. The two big fires which came through here back about 2008-9 killed vast numbers of trees (and even vaster numbers of animals and birds). This fire-killed wood is now dropping everywhere (you have to be careful where you camp) and blocking up the river awfully in places. Curiously, it burns not unlike pine. All the goodness has been 'cooked' out of it somehow. A small pile of wood which used to last you overnight is now replaced with about a trailer load's worth (which does not). Morning and night the well-nigh deafening echoing valleys of morning and evensong are mostly silent. Along the rivers the birds are starting to come back, as the video - well the audio actually above illustrates.

About to set out - looking up towards the top flat.

And downstream.And off I go again!Mt von Guerard Creek confluence - notice the tiny waterfall. Just below here there used to be a giant log jam I guess an acre tor two) which made for a very difficult portage. It persisted for 30+ years I guess. Eventually the river changed its course!

Looking back at the beginning of the bottom flat.

Rounding the bottom flat.

There is a bit of a rocky run below the bottom flat (and below the small flat below it).

Looking back up river in the deep pool above the small flat.

It's a great pool isn't it? I have eaten a few trout out of this one, I can tell you!As I said there is another rocky run below the small flat.

Lots of dragons:

And I am at Mt Darling Creek confluence.

Looking downstream from Mt Darling Creek, looking upstream.

At Mt Darling confluence: Look at this. I was there about six weeks ago and some guy had purloined an old tent (and other things) I had wrapped in a garden bag and hidden under a tree to shelter all his possessions with. He had also bagsed my campsite which I had long ago cleared - and burned my gathered firewood. And it it still just the same - but no-one around. This is apart from having made use of the walking track I had cleared - to this point. Now it is just his campsite alone apparently (and I will have to make another, a more discreet one for myself). Usually I expect more civilised conduct in the bush, but yobbos get everywhere nowadays! How many dozens of times I have camped here. I should have left him a note, except I don't really want to know him.

There is another rocky race below Mt Darling, then a nice little rapid.

The Snowy Bluff looms on your right.

There is a huge deep pool on a left hand corner. What monstrous fish it harbours. The river does a big remote loop to the left then.

The deer have been wallowing right in the river on this loop!

Coming out of the loop into straighter, deeper sections.And soon I have come to the Moroka confluence! At about 4 1/2 hours from Hernes Spur I am a bit over half way to Eaglevale.

Another view looking up the Moroka. What a splendid little river and an excellent trout stream it is...but that is for another day!

Looking upstream to Moroka Glen (road's end). I forgot to take a snap of it as I passed.

Time for a spot of lunch under a shady tree - actually there are not so many of these since the parks vandals removed all the willows - and all but destroyed the river. Given enough time they will destroy all our public lands! There is going to be a lot of work for such as you and me replanting all those willows and poplars!

Off again. Another tree down across the river.

And my signature finger again.

Look at this mighty granite extrusion. What awesome cataclysms there have been in the past. I'm glad I wasn't standing here when this happened. It looks like a mighty alien spaceship has crashed into the earth, and coalesced.

The view from behind it.

If you scan this bare hillside you will discern innumerable animal paths. Della and I camped here once (see the lovely beach around the bend in the next shot). This bare face was just opposite us. A deer honked at us loudly for nearly an hour from right in the middle of this clear hillside, yet neither of us was able to make it out at all. They are such geniuses at using the slightest bit of cover to disguise themselves!

Great beach isn't it - and what a swimming hole!

I just love this wonderful syncline too. Earth in upheaval!

Another fine beach.

And another syncline.

And yet another log jam. Thank goodness the pack raft only weighs a bit over 2 kg.

looking back at the confluence of the Sugarloaf Creek. We are now adjacent to private land all the way to Eaglevale (approx the last two hours).

Willows would once (not long ago) have held this bank together.

Now the farmer's brand new fence is being swept away every time the river rises. You have to feel sorry for these mountain cattlemen. The statists and bureaucrats have stolen their mountain grazing leases. Now they have stolen their river banks and forced them to fence them off even though (with the willows gone) that will most definitely not work. I do so love government! I would love it to death actually. Perhaps like Oscar Wilde's Kings and Priests (the last of one he hoped to live to see strangled with the gizzards of the last of the other) I will live to see the last Government disappear from the earth - 'not with a bang but a whimper' - as T.S.Elliot said in 'The Waste Land'. Or maybe not. it is awfully triumphant everywhere just now!

The greenery here attests to the benefits of phosphorus.

The first swing bridge.

The old pump and the new. The new will not last a smidgeon that the old has. Eventually the farmer will be reinstating the mill - when the solar gibberish expires!

A delightful brace of spur-winged plovers takes flight.

Another great wall. And observe the contrail. Other folks are out and about exploring the world too - in their own way! I would rather be here.

At last, after another hour, the Eaglevale Bridge.

See Also:






Section 1: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/wonnangatta-kingwell-bridge-to-black-snake-creek/

Section 2: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/wonnangatta-black-snake-to-hut-creek/

Section 3: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/wonnangatta-hut-creek-to-waterford-bridge/


For River Heights: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/canoeing-the-wonnangatta-catching-the-wave/







24/11/2017: Pack Rafting the Remote Wonnangatta, Day 1: Suppose you didn't have two 4WDs, or a 4WD at all...Nonetheless, could you hitch a 4WD ride to the Wonnangatta Station so you could pack raft the Upper Wonnangatta from the Humffray Confluence to Eaglevale? Sure Can! (Fridays afternoons or) Saturday mornings are definitely the best option. If you are there early, within an hour a veritable convoy will come along with lots of empty seats heading your way. Cars have to come to a virtual standstill to negotiate the difficult river crossing, so if you park your car under a shady conveniently located tree right next to the crossing and wait, looking forlorn and hopeful, someone will be sure to take pity on you. I did it last Sunday (as I was delayed by a day) and had to wait a whole hour.

Given that the drive each way (Eaglevale-Hernes Spur) is 1 1/2 hours (and you would normally need two 4WD vehicles, leaving one at the Wombat or Hernes Spur and taking the other one in later to pick it up), this still saved hours of driving for two drivers - and of course it meant I could do the trip by myself. (Eaglevale is approximately 6 hours from Melbourne. (Take the left turn off the Dargo Road onto the Wonnangatta Road after you pass the Waterford Bridge and Guy's Caravan Park - last fuel/ice). As I was by myself, there was no other way to do it save walking up the river (from Moroka Glen) and canoeing back - a couple of  grueling days in the heat - by which time the water (such as it was) would have been gone!

Two lovely young blokes from Traralgon graciously gave me a lift on their first (fishing) trip into the Wonnangatta. I doubt it will be their last. They were good company too - but my last company for the remainder of the trip, as I prefer it anyway. They headed down the Wombat Spur (Humffray Confluence), so I had two extra hours paddling - as it turned out (compared with putting in at the Hernes Spur). Still, I experienced  the entire navigable section of the river.

And here they are (with their Jeep) at the Wombat Spur crossing. What a lovely day it is:

I will split the post in two - as there are lots of photographs - so you can imagine a night spent regaling yourself by the river, rocked to sleep by the murmur of the river on its bars - after dining on fresh-caught trout, lullabied by the returning evening chorus, etc. The photos are in order to give you an impression of the totality of the journey. Mostly I will just allow the photos to speak for themselves. There are zillions of spots where you can pull out and make a delightful camp. I have included a couple of video clips to give you a better 'feel' for the experience. These are not professional productions.

There are around seven road crossings of the Wonnangatta between the Wombat and Hernes Spurs. If you have made a mistake and there is just definitely not enough water you can pull out and hitch back from Hernes Spur. On the other hand, this section (though quite nice) takes about two hours, so if you are in a hurry, you might walk the distance in half that time and save yourself an hour by beginning at Hernes Spur (supposing you were dropped off at the Wombat Spur). If you were camped in the vicinity you could take turns doing trips between the two tracks Wombat/Hernes) and maybe doing a spot of fishing. I simply paddled on...

This is my rig. I have an Alpacka 'Fiord Explorer', an Aqua Bound paddle, my old Zpacks Blast pack with its Gossamer Gear Airbeam pad (they have been a lot of places with me). Inside is three days food, my Pocket Poncho Tent, my take-down .308 BLR - all the gear I need. Something like this: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-gorilla-in-the-hand/ There would be plenty of room for a small dog (who remonstrated with me about being left out, I can assure you!), but you just can't count on hitch-hiking with a dog!

There does not look as if there is quite enough water at the crossing...

But, maybe...I will give it a 'go' anyway:

It soon gets better.

All along the trip you have to watch out for log jams and log overhangs.

The rapids are only ever Grade 1 - perhaps the odd Grade 2. But you need to watch out: there are lots of submerged rocks.

There are lots of great fishing spots - and zillions of tasty trout. Sorry about my finger in the snap below - a signature thing actually!

Lots of pretty beaches...

So much fire-killed timber. Be careful how you negotiate overhangs like this one.

Many 'welcome' little guys like this which nest under the bank overhangs along the river.

Be careful how you approach things like this. Plenty of folk have died under such logs.

Here is the Hernes Spur crossing. If you go past this point without intending to, you will have a long paddle (over 8 hours more) - or a very long walk back!

Plenty of dragons watch you pass.

You would have to get out for this one. This is where a pack raft comes into its own. Simply unclip the pack, swing it on, pick up the raft in one hand, the paddle in the other as a walking stick, and off you go:

This duck imagines she is hiding.

Great fishing hole!

Coming up to the top flat (right). One hour from Hernes Spur.

Looking upstream from the top flat.

Just a couple more bends. Say half an hour...

Here is a little video just to give you a feel for the sights and sounds of being on the river. This was taken between Wombat and Hernes Spur:


And I spot a pleasant camp on the true left bank just above Mt von Guerard Creek. Put yourself in this picture perhaps (my pocket poncho tent looks very nice in that scenario doesn't it?):

Like this:

Here is another little video to give you a feeling for the beauty/tranquillity of the spot I camped in and some idea of how the morning chorus has returned:


As I did not launch until 1:30 pm, I had one short day (3 1/2 hours) and one longer one (7 hours). If you were at Eaglevale at 7:00 am, you would probably be putting in to the river by 9:30 am, so you might camp somewhere between Mt Darling Creek and the Moroka Confluence - to split the journey roughly in two. I camped about half way between the top and bottom flats, around about Mt Von Guerard Creek. If you were doing the trip over three days, this would be good. The second night you would camp say about an hour below the Moroka confluence/Moroka Glen.

View of the Snowy Bluff on the Wonnangatta River 1864 by Eugene von Guerard (this would have been painted in the vicinity of Mt von Guerard), at the top of Mt von Guerard Creek, at the confluence of which I camped (below):

Times: (please note this is with the minimum navigable gauge height and if you are nearly 70 - you may be quicker - or slower) but this will give you some idea. These are actual paddling times, not counting time spent being stargazy, eating, swimming, fishing, hunting etc. Humffray confluence/Wombat Spur track to Hernes Spur: two hours; Hernes Spur to top flat 1 hour; top flat to bottom flat 1 hour; bottom  flat to Mt Darling Creek 1 hour; Mt Darling Creek to Moroka Confluence/Moroka Glen (add ten minutes) 1 1/2 hours; Moroka Glen to first swing bridge 3 hours; first swing bridge to (second) Eaglevale swing bridge 1 hour; thus Moroka Glen to Eaglevale 4 hours.Totals: Humffray River to Eaglevale: 10 1/2 hours; Hernes Spur to Eaglevale: 8 1/2 hours.

This trip can be done in two days, but would be better over three - or more! If the river heights are suitable and you drive to Eaglevale on Friday night and camp so that you go in with the first vehicles on Saturday morning - o9r even on the Friday night (you can pitch a tent on the true right bank below the Hernes Spur crossing - get well back between the trees so no-one runs over you in the dark), you can be back to Eaglevale on Sunday afternoon with enough time to drive home again! It is likely that someone else who is going in on Saturday morning will be camped at Eaglevale on a Friday night, so you can maybe arrange your lift over a couple of cold ones!

Gauge Heights: This is hard to judge. For a reasonable trip, I would recommend a gauge height of 1.8 metres at Waterford which is probably about 1.5 metres at Crooked River. The gauge had been much lower than this (1.75/1.42) but there had been over 10 mm of rain on Thursday night. Ideally I should have left on Friday/Saturday morning and 'caught the wave'. A steady supply of water would be better, but in the summer months, don't count on it. I would like to have spent more days, but the water was quickly disappearing. As it was I had some walking to do! I estimate the gauge heights were about 1.78 at Waterford and about 1.46 at Crooked River - but falling!

See Also:






Section 1: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/wonnangatta-kingwell-bridge-to-black-snake-creek/

Section 2: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/wonnangatta-black-snake-to-hut-creek/

Section 3: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/wonnangatta-hut-creek-to-waterford-bridge/


For River Heights: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/canoeing-the-wonnangatta-catching-the-wave/







22/11/2017: Ultralight Ground Sheet:  If you are sensible and don’t use a tent, but instead sleep under a nice airy tarp, you may nonetheless want to protect your bottom and other expensive equipment with a ground sheet. As I have mentioned before a mylar space blanket (at about 50 grams) is good enough for this and does double duty by keeping you warm in an emergency – also good for your day pack when you go for a stroll away from your camp to check out that waterfall, rare orchid or monstrous stag, etc.

Another leading contender is a Polycro ground sheet. This is much tougher stuff than 'normal' plastic film such as painter's drop cloths, etc. You can buy them from Gossamer Gear here: https://www.gossamergear.com/products/polycryo-tent-footprint-ground-cloths for US$8.46 for two (Nov 2017) or you can make your own with supplies from eg Bunnings, such as this: https://www.bunnings.co.nz/3m-window-insulator-kit-5-windows_p00167658 or this: 3M Indoor Window Insulator Kit, 5-Window You get a heap of sticky tape too which might come in handy for repairs of some sort.

As you can see Milo and Spot like it too!

Gossamer Gear’s Specs (above) are as follows: Size 40 x 96 in / 102 x 244 cm 46 grams each. You can even make a transparent fly tarp (which might be cool) or tent out of this stuff if you want, as eg here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/transparent-tarp-instructions/ For a groundsheet the .75 mil material is adequate (and lighter). I like the see-through9Ness) of it actually. It really helps with finding those 'lost' small objects you dropped just now!

An equivalent piece of silpoly or silnylon, say the 1 oz/yd2 stuff would be under 4 ounces, say110 grams but would last much longer. I have been using a piece  .8 oz/yd2 spinnaker cloth for a number of years, something like this: https://www.gossamergear.com/collections/shelters/products/groundsheet which weighs 2,7 ounces or 76 grams. Diminsions: 90" / 228.5 cm long by 40" / 101.5 cm wide and costs US$40 (Nov 2017).

You could purchase 2.1 metres of silpoly material (that's enough for a double sheet ie 7' x 5' - 2.1 x 1.5 metres). It does not need hemming (that's why it's called 'Ripstop') and will last you many years. The 'dark Olive' is a nice colour. http://www.tiergear.com.au/11/products/xenon-sil-11 It costs $A11.95/metre - so your groundsheet will cost $A25

PS: This is the fabric my Pocket Poncho tent is made from. It blends in very nicely in the woods, I think. Even the deer did not notice it! See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/pack-rafting-the-remote-wonnangatta/


18/11/2017: A Wonnagatta Spring, Day Three: From Neates Track down to the Kingwell Bridge takes about 2 1/2 hours paddling. If you put in at the riverside camp just above Neates track it would take three hours. This would be a pleasant excursion if you were camped there. Mostly this section travels through farmland but as with much of the river, it does not intrude except sometimes (as in the case of the giant elms etc) to impart a sense of other-wordly beauty and majesty. Indeed the whole trip could be split into three pleasant day trips. The two sections above this would be: Eaglevale to Bullock Flat and Bullock Flat to the campground above Neates Track. Each would probably be about 3-4+ hours.

Here we are once again setting out:

Once again it is a superb Spring morning.

The river fairly glows with vitality and beauty.

This is the kind of log which would flip you out. You might not get round the inside of it. A little later on a similar log, I did not - and the two dogs and myself had a pleasant swim!

Just as we were about to come out into a view of the large clear hill on the right where the old Telstra facility used to be, there was a tiny finger of bush between the road and the river - i guess no more than 1/2 an acre. Spot began barking, wanting to jump from one canoe to the other, jump into the river, onto the bank... Of course we were snapping back at him. Then two very large sambar hinds ran regally across our path not thirty yards ahead of us. Far too quickly unfortunately for me to get my camera out and get a snap of them. Worse luck! Bizarrely enough I had managed to flip myself out on a branch just up the river and I had managed to set my camera to video mode, so I have an audio record of him barking. I had even taken my camera out of my pocket just seconds before this, realised that it was recording switched it off and slipped it back into my pocket, just after this excerpt. If I had just kept videoing for another 20 seconds I would have had a beautiful piece of film...

[video width="1440" height="1080" mp4="http://www.theultralighthiker.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/20171115094849.mp4"][/video]

Some more of that strange ochre staining just past the spot where the deer disappeared onto the left bank.

Even in death this old gum imparts a wanton beauty.

The murmur of immemorial elms:

Don't these beautiful European trees really dress a river up a treat. There should definitely be many more of them. Bring back the willows!

The Crooked River suspension bridge.

Crooked River confluence.

Still the odd pleasant rapid.

A lovely beach just up ahead. Time for 'elevenses'.

What a fine little beach.

I guess that's Conways Track winding up the hill above the flock of wood ducks.

I guess this old guy will be in the river before long - worse luck. The willows had saved it for generations, but a couple of floods, and down it goes!

Just about the last rapid - Della is looking quite expert here.

Finally the Kingwell Bridge hoves into sight.

It was a lovely trip spoiled only by these two things: seeing that hoons had just about burned down Gee's Hut at the Black Snake Creek which had been lovingly restored only recently (only to be shot full of holes - as also was the public toilet there) within about two weeks. Really, a passport ought to be a required before they let such folks out of the cities!

And this: on the main road just out of Iguana Creek someone had shot a large stag in their car's headlights and cut off its head with a chainsaw. Such expert hunting. Mind you, it had made a fine meal for this other bush predator:

See Also:




Section 1: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/wonnangatta-kingwell-bridge-to-black-snake-creek/

Section 2: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/wonnangatta-black-snake-to-hut-creek/

Section 3: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/wonnangatta-hut-creek-to-waterford-bridge/


For River Heights: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/canoeing-the-wonnangatta-catching-the-wave/







17/11/2017: A Wonnangatta Spring, Day Two: Very little rain was forecast for the three days - and very little fell. We were however treated during the night to that beautiful brooding, ominous rolling booming of thunderstorms clawing their way across the faces of the mountains, and to the mysterious comings and goings of the cervine denizens to their wallow not twenty yards away. I have picked out the best 40 or so of a couple of hundred snaps I took during the six lazy hours we were paddling on the second day. We ended up camped just below the twin bridges of Neates Track, again on a lovely grassy verge where a small stream entered the river on the true left bank. The snaps are in order, so mostly I will just allow them to reveal this wonderful river to you.

Leaving camp:

Lots of pebble races. We often had to get out at 1.75 metres. It would have been better at 1.8, but still possible at 1.70.

Duck Della.

Getting side on to a log like this would have you out too. Beware.

There were lots of these white moths feeding the many trout the river supports. Anglers take note. The river also supports carp near as big as your legs. Maybe there will be man-eaters here in the future?

The PC brigade cleared out the wonderful, beautiful willows which held the banks together. As a consequence they are falling in everywhere and the river is getting shallower and shallower - getting silted up. Replanting them will be a lot of work, but it must be done! Take a few green willow wands with you on every trip.

This little guy was in a desperate hurry to get out of sight!

Large gums are being undercut and falling - here blocking the river completely. Especially at higher levels you have to keep your eyes peeled. If you were stuck under one of these you would be a goner!

We had to climb out onto them (there were three altogether), heave the boats on top, then  tumble back into them on the other side. Chose a slack bit of water for this maneuver.

Tiny waits patiently.

What a great sky!

There are lots of lovely beaches for lunch or a snack.

This was a pretty good spot too.

Everywhere you look: postcard perfect!

I couldn't resist posting these two snaps of a wood duck. I only wished the camera had focused a little better on its flight.

Who'd have thought though that s/he took three jumps off the water in the blink of an eye!

Visual porn.

A lovely old swing bridge at Neates Track. 

Apparently you are supposed to avoid this lens rainbowing - but I love it! What a great idea for a vehicular bridge. There definitively should be more of these.

Again, a lovely grassy camp on the left bank 100 metres downstream from the bridge.

Della found this interesting deer head. She will restore its flesh with felt. An interesting trophy it will become.

A beautiful spot to camp. Stay well clear of the large gums though.

See Also:http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-wonnangatta-spring/

Section 1: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/wonnangatta-kingwell-bridge-to-black-snake-creek/

Section 2: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/wonnangatta-black-snake-to-hut-creek/

Section 3: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/wonnangatta-hut-creek-to-waterford-bridge/


For River Heights: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/canoeing-the-wonnangatta-catching-the-wave/







16/11/2017: A Wonnangatta Spring, Day One: Finding just the right conjunction of time, three days of delightful spring weather and enough water to make the river canoeable is harder now than it was before the bushfires years ago when the river height was over 1.8 metres on the Waterford gauge all summer. Now it rarely is. Last winter was quite dry so there have been few days when we had time, where the river has been at this height and the weather suitable - but the last three days looked auspicious, and even though there were only 1.75 metres on the gauge we thought we should try it before the opportunity was gone for yet another summer.

This section of river is Eagelevale around 25km down to the Kingwelll Bridge along the Wonnagatta Road (2WD). At this height we spent a little over 10 hours paddling, so it is definitely at least a two day trip (we took three, as you can see) - and it would still be very enjoyable if you took a whole week!

Here we are ready to begin just before the swing bridge at Eaglevale. There is a vast (empty) camping area here (even with a toilet).

There is the bridge just upriver. The ford across the Wonnangatta is just below it. That is where you cross if you are driving in to the Station (which we have done many times). I would not recommend crossing if the water is (much) above 1.8 metres on the Waterford gauge if you value your expensive 4WD. You also need to keep a careful eye on the forecast as it is easy to get trapped on the wrong side of the river (for months even!) and not be able to get your car back across. A friend of mine had his car on the wrong side of the river once for two months - so beware. The Hernes, Wombat and Zeka Spurs are very steep (particularly the first two), can become suicidally slippery after rain and you may not be able to get back up them.

Swing Bridge at Eaglevale:

And off we go. Spot in the lead as usual:

But old Tiny is still going too at 17 1/2! Both dogs look like they are going to enjoy the trip.

I love the granite outcrops, and this evergreen lady.

Mostly this section of the river is just pebble races,so it is quite suitable for children so long as you look out for snags such as log jams and walk around them on the inside edge.

Spot decides we can fit under that one.

This sky is what Della described as 'tenebrous'. What a wonderful vocabulary!

Some places the river is a magical mirror.

Paddling it is great fun though.

Lots of ducks along the river this year. As you paddle along, (you will have to imagine this) the air is just full of birdsong. A hundred different voices raised in a wonderful musical medley. Along this section there are lots of clear private paddocks, (mainly on the true right bank - though you cannot see them from the river, so that it feels like you are enclosed by wilderness) which received some protection from the worst excesses of the terrible wildfires, so that the birdlife in this section is something like what it was before the fires.

Just cruisin'

This shag was so replete s/he could barely fly. It waited always until the very last minute before it lumbered off looking something like 'The Spruce Goose'. I always try to get a snap of a bird taking off. It is awfully hard to do (especially when you are canoeing the river with both hands too) but sometimes you succeed.

And, how good is that:

There are lots of logs you have to watch out for. Sometimes they will occasion a portage.

You do not want to get stuck under one! Tiny agrees.

More of that tenebrous sky!

From where we live (10 km from Morwell) it is approximately a 3 1/2 hour drive (safely) to get to Eaglevale. You turn off just after you cross the Waterford Bridge (on the Dargo Road) at Guy's Caravan Park and head up the Wonnangatta Road (one of my all-time favourites). It is nearly an hour and a half  to Eaglevale. There are a number of places you can camp along the way, eg: Black Snake Creek, Kingwell Bridge, Bullock Flat and Eaglevale. There are also some places between where you can get down to the river or pull over into the bush.

What this means is that was we were dawdling getting ready and didn't leave Churchill until around midday. It was after three before we were on the river. We spent a leisurely hour and a half paddling. There were lots of other grassy flats where you could camp. We chose this one on the true left bank just before a large granite outcrop. There was a small stream entering on the left which made a little bay or anchorage for our boats - but we pulled them well up on the bank - as I have been caught out by flash-floods before.

What a delightful little grassy spot amongst the black wattles. Behind Della and Spot is the small stream I mentioned. It had quite a number of deer wallows in it.

We washed our breakfast dishes about 100 yards above our camp just above this interesting feature. We saw two places on the river like this where iron compounds were staining the rocks with ochre.

Spot inspects the cleanliness of our dishes.

There is our tent way along there. Plenty of room for a dozen tents, but we would have been somewhere else in that event!

Here is Della checking out the wallows for cast antlers. She has lots of crafty projects to use them on.

And here she is next morning setting out again from our little harbour.

See Also:

Section 1: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/wonnangatta-kingwell-bridge-to-black-snake-creek/

Section 2: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/wonnangatta-black-snake-to-hut-creek/

Section 3: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/wonnangatta-hut-creek-to-waterford-bridge/


For River Heights: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/canoeing-the-wonnangatta-catching-the-wave/







13/11/2017: Moose Hunting Pack: Just in case you really need an indestructible 93 litre pack which will carry 40 kg (100lb) plus a moose and weigh only 1.25 kg. Personally I couldn’t resist the photo. That (by the way) is an Alpacka pack raft, most likely the Fiord Explorer model, their 'moose boat'! If you haven’t got one, you are seriously deprived.

Here for example are Della and I canoeing the Wonnagatta in ours: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/pack-rafting-the-wonnangatta-mitchell/

In a similar vein, if you are interested in moose hunting (in the Antipodes), you might enjoy this: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-lure-of-the-moose/

It does look a nice pack, doesn't it?

Details here: https://seekoutside.com/divide-4500-ultralight-backpack/ usually US349 (Nov 2017) You need a Xmas present, surely?

Available on Massdrop this morning )12/11/2017) for US299 https://www.massdrop.com/buy/seek-outside-unaweep-divide?1=1&utm_placement=0&referer=EJ89BQ&mode=guest_open&utm_campaign=Automated%20Daily%20Promotional%202017-11-11&utm_source=SparkPost&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Daily%20Promotional&utm_content=1510397336979.968917496224031815359828

And Della really looks to be enjoying herself on the Wonnangatta, doesn't she? We will do this again very soon:

See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/pack-rafting-the-wonnangatta-mitchell/

11/11/2017: The Big Sky: I loved the classic novel of the same name about the American West by A.B.Guthrie, and I love the tent! You can download the ebook here: https://archive.org/details/TheBigSky_epub but you will have to buy the ultralight tent. Their ‘Wisp’ model recently fell into my hands so I could have a closer look at it – and a play in the garden with Spot and grandson, Milo!

As it came into my hands it weighed 619 grams bare (including the short rear pole). I guess it is expected you will use a hiking pole or a bush pole for the other main support. In fact I found you could use a second (third) pole to create quite a satisfactory verandah, which gives you lots of room to spread out in hot, wet weather, for example - or maybe to sit and watch the fire in colder more inclement times. If it is seriously raining and blowing it will shut down into an impregnable watertight mode.

I added all the extra guys you could ever need. The tent comes with lots of extra tie-out points. It can be erected with just 8 shepherd’s hook pegs but can be secured against the “Roaring Forties’ with a total of 17, if you wish. With the added guys and the micro line locks it now weighs 650 grams (probably with a bit of grass and dirt from my boots still attached), and is as you can see a bit smaller than a large soft drink bottle.

It goes up very easily with no fiddling around adjusting things, and is immediately taut. Once it is up (if it is secured with all those extra guys), nothing is going to shift it. Of course it has an excellent bathtub floor big enough for your mattress, pack and lots of spreading out - and commodious insect netting.

Milo checks out the verandah - Yep, big enough for a boy or two!

Plenty of room to stretch out with all your gear - and a dog. There is a largish net pocket to stow your overnight necessities such as glasses, torch, hearing aids, ebook, etc. Above my head (below) you can see a loop of yellow spectra I would hang my torch from so i could see to cook, read etc.

There is even room for a couple of friends to come sit and visit.

Spot thinks it is swell anyway, and can't wait to get away up the bush. Milo checks that it is all secure.

Plenty of tie-outs for the roughest weather.

It has two triangular vents at the peak which are held open with short light props secured with velcro - a top idea, which I will copy!

The short end pole slips into a hidden channel and is secured by a piece of webbing and velcro.

This will be an excellent one person hiking, fishing, hunting tent. It is intelligently thought out and extremely well-made. I would not hesitate to recommend it. I would mark two arrows with a texta, perhaps on the doorway so that I could set up my hiking pole exactly the right length (or break a bush stick) so that the tent just goes up: Snap! The tent is also available in cuben if you have a large wallet. In that material it only weighs 300 grams: http://bigskyproducts.com/big-sky-wisp-1p-trekking-pole-tent-lightest-weight.aspx

It is available in Melbourne from my favourite store: https://backpackinglight.com.au/ for A$359 (Nov 2017).

PS: 'Big Sky' is also a classic 1952 film starring Kirk Douglas - one of my favourites! There are five books altogether in Guthrie's sequence (the Big Sky deals with the Mountain Men): next is The Way West, then Fair Land, Fair Land. Others in the series are: These Thousand Hills, Arfive and The Last Valley. ‘The Way West’ is available here: https://openlibrary.org/works/OL2944434W/The_way_west - an interesting resource.

11/11/2017: Keep on Hiking: https://www.outsideonline.com/2255056/82-year-old-broke-appalachian-trail-age-record


09/11/2017: Never Lose Your Hearing Aids Again: After playing around for some time with some Dyneema fishing line and a micro cord lock to secure my hearing aids when I am in the bush or canoeing (which by the way worked well) I am delighted to learn there is a commercial alternative which whilst not so secure, is a lot simpler. These devices are called: Hearing Aid Oto Clips A couple of examples: https://adcohearing.com/categories/clips-and-loss-prevention and https://www.amazon.com/OtoClips-BTE-ITE-Hearing-Aids/dp/B00YCK55E0 Try an Ebay search for ‘hearing aid clips’. They are usually less then $10.


As you can see these devices only attach the two aids together, which certainly makes them harder to lose – but easier to lose both. For added secrity you could tie a length of dyneema fishing line (or the like) to the two loops with a micro cord lock attached so that you can shorten the line which you would run around your neck.



See Also:



08/11/2017: Adjustable Hammock Ridgeline: A Great Idea: It adds 6 grams to my hammock set-up but improves comfort much more than that by allowing a flatter ‘hang’ – and it allows for somewhere to hang your gear. It works on the same principle as the Whoopie Sling. Genius. I bought mine from this guy for A$16.95 (Nov 2017). http://www.tiergear.com.au/11/products/adjustable-hammock-ridgeline

Mine was red. Here it is in action in the garden with Spot supervising:

A variety of Ridgeline Gear Organisers exist to stow various overnight items in (eg phone, glasses, drink bottle, head torch, hearing aids). For example: http://www.tiergear.com.au/11/products/hammock-storage-systemsand http://www.hammockgear.com/hammock-gear-ridgeline-organizer/

These little guys are very handy too. Just add a mini carabiner: http://www.tiergear.com.au/11/products/prussik-loops-pair

Some other ideas here: https://hennessyhammock.com/pages/tips-from-users-1#

Instructions for DIY here: http://www.tiergear.com.au/25/diy-hammock-ridgeline-organiser

Some other good ideas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lqlCvHtSDAM  (better if you place the cordlock inside the loop) & here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K2-rfD-VA6s

Shown is my Hummingbird Hammock which weighs a mere 147 grams, and which kept me safe in one of the wettest places on the planet the Dusky Track, Fiordland new Zealand. . I would use this set-up with a lightweight tarp such as this Heron Rain Tarp which weighs 8.6 ounces or 245 grams and costs US$144.95 (Nov 2017) or this Standard Hammock Tarp which weighs 7 ounces or 198 grams and costs US$249!.

You could use either tarp as an on-ground shelter and the hammock as a groundsheet if you wanted to – as I explained here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-ultralight-deer-hunter/

See Also: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hammock-hunting-till-dark/

I have many other posts about hammocking, as a search at the top of the page will reveal.

04/11/2017: Ultralight Compact Hiking Pole: We have used GG’s LT4 poles for many years. In just the last year mine have been to Everest and back, and many other places besides, such as the Dusky Track, and Mt Bartle Frère for example. The LT4s are a little long to fit in your pack when you are not using them, though GG packs have attachment points on the outside they can be lashed to. I have a pair of shortened (2’) two section poles which will fit in my pack, but these LT5s will do so right from the store. These would make a great Xmas present for your hiking other if you order them now. https://www.gossamergear.com/products/lt5-three-piece-carbon-trekking-poles-pair  US$195 per pair.


The collapsed poles have a short profile


Pole with strap and basket - 5.3 oz / 150 g

Pole -  4.6 oz / 130 g

Strap and screw - .4 oz / 12 g

Basket - .3 oz / 8 g

Adjust from

23.5" / 60 cm when closed to 51" 130 cm when fully extended for hiking

Section Lengths

Top section 19.5" / 49.53 cm

Middle section 19.25" / 48.98 cm

Tip section 18.75" / 47.62 cm

(Sections are replaceable separately should you break one - unlikely, though I have managed to cut one of my LT4s in half with a machete - don't ask!)

03/11/2017: Ultralight Rain Jackets: I am looking around for a new rain jacket of both of us. People’s raincoats often weigh as much as 500 grams. Try weighing yours. So there is nearly a day’s worth of food (weight) to be saved in exploring a change to this item alone.

For many years I hunted deer in winter in the Victorian mountains carrying only a bum-bag or one of those poacher’s vests to keep all my gear down to a minimum. If it was not raining when I started out so that I was wearing my raincoat (which I would tie around my waist - as you do) if it stopped, all I ever carried was one of those 50 gram emergency ponchos (orange is a good colour in case you need to be found!). Often it rained all day. Admittedly I shredded them completely in the rough bush, but they even then they did keep me substantially dry. If you are track walking only, (and are careful with them - and have a bit of emergency repair tape besides) you can keep one going for several days. The best part is they cost only $1-3! You would be even better carrying one of Coghlans Emergency Survival Ponchos (mylar) at 88 grams and approx $10 as they will also keep you warm – even overnight in an emergency.

PS: Waterproofness and Breathability: I doubt very much of a raincoat ever needs to be over 1500mm of waterproofness. What this means ois that the fabric will support a column of water 1500mmm height (That’s 5’ in English!) before it begins to leak. Unless you are planning to use your raincoat as a boat, that will be quite enough. I doubt it can ver rain hard enough to exceed the weight of 5’ of water pressing onto it. Mind you, where there is also other pressure (eg your shoulder straps, that will have to be added to the waterproofness, so maybe, just maybe. Most every raincoat is over 10,000mmm of waterproofness, so I think you can probably ignore any figure over this. They will all keep out the rain!

As to breathability. I admit I was awestruck when Goretex first came along and wasted lots of good money on their rain jackets. I never found they were any better than my old oiled or waxed japaras. Under the right (or wrong) conditions of humidity you would get soaked to the skin in either! I have thought Event was a little better, but I have since been utterly drenched in that too – so I don’t know. A girl reviewing the Arcteyx below claims utterly superior breathability – perhaps I need to try that out!

We have a number of reasonably lightweight raincoats, some of which have done us sterling service in pretty wet places like Fiordland or Southern Tasmania, for example. Sometimes though, you can not like the feel or fit of a particular coat without finding any other fault with it. It is probably much like shoes and handbags (or cats as Lewis Carroll used to say): you just can’t have too many of them. Naturally though, the lighter the fabric the less durable the jacket will be in rough going. If you are going to be doing a lot of bush-bashing over the life of your jacket you should not choose an ultralight raincoat. We would mainly be buying a new ultralight jacket as a weight saving to have in our packs on multi-day hikes when we were not expecting it to rain.

Naturally I would want a raincoat Mens Size (eg Large) which is at least under 200 grams and preferably under 150, and one in Womens Size (eg Small) for Della which is under 150 and preferably under 120. Available colour can be a problem for some people. For example, I have a white raincoat, which is fine except I want it to be green. Probably neither of us wants to own another blue one – and so on. Price can also be an important factor. I have been looking at some possible choices:

Zpacks Vertice Rain Jacket 176 grams (Mens Medium) US$299 http://www.zpacks.com/accessories/wpb_jacket.shtml  The white raincoat I have is one of Joe’s. I accidentally ordered it in the wrong lengths (sleeves and coat) so that it doesn’t quite suit me, though it keeps me quite dry enough (and weighs under 150 grams in Men’s Large). This (white) material is his old material which is clearly lighter than his new one. I personally don’t like the ‘sticky’ feel of it, though there is nothing wrong with it. I dislike running my fingernails over felt too, but I can’t explain why. We both have rain pants in his new fabric and they feel fine and work excellently.  You may want something cheaper though…

Montane Minimus 230 grams (Mens) grams: https://www.montane.co.uk/mens-c1/minimus-jacket-p57  Della has a Montane jacket in Event which she just loves. This one would be a lightweight replacement for it. They used to make a jacket known as the H2O which would have been even lighter (around 150 grams) but it is no longer available. I am seeing this jacket from around A$170 which is pretty good value for a well-made product.

Montbell Versalite Jacket. I really like this one in Green, my favourite colour! We have lots of Montbell products which are lightweight and very functional, so this one has to be a likely candidate for me. It is good value for money from a well-known brand: https://www.montbell.us/products/disp.php?cat_id=25013&p_id=2328167&gen_cd=2 189 grams (Mens M)  A$189

Arcteryx Norvan: This Arcteryx jacket has to be worthy of consideration. This lady has given it an impressive review here. https://www.switchbacktravel.com/reviews/arcteryx-norvan-sl-hoody  $299 (215 grams in Mens large - 100grams (XS Womens?) US$299

Lukes Micro 10 Jacket 4.1 oz (Large) US$179: https://lukesultralite.com/products/raingear I really like the sound of this jacket. I just received a pair of Luke’s shorts. They actually weighed less tha his listed weight (25/28 grams). The legs are quite long too, so I will probably hem them up a bit shorter so that they come in at about 22 grams which would be hard to beat for an item of clothing to wear when mixed bathing or doing the laundry on the trail. Luke’s jacket seems to be the lightest and relatively the cheapest. I am tempted to order one and see how it goes. A sub 120 gram jacket in my size (Men’s Large) is pretty awesome.

Two others I should mention:

DriDucks: These are both ultralight and ultra-cheap (as well as being probably the most breathable available. if you are very careful with them, they will keep you quite dry. They also feel beautiful. The jacket alone is (from memory under 150 grams. The jacket plus pants costs around US$25! https://www.froggtoggsraingear.com/DriDucks.shtm

DIY Tyvek: As usual, you can make your own out of Tyvek. We are talking 150 grams and around US$10 here: Here is the link to do so: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultra-cheap-ultralight-rain-gear/

Good Luck and Happy Shopping!

PS: Looking at the pics above I am reminded of Henry Ford's comment: You can have any colour you like as long as it's black!'

See Also:












30/10/2017: The Ultralight Deer Hunter: You will definitely see more deer if you spend longer deep in the bush where they live, and especially if you can spend the night out with them. I prefer to 'get away from it all' and camp out far from anyone else rather than hunting the fringes of private land where I admit there are lots of deer.

Here are some suggestions for an ultralight deer hunter’s ‘Gear List’. In any case it is worthwhile reducing your overall hunting pack weight as it will mean you can walk further (and more quietly). The further you walk, and the harder you look, listen and smell, the more deer you will encounter. See Also: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hammock-hunting-till-dark/

Pack: First of all, as I suggested here (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/best-hunting-daypack/ & http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hunting-daypack/), you need to reduce your pack weight. The ‘MLD Burn’ is an excellent choice for a rugged hunting overnight or day pack at 370 grams. You might also consider Zpacks’ 38 litre Nero at 309 grams: http://www.zpacks.com/backpacks/nero.shtml though the fabric is a little lighter. It may nonetheless be just as strong - or even stronger. It is adjustable.


What would I put in it for an overnight stop?

Tent: Of course I would have my ‘Pocket Poncho Tent’ (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-pocket-poncho-tent/) at 185 grams – and you may be lucky to have one too if I can manage to organize manufacturing them in Asia somewhere (soon?) Otherwise you should look around for something around 250 grams such as Gossamer Gear’s Twinn Tarp: https://www.gossamergear.com/collections/tents/products/twinn-tarp NB: As an alternative, I have also recommended a hammock/tarp/pad combo here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hammock-hunting-till-dark/

If you prefer a tent, you could either make your own as I do, perhaps starting with this: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/poly-tent-by-the-ultralight-hiker-on-the-cheap/ for approx $10 (try a search for 'Tent' above) eg the Forester Tent (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/new-tyvek-forestertent-design/), or there are quite a few 500 gram (ish) tents now available, such as this one: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/500-gram-tents/, or Six Moon Designs eg  https://www.sixmoondesigns.com/collections/tarps/products/gatewood-capen at 340 grams, or Mountain Laurel Designs eg:

https://mountainlaureldesigns.com/product/trailstar/ from 340 grams, or Zpacks eg http://www.zpacks.com/shelter/solplex.shtml 439 grams (this one includes floor/bug net), etc.

Pegs/Guys: Of course you will need some pegs (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/tent-stakes-and-tricks/ )and guys (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-perfect-guy-line-for-a-hiking-tenttarp/), say about 70-80 grams worth..

Groundsheet: I might use a space blanket as a ground sheet if I thought I needed one; I usually carry one anyway for safety/first aid (50 grams) – but I will soon have my Bathtub Groundsheet Chair (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/bathtub-groundsheet-chair/) when I get around to making it - at approx 85 grams (I estimate). A little comfort never went astray! There are lots of ultralight options including polycryo: https://www.gossamergear.com/products/polycryo-tent-footprint-ground-cloths which would work out at 23 grams. If you yearn for something a little tougher, I guess you could opt for a piece of sinylon, eg http://www.tiergear.com.au/11/products/xenon-sil-11 which will still likely be under 50 grams depending on size (eg 2' X 7'). You can drape the edges over some fallen timber to create a bathtub floor effect if it is raining heavily and you anticipate flooding.

Mat: You could use a 4’ Thermarest Neoair X-Lite (ie Small https://www.thermarest.com/mattresses/neoair-xlite-2 ) as a mat, and put your feet on your pack for a bit of insulation – 230 grams. For more comfort I usually opt for the ‘Womens’ size at 340 grams and 5'6" http://www.theultralighthiker.com/womens-are-great-in-bed/.

If/when it becomes available I would try the Big Agnes AXL Air: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/big-agnes-axl-air-pad/ (300 grams for the 6’ long by 3” thick model which I would shorten by about 6” – 270 grams - as I am somewhat vertically challenged! Anyway I usually sleep on my side curled up a bit so I can fit comfortably on a 5' mat).

Sleeping Bag: My favourite sleeping bag is the Montbell UL Super Spiral Down Hugger #3 now at 624 grams http://www.theultralighthiker.com/montbell/ though my own older model is lighter (<600). I would also carry some other Montbell clothes (See ‘Clothes’ below) for warmth such as the ‘Superior Down’ coat (200 grams) and vest (150 grams). If it is a particularly cold night I put the coat on my upper body and the vest on my lower. This reduces the temperature of the down bag from -1c to approx -10C.

Zpacks makes an even lighter model (which Della has). Her 5'9" bag warm to -7C weighs 499 grams inc compression sack: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/new-zpacks-sleeping-bag/

Pillow: You should try this: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/exped-ultralight-pillow/ at 45 grams or this: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/diy-super-ultralight-pillow/ . Say 10 grams.

Of course Bonnie Prince Charlie (somewhat effeminately) used just a stone as a pillow when he was camping out in the snow in a Scottish winter in just his kilt and cloak. Those Scots are/were tough!

Dry Socks & Shoes: If you suffer from cold feet, you might consider a pair of Goosefeet Gear down sox  https://goosefeetgear.com/products/down-socks/ – 50 grams (and of course I carry my home-made Dyneema slippers for a dry change of shoes: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/19-gram-dyneema-camp-shoes/ - 24 grams.

Another option is a pair of Sealskin Socks https://www.sealskinz.com/walking-thin-ankle-socks-dark-grey-black.htm (mine weigh approx 80 grams but they may not be the lightest model) which enable you to wear wet shoes - or just carry dry socks and maybe some Crocs.

Cookset: I outlined my minimum cookset here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-windscreen/ 60 grams. A slightly larger model here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/cookset-woes/ Of course you will need a 9 gram (12 long) spoon to go with that: http://www.seatosummit.com.au/products/kitchen/alpha-light/ and maybe some Esbits - or you could be carrying your egg-ring stove (as I do) and just burn some twigs: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-egg-ring-ultralight-wood-burner-stove/

Rainwear: Try to keep the weight of this down. If you weigh your raincoat don’t be surprised if it is over 500 grams. Choice here is a bit more difficult for hunting where significant abrasion might be a factor. (Much moreso if you are a hound hunter rather than a stalker). Raincoats range down to around 150 grams or less, (Luke's Ultralight/Zpacks) - again see Montbell’s range.

If you are careful with a lightweight coat it will serve you well. If you are trying to be very quiet it is unlikely you will tear your raincoat; besides it isn't always raining.

Soon (I hope) you will be able to take advantage of my Pocket Poncho tent which will keep you dry both during the day and at night (with a minimum weight of about 185 grams.

Raincoat: Lightest and best value for money are probably Montbell’s offerings, eg the Versalite https://www.montbell.us/products/disp.php?cat_id=25013&p_id=2328276&gen_cd=1 at 189 grams.

The cheapest fully breathable waterproof jacket (not very durable – but very light) is the DriDucks by Frogg Toggs. I personally like an ‘Event’ Raincoat; I have two which have kept me very dry in trying conditions. I also like Zpack’s new raincoat.

Hat: If you really want to have a warm head of a night, I have one of Ray Jardine’s ‘Bomber’ hats my wife Della made for me years ago at 30 grams. I doubt she will make one for you. A number of people offer down balaclavas, eg: http://www.zpacks.com/accessories/goosehood.shtml at 37 grams or https://goosefeetgear.com/products/down-balaclava/.

I also use a ‘Buff’ http://www.theultralighthiker.com/are-you-beautiful-in-the-buff/ to keep my neck and particularly my nose warm (37.5 grams) This is the very acme of luxury! During the day I have my Icebreaker wool cap (now alas, deleted): http://www.theultralighthiker.com/best-deer-hunters-cap-best-ultralight-cap/ fortunately I have a number of them!

Gloves: If it is really freezing, I have the MLD Rain Mittens http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-mitts-and-gaiters/ 42 grams. (I also have their ultralight gaiters – I find they work wonderfully to keep rubbish out of your shoes). The mittens work really well on very cold wet days when otherwise your hands would freeze – of course they do interfere just a bit with your trigger finger!

Under the mitts I can wear a pair of ultralight polypropylene or wool gloves, such as Icebreaker’s Oasis Glove Liners http://au.icebreaker.com/en/accessories/oasis-glove-liners/IBM207.html?dwvar_IBM207_color=001 at 24 grams.

Dry Clothes: Dry clothes (and a raincoat) are options if it is likely to rain. (Otherwise you might just carry a disposable poncho and risk having to dry your clothes out with your body heat). Keep these as light as possible. Again Montbell are hard to beat with their windpants 53/75 grams and windshirts 55 grams https://www.montbell.us/products/list.php?cat_id=25048&gen_cd=1, or you could just take some Icebreaker of Kathmandu wool thermals as your dry change – and for extra night insulation.

Clothes: Start from the skin out. Weigh your clothes. Most of those proprietary ‘hunting’ clothes and shoes are heavy as lead, particularly when wet. I always wear wool socks. The lightweight Holeproof Heroes (now rebadged as Bonds) in summer, and Explorers in winter have been long-term stand-bys for me, durable and cheap.

Wigwam are, arguably better but much more expensive. I have not tried them yet, but these folk guarantee their (hunting) socks for lifehttps://darntough.com Unbelievable! http://www.theultralighthiker.com/warranties-on-outdoor-gear/

Then I would wear lightweight trousers such as the Columbia Silver Ridge. (I have yet to find anything as light and as durable for their weight). To counter the smelliness which can develop in nylon clothing I recommend wearing Icebreaker wool knickers such as these underneath: http://au.icebreaker.com/en/mens-layering-underwear/anatomica-briefs/103031.html?dwvar_103031_color=401

Since you will normally be hunting in the winter months wear a long sleeve wool shirt such as the Tomar from Kathmandu or the Departure 2 from Icebreaker. They are tough enough to withstand a bit of bush-bashing. In the summer months I wear a knitted wool top such as this: http://www.kathmandu.com.au/mens/clothing/tops/ometo-men-s-polo-shirt-v2.html but they are not so durable.

Anyway always wool if you don't want to stink - and remember if you stink the deer will smell you too! . For layering, I also recommend wool: an Icebreaker/Kathmandu tee, long top and/or longjohns. I also wear an Icebreaker wool cap: which unfortunately for you are no longer available.

NB: These folk now have wool camo hunting clothes: https://www.firstlite.com/products.html just as Icebreaker used to have: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/camo-merino-wool-for-deer-hunting/

For insulated layers in really cold weather and of a night, I choose Montbell again. Their Thermawrap series are one of the lightest synthetic insulated garments. You might chose a vest in this material for an extra layer if needed in the daytime (when it might get wet) and a Montbell down coat of a night. I own their Superior Down coat (and vest, as well as the Thermawrap vest). I see they now have a 1000 fill power down (Plasma) jacket – but it is much more expensive.

Larry Adler is the Australian supplier: https://www.montbelloutdoor.com.au/  There are some items which they do not stock, but they might get them in...Ask them. If it is still unavailable it is possible to order it from the US (using shipito) but you also need a virtual credit card (also from shipito). Messy, but possible.

Shoes: I suggest some ultralight shoes such as the Topos I reviewed here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/topo-terraventure-shoes/  or some Keens: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/keen-shoes/ If you have wide feet like me. There are other lightweight options such as Inov-8s if you have narrower feet.

Guns and Knives: I have posted about the lightest effective knife I have found (at 16 grams ea) here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultimate-blades-for-the-ultralight-hunter/

Another heavier choice which might interest you (if you don't fancy sharpening your knife) is here:


If you do like to sharpen it, you might still want an ultralight sharpener: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-knife-sharpener/

You probably know I use a lever action .308 in take-down (so I can put it in my canoe bag or pack): http://www.theultralighthiker.com/308s/. You probably also know that the short action round makes for a lighter gun than the long action. I realise a lever action (and a take-down) both outweigh a standard bolt action, but I have my reasons.

Also, sambar are not really 'big game' animal. A .308 is quite adequate to stop them. If you want something 'bigger' try the WSM. Obviously iron sights (which I chose for ethical reasons) are much lighter too than telescopic sights.

There are people who specialise in 'sporterising' rifles to make them lighter (as everyone, including me), used to do with their old .303s! You could probably get your deer rifle down to perhaps 2.5kg, so still it is clearly the single heaviest thing you are carrying.


Torch: I use a AAA torch. I confess I am outrageous and often carry two of them (one for use as a lantern and one as a headlamp), but they only weigh at most 14-16 grams each (inc some string a micro cord lock and a couple of O-rings to turn them into a head torch): http://www.theultralighthiker.com/lighter-brighter-better/http://www.theultralighthiker.com/11-gram-rechargeable-head-torch/ Clearly you also need a few spare batteries at 10 grams each.

Phone: I take my Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini phone with me (at 120 grams inc battery) as (in Flight Mode) I can get nearly a week's use out of it just every now and then using the mapping App, or reading a book, listening to music, etc. It also makes a good back-up camera.

Camera: The camera I am using at the moment is this one: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/new-camera/ http://www.theultralighthiker.com/camera-glassing/ at 160 grams inc battery/card (and it has taken some good shots - I'm sure you'll agree!), but I know there are now models with better optics (eg 30-40 X zoom) and programming which are not a lot heavier, and which will secure some better long-distance/poor light etc shots. The Sony XXX is a case in point.

PLB: I think you should carry some safety equipment (apart from your First Aid kit). If you are on a budget the Spot Messenger http://www.theultralighthiker.com/get-lost-get-found-plbepirb/ at 114 grams is the way to go. If you are a bit better heeled then you might go for an Inreach http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-poor-mans-satellite-phone/ at 191 grams or even an Iridium Extreme Sat Phone at 247 grams: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-not-so-poor-mans-sat-phone/

Saw: You will need something perhaps to get those antlers off (or you may choose to carry out the whole head and cape out if you are very strong). You can make an ultralight bow saw (eg using a 15" bone saw blade) as discussed here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-saws/ The lightest thing I know for this purpose is a length of embryo wire (available from veterinarians).

First Aid: You certainly should carry a small kit. It is a matter of personal taste what you carry really. I carried an elastic bandage and a sling (for example) for over twenty years and never needed them - but when I did (della dislocated her shoulder) I needed them in the worst way! I carry a number of drugs: Panadeine Forte, some anti-inflammatories, anti-nausea, Imodium, antihistamine, band-aids, bandages, blister pads... I would allow at least 100 grams for this vital component.  

Essentials Tally (Gun and Ammo + worn clothing plus):

Pack:370 grams

Tent: 340 grams

Pegs/Guys: 80 grams

Groundsheet: 50 grams

Mat: 340 grams

Pillow: 45 grams

Sealskin Socks: 80 grams

Cookset: 69 grams

Dry top/bottom: 108 grams

Insulated vest & coat: 156 + 208

Knife: 32 grams

Saw: 20 grams

Phone: 120 grams

PLB: 114 grams

Torch and batteries: 56 grams

First Aid, say 100 grams

Cumulative Total:2218 grams

Add Food: approx 500 grams/ day.

I'm sure you can see that my total is probably less than the weight of your day pack (empty).

PS: I have usually gone for a higher number here than I actually carry (eg so that it is something you can currently buy), so that for example my tent weighs 185 grams, my current pack 230 grams...so, I could probably shave 300+ grams off this total, say to a max of 1.9kg!

Spot and I stop for lunch by the river. That small pack has everything I need for over a week's hunting - including Spot's bed and rations, and he is a bigger eater than I am! And you can see I had brought my machete along in case I needed to do some clearing, and my hiking poles in case my knees or back gave trouble - which fortunately they did not.

If you would like to get an encyclopedic idea of my multi-day hiking list, you might find this interesting: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-gorilla-in-the-hand/

See Also:



29/10/2017: The Fast Hiker: I know I certainly don't look it (and I confess I am not), but the site had been dreadfully slow. Didn't bother me - I am in no hurry to meet my maker. But I know many of you have better things to do than waiting for pages to load...so i am working on speeding things up.

As I work on it some speed problems are intermitently getting worse, but I/we are tackling the issue, and it will get enormously better!

So far the Home Page has shrunk from over 16 megabytes to 1.3 (mainly by removing photos. I compressed all 14,500 photographs (by 69%!) with Short Pixel Optimiser. This saves people a lot of data! I updated PHP to version 7.1 which sped things up by about 50%. I have updated teh Cron job -whatever that is! I also installed WP Super Cache which stores pages which have already been accessed and so speeds up loading them.

The speed to load a page should already have come down from something like 10 seconds (Sorry!) to something like 2 seconds. I hope I can get it under 1 second without any loss of functionality/quality, etc. Of course I am no computer expert. i am a retired farmer (who still has a lot of thistles to spray and other odd jobs) and who would like to be off hiking/canoeing, etc.

These were the easy fixes. Getting down from around 2 seconds to under 1 second will involve a whole lot of quite cunning computer programming wrinkles where I will no doubt need some professional help, but I will keep hammering away at it over the next few weeks until i achieve that goal. The list is incredibly long and complicated! Thanks for being patient!

28/10/2017: The Lure of the Moose:

Oh, the enchantments of Fiordland: Again and again I have returned to this lush green Eden searching for one of these surviving giants of the Pleistocene, which though deported from their ancient homeland in the vast Boreal forests of the North, yet linger there today. For me it is a tale which began when I picked up a copy of Australian Deer back in the 1990s on whose cover this wonderful grainy image gazed out at me:

Instantly I wanted to put myself in that picture. My daughter Merrin even Photoshopped me into it as a birthday present! The article which accompanied it introduced me to this man, Eddie Herrick whose quest for this gentle giant in the vastness of Fiordland with his guide Jim Muir consumed so much of his life. Every year for thirty years he spent three months there, searching for them: ten whole years of their lives! Even more of Muir's. On three occasions he was rewarded with such an experience as the photo above shows: two bulls and a three-legged cow!

The one above was the bull moose he took in 1934 in what is now eponymously Herrick Creek in Wet Jacket Arm, Dusky Sound. I guess it is about the top of the small lake in the lower section of the creek. You can see he was about the age (50-ish) I was when I began my search, so I had no feeling that what I was to undertake was impossible. Though I have found that it is very nearly so, and anyway supremely difficult, every year a powerful magnetism draws me thither.

Jim Macintosh's cow moose 1950s:

Shortly after I read the article I acquired Ken Tustin’s wonderful book and video ‘A Wild Moose Chase’, Max Curtis’ ‘Beyond the River’s Bend’ and Ray Tinsley’s ‘Call of the Moose,’ each being about NZ’s famous or fantastic moose herd - and all of which I devoured eagerly. I was hooked.

At the same time I read several other books about moose in general. I was soon becoming an armchair expert on these giant creatures. Of course I wanted to journey to New Zealand to have a look myself. I never imagined I would have enough money to see them in Canada where you have to push them off the back porch - anyway I prefer a challenge!

My fiftieth birthday came and went. My wife, Della purchased me the first brand new deer caliber rifle I had ever owned, a Browning Lever Action (BLR) in .308 calibre. What a wife! She also encouraged me to make the trip as soon as I could before I was too old to do so. Hang the expense! I planned to go in the New Year 2000; it ended up getting pushed out to nearly the end of February. Still an excellent time to be in Fiordland. Two sambar hunting mates, Brett and Michael got wind that I was going (originally by myself) and decided they needed to chaperone me!

Lots of planning, particularly of gear ensued. You would think we were C18th century explorers heading off for darkest Africa! All the same I was only going away from home for eight days. I really don't know how Della was able to manage to look after the farm/s as well as go to work then - we had hundreds of acres and well over a thousand sheep scattered over half a dozen different properties - but she did. I think we planned on having five days 'moose hunting' at Supper Cove.

Cow moose snapped by Max Curtis, Herrick Creek, Wet Jacket Arm, Dusky Sound 1950s

We landed in Christchurch then drove down to Te Anau. Michael at least had never been to NZ before and Brett had not seen Fiordland. This was a sentimental journey for me as Della and I had lived in Christchurch in 1975 and had toured all over the South Island together on a 250cc Honda motorcycle. I had never been anywhere without her before, so I confess I was missing her as we traveled down the island. Everything i saw I wanted her to see too. She would have to wait another thirteen years for her turn! She is a patient person.

We had organised to fly in with the 'Wings on Water' float plane to Supper Cove and so begin our search from there. This was the first time Michael or I had ever been in a small plane. As I have a problem with heights (even to changing lightbulbs!) I felt that I would have to close my eyes, grit my teeth and endure, but as it turned out I loved it, and would pay to do it again and again!

The high flight over Lakes Te Anau and then Manapouroi, glimpses into icy sunless valleys to the north, a panorama of Doubtful Sound, then the plunge through Centre Pass and a slow descent down the mighty Seaforth valley over towering Tripod Hill and the perched Lochs (Gair & Maree), past the southern home of the moose (the Henry Burn) and on to the glittering expanse of the vast Dusky fiord is a journey worth a million dollars (but only costs NZ$330 - 2017!)

Percy Lyes NZ bull moose 1950s

We had all been hunting sambar deer in (what we thought of as) rough country in Gippsland for years, so reckoned we could tour the Fiordland forests in much the same way. For example, It is just a handful of kilometres ('as the bird flies') from Supper Cove over the range to the mouth of Herrick Creek. We foresaw that as a day hunt. In fact it is an arduous trip of at least four days return which I am yet to complete. Being just shy of 70 now, I am doubtful I ever will, but next autumn I know I will feel differently once more!

Supper Cove is at the head of Dusky Sound, the largest fiord in NZ. It was discovered and named by the same Captain Cook as the East Coast of Australia. The first European structures in NZ were built there - even the first house, surprisingly by the shipwrecked crew of another ship also (like Cook's) called the 'Endeavour'.

The Supper Cove hut is adjacent to a lovely little beach where the Hilda Burn flows into the top of the fiord just South of Supper Cove itself - which is formed by the mighty Seaforth River flowing into the head of the fiord, creating a shallow semicircular cove perfect for flatfish. You can walk across this cove at low tide from the northern end of this little beach just past the helipad, but there is a deep gut formed by the Hilda Burn flowing in, so if you want a drier crossing you are better to walk up the track past the Hilda Burn before you cross.

Brett walking across Supper Cove on a low-ish tide:

If you wish to look for moose (or red deer eg during the Roar) along the Seaforth the three huts (Supper Cove, Loch Maree and Kintail) are good bases from which you can make daily forays up the many 'Burns' and onto the slips searching for these elusive monsters which (especially in the warmest days of summer) I believe often lie cooling themselves in the deeper pools. At other times they are likely to be too widely dispersed for you to ever encounter one, but they do particularly like the fuchsia regrowth on slips. If you are there at the end of February as we were on this occasion, you might even hear a bull moose call (as we did on the last day of February 2000), or perhaps even a cow answer him.

Initially at least Michael decided he would make the Henry Burn his own, whilst Brett and I focused our attentions on the Hilda and 'Waterfall' Burns. We arrived around lunchtime and reckoned impetuously we had enough time to check out the Hilda Burn quite thoroughly that afternoon. Of course we had not gone more than 300 metres before we realised that our times/distances would be very different than we had imagined.

If you try to follow the Hilda Burn upwards you realise quite soon that your way is blocked by a vast angry cataract that it is impossible to pass or climb. You have to go up one side or the other. The first afternoon we ascended on the true right bank (looking downstream - that is the convention). About 200 yards above the existing hut there is the ruins of an earlier hut. The first thing I knew about it was that I had tripped over a barbed wire 'fence' hiding in the undergrowth badly tearing my shin- something which you most certainly are not expecting in the enormous wilderness of Fiordland. No-one I have encountered seems to know anything at all about this ruin, but there is some wire, netting and sheets of iron there which might come in handy sometime if you know they exist.

The cataract in the Hilda Burn

Here are the remains of the old hut.

Even only traveling this far up the ridge you need to be alert to keeping the position in mind of the roar of the water falling in the Burn, as when you turn to descend you will swiftly realise that the country fissures and falls away in all directions with very steep, narrow guts which it is well-nigh impossible to traverse laterally, something which the deliberate focusing on ascent is likely to lead you to ignore. It is incredibly easy to become 'bluffed out' in Fiordland - meaning that you may relatively easily ascend but when descending not be able to find or see a way down at all. You have to pay incredibly close attention to the route you took on the way up.

We climbed above the second hut, hauling ourselves over rocks and tree roots through vastly wet, dense terrain until the roar of the water diminished so we judged we could safely descend into the upper Hilda Burn. As we angled down into it at one point we had to climb a monstrous fallen log about the height of my nose (say about 5'), so that I could not actually see the top of it. When I had clambered my way up onto it, I was astonished to find right on top of it fresh moose droppings! Boy, they are big beasts! It was completely obvious what they were, as everywhere in the forest there were red deer droppings - pretty much indistinguishable from sambar droppings (being similarly sized deer ie approximately jelly bean sized).

The enormous moose droppings centre and normal sized red deer droppings right and below them (above the leaf).

These moose droppings were nearly as large as my thumb in comparison. Brett picked up some red deer droppings and handed them to me so that I could photograph the two so they could be compared. Back then practically no-one believed that moose had survived in Fiordland into the C21st. Most believed they had died out soon after Percy Lyes had shot his bull moose back in the early 1950's. But here we were only an hour or so into the Fiordland forest and we had in our hands (so to speak) proof that a moose had passed this way within the last day or two (the incessant rain makes smart work of any 'sign' in Fiordland).

Above is a photo of those fewmets. My apologies for the quality of the photos in this post. In 2000 I had the latest 'Advantix' film camera, but technology sure marches on. I thought the snaps I took back then were just brilliant, but I am embarrassed by their poor quality now, as I am also becoming embarrassed by the present quality of my digital camera compared with the results from Della's Samsung Galaxy 7's. Mind you the forests are so dark, it is very difficult indeed to get good photos. Maybe if you are an expert (and can afford to lug along a few kilos of photography kit), as I am neither...

We beat our way down towards the river following the tracks I guess of a large red deer. He arrived at the river just above a wide clearing on the true right bank caused by one of the innumerable slips which beset that country and which create most of the new feeding opportunities for the moose herd. Unusually (most are covered with fuchsia regrowth) this slip had been kept quite grassy by the innumerable red deer, of which there was lots of sign. But also, cutting right across the bottom of the clearing were the huge tracks of a moose. With feet as large as a cow's or horse's he had sunk almost a foot deep as he crossed. The smaller red deer tracks in comparison had made much less of an impression, and were everywhere to be seen and compared There was no comparison. Clearly these tracks were from a vastly larger animal, which in that situation could be nothing but a moose.

The clearing on the true left side of the Hilda Burn.

Eddie Herrick shot an ancient three-legged cow moose (I think) in the Hilda Burn in the 1930s. She was likely the one who clearly broke its leg when they were tipped out off the boat in Supper Cove. You can see that one has a broken leg in the photo of the herd standing in Supper Cove looking mournful - poor things had been raised on lucerne and such! Amazingly, though she must have lost the leg (to gangrene?), she had survived in that most moose inhospitable terrain for nigh on thirty years. Knowing that they were that tough I had many doubts that they had somehow mysteriously died out sometime after 1950. Here was one who had walked across this clearing in the last day or two, clearly making this valley and its surrounds its home!

Brett in the Hilda Burn.

Also on this clearing there was a small tree or sapling (I suppose 3" in diameter) which had clearly been pushed over and stripped by something, the bark on the top also having been chewed away. I remember wondering why the tree had 'fallen' at such a strange angle, as if an immense wind had pushed it over, so that its top was no more than a metre above the ground. I guess it was nearly twenty years before I was informed by (Ken Tustin) that this behaviour of  walking trees down is a favourite moose feeding strategy. On this trip I saw it again and again - and I have seen it many more times since. It is unmistakable moose 'sign'.

By the time we had descended to the stream it was becoming sufficiently dark that we needed to turn right round and head back unless we wanted to spend our first night in Fiordland sitting around in our raincoats in cold, wet bush. For advice about that, see: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/raincoat-shelter/ You should definitely avoid that situation. My advice is to carry a hammock and tarp so you can spend a dry night in the bush.

Looking down from the Hilda Burn.

I guess it was the next day we decided, (it having been too difficult scrambling up the true right bank) that we would find a way up the true left bank. Let me tell you, it was no better, if not worse. There is some very steep going, a huge tangle of fallen trees, at least one waterfall to traverse - just to get above the cataract. And you had better remember just how you got there, as when you are coming back down you will find that the way up was the only way! Just that happened to us. It was only that when we became 'bluffed' we sat down for a smoke or a bite to eat, to 'study' on our dilemma, and when we sat down that we realised that the last little bit we had had to crawl up - a reality which became apparent when we got low enough to see where we had come. A cup of tea or a smoke (or sleep on it) are always good strategies if in doubt.

We saw a few red deer on the slip as we passed. They weren't particularly alerted to our passage. The heavy cover of moss everywhere in Fiordland and the sodden nature of everything sucks up a lot of sound. Mostly all you can ever hear is water moving, falling, sloshing, dripping...There is very little birdsong (well, there are very few birds) but even so their song does not carry as it does in Victoria. Often you can see that they are singing even quite close up, say less than 20 yards, yet are unable to hear them.

On this or another occasion Brett was walking up the true right bank as I walked up the true left. At one point I wanted to attract his attention, so I whistled. No response. Then I blew a blast on my ultra loud Fox 40 whistle which the manufacturers reckon you can hear up to a mile away! No response. He was perhaps 40 metres away. The sound was just soaked up by the forest. And he is not deaf like I am. You can see how, the folks who have shot a moose in Fiordland pretty much universally just stumbled on it (usually very close to a creek) when it stood up, they went, 'Crack!' and down it went. End of hunting story.

Walking high up in the Hilda Burn:

There is a section of morass to cross (on the true left bank). It is quite difficult going, and remains so. These morasses are ubiquitous in Fiordland and very dangerous. I can well believe you can get stuck in them and be unable to extricate yourself. You can very suddenly plunge (right on the edge) up to your hips - as I have done many times. If you can throw yourself backwards as you fall in it is easier to get out.  Another grave danger of walking in the Fiordland bush is that all these large gullies are actually the moraines of ancient glaciers. Underneath they are boulder fields. And in many places not very far underneath. You need to test each step before you put your weight on it to ensure that you are not going to plunge downwards into a huge crevasse - as I did on the fourth day trying to ascend the 'Waterfall Burn'. Downwards over my head in an instant. Fortunately I did not break anything except my dignity and I was able to climb back out again. Probably the gullies are worst for this than the ridges.

I cannot now remember whether on the particular day I am relating I was alone in the valley - as I have been several times since - or if Brett was somewhere else in the valley. Anyway, I had dropped down into the stream by myself and was wading along in it - as that was the easiest going, Every now and then getting out, then getting back in again. I'm sure you know what thick difficult going is like. There came a point where as I was rounding a bend in the stream, (the banks being nearly as high as I am) something very large and dark surged up and thundered off in a cloud of spray further up the stream, giving me just the barest glimpse of it. All I could say was that it was not a bull, as I would have been able to see its antlers above the banks of the stream.

I followed it (as quietly as I could - spooked things will often halt to look back and see what it was which frightened them) when shortly the stream split in two. Where the two streams joined there was a large patch of sand, and clear as day in the sand were the unmistakable prints of a moose. They were very nearly as large as a cow's prints, and they had the 'signature' dew claw marks a couple of inches behind the main hoof prints such as only moose amongst deer kind have. I would have a photo of them only when I was coming back down again some time later, the rain had all but blurred them clear away - it does rain lots in Fiordland. Expect to get very, very wet, even in Goretex such as I was wearing.

It had crept off upwards into a large swampy area lying between the two streams which did not show up on the topographic map. It must have been very difficult to get good (and accurately interpret) aerial photography in Fiordland. I followed the beast around in this swampy area for I guess about an hour, each circling the other trying to get a look, sometimes seeing a bit of leg perhaps. The water was ankle to knee deep, and there were many small islands each with a vast tree protruding from its centre and surrounded by lowish bushes. The cloud cover came half-way down the trunks of the trees. A prehistoric landscape for a prehistoric creature. I could have taken a shot at it through vegetation - it was often clear just where it was - but I never (nor should you) ever do such a thing. A deer missed is one thing; a dead mate is missed a long time!

Alas, once again light was going to beat me. I had to break off the chase or I would be spending a terrible night out in this saturated forest. There is just no way you could make your way down in failing light or darkness. Having had so little trouble 'putting up' a moose, I was also optimistic that I might do it again. There is no end to human folly!

It disappeared somewhere up there into the head of the burn, and it is no doubt there yet!

After breakfast next morning we were all standing on the edge of the verandah of the hut looking up the Cove, enjoying a smoke or a cup of coffee when a large animal started calling. I thought it sounded something like a cross between a koala bear and a camel. It was definitely not a red deer (which I had heard) or a wapiti (which I have also since heard - they really do bugle. Eerie!) - and it was definitely not a bird of any kind, though there were many Canada geese on the Cove (and we had heard their call many times).

Even though we had been there then for a couple of days, we had still not (instinctively) adjusted our hearing's ability to pinpoint where a sound came from to Fiordland's conditions (I have already mentioned the episode of the whistle). It takes a while for perception to adjust. Another example is one's ability to actually focus on these NZ mountains. They are so much steeper than  ours in Australia, they appear to our perceptions to be closer and/or you find yourself actually unable to focus on exactly where they are. Things can seem blurry, eerie. When you go there you will see what I mean.

So I guess we can be forgiven for being unable to work out exactly where the moose was (we were quite sure that was what it must be - and we were right). Our Australian senses made us overlook a flat area near the mouth of the Hilda Burn nearby (too close). It was clearly coming from the next valley over, what we called the 'Waterfall Burn' both because of the waterfall at the bottom, and the even larger one at the top of it. Here is a photo of the lower one, which you can see would be very difficult and dangerous to climb, and which would be death to descend if the stream rose very much in heavy rain. I do not have a photograph, though I have 'seen' the upper one: It is 160 metres, falling straight down from the clouds the day I was there so that one could not see the top. It was as if it just fell from the sky, and so impossible to photograph! There are lots of things like that in the world. I have a fine collection of snaps where you can't make anything out at all!

The Waterfall Burn:

We decided we would somehow climb the Waterfall Burn to find the calling moose. Now, as this was the only time we heard the call (on our second or third day there I think) I might conclude that this was the end of the moose 'Roar' rather than the beginning. You should know that wherever they be in the world, the 'roar' (or mating) of the moose lasts only one week - but it is the very same week each year. Anyway it was the last day of February.

When we returned we searched the net for moose calls. The first one we played was (unknowingly) the sound of a cow moose. When we played that we were disappointed. Fooled again. you know the sort of thing. Then we played the call of the bull moose. Kapow! That was what we heard all right. So, there had been a cow moose in the Hilda Burn and a bull moose just a kilometre from it - clearly a breeding pair. There must be a few more of them even by now!

The first day we tried to ascend the Waterfall Burn we crossed the stream and tried (all day as it turned out) to beat our way up the true left side of the stream. Utterly unsuccessfully. I doubt it was possible, so don't even try! As we were crossing the stream in the morning (just between the waterfall and the walk wire), we were able to wade across, the stream it being only about mid-calf deep. I was not particularly conscious that it was raining heavily all day, but it was certainly raining. It often does in Fiordland you know. Every year at least ten metres of rain, sometimes several times that!

On this occasion when we returned to the crossing about 4:00pm in the afternoon, the stream had swollen monstrously. The walk wire was very nearly submerged. My memory is that we waited for a large tree to roll along under it before we (very trepidatiously) crossed. There is a lesson here: Never expect to be able to get to your destination when walking in Fiordland - or anywhere else for that matter. 'Be Prepared' is actually a good motto. Thanks Baden Powell.

The Waterfall Burn in flood:

Some of the trees which came thundering down the waterfall.

It does rain a lot and streams can easily rise so much (or morasses expand - you get the picture), that movement either way becomes impossible. You will just have to  stop and wait it out. Fortunately as soon as it does stop raining, because of the steepness of the terrain, the streams etc drop as quickly as they rose. The Seaforth for example is reputed to be able to rise 16 metres in a single day! Eddie Herrick himself relates a story wherein he and Jim Muir his guide almost lost their lives because of their inability to return to camp down the Seaforth, or to cross the Henry Burn.

Next day we tried again walking up a little gully between the Hilda and the Waterfall Burn. It was mostly really dreadful going through thick tree fern, boulders etc and with much broken ground underfoot. This is where/when I fell down the moraine hole. When we finally broke out onto the Burn above the waterfall we immediately tied something (a shopping bag I think) to a tree so we could find our way back down again. We were quite anxious. It had been a trying trip of...maybe a kilometre! Then we walked up the stream as far as we could get before we would have to turn around so we would be back at Supper Cove before dark.

In the top of the Waterfall Burn (You can see the shopping bag tied to the tree):

It is quite a large stream, still two-three metres wide up there I guess, and very pretty, though dark. I have been there on a later occasion, perhaps 2006, 2012 or 2013 (I know I was alone; I usually am) and walked as far as the top waterfall. There had been a moose in this valley recently. There were fresh-ish footprints - given the amount of rain the day before they had to have been no more than a day old, and there was quite a lot of browse. We did not see a moose, or any deer but after all, the hunt is what it's all about. That and seeing fresh sights, some of which maybe no man has seen before, or will again!

A morass in the Waterfall Burn.

I can remember seeing sign there again on a subsequent trip, but what exactly I cannot remember. Browse, marks, droppings...they all blur a bit with time. This year (2017) I realised I had seldom (if ever) actually photographed the browse so I could point it out to people later on (I did not have this blog before, so I had no reason!) There was plenty of old browse in the Hauroko (which I snapped some examples of), then a little barking as I descended into Loch Maree (which I forgot to snap). After that again along the Seaforth there was browse, but by then I had forgotten to take pictures altogether. You just get to enjoying the experience, thinking about other things etc. Last year I walked almost all the way back down from Everest without taking a single photo, though I saw many things I had not noticed on the way up. I had pneumonia is my excuse, but I doubt I will be going back to capture those missing snaps.

For example, in 2006 I took this snap of a couple of ducks. Look behind them though and you can see the height of the browse line on the shiny leaved tree on the right.

We walked back towards the Hilda Burn. The walk wire was out when we were there in 2000 so we had to walk down along the stream to the bottom, cross there and walk along the beach to the hut if the tide was high. If it was a bit lower, we would cross as much of Supper Cove as we could, then cut inland towards the mouth of the Hilda Burn, so our route was a bit different each time, always walking off-track. And that afternoon, in the fading light we found where the bull had been when we heard him call! And he had clearly been camped there for a couple of days, pretty much in sight of the hut - so much closer than we had estimated. But he was not there now. Probably he had gone up to join the cow at the head of the Burn! So much country. And it is utterly impossible to 'track' anything in that country. All you ever see is the odd print. The eternal moss swallows everything up, including sound.

There is this, though. That was 17 years ago now: a pair of moose within a stone's throw of the Supper Cove hut. If you imagine that they managed to breed every year, even if the mortality rate is very high or the fertility rate very low there have to still be a number of moose within cooee of the mouth of the Seaforth. There is still food for them there, and every time I go I can see browse I did not see the time before. Every time I go, I find 'fresh' moose tracks. Conditions in Fiordland are such that you just won't see prints that are a week old. There are just so many places they can easily travel with their long legs and wonderfully constructed feet where no man could possibly go. Because they are so tall they can reach food on precipitously steep slopes where red deer would have no hope.

I think it was not until the second day on that first trip that I began to notice the moose browse, despite having found moose droppings and spied some moose footprints - and having been looking hard. It was not until I came down with an itchy back probably from a sandfly my shirt had failed to stop, and had sidled up to a tree to scratch the middle of my back that, as I did so, my neck craned up and I began to see this characteristic branch breaking and snapping, oh -  so far up! Being used to sambar or red deer browse one just automatically scans the forest at just that height, but these big boys easily reach up more than a couple of feet higher than 'our' deer.

Brett pointing out some moose browse:

Another day on that trip (there were not many more, worse luck) I walked around the point of land on the other side of Supper Cove against the river before the Waterfall Burn. Many of the coprosma trees on the point had been snapped off at just the height moose love to browse 8+ feet. There was no other sign. I thought at the time maybe they were driven lower down like this in the coldest weather as sambar can be somewhat in our mountains, (There are even times that Supper Cove freezes over!) but I have since found plenty of fresh browse lower down and misdoubt now that moose suffer at all from cold. It was just a silly thought really. With moose the opposite is the case, I suspect. They suffer more from hotter weather. NZ summers of 24C or the like can perhaps be quite uncomfortable for a large Arctic animal. It is then, I suspect they spend a greater part of the day lying up in cool deep pools in the burns where the few that have been shot over the years were invariably taken.

That day we continued up as far as the ladder just above the McFarlane Burn looking for Michael who had stayed out overnight without explaining himself, so we were a bit worried - but he is an old bushman. He had a small tent (we knew) and his sleeping bag. So, of course he was fine. He had even managed to light a small fire. Well done indeed. On the way up in the middle of the track we saw an old mark we thought might have been a moose, but it could have been just several deer prints over each other some time past.

In just about the same spot quite near the Old Supper Cove hut site (which is where the track rejoins the Seaforth above the Henry Burn) I have on a number of occasions seen a relatively fresh moose track: once I would say that morning's - if it had been a sambar we would have tried to start the hounds on it once - and on another occasion about a day old, I guess. So the moose do still hang around their old haunt, the Henry Burn, or 'Moose Creek' as Herrick and the other old-time hunters used to call it.

Brett and Michael meet near the McFarlane Burn:

Old Supper Cove Hut site - you can still see the tree fern trunks which formed its floor. A pity they did not leave it standing as it was an important survival shelter - and of historical interest!

I was quite hooked by Fiordland and the Dusky after this trip and vowed to return as often as I could, an ambition with which Della fortunately concurred. It is not every man who has such a splendid wife, I know. What I have done to deserve such good fortune is a mystery to me - may it long be so. Well, it has. But circumstances (and finances) intervened to mean that it would be six years before I could make the trip again. I had returned from the first trip with a reasonable 8-point red deer rack by the way - but I have never taken a gun again. I think the moose need as much chance to breed as we can give them. Besides, guns are very heavy - weighing as much as a week's food really.

In 2006, I decided I could get away for a short trip (a week - if you are a farmer, a week away is an eternity). I decided I would fly in to Supper Cove, stay a couple of days then walk out. I had no idea even if I could do this at all at the grand old age of 56! The track brochures warned how hard it would be, and recommended only fit young folk should try it, & etc. Some of them even die. Fortunately I am young at heart, as I was still able to complete the trip this year at 68!

This was to be my introduction to 'ultralight hiking'. I knew that the weather could make a short trip much longer. Also I did not know whether at my age I would be able to make the distances between the huts, and might have to camp out most nights if I was going to be safe. I had already reasoned that a hammock and tarp would be the safest thing to camp in in Fiordland, so we had been busy making prototypes and had come up with a home-made 2 oz/yd2 hammock  and a 1.3 oz'yd2 silnylon tarp to go with it. This arrangement then weighed around 7-800 grams altogether, less than half the weight of any tent I owned or could have bought I must say, and much lighter than anything then commercially available as well - even if they did look a bit amateurish. I had camped out in it lots of times in the Gippsland bush, so i was quite confident in it.

This is the wonderful ultralight hammock I am now using, a Hummingbird: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-hummingbird-in-the-hand/ Photo is on the beach between the boat shed and the helipad, Supper Cove.  You see what I mean about being able to just camp anywhere (If there are trees) with a hammock!

I bought a Gossamer Gear G4 pack at 450 grams (which I still use sometimes), and I think back then I was still using a Snugpack or Vango synthetic bag which weighed around 8-900 grams (not my sub 600 gram Montbell I use now). I had discovered metho stoves by then, so that was down to a 7 gram model from Minibull plus home-made aluminium flashing windscreen. Back then I used to make fried bread (or Johnny Cakes) every night for lunch on the trail the next day, so I had figured a way to make the stove simmer though I can't remember now what it was! Though quite tasty, it is a bit of a tedious process making 'bread' which I have since then largely abandoned. I will do a post about it in the future though, as it is an important skill. I had moved up to a new digital camera, a Pentax Optio S40 with a 3X zoom which only weighed about 100 grams (saving at least 400 grams on my old film camera).

Back then I was still wearing either Redback Alpine Hiker leather boots (or their Blundstone equivalent) which weighed 600-650 grams dry and about another 50-100 wet, so actually much better than most boots folk still wear today. They are a good, tough boot and if you want a leather boot, I swear by them. I had earlier moved down from ex-army wool shirts and trousers to Columbia nylon shirts and pants. They are vastly lighter, but your upper body especially gets dreadfully smelly wearing them (even when you wash them and put them back on again wet as I used to do then, even if Fiordland!)

When the weather is sufficiently cool (which it almost always is in NZ), I would now wear either an Icebreaker of a Kathmandu light woolen shirt which you can wear for a week without washing (yourself or it) and never mind getting downwind of yourself, though others may disagree! I think back then I still used my lovely Snugpack synthetic coat which probably weighed as much as 600 grams. I was stronger then. I was probably using one of Big Agnes excellent inflatable mats which weighed just under 600 grams from memory, but I might ave skimped and taken a Thermarest self-inflater I suppose which weighed a little less - and was a lot less comfortable besides. And a lot colder in colder weather I might add. I have a lighter, better kit now I think. See eg: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-gorilla-in-the-hand/

On the first day up from Supper Cove to Loch Maree, just as I was about to pass opposite the Roa Stream which is on the other side of the river heading upriver (ie on the true left bank), I heard something in the water like a deer clattering across (going I'm not sure which way) and which given the prevalence of red deer there it often is. I have rarely managed to get a photo of them as they usually make off pretty smartly just like sambar in the dense bush. By the same token a hundred metres or so later on at about the point that the noise in the river was, there were very fresh prints of a huge animal crossing the track. It had clearly come out of the Roa stream, and crossed the river and passed just in front of me, and gone very obviously around the edge of  the swampy bit on the true right bank (not a bad place to camp actually) and then up into the bush on my left. And not very long ago.

You might think a swampy bit like this would be attractive to a moose, but they are a forest creature. This one skirted this particular swamp opposite the Roa Stream.

I could not really tell whether the splashing and the tracks were one and the same. I did have a bit of a look around for it for maybe an hour, but as I could not be sure whether the tracks might have been made earlier that morning or just as I approached, I did not spend a lot of time on it. It wasn't just standing around waiting for me to take a pic of it at any rate. It is a seven hours plus walk for me (then) to Loch Maree, so I pressed on, still arriving after dark in fact, as I have done on a couple of occasions.

It is a long walk, particularly if the tide is in and you can't take the 'short-cut' across the Cove. Later on I was talking to Ken Tustin on the phone. He told me that he and his wife Marg were on that very day high in the Roa stream finding lots of fresh moose browse, so I think it is very likely they pushed this guy out the bottom of the valley and across the track in front of me. This suggests a strategy to me of how a couple of very fit young people might get a snap of a moose - but it would be a pretty wild chance, I guess - and depend on there being more moose there than may be the case.

My purpose on this trip was merely to see if I could walk the Supper Cove to Manapouri 'leg' of the Dusky Track which I was very pleased to have managed in four long days when I finished, even managing a cold beer (and a much needed shower) on the evening of the fourth day! I saw no-one the whole trip, something which I always find very pleasant!

I really enjoyed the trip and purposed to take my oldest daughter Irralee with me the following year, which I did. In 2007, when we arrived at the Supper Cove hut we found that we had missed the resident moose by about a week. There was an awful lot of moose browse all around the hut, trees snapped over all around and some barking behind the hut, just in back of the toilet. Another hunter who had arrived the day before in fact pointed the barking out to us. We had no need to have the other browse pointed out. It was right in front of the hut. The tracks were all washed away and the droppings were falling apart - which is how I arrived at the conclusion of being a week late.

Some of the moose browse in front of the hut: Can you spot the twigs which have been bitten right off 8-9' up?

It would be truly awesome to wake up at the Supper Cove hut and be greeted by a moose outside the window whilst you were eating your muesli for breakfast! That year there was also quite a bit of moose browse on the fuchsia coming down from the slip above the Kenneth Burn to the Gair Loch (on the second day out from Supper Cove), but again it was over a week old.

Irralee is pointing out some Fuchsia browse near the Gair Loch.

Some old barking encountered on the way:

I again walked the track with my son, Bryn in 2008. There were a couple of spots where we found old tracks ('old' in Fiordland probably means at most a day) - anyway the animal wasn't standing in them. From memory again they were near the Old Supper Cove Hut site (ie near the Henry Burn) and near the Kintail Hut as we were crossing the walk wire over the Seaforth there - quite fresh tracks on the sand there, probably from that morning.

Of course you are always on the lookout for whatever made them, and you make forays off into the bush in the direction they appear to be heading, but the bush is so vast (and so thick) and the moose so sparse that it is a hopeless task, really. All that I can say is that you won't see a moose standing in the main street in town back home. if you want to see a Fiordland moose, you will have to be tramping around in the vastness of that wonderful forest. I would hope you shoot one only with a camera really. I have grown quite fond of them - from a distance anyway!

A couple of examples of some barking we found.

This looks like it is probably only a week old at most. Usually/oftenthe barking is much higher, 7 or 8 feet.

The browse around the Supper Cove hut (and the barking) from the year before were still clearly visible (and identifiable) a year later, by the way. In fact two years later, as my daughter was able to point it out to me on our second trip there together in 2009.

You can still see it here in 2009 with a fantail sitting on it.

Bryn and I watched this red deer stag (centre) as we were crossing the Henry Burn. A decent zoom on a waterproof camera would be a plus! You will spot him eventually!

I canoed the Seaforth in 2009, probably one of the silliest things I have ever done. As I was portaging around the shores of Loch Maree - I was walking along the shoreline so I might see any prints rather than walking the track; the water level was low enough to do so that year - they were having a drought in Fiordland. It didn't rain for the whole 13 days we were in the South Island altogether! Anyway, I came across an old set of moose tracks around about where the walk wire about half way along the Loch is. As it hadn't rained for ages, they could have been over a week old. It had just come down to the Loch for a drink, then headed back up the little valley it had come down from.

I was at Supper Cove again in 2011 with Della, but we had to leave precipitously only about an hour after we arrived as Della managed to dislocate her shoulder slipping off a rock. Ouch! Thank goodness for helicopters! No moose that year!

I walked the track again in 2012 in company with a young American, Steve Hutcheson I met at Supper Cove and an Israeli, named Renan Tsorin. Steve and I had about five days at Supper Cove, him fishing and me tramping around in the bush looking for moose. I remember I found some old tracks on the ridge above the Supper Cove hut and in the Hilda Burn - and obviously some browse. I found the same thing along the Henry Burn. I guess I walked nearly half way up it to the fork you must follow if you are to walk over into Herrick Creek - so probably to about the place a couple of the Fiordland moose were shot, long ago. No sign of them now of course.

Here is a (very) old print (the triangular indentation above the glasses case) all filled in with leaves. This would have to be about as old as you are going to be able to see a print in Fiordland - say over a week. This one was over a kilometre up on the ridge behind the hut

Looking down towards the fiord coming down from way up there. The going is pretty steep:

Particularly above Loch Maree along the river on the true left bank there was a lot of moose sign, mainly older browse - say up to a year old. I walked along the river for about three kilometres by myself above the Loch Maree hut and up the Deadwood Stream a bit before crossing over to the track. The young fellows following the track were quite surprised at how I managed to get ahead of them! The river level that year was again very low, so I could do this (and avoid a slow, nasty section of track for the first hour upriver out of Loch Maree). I figured this moose was a resident of the Deadwood Stream which looks big enough to hold a number of them! There was old browse here and there along the river that year - but no tracks.

However as we walked up through the huge slip above the Kenneth Burn, a moose had walked along ahead of us barking the trees quite obviously. I remember pointing this out to Renan, using my fingernails to mimic the action of his giant teeth, and angling my head to indicate how he must have made the bites. I must look a circus sometimes. I wish I had taken photographs! Then, just about where the saddle is before you start to go down again to the Gair Loch, there was a patch of fuchsia on our right which had been the home of a moose for I'd say the best part of a week. S/he had had a really good feed on I guess and acre or two of fuchsia. Anyone who doubted the continued existence of moose in Fiordland would be hard put to explain the extent of its high foraging activity there. I remember a couple of days later I was walking with Steve in the Upper Spey and also pointing out to him some very old moose browse there - in the vicinity of the Dashwood Stream.

This is part of the huge Fuchsia filled slip above the Kenneth Burn where a moose had been browsing for days in 2012. Plenty of food here.

It is a huge area of Fuchsia. There are many such in Fiordland - few as easy of access though.

I had a back operation in 2013 so any Fiordland trips were out that year.

I spent a few days by myself at Supper Cove in 2014 (flying both in and out on that occasion). It was lovely to have the hut to myself for a few days, to go out in the morning exploring the bush around about and in the afternoon catching myself some blue cod for my supper. The most delicious fish anywhere, trust me. Do bring a hand line and a fry pan if you venture that way. I was going to walk out, but on the very last night before the day I would have to leave the next morning of, a party of twelve young people arrived even though none had been there for a month! Of course I tried to persuade them to stay a day and do some fishing (even offering them my line, etc), but they insisted on starting out the next day as well.

All alone in the Supper Cove Hut

I could spread out.

And enjoy some tasty blue cod for tea.

Well one night in a crowded hut with people whose heads were filled with the usual certain certainties of the young was enough for me, so I called up Alan from Wings on Water (who had brought me in) and flew out again. I used the couple of spare days so gained to go have a look at the start of the South Coast Track (out of Tuatapere) walking out to Port Craig and back whilst I was there. I confess I was hurrying along this section - and even walked the beach 'track' all the way from the Hoka Stream. I was not looking for moose sign as I thought this was too far from their 'normal' haunts. I was just checking out the track thinking it was probably easy enough to take Della on the next year. (it was). I was surprised therefore when I spied (on the return trip of course) a small example of moose browse quite close the the shore after the Track Burn - before you begin the climb up the innumerable steps to the Rowallan.

Della and I attempted to walk out to Westies Hut along the South Coast Track in 2015, but got only as far as the Waitutu River as it turned out, because of Della injuring her knee. We rested up and did walk all the way back to the Rowallan though. The same old browse I saw the year before was still there, but I confess i was just not looking out for moose sign along the way - I was looking out for Della!

We headed back out on the South Coast track again in 2016 intent on beating it this time, and getting all the way to Westies or even Big River. Westies as it turned out. It was a lovely trip, our reports of which you can read about eg here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-walk-in-fiordland/ You should really do it! Again, I was mainly intent on looking after Della (who is partially sighted) to be paying overmuch attention to moose sign, though there was a bit of old sign about here and there - for example a little over an hour out from the Waitutu heading for Westies.

When we were walking out from the Wairaurahiri with Pete Baldwin from the wonderful Waitutu Lodge at the Wairaurahiri Mouth, I was explaining to him what he should look for if he ever had the chance to get 'into' the Seaforth country. Right near the Edwin Burn trestle crossing there was an obvious patch of old moose browse, the branches snapped over and stripped in their characteristic way about 8' up, but maybe 1-2 years old. Nothing else could possibly do such a thing. So, there are moose that far East in Fiordland yet.

I have now realised that I smelled a moose in the Hauroko Burn last trip (back in April 2017) and I am really kicking myself for not having stopped, camped and investigated See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/follow-your-nose/). As I said there: 'I have a confession (of stupidity) to make. Somewhere during this section between the two upper walk wires on the Hauroko Burn, Fiordland, NZ (You can imagine it is in the photo below) I encountered quite  a strong ‘animal’ smell not unlike a goat. I thought to myself at the time, ‘Well, it’s not a deer’. Then I thought, ‘Could it be a plant?’ You know how Dogwood in Australasia is so named because it smells somewhat like wet dog. I thought to myself  ‘I wonder whether the Leather Wood which you encounter just before the tops in NZ (and which is redolent with the musty odour of countless red deer) is so called because it smells of leather?’

There is a sweet cloying honey-like smell you sometimes encounter in these Fiordland forests I have never been able to identify, nor has anyone else I have spoken to been able to pick it for me. (it is not the flower of the ubiquitous tiny epiphytic orchid). It was not that though. I am pretty good on scents having been a hunter all my life. I instantly galvanise to a whiff of fox, roo, wombat, stag, goat, etc.

I scanned the forest about. Saw nothing. Thought to myself, ‘I do not want to arrive at Lake Roe in the dark’ (The hut is hard enough to find as it is, particularly in thick cloud, being off the line to the right); I also had a long way to go, so I carried on. Since then, I have bothered to check what a moose smells like. You guessed it. Goatish. Just like what I was smelling on the Hauroko that day!

There was a moose not 200 metres upwind from me, and I walked on. Despite having a tarp and hammock and more than a week of food, so that I could have spent days hunting it! And I would have doubtless ‘put it up’ withing ten minutes! Dream on! Despite the fact that one of the important reasons I go there is to see a moose. Despite the fact that I had photographed fairly fresh moose barking just back there a little (as you can see below). Despite the fact there is a $100,000 reward for a photo of a NZ moose, I walked on! Lesson: Trust your nose!’

My knee is still not right from an injury in the Hilda Burn on that trip which brought an early end to my off-track explorations then (there was still old browse in the Hilda), so I am wondering about my future ability to do so again, but I am working on it – an hour every morning in the gym and an hour every afternoon walking - on top of my normal farming activities, but at just shy of 70 it takes longer to heal and to get fitter again. Every day though I feel stronger, and have just completed a six day off-trail hike in the Vic mountains, and climbed Qld's tallest mountain, so there is hope!

It was interesting that the Hauroko was nearly eaten out, but with lots of old sign (and clearly a resident moose!) And that there was a 'bloom' of new plants coming up I had not seen in Fiordland before) Yet coming down from Lake Roe to Loch Marie for example, there was oodles of moose plants without much moose sign at all - though some barking. Clearly the moose are fairly light on the ground. Each likely has an enormous territory, perhaps 2-500 hectares, but that still adds up to a lot of moose in Fiordland National Park!

I had this note about the moose on the first of my posts about my 2017 trip: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/from-dawn-to-dusky/

The Elusive Fiordland Moose: Along the way there is sporadic moose sign if you are alert and keen eyed. Nothing else could reach up 2.5-2.7 metres (8-9'), break off branches as thick as your thumb and strip them, or devour all the lower vegetation of their favourite broadleaf plants, or systematically bark trees, or leave footprints as big as a cow's.These solitary leviathans yet roam these forests unseen. I took these shots in an arbitrary few hundred yards walking up the Hauroko.

This coprosma has been systematically broken off about 2.5 metres up.

And this.

Broadleafs have commonly been stripped to this height.

They like to snack on nutritious bark as they amble along.

Leaving footprints as long as my glasses case. Like this:

Or this.

Someday someone will stumble round a corner onto one and snap its pic. A girl from Scotland wrote in the hut book way back in 2000 she had seen one! Already two confirmed C21st DNA samples have been collected, and one or two indistinct photos. It is only a matter of time...

I don't know at this stage whether I will be doing a lot more 'moose hunting' in Fiordland. Mostly these days we go there for the walk anyway and because it is just so beautiful. Any moose we see would no doubt be a bonus - and we surely won't see them elsewhere! I do have a couple of 'new' ideas on how we might find further proof of the continued existence of the NZ moose herd. More about that later.

And oh, I have been thinking about Ken Tustin's theory that the red deer will 'eat out' the moose. I now suspect the opposite is the case because the moose can reach higher, and will obviously break branches down for their young. You can imagine the young moose nearing weaning - they suckle for a long time too - straining upwards as its mother feeds and vocalising, every now and then being able to snag a leaf she lets drop & etc. They are messy eaters at best. I figure she would get the idea and help it feed. They routinely ‘walk down’ trees for themselves, for example. I remember noticing this phenomenon the very first day I was in Fiordland (in the Hilda Burn back in 2000) and wondering what could have produced the phenomenon I was seeing. I had never seen anything like it in the Victorian bush despite it being overrun by sambar deer who are very keen browsers too.

I have noticed that in the areas which appear more eaten out (by moose and everything) that the moose browse seems to consist of more branches actually broken off completely whereas in the less eaten out areas, they tend to be just broken over. I need to spend more time there to confirm this, something which may not happen in this lifetime.

I realise I do not know how this 'boom and crash' population dynamics works (with any creature) though, so maybe I am wrong. I am not a wildlife biologist, but I have been a farmer and hunter for a long while. Some places look very eaten out by deer, particularly along river banks and near huts and other clearings, yet in other steeper places there is little sign of any grazing animals. Another interesting observation: along the Hauroko for example, there is this shiny leaf tree which moose obviously like. In many places it was browsed lower from the river bottom than it was from the river bank (but in each case as high as a moose could reach ie 8'+ up) giving it a lopsided appearance. I had not noticed this before. No doubt there are lots of other ‘signs’ which escape one’s attention for years.

Here is a tree moose quite like, (I don't know what it is called). You can see that this one which is hanging out over a precipice (in the Hauroko) has still been browsed ( a long time ago) as far as a moose can reach out, and certainty further than anything else could.

Here the moose has been walking along in the stream reaching up and has mown these trees to a precise height. They have even managed to strip some of the branches hanging down. You see this everywhere. We went down the Wairaurahirti River in a jet boat (twice - and Della wants to go again, and again. So should you!) Anywhere this plant could be reached it was trimmed to about 8-9' from the ground (or where a moose could stand) , but where nothing could reach it (eg in a very deep rapid) it was actually touching the water.

In 17 years I have not been able to get back to Fiordland in the summer. By the time we have been able to stop watering our garden and watching out for the 'bushfires' that a ratbag collection of maniacs have taken to lighting every summer in our part of the world it is at best late March, usually April, sometimes May. And of course I am often there when the 'Roar' is on so every moose has been scared well away from the valley bottoms by ubiquitous deer hunters. It's like always going sambar stalking on a full moon, or in early Spring when the deer have moved back from the valley bottoms (as fresh feed pops out from under the snow - and the young are born. Not such a good time for hunting.

I do always find old sign though, sometimes not that old even. I am convinced if i could spend several summers walking along in the streams there I would put up another moose. I'm not sure whether at my age I can do such hard work in hot, steamy weather, and I don't know whether I will ever be able to get away at such a time or not.


PS: I wrote this article at Ken Tustin's request, as he is preparing a new edition of his book/a new book about the Fiiordland moose. He and he wife are the true moose experts and heroes of this interesting saga. More about them here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/nz-moose/

PS: The 'Cover' photo was sent to me from Sweden by my son, Bryn on this day (24/10) 2011. He must have known I would find a use for it! European moose are smaller than the Canadian moose which live in Fiordland, by the way.

23/10/2017: Hein’s Taxidermy: Della just loves stuffed animals which is maybe why she has kept this particular stuffed old animal around for nearly fifty years! It may be a family trait. We have this wonderful family photo circa 1903 of her grandfather as an apprentice hairdresser in Hawick, Scotland outside Richie Law’s shop. As you can see the other specialty of the shop was taxidermy!

If you need fine taxidermy services in Southern Victoria or Gippsland, may I recommend Hein”s Taxidermy at Port Albert. Hein did a beautiful job recently on our late much-loved Dusky Lorikeet, Rusty as the photo below shows.You can contact him from his Facebook page:https://www.facebook.com/Heins-Taxidermy-port-albert-1549231728642024/

Some of Hein’s many interesting pieces:

And finally our dear little Rusty the Dusky Lorikeet:

 See also: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/rusty-the-dusky-lorikeet/

While you are at Port Albert you should check out the Old Port Walking trail too, as well as its many other attractions: caravan park, hotel, restaurant, fish and chip shop, fishing charter, boat hire, etc: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/there-is-simply-nothing-like-an-old-port-walking-trail/ We had a brilliant (cheap) meal in the Customs Inn hotel while we were there – best fish’nchips I’ve had in a long while.

20/10/2017: Silver River, Endless Sky: Yesterday I canoed the Macalister Gorge (from Basin Flat to Cheyne's Bridge). This is probably my favourite section of this wonderful river, and I confess I have completed it many, many times. One of the best bits about this section is that you can do it entirely by yourself as i did yesterday (everyone begging off for trifling reasons such as work), as you can always drop your boat off then return to Cheyne's Bridge, perch on the bonnet of your car and stick your thumb out. usually (as yesterday) the first car will stop and give you a lift back to basin Flat. Yesterday I did not even have time to lock the car before i had a lift!

Basin Flat is 20 minutes by road above Cheynes Bridge (on the main road to Licola (Gippsland, Victoria, Australia). The road climbs up over a Mountain range (Burgoynes) then descends again to where it rejoins the river at Basin Flat. You have to climb two fences in about 70 metres to put your boat in the river, then off you go.

I have included a lot of photos to give you a reasonable idea of what the  whole trip looks like. Yesterday it took me 5 3/4 hours (at age 68) but with frequent stops to take photos, have a look around , meal beaks etc. I used to be able to do the trip in under 4 hours - but that was before the fires and floods made the river wider and shallower, as well as stealing most of its summer water, so that it is difficult now to get a 30C day with enough water (above say 1.63 on the Licola gauge - yesterday it was 1.72 = perfect).

The river is canoeable (at least) from the Caledonoia Confluence downstream though the section down to the Barkly (4 hours of Grade 2 and 3) would best suit packrafts (locked gate.) From the Barkly Bridge down to Licola is a great section of closely-spaced Grade 2 rapids which takes about 4 hours. You would probably need about 1.8 metres at the Licola gauge to do this which would be hard to find in the warmer months these days. From Licola to Basin Flat is mostly flat water through farm land with some pebble races and the odd Grade 2 rapid and takes about four hours. From Cheynes Bridge to Paradise Valley or Lake Glenmaggie is mostly Grade 1 and very pleasant and takes another approx six hours. Of course the river is canoeable downstream from Lake Glenmaggie and is almost all flat water taking a number of days.

Ready to begin at Basin Flat:

This trip is a great canoe training trip as it begins with a long flat section with just a few pebble races, gradually you encounter the odd grade 2 rapid. After Burgoynes track there are two grade 3 rapids and quite a number of Grade 2 as well. The last hour is once again on reasonable flat water with mainly just pebble races. There are many, many wonderful spots to camp, swim etc along the way. It is really ideal as a very leisurely 2-4 day canoeing/fishing/hunting trip.

Pebble race

The first Grade 2 rapid at just about the end of the flat (after nearly 1/2 an hour has an overhanging tree at the moment. You could chance being able to duck under it I suppose. I didn't.

About 3/4 of an hour from the start (on the true left bank - at the end of a large flat) there is an old pioneer hut which someone has lovingly restored lately

They have done such an excellent job. I particularly admired their bush ladder.

About an hour in the river splits. I took the right fork with this entertaining drop. The left fork used to have a fun chute, but there may not be enough water going down it now. At the bottom of this drop there is a vast swimming hole on a right hand bend (complete with this turtle). A lovely spot to camp.

Swimming hole: this is the spot whee someone stole my paddle many years ago: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/canoeing-the-macalister/

If you are going to camp overnight I suggest you bring all your gear up off the river and out of sight. Strange people sometimes camp at Cheynes Bridge and may decide to canoe the river. Mind you I have only that once encountered anyone else.

There are lots of grassy flats along the way.

The one on the left bank after the large hole is quite vast. There used to be the remains of an old shepherd's hut underneath an ancient quince. Since the fires it is no more. I came down the river just after the dreadful fires. At this spot there was an old doe who had given her life to save her twin fauns who were lying by her side under the quince where her body was quite mummified; they had so dehydrated her. They ran away as I approached, but quietly crept back again. I hope they survived.

I usually stop for lunch (after about 1 1/2 hours) opposite it at a place I used to call 'The Willows' where you could sit in the shade and enjoy your lunch plus a cold beer or two.

Yesterday I had to chase half a dozen sambar deer off the sandbank before I could sit down, the descendants of that old doe perhaps. They did not stay long enough for a photo though I did see them.

Dingoes had been busy here having killed a black wallaby.

Lunch over, I am off again.

You have to watch out for snags (and rocks). Stick to the inside curves. If in any doubt, get out and walk. Lots of people have died on this section of river over the years. Do not get side on to a log (this can easily mean death), or to the current in general. Generally follow the centre course in rapids, but on bends try to stay on the inside of curves so you do not get forced onto the outside edge and overturned. Rocks will often try to tip you out; you often have to lean in towards them to prevent this.

The straight just above Burgoynes, and a lovely valley on your right.  Burgoynes Track off the Licola Rd. A popular place to camp if you have a serious 4WD. Many intrepid folk cross the river here to camp further downstream. Don't do this unless you are sure of what you are doing. You can also come down from the other side (off the Black range Rd, or the Green Hills Road near Mt Useful)

Just below Burgoynes you come to the first Grade 3 rapid. it has had a log stuck in it for some time making it even more dangerous. i portaged it on the right hand side.

There are a number of lovely campsites below Burgoynes (if you are vehicle camping). If you are canoeing you have many other choices - and greater privacy.

Another spot: you can drive right down to the beach.

Just below is an entertaining one metre drop on a right hand bend. Many folk have had an impromptu swim here.

This is the 'Morning Glory' Hut - quite a palatial establishment, even boasting a bar and hut book!

This beautiful cliff on the right bank follows soon after. This is about half way through your trip. Keep an eye out here. A Grade 3 rapid is just around the left hand corner. Stay on the left hand side to check it out or portage it if you have any doubts about your ability:

You can see it needs to be approached cautiously. I once fell out here and lost my 30:06 in the rapid. It must have taken me an hour to retrieve it from where it was lodged amongst the rocks in the bottom of the rapid.

This goes on for a long way. If you fall out here you can be swimming for a while particularly if the river is higher.

Shortly after the Mt Useful Creek comes in on your right. It is a very large, steep valley rising on the eastern side of Mt Useful

There are some pleasant Grade 2 rapids along here.

A couple of promising gullies come in from the Black Range on your right. Good spots to camp too. There is a large cave on a ridge somewhere along here. I missed it yesterday. I climbed to it once. It was full of bats.

There are fine beaches and lovely swimming holes.

And the odd entertaining drop.

The locals peer out at you as you drift past.

Somewhere along here I stopped for a snack and a spell yesterday. And to admire the view upstream.

And downstream. No-one else in sight for 10 km either way. That suits me just fine.

This is the last straight (and beautiful valley on your right) before Warabinda (a 'wilderness' youth camp). There are two dwellings here built with the help of the street kids being helped here: the first on your left just around the far bend, the second on your right.

I saw lots of ducks and shags. The river has many giant carp. You often see a sea eagle eating them. But also it has excellent trout, eels as long as your legs and the occasional redfin perch.

The Warabinda 'Flying Fox'. It is 45 minutes from here to the bridge, mainly on flattish water.

One of the last rapids.

You are into cattle country now.

This is the very last rapid. Surprisingly I have fallen out more often here than anywhere else!

And the very last straight

Then here you are at Cheynes Bridge where there is a large camping ground.

See Also:







19/10/2017: Nooramunga: On Sunday we spent a few hours in preliminary exploration between Port Albert and Welshpool. It seems like it will be possible to walk from Welshpool to the track at the edge of the private land which runs down from Old Telegraph Road to Port Albert. (It is very hard to spot as it appears at first to be someone's driveway). From that point you could easily paddle across to the caravan park at Port Albert in your pack raft or you would need to walk back to the main Highway to cross the bridge over the river (water, toilets), then continue on towards Port Albert taking the first exit to the right to the Caravan Park then walk along the Old Port Walking Trail into Port Albert (beer, fish'n chips). There are two small streams to cross which would usually supply water (probably) needing filtering.

You could either walk along the high tide 'track' or make use of the many sand tracks in the park itself. If you have a look first on Google Earth, you will see what I mean. The 'high tide track' is blocked off (poorly as it turns out) by large concrete obstacles to (ineffectively) stop the many hog deer poachers. There is a lot of evidence of these beautiful little deer (and we saw three of them in broad daylight), so no doubt the poachers have a wonderful time of a night.

If, rather than their ineffective attempts to close off the area, the relevant department were to sell very expensive access permits, they would have a ready supply of persons very willing to police these illegal elements. This would work well in many similar situations, as well as raising funds for park maintenance, etc.

This walk would form part of this: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-great-gippsland-circuit/

Wilsons Prom rising above the sea mist:

Gulls and shear-waters hunting the littoral:

And a cormorant spearing a tiddler:

And drifting with the tide:

It is a pleasant walk along the high tide line, millions of tiny crabs.

But in many places churned up by the many poachers; Spot 'points' a hog deer:

18/10/2017: And I am off white water canoeing on the Macalister for the day: See post here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/silver-river-endless-sky/

17/10/2017: Moose versus Wolf. Who wins? https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=34&v=akGWOpcWfrQ


15/10/2017: Ultralight Saws: Particularly when track hiking (which I mostly avoid) I have found that I need to clear a small spot to erect my tent. Often the track times do not suit such retired folks as ourselves (and many other much younger people!) so that you find yourself needing to camp where there is no campsite, or this can happen for some other reason (flooded river, injury, etc. No doubt sometimes this is illegal, but on our recent Bartle Frère walk for example, it was not – and we did.

Nonetheless, it is often necessary, eg if you are walking the South Coast Track in Tasmania where there are far too few ‘official’ camp sites. Usually it is just a matter of removing a couple of very small branches or saplings to fit the tent in, surely something which should not trouble anyone. Of course I often carry a machete, and I have recommended these tools for eg canoe clearing, but on long hikes where I am really trying to shave weight I need something lighter which will still do this job when necessary.

Here is a selsection of ideas ranked from heaviest to lightest:

160 grams: Felco 600 160mm Folding Saw: 160mm straight blade folding saw. Rust resistant hard chromed blade made from high quality steel. Impulse hardened teeth for long life. Comfortable non-slip handle. Cuts on pull stroke. Weight 161g: https://www.forestrytools.com.au/index.php?id=23

The 120 grams: Fiskars Xtract Garden Saw is hard to beat, but still a lot to carry: https://www.bunnings.com.au/fiskars-xtract-garden-saw_p3360611

110 grams: The 15” ‘Little Buck’ is a folding ultalight buck saw which also take a bone saw blade if you are a hunter. It folds up into a small enough packjage to fit in your back pocket: .http://www.qiwiz.net/saws.html

71 grams: This guy has found a drywall saw with a plastic handle which weighs 71 grams (without blade protector): https://backpackinglight.com/forums/topic/drywall-saw-as-a-cheap-ultralight-wood-saw/

30-100 grams: In this post I talk about making an improvised bow saw which weighs from a saw blad and a couple of split rings. You would need to add a blade protector: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/improvised-bow-saw/

48 grams: Buck saw blade cut down with light wooden handle (no blade protection): https://backpackinglight.com/forums/topic/84465/

18 grams: This guy has cut a pruning saw blade down. No handle, no blade protection: https://backpackinglight.com/forums/topic/58401/

34 grams: This is a darlac mini folding prinung saw with a 3 ½” blade capable of cutting wood to approx 2”  http://darlac.com/?product=dp818-mini-pocket-folding-saw

8 grams: The Dermasafe ultralight saw at 8 grams is the lightest saw I have found, and might work in an emergency: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/dermasafe-ultralight-knives-and-saws/ You can replace the blade with a jig saw blade better suited to wood cutting as shown in the second photo:

I notice that the plastic clip from a stationery folder makes a near-perfect saw protector. The photos show a 1’ buck saw blade. A couple of rubber bands would secure this saw in yor pack for speedy efabrication with a length of green wood.

I already own the Dermasafe but I will switch it. I am going to be buying the Darlac saw at 34 grams. I figure it as an ‘everyday carry’. The saving in weight by switching to the ultralight containers I wrote about recenty will cover 8 grams of its weight. I am only ‘off’ about 18 grams once I subtract the Dermasafe. I’m sure I can find that saving somewhere.

The Darlac was recently on eBay for UK 6.95



14/10/2017: Firefly - The Ultimate Swiss Army Knife Accessory


Firefly is a tailor made fire starter for your Swiss Army Knife https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/740457940/firefly-the-ultimate-swiss-army-knife-accessory

 What is the Firefly?

The Firefly is a custom sparking-steel fire starting tool designed to work seamlessly with a large variety of Swiss Army knives.  

The Firefly is tailor made to replace the toothpick in a Swiss Army knife or tool, it is plug-and-play, and no knife modifications are required.


Firefly - The Ultimate Swiss Army Knife Accessory project video thumbnail

14/10/2017: Suppose you had some time on yor hands, a pair of scissors and some paper – could you do this: http://www.thisiscolossal.com/2017/10/miniature-paper-plants-by-raya-sader-bujana/

12/10/2017: Topo Terraventure Shoes: We bought a pair each of these remarkable shoes about six weeks ago. I guess we have by now worn them a few hundred kilometres including in our ascent of Mt Bartle Frere in Qld back on 1st September, and of course we have been wearing them around the farm on our steep wet slippery slopes. We have never fallen over once. These are just about the grippiest, most comfortable and certainly the lightest shoes we have ever owned. Mine weigh 290 grams and Della's were under 230 grams.

They need a good wash but are completely unmarked and have no sign of wear at all. I was a little worried about their 'flimsiness' in rough going, but they make you so light on your feet it is so much easier to put your feet where they should go, you do not hurt your feet at all. Heavy boots need all that cushioning because you have so much less control when wearing them. As a hunting shoe they are excellent because you can walk so softly and quietly in light shoes.

Probably one of the best features of these shoes for us is that they are a wide fit. Pretty much the only other shoes I can wear are Keens in a half size. These Topos are if anything even more comfortable for our wide feet than the Keens. They are particularly gentle on our feet when going downhill when you suffer the most damage to your toes in poorly fitting shoes.

These shoes have a fully welded construction such as I discuss here. In the case of these shoes it works out much better than sewn construction. So far these shoes are bulletproof. You must understand this: I have a huge box of completely unsatisfactory shoes I have bought over the years and have been able to wear approximately once. These shoes are so vastly different I extremely doubt  that you will be wasting your money on a pair. If you are in Melbourne you may be able to buy one of the Topo model shoes as I did from https://backpackinglight.com.au

We bought them from Injinji (below), whose delivery and customer relations are unsurpassed. Highly recommended. We chose shoes size exactly the same as we would have worn in Keen and they fitted perfectly. The thinner material of these shoes mean they have more give than the majority of shoes, so they are dramatically comfortable.


'The Terraventure pushes the limits of lightweight performance and rugged durability. This platform features an aggressive lug design providing better traction and mid-foot stability. A flexible ESS forefoot rock plate protects the foot from stone-bruising while the ghillie lacing system insures a secure midfoot fit.

 The Terraventure runs true to size, so you can select your normal running shoe size.



  • // 6 mm rubber outsole
  • // 14 mm (heel) // 11 mm (ball) midsole
  • // 5 mm footbed
  • // Total stack height 25 mm x 22 mm (3 mm drop)
  • // Weight: 294g. (size 9)'

If you really ‘need’ a waterproof shoe, Topo have such a model: https://www.injinjiperformanceshop.com.au/collections/topo-athletic-footwear/products/topo-hydroventure-mens - and it only weighs275 grams (Mens US size 9)

PS: I have tried a couple of other brands of ultralight shoes, for example a pair of Inov8s which weighed less than 200 grams. They were incredibly grippy but did not give the same amount of cushioning as my Topos. They may work quite well for you but they were much too narrow for me. My feet overlapped them which caused considerable discomfort so I had to abandon them.

See Also:




11/10/2017: Rusty the Dusky Lorikeet: Della:

'‘Death, that hath suck'd the honey of thy breath
Hath had no power yet upon thy beauty’ (Romeo and Juliet).

Welcome home to our Rusty, the dusky lorikeet! You were our special, devoted clown, and have earned your 'Forever Home' with us. We will never again hear your voice saying ‘I love you’ and ‘Kiss Kiss’ or your trilling imitation of the sound of water from a tap, but your beauty has been wonderfully preserved by the skillful art of Hein’s Taxidermy, Port Albert. I know that resting in peace would not have suited you, so you are back with us, watching majestically over our daily chaos.’

Hein has done a beautiful job with him. We can recommend his services if you need some skillful taxidermy done: https://www.facebook.com/Heins-Taxidermy-port-albert-1549231728642024/

He was such a wonderful companion in life though he was so fast-moving I regret we haven’t got more beautiful photographs of him. He is survived by his wife Goldy and his son, Rufus both of whom learned much of his repertoire from him. Every morning when we walk out the front door we are greeted by, ‘Hello. How are you?’ from their aviary on the verandah.

A Toast to Rusty:

Water play. You will have to imagine his cheerful water noise: ‘Diddle. Diddle Diddle.’

Celebrating the birth of his son, Rufus.

Enjoying a ‘Cupatea’ with Della.

Lord of all he surveyed.

Whispering ‘I love you’ in my ear.

Hein’s taxidermy, Port Albert.

PS: While you are in Port Albert take a walk on the Old Port Trail and enjoy some delicious fish and chips at the end of your walk: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/there-is-simply-nothing-like-an-old-port-walking-trail/

10/10/2017: Willow Kayak: This is a really neat boat: a kayak made from willow and poly tarp: http://www.shelter-systems.com/kayak.html

I am thinking one might be able to make this or a coracle with withes (other than willow) a tarp and some cable ties which I could leave in a drum at one of my hunting camps upriver so that I could float down stream if I wanted/needed to.

PS: They also have these really excellent tarp clips: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/best-tarp-clips-link/

06/10/2017: 1000th Post: This is quite a milestone here at http://www.theultralighthiker.com/. I never imagined when I started this blog just over two years ago that I would be so loquacious, but there you go! There are over 5,000 pages about hiking and hunting etc here now for (I hope) your enjoyment!

When I wrote my 900th post back in May I was just back from my walk on the fabulous Dusky Track in Fiordland, New Zealand http://www.theultralighthiker.com/from-dawn-to-dusky/, something which you must put on your ‘bucket list’ – and don’t wait until you are well over 50 before you do it for the first time as I did, as I don’t doubt you will want to repeat the experience as I have (at just under 70!)

 Most of the things which I planned to do since then have not been finished, but a number of others have been begun or achieved. Such is the nature of making plans really. For example, I have not completed the final version of my Deer Hunter’s Tent (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-deer-hunters-tent/ ) yet, but I was working on it yesterday and have calculated its final ‘roof’ weight at 200 grams material only in silnylon (100 in cuben!) – which is outstanding for a two person tent!

I am sure it will be complete before the end of the year, as will my final version of my Mini-Decagon tent which is probably a three person tent (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/come-with-old-khayyam/). I only have a bit over an hour’s work to go on it really, so you can expect a post about it soon. I am pleased that the roof section weighs 375 grams!

However, I have pretty much completed my Pocket Poncho Tent which (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-pocket-poncho-tent/) came in at 185 grams in silnylon. I have a little more work to do on the hood and on the storm flap. I also have an idea for converting it into a two person tent. I hope to finish the Bathtub Groundsheet Chair (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/bathtub-groundsheet-chair/) for it  (and the Mini decagon) in the near future and to make them available to be purchased.

I think my Fire Umbrella should be a useful addition to dry, warm  stress-free camping: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/fire-umbrella/

We have had a few ‘adventures’ in the meantime, including some hunting trips eg http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-wild-river-stag/, http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-spot-of-solitude/ & http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-silence-of-the-deer/

And some interesting walks, eg: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/east-tyers-walking-track/, http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-walk-on-the-wild-side/http://www.theultralighthiker.com/on-the-tip-of-the-tongue-2/, http://www.theultralighthiker.com/avon-river-walking-track/, http://www.theultralighthiker.com/you-can-do-it/ - a journey up Qld’s highest mountain, Mt Bartle Frere.

I have come up with some fishing ideas (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hand-line-fly-fishing/ & http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-ultralight-fisherman/), and some fine recipes, such as: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-coconut-fish-curry/ & http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-simple-backpacking-dahl/.

As usual there have been some good survival ideas and practical advice: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/raincoat-shelter/,  http://www.theultralighthiker.com/man-is-the-measure-of-all-things-pythagoras-some-handy-estimation-tricks/, http://www.theultralighthiker.com/naismiths-rule/,  http://www.theultralighthiker.com/weather-lore/, http://www.theultralighthiker.com/follow-your-nose/, http://www.theultralighthiker.com/how-long-till-sundown/,  http://www.theultralighthiker.com/walking-the-line/ & http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-lie-of-the-land/.

And heaps of ideas for ultralight gear and reviews, such as: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/best-hunting-daypack/, http://www.theultralighthiker.com/big-agnes-axl-air-pad/, http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-shoes/, http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultimate-blades-for-the-ultralight-hunter/http://www.theultralighthiker.com/black-diamond-storm-waterproof-headlamp/, http://www.theultralighthiker.com/lighter-brighter-better/, http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hunting-thumbtack-reflectors/

I put all my food idea into a single post: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-hiking-food-compendium/ and my gear ‘inventions' in a similar one: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/60-diy-ultralight-hiker-ideas/

Around the farm we have made some progress. The bottom dam is fixed, and the new pump house is up and working but still needs some finishing off. We have nearly a kilometer of new vermin-proof fence (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/vermin-proof-fence/) along our Northern boundary which is keeping a veritable plague of eastern grey kangaroos and common wombats at bay. Our neighbours are close to not being able to run any livestock at all due to the depredations of these ubiquitous pests. We have planted a lot of new trees and hope that there will be better than a hundred new ones growing before the end of the spring planting season. As usual we have concentrated solely on the useful and the beautiful. There will be plenty more food here for native birds, possums etc in the future though few of the trees we plant are themselves natives. We hope to complete the renewal of the boundary fence with fox-proof fencing over the next two years as we are tired of seeing our lambs go down the ravenous gullets of these vulpine marauders.

Over the next 100 posts I hope to be able to report on a canoe trip down the Wonnangatta from the Humffray to the Kingwell Bridge, and perhaps further down (when it becomes the Mitchell) from Angusvale down. I also hope to complete the section on the Latrobe I talked about from Noojee to Willow Grove. We hope to try a section of the Alps walking track and some walks in Wilsons Prom - and it goes on...

06/10/2017: Sewn-free construction: Or welded fabric construction. My new shoes, the Topo Terraventure are made this way, and let me say they are excellent. There is not a seam in them to come undone or fray. I have only recently learned that this method of construction is in fact readily available to the hobbyist, though it will be a little more difficult for most projects to get a good finish as compared with the trusty sewing machine.

This excellent video explains: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ne2J01h1tZ0&spfreload=10

The tape makes it very easy to do. It is double sided, so you just pull off the backing and stick it to one side of the material to be joined, then you pull off the other backing and lay the other piece of material in place. T The tape is mildly sticky both sides to allow this to be done, but it can be repositioned. Then you position the teflon sheet over the section to be welded (to prevent harming the material), get the iron up to the right temperature, then press firmly as you iron, and Voila! You have fully welded seam.

This would be a very good method for people to use who want to eg make one of my Tyvek tents but don't have a sewing machine.

You need three things: a Custom Sealing Iron,Teflon Ironing Sheets and E-Z Steam 2 Tape.

I have ordered all three. I have a number of projects in mind which I had long ago conceived but did not have the ability to make, for example my inflatable ground sheet, inflatable mylar quilt and mylar vest. (I was minded to try contact adhesive (messy and perhaps not air/watertight) but I had put them in abeyance. Now I will be having a crack at them, so you can expect to see some posts soonish...

04/10/2017: Trail Pea and Ham Soup: I am always thinking about ways to avoid depending on simple carbs on the trail (and get some veggies in there) yet have recipes which can be made up from products readily available in supermarkets such as you might be able to put together eg into snap-lock bags at resupply points. This one uses just four ingredients:


To a litre of water add:

I x 40 gram packet Contintental Spring vegetable Simmer Soup 460 kj (112 calories)

1 x 100 gram packet Continental Surprise Peas 1200 kj (288 calories)

Approx 42 grams Hormel Real Bacon Pieces 656 KJ (157 calories)

Approx 8 Teaspoons Continental Deb Mashed Potato (for thickening at the end) 133 kj (32 calories)


Total 2449 kj (589 calories)


Bring the first four above to the boil and simmer for 5-10 minutes then add enough mashed potato to thicken.


If you have access to a food processor you may be able to smash up the peas a little which will make them cook more quickly and make the soup thicker, otherwise cook longer and smash them up with your spoon in the pot when they are cooked.


Remark: This makes a surprisingly tasty faux pea and ham soup, and a welcome change from pasta dishes! I made it just for a side dish for my main meal last night, so I had all this left over for Della to try when she comes back from her craft conference on Saturday.


02/10/2017: Ultralight Shorts: 28 grams: This is probably a problem all of us have faced at some time - what to wear when needing to wash our trail clothes (or go for a swim when there are others around). At just 28 grams, Luke Stegner has come up with a solution, his ultralight laundry Shorts at US$ 34.99 (Oct 2017)

He also has a lot of other interesting ultralight gear, including practically the lightest raincoat around. Check out his website:


See Also: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hiking-pants/ at 75 grams

29/09/2017: 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

24/09/2017: The Isthmus: We spent the afternoon poking around on the Wilsons Prom Isthmus, an area easily ignored as you roar down from Foster to the National Park, but in many ways it is scenically superior to the park itself. We had time only to drive down four roads to the sea, and take a peek: Foster Beach Road (off Lower Franklin Road) Foster, Charles Hall Road (off Black Swamp Road) Yanakie, Shelcotts Road Yanakie and Hourigan Camp Lane (off Millars Road) Yanakie. As you know I am working towards a Great Gippsland Circuit (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-great-gippsland-circuit/) that will walk along the entire Gippsland Coast from Phillip Island to Eden then return to Melbourne along the Alps Walking Track. Today we were checking out just a small part of that.

A view from Foster Beach towards Wilsons Prom across Corner Inlet

Red Billed Shearwaters amongst the mangroves Foster Beach 


Mangroves Foster Beach looking across to the Yanakie Isthmus

Mangrove crab Foster Beach

Mangroves Foster Beach looking towards Wilsons Prom

Charles Hall Road looking towards Doughboy Island. Wilsons Prom in the background.

Charles Hall Road looking towards Foster

A close up of the above - so easy and pleasant walking along most of Corner Inlet particularly at low tide.

Shelcotts Road looking towards Charles Hall Road and Foster. The good walking continues

Shellcotts Road looking past Red Bluffs towards the Prom. At low tide at least you can easily walk past Red Bluff Road at least as far as Foleys Road

Close up of the above. Red Bluffs centre.

Shelcotts Road: shags on a rock, Doughboy Island and the Prom in the background.

Della beachcombing Hourigans Camp Lane looking back up Shallow Inlet towards Lester Road camping grounds. There is a creek to cross before you get there. it would have to be swum.

There are plenty of spots you can do a bit of beach camping along here, as someone has near the stream below. You can also easily walk from here along the beach all the way to the Darby River.

This is the view towards the Shallow Inlet entrance. There is plenty of firewood here.

Close up of the same view. Wilsons Prom in the background. There are many freshwater streams such as this one. Perhaps filter the water with your Sawyer Mini filter as there is run-off from paddocks containing stock such as sheep. Mind you, I never have.

A gull enjoys the sunset

Until Spot scares him off

Leaving the sunset over Shallow Inlet for us alone to enjoy

I think there will be some places on this long walk where a packraft such as the Klymit LWD (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/klymit-packraft/) will be needed, eg for crossing Shallow Inlet. The same apples at Andersons Inlet (Inverloch), Hollands landing, Mueller River & etc. You would walk around the point and back along the inshore of the inlet about 2 km then paddle the couple of hundred metres across at lowish tide on the downstream side of Fisherman's creek. Don't cross near the inlet as you could be swept out to sea! Then you can walk all the way to the Darby River. the crossing around can be avoided by a long but pleasant walk along quiet country roads: Waratah Road, Soldiers Road, Daveys Road, Meeniyan-Prom Rd, Millars Road, Hourigan Camp Lane. A packraft would also help where there is some difficulty walking along the shore (eg where there are mangroves, or at high tide). With a packraft I think you could journey all along the inside of Corner Inlet from Millars Landing to Port Franklin.

See Also: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/advanced-elements-ultralight-paddle/

23/09/2017: Ultralight Windscreen: And, here is the titanium windscreen to go with your esbit stove http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-esbit-stove/ – or maybe your egg-ring stove (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-egg-ring-ultralight-wood-burner-stove/) and your ultralight cookpot (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-cookpot/) to complete your ultralight cookset. Weight: 0.5oz  (14g) Dimensions: 22 7/8" (580mm) x 4 3/4" (120mm) https://www.toaksoutdoor.com/products/wsc US$10.95 (September 2017) You might also be interested in this product 1.5 gram to prevent you burning your lip: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hot-lips/

Cookpot 39 grams, Esbit stove 11.5 grams, windscreen much less than (you would cut it down) 14 grams = total weight < 64.5, or say 60 grams! Not a lot of weight for a warm meal or a cuppa in the wilds.


See Also:






22/09/2017: Ultralight Esbit Stove: In case you want an ultralight stove (including pot stand) to go with your ultralight pot (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-cookpot/) you should try this mini titanium esbit stove which weighs a mere 11.5 grams. Esbit is the gram cracker’s fuel of choice containing more BTUs per gram than any other fuel (and needing no container). It also makes a great fire starter. It burns at approx 1300C, but it is a little slow. A windscreen is a good idea. Available eg here: http://www.zpacks.com/accessories/esbit_stove.shtml or https://www.amazon.com/Esbit-Ultralight-Folding-Titanium-Tablets/dp/B002AQET2C From US$11.64 (September 2017)



21/09/2017: MLD Supermid: We have owned this excellent large tent for quite a few years now. We bought it for our cross-Tasmania walk in 2011 (See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/south-west-track-tasmania/ & http://www.theultralighthiker.com/tasmanias-south-coast-track-hells-holiday/) way down in the Roaring 40s, the often awful conditions of wind and rain of which it stood up to admirably. We needed a three person (plus lots of gear) tent for that trip which it was more than roomy enough for. The tent is 9’ x 9’ and over 6’ high at the centre. We could have squeezed another very good friend in too, if pressed.

  Here we are with it at Freeney Lagoon on Cox’s Bight, enjoying a cuppa:

And at the Louisa River just before crossing the formidable Ironbound Range:

In the photo above you will notice Della is wearing a pair of MLD waterproof chaps (https://mountainlaureldesigns.com/product/rain-chaps/) which weigh a mere 65 grams. We also carried (and used) MLD ultralight gaiters and event mittens (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-mitts-and-gaiters/) which we also highly recommend: 

I double-waterproofed the floor using this method (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/waterproofing-tent-floors-and-ground-sheets/), which worked well, but was probably overkill. (It also no doubt added some additional weight). We also carried a lot more pegs and tie-outs than you would normally ever need, but winds down there are only too often hurricane force and can flatten a tent or blow it clean away!

Even in terrifying wind and torrential rain the tent never looked like letting us down. Erin McKittrick & Bretwood Higman (http://groundtruthtrekking.org/) used this tent on their 4,000 mile journey along the Pacidfiic rim from Seattle to the Bering Sea, so it can really take some punishment. Our tent is the silnylon model. It tent weighed 740 grams bare, and the floor 340 grams, not bad for such a huge tent which you can stand up in – even dance if the occasion so takes you! We used two Gossamer Gear trekking poles as the centre pole.

Here are some of its specs:

  • 70+ sq/ft of usable floor space perfect for four or a palace for two or three
    • ONE oversized peak vent design is best: pitch the rear of the SuperMid into the wind to prevent rain and snow from blowing into the vent and to create a mini Venturi Effect, pulling condensation out the oversize vent on the downwind side
    • Oversized peak vent that can be easily closed during hard wind, blowing rain, and snow, by pulling out the wand and Velcro-ing the vent tightly shut
    • Plenty of room to stand up
    • Side walls shed snow well
    • Main seams are triple rolled, stitched, and flat felled (an MLD Exclusive.)
    • Interior Apex hang loop
    • Apex/Peak reinforced with Dyneema X
    • 2 Doors: Both doors roll open and tie back
    • Mid-height zipper door snaps allow doors to be partially opened
    • A total of 17 tie-outs!
    • 8 ground level perimeter tie-outs with LineLocks for easy adjustment: LineLocks make cold weather and winter use (buried snow anchors) MUCH easier. LineLocks can be removed to save about 1.0 oz
    • Extra center side panel tie-outs on all sides for really high winds.
    • Use a short length of guyline to tie two trek poles together for center pole support

And the floor’s:

  • Waterproof Pro SilNylon and Cuben Fiber- Very High Hydrostatic Rating
    • Cuben Version is made with Ultimate Lightweight .75 oz Cuben Fiber
    • 5 in | 12.7 cm bathtub walls
    • Corner Struts keep the floor upright and tight
    • Center Pole Floor Reinforcement of Dyneema X (Silnylon Version) or Thick Cuben Fiber (Cuben Version) on Duo + Super Floors
    • Extra center tie-outs on the long sides
    • Same size as the floors of the Pyramid InnerNets
    • Use four separate stakes, or use the supplied 3/32″ bungee cord to connect to the Pyramids corner tie-outs or to the same stakes as your Mid Pyramid Shelter
    • SILNYLON VERSION: Use SilNet silicone seam sealer on the inside corner seams and on any floor stitching for maximum waterproofness
    •CUBEN VERSION: is seam taped and does not need any additional seam sealing

Such a large tent makes an excellent base camp in cold, wet weather such as you are likely to encounter in Southern Tasmania or Fiordland New Zealand. It is bigger than Della and I need just for the two of us though. It is more of an expedition tent, good to carry amongst a party of 3-4. You could try some of MLD’s smaller tents such as the Solomid (https://mountainlaureldesigns.com/product/solomid-xl/) or Duomid (https://mountainlaureldesigns.com/product/duomid/) if you are venturing alone into the wilderness or with just your partner.

20/09/2017: Best Hunting Daypack: If your day or overnight hunting pack weighs more than 400 grams you are carrying too much. The pack below is a great option (in Wasabi Green would be my choice). Remember this: every unnecessary gram you carry makes it just that much harder to make your footfalls quiet. It would make a really great weekend hiking pack too.

If you really want to have your quarry hear you clomping around from a couple of hundred metres away, go ahead: wear those immense waterproof (what?) ‘hunting’ boots (which almost certainly weigh over a kilogram each wet – you thought you could have dry feet hunting? Get real!) instead of something really light and comfy such as Topo’s Terraventure at 290 grams (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-shoes/), a shoe which you can float over the ground in without ever breaking a single twig!

Being able to hunt energetically (and inconspicuously – no, I don’t mean wearing camo: that is unfair chase) begins at your feet and continues on to your pack and the contents of your pack. I imagine I could swap your current pack for the above one, include a sleeping bag (600 grams), mat (230 grams), shelter (250 grams) and cookset (100 grams) and have all these items weigh no more than your current pack does empty (1550 grams)! Am I right? This means you can plan to stay out overnight – which is what you really need to do if you are going to take advantage of twilight’s best hunting opportunities!

I have bought a number of items from Ron at Mountain Laurel Designs over the years. They have all been extremely intelligently thought out, very carefully and expertly made (by him) and enormously functional. This pack will be no different. The fact that it will sit right in the small of your back will also make it the most comfy pack you have ever worn too I don’t doubt.

Check it out here: https://mountainlaureldesigns.com/product/burn-38l/

‘WEIGHT: 13 oz | 370 gm

CAPACITY: 38L | 2300 CI

LOAD RANGE: 16 – 20 lbs | 7 -9 kg


  • NEW FOR 2017: Curved Side Panels: A slight curve from the waist to the shoulders moves the load closer to the upper back for more comfort. This also creates a slightly larger main compartment higher in the pack that helps load control by moving the heavier and higher packed gear higher to reduces shoulder stress.
  • S-shaped unisex comfort shoulder straps are 2.5″ wide X 0.8″ thick and are SuperWick mesh lined with full-length highest quality 1/2″ thick EVA foam padding. Our shoulder straps are thicker and wider than most lightweight packs. Half length daisy chain saves weight and accepts all Shoulder Strap Pouches.
  • Hybrid Mesh/Dyneema X Side and Rear Pockets. The leading edge of the side pockets are Dyneema X to prevent snagging when moving through the bush. The lower 5″ of the rear pocket is Dyneema X to prevent abrasion from sharp contents or butt sliding accidents. The 4 oz sq/yd open hole non-stretch water and drains fast to allow contents to dry faster than a tight stretch mesh or solid fabric. Dyneema X elastic top sleeves for long term Durability and elastic replacement.
  • Large un-padded lightweight Dyneema X hip-belt wings with 3/4″ webbing and ultra lightweight buckle. Optional removable Hip Pocket can be attached.
  • Large, slanted mesh side pockets are deep enough for a 2 L Platypus. Top bungee sleeves of Dyneema X for long term durability vs. cheaper style wrapped tops of uncovered elastic bands. Pocket adjusts by pulling the bungee closed through the cord lock. Bungee is 1/8″ thick 40 below rated elastic in a nylon sheath style bungee. Many lower priced packs simply bind over the top of the raw mesh with regular garment type elastic that loses it’s stretch in a few years and does not do well in deep cold weather.
  • 12 bungee attachment web loops with 7 mm glide rings for multiple attachment points for load compression and gear lashing. A short loop of 3 mm line can be attached to the lower loops for trekking pole and ice ax attachment
  • Left shoulder hydration ports
  • Internal hang clip loops for Optional .75 Hydration Sleeve or Stow Pouch. The Hydration Sleeve also converts to a 1.1 oz summit day pack.
  • Removable Multi-position “Most Awesome Sternum Strap In The World” with Black Whistle-Lock Buckle 0.5 oz (not included in base pack weight)
  • Dry Bag roll top closure with V-top compression strap.
  • Long shoulder straps terminate in hand/finger rest loops.


  • 10″ of black 1/8″ bungee cord
  • 2 mini cord clips and 3 cord locks’

19/09/2017: Ultralight Cookpot: Mountain Laurel Designs’ Titanium Mug (https://mountainlaureldesigns.com/product/titanium-mug/) has to come close to winning the prize at 39 grams for a 475 ml mug which is at least sturdy enough to carry around without its crushing. I would recommend this for ultralight overnight trips such as an ultralight hunter might undertake, for example. You could cook a simple meal in it such as two minute noodles combined with a cup-a-soup.

You might combine it with an egg-ring stove (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-egg-ring-ultralight-wood-burner-stove/) from 12.5 grams, and a titanium windscreen (https://www.toaksoutdoor.com/products/wsc) 14 grams for a total cookset weight of 65.5 grams.

I have boiled a cup of water (on a 13 gram esbit stove), made coffee and drunk it from a 375 ml beer can I had cut the lid out of with a can opener. You need something to insulate it, perhaps a large rubber band fashioned from a cycle inner tube, but it works and is extraordinarily light.

Trail Designs offer a Caldera set-up which utilizes a large Heineken can as the cookpot, but again it needs a plastic jar to protect it from crushing, so you have to be very careful: https://www.traildesigns.com/products/caldera-keg-f-stove-system  The weight of the pot + cone + stove is 77 grams!

Caldera Keg-F Stove System 

If you want to cook a substantial meal and have a set-up which is pretty near indestructible in your pack, this Toaks pot at 146 grams including the frypan lid is hard to beat: https://www.traildesigns.com/products/toaks-titanium-1100ml-pot-ckw1100 I have a one piece titanium cone (also from Trail Designs) which fits inside it perfectly so that I can cook with an alcohol stove or esbit or with a small wood fire. It also works with the Evernew 900 ml pot at 123 grams includuing frypan lid: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/cookset-woes/

18/09/2017: Ultralight Crockery

I have found it impossible to find a lighter serviceable dish than this one at 15 grams which comes free eg with a packet of Sirena Tuna & Rice. It holds just over 250 ml making it just big enough for my (hiking) cereal in the mornings, or can be used when you are sharing a meal. It is well nigh indestructible - I always carry a couple for Spot (the dog's) food and water too!

I always use a pot with a frypan lid (such as this one http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hiking-cookware/) so I have two cookpots or a pot and a plate. Sometimes it is handy to have another plate such as the one above (eg if you are cooking two dishes (such as fried sausages and mashed potato, or: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/he-hiked-with-a-falafel-in-his-hand/)

The blue cup on the scales below is one that I bought several of from a $1 store years' ago. It weighs 29 grams. I am yet to find a better. It has been with me now for 18 years, and has done great service! The other blue one is a 'Neverrfail' water cup I took home from the doctor's surgery the other day. It seems very flexible and not at all inclined to break. It weighs 5 grams. I think you would have to be careful drinking coffee out of it, but it would be possible. It would be fine for the traditional hiking drink of Bacardi 151 and water though!

18/09/2017: CRKT PDK Replacement Blades

Ultimate Blades for the Ultralight Hunter #2: You can buy #60 scalpel blades on eBay from US$23.95 per 100 (eg here) and you can change the blades on these CRKT PDKs with a locking forceps as shown (which weigh 24 grams - as the photo shows)

You change them just the same as any other scalpel blade (Carefully!) and using eg the tool above, by lifting up the handle end slightly then sliding the blade forward. Reinstalling the new one is the reverse of the process. Dispose of the spent blades safely eg in a hard container with a screw lid.

I know this is a somewhat stingy option given that the knives only cost about $7 each (and weigh 16 grams each including the sheath) when you buy the set of four, but it might be a useful tip. A friend who works in surgery gave me the forceps - as they dispose of thousands of them every year to waste. Astonishing - such a useful tool for fishing too! Well, they both are!

PS: I would imagine you could change the blades in the field with this too ie a Leatherman Squirt: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/leatherman_squirt/

See Also: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultimate-blades-for-the-ultralight-hunter/


17/09/2017: Ultralight Chair: the Litesmith Qwikback: I don’t know which came first, the ‘Jerry Chair’ I posted about here http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-chairgrounsheet/ or this one. Whichever, this is an interesting idea for an ultralight chair for the trail if you are not handy enough to make your own. I don’t think it would be as comfy as the Big Agnes Cyclone, but at 75 grams it is less than half the weight, so might be an option. http://www.litesmith.com/qwikback-ul-chair/


Relax in a QwikBack™ UL Chair


It also makes a very small package. I imagine you could substitute bush sticks for the carbon fibre rods to further reduce the weight. US$59.95 (September 2017) It can be coupled with a closed cell foan pad for extra comfort.


The QwikBack™ seat and poles roll up into an integrated pouch for storage

  • ‘Ultralight - just 2.65 oz (75 g)
  • Durable ripstop nylon seat
  • Strong yet light carbon fiber poles
  • Integrated pole storage
  • Folds into a compact, self-contained package

 After several days of hiking, one thing we miss in the backcountry is a chair. But most are too heavy and bulky to even consider carrying as a luxury item. The QwikBack™ UL Chair changed our thinking and made backpacking more relaxing. At just 2.65 oz (75 g), it's hard to leave at home. "What's wrong with a log?", you say. Well, nothing, but after a long day of hiking or even at a lunch stop, something comfortable to lean back on just makes life more enjoyable.

The QwikBack UL Chair is made of durable materials - ripstop nylon seat and twill carbon fiber poles - for years of backcountry enjoyment. Heck, you could even take it with you to the park or outdoor concert.

The design is super simple but it takes a little getting used to because unlike most chairs, this one doesn't stand on its own. First you insert the poles in the reinforced pockets on the chair back, crossing them in an X pattern. Next you sit on the wide end of the seat on the ground with the poles under the fabric. Then prop up the poles behind you and lean back on the chair. Large diameter rubber feet keep the poles from sinking into the ground. To make adjustments, just reach back and grab the poles, lean forward a little, and move them to a better position. Now lean back and relax.’

When its time to pack up, the chair folds into a compact, self-contained package. Simply remove the poles from the seat and fold them in half. The poles are shockcorded and connected in an assembly so they're easy to pack without loosing any pieces. Starting at the top with the dirty side in, roll the poles inside the seat. When you reach the bottom, tuck the roll into the integrated pouch. No extra bag to keep track of.’

 Litesmith also have some other really neat gear, such as orifice reducers (you will have to click on that one): http://www.litesmith.com/orifice-reducers/, Tottles: http://www.litesmith.com/tottles-hdpe/, Alien Cord Winders (Yes!): http://www.litesmith.com/alien-cord-winders/, Whoopies Slings, etc. Check them out!

 17/09/2017: Prehistory has so much yet to teach us: http://www.news.com.au/technology/science/evolution/footprint-find-on-crete-may-push-back-date-humans-began-to-walk-upright/news-story/2e60cbd7386573dd2a45c5cc9d79297d

16/09/2017: Fire Umbrella: How to prevent the rain from putting out your fire? I have been toying with this idea for some time. This week I decided to try out an 'ultralight' method. I constructed this 1 metre x 1 metre square of tyvek for that purpose, sewing gross grain ribbon tie outs on each of four corners. It weighed less than 2 ounces (60 grams) including the 1mm (pink!) dyneema suspension 'rope'. This is not much weight to carry for the benefit of a warm fire out the front of your tyvek tent or shelter.


The 'apprentice' seems very pleased with the arrangement.

When I was up the bush on a training trip this week with a new 'apprentice' (you can expect a future post 'The Deer Hunter's Apprentice') some decent (?) rain set in so I thought I would give it a try. To begin with it worked a treat, so the 'proof of concept' is definitely 'in'. After a little while someone became a little enthusiastic about putting too much wood on the fire (and ignoring it) so that the flames were actually 'licking' the tyvek (well 'devouring' might be a better word), which didn't like that so much. Clearly naked flame exceeds the melting point of the tyvek so that it now has a large hole melted in its centre. This could have been prevented by having it suspended about two feet higher and/or not building the fire up so much. The tyvek did not ignite! An important point. Also importantly, the 'string did not melt, only the hottest centre bit of the 'umbrella'. I belatedly shifted it higher and left it there and it melted no more, yet still prevented the fire from going out - which it probably otherwise would have.

The other strategy to use would be to source some more fireproof (though heavier) material. The stuff that 'fire blankets' are made of would be very good, though also very heavy 427 grams. The fire blanket must be made of approx 13 oz cloth. I see that they (https://www.auburnmfg.com/product-category/mro/heat-resistant-cloth/) also make a 9 oz product which would bring the weight down under 300 grams (still too heavy for my liking). Of course both heavier materials would be fine for car-based camping. More to come...


See also: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/fire-tent/

A reader responds: ‘Interesting idea. I'll warn you that the column of hot air -- hot enough air to melt synthetic fabrics -- extends an alarming height from any fire large enough to keep you "warm" without having to sit so close to it that the embers won't make you and your stuff Swiss cheese. I see many possible failure modes for this plan, and most of them involve picking molten plastic off of yourself and/or your gear. The current conditions including wind, etc. are going to make the performance of what that hot air is doing extremely unpredictable, as well. It wouldn't take much of a breeze for the heat to be shifted enough to take out one of your guylines. You are also in a catch-22 situation: The higher you hang the tarp to keep it away from the heat the less effective it is versus rain blowing in from the sides. So the bigger you make it to mitigate this the more heat it captures, so the higher you have to hang it, so the bigger you have to make it... et cetera.

Flame retardant fabric is an idea, but you also need flame retardant suspension lines. And the fire canopy, if it's not designed to just be disposable, is going to be just covered in soot after the first time you use it. So you probably also want something to stuff it into when you're done using it.

If you really need to keep a small fire going in the rain it's probably easier to just stick a half-pyramid of aluminum foil over it. Then you don't need any suspension lines or anything of that ilk. Keeping the tinder and kindling dry when you're getting started is the important part. A good bed of coals can survive a pretty substantial downpour all by itself. And if the prevailing conditions mean that you can't get your hands on dry kindling in the first place then you're probably not having a fire tonight, mini-canopy or not.

(I would further propose that if you are relying on a fire for warmth in your shelter outside of an emergency survival situation you are, in fact, doing it wrong. That's what your shelter and insulation are for. A fire is nice to have [and those marshmallows ain't going to toast themselves], but it should by no means be essential to your safety or comfort -- especially when rain is in the forecast.)’

And my response: Thank you for your input. I camp out mostly in the e colder months, so I usually have a fire for warmth, but you are right – one should not rely on it. I have been doing this for nearly 60 years. These days I usually use one of my tyvek shelters which embers don't affect. The 'fire canopy' (good term - thank you for that) worked very well in the rain except I had it too low. Most of the wind-driven rain is moderated by the structure of the shelter itself, and the wind is kept away from the fire, and of course the embers blow away from the shelter as well. I had it only about 4' above the fire, then someone made the fire too large. It needed to be 6-7' above the fire and the fire needed to be kept small enough so flames never went 4' into the air. This is actually quite easy to do. I would recommend that others use a fireproof material such as the blankets are made of, or the lighter one I provided the link for (which would weigh about 300 grams). I will have yet another go with the tyvek because I have lots of it and am careful, and just see how I go. I never walk tracks or trails, so I hardly ever toast marshmallows. The track walking brigade probably have little bush sense and should definitely be guided by your advice. I am thinking of this idea mostly for backpacking deer hunters - which is what we were doing in the photographs. Thank you also for the idea about the aluminium foil shelter idea for a small fire. I usually recommend people carry some aluminium foil (though not that much) for roasting fish, but your idea is another good option.

16/09/2017: So, the Sumerians discovered trigonometry a thousand years before anyone else and in a better form which had not yet been rediscovered: http://www.thehistoryblog.com/archives/48604 & http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0315086017300691

07/09/2017: Man punches a bear trap! Don’t try this at home: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4fznINyU-U

07/09/2017: Holy Cow! SSDs are the way to go. Take a look at these results: http://maggiesfarm.anotherdotcom.com/archives/30372-Docs-Computin-Tips-The-solid-state-drive.html#extended

06/09/2017: Della: Winging home to chilly Victoria this morning. Farewell Mount Bartle Frere: You were not my nemesis! With Steve Jones.



05/09/2017: The soul of the octopus: a truly fascinating read: https://www.lrb.co.uk/v39/n17/amia-srinivasan/the-sucker-the-sucker


04/09/2017: Della always gets to print way before me, but here are some of the things I found interesting about the last couple of days wandering around what folks would normally consider the less picturesque places in far North Qld


The native kapok tree is quite a stunner.

What a beautiful little guy this agile wallaby was.

You do have to watch out for these guys - and the immense dust cloud they trail.

The light in this Mungana cave was delicious.

According to the locals you should never buy termite country because it is low in phosphorus - this patch must be particularly low!

Many grand spider's webs around Chillago

And this interesting paper wasp's nest.

So many wonderful pigeons up here. Della is in seventh heaven.

Love these dry riverbeds - they look like great spots to camp, particularly if you love birdlife.

These wonderful Qld cows seem to love them too.

A prosaic farm dam can be a thing of great beauty.

Don't you wish you loved a bath as much as this?

I really liked the Millstream Falls too, and its association with WW2 history.


04/09/2017: Della: So we have spent the last 3 days exploring from Atherton across to the old mining towns on the edge of the savannah lands: Innot Hot Springs, Herberton, Chillagoe and Mungana. The land changes so quickly from rainforest to savannah and the old mining towns were well worth a look! With Steve Jones.


So many dry creek beds on the way.

Dry creek bed on the road from Herberton. Cows, brumbies...lots of road hazards with unfenced stations.

Inside one of the limestone caves at Chillagoe-Mungana National Park.

Chillagoe Creek - quite a respite from the heat of the day.

Remnants of the old Chillagoe copper smelter.

Snapped this guy inside a very dry cave!

View from old Chillagoe copper smelter across the savannah.

Steve inside the Archways, Mungana National Park.


03/09/2017: A tale of 2 waterfalls: The first one, Milaa Milaa Falls, is the most photographed waterfall in Australia. I snapped it on my camera phone amidst a riot of tourist buses, Winnebagos, heavy-duty camera apparatus and shoulder- deep people.The second and third , Millstream Falls, only about a half-hour's drive away, is one of the least visited waterfalls. We had it totally to ourselves. The surrounding vegetation was not quite so tropical, the feature not so manicured, but a far more impressive display in my opinion! With Steve Jones




03/09/2017: You Can Do It: If we have been quiet it is because we are busy doing. The last two days we spent climbing Mt Bartle Frere, the tallest mountain in Queensland in the wet tropics of the far North. It is an extremely difficult ascent of 1.6 km vertically but well worth it. We are so happy we can still undertake such feats well into our sixties, things which are daunting to most people in their twenties. Probably less than 10,000 people a year summit this wonderful mountain. We thoroughly enjoyed it. I will expand this post when we get home from enjoying ourselves in these deep Northern forests. Here are some pics as a foretaste:

Up we go

A beautiful cloud forest

Our trusty deer hunter's tent in the clouds near the summit .

Morning view from our front door

One of the boulder fields we had to traverse

A view from near the summit

The helipad at the summit.

More to follow. Be patient.

01/09/2017: Della: Victory! Mount Bartle Frere done and dusted. In a motel in Innisfail tonight too tired to even contemplate a champagne....Tomorrow night may be a different story! We reached the top in cloud forest mist this morning after an amazingly challenging climb. The approach to the top involved negotiating a formidable boulder field that felt like a mountain climber's nightmare. Some of the leg ups were far wider than my short limbs could possibly reach so I was very grateful for Steve's assistance in hauling me over the yawning chasms! The view from the top was non-existent, due to the heavy mist, but Bartle Frere was all about the journey rather than the destination. The steep descent that took us all of today was cruel on our overstretched leg muscles so I may be hobbling for a day or two! With Steve Jones

Cloud forest this morning

Last night's camp: Tent in the mist!

Hanging out with some bracket fungi this morning.

The boulder field begins.

Half way up the boulder field, looking down the route. No pictures can quite capture the steepness of the climb!

View, such as it was, from the top.

31/08/2017: Della: Tonight we are camped just near the summit of Mount Bartle Frere. The going has been tough but we expect to make the summit early tomorrow. Mobile service is unexpectedly available. A little weary but not heart-sore! 😀With Steve Jones.

One of the stream crossings.

Delightful bracket fungi!


Lots of tree-root ladder work...in fact most of the track has been constantly vertical.

31/08/2017: Lake Placid: What a great spot for a horror movie! Walking up the river beside the lake I snapped this big fellow in the upper Barron river before its presence had hit the newspapers. S/he has to be over three metres long yet has grown to that size without devouring a single child at this popular swimming hole. More about the many walks in the Barron Gorge later:

30/08/2017: Della: A lovely day acclimatising to sunny Cairns! Kim Henry accompanied us on some small walks around Lake Placid, the Cattana wetlands and along the Stony Creek Weir Track. Unexpectedly we were able to see a good sized croc on the edge of Lake Placid after only a 5 minute ramble along the opposite bank. Steve's little Nikon Coolpix S7000 captured it very nicely!


Stony Creek Weir Track

Croc basking on the bank of Lake Placid today. Great pic, Steve Jones!

Kim Henry - Stony Creek Weir Track

Cattana wetlands

Cattana wetlands


29/08/2017: Cairns: Crystal Cascades. A short walk up Freshawater Creek to remove the flying kinks. A pretty nice looking swimming hole; will pack swimsuit next time, as weather here is a pretty warm 27 degrees max. Preparing to tackle the big hike up Mount Bartle Frere over the next couple of days. With Steve Jones.




28/08/2017: I am in the mood for poetry today. This is one of my favourites too:

Waiting for the Barbarians C.P Cavafy
(Translated by Richmond Lattimore)

Why are we all assembled and waiting in the market place?
It is the barbarians; they will be here today.
Why is there nothing being done in the senate house?
Why are the senators in session but are not passing laws?
Because the barbarians are coming today.
Why should the senators make laws any more?
The barbarians will make the laws when they get here.
Why has our emperor got up so early
and sits there at the biggest gate of the city
high on his throne, in state, and with his crown on?
Because the barbarians are coming today
and the emperor is waiting to receive them
and their general. And he has even made ready
a parchment to present them, and thereon
he has written many names and many titles.
Why have our two consuls and our praetors
Come out today in their red embroidered togas?
Why have they put on their bracelets with all those amethysts
and rings shining with the glitter of emeralds?
Why will they carry their precious staves today
which are decorated with figures of gold and silver?
Because the barbarians are coming today
And things like that impress the barbarians.
Why do our good orators not put in any appearance
and make public speeches, and do what they generally do?
Because the barbarians are coming today
and they get bored with eloquent public speeches.
Why is everybody beginning to be so uneasy?
Why so disordered? (See how grave all the faces have
become!) Why do the streets and the squares empty so quickly,
and they are all anxiously going home to their houses?
Because it is night, and the barbarians have not got here,
and some people have come in from the frontier
and say that there aren’t any more barbarians.
What are we going to do now without the barbarians?
In a way, those people were a solution.

28/08/2017: Oh Come With Old Khayyam

Oh, come with old Khayyám, and leave the Wise
To talk; one thing is certain, that Life flies;
One thing is certain, and the Rest is Lies;
The Flower that once has blown for ever dies...

Khayyam too was a tentmaker from Nishapur Iran in the C12th. I doubt he made a tent like the one above however, but I am proud to follow in his footsteps still. I have sewn all the Xenon Sil panels together and it weighs 377 grams. I doubt it will weigh any more than that when complete, as though I have still to sew the two edges together to make a circle, add two reinforcing patches to the top and add a lot of tie-outs, I also have to cut off the catenary curves along the bottom. Then, when erected it will make an igloo shaped tipi around 9' wide, and with standing room in the centre for folks of our stature anyway. This is the nearly completed version of my 'Honey I Shrank' tent  http://www.theultralighthiker.com/honey-i-shrank-the-tent/ which cries out for a name really. Della has rejected 'Siligloo'. Perhaps you can come up with a better?

My Pocket Poncho tent http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-pocket-poncho-tent/ will make an adequate floor for it (at 185 grams). To that I will have to add about a dozen shepherd's crook titanium stakes and a couple of guys with line locks, say 75 grams together, making the vast quantity of 635 grams in toto. There is nothing quite like it anywhere. I simply do not know what today's tentmakers are doing, any more than Khayyam would have done.

Perhaps (sadly) you do not know Khayyam or this magnificent poem at all? My favourite really. The 'Bible of Scepticism' folks used to call it, but there is nothing at all wrong with scepticism (the converse is the case).

He goes on:

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it...

And that inverted Bowl we call The Sky,
Whereunder crawling coop't we live and die,
Lift not thy hands to It for help—for It
Rolls impotently on as Thou or I....

Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough,
A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse—and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness—
And Wilderness is Paradise enow.

You like that taste, I hope? Here is the complete first 1859 edition of Fitzgerald's translation of the Rubaiyat, (in my opinion the best - footnotes at bottom):

The Rubayyat of Omar Khayyam Translated into English in 1859 by Edward FitzGerald

[page 1]



AWAKE! for Morning in the Bowl of Night
Has flung the Stone that puts the Stars to Flight:{1}
And Lo! the Hunter of the East has caught
The Sultán's Turret in a Noose of Light.

Dreaming when Dawn's Left Hand was in the Sky{2}
I heard a Voice within the Tavern cry,
"Awake, my Little ones, and fill the Cup
"Before Life's Liquor in its Cup be dry."

And, as the Cock crew, those who stood before
The Tavern shouted—"Open then the Door!
"You know how little while we have to stay,
"And, once departed, may return no more."

[page 2]

Now the New Year{3} reviving old Desires,
The thoughtful Soul to Solitude retires,
Where the WHITE HAND OF MOSES on the Bough
Puts out,{4} and Jesus from the Ground suspires.

Irám indeed is gone with all its Rose,{5}
And Jamshýd's Sev'n-ring'd Cup where no one knows;
But still the Vine her ancient Ruby yields,
And still a Garden by the Water blows.

And David's Lips are lock't; but in divine
High piping Péhlevi,{6} with "Wine! Wine! Wine!
"Red Wine!"—the Nightingale cries to the Rose
That yellow Cheek{7} of her's to'incarnadine.

Come, fill the Cup, and in the Fire of Spring
The Winter Garment of Repentance fling:
The Bird of Time has but a little way
To fly—and Lo! the Bird is on the Wing.

And look—a thousand Blossoms with the Day
Woke—and a thousand scatter'd into Clay:
And this first Summer Month that brings the Rose
Shall take Jamshýd and Kaikobád away.

[page 3]

But come with old Khayyám, and leave the Lot
Of Kaikobád and Kaikhosrú forgot:
Let Rustum lay about him as he will,{8}
Or Hátim Tai cry Supper—heed them not.

With me along some Strip of Herbage strown
That just divides the desert from the sown,
Where name of Slave and Sultán scarce is known,
And pity Sultán Mahmúd on his Throne.

Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough,
A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse—and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness—
And Wilderness is Paradise enow.

"How sweet is mortal Sovranty!"—think some:
Others—"How blest the Paradise to come!"
Ah, take the Cash in hand and wave the Rest;
Oh, the brave Music of a distant Drum!{9}

Look to the Rose that blows about us—"Lo,
"Laughing," she says, "into the World I blow:
"At once the silken Tassel of my Purse
"Tear, and its Treasure{10} on the Garden throw."

[page 4]

The Worldly Hope men set their Hearts upon
Turns Ashes—or it prospers; and anon,
Like Snow upon the Desert's dusty Face
Lighting a little Hour or two—is gone.

And those who husbanded the Golden Grain,
And those who flung it to the Winds like Rain,
Alike to no such aureate Earth are turn'd
As, buried once, Men want dug up again.

Think, in this batter'd Caravanserai
Whose Doorways are alternate Night and Day,
How Sultán after Sultán with his Pomp
Abode his Hour or two, and went his way.

They say the Lion and the Lizard keep
The Courts where Jamshýd gloried and drank deep:{11}
And Bahrám, that great Hunter—the Wild Ass
Stamps o'er his Head, and he lies fast asleep.

I sometimes think that never blows so red
The Rose as where some buried Cæsar bled;
That every Hyacinth the Garden wears
Dropt in its Lap from some once lovely Head.

[page 5]

And this delightful Herb whose tender Green
Fledges the River's Lip on which we lean—
Ah, lean upon it lightly! for who knows
From what once lovely Lip it springs unseen!

Ah! my Belovéd, fill the Cup that clears
TO-DAY of past Regrets and future Fears—
To-morrow?—Why, To-morrow I may be
Myself with Yesterday's Sev'n Thousand Years.{12}

Lo! some we loved, the loveliest and the best
That Time and Fate of all their Vintage prest,
Have drunk their Cup a Round or two before,
And one by one crept silently to Rest.

And we, that now make merry in the Room
They left, and Summer dresses in new Bloom,
Ourselves must we beneath the Couch of Earth
Descend, ourselves to make a Couch—for whom?

Ah, make the most of what we yet may spend,
Before we too into the Dust Descend;
Dust into Dust, and under Dust, to lie,
Sans Wine, sans Song, sans Singer and—sans End!

[page 6]

Alike for those who for TO-DAY prepare,
And those that after a TO-MORROW stare,
A Muezzín from the Tower of Darkness cries
"Fools! your Reward is neither Here nor There."

Why, all the Saints and Sages who discuss'd
Of the Two Worlds so learnedly, are thrust
Like foolish Prophets forth; their Words to Scorn
Are scatter'd, and their Mouths are stopt with Dust.

Oh, come with old Khayyám, and leave the Wise
To talk; one thing is certain, that Life flies;
One thing is certain, and the Rest is Lies;
The Flower that once has blown for ever dies.

Myself when young did eagerly frequent
Doctor and Saint, and heard great Argument
About it and about: but evermore
Came out by the same Door as in I went.

With them the Seed of Wisdom did I sow,
And with my own hand labour'd it to grow:
And this was all the Harvest that I reap'd—
"I came like Water, and like Wind I go."

[page 7]

Into this Universe, and why not knowing,
Nor whence, like Water willy-nilly flowing:
And out of it, as Wind along the Waste,
I know not whither, willy-nilly blowing.

What, without asking, hither hurried whence?
And, without asking, whither hurried hence!
Another and another Cup to drown
The Memory of this Impertinence!

Up from Earth's Centre through the Seventh Gate
I rose, and on the Throne of Saturn sate,{13}
And many Knots unravel'd by the Road;
But not the Knot of Human Death and Fate.

There was a Door to which I found no Key:
There was a Veil past which I could not see:
Some little Talk awhile of ME and THEE
There seemed—and then no more of THEE and ME.{15}

Then to the rolling Heav'n itself I cried,
Asking, "What Lamp had Destiny to guide
"Her little Children stumbling in the Dark?"
And—"A blind understanding!" Heav'n replied.

[page 8]

Then to this earthen Bowl did I adjourn
My Lip the secret Well of Life to learn:
And Lip to Lip it murmur'd—"While you live,
"Drink!—for once dead you never shall return."

I think the Vessel, that with fugitive
Articulation answer'd, once did live,
And merry-make; and the cold Lip I kiss'd
How many Kisses might it take—and give.

For in the Market-place, one Dusk of Day,
I watch'd the Potter thumping his wet Clay:
And with its all obliterated Tongue
It murmur'd—"Gently, Brother, gently, pray!"

Ah, fill the Cup:—what boots it to repeat
How Time is slipping underneath our Feet:
Unborn TO-MORROW and dead YESTERDAY,
Why fret about them if TO-DAY be sweet!

One Moment in Annihilation's Waste,
One moment, of the Well of Life to taste—
The Stars are setting, and the Caravan
Starts for the dawn of Nothing{16}—Oh, make haste!

[page 9]

How long, how long, in infinite Pursuit
Of This and That endeavour and dispute?
Better be merry with the fruitful Grape
Than sadden after none, or bitter, Fruit.

You know, my Friends, how long since in my House
For a new Marriage I did make Carouse:
Divorced old barren Reason from my Bed,
And took the Daughter of the Vine to Spouse.

For "IS" and "IS-NOT" though with Rule and Line,
And, "UP-AND-DOWN" without, I could define,{14}
I yet in all I only cared to know,
Was never deep in anything but—Wine.

And lately, by the Tavern Door agape,
Came stealing through the Dusk an Angel Shape,
Bearing a vessel on his Shoulder; and
He bid me taste of it; and 'twas—the Grape!

The Grape that can with Logic absolute
The Two-and-Seventy jarring Sects{17} confute:
The subtle Alchemist that in a Trice
Life's leaden Metal into Gold transmute.

[page 10]

The mighty Mahmúd, the victorious Lord,
That all the misbelieving and black Horde{18}
Of Fears and Sorrows that infest the Soul
Scatters and slays with his enchanted Sword.

But leave the Wise to wrangle, and with me
The Quarrel of the Universe let be:
And, in some corner of the Hubbub coucht,
Make Game of that which makes as much of Thee.

For in and out, above, about, below,
'Tis nothing but a Magic Shadow-show,
Play'd in a Box whose Candle is the Sun,
Round which we Phantom Figures come and go.{19}

And if the Wine you drink, the Lip you press,
End in the Nothing all Things end in—Yes—
Then fancy while Thou art, Thou art but what
Thou shalt be—Nothing—Thou shalt not be less.

While the Rose blows along the River Brink,
With old Khayyám the Ruby Vintage drink:
And when the Angel with his darker Draught
Draws up to thee—take that, and do not shrink.

[page 11]

'Tis all a Chequer-board of Nights and Days
Where Destiny with Men for Pieces plays:
Hither and thither moves, and mates, and slays,
And one by one back in the Closet lays.

The Ball no Question makes of Ayes and Noes,
But Right or Left as strikes the Player goes;
And He that toss'd Thee down into the Field,
He knows about it all—HE knows—HE knows!{20}

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.

And that inverted Bowl we call The Sky,
Whereunder crawling coop't we live and die,
Lift not thy hands to It for help—for It
Rolls impotently on as Thou or I.

With Earth's first Clay They did the Last Man's knead,
And then of the Last Harvest sow'd the Seed:
Yea, the first Morning of Creation wrote
What the Last Dawn of Reckoning shall read.

[page 12]

I tell Thee this—When, starting from the Goal,
Over the shoulders of the flaming Foal
Of Heav'n Parwín and Mushtara they flung,{21}
In my predestin'd Plot of Dust and Soul

The Vine had struck a Fibre; which about
If clings my Being—let the Súfi flout;
Of my Base Metal may be filed a Key,
That shall unlock the Door he howls without.

And this I know: whether the one True Light,
Kindle to Love, or Wrathconsume me quite,
One Glimpse of It within the Tavern caught
Better than in the Temple lost outright.

Oh Thou who didst with Pitfall and with Gin
Beset the Road I was to wander in,
Thou wilt not with Predestination round
Enmesh me, and impute my Fall to Sin?

Oh Thou, who Man of baser Earth didst make,
And who with Eden didst devise the Snake;
For all the Sin wherewith the Face of Man
Is blacken'd, Man's Forgiveness give—and take!
* * * * * * * * *

[page 13]


Listen again. One Evening at the Close
Of Ramazán, ere the better Moon arose,
In that old Potter's Shop I stood alone
With the clay Population round in Rows.

And strange to tell, among that Earthen Lot
Some could articulate, while others not:
And suddenly one more impatient cried—
"Who is the Potter, pray, and who the Pot?"

Then said another—"Surely not in vain
"My substance from the common Earth was ta'en,
"That He who subtly wrought me into Shape
"Should stamp me back to common Earth again."

Another said—"Why, ne'er a peevish Boy
"Would break the Bowl from which he drank in Joy;
"Shall He that made the Vessel in pure Love
"And Fansy, in an after Rage destroy!"

[page 14]

None answer'd this; but after Silence spake
A Vessel of a more ungainly Make:
"They sneer at me for leaning all awry;
"What? did the Hand then of the Potter shake?"

Said one—"Folks of a surly Tapster tell,
"And daub his Visage with the Smoke of Hell;
"They talk of some strict Testing of us—Pish!
"He's a Good Fellow, and 'twill all be well."

Then said another with a long-drawn Sigh,
"My Clay with long oblivion is gone dry:
"But, fill me with the old familiar Juice,
"Methinks I might recover by-and-bye!"

So, while the Vessels one by one were speaking,
One spied the little Crescent all were seeking:
And then they jogg'd each other, "Brother! Brother!
"Hark to the Porter's Shoulder-knot a-creaking!"

* * * * * * * * *

[page 15]

Ah, with the Grape my fading Life provide,
And wash my Body whence the life has died,
And in a Windingsheet of Vine-leaf wrapt,
So bury me by some sweet Gardenside.

That ev'n my buried Ashes such a Snare
Of Perfume shall fling up into the Air,
As not a True Believer passing by
But shall be overtaken unaware.

Indeed the Idols I have loved so long
Have done my Credit in Men's Eye much wrong:
Have drown'd my Honour in a shallow Cup,
And sold my Reputation for a Song.

Indeed, indeed, Repentance oft before
I swore—but was I sober when I swore?
And then and then came Spring, and Rose-in-hand
My thread-bare Penitence a-pieces tore.

And much as Wine has play'd the Infidel,
And robb'd me of my Robe of Honour—well,
I often wonder what the Vintners buy
One half so precious as the Goods they sell.

[page 16]

Alas, that Spring should vanish with the Rose!
That Youth's sweet-scented Manuscript should close!
The Nightingale that in the Branches sang,
Ah, whence, and whither flown again, who knows!

Ah, Love! could thou and I with Fate conspire
To grasp this sorry Scheme of Things entire,
Would not we shatter it to bits—and then
Re-mould it nearer to the Heart's Desire!

Ah, Moon of my Delight who know'st no wane,
The Moon of Heav'n is rising once again:
How oft hereafter rising shall she look
Through this same Garden after me—in vain!

And when Thyself with shining Foot shall pass
Among the Guests Star-scatter'd on The Grass,
And in Thy joyous Errand reach the Spot
Where I made one—turn down an empty Glass!


[page 17]


{1} Flinging a Stone into the Cup was the Signal for "To
Horse!" in the Desert.
{2} The "False Dawn;" Subhi Kházib, a transient Light
on the Horizon about an hour before the Subhi sâdhik, or
True Dawn; a well known Phenomenon in the East. The
Persians call the Morning Gray, or Dusk, "Wolf-and-Sheep-
While." "Almost at odds with, which is which."
{3} New Year. Beginning with the Vernal Equinox, it
must be remembered; and (howsoever the old Solar Year is
practically superseded by the clumsy Lunar Year that dates
from the Mohammedan Hijra) still commemorated by a
Festival that is said to have been appointed by the very
Jamshyd whom Omar so often talks of, and whose yearly
Calendar he helped to rectify.
"The sudden approach and rapid advance of the Spring,"
(says a late Traveller in Persia) "are very striking. Before
the Snow is well off the Ground, the Trees burst into Blos-
som, and the Flowers start from the Soil. At Now Rooz
(their New Year's Day) the Snow was lying in patches on
the Hills and in the shaded Vallies, while the Fruit-trees in
the Garden were budding beautifully, and green Plants and
Flowers springing upon the Plains on every side—
'And on old Hyem's Chin and icy Crown
'An odorous Chaplet of sweet Summer buds
'Is, as in mockery, set — ' —
[page 18]
Among the Plants newly appear'd I recognized some old
Acquaintances I had not seen for many a Year: among these,
two varieties of the Thistle; a coarse species of the Daisy,
like the Horse-gowan; red and white Clover; the Dock; the
blue Corn-flower; and that vulgar Herb the Dandelion rear-
ing its yellow crest on the Banks of the Watercourses." The
Nightingale was not yet heard, for the Rose was not
yet blown: but an almost identical Blackbird and Wood-
pecker helped to make up something of a North-country
{4} Exodus iv. 6; where Moses draws forth his Hand—not,
according to the Persians, "leprous as Snow,"—but white as
our May-Blossom in Spring perhaps! According to them
also the Healing Power of Jesus resided in his Breath.
{5} Irám, planted by King Schedad, and now sunk some-
where in the Sands of Arabia. Jamshyd's Seven-ring'd Cup
was typical of the Seven Heavens, 7 Planets, 7 Seas, &c.
and was a Divining Cup.
{6} Péhlevi, the old Heroic Sanskrit of Persia. Háfiz also
speaks of the Nightingale's Pehlevi, which did not change
with the People's.
{7} I am not sure if this refers to the Red Rose looking
sickly, or the Yellow Rose that ought to be Red; Red,
White, and Yellow Roses all common in Persia.
{8} Rustum, the "Hercules" of Persia, whose exploits are
among the most celebrated in the Shah-náma. Hátim Tai,
a well-known Type of Oriental Generosity.
{9} A Drum—beaten outside a Palace.
{10} That is, the Rose's Golden Centre.
[page 19]
{11} Persepolis: call'd also Takht'i Jamshyd—THE THRONE
OF JAMSHYD, "King-Splendid," of the mythical Peeshdádian
Dynasty, and supposed (with Shah-náma Authority) to
have been founded and built by him, though others refer it
to the Work of the Genie King, Ján Ibn Jann, who also
built the Pyramids before the time of Adam. It is also
called Chehl-minar— Forty-column; which is Persian, pro-
bably, for Column-countless; the Hall they adorned or
supported with their Lotus Base and taurine Capital
indicating double that Number, though now counted down
to less than half by Earthquake and other Inroad. By
whomsoever built, unquestionably the Monument of a long
extinguished Dynasty and Mythology; its Halls, Chambers
and Galleries, inscribed with Arrow-head Characters, and
sculptured with colossal, wing'd, half human Figures like
those of Nimroud; Processions of Priests and Warriors
—(doubtful if any where a Woman)—and Kings sitting on
Thrones or in Chariots, Staff or Lotus-flower in hand, and the
Ferooher—Symbol of Existence—with his wing'd Globe,
common also to Assyria and Ægypt—over their heads. All
this, together with Aqueduct and Cistern, and other Appur-
tenance of a Royal Palace, upon a Terrace-platform, ascended
by a double Flight of Stairs that may be gallop'd up, and
cut out of and into the Rock-side of the Koh'i Ráhmet,
Mountain of Mercy, where the old Fire-worshiping Sove-
reigns are buried, and overlooking the Plain of Merdasht.
Persians, like some other People, it seems, love to
write their own Names, with sometimes a Verse or two, on
their Country's Monuments. Mr. Binning (from whose
sensible Travels the foregoing Account is mainly condens't)
[page 20]
found several such in Persepolis; in one Place a fine Line
of Háfiz: in another "an original, no doubt," he says, "by
no great Poet," however "right in his Sentiment." The
Words somehow looked to us, and the "halting metre"
sounded, familiar; and on looking back at last among the
500 Rubáiyát of the Calcutta Omar MS.—there it is: old
Omar quoted by one of his Countrymen, and here turned
into hasty Rhyme, at any rate—

"This Palace that its Top to Heaven threw,
And Kings their Forehead on its Threshold drew—
I saw a Ring-dove sitting there alone.
And 'Coo, Coo, Coo,' she cried, and ' Coo, Coo, Coo.' "

So as it seems the Persian speaks the English Ring-dove's
Péhlevi, which is also articulate Persian for "Where?"
BAHRÁM GÚR— Bahrám of the Wild Ass, from his Fame
in hunting it— a Sassanian Sovereign, had also his Seven
Castles (like the King of Bohemia!) each of a different Colour;
each with a Royal Mistress within side; each of whom
recounts to Bahrám a Romance, according to one of the
most famous Poems of Persia, written by Amír Khusraw:
these Sevens also figuring (according to Eastern Mysticism)
the Seven Heavens, and perhaps the Book itself that
Eighth, into which the mystical Seven transcend, and
within which they revolve. The Ruins of Three of these
Towers are yet shown by the Peasantry; as also the Swamp
in which Bahrám sunk, like the Master of Ravenswood,
while pursuing his Gúr.
{12} A Thousand Years to each Planet.
{13} Saturn, Lord of the Seventh Heaven.
{14} A Laugh at his Mathematics perhaps.
[page 21]
{15} ME AND THEE; that is, some Dividual Existence or
Personality apart from the Whole.
{16} The Caravan travelling by Night (after their New
Year's Day of the Vernal Equinox) by command of Mo-
hammed, I believe.
{17} The 72 Sects into which Islamism so soon split.
{18} This alludes to Mahmúd's Conquest of India and its
swarthy Idolaters.
{19} Fanúsi khiyál, a Magic-lanthorn still used in India;
the cylindrical Interior being painted with various Figures,
and so lightly poised and ventilated as to revolve round the
Candle lighted within.
{20} A very mysterious Line in the original;
U dánad u dánad u dánad u —
breaking off something like our Wood-pigeon's Note, which
she is said to take up just where she left off.
{21} Parwín and Mushtara—The Pleiads and Jupiter.
{22} At the Close of the Fasting Month, Ramazán (which
makes the Musulman unhealthy and unamiable), the first
Glimpse of the New Moon (who rules their Division of the
Year) is looked for with the utmost Anxiety, and hailed
with all Acclamation. Then it is that the Porter's Knot
may be heard toward the Cellar, perhaps. Old Omar has
elsewhere a pretty Quatrain about this same Moon—

"Be of Good Cheer—the sullen Month will die,
"And a young Moon requite us by and bye:
"Look how the Old one meagre, bent, and wan
"With Age and Fast, is fainting from the Sky!"


OMAR KHAYYÁM was born at Naishápúr in Khorassán
in the latter half of our Eleventh, and died within the First
Quarter of our Twelfth, Century. The slender Story of his
Life is curiously twined about that of two others very consi-
derable Figures in their Time and Country: one of them,
Hasan al Sabbáh, whose very Name has lengthen'd down to
us a terrible Synonym for Murder: and the other (who
also tells the Story of all Three) Nizám al Mulk, Vizyr to
Alp the Lion and Malik Shah, Son and Grandson of Tog-
hrul Beg the Tartar, who had wrested Persia from the fee-
ble Successor of Mahmúd the Great, and founded that Sel-
jukian Dynasty which finally roused Europe into the Cru-
sades. This Nizám al Mulk, in his Wasýat—or Testament
—which he wrote and left as a Memorial for future States-
men—relates the following, as quoted in the Calcutta Review,
No. 59, from Mirkhond's History of the Assassins.
[page iv]
" 'One of the greatest of the wise men of Khorassan was
'the Imám Mowaffak of Naishápur, a man highly honoured
'and reverenced,—may God rejoice his soul; his illustrious
'years exceeded eighty-five, and it was the universal belief
'that every boy who read the Koran or studied the tradi-
'tions in his presence, would assuredly attain to honour
'and happiness. For this cause did my father send me from
'Tús to Naishápur with Abd-u-samad, the doctor of law,
'that I might employ myself in study and learning under
'the guidance of that illustrious teacher. Towards me he
'ever turned an eye of favour and kindness, and as his pupil
'I felt for him extreme affection and devotion, so that I
'passed four years in his service. When I first came there,
'I found two other pupils of mine own age newly arrived,
'Hakim Omar Khayyám, and the ill- fated Ben Sabbáh.
'Both were endowed with sharpness of wit and the highest
'natural powers; and we three formed a close friendship
'together. When the Imám rose from his lectures, they
'used to join me, and we repeated to each other the lessons
'we had heard. Now Omar was a native of Naishápur,
'while Hasan Ben Sabbah's father was one Ali, a man of
'austere life and practise, but heretical in his creed and
'doctrine. One day Hasan said to me and to Khayyám, 'It
'is a universal belief that the pupils of the Imám Mowaffak
'will attain to fortune. Now, even if we all do not attain
'thereto, without doubt one of us will; what then shall be
'our mutual pledge and bond?' We answered 'Be it
'what you please.' 'Well,' he said, 'let us make a vow,
'that to whomsoever this fortune falls, he shall share it
'equally with the rest, and reserve no pre-eminence for him-
[page v]
'self.' 'Be it so,' we both replied, and on those terms we
'mutually pledged our words. Years rolled on, and I went
'from Khorassan to Transoxiana, and wandered to Ghazni
'and Cabul; and when I returned, I was invested with
'office, and rose to be administrator of affairs during the
'Sultanate of Sultan Alp Arslan.' "
"He goes on to state, that years passed by, and both his
old school- friends found him out, and came and claimed a
share in his good fortune, according to the school-day vow.
The Vizier was generous and kept his word. Hasan de-
manded a place in the government, which the Sultan granted
at the Vizier's request; but discontented with a gradual
rise, he plunged into the maze of intrigue of an oriental
court, and, failing in a base attempt to supplant his bene-
factor, he was disgraced and fell. After many mishaps and
wanderings, Hasan became the head of the Persian sect of
the Ismailians,—a party of fanatics who had long murmured
in obscurity, but rose to an evil eminence under the guidance
of his strong and evil will. In A.B. 1090, he seized the
castle of Alamút, in the province of Rúdbar, which lies in
the mountainous tract, south of the Caspian Sea; and it was
from this mountain home he obtained that evil celebrity
among the Crusaders as the OLD MAN OF THE MOUN-
TAINS, and spread terror through the Mohammedan world;
and it is yet disputed where the word Assassin, which
they have left in the language of modern Europe as their
dark memorial, is derived from the hashish, or opiate of
hemp-leaves (the Indian bhang,) with which they maddened
themselves to the sullen pitch of oriental desperation, or from
the name of the founder of the dynasty, whom we have seen
[page vi]
in his quiet collegiate days, at Naishápur. One of the count-
less victims of the Assassin's dagger was Nizám-ul-Mulk
himself, the old school-boy friend."
"Omar Khayyám also came to the Vizier to claim his
share; but not to ask for title or office. 'The greatest boon
'you can confer on me,' he said, 'is to let me live in a
'corner under the shadow of your fortune, to spread wide
'the advantages of Science, and pray for your long life and
'prosperity.' The Vizier tells us, that, when he found
Omar was really sincere in his refusal, he pressed him no
further, but granted him a yearly pension of 1,200 mithkals
of gold, from the treasury of Naishápur."
"At Naishápur thus lived and died Omar Khayyám,
'busied,' adds the Vizier, 'in winning knowledge of every
'kind, and especially in Astronomy, wherein he attained to a
'very high pre-eminence. Under the Sultanate of Malik
'Shah, he came to Merv, and obtained great praise for his
'proficiency in science, and the Sultan showered favours
'upon him.' "
"When the Malik Shah determined to reform the calendar,
Omar was one of the eight learned men employed to do it;
the result was the Jaláli era, (so called from Jalal-ul-din,
one of the king's names,)—'a computation of time,' says
Gibbon, 'which surpasses the Julian, and approaches the
accuracy of the Gregorian style.' He is also the author
of some astronomical tables, entitled Ziji-Malikshahi," and
the French have lately republished and translated an Arabic
Treatise of his on Algebra.
These severer Studies, and his Verses, which, though hap-
pily fewer than any Persian Poet's, and, though perhaps
[page vii]
fugitively composed, the Result of no fugitive Emotion or
Thought, are probably the Work and Event of his Life,
leaving little else to record. Perhaps he liked a little Farm-
ing too, so often as he speaks of the "Edge of the Tilth"
on which he loved to rest with his Diwán of Verse, his Loaf
—and his wine.
"His Takhallus or poetical name (Khayyám) signifies a
Tent-maker, and he is said to have at one time exercised
that trade, perhaps before Nizám-ul-Mulk's generosity raised
him to independence. Many Persian poets similarly derive
their names from their occupations; thus we have Attár, "a
druggist," Assar, "an oil presser," &c. (Though all these,
like our Smiths, Archers, Millers, Fletchers, &c. may simply
retain the Sirname of an hereditary calling.) "Omar him-
self alludes to his name in the following whimsical lines:—

'Khayyám, who stitched the tents of science,
has fallen in grief's furnace and been suddenly burned;
The shears of Fate have cut the tent ropes of his life,
And the broker of Hope has sold him for nothing!'

"We have only one more anecdote to give of his Life, and
that relates to the close; it is told in the anonymous preface
which is sometimes prefixed to his poems; it has been printed
in the Persian in the appendix to Hyde's Veterum Persarum
Religio, p. 499; and D'Herbelot alludes to it in his Biblio-
théque, under Khiam:— *

* Though he attributes the story to a Khiam, "Philosophe Musulman
qui a vecu en Odeur de Sainteté dans la Fin du premier et le Commence-
ment du second Siècle," no part of which, except the "Philosophe," can
apply to our Khayyám, who, however, may claim the story as his, on the
[footnote continues on p. viii, bottom:]
Score of Rubáiyát, 77 and 78 of the present Version. The Rashness
of the Words, according to D'Herbelot, consisted in being so op-
posed to those in the Koran: "No Man knows where he shall
[page viii]
'It is written in the chronicles of the ancients that this
'King of the Wise, Omar Khayyám, died at Naishápur in
'the year of the Hegira, 517 (A.D. 1123); in science he was
'unrivaled,—the very paragon of his age. Khwájah Nizámi
'of Samarcand, who was one of his pupils, relates the follow-
'ing story: 'I often used to hold conversations with my
'teacher, Omar Khayyám, in a garden; and one day he said
'to me, 'my tomb shall be in a spot, where the north wind
'may scatter roses over it.' I wondered at the words he
'spake, but I knew that his were no idle words. Years after,
'when I chanced to revisit Naishápur, I went to his final
'resting-place, and lo! it was just outside a garden, and trees
'laden with fruit stretched their boughs over the garden
'wall, and dropped their flowers upon his tomb, so that the
'stone was hidden under them.' "
Thus far—without fear of Trespass—from the Calcutta
Though the Sultan "shower'd Favours upon him," Omar's
Epicurean Audacity of Thought and Speech caused him to
be regarded askance in his own Time and Country. He is
said to have been especially hated and dreaded by the Súfis,
whose Practise he ridiculed, and whose Faith amounts to
little more than his own when stript of the Mysticism aud
formal Compliment to Islamism which Omar would not
hide under. Their Poets, including Hafiz, who are (with
[page ix]
the exception of Firdúsi) the most considerable in Persia,
borrowed largely, indeed, of Omar's material, but turning
it to a mystical Use more convenient to Themselves
and the People they address'd; a People quite as quick
of Doubt as of Belief; quite as keen of Bodily Senses as
of the Intellectual; and delighting in a cloudy Element com-
pounded of all, in which they could float luxuriously between
Heaven and Earth, and this World and the Next, on the wings
of a poetical expression, that could be recited indifferently
whether at the Mosque or the Tavern. Omar was too honest
of Heart as well of Head for this. Having failed
(however mistakenly) of finding any Providence but Destiny,
and any World but This, he set about making the most of it;
preferring rather to soothe the Soul through the Senses into
Acquiescence with Things as they were, than to perplex it
with vain mortification after what they might be. It has
been seen that his Worldly Desires, however, were not exor-
bitant; and he very likely takes a humorous pleasure in
exaggerating them above that Intellect in whose exercise he
must have found great pleasure, though not in a Theological
direction. However this may be, his Worldly Pleasures are
what they profess to be without any Pretence at divine Alle-
gory: his Wine is the veritable Juice of the Grape: his
Tavern, where it was to be had: his Sáki, the Flesh and
Blood that poured it out for him: all which, and where the
Roses were in Bloom, was all he profess'd to want of this
World or to expect of Paradise.
The Mathematic Faculty, too, which regulated his Fansy,
and condensed his Verse to a Quality and Quantity un-
known in Persian, perhaps in Oriental, Poetry, help'd
[page x]
by its very virtue perhaps to render him less popular with
his countrymen. If the Greeks were Children in Gossip,
what does Persian Literature imply by a Second Childishness
of Garrulity? And certainly if no ungeometric Greek was
to enter Plato's School of Philosophy, no so unchastised a
Persian should enter on the Race of Persian Verse, with its
"fatal Facility" of running on long after Thought is winded!
But Omar was not only the single Mathematician of his
Country's Poets; he was also of that older Time and stouter
Temper, before the native Soul of Persia was quite broke by
a foreign Creed as well as foreign Conquest. Like his great
Predecessor Firdúsi, who was as little of a Mystic; who
scorned to use even a Word of the very language in which the
New Faith came clothed; and who was suspected, not of
Omar's Irreligion indeed, but of secretly clinging to the
ancient Fire-Religion of Zerdusht, of which so many of the
Kings he sang were worshippers.
For whatever Reason, however, Omar, as before said, has
never been popular in his own Country, and therefore has
been but scantily transmitted abroad. The MSS. of his
Poems, mutilated beyond the average Casualties of Oriental
Transcription, are so rare in the East as scarce to have
reacht Westward at all, in spite of all that Arms and Science
have brought us. There is none at the India House, none
at the Bibliothêque Imperiále of Paris. We know but of one
in England: No. 140 of the Ouseley MSS. at the Bodleian,
written at Shiraz, A.D. 1460. This contains but 158 Ra-
báiyát. One in the Asiatic Society's Library at Calcutta,
(of which we have a Copy) contains (and yet incomplete)
516, though swelled to that by all kinds of Repetition and
[page xi]
Corruption. So Von Hammer speaks of his Copy as contain-
ing about 200, while Dr. Sprenger catalogues the Lucknow
MS. at double that Number. The Scribes, too, of the Oxford
and Calcutta MSS. seem to do their Work under a sort of
Protest; each beginning with a Tetrastich (whether genuine
or not) taken out of its alphabetic order; the Oxford with
one of Apology; the Calcutta with one of Execration too
stupid for Omar's, even had Omar been stupid enough to
execrate himself. *
The Reviewer, to whom I owe the foregoing Particulars of
Omar's Life, and some of his Verse into Prose, concludes
by comparing him with Lucretius, both in natural Temper and
Genius, and as acted upon by the Circumstances in which he
lived. Both indeed were men of subtle Intellect and high Imagi-
nation, instructed in Learning beyond their day, and of Hearts
passionate for Truth and Justice; who justly revolted from
their Country's false Religion, and false, or foolish, Devotion
to it; but who yet fell short of replacing what they subverted
by any such better Hope as others, with no better Faith
had dawned, had yet made a Law to themselves. Lucretius,
indeed, with such material as Epicurus furnished, consoled
himself with the construction of a Machine that needed no
Constructor, and acting by a Law that implied no Lawgiver;
and so composing himself into a Stoical rather than Epicu-
rean severity of Attitude, sat down to contemplate the me-
chanical Drama of the Universe of which he was part Actor;

* "Since this Paper was written" (adds the Reviewer in a note), "we
have met with a Copy of a very rare Edition, printed at Calcutta in 1836.
This contains 438 Tetrastichs, with an Appendix containing 54 others
not found in some MSS."
[page xii]
himself and all about him, (as in his own sublime Description
of the Roman Theater,) coloured with the lurid reflex of the
Curtain that was suspended between them and the outer
Sun. Omar, more desperate, or more careless, of any such
laborious System as resulted in nothing more than hopeless
Necessity, flung his own Genius and Learning with a bitter
jest into the general Ruin which their insufficient glimpses
only served to reveal; and, yielding his Senses to the actual
Rose and Vine, only diverted his thoughts by balancing ideal
possibilities of Fate, Freewill, Existence and Annihilation;
with an oscillation that so generally inclined to the negative
and lower side, as to make such Stanzas as the following ex-
ceptions to his general Philosophy—

Oh, if my Soul can fling his Dust aside,
And naked on the Air of Heaven ride,
It's not a Shame, it's not a Shame for Him
So long in this Clay Suburb to abide!

Or is that but a Tent, where rests anon
A Sultán to his Kingdom passing on,
And which the swarthy Chamberlain shall strike
Then when the Sultán rises to be gone?

With regard to the present Translation. The original
Rubáiyát (as, missing an Arabic Guttural, these Tetrastichs
are more musically called), are independent Stanzas, con-
sisting each of four Lines of equal, though varied, Prosody.
sometimes all rhyming, but oftener (as here attampted)
the third line suspending the Cadence by which the last
atones with the former Two. Something as in the Greek
Alcaic, where the third line seems to lift and suspend the
[page xiii]
Wave that falls over in the last. As usual with such kind of
Oriental Verse, the Rubáiyát follow one another according
to Alphabetic Rhyme—a strange Farrago of Grave and Gay.
Those here selected are strung into something of an Eclogue,
with perhaps a less than equal proportion of the "Drink and
make-merry," which (genuine or not) recurs over-frequently
in the Original. For Lucretian as Omar's Genius might be,
he cross'd that darker Mood with much of Oliver de Basselin
Humour. Any way, the Result is sad enough: saddest per-
haps when most ostentatiously merry: any way, fitter to
move Sorrow than Anger toward the old Tentmaker, who,
after vainly endeavoring to unshackle his Steps from Des-
tiny, and to catch some authentic Glimpse of TO-MORROW,
fell back upon TO-DAY (which has outlasted so many To-
morrows!) as the only Ground he had got to stand upon, how-
ever momentarily slipping from under his Feet.

27/08/2017: Back in 1941 Ford could REALLY cut it: The B-24 ‘Liberator’ heavy bomber – built in 55 minutes! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKlt6rNciTo#t=131 Interesting fact: more than half of US bomber casualties/deaths were other than in combat eg crashes etc. Maybe Ford didn’t build them so well after all! I refuse to enter into any discussion of whether they are superior to Holdens!

26/08/2017: DIY Super Ultralight Pillow: These approx17 grams (small) & 27 gram (large) Graham Medical Flexair Pillows are excellent for hiking and backpacking. The two sizes measure 14.5″x10.5″  & 19″x12.5″  They cost pennies: US $35.16 for the small & $43.41 for the large per box of 50! 70 cents each. Seriously!

Unmodified large pillow and glue heat gun top, two chamber version middle and cut-down two chamber version bottom:

It is possible to modify them with scissors and a with eg a hot glue gun (without squeezing the glue trigger – very carefully with a soldering iron). You can cut one down and re-seal it, or make it into a double or multi-chamber pillow, eg something like Klymit’s ultralight pillow http://www.theultralighthiker.com/klymit-ultralight-pillow/  (which weighs 48 grams). My own modified ones weigh about 15 grams. With a strategic ‘valley’ moulded into them they will be much more comfortable. You will get a superb (and cheap) night’s sleep.

I am also going to cut two down and use each of them for side insulation and arm support for my (too narrow) sleeping pad. I will make sleeves (as I have mentioned before) in this http://www.theultralighthiker.com/bathtub-groundsheet-chair/ to fit them in. Each side cushion will weigh about 10 grams. They should work just perfectly, keeping my arms both warm and at the correct height from the ground for when sleeping on my back, and effectively widening my sleeping mat by approx 8” (20cm).

They store flat for easy transport and space-saving. They save on laundry costs being disposable products which only cost about $1 each. They have an adjustable valve for ease of use and comfort – but do not lose the straw which inflates/deflates them. They are made from a soft and quiet material which is pleasant to the touch and does not ‘strike cold’.

Available here: https://www.grahammedical.com/product/pillows/

If you only want a small number, they are also available from Jacksrbetter for US2 each in large size: http://www.jacksrbetter.com/shop/graham-flexair-pillow/

I used to use these pillows all the time when they came in a dual chamber version like the one in the centre, but when I could only purchase the single chamber ones I found them not so comfy so I opted for a heavier pillow such as the exped here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/exped-ultralight-pillow/ but I may well go back to these little guys which (in the cut-down form bottom) will save me an whole ounce 30 grams. A saving not to be sneezed at

25/08/2017: Transparent Tarp Instructions: David Gardner over at Backpackinglight has these excellent instructions for building a see through tent from polycryo window insulation film which is freely and cheaply available for winterising your home. It is such a great idea. I hope he does not mind my sharing it here. The complete instructions are available here: https://backpackinglight.com/forums/topic/how-to-make-a-polycryo-a-frame-tarp/  It may not be the lightest or the most durable tent in existence, but it is one of the most interesting, and excellent for voyeurs. It is also a genius idea. Some of these techniques are excellent and imaginative – and would also work with cuben fibre which would enable you to make a ‘no-sew’ tent/tarp out of that material which might weigh under 100 grams!

Here is all you need:

I’ve been making and selling “polycro” (cross-linked polyolefin heat-shrink plastic) tarps/tents for a few years now and have learned a lot in the process about what works well and how to construct them, so I thought I would share what I have learned.

Materials & Tools:
Duck Double-Thick Patio Door Insulation Kit
Uline double-sided tape
Scotch “Tough” Transparent Duct Tape (their glow-in-the-dark duct tape works well too)
150 lb. 1 mm Spectra cord from http://www.ultralightdesigns.com
Ten 7/8″ nylon washers (1″ works well too)
1/8″ shock cord
Blue masking tape
X-acto or utility knife
Sharpie pen
Measuring tape
1/8″ steel rod or tent stake
Propane or butane torch or stove

I use Duck’s double-thick patio door insulation kits because as far as I know Duck is the only manufacturer which makes it in 1.5 mil thickness instead of .75 mil.

I use Uline double-sided tape to “hem” the edges because it has far better adhesion and durability than the double-sided tape that comes with the kits.

I use Scotch “Tough” transparent duct tape because it has excellent adhesion and weather resistance. Colored tapes, especially dark colored tape, get hot in the sun and “creep.” In the past I used ripstop nylon sail repair tape, which is lighter and stronger than duct tape, but it doesn’t adhere well enough over the long run.

I use Ultralight Design’s 150 lb. Spectra-core cord because it is bright yellow, knots well, and is plenty strong enough. I attached a fishing scale to the end of the ridge line cord of a tarp I had set up, pulled harder than I usually do to pitch the tarp, and it measured 25 lbs. of tension.

Step 1 is to clear a large, hard floor area to work on and vacuum it thoroughly. The polycro is static-y out of the box and attracts the smallest motes of dust and pet hair. Then unpack the Duck kit, unfold the polycryo, and spread it carefully on the floor. Use blue masking tape to tape down the corners. You will want to put the tape about 1.5″ from the edge and parallel to the direction of the long edge, to hold the polycryo firmly while you “hem” the edge with double-sided tape.

Next apply the double-sided tape as close to the edge as you can get it. The Uline tape comes with one side covered, so you can press down firmly to make it adhere fully while laying it down. I start about an inch past the edge of the tarp so that the edge will stay put as you pull while laying down the tape. When I’m done applying the tape to the edge I trim off the extra inch.

The next photo shows the polycryo spread out and taped down to the floor, with about half of one long edge taped.

Next peel the cover off the first couple of inches of tape and fold the edge over so the tape is sandwiched between. I like to work from right to left while making the hem.

Start pulling the cover strip off with your left hand while following closely with your right hand. You should peel the cover strip straight off so that you get a running fold. Plant your right pinkie, ring finger and middle finger firmly on the folded portion to hold it in place while following the fold with your index finger and pushing down firmly to adhere the tape. When your fingers are spread as wide as they will go, move your right hand closer to the peeling/folding point, as shown in the next three photos:

When you’re finished with one long edge do the other. When both long edges are done, move the blue masking tape holding down the corners so they are parallel to the end. Proceed to apply tape and hem the ends of the tarp.

When all four edges are hemmed you’re ready to start putting on the tie-outs. Use a tape measure and Sharpie pen to mark the middle of the ends, and to mark the long sides in 1/3 intervals (about 40″). Take 8 of the 7/8″ nylon washers and use the scissors to cut one side of each to make a flat edge that will go into the fold of the tape for the tie-outs, to spread out the forces. Smooth the cut edge with a file or sand paper. The remaining two washers will be used at the ridge line tie-outs and don’t need to be trimmed.

I like to do the corner tie-outs first, then the ones on the long edges. Cut about 10″ of duct tape for each corner and side tie-out. Lift the polycryo and insert the tape sticky side up under the tarp, then press down firmly on the polycryo and rub and smooth it to get good adhesion and eliminate bubbles. Place a washer on the tape right by the corner or edge, with the flat side of the washer away from the tarp, then fold the tape back over on top of the polycryo:


The technique is the same for all the corner and side tie-outs. Once all the corner and side tie-outs are done you’re ready to do the ridge line tie-outs.

The ridge line tie-outs are built up from several layers of overlapping and crossing duct tape because they are more highly stressed than the corners and sides. Start by cutting two 14″ pieces of duct tape. Lift the center of the tarp and insert the tape sticky side up about half its length under the tarp, press firmly on the tarp and adhere it to the tape and remove any bubbles.

Now it gets a little tricky. You’ll need to take one of the two round washers and tie one end of the Spectra cord around the washer, then place the washer on the tape at the edge of the tarp while placing the cord straight down the center of the tape under the tarp:

Finally, fold the tape back over the washer and on top of the tape underneath. Press and rub to adhere the tape and eliminate bubbles. Now place blue masking tape on the tie out so it will be held firmly while you construct the ridge line tie-out at the other end.

At the other end of the cord you’ll need to trim it and tie on the last round washer at just the right length. The right length is a hair shorter than the length of the tarp, so that when tension is applied to the ridge line tie-outs they will pull the tarp taut. Cut another 14″ piece of tape, lift the tarp, and insert the tape sticky side up about half its length under the tarp. Press and smooth. Then place the washer on the tape at the edge of the tarp while pulling gently on the cord. After the washer is in place fold the tape back over the washer on top of the tape underneath.

Once the two ridge line tie-outs are fabricated, you are done with the underside of the tarp. Turn the whole thing over so the ridge line cord is now underneath. Cut two 10″ pieces of duct tape and place them cross-wise centered over the ridge line tie outs you have just made. Press and smooth.

Next cut four 8″ pieces of tape, two for each end. Lift the ridge line tie out, place two tape pieces sticky side up under the tarp on either side of the tie out:

Finally, fold the two pieces of tape back over the tarp on top of the tape below.

With the tie-outs all done you are now ready to melt holes through the tape in the center of the washers. Heat the 1/8″ steel rod/tent stake with a torch or stove, and carefully push it through the center of the washers in the tie-outs:

In the pictures the tie outs are sitting on the floor because I had my camera in the other hand. In practice, lift the tie outs up and hold while pushing the hot steel rod through.

Finally, cut eight 10″ pieces of shock cord and knot them in little circles through the corner and side tie outs. The shock cord loops give a nice tight pitch, but also act as a shock absorbers in windy conditions.

Final weight: 11.2 ounces.

You’ll need to tie another 10 feet or so of the Spectra cord to the ridge line tie outs so you can pitch the tarp. Also, since I often camp in the high Sierra on flat rocks or shallow sand where tent stakes are useless, I also attach about 3 feet of Spectra cord at each corner and side tie out with a little knotted loop at the end, so I can make big adjustable loops to put around rock anchors that I have collected.

The finished product (an earlier version with different tape) pitched:

It is truly amazing to be able to fall asleep while looking up through your shelter at the starry sky. It’s also nice to know whether that critter sniffing around your shelter in the middle of the night is a bear or just something small like a skunk.

Total cost: About $30-$40, depending on where you get your materials.

Total time to construct (including taking pictures): Two hours

23/08/2017: Advanced Elements Ultralight Paddle

Check this out on Massdrop this morning for US$29.99 each (08/2018). You would be foolish not to buy a couple. I bought two. It will go very well with the Klymit packraft you should have bought from them some time back for US$99 (I bought two as well): http://www.theultralighthiker.com/klymit-packraft/

 Here's me and Spot trying it out on the farm dam: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-best-laid-schemes/

4-Piece Breakdown Paddle

Designed for maximum portability, the Advanced Elements Ultralight Pack Paddle weighs 23.6 ounces, measures 88.2 inches when assembled, and breaks down to a travel-ready 23.6 inches. The durable aluminum shaft features a four-part construction with drip rings on either end that prevent the water on your paddle blades from reaching your hands or lap. For an even more compact setup that’ll cut 3.6 ounces off your pack weight, use only one middle shaft section between the two blades. A great pairing for the Advanced Elements PackLite or Klymit Lite Water Dinghy, this is among the most affordable solutions for light packrafting.

  • Advanced Elements
  • Material, shaft: Aluminum
  • Assembled length, full setup: 88.2 in (224 cm)
  • Packed length, full setup: 23.6 in (60 cm)
  • Weight, full setup: 23.6 oz (669 g)
  • Assembled length, minimalist setup: 66.5 in (169 cm)
  • Packed length, minimalist setup: 23.6 in (60 cm)
  • Weight, minimalist setup: 20 oz (567 g)

Because sometimes an ultralight paddle and an ultralight packraft (such as Klymit's) are just what you need -eg for river/lake crossings on long hikes. You can put the two things together for just over 1.5kg! A great paddle for the kids. If nothing else these would make a great backup paddle for remote trips. They could just save your bacon should you find your primary paddle floating downstream or worse.


23/08/2017: Hope you enjoy this easy cheap delicious meal: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-simple-backpacking-dahl/. I also have a Facebook page with has a lot of info about hiking and hiking gear as well as canoeing, hunting, gardening…which might be of interest. If you 'like' it, Facebook will let you know whenever I do a fresh post. Cheers: https://www.facebook.com/theultralighthiker/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

22/08/2017: A Simple Backpacking Dahl: This simple dahl uses only dry ingredients you can buy very cheaply from any supermarket and store in a snaplock bag. It will make a litre of tasty nutritious dahl which will probably be more than you can eat. You should try this at home tonight before you head out to the backcountry. Simply delicious!


1 cup red lentils 2730kj

3 ½ cups water

20 grams Hormel dried bacon pieces 300kj

1 table milk powder 250 kj

½ packet Tasty Tomato CupaSoup 230 kj

1/2 pack Continental French Onion Simmer soup (Salt Reduced) 270 kj

3 or 4 teas curry powder (to taste)

Optional: Add 1 table Surprise Peas to taste say 6 teas 100 kj

Total 3880 kj = 1000 calories.


Soak lentils 10 + minutes - the longer you soak the less you have toi simmer.

Add ingredients

Bring to boil, then simmer 15-20 minutes.

This makes up to approx 1 litre of quite thick soup. It was delicious, much preferable to any bought hiking meal you have ever eaten. The quantity would definitely have been enough for Della and me both for a main meal.

22/08/2017: One of the greatest poems of the C20th: Dylan Thomas: The force that through the green fuse drives the flower


 The force that through the green fuse drives the flower

Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees

Is my destroyer.

And I am dumb to tell the crooked rose

My youth is bent by the same wintry fever.


The force that drives the water through the rocks

Drives my red blood; that dries the mouthing streams

Turns mine to wax.

And I am dumb to mouth unto my veins

How at the mountain spring the same mouth sucks.


The hand that whirls the water in the pool

Stirs the quicksand; that ropes the blowing wind

Hauls my shroud sail.

And I am dumb to tell the hanging man

How of my clay is made the hangman's lime.


The lips of time leech to the fountain head;

Love drips and gathers, but the fallen blood

Shall calm her sores.

And I am dumb to tell a weather's wind

How time has ticked a heaven round the stars.


And I am dumb to tell the lover's tomb

How at my sheet goes the same crooked worm.

21/08/2017: DIY Dry Back Hiking Pack: Yes, you can have a dry back when hiking (and for pennies!) I saw this genius idea posted by AnticitizenPrime on the Reddit forum MYOG back in July. I have to admit I scrolled right past it then , but I had a little more time to kill in the shop this afternoon so I paid a bit more attention. I thank him/her very much for the idea. It will work.

You can use one of those cheap lumbar support devices (for car seats etc) you see everywhere (I bought mine for A$4 from Cheap as Chips Morwell) as a back cushioning device for your back pack which keeps the pack comfortably off your back on a mesh panel, thus keeping it dry. It weighed about 155 grams out of the bag (left) and about 110 after I cut a few bits off it (right). You could delete the two pieces of webbing which create the tension and thus the curve and replace them with eg 1mm Dyneema twine, which you could then tension to your exact specifications with two clam cleats http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-perfect-guy-line-for-a-hiking-tenttarp/.  This would save approx 8 grams, making the device weigh about 100 grams. I use a Sitlight or an Airbeam pad at the moment for the same purpose, so this device will add perhaps 30 grams to my current pack weight, not much of a price for a dry back.

I would simply tie the frame of the cushion to my backpack. I may have to sew four-six loops of gross grain ribbon to it to effect this. No doubt you could tie it vertically with four more clam cleats (the smallest only weigh approx 1 gram each) so that you could adjust its position up/down till it's just right. I know the mesh on the back panel will eventually wear out, but you can replace the whole thing easily in just a couple of minutes.

In the photo below I have simply slipped it in behind my new Montane pack (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-stout-hikers-pack-2/), but I will be adding a more permanent setup:

I think this is the single best idea I have seen in years!

See Also:http://www.theultralighthiker.com/60-diy-ultralight-hiker-ideas/

 19/08/2017: Raincoat Shelter: How to make your raincoat into a shelter. I realise this is important as people die
because they keep on wearing their raincoat instead of sheltering under it.

For example, there was this European guy who died on the Dusky a few years ago when I was there. It rained and rained as it does. The river came up, flooding the track. He couldn't go forward or back and had no shelter other than his raincoat.

He also clearly had no idea how to refind the track if he once left it, so he was stuck down on the flats with the river coming up when he could easily have walked up a ridge a bit to a drier spot. Pleasant enough spot to camp too! But he died. Loss of body heat. Water strips heat 25 times quicker than air. You must have a roof. See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-importance-of-a-roof/ & http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hiking-in-the-rain/

Not far away hanging under a tarp in my hammock (total weight of both and including the weight of my raincoat, say 450 grams) probably less than his raincoat, I was having a good enough time high and dry watching and listening to the rain and admiring the wet bush, cooking meals and having hot cuppas, reading a book, listening to some music, talking to my wife on my sat phone, etc unaware of his plight!

If he had been with me, he could have sheltered under my tarp and been quite comfortable, instead of dead! Still we might have had a political disagreement and I would have donged him on the head with a rock. Who knows?

I have been thinking about ways sheltering under your raincoat even if/when you don't have a length of string. I know if you don't, you don't deserve to live - but still. I think there is a way, probably several. You can look forward to a number of silly photos of an old man huddling under a bright yellow raincoat, perhaps!

Well, as it turned out it was a green raincoat, and my camera wasn't working well. I had to lean forward to take the photo so it is not clear just how much shelter is provided (enough!). However, you get the idea. A piece of string can often save your life. As Sam Gamgee says, don't leave home without one: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/rope-dont-leave-home-without-it/

I have often come across cold, wet people. Some I have even saved their lives by bundling them into my dry clothes - which they mostly went away in, and never returned! Such folks may not deserve to live!

I can remember a time in my youth when I was a surf life saver. You were always pulling people out of the waves who were in trouble, some needing resuscitation. More often than not you got no thanks from them – which shows how much they valued their lives I guess. One chap, who also needed resuscitating even king hit me after he had recovered, then stalked off. Lord knows why!

Anyway, the easiest way to shelter under your raincoat is definitely if there is a tree. I guess if there are no trees it is less likely to be raining, but you may have to do something else in that eventuality. Try to build a sort of wall I guess. If you can get your back to the lee side of a tree that is at least as wide as your shoulders half your problems are already solved.

The next thing is that most every raincoat has a draw cord at the waist and the neck. If you don’t have that piece of string you may have to break this out to tie one end of the coat to the tree. Or you may be able to tie the arms around the rtree if it is small enough. Then you will probably have to hold the other two ends of the coat out over your knees. I have measured my raincoat and I can assure you that your own will be big enough to keep you completely dry when erected over your head as a shelter. Try tying yours to the back of one of the kitchen chairs as I did to reassure yourself just how to do this if even you need to.

I know you are probably going to be sitting cross-legged under that raincoat all night while the rain spills off it. You might want to place a piece of bark or similar on your head (and behind your back) to insulate yourself from the cold water on the other face of the raincoat. When you first take the raincoat off it is going to be just a bit colder (because it is no longer stopping wind chill), but after a while as you shiver yourself dry, you will be warmer without the rainwater stripping your body heat. Even if it falls below zero you will survive, just as this unprepared guy did: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/thrilling-tales-37-days-of-peril/ If you stay in your raincoat you will probably die of hypothermia just like the European guy on the Dusky Track I talked about earlier.

Of course you won't have a bit of blue poly tarp as I have in the photo to keep your bum warm. Find as much bark and other debris as you can, say 18" (or 40 cm) high, as you can. The further your bum is off the ground the closer to the tree you are going to be and the warmer and drier you will be. Enjoy!

You can have an even comfier night in the wild if you can build a debris shelter of some sort. I have done this a number of times. You do not need any tools or materials other than what you find in the bush, but you need at least a couple of hours to build a decent shelter, so it needs preparation. I will have a future post about this. Whatever type of debris shelter you build, you will need at least 40cm of debris both over you and under you if you are going to be half decently warm!

The reason for posting about using your raincoat as a shelter is that folks always think they have enough time to do something else – get to the hut, find help, divine intervention…So, they wander on and on until it is too late to do anything else than shelter under their raincoat, or sit there wearing it in the rain and maybe die. Some folks haven’t even got sense enough to seek shelter, eg in/under a log or in a hollow tree when they realise they are going to be in trouble. I have spent at least one night in each – lots of critters, but dry, and I am still here! Not having enough bush skills to go off trail is a serious impediment. People ought really to understand how to find their way with their senses they were born with before they venture into the wilds. Some tips below:

See Also:





















19/08/2017: How to avoid site blocking: https://www.vpnmentor.com/blog/bypass-vpn-blocks-with-ease/ & https://www.lifehacker.com.au/2016/12/how-to-bypass-isp-blocking-of-the-pirate-bay-and-other-torrent-sites-for-free/

17/08/2017: On the Tip of the Tongue: A magical 20C winter's day yesterday, so time to try out Della's new heart and my new pack http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-stout-hikers-pack-2/ with a walk in Wilson's Prom NP, Gippsland, Victoria. I will let her begin: 'Return to fitness #2: Beautiful winter day and further heart progress - Steve and I did a 10 km walk at Wilson's Prom, Darby River to Tongue Point, including a side trip to the delightful Fairy Cove. Daily workouts of an hour's fitness class plus an hour of walking have boosted my heart stamina. More progress planned: Perhaps a trip to Cairns next month to climb Mount Bartle Frere... onwards and upwards!'

NB: The walk from Darby River is easy with just gentle inclines. Including the .5km each way side trip to Fairy Cove it is approx 5km each way and takes about 1 1/2 hours each way plus lots of stops for snaps and snacks! It is a much steeper track dwon from darby saddle and not so scenic!

PS: Pack update on a 10km walk yesterday (14/07/2017) with a load (5-7kg). It was brilliant. See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-stout-hikers-pack-2/ Did not need the chest strap at all. The shoulder straps had zero inclination to slide off my shoulders. Also with the waist belt done up quite loosely, the load still just wanted to rest in the small of my back. There was no weight at all on my shoulders. I could slip my fingers in the behind the shoulder straps any time. There was no load pressure there at all. I did get a wet back (expected) – it was a warm day (approx 20C. I will be trying a Sitlight pad attached like this: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/sleeping-pad-pack-frame/ . I will also try taking a wad cutter to the Sitlight pad and filling it with holes (eg on every dent) so that water vapor has somewhere to go. I will report back about this innovation later. With the addition of some sewn on pockets, I think this is going to be a great pack!

View of Darby River flats

It is a well-formed track. Mostly sand and gravel with walkways over any wet sectiions

Plenty of hog deer sign

Shellback Island

View North Waratah Bay

Many interesting menhirs along the way

View south Fairy Cove, Tongue Point, Norman Island

Fairy Cove, Tongue Point

Waratah Bay, Shellback Island

View North along the coast to Shallow Inlet

Tongue Point, Norman Island

Steps down to Fairy Cove

Fairy Cove, Shellback Island. Note steel hoops, remains of a steamer funnel

View north past Darby River towards Shallow Inlet.

A funnel mermaid

Fairy Cove

Island in Fairy Cove 


Fairy Cove monolith

Seagulls Fairy Cove

Tongue Point

Painted rocks Tongue Point

Tongue Point

Monolith Tongue Point

Steve Tongue Point

Tongue Point

Wildflowers along the way


And wildlife: swamp wallaby

Spur winged plover

 14/08/2017: Big Agnes AXL Air Pad. Big Agnes were showcasing a new pad at the Outdoor Retailer show recently. The one on show was a full-length pad (20x72x3 inches thick – 50 x 180 x 7.5cm) weighing only 9 ounces (270 grams). It will be available in uninsulated (US$140) and insulated with Primaloft Silver (10 ounces- 300 grams, US$180) versions. The fabric is 20 denier with random ripstop, and the pad has a large inflation valve that seals as you blow.


There is no information about it on the Big Agnes site as yet, but it will no doubt be available soon. If it is available in their usual size choices, then one should be able to get it in 5’6‘ length (me) at approx 270 grams, and 5’ length (Della) at approx 250 grams and 4’ length at approx 200 grams, a real game changer. This will shave 160 grams off our combined pack weight with Thermarest’s excellent Neoair Womens http://www.theultralighthiker.com/womens-are-great-in-bed/ (2 at 340 grams each). (given the savings I have been making lately with tents, our packs will soon be carrying themselves! In any case you would be able to cut it down yourself to these dimensions: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/modifyingshortening-hiking-mats/.


I have always been a big supporter of Big Agnes’ excellent products, so I can’t wait really to get my hands (back) on one: http://www.bigagnes.com/Gear/Sleeping-Pads



See Also:



14/08/2017: The Windhover: No danger to pigeons or lambs from this beautiful little guy spotted yesterday in the paddock. A knave’s bird, Gerald Manley Hopkins 1844-89



I CAUGHT this morning morning’s minion, king-   

  dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding       

  Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding           

High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing  

In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,           5

  As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding       

  Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding 

Stirred for a bird,—the achieve of; the mastery of the thing!           


Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here 

  Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion         10

Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!          


  No wonder of it: shéer plód makes plough down sillion     

Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,    

  Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermillion.


14/08/2017: ‘To see ourselves as others see us’ (Burns, ‘To a Louse’) There is an amazing trick you can do (with mirrors, of course) which allows one to do just that, or even more…It is this: ‘A simple experiment can show how. Try looking at yourself in a double-reflecting mirror – two mirrors facing each other such that the second reflects the image in the first. Then raise your right arm. The first reflection is a normal mirror image, but the second is inversed, which we are not used to seeing. “So when you raise your right hand, it raises its right hand. It’s a doppelgänger, miming your behaviour, Keep looking and something odd can happen to your sense of self. “You start experiencing that you are out there. What’s more, if you watch your arm moving in the second mirror, you may see a slight delay...it’s slowed down as if your hand is moving through treacle. Exactly why this happens is something he and his team are working on, but we know that neurons in your brain telling your hand to move fire milliseconds before you consciously decide to move it. To avoid the sensation of being a puppet, your brain smoothes things out so that everything feels simultaneous. Ramachandran suspects that when you see this doppelgänger in the mirror, your brain doesn’t compute it as you – so the correction isn’t applied. In essence, you are seeing the unconscious machinery of the brain laid bare.’ https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg23531360-600-the-fragility-of-you-and-what-it-says-about-consciousness/?utm_campaign=RSS%7CNSNS

13/08/2017: Thrilling Tales: 37 Days of Peril : You can survive: Truly alone in the wilderness: Lost in Yellowstone for 37 days pretty much without equipment, food, clothing or shelter. ‘After wandering away from the rest of the expedition on September 9, 1870, Everts managed to lose the pack horse which was carrying most of his supplies. He ate a songbird and minnows raw, and a local thistle plant to stay alive; the plant (Cirsium foliosum or elk thistle) was later renamed "Evert's Thistle" after him. Everts' party searched for him for a while, and his friends in Helena offered a reward of $600 to find him. "Yellowstone Jack" Baronett and George A. Pritchett found Everts, suffering from frostbite, burn wounds from thermal vents and his campfire, and other wounds suffered during his ordeal, so malnourished he weighed only 50 pounds (23 kg). One stayed with him to nurse him back to health while the other walked 75 miles (121 km) for help; in spite of their assistance, Everts denied the men the payment of the reward, claiming he could have made it out of the mountains on his own.’ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truman_C._Everts

Available here: https://archive.org/stream/thirtysevendayso30924gut/pg30924.txt Free downloads: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/30924.mobile

10/08/2017: The Pocket Poncho Tent: I have completed my poncho tent in 1 oz/yd2 silnylon. It weighs a mere 185 grams - as you can see, and fits in my pocket - as the name suggests and the pictures show! This may be the smallest tent in the world unless I make it out of .32oz/yd2 cuben fibre, in which case it will weigh about 75 grams and probably fit in my fob pocket! It requires 9 pegs (54 grams) and two guys to set it up in front of a warm fire. I will be making the zip-in front door soon which will allow it to be shut down for storm mode (approx 50 grams), and I will be making my Bathtub Groundsheet Lounger Chair for it which will weigh under 100 grams http://www.theultralighthiker.com/bathtub-groundsheet-chair/. This complete shelter/groundsheet/chair will then weigh approx 380 grams (but will also double as your raincoat) making it probably the lightest tent in existence. I still have a bit of work to do around the hood, hood reinforcing and some pockets to hold the pegs, a mylar poncho and maybe a couple of space blankets.

This will clearly keep me dry in the heaviest of rain:

ultralight poncho tarp tent

The mylar poncho will weigh about 25 grams but you will want one so that you can go to the toilet or put some wood on the fire when it is raining. The prototype is here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/more-fun-with-sticky-tape-ultralight-mylar-vest/

I will be having the tent and chair made in Asia somewhere in the not too distant future. I will also try to manufacture the Mini Decagon Tent: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/honey-i-shrank-the-tent/ and the Dyneema Moccasins: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/19-gram-dyneema-camp-shoes/ for a start; maybe more later. For example, The Deer Hunter's Tent http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-deer-hunters-tent/ which this poncho was to be a floor for (as well as for the Mini Decagon). This is going to be a complicated (and expensive) exercise for me as I have never done anything like this before, but I am sure lots of folk are going to want to own these interesting pieces of gear, so I will give it  a try.

Fits in a pocket as I said:

ultralight pocket poncho tarp tent

Or the front one:

ultralight pocket poncho tarp tent

185 grams as you can see:

ultralight pocket poncho tarp tent

Fits in the palm of your hand - hard to believe it is a tent, isn't it?

ultralight pocket poncho tarp tent

But here it is, much to Spot's delight! Plenty of room for someone 6'6" plus, and a dog!

ultralight pocket poncho tarp tent

And with room to sit up in front of a toasty winter fire. And lots of room for gear.

ultralight pocket poncho tarp tent

The prototype was here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-poncho-tent/ & here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/poncho-tent-update/ and this was the original which we made for my first visit to Fiordland (moose hunting) in 2000: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hole-less-ponchoshelter/

09/08/2017: Dual Action Survival Fish Hooks: Fishing in a hiking or survival situation is more about getting something to eat than fishing ethics or legality so you may want to make quite sure you do secure that piscine repast. These dual action fish hooks lock onto the fish with a pincer action once it has taken the bait.


dual action fish hooks



The Speedhooks can catch a fish for you even when you are resting or asleep - so you can wake up to regale yourself with a wondrous fish breakfast, or an excellent fish soup.

See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/bcb-fishing-kit/


Both would be good to use with this: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-ultralight-fisherman/

See Also:







08/08/2017: Humping Your Bluey: This post comes from Richard Graves, Australian Bushcraft: ‘The swag is the proverbial means of carrying a load and it is one of the best methods in existence. It has the advantage of being extremely well balanced, two-thirds of the weight being carried behind the body and about one-third in front. The result of this balance is that the carrier walks completely upright: Clothes, tent, bedding and the gear not wanted for the day's walk are carried in the swag at the back, while the food and cooking utensils and the day's needs are in the 'dilly' bag in front. Because of this the swag is not opened during the day but the dilly bag attached to the front is immediately accessible.



The only materials necessary to make a swag are a strap, two binding straps and the dilly bag. The swag strap, preferably of soft leather or light webbing, should be about 1 metre long and about 5 cm or more wide. The two binding strips The rolled swag, containing bedding and other gear, is carried on the back while the dilly bag, containing the day's needs, is carried on the front.


The swag is Australia's oldest method of carrying things on foot as far as bush workers were concerned. Although it now has been displaced by many imported and fancy packs it remains one ofthe most practical means of 'backpacking' bedding and food over long tramps on relatively flat country. The construction and packing method is shown. The strap can be of any material such as plaited cord or rope. Traditionally the dilly bag was an old sugar or flour sack, but a nylon weatherproof bag that allows some breathing (because it is also used to contain the day's rations) can be of any convenient shape and size.

Half the knack of carrying a swag consists in knowing how to swing it. Lay the roll, with the dilly bag extended, in front of you. Put the arm farthest away from the dilly bag through the swag strap. Heave the roll towards your back and swing the body towards the swag, so that the dilly bag flies up and out. Duck the opposite shoulder and catch the dilly bag on it. The strap will then lie over one shoulder and the dilly bag over the other with the swag roll carried at an angle across the back.


An alternative method of carrying the swag is to use two straps, one about 1 metre long and the other about 2 metres. Both straps should be about 3 cm wide and made of strong material, although it should be soft. The roll is made for the swag and the long strap tied securely about 15 cm from one end of the roll. Fifteen cm from the other end of the roll the other strap is fastened, with the dilly bag held in position by this binding. The swag is lifted to the left shoulder with the dilly bag in front and the roll at the back, the neck of the dilly bag hanging over the left shoulder. The long strap is passed on top of the right shoulder and then under the armpit and around the back. Then it is tied to a loop at the bottom corner of the dilly bag. This type of swag prevents the dilly bag from swaying.

To pack and roll the swag itself, lay your groundsheet or swag cover (traditionally a blanket) on the ground and then fold your other blankets to a width of about 80 cm. Lay spare clothes lengthways on top with your other gear. Fold in the sides of the groundsheet and roll the whole from the blanket end to the free side so that it is tight. If a tent is being carried, this 'inner swag' is then rolled in it. The two binding cords are passed through the swag strap to stop slipping. The dilly bag is then attached to one of the binding straps at its junction with the swag strap.’

Recommended reading: Diary of a Welsh Swagman, Joseph Jenkins: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Jenkins

A couple of poems about swagmen will not go awry:

The Swagman

C.J. Dennis

Oh, he was old and he was spare;
His bushy whiskers and his hair
Were all fussed up and very grey
He said he'd come a long, long way
And had a long, long way to go.
Each boot was broken at the toe,
And he'd a swag upon his back.
His billy-can, as black as black,
Was just the thing for making tea
At picnics, so it seemed to me.'Twas hard to earn a bite of bread,
He told me.  Then he shook his head,
And all the little corks that hung
Around his hat-brim danced and swung
And bobbed about his face; and when
I laughed he made them dance again.
He said they were for keeping flies -
"The pesky varmints" - from his eyes.
He called me "Codger". . . "Now you see
The best days of your life," said he.
"But days will come to bend your back,
And, when they come, keep off the track.
Keep off, young codger, if you can.
He seemed a funny sort of man.He told me that he wanted work,
But jobs were scarce this side of Bourke,
And he supposed he'd have to go
Another fifty mile or so.
"Nigh all my life the track I've walked,"
He said.  I liked the way he talked.
And oh, the places he had seen!
I don't know where he had not been -
On every road, in every town,
All through the country, up and down.
"Young codger, shun the track," he said.
And put his hand upon my head.
I noticed, then, that his old eyes
Were very blue and very wise.
"Ay, once I was a little lad,"
He said, and seemed to grow quite sad.

I sometimes think: When I'm a man,
I'll get a good black billy-can
And hang some corks around my hat,
And lead a jolly life like that.

 Waltzing Matilda

Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong
Under the shade of a coolibah tree,
He sang as he watched and waited 'til his billy boiled
You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me

Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda
You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me
He sang as he watched and waited 'til his billy boiled,
you'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me

Down came a jumbuck to drink at the billabong,
Up jumped the swagman and grabbed him with glee,
he sang as he shoved that jumbuck in his tucker bag,
you'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me

Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda
you'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me
he sang as he shoved that jumbuck in his tucker bag,
You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me

Up rode the squatter, mounted on his thoroughbred,
Up rode the troopers, one, two, three,
With the jolly jumbuck you've got in your tucker bag?
You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me.

Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda
You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me
With the jolly jumbuck you've got in your tucker bag?
You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, you scoundrel with me.

Up jumped the swagman and sprang into the billabong,
You'll never catch me alive, said he,
And his ghost may be heard as you pass by that billabong,
you'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me.

Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda
You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me
his ghost may be heard as you pass by that billabong,
You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me.
Oh, you'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me.

07/08/2017: Ultralight Shoes: I have been trying out a pair of Topo brand trail shoes. The ones I wanted were the Terraventure but the shop did not have them in my size so I bought a pair of Athletic Mountain MT2s for A$130. The Terraventures would have been 290 grams. These guys are 230 grams which sounds like an insane weight for something you are going to venture into the backcountry in, I know.

I have been going around the lambs in them of a morning. We have a really steep hill behind the house (over 30 degrees - too steep for any vehicle or tractor). At  this time of the year the frost, wet grass and clay soils are very slippery, so I often slide or fall over. I have to say that these shoes are hanging on to the surface better than anything else I have ever worn. Some days I do ten kilometres on this hillside!

They are also very comfortable. I have been wearing them all week on our evening walks. They handle rough gravel tracks fine. I think they exercise the foot a bit more than heavier shoes. You feel as if your foot is flexing and gripping in them more. They are also a lot easier to walk in though, being so light. It feels like being barefoot, only with more grip actually. This may contribute to my feeling of confidence in my grip and balance when wearing them.

Apparently the main difference between them and the Terraventures is that the sole has about 2mm more tread and a little more cushion in the insole. That is about it. They also have a waterproof model theTtopo Hydroventure which is much the same as the ones I have except for the waterproof layer. They weigh around 275 grams. I generally don't favour waterproof shoes. You are going to get your feet wet anyway. The waterproof layer is just going to make them dry out more slowly.

I really like the laces. They are oval in shape and seem to hold a knot better than just about any laces I have ever used. You may remember I discovered some other laces when I was looking for a vendor in Australia for these shoes: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/shoelace-reinvented/

I also really like the no-sew construction and the wide foot box. I have a very wide foot - the result of never wearing shoes until I left school pretty much. I used to take an 8E through G when I could get them, so I am pretty hard to fit shoes  to. They are also very kind and soft on the toes. I notice this particularly with all the hillsiding and downhilling I am doing with the lambs.

As it turns out I was able to try them on and buy them from my favourite Melbourne 'ultralight' shop: https://backpackinglight.com.au/ As usual the owner, Tim Campbell gave me a very good deal on them.

I may yet buy a pair of the Terraventures. I have discovered that Will Rietveld thinks very highly of them for both on and off trail use, and he seems to be a pretty genuine guy. He has a useful review here: http://ultralightinsights.blogspot.com.au/2017/04/gear-review-topo-terraventure-trail-shoe.html  He has a very interesting website there actually, so you will probably be staying quite some time.

He recently wore a pair on the trail for 48 days (which I doubt was a lot less than a couple of thousand kilometres!) I have 'borrowed his photo of what they looked like at the end of that trip. Thanks Will. He says: 'the uppers look like new and the outsoles are only lightly worn. The only evidence of use is some scuffing on the edges of the outsole.'

Most other much heavier shoes would probably be starting to come apart after such punishment. Why not try a pair next time your need a new pair of shoes. I will keep you posted on how well these 230 gram shoes last me. I am petty happy with them so far.

PS: They do come in different colours than in the photos.

05/08/2017: A Fair Chase: I see it is two years since I first posted this. As a result of my experiences of the last two weeks (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-silence-of-the-deer/ & http://www.theultralighthiker.com/avon-river-walking-track/), I feel that it needs a revisit:

IMG_1199 comp

Moose Country, Fiordland NZ: Looking down over the Jane Burn into the Lower Seaforth Valley, the Dusky Sound in the distance. Only about ten moose have ever been taken from this area, probably none in your lifetime, but I have seen one there - perhaps the only living hunter to have done so!. It is at least three days’ hard walk and a two hour boat trip to the nearest road. This is hunting! (See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hunting-in-fiordland/)

Seems to me too many hunters long since crossed the boundary between hunting and vermin eradication/culling. In many cases the latter is what is called for (eg with foxes at lambing time) but with game animals we move to such behaviour with the risk that they will thereby lose their status as game animals, resulting in the Government legislating for their extermination. Then poisoning might prove to be more efficient than shooting. Think on that!

More importantly still, from an ethical perspective, we lose all respect for them as an animal worthy of our endeavours. The hunter’s prey should have these rights: to be able effectively to employ its senses, intelligence and ability to flee from danger. If we degrade them to the extent that they no longer have these rights then we are not hunting them; we are culling. Sometimes culling may have to be done – but there is no honour in it. It is an (unpleasant) job! Unfortunately much of what many hunters do is simply that.

Long-range shooting with a telescopic sight deprives the animal of any opportunity to see, hear, smell or flee the hunter. It is culling. It is no different from spotlighting, which has the same effect as well as paralysing the prey. Similarly employing trail cameras (a wildlife biologist’s research tool surely?) to locate, monitor and predict an animal, then to await it camouflaged or perched in a tree above it is not hunting. No deer has camouflaged natural predators which it could expect to strike it from a distance from high above. A deer is not camouflaged, yet it is a master of blending into its surrounding and using cover and topography, and moving silently. So should the hunter try to be.

The possession and display of a vast array of clearly ‘unfair’ gadgets and pieces of equipment which inform the passer-by only that you intend to control and dominate your prey, only advises those who don’t like hunting already that they should act to prevent your hunting. It would be far better for the sport if all hunters wore a tweed jacket and tie (as they used to do in the past), as this would at least indicate you were not rednecks and yobbos! At least ditch the awful camo. It sends the wrong message. A wool check shirt is far better, and more comfortable.

There are any number of technological means I can imagine of killing animals, but neither would they be hunting. Employing drones, for example. Traps and deadfalls. Poisoned baits and waterholes. Helicopter shooting. Shooting from vehicles or horseback. Why not go ‘whole hog’ as ‘hunters’ and employ helicopter gunships, machine guns, bombs and napalm? People need to wake up to themselves and what they are doing. To be able to hunt is a privilege too easily lost for us to tolerate the macho antics of such a ‘hunting brigade’ with all their showy appurtenances.

Having been evicted from a number of hunting groups for expressing the opinion that hunters need to behave more ethically here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/sambar-deer-stalking-103/, I may put this idea on Kickstarter: I call it the Trophy Acquisition System. It is designed for the time poor but well-heeled, overweight sportsman. The idea is that a trail cam will be connected to a small PC which has a Target Identification System. You will be able to programme it: eg Sambar Stag. When the target comes in view the camera will begin filming, then a .30 calibre rifle will cleanly shoot it through the heart. More photos of the trophy will follow of it in its chosen death pose. Then the system will communicate with the remote hunter, sending him SMS messages, co-ordinates, snapshots, etc.

The system can even be programmed to Photoshop the hunter into the scene, eg with the dead deer. If the absent hunter does not wish to retrieve the trophy, he can purchase the optional Carcass Disposal System which will tow it away into the bushes somewhere, at which point the Trophy Acquisition System will re-set itself to await the next trophy.

For the price of a stamped return-addressed envelope I will be offering a ‘hack’ for the system which allows the target ‘trophy’ to be re-set to an image of the person who purchased and deployed the system.

See also: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/sambar-deer-stalking-103/

and http://www.theultralighthiker.com/thrilling-tales-sir-samuel-baker/

04/08/2017: Wonnangatta-Moroka Trip Cut Short: Orinally posted 2/08/2011: 'Back early from three days' hunting/hiking in Wonnangatta-Moroka NP due to sore toes (Have to do more research into boots) and accidentally taking the three-quarter length Neoair mat which was a bit harsh on my bad back. However saw lots of deer, some of whom visited me during the night.' (This is all I wrote back then)

Sore feet can spoil a trip ( http://www.theultralighthiker.com/foot-care/). I had clearly not trimmed my toenails well beforehand, but unless you can get the correct size boot (for me a half size = 8 1/2) and especially if you are doing a lot of hill-siding or down-hilling this is likely to happen. Preparation is all.

I am now better able to use a 3/4 length mat, having had a back operation in 2013 though I usually use the Neoair Women's (340 grams - http://www.theultralighthiker.com/womens-are-great-in-bed/) which did not exist then. They had also not then trimmed the extra 30 grams from their 3/4 length model back then so it weighed 260 grams instead of the current 230. You can put something under your feet to lift them a little. I would now use my Airbeam Pad (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/air-beam-pad/), or a Graham Medical pillow (watch for future post) with my http://www.theultralighthiker.com/bathtub-groundsheet-chair/.

My camera choice has improved since then. I had only a 4 megapixel camera with 3X zoom back then - and was still not in the habit of taking many photos - having grown up with film cameras which were so expensive, and made one positively stingy. I have found some snaps I took however, and have added them to this update. My current camera has 20x zoom ( http://www.theultralighthiker.com/new-camera/) and there are even better (though not lighter) ones available. Sony now have a pocket camera which weighs 245 grams and has a 30X zoom https://www.dpreview.com/products/sony/compacts/sony_dschx80. Another great choice is the Canon SX730 with 40x zoom though it weighs 300 grams: https://www.dpreview.com/products/canon/compacts/canon_sx730hs Coupled with eg this http://www.theultralighthiker.com/4-gram-string-reverse-tripod/,

These were about as good a photo as you could get with my old camera. I told you I saw 'lots of deer'!

Top: A doe and fawn crossing the river at dusk. Below a very nice stag thrashing just to the right of the centre. He is just to the left of the 'vee' of the twig from the tree on the right.

They do not compare well to the photo of the doe I took last Saturday ( http://www.theultralighthiker.com/avon-river-walking-track/):

Or this one: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-ethical-hunter/

Back then I see I was still using my ancient 7'x7' (210x210cm) 2oz/yd2 home-made polyester-nylon tarp as a shelter. I have made some improvements since then, but it did keep me warm and dry, and was the inspiration for many better models. I used to have to drop this one down when I wanted to go to sleep, and sleep diagonally - but it did use to work. In the new 1 oz/yd2 Membrane Silpoly  it would have weighed about 160 grams including tie-outs. An 8' x 8' (240x240cm) tarp would work a bit better. It would weigh about 210 grams. I am thinking of making a larger version of my poncho tarp ( http://www.theultralighthiker.com/poncho-tent-update/) in these dimensions. To be announced. It would then also be great as a hammock tarp.

Here is my old 7x7 tarp.

And here is my 8'x8' cuben tarp (weight <150 grams):

Mind you there were some good stags about:

You will note that you can walk up and shoot a quite satisfactory stag wearing a blue tee shirt!

Of course in future I will be using this: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/poncho-tent-update/ In silnylon it will be a tent which fits in a breast pocket and which weighs under 180 grams! I will be calling it The Pocket Poncho Tent. I may be selling them. I am investigating manufacturing in Asia. As they say, 'Watch this space!'

I have long since worn out my original 53 litre cuben fibre zpacks Zero/Blast pack you can see in the photo. I replaced it with a 4.8 oz/yd2 Dyneema model. The latter is still under 400 grams instead of 230 grams, but is much much more durable. I hope I do wear it out actually! I am still using the same Big Agnes Cyclone Chair (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/cyclone-chair/ - since 2006!) My blue $1 5 and 10 store cup has been going for over 20 years now. I am yet to find a lighter one

I only wish I was still as young now as I was in 2011 - but I am still going, which is the main thing!

03/08/2017: Fizan Compact Trekking Poles: These are not the lightest trekking poles, but they are amongst the shortest when folded which can be important when you want to fit them inside luggage or inside your pack. At US$59.99 (July 2017) they are one of the cheapest.Add shipping to Australia quoted at US$4.60!

Founded in 1947 by Domenico Fincati, Fizan pioneered the use of aluminum in ski poles when the rest of world was still using steel or bamboo. Since then, the company has become a leader in the market, widely known in Europe for its alpine and Nordic walking poles, and among the ultralight community for its Compact series of trekking poles. Seventy years after its inception, Fizan remains family owned and operated, and all poles are still made in its factory in Veneto, Italy, using environmentally friendly and socially responsible practices.


  • 7001 aluminum construction
  • Proprietary Flexy internal locking system
  • Ergonomic EVA foam grip with rounded plastic top
  • 1.35” (3.4 cm) wide nylon straps
  • Replaceable carbide tips
  • Metal-reinforced rubber tip covers
  • 3 sets of removable baskets: 35, 50, and 95 mm
  • Made in Italy


Massdrop x Fizan Compact 3

  • Sections: 3
  • Adjustable length: 22.8–52 in (58–132 cm)
  • Pole section diameters: 17, 16, and 14 mm
  • Weight per pole: 5.6 oz (158 g)

Massdrop x Fizan Compact 4

  • Sections: 4
  • Adjustable length: 19.3–49.2 in (49–125 cm)
  • Pole section diameters: 17, 16, 14, and 12 mm
  • Weight per pole: 6 oz (169 g)

Straps, Tips & Baskets

  • Weight per strap: 0.4 oz (10 g)
  • Weight per hiking tip: 0.4 oz (12 g)
  • Weight per 35mm basket: 0.07 oz (2 g)
  • Weight per 50mm basket: 0.1 oz (4 g)
  • Weight per 95mm basket: 0.5 oz (14 g)


  • Pair of poles
  • Pair of straps
  • Pair of hiking tip covers
  • 3 sets of hiking baskets


See Also:



01/08/2017: Massdrop Shipping

Some time ago the shipping calculator disappeared from the main page of this wonderful site, so I have not been game to make a purchase because I did not know how much I would be charged for shipping. Eventually I contacted them and received this useful reply: 'At this time the site is only able to show the Shipping cost through the Payment/Shipping information page on a drop. Having said this, you do not have to agree to buy in order to see the shipping cost. Once you hit the green "Join Drop" button on a drop, you will be directed to the Payment/Shipping information page. From here, need only input your shipping information and the site will automatically update to show the shipping cost before you confirm payment or even input payment information.' I have checked and this works, as you will see from my post about the excellent Fizan Trekking Poles this morning: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/fizan-compact-trekking-poles/ These poles will fit entirely inside your pack available there for river crossings, use as tent poles or for heavy carry-outs etc.

I have recommended purchases from these folks again and again. I suggest you bookmark them too. It will be a little more advantageous if you happen to live in the US, but there is often a bargain to be had if you live elsewhere in the world. In any case they will keep you up to date with what's new and available.

Some of my other Massdrop recommendations:


















31/07/2017: A Hiking Food Compendium: Folks are always asking me, 'What do you eat on the trail?' I have posted about this again and again, but I just thought I would bring all my posts about this together as one compendium. When you get tired of eating all these you could just quit life or hiking I guess.

A couple of these are to enjoy at home, but most are dry ingredients which make the meal as light as possible )calories per gram is all!) and use supermarket bought rather than specialty hiking meals as they are both cheaper and tastier in my opinion.


A Hiking Food Compendium:












































30/07/2017: Avon River Walking Track: Good News: Della: 'My steady return to fitness: After 5 weeks of cardiac rehab and a couple of weeks of mainstream fitness training (on top of our usual daily walks), today I tackled my first real bushwalk in 5 months. We checked out part of the Avon River Walking Track in the balmy, albeit blustery weather. Not a long walk, only about a three hour round trip; a bit of a goat track with some gentle uphill climbs, so a mild test for the angina. Once my heart warmed up it was pretty plain sailing, I am pleased to report. The scenery was lovely and we will return to do the whole walk on another occasion. Lots more exercising in front of me before I get back to my previous fitness, but I am now convinced that it is achievable. Feeling heartened!'

The sun was just in the right place to cast lots of golden reflection off the river. I took dozens of snaps especially from high up, but you know how you are supposed to never take photos into the sun but you do anyway because sometimes they turn pout spectacularly? Well, pretty much all but this one were duds!

And this one of Della with the beautiful silver mirror of the river snaking behind her. In the distance you can see Mt Ben Cruachan.

And here am I taking the photograph above.

There are some interesting rock formations.

Beautiful beetling pink cliffs.

And then around a corner this doe came swimming and wading in the river.


She nearly came right up to us!

But I suspect she detected this rascal!

There is oodles of camping at Huggets Crossing on the Avon. From there you can walk all the way along to Wombat Crossing which takes 5-6 hours.

Here are the times. You can camp at Dermody's or Wombat Crossing and walk back (or vice versa). There are also lots of places along the way where you can camp. You have to be careful of the Avon river bottoms. The Avon is one of the worst rivers in Australia for flash floods, so watch the forecasts. It can be pelting down further up above Golden Point etc in the Avon Wilderness.

The trip was spoiled somewhat by encountering not one but two teams of knuckleheaded hound hunters (the reason the deer was walkingand swimming up the middle of the stream after all)! It is illegal to hunt in the vicinity of roads and walking tracks, because of the danger to the public, to use illegal radio channels and radio tracking during the hunt yet these idiots were (offences which would lose them their licences if apprehended - Huggets is regularly patrolled). Then, they proceeded to camp at Huggets just to disgust other campers with their vast numbers of dogs some of them illegal, public display of deer carcasses and so on.

Anyone could see that each team was operating many more than the allowable legal numbers of hounds, and that the bloodhound crosses were just that, not pure bloodhounds! At the end of the hunt they were still waiting for more hounds than they are legally allowed to let out in the first place - why the deer we saw looked so harried, and had been savaged on the right flank some time during the day, as you can see from its photo. People witnessing such crimes needs to file a report (with photos) to the Game Management Unit, DEPI, Victoria. We need to get these fools out of the bush. See also: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-silence-of-the-deer/

28/07/2017: Yarra Ranges 1866: A friend recently sent me a copy of this splendid 1866 map of the County of Buln Buln, to the East of Melbourne. What a historic treasure it is! you can clearly see the route of what would later be 'The Upper Yarra Track' on it. This is what makes this fabulous walking track 'Australia's oldest' - 'and best' as I say on the website: http://www.finnsheep.com/THE%20UPPER%20YARRA%20WALKING%20TRACK.htm

If you haven't yet walked this wonderful track, think about doing so soon. Being winter at present you will want to follow the 'Winter Route' I have outlined in the track Instructions: http://www.finnsheep.com/Track%20Instructions.htm

as the route across the Baw Baw Plateau will be too dangerous because of snow and cold - though very experienced people with snowshoes and skis have done it.

PS: Thanks to Thomas Osburg for the map. It is available here: http://www.cv.vic.gov.au/media/2059/slv-county-of-evelyn-map.jpg I had to copy it with Paint. From the website, or with Paint you can zoom in and see the detail. Perhaps there is a another way of getting better copy.

28/07/2017: Ultimate camo: Just washed my camo hunting gear... now waiting for it to dry.

Image may contain: people sitting


26/07/2017: The Silence of the Deer: Sambar deer do not have a voice. When they are wantonly murdered en masse with no regard to ethics or the law, the survivors cannot speak out. We have to be their voice.

Understand this, I am not some namby-pamby greenie do-gooder. I have hunted deer in the Gippsland mountains for nigh on forty years, and many other creatures before that for another twenty plus years besides. I suppose the last twenty years whilst others took another path I have become naïve.

Because I have been busy farming and when I get away choose to hunt and travel the bush by myself, and during the week, and go almost always to places which have no vehicle access - because I deeply love the wildest places - I had not experienced the rogue element that has taken over too much of the hunting community.

These people have developed and practised techniques and methods which will see hunting banned outright if they are not stopped in their tracks post haste. We will all be the losers for that. We cannot choose to ignore them because we don’t want to get involved, or because we fear what they will do to us in revenge for urging that what they do should be outlawed and punished. I have no doubt what such vile people would do to me if they caught me (or my vehicle) alone in the bush after they realise I have spoken out against them and am their enemy. But, 'All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing' as Edmund Bourke said. I refuse to be cowed.

Hunters should understand that the great bulk of people do not share their desire to practise this sport. Indeed many find it at best distasteful, if not mean, evil and disgusting. They are the majority. We cannot afford to have them proven right by such louts and villains as are roaming the bush unchecked at present.

I rarely ever go up the bush on a weekend but I did again on Saturday as I wanted to have a look around before the sheep lambed. They have now started, so that will be that for me for a while. Plenty of jobs around the farm to do anyway, particularly tree planting. I returned to a location quite near this place: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-spot-of-solitude/ and wandered a little further along the river than I had ever been before.

As we set out Spot and I watched this swamp wallaby trying to get across this fording point for a while. He had three sterling goes at it but the snow and rain the night before had put the river up about 4" (100mm) and he kept on getting swept away. Eventually he decided that the grass was just as green on his side of the river and gave up.

Spot surveyed the crossing with some trepidation after that, but nonetheless we managed to get across without mishap, him riding as always on my back.

There had been a cold wind off the snow earlier, but as it warmed up the wind dropped and it turned into quite a nice day. The kookaburras were in full cry alerting all and sundry that we were afoot in their territory. Likewise there were a lot of currawongs about with their joyful cries. The wood swallows and bee eaters have recovered somewhat from the awful fires of a few years back, and are everywhere, cutting delightful arcs across the sky. A lone azure kingfisher drew lines on the pallid waters of the river. 'Wally' wombat has also bred up again and is out and about, even in broad daylight. I do so love the sights and sounds of the bush.

We came to a huge patch of solanums of some sort (a relative of tomatoes and potatoes). Frequently the leaves of such plants are poisonous to stock or at least bitter, so nothing much was eating them. Dogs just love to practise their balancing. There was an excellent dry wallow right in the midst of this patch - a fine and private place. It contained no cast antlers - as they often do. It was also a haven for wombats.

Something had been eating the fruit however. Frequently members of this family have palatable fruit, but I did not know about this particular one, so did not try it.

You can easily see what is beautiful but inedible, can't you?

Lunch and time for a cuddle. You can see that what is edible has been well munched down.

A poor attempt at a selfie, Spot getting in on the act! This is the clothing I think hunters should be wearing. An Icebreaker wool cap. This is a Tomar merino wool shirt from Kathmandu, currently on sale for A$89.98: http://www.kathmandu.com.au/mens/clothing/tops.html?product_filters_2017=6671 It is excellent.

What a beautiful valley it is.

Right on top of that stone ridge (above left) I came across this chair, which Spot just had to sit in. I guess it had been a good place to wait for a deer crossing down to the river in the fading afternoon light some time back, or maybe someone just wanted to sit and watch the golden river gliding slowly by. A quite reasonable pastime.

Then, unexpectedly, on the next flat downstream I came upon this horror. A true shambles. A charnel house of deer which had clearly taken place within the last week. I hesitate to say how many there were just like this - more than twenty though! Look at this beautiful little doe, last year's drop, savaged by dogs, shot and left to rot. Why would you do this?

And here is another just twenty yards away with her throat torn out. Again you can see where the dogs have savaged her flanks. This wasn't the work of any beagle I have ever seen or owned. Any normal scent trailing hound for that matter. What sort of evil mongrels such folks are using is beyond me. As is 'Why?'

A few yards further on this fine young stag, again savaged by the dogs, antlers hewn off at least. Still, a total waste by my reckoning. 

Another few steps and there was another, and another and another. Not an ounce of venison had been taken. 


And there were wallabies just like the one we watched earlier also torn to pieces by the dogs.


Such barbaric behaviour is not hunting. It is just wanton rapaciousness. What other base things are such sub-human creatures as perpetrated this outrage capable of? In order to simultaneously kill a half dozen large deer in a circle probably fifty yards in radius, how many dogs had been let out on this hunt? Certainly not the five beagles allowed by law!

These guys are doing everything they can wrong. Everything they can to ensure our sport is banned. You could not blame members of the public who stumbled upon such horror (canoeists for example - this is a lovely river to canoe), or heaven help them if they had become mixed up in it, if they then demanded that hound hunting, yea deer hunting entirely be banned forthwith. And they would be right!

If we cannot stamp out this sort of behavior, we deserve to lose our sport. There are people who are reading this who know who the people are who do such things. Some of you witnessed it, or were in the bush thereabouts on the day it happened which I was not (else the police would have all their number plates I can assure you!) and have a pretty good idea who was involved.

Week after week such vile idiots as this come home with a swag of antlers and an awesome tally of dead deer to boast about, having spent the weekend practising the vilest animal cruelty. Young yahoos edging each other on to acts of greater barbarism. People who would do this are capable of anything - or nothing! One thing I have heard about is folk who cruelly wound a deer, eg gut shooting it and breaking its legs so that they can drive the poor agonised creature back to their car rather than carrying the meat out! I have heard a vile thug boasting at his skill at this unbelievable abhorrent practice. God alone knows what further despicable acts of animal cruelty they are capable of.

And, they are slaughtering deer with vast packs of slavering dogs in our National Parks too. They have absolutely no respect for law or morality. They have no human values. Tiny and I were hunted by a pack of just such feral dogs which had been left behind by such a crew as this a few years ago. I could not believe they were baying on our trail. Dingoes certainly never bark on trail, or hunt in packs. I have now put two and two together after seeing this slaughterhouse. A client of mine, near Omeo years ago lost 800 sheep in a single night to such packs of wild dogs. A pack of feral dogs left behind by such hunters will tear some hiker or camper to pieces one day. If they can rip the throat out of a full-grown deer what chance do you think an unarmed person would have? I certainly never camp in the forest since that experience without a weapon handy.

(PS: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hunting-the-wonnangatta-moroka/ Tiny is my older Jack Russell - she is still going at 17 1/2, but she is too deaf and poorly sighted to be taken into the wilderness now. I would lose her, but she would still dearly love to come. She gets a five km walk in the forest behind us every afternoon though, and gets to smell lots of interesting things there, and can come home afterwards and sleep in her basket next to a warm fire. It is not a bad evening to her long life during which she spent a great deal of time in the bush ‘hunting’ and never laid a tooth on anything).

Here she is in retirement in front of her fire:

I will outline what has apparently become the normal modus operandi of too many hound hunters today. I have no idea what percentage but it may well be the majority. Most if not all practise some of the illegal or unethical things I will go on to explain. I was myself a hound hunter for over thirty years. My father, his father and his father too all hunted with hounds in the Australian bush. 175 years of hound hunting. But we never did anything like this. First of all we had a small number of hounds, often only one or two - what need large numbers anyway? One good dog with a superb nose and a good voice is enough actually - ah, but getting such a dog is hard! . For many years I had Harpoon, Belle, Poono, Mike and Marsh. They were foxhound-bloodhound crosses. What a dog Harpoon was. Better than most packs of dogs. Many people will have encountered them or me in the bush in years past. A young reader recently wrote to me that he could still just about hear my call on the wind, 'Harpoon, Come!' They are just a part of the earth of my orchard and of my memories today, after the dreadful foxhound ban - which alas, did no good!

I spent more time hunting for the hounds than I did hunting for deer. My friend the late Arthur Meyers used to call us 'the last of the hound hunters', and maybe that was about right. We hunted always on foot, without the benefit of a vehicle (as the law mandates). For much of that time we never owned a 4WD. We had feet. Two of them each usually, though a mate of mine, Jock had only one and used to get about in the bush pretty well besides. Still does actually.

Aside: We were going to walk into the Wonnangatta together this winter for a week or ten days, two silly septuagenarians, a spot of fishing and hunting and yarning by the fire, but he eventually could not make it, and I have not yet either. Still, eventually the sheep will finish lambing and I can get away again, so maybe yet...I do so adore the Wonnangatta valley in winter. On the horizon you are ringed with majestic snow-capped peaks. The frost crunches under foot in the morning as you go to do the dishes, the river fringed with ice crystals. Still the trout come to the lure and taste specially sweet straight from the coals. I see many deer coming down to drink of an evening and admire them quietly. They have little to fear from me in such a place. The air is clear and cold. Birdsong hangs bright and far on such frigid air. A Tyvek shelter and a cheery fire at day's end bring such a wondrous sense of peace and serenity.

We talked on the radio only at the end of the hunt or to locate each other as the law also mandates. The dogs never attacked wildlife. We carried out every morsel of the deer we harvested (not many). Some of these louts today are individually killing as many deer in a day as our team of 3-5 took in a whole year. These young blokes are the worst sort of tally hunters. They expect to shoot twenty or thirty deer apiece each year. Some would like to do so each week. What is the point? We never left a dog in the bush - if we had, it would have starved to death. We treated the deer and other bush users with respect.

So what is different about the 'modern' hound hunter? First the huge number of dogs. Each member of the 'team' might have the legal five dogs and three pups in training in the dog box on the back of their ubiquitous 4WD utes . A typical 'team' is well in excess of the mandated maximum of ten. So there are likely to be as many as 100 dogs present on a given day! Each has a vehicle and the vehicle is used extensively in the hunt to get in front of the deer, being moved again and again during the hunt. Often there are multiple hunts going on actually, because of the vast numbers of dogs. They hunt on roads, not in the bush. Each member has a radio operating on an illegal channel affixed to their breast. This alone invites a fine of $20,000 - but these clowns think they are invulnerable. Right next to it is a GPS tracker which they use constantly to follow the hunt and get a wickedly unfair advantage over the deer. Many of their dogs do not voice.

I have witnessed packs of 30-40 hounds just let out higgly-piggly in a valley (not after walking them in on a leash as we used to do on fresh sign until they began to bay, not releasing them until they did) and these whole vast packs were making far less noise than my old foxhound, Harpoon would have been making all by himself. This is because largely such folks are not using scent trailing hounds, though they might mostly have a superficial resemblance to them. It matters not to them whether their dogs have a 'good voice' because they are simply tracking the hunt in real time with their GPS units. When such electronic devices (including CB radios) became legal it was understood that they would not be used in the actual hunt. Nor is it ethical to do so. Having a team of up to 10 hunters with guns and five dogs is advantage enough! But of course they almost never restrict themselves like that. With such a vast amount of pressure on them, the deer are soon forced to 'bail' and if a hunter does not arrive swiftly to dispatch them, the dogs will harry them until they fall, or pull them down and kill them.

In over thirty years of hound hunting I walked in on hundreds of bail-ups. Mostly I arrived too late, if at all. The dogs had become bored that the deer was no longer moving, and had wandered away. Sometimes (not often) if I was lucky I arrived when the dogs were still 'holding' the deer. Sometimes I shot it, and sometimes I did not. Does with young were usually spared, for example. I never witnessed a dog harrying a deer. My scent trailing hounds would just stand around howling at it from a safe distance. I never had a dog injured by a deer as they never came close enough. I never found hair floating on the river water which would have indicated harrying activity. Owning such dogs as attack wildlife was illegal and unethical and properly remains so. If you had owned a dog which showed any sign of such aggression you would have put it down straightaway no matter how attached you were to it. You should always be able to shoot your own dog. Straight away. You just cannot trust a dog which attacks things. We all have loved ones. Imagine what might happen if a pack of such dogs came across a couple of women and children innocently playing (perhaps near their canoes) in the forest! It really is only a matter of time before such large, dangerous, poorly controlled packs kill domestic stock, companion animals or human beings.

There are other elements of the deer hunting scene I also disagree with, and have mentioned before. For example I abhor the practice of glassing the opposite slope and shooting deer long range with telescopic sights. Such conduct is appropriate only for cullers, not hunters. The quarry should have something like 'fair chase'. It should at least be able to use its senses to escape the hunter. I would prefer to see every hunter required to use only iron sights. They would have to have a lot more skill for one thing, and learn to get much closer to their quarry as bow hunters do. Again, I would rather that only cullers and perhaps bow hunters were allowed to use camo. This would give the deer a better chance and make it safer for everyone. I am not in favour of being an ambush predator, especially if the ambush has been informed by trail cameras which are properly a scientific tool. Deer are creatures of habit, and such means are really quite unfair. I think hunters should just have to 'walk them up.  This is really the only fair way of taking them ie bush stalking.

Deer are sentient creatures. It is our privilege to be able to humanely harvest them to prevent their breeding out of control and becoming a menace. They deserve our respect and understanding. I think the worst aspect (for me) about the nightmare display I witnessed on Saturday was that when I first spied the first little doe, her mother and younger sister were standing over her, their noses still touching her. I thought at first she was asleep. I was initially quite enchanted, and far too slow to get my camera out. I guess they saw Spot move and they left (as you can imagine) in an almighty hurry. They were grieving - as well they might be. I am grieving too. I really do not know whether I will ever shoot another deer after seeing this.

It will not keep me out of the bush that I love though, but I will be heading for more remote areas - and I guess I will need my gun to defend myself against those awful feral dogs these 'hound hunters' have left behind and allowed to breed up. Thankfully the Government conducts annual baiting (including aerial baiting) in many areas to try and reduce their numbers. This is very annoying when you want to take your Jack Russell for a walk in the bush. You need to check very carefully beforehand that there are no viable baits in the area you are heading for. Fortunately Spot is such a fussy eater he will touch practically nothing, but I would sorely hate to lose him and his companionship in the wilderness: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/not-quite-alone-in-the-wilderness/

Yes! Of course I reported this matter to the Game Management Unit DPI Traralgon as I would encourage all to do who know of similar awful deeds by evil clowns who claim to be hunters. We need to get these vile cretins out of the bush before their actions drive us all from our chosen recreation. Unsurprisingly the officer I spoke to had numerous similar dreadful incidents on his desk. I think the most chilling thing he said to me was, 'You would not believe the cruelty'...Game Management may be understaffed and work slowly, but they are coming for you. And good riddance!

Post Script: I remember folks used to claim they could 'sex' a deer by its footprints. Here are two sets of deer feet. One is a stag, the other a doe. They look just the same to me. I agree that older, heavier animals may have worn their toes down at the front, but those rounded toes definitely do not indicate a stag - whereas a rub line certainly does!

26/07/2017: Miniature Weapons – The Toothpick Crossbow: Miniature weapons are great fun for young and old. You might start your collection with this delightful ‘toothpick crossbow’ which is bound to annoy your friends and fellow workers: https://www.thisiswhyimbroke.com/toothpick-crossbow/ Also avaailable Massdrop now (July 2017 https://www.massdrop.com/buy/bowman-toothpick-crossbow?utm_source=Iterable&iterableCampaignId=144137&iterableTemplateId=208034&utm_campaign=cco_fresh_finds_2&mode=guest_open&referer=EJ89BQ&utm_medium=email).


You might also like this: Micro BB Crossbow: http://www.dudeiwantthat.com/gear/gadgets/micro-bb-crossbow.asp


Or this: Marshmallow Crossbow: http://www.dudeiwantthat.com/gear/gadgets/marshmallow-crossbow.asp


Or this: Micro Blaster Q-Tip X-Bow: http://www.dudeiwantthat.com/gear/gadgets/micro-blaster-q-tip-x-bow.asp



Then of course there are the many rubber band guns such as this: http://www.rubberbandguns.com/pistols/western-pistols/colt-derringer-pistol

Colt Derringer Pistol


25/07/2017: EyeQue Personal Vision Tracker: This great little device is available here http://www.eyeque.com/home from US$29.99 (July 2017)

You can use this device to ascertain your correct eyeglass prescription. Repeated self-tests will make you more and more accurate. Users report it gives as good or better result than their optometrist. It is very handy for on-line ordering eg from http://www.zennioptical.com/ where you can buy a pair of flexible titanium progressive glasses for $US50 or less.

I have been buying my glasses from Zenni for years. The only time I have had a bad result is when the prescription was wrong. This device should allow me to check my optometrist’s prescription before I order. I will still be having a regular eye check up to make sure I am not developing any other eye problems – such as glaucoma, which blinds you before you are aware of it unless you have a regular visual field test and use it to keep track of your visual field index. Be warned. My wife lost more than half her eyesight before her glaucoma was diagnosed.


I have ordered one of these devices and will download the App to go with it.

PS: You can do the same thing with your hearing aids to save even more money.

See Also:



Here is a good way to prevent you losing your hearing aids in the bush. It has saved me thousands: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/securing-hearing-aids/



24/07/2017: Pocket Slingshot: The Pocket Shot might be a good choice if you want to add a bunny, pigeon or duck to your hiking menu and you have found perfecting your skill with a conventional sling too hard (See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/how-to-make-a-sling/)

'With up to 350 feet per second, equals 350 km/h, double to triple the airspeed of conventional slingshots

With 12 Joule by using the original Pocket-Shot Ammo of hardened carbon steel six times the penetration power than with a conventional slingshot. Also much stronger than almost all Airsoft, Paintball or Air-Rifles

High Precision and high rate of fire. Allows quick aiming and shooting

Minimum weight of just 55 grams and extremely compact at 6cm  x 2 cm'

I might not be 'legal' in your particular locale, so you should check I guess.

It can also fire arrows and/or be used to take fish. I would say it might also be useful for driving away dingoes which might be following you and thinking about you as a snack.

From around $A40 (July 2017)





17/07/2017: A Hands Free Umbrella: What a good idea that would be, especially if you need to use both hands for trekking poles on rough or steep terrain. When the weather is really humid, you really need a roof to keep you dry (and warm). A raincoat in such circumstances will just see you soaked and frozen.


See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-importance-of-a-roof/ & http://www.theultralighthiker.com/?s=rain)


In such circumstances my ultralight poncho tent may save your life: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-poncho-tent/ & http://www.theultralighthiker.com/poncho-tent-update/


There are several possibilities. For example Antigravity Gear has a model featuring clips which attach your trekking umbrella to your back pack. https://www.antigravitygear.com/shop/rain-gear/swing-handsfree-backpack-umbrella/




There are several other possibilities, such as:






A search for ‘hands free umbrellas’ will provide you with lots of fun and amusement!


One I particularly like is the Ufocap: http://ufocap.tradekorea.com/product/detail/P280367/UFOCAP---Innovative-Umbrella.html?minisiteprodgroupno=32229 These little guys cost about $10 on eBay and weigh about 170 grams. Even if they look a bit silly they should do the job. The ones with transparent panels (at least at the front) would help you see where you were going.


16/07/2017: Naismith's Rule

'Is a rule of thumb that helps in the planning of a walking or hiking expedition by calculating how long it will take to walk the route, including the extra time taken when walking uphill. It was devised by William W. Naismith, a Scottish mountaineer, in 1892.  A modern version of this rule can be formulated i.e. as follows: Allow 1 hour for every 3 mi (5 km) forward, plus 1 hour for every 2000 ft (600 m) of ascent.' Clearly the 'rule' is about young, fit people walking on clear flat terrain. If you are older or 'bush-bashing' you will have to apply some corrections.

'It does not account for delays, such as extended breaks for rest or sightseeing, or for navigational obstacles...Over the years several adjustments have been formulated in an attempt to make the rule more accurate. The simplest correction is to add 25 or 50% to the time predicted using Naismith's rule.'  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naismith%27s_rule

I think the rule is a reasonable guide for 'track walkers'. Those of us who prefer more remote places will no doubt have worked out other ways of estimating. Doubling the time in much of the Victorian bush is reasonable. In off-track walks in Fiordland, forget it. There it will take you longer than you can believe to traverse a couple of kilometres!

The most important consideration is life is not a race. I have often encountered folks hurrying to their destination (ultimately death) who take no time to observe the wonders along the way. One of the advantages of being old is that it imposes a restraint such that you do have time 'to smell the roses'.

15/07/2017: 60 DIY Ultralight Hiker Ideas: I have been posting my DIY things for quite some time now. Thought you might like to see a collection of my ‘creations’.   http://www.theultralighthiker.com/60-diy-ultralight-hiker-ideas/



09/07/2017: Bathtub Groundsheet Chair: As you can see I have completed the first prototype of this project which I have long threatened. I learned a lot in the process, so that there will be substantial changes between where it is at now and the completed project. Still, you can see that it works. I created four ‘sleeves’ along the sides of the chair, back and seat) which you can slip lengths of dead sticks in for stiffening. I used some slats I had lying around from a broken door. You can see the end of one sticking up on the top right of the third photo.

There are three horizontal pieces of fabric which hold the infated pad in the two positions, one at each end and one (nearly) in the centre. I sewed the centre one at each end but I think I will unpick one line of stitching (as it might not be necessary, then when I want to configure the chair as a bed I can slip the mattress underneath it which will pull the sides up more to create a bathtub effect. If I make the two webbing straps a little longer they can also be clicked together criss-crossed to accentuate this effect. I think I will need a piece of elastic around about where my knees are in the second photo to firm up the ‘bathtub’ effect there.

I am thinking 3.5 oz Dyneema for the sleeves and triangular tie-outs the webbing is attached to.  A lighter Robic material might work well here. The bottoms of the back sleeves may need some reinforcing as that seems to be where the most stress occurs. I am thinking 1.3 oz silnylon for the floor. I know that this will wear through over time, but should last for many nights until then. You can also re-waterproof the silicon side as explained here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/waterproofing-tent-floors-and-ground-sheets/ I am thinking that the completed chair will weigh perhaps less then 90 grams! As you can see the prototype weighs 138 (but that is with 1.85 oz/yd2 Tyvek and 3/4″ buckles and webbing instead of 1/2″).

bathtub groundsheet chair

Ready for bed:

bathtub groundsheet

Detailed view:

ultralight hiking chair groundsheet

Prototype size and weight:

You can see how unpicking the middle horizontal (which made no difference to the performance of the chair) pulls the sides up in groundsheet mode. Clipping the webbing diagonally will also help. 

It’s quite comfy too if you configure it as a lounger like this. The Klymit Ultralight Pillow (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/klymit-ultralight-pillow/) can be used as a seat to boost height if required:

PS: Only the back sticks seem to be necessary, though the bottom sticks may add some minimal comfort. I will experiment with this. If so, I can reduce the weight by omitting the bottom sleeves.

See Also:




08/07/2017: Leatherman Juice B2: Leatherman just keep coming up with entrancing products to separate us from our hard-earned. Here's a nice example, the Leatherman Juice B2:

'Sometimes, all you need is a knife. The Juice B2 has one serrated and one straight-edge knife made from high quality steel and backed by our 25 year warranty.

leatherman juice b2

  1. Closed Length 3.2 in | 8.2 cm
  2. Weight 1.3 oz | 36.8 g
  3. Blade Length 2.2 in | 5.6 cm'

See Also:




08/07/2017: Never buy clothes again! These folks are making garments they reckon you can’t wear out (from Kevlar). For example their 100 Year Hoodie: They’ve taken aramid fibres with a strength to weight ratio five times stronger than steel and spun them into a super soft knit to make the most indestructible hoodie you’ve ever worn.

100 Year Hoodie: Raw edition

They also sell undergarments: https://www.vollebak.com/product/100-year-hoodie-raw/

Pair them with these dyneema jeans and you will never need to buy clothes again: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/791166183/backcountry-denim-cotm-most-durable-jeans-ever-mad

07/07/2017: Poncho Tent Update: Today my waterproof zippers arrived so I sewed them on (and they work a treat!) I also made up the small extra piece which can be used to close the tent up completely. This piece will weigh just less than 30 grams in silnylon on the completed tent bringing its total weight to approx 180 grams or about 240 grams with titanium stakes, guys etc. You have to admit that this is pretty good for a tent which is also a raincoat! With the extra piece sewn in and zipped up the tent would make emergency accommodation for two (lying down) or probably four sitting up, so it could certainly save lives in unexpected bad weather.

Spot helping me measure and cut out the extra door piece:

And here it is with the almost invisible #3 waterproof zips sewn on:

And zipped in:

Della sitting in the tent - to give you some idea of how roomy it is:

The tent is plenty big enough for her to sit up with legs stretched out.

I admit I could have pitched it a bit tauter. I may put large ribber bands on each of the tie-outs to facilitate this. My sole concern with a tent actually is that it goes up easily, stays up and keeps you dry. prettiness is not part of my lexicon:


You can stake the door flap out like this to create even more space:

And it works as a raincoat:

It is 8' long at the widest point, so a large person can sleep in it without touching any of the sides - and you can have a fire out the front to warm it. Dogs love it!

Now to move on to the silnylon version - and complete my <100 gram bathtub-groundsheet-chair to use with it.

See Also: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-poncho-tent/

04/07/2017: Black Diamond Storm Waterproof Headlamp: A year ago I though this was the greatest head torch ever: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/let-there-be-light-great-new-head-torch/

black diamond storm

Now, Black Diamond has a new model which blows it out of the water literally – being waterproof! their new model boasts an incredible 350 lumens though it uses an extra AAA battery (4 rather than 3). It still has superb run time and functionality though. This should be a good head torch for a bit of nighttime bunny busting (with a range on High of 80 metres). It lasts on High for 22 hours, and on Low for 160 – a full week, and weighs 110 grams including batteries! It is available on Massdrop at the moment for US$35.95 and I have found it on eBay this morning for US$39.95 (free shipping) which is about the same. Isn’t it ‘Xmas in July’ just now?


  1. Black Diamond
  2. Lumens: 350
  3. LED types: 1 QuadPower, 2 DoublePower, 3 SinglePower
  4. Settings: Full strength in proximity and distance modes; dimming; strobe; red, green, and blue night vision; lock mode
  5. Rated IPX67: Tested to operate up to 3.3 ft (1 m) underwater for 30 mins
  6. Maximum distance, high: 262.5 ft (80 m)
  7. Maximum distance, low: 36 ft (11 m)
  8. Maximum burn time, high: 22 hrs
  9. Maximum burn time, low: 160 hrs
  10. Batteries: 4 AAA (included)
  11. PowerTap technology
  12. Brightness Memory
  13. Waterproof and dustproof
  14. Weight with batteries: 3.9 oz (110 g)’

03/07/2017: Hardtack: A recipe for folks who want to experience just how hard life was in the past.  I think you should try it. I used to eat it with relish when I was a kid, but back then kids were always hungry and would eat just about anything. You only have to notice how much taller youths are today than the average height of folks over 60 to see that this was true! The virtue that it certainly has is that it lasts in storage for years as the photo below amply illustrates.

If you want to eat flour based food (which is quite economic weight and space wise), maybe ‘Johnny Cakes’ (or fried scones) a traditional Australian favourite is more ‘for you’. I used to make these all the time when I was hiking, but I have come up with so many other recipes over the years that I usually don’t bother any more, mostly as they were a bit fiddly. You need to carry some fat for the frying for one thing. Once this had leaked all over my pack once or twice it put me off. Using dripping or tallow (as explained in yesterday’s post) would obviate this: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/out-of-the-frying-pan/ I developed a recipe wihich was a bit more interesting than the traditional water, flour, salt one. The addition of eg some milk powder, some desiccated cocnut, a little sugar, some slivered almonds – even a few sultanas – makes the cakes into something quite pleasant and entertaining to enjoy. Here are a couple of recipes you might try from: http://thesurvivalmom.com/hardtack/ & http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Hardtack


02/07/2017: First Bag Your Omelet: Long ago I noticed that powdered eggs are once again available in Australia: Coles Supermarkket, Cake aisle: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hormel-real-bacon-pieces/) and that they would go well with the Hormel’s Bacon Pieces (Dehydrated).

Farm Pride Powdered Whole Eggs omelet recipe

It’s a bit like noticing that dehydrated French Onion Soup ought to be a great resource and meal base but then never getting around to inventing a meal which uses it. Well I did with the onion soup, see for example: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hiking-crayfish-bisque/

Now it is the powdered eggs’ turn. Of course I have already tried them out as reconstituted scrambled eggs and they make a fine breakfast, particularly if you fry some Chinese sausage with them (it doesn’t require refrigeration until after the packet is opened, so you have to eat itall. Oh Dear! It comes in approx 155 gram packets, so it’s not too much) The sausage also gives you the oil to cook the eggs in. A little bit of powdered milk in with the powdered eggs makes them fluffier and tastier, just like with fresh ingredients at home!

You can bring along some tallow to fry your omelet in (as described here http://www.theultralighthiker.com/out-of-the-frying-pan/) or you can bring along the omelet ingredients mixed together in a ziplock bag, add enough water to reconstitute them then simmer the bag in your cookpot - which means you don’t need oil, and you don’t have to wash up either!

I would definitely want some onion and garlic powder in my omelet, and some bacon pieces. If you have brought some dried tomatoes, they would go well too. There are a number of other interesting dried herbs you might add, eg thyme, basil, oregano. Salt and pepper to taste. I also enjoy curried eggs. I’m sure you have your own favourite omelet recipes. Oh, I always have some cheese along (for lunches). A little bit of shaved cheese always goes nicely on an omelet. As I have some salami (also for lunch) ditto!

Some other recipes from folks who find it easier to find dehydrated vegies than we do in Australia!




Or you can cook your at home then dehydrate it, eg: http://www.frugalvillage.com/forums/homesteading-gardening/146087-dehydrated-omelette.html

30/06/2017: Multiple Use: There is no doubt that one of the best ways to achieve ultralight hiking weight savings is if gear you carry serves several purposes. Thus for example, the Poncho tent I am working on (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-poncho-tent/ and likewise the bathtub floor groundsheet/chair I am also working on below (coming soon).

However, I finished these 12 gram (ea) shoes way back in April. They worked wonderfully well for my Fiordland Moose Hunting expedition on this year's Dusky Track walk (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/from-dawn-to-dusky/ & ff), and I had already posted a photo of what they weighed with and without the shoe inserts, yet somehow it had not occurred to me that I need not carry inserts specially for them when I could use the inserts from my shoes which I had definitely tested to make sure they absorbed no water after last year's shoe disaster on the South Coast track walk with Della: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/westies-hut/.

Clearly though, all I need to do is dry my shoes' inserts put them inside my hut booties and I have saved an ounce! Twice as much as I c