Ultralight Hiking:  

Ultralight Hiking:

See also:

Ultralight Hiking Advice

The Upper Yarra Walking Track

Hiking 2015

Hiking 2014.htm

Hiking 2013 & Earlier

Steve's Blog

World Travel Kit for Son

Finnsheep.com

NEW MOBILE FRIENDLY SITE: THE ULTRALIGHT HIKER

Powered by Bravenet
View Statistics

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

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

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

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

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

ULTRALIGHT HIKING BLOG:

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.

Features

  • 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

Specs

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)

Included

  • Pair of poles
  • Pair of straps
  • Pair of hiking tip covers
  • 3 sets of hiking baskets

https://www.massdrop.com/buy/massdrop-fizan-compact?mode=guest_open

See Also:

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hiking-poles-2/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hiking-poles/

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:

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/massdrop/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/fizan-compact-trekking-poles/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/klymit-packraft/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/500-gram-tents/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-umbrella-redesigned/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-vorso-mark-ii-spinning-top/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/new-ultralight-survival-shelter/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/klymit-insulated-static-v-lite-sleeping-pad/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/miniature-weapons-the-toothpick-crossbow/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/black-diamond-storm-waterproof-headlamp/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/vargo-titanium-knives/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/super-aaa-torch-145-lumens/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/miniature-pens/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/klymit-inertia-o-zone-ultralight/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-rolls-royce-of-back-country-trowels/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/klymit-ultralight-pillow/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/smallest-rechargeable-flashlight/

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.

Enjoy:

A Hiking Food Compendium:

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/dellas-coconut-rice-hiking-food/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/lunch-on-the-trail/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/steves-nepali-dahl-soup/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hiking-food-2/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/tasty-hiking-meals/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/porridge/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/steves-ultralight-fish-chowder/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/mckenzies-quick-cook-minestrone-soup/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hiking-food-cup-a-soup/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hiking-food-customs-gestapo/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/food-dehydration/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hormel-real-bacon-pieces/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/wintulichs-beer-sticks-on-the-trail-animal-protein-is-a-must/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/he-hiked-with-a-falafel-in-his-hand/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/more-hiking-food-dorsogna-mild-twiggy-sticks/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hiking-yoghurt/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hiking-food-french-onion-soup-plus/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/super-simple-trail-meal/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hiking-meals-continental-hearty-italian-minestrone/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hiking-food-mckenzie-quick-cook-soups-180-grams-per-packet/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hiking-food-protein/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hardtack/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/first-bag-your-omelet/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/out-of-the-frying-pan/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hiking-crayfish-bisque/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-coconut-fish-curry/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/steves-ultralight-fish-chowder/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/steves-pasta-e-fagioli/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/cauliflower-rice/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/backcountry-meat/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/calories-per-gram/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/mckenzies-country-chicken-soup-with-lemon-black-pepper-tuna/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hiking-food-continental-spring-vegetable-simmer-soup/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/soylent/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hiking-food-recipes/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/more-hiking-food-low-gi/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/carmens-great-hiking-food/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/miso-soup/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hiking-food-peasant-bread/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hiking-food-bulgar-wheat/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hiking-food-soup/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/steves-mulligatawny/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/steves-lamb-stew/

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).

http://static.dudeiwantthat.com//img/entertainment/sporting-goods/toothpick-crossbow-27759.jpg

You might also like this: Micro BB Crossbow: http://www.dudeiwantthat.com/gear/gadgets/micro-bb-crossbow.asp

http://static.dudeiwantthat.com/img/gear/gadgets/resize(640%2c533)/micro-bb-crossbow-20049.jpg

Or this: Marshmallow Crossbow: http://www.dudeiwantthat.com/gear/gadgets/marshmallow-crossbow.asp

http://static.dudeiwantthat.com/img/gear/gadgets/marshmallow-crossbow-22852.jpg

Or this: Micro Blaster Q-Tip X-Bow: http://www.dudeiwantthat.com/gear/gadgets/micro-blaster-q-tip-x-bow.asp

 

http://static.dudeiwantthat.com/img/gear/gadgets/hog-wild-q-tip-x-bow-23512.jpg

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.

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=16&v=fDGBQ1lN_aA[/embed]

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:

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/zenni-the-hearing-company/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-glasses-case/

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/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=16&v=fDGBQ1lN_aA

 

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)

http://www.thepocketshot.com/store/c1/Featured_Products.html

http://www.thepocketshot.com/store/p66/The_Pocket_HAMMER_%28Full_Kit%29.html

https://www.outdoorswarehouse.com.au/pocket-shot-quick-load-slingshot/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rEYmpE4b7Ik

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/

 

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/c4/e6/b2/c4e6b2c2a52c3cb77428c0d901348465.jpg

 

There are several other possibilities, such as:

https://ae01.alicdn.com/kf/HTB1GBWnQpXXXXXfaXXXq6xXFXXXK/5pcs-lot-Elastic-Headband-Metal-Frame-font-b-Hands-b-font-font-b-Free-b-font.jpg

 

https://gadgetflowcdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Nubrella-Hands-Free-Umbrella-4.jpg

 

http://cdn1.gadgetify.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/hands-free-umbrella.jpg

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/

 

https://i2.wp.com/www.theultralighthiker.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/DSCN4696-comp.jpg?zoom=2&resize=365%2C365

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:

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/inflatable-bathtub-groundsheet/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-chairgrounsheet/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/tarp-bathtub-groundsheet/

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

  • Closed Length 3.2 in | 8.2 cm
  • Weight 1.3 oz | 36.8 g
  • Blade Length 2.2 in | 5.6 cm'

See Also:

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/leatherman-micra-multitool/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/leatherman_squirt/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/my-top-five-knives/

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?

'Specs
  • Black Diamond
  • Lumens: 350
  • LED types: 1 QuadPower, 2 DoublePower, 3 SinglePower
  • Settings: Full strength in proximity and distance modes; dimming; strobe; red, green, and blue night vision; lock mode
  • Rated IPX67: Tested to operate up to 3.3 ft (1 m) underwater for 30 mins
  • Maximum distance, high: 262.5 ft (80 m)
  • Maximum distance, low: 36 ft (11 m)
  • Maximum burn time, high: 22 hrs
  • Maximum burn time, low: 160 hrs
  • Batteries: 4 AAA (included)
  • PowerTap technology
  • Brightness Memory
  • Waterproof and dustproof
  • 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

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!

http://honeyvillefarms.blogspot.com/2012/04/omelet-in-bag-recipe.html#.WVh_oVFLfcs

http://www.carolinafoodstorage.com/2012/02/powdered-egg-omelet.html

https://atablespoonofoil.wordpress.com/2010/09/19/dried-herb-omelet/

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 could save by switching to the lighter containers I wrote about in my last post: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/small-is-beautiful/ Still, every gram makes a difference.

PS: You will notice that in the second photo the draw string tightens only around the heel. The reason for this is to allow maximum air flow out the top of the shoe so that it doesn't get clammy. I chose waterproof material so that I could walk through wet grass (as you need to do in camp, eg to put wood on the fire). It is really nice to have dry feet at the end of a day's walking, but you don't need to carry a brick around to make it so.

Weight of the shoe bare:

With blue foam inserts. (Not very serviceable):

With proprietary urethane inserts:

The shoe in the photo has been used for over a week on the trail so that you can see how tough the material is. You could make them last longer by painting some liquid latex on the sole (for wear) every so often, but this would increase the weight too.

See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/19-gram-dyneema-camp-shoes/

PS: I know I haven't finished posting the patterns, instructions, etc. Please be patient. I am busy. I still have kilometres of fencing to build (another awful section through a dreadful slip completed yesterday) - and it is cold and wet, and I am old!

29/06/2017: I have trouble finding my glasses yet Mars Rover Opportunity has found a bit of man-made space junk on the surface of that vast empty desert, larger than the land surface of the Earth. We should have set this little guy to looking for MH370!

 

Image of a strange, metallic looking object from the Mars Opportunity rover. Picture: NASA

27/06/2017: A Spot of Solitude: My back and knee are still giving me trouble but the Meniers which has plagued me for the last fortnight seems to have taken a holiday, so I wanted to get away for a couple of days to see whether I was still up to some gentler country. I may need another back operation and I don't look forward to that. The knee I hurt looking for moose back in April in the Henry Burn near Supper Cove, Dusky Sound Fiordland NZ (See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/from-dawn-to-dusky/ & ff. The tyranny of aging really.

This is a new spot for me, so I did not know what to expect, for example would there be few deer as it had been badly burned out a few years ago? It might have been too thick or would it be impossibly crowded being relatively easy to access, and only gentle walking? Usually I would need my pack raft to get across this river to where I intended to camp and hunt but it has been so dry this winter I could simply walk across with Spot the Jack Russell riding on my pack, of course! I guess most people don't do much canoe hunting (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/you-take-the-high-road-and-ill-take-the-low/) and don't pay attention to the BOM's River Heights http://www.bom.gov.au/cgi-bin/wrap_fwo.pl?IDV60154.html as there was no-one at all about, even though it was a lovely sunny weekend in the High Country. Suits me!

I was surprised at once by how chewed out the bush was along the river. All the available grass and forbs were chewed right down to the ground, and they had been gnawing at this nasty prickly wattle.

And the many stags are smashing them to bits! Good riddance!

This tiny gully had been thoroughly scoured. There are too many deer here actually. It is wonderful though how the large herbivores create the clearings, isn't it? Did you realise that tens of millions of years ago grass made an alliance with the herbivores and declared war on the forests? The result is the pattern of great plains and receding forests we see on the planet today. Once the word for world was 'forest'. Now it is 'earth'. Grasslands store several times as much carbon (in their soil) per acre as forests do in total. They do this to prevent the trees from having it. They feed the herbivores and the herbivores keep the forest at bay and nourish the grasslands with their dung and dead bodies. A tiny part of that great battle is what we see in this small valley.

I only had a little time to look around as I needed to make camp and gather some firewood. This trip had been a 'spur of the moment' decision. I had not decided to go until well after breakfast or started out much before lunch - and I needed to be back tomorrow night! Still, little trips are sweet! I very hastily erected my tent, as it was getting dark. No great wind was expected so I did not peg it out properly. It  would still keep what little rain was expected off me. A large tree had fallen and shattered so I had more than a ute load of firewood ready in no time - and I needed it. The night was cold! Spot chased a stag away through the wattles as I was gathering wood. I could hear his antlers clattering against the saplings.

Spot enjoys the fire, and my sleeping bag. Always hard to get him off/out of it and into his own at bedtime.

A fire is such a lovely thing!

It's certainly warm enough inside though in that lovely warm yellow glow. I hope you like my new Deerhunter's Shirt. Kathmandu had a sale on these wonderful 'Tomar' wool shirts last week for $89. They still do: http://www.kathmandu.com.au/mens/clothing/tomar-men-s-merino-long-sleeve-shirt.html A great colour. So much better, and more practical than all that silly camo! Wool is just great!

Spledid to just stretch your feet out towards the fire and watch the greatest show in town:

Isn't it grand?

[video width="1920" height="1080" mp4="http://www.theultralighthiker.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/DSCN4685.mp4"][/video]

I also finished the fourteenth volume of Poul Anderson's 'Flandry' ebooks on my phone while listening to some soothing music. What a cracker of a read they all are. So long as you love Sci-Fi as I do, anyway. Anderson is a genius!

In the morning Spot's bowl was quite iced up. It is the container of one of those Sirena Tuna meals, probably the Mexican Beans which are my favourite. It makes for a good ultralight cereal bowl, if you are looking for one! You will have to fight the dog for this one!

I just love watching the mist rising from the river in the dawn when I am doing the dishes:

Like this. Just so magical!

[video width="1920" height="1080" mp4="http://www.theultralighthiker.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/DSCN4705.mp4"][/video]

Looking back at my peaceful camp among the wattles. What an idyllic scene! In other countries you would have to pay thousands to find such peace and tranquility. So far in Australia we are still blessed. In Victoria at least.

But, time to take a look around...It is easy and instructive to follow a game trail like this:

It will lead you past preaching trees such as this and deer bedding areas, sometimes a wallow. As you can see, as soon as you get away from the river, the fire regrowth is pretty thick - and already starting to die from overmuch competition. You will not be able to see a deer far off in this sort of country. A telescopic site, (a culler's tool really) would be no use here. This is the sort of country where the lever action comes into its own. You can carry it unloaded (as you should any gun) but you can quickly throw it to your shoulder as you load for a quick snap shot at a fleeing deer. You must always be aware of what is behind the deer though. There must be solid earth or else you must not fire. A .30 calibre round can easily kill someone a couple of kms away!

This deer path up this small valley is pretty easy to follow. 'They went thataway' says Spot. Well, actually they came from thataway. I am hoping they circled around back to where they came from, and will be looking the other way! Sometimes this is a better strategy than following them. There is a cold wind blowing from that way, and the sun is shining from this way, so they will be bedded in a warm spot out of the wind over there.

You can see it gets quite thick. Plenty of private bedding areas, but you will not see a deer faraway. Very chewed out - both a good and bad sign.

Here are a couple of nice fresh rubs. The path between them marks the edge of this stag's territory. He will prowl this regularly scent marking and thrashing like this to warn others off his hinds. I will follow his line and see where it leads. He is along it somewhere.

And it leads into very thick stuff indeed with just the occasional small clearing and bedding spot. This old doe had just lain down here and never got back up. She might have starved, died from old age - or worse still carried a bullet all the way from the road perhaps. On this occasion a herd of other deer (doubtless her relatives) had been sleeping contentedly beside her remains. I have seen this before. I canoed down the Macalister after the devastating fires there a few years ago when the river was still full of dead eels as thick as your legs and as long as you are, and the banks still strewn with the carcasses of innumerable wallabies etc which had starved.The place reeked and the river water was nearly one-half mud by volume. I filled an empty drink bottle which stood on our window ledge for many years to illustrate this. It's no wonder all the fish died.

There is a spot in the bush there (on the true left bank) where there is an ancient quince tree, a reminder folks lived there once long ago - during the gold rushes perhaps. Such wonderfully productive trees can live for 800 years and produce over a tonne of fruit each year. How much better than gum trees is that? Right under the tree was the mummified body of a hind, and camping right next to her were her twins who yelped an raced off as I approached. She had died trying to keep them alive and they had stayed with her body for weeks. I noticed that a few minutes after they thought the coast was clear they crept back to be by her side. And 'they' say that animals don't have souls or (human) feelings! I hoped they would survive to carry on her legacy.

The deer had even been chewing at this inedible stuff, doing a good job of clearing it perhaps, but getting little nutrition. A group of deer was bedded here. One honked at me and several others exploded off in all directions. It was just too thick to see any of them.

This drier ridge downhill provides a little further viewing than the thick stuff. This particular trail is incredibly well traveled. It has a raised edge nearly six inches high! A deer highway!

I wanted to get a good photo of Spot, the rubs and the pronounced deer trail. I was concentrating on that, whilst Spot was looking at something else. I guess you could see about thirty metres through this stuff.

What he could see was a young stag's legs. After a while I saw them too. By this time unfortunately my back was starting to kill me again (not to mention my knee) so I was not wanting to carry out a mess of dead deer anyway. I thought I would just sling my gun and see if I could get a photo of the bit of the deer you could see for illustrative purposes. If you are looking for a whole deer, you will likely not see one in such thick bush. An ankle, an ear, a nose, a bright eye, a tail going up (How the eye is attracted to movement!). That is what you see.

Unfortunately, as I moved the gun, he saw that movement, and giving me a very loud 'Hello' or 'Goodbye' he was off. I could have knocked him over with a snap shot chancing that the bullet would not be deflected by such whippy undergrowth, but that is certainly the way to produce a wounded deer such as the skeleton I had found before. He would be there (and bigger) another day. Mostly, for me, deer hunting is an excuse to be wandering around in our wonderful bush. I certainly don't need the meat - I have a flock of sheep, and I prefer lamb anyway.

I walked back down to the river. I was probably less than 200 yards from it. The deer in this place are not retreating very far at night from their favourite feeding grounds, but they are having to travel more and more each night for a feed. Along the river the going is flatter and it is generally much clearer. Most places you would get a shot up to 100 yards. Ideal country for hammock hunting really: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hammock-hunting-till-dark/ You could wander along the river flats until just before dark, noting spots where there are two suitable trees (or a flat enough spot for your tent) and plenty of firewood (and access to the river for water for your billy). Or, if you were hunting it regularly, you could mark a route along the river back to your pre-chosen camping spots with these sweet little thumbtack reflectors which would allow you to find your way easily with your head torch in the total darkness: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hunting-thumbtack-reflectors/

I have all these fences to build at home, so I headed home. Unfortunately, on my way, I saw the butchered carcass of a deer not ten foot off  the main road, a road which hundreds of tourist vehicles traveled each day. Obviously shot in the lights! So completely unnecessary. The country is crawling with deer. But how many photos have you seen of guys with whole deer carcasses on the back of their trucks in hunting magazines? How far do you think they could have carried a whole sambar? Of course I was disgusted, and of course I moved it  further back into the bush. But you see this sort of thing too often. You have to think what folks who aren't hunters will think. 'Expletive deleted Hunters!' is what. And right after that that 'hunting' should be banned! Despite the fact that then there would be a plague of deer, and tens of thousands of them would starve, and the bush be wholly devastated by their presence. We have to eliminate the rogue element.

As hunters we need to be much more careful about the ethics of what we do, or we will lose our sport. People do not need to see hunters wearing lots of camo, carrying great big guns. You can wear much more suitable wool clothing as I do, which will attract no attention. You can carry a take down gun which is in your pack when you leave and arrive at your car so that people will not be the least alarmed. Any bits of deer you bring back can be discreetly inside your pack. And you can give the deer a chance by not using telescopic sights or shooting deer which cannot see you. Your quarry ought to be able to use the senses nature provided it with to avoid being killed. You have all the unfair advantage you need by being able to use a gun instead of a spear or knife. You need to use just your own senses and knowledge (plus hard work) to harvest the deer you take. You should not be relying on any electronic aids such as deer finders, radios or trail cameras. Just your eyes and ears, especially your nose - and your strong legs and back - which I wish mine were at the moment! Still I have had nearly seventy quite good years, and I imagine the neurologist will be able to tweak my back a bit so I can have a few more years wandering around the bush. I must ring him this morning.

27/06/2017: Small is Beautiful: Tiny Containers: The search for small receptacles to stow various necessities is ongoing. My friend Meg loaned me these lovely aluminium ‘tins’ to evaluate. She uses them for some of her tiny art works such as her fabulous ear-rings & etc. The smallest one here is perhaps a 10 ml model (and weighs less than 2 grams). There is a 5 ml model which no doubt weighs even less, probably not much more than 1 gram. Either of these would be very good for small quantities of cream such as heel balm, hand cream, sunblock, etc – or for fish hooks, swivels, sinkers, etc. You can find them for sale on eBay if you do a search such as ‘5 ml cosmetic containers’ priced from probably about 50 cents each.

I usually carry about four similar small Coghlans plastic containers which weigh 6 grams each, so I have a saving of 8 grams (or half an ounce) in switching to these ones. Every little bit helps.

The three pictured Sizes are: 1. 3.7 wide x 1.6 = 17 ml, 2. 5 x 1.8 = 35ml, 3. 7.1 x3.65 = 150 ml. They weigh 2, 5 and 13 grams respectively. Various sizes are available apart from those shown above: 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 40 50, 100, 150, 250 etc. There may even be one big enough to use as a cook pot!

Of course they look better with Meg’s hand-made ear-rings in them:

I have tried using drinking straws as containers (as here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/single-use-antibiotic-packs/ & http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-further-use-for-drinking-straws/ - an even better use!) but have not found them very satisfactory, especially if you need to reseal them. They probably do suit for one-offs such as single doses of iodine.

‘Micro dropper bottles’ such as eye drops come in are handy for all sorts of things – a small quantity of ‘wilderness wash’ type soap for example. You will find plenty available for sale from about 3 ml up to say 20 ml if you search. They weigh from about 3 grams.

One of these vials is ideal for your sewing needle. You can wind some thread around them. They weigh about 2 grams. I am still searching for lighter - meanwhile my needle lives in my fishing hand line bottle.

https://www.survivalresources.com/3-mini-plastic-vials.html?category_id=133 They have many other useful containers – as well as other neat stuff!

If you wear glasses (as I do), you could slip a needle into your eyeglass repair kit: https://www.survivalresources.com/eyeglass-repair-kit.html?category_id=139

PS: These are the best needles: https://www.survivalresources.com/eyeglass-repair-kit.html?category_id=139 And this is the most useful thread http://www.theultralighthiker.com/dyneema-braid/ (just last weekend I affected a repair on my daypack somewhere in the Gippsland forest with some).  If you wind some onto a small plastic (medicine) bottle you will have a handy ultralight (fly) fishing kit: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-ultralight-fisherman/ Of course you always need a blade too. It doesn’t get much better than this: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-ultra-sharp-knives-3-grams/

See Meg: For fancy ear-rings and other beaut stuff:  https://www.facebook.com/madebyemegbye/ & https://www.instagram.com/p/BVd48naHWex/

26/06/2017: Fire from a Can of Coke and a Chocolate Bar: This is just about my favourite fire starting tip: It is surprising the out of the way places you can find a humble aluminium can and beleive it or not, you can polish the bottom brightly enough that it will focus the sun’s rays hot enough to ignite combustible material. Full instructions here (and many other interesting things): http://www.wildwoodsurvival.com/survival/fire/cokeandchocolatebar/

22/06/2017: Adventures in Stoving: I really liked the title of this guy's website, apart from the interesting information it contains. Two selections: the world's smallest, lightest gas stove, and how to refill hiking gas canisters:

World’s Lightest Gas Stove – 25 grams: You can find this little guy available in a variety of places under different pseudonyms. I don't know whether they are all the same. it has had mixed reviews. Folks who haven't stressed it out too much seem satisfied it will do the job.

https://www.amazon.com/Ubens-Ultralight-Camping-Outdoor-Cooking/dp/B00NNMF70U

https://adventuresinstoving.blogspot.com.au/2017/02/the-brs-3000t-worlds-lightest-stove.html

Refilling gas canisters: https://adventuresinstoving.blogspot.com.au/2017/03/the-g-works-r1-gas-saver-refilling.html

The gadget which will do this is probably illegal in Australia (what isn't?), but would probably work, and save you money. Howevr, LPG is highly explosive, and gas canister stoves have other drawbacks, so maybe proceed with caution:

For most trips the weight of teh emty gas canister, (and not knowing how much fuel it has left) precludes using them at all. Esbit is the most weight efficient system (and I have pointed out a way to simmer with it here: ). My personal choice is meths (aka alcohol stoves). If you are only boiling then Minibull's 'Elite' stove is impossible to beat. Mine weighs <7 grams (https://www.minibulldesign.com/productcart/pc/viewPrd.asp?idproduct=195&idcategory=2 ). Otherwise you can try the 'Supercat stove ( ). The advantage of meths is that you can calculate (before you leave exactly how much fuel you will need to cook all the things you are taking and only take that amount of fuel (I usually carry it in a small platypus bottle).

Minibull Elite Stove

 Supercat Stove

Also worth considering is a wood fuelled stove. I have both the Bushbuddy and the Suluk (as you will see here http://www.theultralighthiker.com/bushbuddy-stove/ and here http://www.theultralighthiker.com/suluk-stove/. I also have a Caldera Cone: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/cookset-woes/

You could try making my Egg-Ring Stove http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-egg-ring-ultralight-wood-burner-stove/as it only weighs 7 grams and makes a stable emergency stove in case you ever run out of fuel (or your jet blocks up if you are using a canister stove).

Bushbuddy Stove:

Caldera Cone:

Suluk Stove:

Egg Ring Stove:

22/06/2017: DIY Glasses. You don’t even need an eye test! http://optifocus.ecommroad.com/

 

21/06/2017: World's tallest tree: who would have believed that this 154 metre mountain ash felled at Healesville in 1872 was 40 metres taller than the largest Californian redwood ever recorded: http://baddevelopers.nfshost.com/Docs/talltrees.htm

20/06/2017: Weather Lore: An infallible weather forecast, if a change of weather is coming up:

'Wind then rain. No pain.

Rain then wind, stay in!'

 

In plain words this says that when rain comes first without wind then expect a long period of bad weather with high winds and heavy rain. But when wind comes first and is followed immediately by rain, then fine weather will follow at short notice.

Many people are trapped by bad weather in the bush every year, and if they but knew of this simple weather sign they could be prepared, and get out to a position of safety before really bad weather sets in.

Another infallible weather signal is the appearance of cumulus nimbus cloud, a foreteller of thunderstorms. While a greenish light in the sky preceding a thunderstorm is an almost certain sign of heavy hail. Halos (or circles) around the sun or moon also almost invariably mean rain is on its way.

Red sky at night, shepherd's delight.

Red sky in the morning, shepherd's warning.

A red sky - in the morning or evening, is a result of high pressure air in the atmosphere trapping particles of dust or soot. Air molecules scatter the shorter blue wavelengths of sunlight, but particles of dust, soot and other aerosols scatter the longer red wavelength of sunlight in a process called Rayleigh scattering. At sunrise and sunset, the sun is lower in the sky causing the sunlight to travel through more of the atmosphere so scattering more light.This effect is further enhanced when there are at least some high level clouds to reflect this light back to the ground.

When weather systems predominantly move from west to east. A red sky at night indicates that the high pressure air (and better weather) is westwards. In the morning the light is eastwards, and so a red sky then indicates the high pressure (and better weather) has already passed, and an area of low pressure is following behind.

Clouds And Their Reading

Cirrus: This is the "mare's tail" sky of the landsman, shows as long threads or wisps of cloud. This is the highest of all cloud formations, and is a sign of a "high" barometric pressure, which means fine weather.

Cirro Stratus, and Cirro Cumulus: In these clouds the former is long wispy, cloud, and in the latter rounded small cloud the typical "mackerel" sky. Both are indicators of a high barometric pressure, and fine weather.

Cumulus and Cumulus Nimbus: Cumulus is the high white piled-up masses of cloud seen in summer. When streaked with horizontal bands it is Cumulus Nimbus, or thunder cloud, a sign of coming storms, which may be of short duration, or may indicate a change in the weather generally.

Nimbus: This is the grey ragged cloud which uniformly covers the sky. It is the true rain cloud, and an indication of low barometric pressure and rainy weather.

Storm Scud: This is formless masses of very low cloud driven fast before the wind. It is a sign of very low barometric pressure, and continuing bad weather.

A light-weight radio (such as this: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/backcountry-radio/) might be a good way to keep up with the weather forecast as well as providing other entertainment. I have not been able to find a better than this one at 91 grams.

Tip: When heading up the bush it is particularly important to check the wind forecast. You need to know which way the prevailing wind is going to be coming from (You can't just rely on the observation that it 'always' comes from the West - no matter that this is true most of the time). A sudden change to0 the east will mean your tent is pitched the wrong way around. This is particularly important if the wind change is going to occur in the middle of the night in which case you need to pitch it so that it suits both wind directions - if possible. (it usually is!)

19/06/2017: Working on my next ultralight project. This time it is a bathtub goundsheet which doubles as a chair. In Tyvek this will weigh around 120 grams. I am hopeful I can duplicate it in a lighter material at around 80 grams. Add this to my poncho tent at 160 grams and you have a wonderful camping combo!

 

19/06/2017: Anderson’s Inlet: What a beautiful shallow bird-filled inlet where the splendid Tarwin River meets the Southern Ocean (Sth Gippsland Victoria). Having already walked from San Remo or Rye (Phillip Island) along the coast.you can now walk from Inverloch along the shoreline, cross Screw Creek (on a bridge) then continue on, sometimes on the shoreline, sometimes on the levee bank (depending on the tide). You may get your feet wet a couple of times as you cross small creeks (Pound Creek, Cheery Tree, etc – fresh preferably filtered water for your solitary camp) but you can walk out eventually at the bridge at Tarwin Lower. NB: The trip is better at low(ish) tide. Then you can walk through the wonderful mangroves!

Maher's Landing:

You will see more birds than you thought was possible anywhere in Victoria – and you will likely see a hog deer too, though you may not hunt it!. Lots of koalas amid the sugar gums close to shore. (These are so named because the gum is sweet and edible). Cross the bridge across the Tarwin, a quick walk along the river bank past the shops, supermarket, hotel etc and you are then on a path that becomes a cycle track after the jetty which you follow to Lees Rd, Venus Bay. Walk along Lees Rd a couple of kms to Fishermans Rd where there is a boat ramp and you can once again walk along the shore of the inlet, eventually walking right around Point Smythe and continuing on along the beach back to Venus Bay No1 Beach where you can come inland again for supplies at the local shops if you want – or you can continue on along the coast all the way to Darby River on Wilsons Promontory, days away. Just the beginning of the wonderful http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-great-gippsland-circuit/

Straw Necked Ibis hunt the shallows

There are more bait worms and bivalves in these mud flats than you can imagine!

The inlet is also a great fishing spot. Key species are Australian salmon and garfish.

Tarwin Lower Jetty:

Fishermans Rd Boat ramp Venus Bay:

See Also:

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/george-bass-coastal-walk/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/george-bass-coastal-walk-2/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-walk-on-the-wild-side/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/venus-bay-no-4-beach-gippsland-victoria/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/to-the-lighthouse/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/blond-bay-roseneath-reserve-hollands-landing/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/there-is-simply-nothing-like-an-old-port-walking-trail/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/sale-common/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/blond-bay-lake-tyers/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/beautiful-east-gippsland/

18/06/2017: Lighter, Brighter, Better: Three great new Maratac flashlights:

Anodized Aluminium Tactical Personal Flood TPF AAA Light by Maratac 160 lumens - US$40.95 (June 2017).

A 14-15 gram head torch which produces 160 lumens will be hard to beat!

'The Maratac™ AAA Stainless Steel flashlight was so popular, we had it made in a right angle varient. The same great light in a right angle form factor, featuring a 105 degree beam of projected light for increased field of use and a glow in the dark reflector. Checkout this AAA powerhouse now with many new upgrades:

The reflector glows after the light turns off so it's easy to find in the night.

Specifications:

  • Length: 2.65"
  • Diameter: .57"
  • Weight 14 Grams / .35 Ounces without battery ( Incredibly lightweight ) 
  • Stainless Steel Pocket Clip ( Easy to clip onto a hat, MOLLE gear or shirt pocket )
  • Glow In the Dark Built In reflector ( Easy to find in the dark )
  • LED Type: Cree G2 Emitter ( High Output ) with a life span up to 50,000 hours.
  • Flashlight body is made of Aircraft Grade Aluminum 
  • Stainless Steel ring around the dome lens for added durability
  • The dome lens has been treated with an AR (Anti-Reflective) coating.
  • Proprietary circuit design features reverse polarity protection and runs off of one AAA battery that provides 3 levels of brightness ( Low /Medium / High).

Using a single Duracell AAA battery we got the following results:

  • Low Mode, 5 lumen output for up to 60 Hours ( Diffused Light )
  • Medium Mode, 48 lumen output for up to 4 Hours
  • High Mode, 160 lumen output for up to 75 Minutes'

https://countycomm.com/collections/aaa-flashlights/products/anodized-aluminium-tactical-personal-flood-tpf-aaa-light-by-maratac

Inspection : AAAx2 Extreme - Tactical Light by Maratac 385 lumens - US$ 42.50 June 2917)

'The Maratac Inspection AAAx2 Extreme LED flashlight is made to be both tactical and practical. The light is straightforward to use and has friendly ergonomics. The Maratac AAAx2 Extreme features an advance Cree XP-G2(R5) LED for greater brightness and efficiency.

  •  Medium 45 Lumens / Low 5 lumens / High 385 lumens  mode brightness control (Simple 3 mode switching)
  • Operation:
    • Press and click the back thumb switch to turn on the light into Medium mode. Lightly press again for Low mode and once more for High. Press and click anytime to turn the light off.

SPECIFICATIONS:

  • 22.8 grams or .8 oz (without battery)
  • 5.0" O.A.L. x .58" inch width
  • Type 3 Military Grade Anodizing ( Matte Finish )
  • Utilizes 2 Standard AA Batteries ( 1.2-1.7 Volts each )
  • Standard Modes ( Pressing Tail Cap Through Modes )

·          

    • Medium ( 6 Hours )
    • Low ( 90 hours )
    • High ( 1.65 hours )'

https://countycomm.com/collections/aaa-flashlights/products/aaax2-extreme-glow-tactical-light-by-maratac-rev

Anodized Aluminum AAA Flashlight by Maratac™ Rev 4 now 145 lumens - US$41.50

'Worlds first production LED AL flashlight...the smallest, brightest, AAA flashlight? We think so!

Check out this AAA powerhouse.

After thousands of Request ( Medium / Low / High )

Specifications:

  • Premier Series
  • Glow in the dark Diffuser ( New for Rev 4 )
  • Glow in the Dark front o-ring around reflector ( New for Rev 4 )
  • Each light is hand finished.
  • Length: 2.6" ( Smaller than Rev 1 )
  • Diameter: .5"
  • Weight with battery is 37.3 grams ( 28.1 grams without battery )
  • LED Type: Cree XP-G2 S4 with a life span up to 50,000 hours. ( Newest & Brightest Emitter REV 4 )
  • with a life span up to 50,000 hours. ( Newest & Brightest Emitter )
  • The New Orange Peel Reflector is aluminum alloy.
  • Flashlight body is machined of Aircraft Grade Aluminum
  • The lens has been treated with an AR (anti-reflective) coating.
  • Its proprietary circuit design features reverse polarity protection and runs off of one AAA battery that provides
  • Now with 3 levels of brightness ( Medium / Low / High ).
  • Comes with clip & o-rings
  • Clip installed from factory to preserve finish
  • New Stronger Clip 

Using a single Duracell AAA battery we got the following results:

  • Medium mode, 40 lumens output for up to 7 hours
  • Low mode, 1.5 lumens output for up to 55 hours
  • High mode, 145 lumens output for up to 70 minutes
  • ( Rev 1 model was 80 Lumens and 48 minutes) ( Rev 2 model was 115 Lumens and 60 minutes)'

https://countycomm.com/collections/view-all-light-products/products/aluminium-anodized-aaa-flashlight-by-maratac-rev-3

Of course each of them can easily be made into a head torch with two o rings, a bit of cord and a micro cord lock:

See Also:

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/11-gram-rechargeable-head-torch/

15/06/2017: NZ Moose: Ken & Marg Tustin have been hunting these beasts in Fiordland's forests since the 1970s. The creatures are enormously elusive. Of course there are lots of browse, prints, droppings but so far they have managed to come up with a single cast antler, two positive DNA samples and a couple of (unfortunately) poor quality photos of them. Not much return for a lifetime of hard work, but an enormous, 'Well Done Ken & Marg!' for such a Herculean effort. They must have spent literally years of their lives living in these remote sodden forests!

For example, when I talked to them in Te Anau in April 2017, Ken had just come back from a six week stint in Herrick Creek, Wet Jacket Arm, Dusky Sound. Like me, Ken is nearly 70! No-one who has never ventured into these wet, cold, dense, dangerous forests (as I have - though much more briefly) has any idea of the effort involved. They could be literally swarming with moose yet it would be unlikely you would ever find one.

Here is a link to an interesting article about them, and the Tustin's quest: https://www.nzgeo.com/stories/shadow-theatre/?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=ShadowTheatre (You can read it for free once at least, but you cannot copy and paste any of it).

I suspect the moose are quite widespread throughout Fiordland National Park. I too have found moose sign in very widely separate areas, but they are present at very low rates per square kilometre (almost certainly well less than one) mainly due to the absence of really suitable feed. Nonetheless, it is a huge (largely unexplored, and unexplorable) area, so that there could still even be more than a thousand of them (unlikely), yet no-one would ever see them!

Books by Ken Tustin: 'A Wild Moose Chas'e & 'A Nearly Complete History of the Moose in New Zealand'. Films: 'A Wild Moose Chase and 'New Zealand's Fiordland Moose': https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9yyGCqWhbjI All highly recommended.

Other books about Fiordland Moose: Ken Tinsley 'Call of the Moose'. Max Curtis 'Around the River's Bend' - this last tells the story of the last successful moose hunt in NZ in the early 1950s. If you are going to become a NZ moose hunter, I suggest you devour all the above material!

This is Jim Mackintosh beside a female moose he shot at Herrick Creek in 1951. Other moose were shot and photographed in the area in 1952, the last certain sightings. Only about a dozen moose have ever been taken in NZ, three of them by the 'legendary' Eddie Herrick who spent nearly ten years of his life in toto hunting them!

PS:  The type of river flat forest Jim has shot this moose in is quite rare in Fiordland. There is some (for example) across Supper Cove from the hut, at the mouth of the Seaforth River and then along the river to the Henry Burn and here and there all the way up to the Kintail, but it was mostly all well eaten out by moose a long time ago. All the same you can see old broken branches about 8-9' up where they have been, and they may still use such patches for shelter in dreadful weather. I have stalked through some of it many times. Sometimes you even find a recent print. Considering that it rains on average over 25mm (1") per day in Fiordland, a print does not last long!

Mostly you would be looking for them in much worse terrain than this, up the steep valleys and along the incredibly precipitous forested sides. PS: Even in this sort of country you would have to be very watchful for the dangers of morasses! PPS: 'Normally' when moose hunting you are looking for their 'signature' branch breaking at that 8-9' height, but you should also make yourself aware of their 'browse line' at that height - where they have eaten practically every leaf they can eat of their favourite food plants. This is far more ubiquitous, but perhaps less obvious.

PPS: AS I say in the first link below, I believe I had a close encounter with a moose back in April 2017 in the upper Hauroko Burn, yet there was very little available moose browse in the Hauroko, (but plentiful old moose sign), whereas coming down the slope from Lake Roe to Loch Marie for example there were lots of 'moose plants', but much less moose sign. Moose are where you find them!

See also:

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/follow-your-nose/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/fiordland-moose/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/moose-hunting/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/eddie-herrick-moose-hunting-at-dusky-sound/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/fiordland-moose-2/

15/06/2017: Shoelace Reinvented: I went to this site looking for a new pair of shoes. The Men's Topo Terradventure has been recommended to me as a wide-fit ultralight shoe with superior grip and wear characteristics weighing 294 grams. I am keen to try out a pair, but I need to see whether they fit first. However I was struck by the offer on the site of a new, superior lacing system. Also note they sell Aloksak waterproof bags: https://www.injinjiperformanceshop.com.au/collections/topo-athletic-footwear

'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 half a size small, so we recommend sizing up half a size from your current running shoe fit. ~15mm of room around the outside of the toebox is a perfect fit, allowing your foot to splay naturally. A full size chart is available below.

 

 Technology/Specifications

  • // 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)

Slacklaces are flat elastic shoelaces that you truly have to try to believe. You will feel the difference with your very first step. Slacklaces are perfectly designed to eliminate any tight spots, banding, and pressure points that can improve circulation, comfort and performance . They are flat, wide, very light and have the perfect combination of stretch and stability. SLACKLACES are so simple to use and are great for triathletes, kids, elderly and even more useful for individuals with disabilities. SLACKLACES are designed with the ability to change with the constantly changing contours of your feet and they look as good as they feel! Slacklaces come in a variety of bright colors, and lengths to fit every shoe and every style! https://www.injinjiperformanceshop.com.au/collections/yankz/products/yankz-slacklace

Surelace System: A Better Fit that You Never Have to Tie Again Yankz! Sure Lace System is the most comfortable and innovative lacing system available.
The unique design is ideal for walking, running, hiking, gym class, biking and other athletic activities.

Expandable cords provide an unsurpassed level of fit and comfort. No more tying, retying, double knots or frazzled dirty laces. Slip on your shoe with Yankz!

Many important factors make the Yankz! Sure Lace distinct:

14/06/2017: Drop Bear: Found this poor little fellow dead in the paddock this morning. Looks to be a victim of the dread Chlamydia (They also call it, 'Wet Bum') which is so prevalent amongst them, though s/he had also been fighting and had a number of nasty scratches - unsurprising when you see the size of their claws. I had noticed it roaming from blue gum  to blue gum just the other day but had taken no notice as they are quite prevalent here, though not in epidemic proportions yet as they are in so many places, poor things. It is horrific to see them starving to death en masse, as they are/were eg at Cape Otway last time we were there in 2013.

Rear claw - quite a thumb:

Front claw - imagine being slashed by that. Those claws are over an inch (2.5cm) long!:

If you catch one that is in distress (eg after being hit by a car) it is quite difficult to handle them (you need a thick blanket or coat which you have no further use for!) as they will attach themselves firmly to your arm, those claws penetrating quite clear through your biceps etc, so that very soon you will be sorry you had picked it up. I saw a man in this state one day at Tarwin Lower one Sunday when we were out fox hunting along the Inverloch Rd - you could do that sort of thing then. We used even to hunt foxes out of the graves in the local cemetery (My hunting mate, the late Dick Davies was chairman of the Cemetery Trust). Some graves were quite prolific. I wondered whether richer people attracted a better class of fox! The local Leongatha vet had to euthenise the bear to get it off the poor chap it was attached to! Of course being such dreadful venal types as fox hunters (as we were) we thought the whole incident quite funny - except for the koala!

I do prefer seeing them alive, like this one, though he has pretty much eaten out his tree too, as you can see. Apparently once you start to see them, they are already too numerous for the good of the forest, like the little guy above. It was nearly thirty years before anyone first saw one after the First Fleet!

Curiously the foxes had not touched him. They must not taste anywhere near as good as sheep. A dead sheep would be scattered all over the paddock by the next day! This guy had been there about three days. He was a bit too far gone for me to try! I am not 'Bear' Grylls! No doubt so named because he usually eats them!

Interestingly enough, we used to skin all the foxes we shot, (we usually had a few dozen after a day's hunt - the proceeds paid for everyone's family's Xmas presents) and throw their skun corpses into the blackberry patches. Nothing ever ate a fox. I am certainly never going to start if even crows eschew them. They are vilely malodourous - as are koalas actually!

Apparently long ago there was a marsupial lion very much larger than these little guys. Thylacoleo Carnifex (http://www.megafauna.com.au/view/megafauna/thylacoleo-carnifex & http://www.news.com.au/technology/science/scratch-marks-in-a-wa-cave-show-the-drop-bear-thylacoleo-carnifex-could-climb-particularly-well/news-story/5f6af36d077aa792e55239c41a814ecd). Some cryptozoolgical types (or not so logical types) avow that these critters were arboreal (indeed that they still exist!) and that there is some danger of them dropping from trees and devouring you. I have spent a lot of time under trees and it has not happened to me yet. Neither is irt stopping me from heading 'up the bush' this week - though some much needed fencing is, Alas!

13/06/2017: A Walk on the Wild Side: You can set off from Rye or San Remo (Phillip Island, Gippsland Victoria - public transport available) and walk all the way along the beach to Screw Creek, Inverloch. This comprises the beginning of the magical http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-great-gippsland-circuit/ which will be a hiking holiday that takes a couple of months to complete exploring many of Victoria's scenic wonders.The section we were looking at yesterday afternoon after closing the shop (https://www.facebook.com/yinnargeneralstore/?ref=br_rs) was at Harmers Haven near Wonthaggi. Take a left hand turn near the end of the main street into Cameron Street and follow it past Harmer's Haven to a car-park and the beginning of this enchanting beach exploration walk Just a few steps along the path you come to this beautiful bridge across the lagoon:

Of course I was lucky enough to be accompanied by this beautiful lady (as I have been for 47 wonderful years) and her astonishing dog:

Here is that outstanding dog, Spot again. How he loves the beach!

A blue crane was busy fishing in the lagoon:

A pair of delightful sandpipers let us get very close to them:

As did this red-billed shearwater:

Even on a holiday weekend the deserted beach stretched on and on towards Cape Paterson (shop/s, hotel, etc) and Inverloch (even more amenities)

Looking back into the sunset towards Kilcunda:

Della managed to take an even better photograph:

And again:

So many enchanting skerries:

And other beauties bathed in the golden light of dusk:

And here is another beauty - as my mother used to say, 'A frog's pretty in a cat's eye'!

Twilight combs the skerries:

 

The last blush of day to the east:

After Screw Creek you need to get across or around Andersons Inlet (I am working on that - I hunted foxes ) whence you can walk all the way along Venus Bay Beach to Cape Liptrap. It is possible to climb around the lighthouse and descend again on the other side whence you can walk along to Bear Gully (a truly magical camping spot), Walkerville South, Walkerville, Sandy Point, Yanakie, Wilsons Prom...and so on and on - to Eden, Mt Kosciusko, then back along the Alps to Lilydale!

12/06/2017: Follow Your Nose: I have failed to follow my own advice on this one more than once to my regret as you can read in my account of my recent Dusky walk below. Trust your nose, Somewhere upwind possibly just in sight is something important you need to pay attention to. For example, you may wonder how ancient mariners unerringly managed to find remote islands when a failure to do so might have meant all would perish. At sea there is little scent. The great variety of scents comes instead from land animals and flowering plants whose varied odours drift on the wind detectable many kilometres downwind. Our mariners, knowing from their pennants the direction of the wind, and using their nose could tack back and forth heading infallibly for the source of the endless wonder that assailed their noses.

Of course at sea there are other clues to indicate the direction of the land. The wind and tides drive floating objects outwards in a pre-determined direction which you can follow back. Leaves, grass, flowers, spiders etc are a giveaway. The story of Noah and his dove is a charming metaphor (and of course it is unlikely a dove would bring back a twig unless it was nesting - but pigeons and doves do, so who knows?), but clearly the presence of a floating twig (or one in a bird's maw) certainly does indicate the proximity of land. Again, clouds build up against islands. The Maori did not call NZ 'The Land of the Long White Cloud' for no reason. Islands also disturb the movement of waves and currents. This disturbance can be detected by the observant mariner.

Similarly, in the desert there are few scents - again because of the scarcity of life. Where there is life in profusion is near water sources in such arid wildernesses. The scents from all the life around such oases wafts on the wind and can be detected 10, 20 kilometres away. It is how desert dwellers found them in the first place.

If you are out hunting and you smell an unusual odour (eg your quarry) don't ignore it. Investigate. And get to know the peculiar scents of the animals you hunt. Knowing the musky stench of a stag in rut is a valuable piece of information. Your nose can lead you to many other food sources. The scent of honey is unmistakable. A wild bees' hive is a treasure if you know how to safely rob it. If you do not the scent of the honey (or nectar) in bottle brushes can lead you to a sweet treat particularly in the morning. Ripe fruit, such as lily-pilies wafts out a delectable fragrance that should earn you a feast in some cool valley.

On our afternoon walks around Yinnar and Jeeralang, I am forever saying to Della, 'Smell that fox, wallaby, deer, pig', etc. It has taken her a while to learn to pay attention to her nose. She grew up in the city, and hasn't been a hunter all her life like me, but she is now noticing those most pungent odours at least. Pig and fox scent are very strong. We have seen four sambar deer on our afternoon walks just in the last week. The pig sign is becoming very prevalent. Another season of breeding and I fear they will be invading the local backyards and stealing babies from their prams!

Note: 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 above) 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 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). 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), and carried on. Since then, I have bothered to check what a moose smells like. You guessed it. 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 weeks of food, so that I could have spent days hunting it! And I would have doubtless 'put it up' withing ten minutes! Despite the fact that one of the important reasons I go there is to see a moose. Despite the fact that I had photographed fresh moose barking just back there a little (See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/from-dawn-to-dusky/). Despite the fact there is a $100,000 reward for a photo of a NZ moose, I walked on! : Lesson: Trust your nose!

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/fiordland-moose/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/moose-hunting/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/eddie-herrick-moose-hunting-at-dusky-sound/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/fiordland-moose-2/

11/06/2017: Interesting DIY 3D Printing Project:

 

https://i.redd.it/zgnriuut23ny.gif

https://i.redd.it/zgnriuut23ny.gif

https://laughingsquid.com/3d-printed-open-closed-sign/

10/06/2017: Walking in a Straight Line: You have one leg slightly shorter than the other. Therefore if you are blindfolded you will walk in a circle. Clearly you need some other clue to stop yourself from doing this in the wild. There are a number of ‘tricks’ to learn. I have already mentioned how to use your observations of the ‘lie of the land’ to find your way: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-lie-of-the-land/.

I have mentioned before many times how you should train the tools you were born with (which you can count on having with you, hopefully in a working condition) whereas artificial aids (such as GPS, PLB and etc) can all too easily fail. Using the outstanding features of the landscape as a guide to your location is an obvious and necessary skill to develop.

I cannot tell you how many times I have been asked by a person with a GPS in their hand where they are (were), to which my reply has always been (simply looking around), ‘Isn’t it obvious?’

As I have mentioned before it is especially important every time you stop for a breather (at least every fifteen minutes let’s say) to spend that time looking behind you so as to memorise the prominent features of the landscape in your return direction.

Of course there are times when the prominent features of the landscape are not visible (or there simply aren’t many). This can happen in flatter terrain (even on plateaus, in heavily wooded areas, in fog or cloud, etc. Then you need to keep s a sequence of smaller features in mind in order to keep to a chosen route (eg I want to continue in a generally North-Easterly direction until I hit the ‘Divide’).

The most common method used to keep to a straight course is to note a particular tree in the correct direction of travel, and head towards this (Below, top left).

 

When it is reached a new tree is selected, and so on (above top right).

Although this will lead to a straight line between the trees sighted, it can also lead to a wrong course as shown in figure A

Having arrived at the first tree it is possible for the traveler to sight the next tree incorrectly and so gradually proceed to lose your correct direction.

You can avoid this error as shown in figure B. Moving from point 1 you sight tree 2 and head for it. However before reaching it you line up tree 3. Similarly you sight up tree 4 when you is part way between points 2 and 3, and in this way your line is always correct.

This method is good for open forest country, but does not work on featureless plains. There are two systems that have been common eg among the Aborigines for centuries.

In the first method, one person would always go ahead of the others, heading in the direction of travel indicated. No matter how featureless the country might appear to be, there would always be some small feature, perhaps just a particular clump of grass, beyond the leading person, and as soon as he appeared to be veering off course it would become obvious to those following and they would then signal him back to the correct line.

Many ‘primitive’ people (such as those from the eponymous ‘Canary’ Islands for example) had a ‘whistling language’ for use in such long distance communication. The Canary Islanders could communicate thus at a distance of several kilometers - at least from mountain top to mountain top! it is why the small birds of the same name are so called, not because of their song, but because they sounded like the islanders' whistling language. One useful feature of such a system of communication is that it does not scare the ‘game’ which is why it was used by so-called ‘primitive’ people who had to rely on the success of their hunt to live.

It is interesting is it not, that ever since the invention of farming (approx 9,000 years ago) the average human brain has been shrinking. The less intelligent can be feather-bedded by the food surplus, whereas in a hunting culture they would simply have failed to reproduce. As they would have starved to death!

The second method could be used by a lone traveler, and consisted of lighting two small fires which would give off a quantity of smoke for some time. The first would be lit at the camp site and you would set out in the required direction. After a short time, and before there was any chance of having altered direction, you would select a clearing and light another fire.

You could now proceed with confidence, knowing that as long as you kept the two smokes in line then you were going in a straight line. If you had a long way to travel you might light more fires as you went on, so that as the original smoke died down you would be able to continue with the directions maintained by the newer ones. Lots of early Australian explorers observed such lines of fires - then began to implement the strategy themselves.

You should also read:

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/finding-your-way/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/fire-on-the-snow/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/how-to-light-a-fire-in-the-wet/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/carry-a-knife/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/river-crossings/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/an-open-shelter/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/man-is-the-measure-of-all-things-pythagoras-some-handy-estimation-tricks/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/how-long-till-sundown/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/how-to-avoid-being-wet-cold-while-camping/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/new-ultralight-survival-shelter/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/survival-still/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/collecting-water/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/dehydrated-water/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-twelve-woodlores-ray-mears/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/if-you-could-only-carry-two-things-in-the-bush-what-would-they-be/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/inflatable-insulated-clothing/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-importance-of-a-roof/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/pitching-the-poncho-warning-this-may-save-your-life/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/fun-with-sticky-tape-mylar-poncho/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/worlds-lightest-tarp-clip/

09/06/2017: Ultralight Poncho Tent: This is going to be a 160 gram poncho which is also an excellent single person tent. It doesn't get much better than that. This is my second prototype of this wonderful piece of equipment. I have altered the dimensions slightly and changed the taper so it is long enough to lie out in without touching the sides. It is (usually) open at the front so you can enjoy a warming fire. There is plenty enough overhang so you are going to stay dry in a heavy downpour. Its dimensions are approximately 5' x 8'.

All the sides are catenary cut so it pitches tight and easily, and stands up to any weather. I have added a hood which centres the single pole (which can be a bush stick) and which acts as verandah and vent. There will be a small reinforcing patch inside it which will double as a pocket to take the two guys when not in use. There will be a couple of breast pockets to take the tent stake bag (11 stakes will make it well-nigh impregnable) and a couple of emergency mylar space blankets and a mini bic lighter in case you have no other preparation for your night outdoors.

My prototype is made of Tyvek as usual. I will be replacing the zips with waterproof ones as soon as they arrive. I will be adding another (optional) triangle of silnylon material which will zip in to completely close the front in the event of extreme wet weather - adding about 50 grams to the weight. I will be creating a groundsheet with a bathtub floor which can be modified with an inflatable mat and four short sticks to make a comfy chair from which you can watch your campfire. At a pinch you could shelter two people so there is ample room for one plus all gear and a dog (as you can see)!

The final model may be a couple more weeks in the making, likewise the chair. When I have completed these two projects I will be offering to sell patterns. There will also be an alternative model which has an extra approx 3' x 8' added which will add 75 grams. Though it can still be worn as a poncho it will be big enough for a shelter for two. Its dimensions are approximately 8' x 8'. It can also double as a hammock tarp.

This poncho will also form the floor of either/both of my final models of my Deer Hunter's tent and my 'Honey I Shrank' Tent or for the double model of this tent. If a couple carry one of these each they will have two raincoats plus a tent and a groundsheet for a total weight of 472 grams. Also coming soon!

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-deer-hunters-tent/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-last-of-the-mountain-men/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/honey-i-shrank-the-tent/

298 grams in Tyvek, smaller than a shoe or box of tissues. The silnylon model will be about the size of a small bottle of coke.

It may be an ungainly looking poncho but it will keep you and your pack completely dry. Spot thinks it will keep him dry too if he stays close.

This was my first attempt at pitching it before i added the hood. I hastily put it up in the dark the night before. It rained and blew all night but it was taut and sound the following morning.

Side view.

You can see all the ridges stay taut.

Plenty of room to stretch out.

And room for a dog or two!

I will be making this out of 1 oz/yd2 silnylon with a 4,000mm head. It will weigh 160 grams plus 77 grams for the tent stakes, so a total tent and raincoat combo of 237 grams. If I made it out of .35oz/yd2 cuben fibre and used 1 gram pegs for every second one, it would sneak in at 100 grams total weight! To my mind it would be too fragile then, but might interest some people. I will opt for the more durable model which (with the addition of a bit of Tenacious tape in case of emergencies should last me many years.

See also:

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hole-less-ponchoshelter/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/pitching-the-poncho-warning-this-may-save-your-life/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-chairgrounsheet/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/gear-repairs-tape/

05/06/2017: Tier Gear Catenary Cut Hex Tarp: Thanks to Aussie Outfitter and hammock maker Tier Gear http://www.tiergear.com.au/ for allowing me to repost DIY instructions for this excellent tarp. You can purchase all the items you need to build it and the 'Netless Hammock' http://www.theultralighthiker.com/diy-netless-hammock/ from them at a very good price with excellent service and speedy delivery.  These instructions detail one way to make a light weight hex shaped tarp with catenary cut sides. It incorporates a ridge line which is sewn using polyester binding tape. The binding tape ridge line is strong, should not need seam sealing, and adds very little extra weight. If you cannot sew you can buy the tarp ready-made from them for a very reasonable A$160 (2017): http://www.tiergear.com.au/11/products/torrent-hammock-tarps


Length of ridgeline is 335cm
Weight is 324grams
Fabric used: Xenon Sil fabric - 7 metres needed
Hardware used: Split rings (4), and Silkworms (4).
Ridgeline binding: 25mm Polyester binding tape - approx 4 metres needed
Tie outs: 13mm grosgrain ribbon and Silkworms.
Thread used: Serafil 60 continuous filament polyester thread but most good quality outdoor threads will do the job.
Needle: Size 12

Step 1:
Lay out your fabric on a large flat surface, measure and cut two pieces 3460mm long.

Step 2:
On bottom long edge measure in 900mm at either end, and mark. Draw a line from these marks to the top corner. Repeat at both ends of each piece of fabric.

Step 3:
Now we are going to mark out the catenary cuts. On the lines you have just drawn, measure and mark the mid-point. Also do this on the bottom edge.

Step 4:
Using a set square measure from the mid-point up 100mm and draw a line. Repeat on all sides and bottom edge.

Step 5:
Now using a length of 6mm dowel (or some other equivalent), and some heavy weights to keep it in place position the dowel so that it intersects the two corners and the mid catenary cut mark, and draw a line along the dowel. Repeat on all sides

Step 6:
Cut out the catenary cuts.

Step 7:
Sew a rolled hem along 3 sides of each piece of fabric but not the ridgeline. Pin where needed. Double stitched is preferable so a sew another line of stitching on the outer edge of the hem. Due to the cat cuts you will find the material will want to twist in places but work carefully and manipulate it as best you can. It won't be perfect.

The width of my rolled hem is about 12-13mm which is needed due to my tie out configuration. If you choose to go with a different tie out configuration you may use a narrower hem width.

Step 8:
Now take both pieces and pin the ridgeline together, making sure that the ends line up, and the sewn rolled hem is oriented to the inside.

Step 9:
Sew one line of stitching about 6mm from the edge along the length of the ridgeline. This is used just to hold the fabric prior to binding the ridgeline.

Step 10:
Using the polyester binding tape bind the ridgeline either by hand folding or utilising a binding attachment suited to your machine. Make sure you leave about 100mm at either end, though I recommend cutting it longer than needed now and you can trim to size later. You can also double stitch the ridgeline if you choose - which is what I did.

Step 11:
Fold the ends of the binding tape over, and stitch back onto itself on the ridgeline, leaving a loop of about 25-30mm at each end. I use a basic straight stitch bar tack with a z pattern which I have found to be more than strong enough. I measure and mark 10mm lines for the bar tacks, and sew a few times back and forth with a shorter stitch length than used on the tarp hem.

Also make sure you melt the ends of the binding tape to prevent it from fraying later on.

I use 2 split rings but you can use whichever hardware you like, or none at all.

Step 12:
For the tie outs I chose a minimal lightweight design which incorporates no extra reinforcing as the stitching is kept within the hemmed edge of the tarp material only.
Firstly I folded back a small section of the corner and stitched it down with a basting stitch - just to hold it in place.

Step 13:
I then used 13mm grosgrain which was cut to a length of 120mm, and sewn to each corner using the same bar tack z stitch pattern as used on the ridgeline with 10mm spacing. These were sewn on the inside of the tarp, and a loop left in the middle which your hardware is attached to or you can tie your guylines straight to this loop. Repeat on all 4 corners.

In this instance I used Silkworm hardware which are extremely lightweight but again you can use what ever you choose or nothing at all.

Step 14:
Once both sides of the tie out are sewn, its important to lay down a reinforcing stitch along edge of the corner. Flip the material over, with the grosgrain situated on the bottom and make sure you capture the grosgrain on the under side. A few stitches back and forth should do it. Repeat on all 4 corners and you are done.

Step 15:
Go hang it and admire your handy work.

04/06/2017: Continuous Loop: Another Great Hammock Idea: This is just a much better way of attaching your hammock to your suspension system. it really protects the material of the hammock so it will last much, much longer: http://www.tiergear.com.au/11/products/continuous-loop As you can see it goes through the seam you sewed in the end of your hammock, then loops back through itself so imposing much less stress on the hammock material.

The hook you see in the photo is a 3.4 gram 'whoopie hook' another genius idea for simplified hammock set-up. Also available from Tier Gear: http://www.tiergear.com.au/11/products/whoopie-hooks

The continuous loop should be used in conjunction with the 'whoopie slings: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/whoopie-slings-what-a-great-idea/

See also: Titanium Dutch Hook for attaching your tarp ridgeline: http://www.tiergear.com.au/11/products/titanium-dutch-hook

03/06/2017: Whoopie Slings - Great Hammock Idea! Hummingbird Hammocks have one of the lightest suspension systems around (2.3 oz - 66 grams per hammock). The genius idea about them is the whoopie sling tension adjustment system. Here's a little video I took showing how they work. Setting up your hammock just perfectly is literally a breeze and the work of a minute: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/whoopie-slings-what-a-great-idea/

It is a little hard to see how they work, but basically the end of the rope is passed up through the hollow centre of itself, forming a loop at one end) so that it can slide fairly freely through when there is no tension but as the tension increases the outside of the rope (tube) holds on harder and harder to the length that is passing through it. It is an ingenious idea (probably familiar to riggers), and would also work well for tent guys. In the pictured example there is a handy knot at one end to hold on to whilst pulling the end through and so tightening up the 'hang' of the hammock. These would work with any kind of hammock, and can be bought separately from them (see below)

Tier gear also a make an adjustable centre line (using the whoopie sling principle) which helps your hammock to hang flat. They certainly do that, and only add 6 grams to the weight of your set up Well worth it as it also gives you somewhere to hang a few things. You can make a small silnylon bag (like a miniature saddle bag) to hang from the centre line so that you can easily reach things like your glasses or head torch in the middle of the night.

I usually add a gear hook at each end of my hammock(s) so I can attach things out of the weather at the ends of my hammock.This only adds a couple of grams too.

Available here:

https://hummingbirdhammocks.com/tree-straps/

http://www.tiergear.com.au/11/products/adjustable-hammock-ridgeline

see Also:

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-hummingbird-in-the-hand/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/australian-outfitter/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/make-your-own-tarp-or-hammock/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/diy-netless-hammock/

02/06/2017: The Lie of the Land:

If you want to move around in the bush with confidence without getting lost (and without artificial aids (except for noting the general northerly direction from the sun (or its shadow - eg on your thumbnail: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/finding-your-way/) You should always take note of the 'fall' of the country. The fall is the slope of the country; if you follows this slope, however slight, you will come to a watercourse in time, even if it is only a small dry gully. This in turn will lead down, getting larger as it is joined by other gullies and creeks until it reaches the river, and the fall of the land will continue until the sea is reached.

So as you move about you always have this fall as a reference point in the back of you mind. You might say you are on the 'southern fall of Rocky Creek' or the 'west fall of Little Sandy'. Starting from a known point you will move about quite freely,confident that all the little gullies and creeks that you may cross lead back to the river system that you are using as a reference.

Whichever way you move, whether up or down, or in any direction, you are always conscious of being in a sort of bowl, and at the very bottom of the bowl is the river.

If you move on to higher ground, when you reach the highest point you will look for a change in the fall of the land. The next slope will lead to a different creek, and this may join the earlier river that you are using as a point of reference, or it may run into a totally different river system. If you can deduce this information then you can move around this basin with the same confidence that you used to traverse the first.

Suppose you are travelling from A to C below

While you are moving around A you should be conscious of the fact that all the fall of the land is towards creek A, and know that this will eventually join the main river.

As you move up to the highest point, you should realise that as this is the highest point it must be the divide between area A and area B. Usually this is called simply the 'divide'. You should then try and establish a mental picture of the new system which you have to cross. Is the fall in the same general direction? If so then it may well be a creek system that will in turn join back to the main river. If not then what is its general direction?

Having established the general direction of the fall, the you will be able to proceed with confidence. In this case you will have noted that the general direction of the main creek is the same as the previous one, and will therefore assume that they are both tributaries of the same river.

As you proceed you will also be taking into account the fact that the small gullies feeding into the main creek do so at an angle to that creek, and you will also use this to help you keep your directions. Because you have formed a mental picture of the creek system A and have related this to the new creek system B, you can now move across this new creek system with confidence, secure in the knowledge that as long as you continue to keep the fall of the land to your right side, then you will be travelling in the correct general direction.

In time you begins to climb, and once more reaches a new divide. Before moving on you establishe that in this case the new creek system is running at an angle to the previous one, and in order to keep to the correct course you must travel in the same direction as the small tributaries of this creek. In this way yoou will arrive at the general position of your objective.

Usually you only attempt to travel in such a straight line if the country is gently undulating. If you encounters steep gullies and deep creeks you would simply follow the divide itself, following the course indicated by the heavy dotted line. You would still locate yourself mentally by comparing the direction of the creek A with creek B, and in turn their relation to creek C, but will have the added advantage of being able to keep two creek systems in sight all the time, thus allowing greater precision in your pathfinding.

Notice how the early explorers used this system to move with confidence over unknown territory. Kennedy for instance made constant reference to the ‘Divide’ when he explored Cape York. He knew that if the rivers that he crossed were flowing to the East then he was not very far from the coast, but if they flowed to the West then the Divide must be on his right side. Similarly Mitchell crossed all the westward flowing rivers on huis ay to Victoria. It was only when the rivers began to flow away to the South or east that he knew that he had crossed the Divide. By observing the lie of the land (and his compass) he was then able to make hs way back again

NB: So that your return jouney will be easy and you will not ‘get bushed’ you should fall into the habit of taking a brief spell every few minutes and turn and face your rstarting point while you ‘catch your breath’ observing carefull what the country looks like from that direction and particularly how your route proceeded in comparison to the lie of the land. This way you will easily be able to make your way back. This is even the case if you do not return by the same route, but usually walk a circuit (as I normally do when hunting in order to cover the most country). If you have looked back and noted where your starting point was and how you got where you are you should have no difficulty returning to your starting point even by a different route. Usually following the ridges (or the divides) is the easiest route.

See Also:

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/finding-your-way/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/fire-on-the-snow/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/how-to-light-a-fire-in-the-wet/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/carry-a-knife/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/new-ultralight-survival-shelter/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/survival-still/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/collecting-water/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-twelve-woodlores-ray-mears/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/if-you-could-only-carry-two-things-in-the-bush-what-would-they-be/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/inflatable-insulated-clothing/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-importance-of-a-roof/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/pitching-the-poncho-warning-this-may-save-your-life/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/fun-with-sticky-tape-mylar-poncho/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/worlds-lightest-tarp-clip/

02/06/2017: Astonishing light show: http://www.thisiscolossal.com/2017/05/light-barrier-kimchi-and-chips/

31/05/2017: Things that keep you from hiking, hunting…

I am really keen to return to my beloved Gippsland mountains for some hiking, fishing, hunting but I still have so many jobs to do around the farm. We have been 'fixing' two dams damaged by last year's floods (hopefully they will hold now); we have a new boundary fence with two neighbours to construct in a terribly difficult situation; we have had sheep to sell and transport; we have hundreds more trees to plant; sometimes we have a bit of baby-sitting to do, and we have done a 'Spot' of burning off (just like this: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/repurposing-camping-gear/) as you can see. Life is such a serious business! Must stock that dam behind me with some fish at least!

30/05/2017: A Wild River Stag: I know lots of you have seen this photo before as I have used it as a signature image for some time. Unsurprisingly a number have asked, 'There must be a story behind that stag, Steve. Tell us about it'. Well, here goes...You can no doubt tell by how much I have aged that it was a number of years ago. I was working my way up an overgrown, neglected river in East Gippsland making a trail, opening up some country that had pretty much closed over with regrowth and blackberries. (No, I am not going to tell you which one - go find your own river!)

I live two hours from the city, yet I had had over four hours of comfortable driving in the old Land Rover Defender and then a couple more of rough 4WD scrambling to arrive at the end of the track where a relatively popular vehicle hunter's camp was to be found. There would be no point in hunting anywhere within half a day's walk of it if I wanted to see undisturbed deer. There was no-one there - one of the advantages of being a shift worker, farmer or retired is that you can hunt during the week when pretty much no-one else is about. It takes the deer a couple of days to settle down after they have been quite stirred up by the weekend warriors - even longer now that so many are wearing the dreadful camo clothing which is so impractical, unnecessary, even dangerous unless it is blaze orange, which looks just as silly though.

Other folk had pretty much pushed and broken a path up along the river through the predominantly black wattle regrowth to the intersection with a small river flowing in on the true right bank where most had turned off. I was enlarging this with my machete in case I wanted to bring my wife with me on a future expedition as she is partially sighted, so needing a pretty clear path to follow. I had this small river to cross on the first day and a number of side gullies. The little river looked promising, and was clearly where most people go to hunt, as their paths led that way - but I was heading up the main one.

This is what the side river looked like a little further up after you had cleared the thicker stuff. Worth some exploration on another occasion perhaps, except that was where most folk were going. The lie of the land tells me there are some good flats up there somewhere, mostly where those big side gullies you can see come in. It is much more gentle country than where I was going. I have always preferred the harder country because of the lack of company you can enjoy there. 'No company is better than bad company,' I always say. And there are so many good books still to read - which are so light now that the e-book has been invented! I now read them on my phone.

Those bluffs you can see mean you would have to cross and recross the river or climb deer paths over them. Of course, this is a very easy river to cross. (See:  http://www.theultralighthiker.com/river-crossings/) Still, a lesson is in order: Can you see where you should cross this river? No, you don't try boulder hopping eg top centre. Forget about having dry feet if you are hiking, fishing  or deer hunting. You can make a pair of ultralight camp shoes so you will have dry feet of a night (such as these: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/19-gram-dyneema-camp-shoes/); that is all you need. Or a pair of Crocs if you aren't handy.

Boulder hopping or log walking will just get you a nasty fall sometime far from help, perhaps a broken leg or fractured skull, or even death if you get swept away under a log jam. You should cross where the current is least (not necessarily where it is shallowest - do not worry about getting your thermometer wet; it will still work!), and where the bottom is not rock, but sand and gravel so you don't slip - so step between the two large boulders centre left and work your way across above the two small rocks centre. That is where the water is slowest and you can see soft bottom between the rocks. You should try to cross facing upriver or downriver to minimise being knocked off your feet by the current. I find upriver best.

A stout stick (or hiking poles) will provide you with a third or fourth leg to help with balance. Many people say you should hold the pole upstream, but I favour downstream. Always undo your chest and hip belt, no matter how small the crossing. It is a good habit which will one day save your life. If you are swept away with your pack cinched up, you are in dire trouble. If the current is clearly such that you will likely be swept off your feet, either don't cross at all or find a very long straight section where you can paddle across using your inflated sleeping mat as a kick board with your pack tied on top. You may have to walk quite a ways up or down a river to find such a spot. I have sometimes spent most of a day about finding just such a suitable crossing point in swollen rivers. And I have camped out for the better part of a week, waiting. So, don't you be impatient with your life! You may not get another! Certainly you would be lucky to get another half so good as the one we have!

After the crossing there were a number of flats and bluffy ridges to cross, an interesting anabranch with numerous wallows, one containing a large stag which fled noisily and precipitously, his klaxon on full volume. It was a fine warm day in late autumn and I was walking into the westering sun so that the sun winked endless reflections off the rippling water. I do love the echoic roar of fast white water. There were numerous rapids but nothing above Grade 2 and there was plenty of water for a future packrafting trip, which I have subsequently made. Delightful. I wish I had had my Klymit pack raft with me on this occasion: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/klymit-packraft/ (but...'If wishes were fishes...')

The autumn break had long since arrived, so there was feed aplenty in the bush, such that any game was like to be in good condition. The wombats and wallabies were fat enough you had nearly to kick them out of the way. The air was alive with the beat of bronze-wing pigeon's wings, wood swallows' curving flight, currawongs calling. Wrens and sitellas crept along every branch rattling the bark. The tree fern gullies rang with lyrebird song... Below, a honeyeater taking the sun:

And above, a wood swallow, such a lambent grey:

As you push along a river, you scatter the riverfolk before you. Time and again a blue crane croaks and rises awkwardly to claw his way pterodactyl-like upstream. Black and wood ducks scatter or loudly clap away around a bend. Every so often there is the soft dipping graceful flight of a blue jay, my favourite. And then I hear the whistle and click and I see the painted beauty of a bee-eater scything through the sky. Water dragons flop into the river; every so often a water rat glides off a wet bank otter-like. You can sometimes see the painted shards on the shingle where they have feasted on molluscs or small crustaceans.

This first trip here I only got about as far the first day as you could get in a half day if you were vehicle camping (way back there) and the track was already clear. I camped the night on the ground under my old home made 7' by 7' two ounce weight nylon tarp (below), as I was tired and there just weren't any suitable trees in the only suitable spot close to water. This is sometimes the case with hammock camping, so you should be flexible enough that you can camp on the ground. See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hammock-hunting-till-dark/. This tarp cost me $7 a metre to make many years ago, so it cost less than $30 intoto , and I have had about a thousand dollars use out of it!

A tarp of these dimensions is pretty much the minimum for shelter for one person. For two you need something slightly bigger, such as my 8' x 8' 'winged' 200 gram cuben tarp I have mentioned many times. You can sleep sideways in it under the overhang and stay quite dry unless the weather circles the compass, in which case you will have to swing it round too - but that just about never happens. You worry too much!. You can have a nice cheery fire out the front, like this. You can instead use it as a hammock tarp and it will still keep you quite dry. In silnylon it would weigh about 220 grams. In cuben even less. I am going to make up my poncho in this 7'x7' configuration soon, as it will be even handier if it is your raincoat too: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hole-less-ponchoshelter/. The waterproof zios now available are quite magical.

I cooked my meal on the Bushbuddy stove (shown): http://www.theultralighthiker.com/bushbuddy-stove/, some Chinese sausage with mash and Surprise peas. A fair meal, but I have better. (Try a search above for 'Food')

The cuben tarp with one 'wing' closed. You can see it again here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hammock-camping-double-bunking/

I can tell you are thinking I haven't got enough gear for a few night's camping in the bush when temperatures may fall to freezing. That (230 gram cuben fibre) pack looks just too small to contain a change of (warm) clothes, a raincoat, sleeping bag, food, etc. However, I can see that I even had enough space for a small quantity of Bacardi 151 rum in case the nights got just too cold! You take too much! By the time I was sitting down to tea in the tarp (as you see me) the temperature was already falling down to 5C or less, but I am still in my shirtsleeves. This is what having a warm open shelter with a fire out the front is all about! You really need one of those Big Agnes Cyclone chairs I have got (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/cyclone-chair/) and the Thermarest Neoair mat if you haven't already got one to be really comfy. I see from the photo that this was before they came up with the women's model (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/womens-are-great-in-bed/), or perhaps I took the one with the rectangular corners as it is more suitable for hammock camping. I have not bothered with a ground sheet as the ground was nice and dry after that warm sunny day. I had an emergency space blanket I could use ( 50 grams - as above) if it rained. If you want an idea of what I carry for a fair expedition, have a look at the list here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-gorilla-in-the-hand/

I had stopped at this spot where a tree-choked blackberry gully entered the river because the way ahead was closed by bluffs on each side of the river and a hugely dense blackberry thicket. There were good numbers of deer up  the side gully and a dozen or so came down just after dusk to serenade me as I cooked my supper. You could see their eyes winking like fireflies in the light of my head torch just outside the circle of the firelight. They usually vent their disapproval like busy traffic for five minutes or so, then move on about their own cervine business.

It looked too thick to hunt up the side gully though. Perhaps it opens up further up. On the map it is many kilometres long, and carries a lot of water in a wet season judging by the debris where it joins the river. This is sometimes the case. I still haven't checked it out. There are many such stream bends to peer around whose surprises I may never see. The far horizon retreats just as quickly as your footsteps advance. And time waits for no man.

In the morning I put off work long enough to snag a trout for my breakfast on a hand line (See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-ultralight-fisherman/) Alfoil grilled trout with muesli might not be everyone's view of ambrosia, but I felt they were pretty good. These East Gippsland rivers are alive with trout. You should always bring a line. Bait is easy: trout will eat anything. When I went to wash the dishes I noticed signs of an old hand's camp I had missed the night before in much the same spot from years' ago. The remains of a rusted hurricane lamp hung from a nail driven into a tree branch, and there was an old  handle-less frypan scattered amid the tussocks. I bet they had heard a tale or two in times gone by.

The next day I had nearly 200 metres of blackberry regrowth to hack a tunnel through almost straightaway. In places it was 12' high and thick as your wrist, so it was hard going., and as a result I did not get very far the second day. Not even a deer had penetrated this thicket. It was a narrow gorgy section both sides of the river at this point so it was clear no-one had penetrated further for some years either. Of course I was using this: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-worlds-greatest-machete/ You should get one(or two). Up to this point, the first day and a half's hacking had seemed pretty unpromising. Sure, there were deer about. I had several honk at me and a few others crash away into the bush. One had even ploughed across the swollen river, unseen because of the thick regrowth, but you have to be able to actually see them if you are going to take one home.

The bush is sprinkled with scenes of great beauty, yet it can be improved: here a bower bird has scoured the bush to find blue coloured objects (as they do). No other colour stands out quite so well in our forests. He has made a pretty spot for himself underneath the blackberry and dogwood fronds and amongst the wild marshmallow. You hope his efforts were rewarded with a doting mate!

I guess other people had expected that the thick stuff would go on forever and had given up on this particular valley which is why I had it pretty much to myself. I was beginning to think so too, I must confess but once clear of this horror patch of blackberries the river flats on both sides started to open up a bit. Sometimes you could see a hundred yards through the trees, plenty enough to encourage me further on. Also, the deer I was beginning to see were now much less spooky. Instead of honking and crashing off, I was at least getting to see them for a bit. After lunch (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/lunch-on-the-trail/) I watched a doe with twin poddies (very unusual) for a few minutes before she grazed off around the corner of a side gully.

If you are watching deer, or any other animal never look them in the eye. Indeed, when they look at you, lower your gaze, or even bend double as if grazing. If you continue to ignore them in this way, they will usually ignore you too so long as you don't move quickly. Just watch one of Attenborough's documentaries how slowly a tiger for example stalks his prey even though he is always in broad daylight. You can stalk right up to a black wallaby, for example like this without spooking them. I have often demonstrated this to disbelievers, usually concluding the demonstration by snatching the startled hopper up by his tail, something which I do not recommend with a full size kangaroo - or a sambar deer! I have tried - both!

I love to watch the does gliding with their young,  and the young gamboling like little lambs, running in circles, climbing and jumping from anthills, while the does move.ever.so.slowly - almost like wind-up deer, always with a front hoof poised quivering in the air, ready for a warning stomp telling the small flock: 'Fly. Danger! And, in the wink of an eye they all disappear into the hushed silence of the bush.

Kookaburras delight in warning you that deer are moving just ahead: 'Up this side gully. Quickly!' Their raucous cries echo off the ridges. Of course they have their dawn and evening chorus. That's not what I mean. How often have they alerted me to a big doe or stag just out of sight, but which I can then stalk. When I am chain-sawing firewood at home they will swoop between my face and the saw, their wings almost beating against my nose to snatch a grub or a wood roach my sawing has just revealed. Maybe they have feasted oft enough on venison, they are encouraging us onwards, 'Feed me' they call. Anyway, their daytime chorus ought not be ignored. I have followed their advice successfully many times.

As dusk swiftly approached the clearings on the other side of the river at this point were becoming a little more interesting, whereas I was walking along a narrow strip beside the river on mine, with just a thin string of spindly bushes along the river bank. I admit I was concentrating on the other side (though I had no intention of shooting something on the far side) as it seemed there was no cover to hide a deer on mine - only a bit of tussock and the low bushes. Yet suddenly this lovely stag stood right up from among the tussock, appearing as if from nowhere under the overhanging branches of a large bedraggled gum. There he stood glowing with robust health in his glory, framed by the westering sun and the succulent native willow. There was no skillful stalk or triumph of trick shooting in this encounter. It was just a second's effort to throw my lever action up and send a bullet into his chest.

Somehow, no matter how many times you do this, you always expect that the loud report will drop them like a stone - and perhaps half the time this is so, but this guy just steamed off through the river like a locomotive. The water was shoulder high, yet he must have made a bow-wave three feet high as he clove the torrent. I drove another round into his chest as he crossed the river, but he showed no slackening. When he hit the other bank he turned 90 degrees and ran up it at a gallop, quickly disappearing from sight round a slight bend through the thick undergrowth. You always think, 'Damn. Another miss', but your confidence in your practiced skill tells you that both those rounds went soundly home, and this big guy has to be lying dead just around the corner very soon.

It doesn't pay to rush ahead to check though, as likely this will just spook him further if he has any puff left at all, making him just that much harder to find if he manages to run off further, maybe into an acre or two of thick man-ferns. If you give him a spell, he will stop to try and understand what all the noise was, but when he stops he will just lie down quietly and die. So, that's how I found him, just around the corner: he had crashed through that thick stuff behind him, and as soon as he was free and clear he paused an instant, crumpled and was gone. I always feel a terrible sense of loss when I kill anything. I will probably just stop someday when the pain of spoiled beauty becomes too great. But it was not this day!

And there he lies, still. In the photo the river doesn't look all that deep,or the current very great, but it is and it was. It was getting along at quite a fast walking pace here, so would have bowled me over like a straw man had I tried to cross, and swept me over rapids and what I would describe as 'an entertaining drop' if I was white water canoeing! And of course the water was icy. I had also seen nowhere I could have crossed safely either the previous day or this. And there was only a little over an hour of daylight left, as there usually is.

I headed upriver, hoping for a crossing, but I soon concluded I would have to camp and find a way across on the next day. I found a couple of suitable saplings to swing my hammock right next to a splendid sandy beach on the riverbank. Here it is in the morning light. Nothing better than this on the Riviera! You can probably figure I had a tranquil relaxed sleep wrapped in my hammock camped in such an idyllic place (and I did, except for troubled thoughts about having lost my trophy to the river - and time). As you can see, the weather was quite warm, and by now the stag had been lying out on the river shingle amid the native willows for 12 hours. I would need to find a safe way across the river very quickly if I was to recover anything.

If you have not tried hammock camping, you should. I was using a homemade hammock back then made of the same 2 oz stuff (coated ripstop nylon) as the tarp. It weighed around 350 grams including the dyneema suspension 'ropes'. I am currently trialing one of these: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-hummingbird-in-the-hand/ which weighs less than 150. They are truly splendid hammocks.

Here is a snap of me taking the sun in one on the shores of Dusky Sound Fiordland last month (April, 2017) while I watched some miniature (Hector's) dolphins playing and frolicking in the limpid waters of the fiord. If you have not yet been there, put it on your 'bucket list'. See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/from-dawn-to-dusky/ BTW: I have now realised that I just missed a moose in the Hauroko Burn on my second day out. A photo would have been rewarded by a $100,000 prize, but would have been worth far more in achievement and memory than any money. Whether I will live to have another such opportunity, who can tell? Never ignore your sense of smell! - see Dusky 2.

The moving light-play over the embers in the fire, the soft roar of the river, the mournful note of the mopoke and the moonlight creeping low over the frosty mountains are better than any entertainment on TV. What need is there of other company? You can safely give your heart to the mountains, knowing you will need no other friend. The awesome stillness of solitude is all the balm the troubled soul hearkens for. You can still fairly feel the warmth glowing out at you from the colas of my modest campfire. It was a colder night than my first and quickly fell to freezing, yet I was warm, sheltered in my hammock by the tarp, listening to some pleasant music and enjoying a quiet tipple of rum, some macadamias, beef jerky - and a hearty trail soup, such as this: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-coconut-fish-curry/

I always sleep on my back in the hammock (insulated by my Neoair sleeping mat and a couple of small pieces of closed cell foam for my elbows. I have a small pillow which I put under my knees, not under my head; this is necessary: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/exped-ultralight-pillow/. It is more comfortable than any bed. There are no lumps or sticks to poke at you, and no creepy-crawlies running over your face as sometimes happens on the ground. A gentle, rhythmic sway quickly eases you to sleep, and you wake free of aches and pains which hard ground sometimes brings. There is also no danger your bed will get inundated if it rains in torrents, and you don't need a flat spot. There is also no danger of being struck by lightning!

I was moving in the dawn after a breakfast just of muesli chased down with a cup of black coffee next morning. Not long afterwards I tripped over this heavy hunting stand in the long tussocks. It had clearly lain there these twenty years or more. What an incredible thing to have lugged so far through the wild bush! The placid bend where I had camped had it seems many times before been the camp of others - as it will doubtless be in future when I too am dust. In Fiordland, moose hunting I had tripped over a barbed wire fence deep in the near impenetrable jungle. There are few places others have not trod before, yet it is the feeling of solitude, of being the first, of being quite alone in the wilderness which leads us back again and again to push on and explore the wild places by ourselves.

There were plenty of other deer about in the dawn, as indeed there had been in the gathering dusk the night before. I had watched a pair of does with their young frolicking and grazing not 200 yards from where I had shot the stag, and not half an hour afterwards! This is quite normal in undisturbed country. I passed a much better stag busy in a wallow right out in the open on the river margin next morning, again something you frequently see in undisturbed habitat, but not so much elsewhere. I had pretty much walked right by him (no more than twenty metres away) before he deigned to abandon his joyful smelly excesses, let forth a desultory bugle at me and rush off into the whippy undergrowth. Soon I discovered a truly beautiful flat, and clearly an old route once 'properly' blazed. Look at that feed! Note also the coprosma have been stripped of berries, yet it is fruit time! A promising sign. Deer do love mast.

Many wild fruits are edible (some even palatable). Both prickly (shown here) and sweet coprosma are quite pleasant. Also lillypilly, pittosporum and wild cherry. (I doubt deer get many wild cherry as they usually browse it as high as they can reach - if you are ever in Fiordland 'moose hunting' as I am fond of doing, you will notice the browse line is nearly 3' higher. Those guys really are monsters!). Contrary to popular belief plants which ooze white sap are not universally poisonous (though the sap may be) . Figs are a case in point, though there are not many wild figs in Victoria, save in far East Gippsland. Similarly the belief that red fruits should not be eaten is completely wrong, as the majority of fruits are red (especially the edible ones!) The clear to yellowish sap especially of wattles is quite edible and nutritious. We used to often eat it as children. Pretty much all fish, crustaceans and molluscs found in Victoria are not only edible, but delicious. So too are pretty much any animal or insect you will find if you roll over a log or stone, though a little roasting improves their taste I find. The heart of tree ferns is pure carbohydrate and has kept many folks well filed for protracted periods in the bush. It is better baked. All the rushes and sedges, including cumbungi have edible tubers, also best baked. There is no need to go hungry if you happen to find yourself lost in the bush. Nor need you be wet or cold. I will do some posts about such matters soon. Meanwhile, it is always worth practicing such survival skills as you never know when you will need them, and it boosts your self-confidence - particularly if, like me you prefer to hunt alone.

These fruits are fine (providing you have correctly identified them), but if you are tempted to try an unfamiliar fruit, you should first split it and touch the damp flesh to your lip, then wait five minutes. If nothing untoward happens, then touch it to your tongue and wait again. Next chew it a couple of times, then spit it out. If nothing at all has happened it is almost certainly fine to eat, though some things can make you scour especially in large doses. Interestingly enough, we know a lot about the edibility of many Australian plants from the likes of Sir Joseph Banks who was always keen to try eating new things. Again, the colony nearly starved a number of times (particularly 1791), so lots of plants were tried perforce, sea purslane and pigface for example. Europeans rapidly discovered just about as many edible plants in a decade as the previous inhabitants had in a much longer time. The latter were masters though at extracting poisons from otherwise inedible things, like cycads. Don't even try.

As the morning wore on, the river continued deep and swift with nothing in the way of a single safe crossing. The flats on the other side were truly beautiful though. Like a manicured park sprinkled with ash and peppermint gums. They would make good hunting once I discovered the fords the deer used. Fords are one of the best spots to lie in wait for them actually (if you are an ambush predator, which I am not; I get bored waiting, ever eager for new sights and sounds, and not much worried whether I ever take another deer). You can use the westering sun as a kind of spotlight to get a clear shot at the deer as they tiptoe across. This way you can (legally) take them quite close to dark. You need to position yourself though so that your shot will impact a river bank upstream and not skate along the river perhaps endangering someone else kilometres away. And, ideally you need to have already established a campsite quite close by. At least there will be plenty of water for your billy. There is also plenty of fallen timber for your campfire opposite. You could camp there for a year without using it all up, by the looks. Notice the animal drinking spot, centre. That would be a great side gully beyond. I bet there are many adventures to be had there.

Look at this beautiful wallow I found. You can see how the stag has been using the trunks of the trees as his towel. They are well coated with malodourous mud. Here would be a good spot to search for a cast antler, or to wait for him to return as dusk or dawn. You should drag a branch through the bottom if you want to find one,as they are usually found rolled into it. If you find one it will give you a good indication of the size of the resident stag.

Finally I found just such a crossing: the water is slower and shallower here, but still waist deep. You can just make out a deer path on the opposite bank. The bracken flats opposite would make a sheltered 'nursery' area. It had taken nearly half a day to find a suitable crossing. I still needed a stout branch as a prop to prevent myself from being toppled over. I took another three hours to walk back to 'my' stag by which time I was long dry. Unfortunately he had now been lying there for a full twenty-four hours, all day in quite hot sun. His skin would 'slip' and I could not trust the meat would not have begun to spoil since he had not even been gutted. A sad waste really.

I deeply regretted my precipitate action in shooting him in the first place now. So often it is just much better to admire and wonder. I have done so many times since. Deer hunting is mostly an excuse for me to get out hiking and camping (sometimes into places you otherwise could not go, such as our 'National Parks' which are being saved for future generations, rather than ourselves).

And here he is, lying as he fell (with my gun tangled in his rack!) I know the river looks as if you might cross there, but I can assure you I would have been swept away - and there were some particularly nasty rapids downstream. You just can't take such a chance particularly when you are all alone in the wilderness. He was, as you can see, as fat as mud!

On another trip I found these (two) beautiful crossing points a further hour's walk up the river. If only they had been a bit closer to where the stag had fallen, I could have had his meat and cape in the cold water of the river overnight, and back to my car before mid-day the next day if I had hurried - or if I had had my pack raft with me. Life is replete with 'what-ifs'. You just can't let them trouble you. The dice falls as it falls. That is all. You should have 'no regrets', as Edith Piaf said so mellifluously. We are just passing quietly through life. We arrive with nothing, and leave with nothing. Hopefully, you accumulate a few special memories along the way, such as the photo below, taken by my lovely wife Della on my next trip.

And mine of her: There she is, taking her ease on the riverbank opposite me. While we were camping there, a platypus swam around and around this huge pool for half an hour i guess. Such an enchanting sight.

On an even later trip, the river came down in an awesome torrent, and did this whilst I was there. This was just around the corner from the photo above. I just had to wait it out. It pays to have a cache of food in a canoe drum (or similar) against such eventualities; anyway to have enough spare tucker. Tie it under a log well out of reach of any potential floodwaters, so the wombats and possums don't p[lay games with it! You can easily see you could be trapped by floodwaters for a week or more. Half the forest must have ended up at this spot. I know the roar and grinding of the river overnight and sounds like gunshots as vast logs snapped like kindling when this happened was ominous in the extreme

We have explored much further up the river since on a number of trips - and of course, now we can take the dogs. There are many splendors further up. We have gone five more days up. I know most folks find one day's walk away from their vehicle quite enough, mainly because they carry too much, but the further you go the more fascinating things you see. Always, the Victorian bush is a riot of wildflowers, even in winter when I most love to enjoy ot. That's why we have so many honeyeaters such that our State bird is one - I have even seen a little 'helmeted' guy here, though I never tell 'the powers that be' anything they don't need to know! On this occasion every gully was bedecked with snowy clematis, and there were any number of parti-coloured wild peas in bloom.

We have found a truly splendid flat on a magnificent sweeping bend. It must be close to 100 hectares (as square kilometre) where we love to camp. the fishing and swimming is even good in summer. It resembles one of those beauteous English parks, the deer have done such a fine job manicuring it. Further on there is a wonderful hidden valley which you would just about step across without even noticing, but a day's exploration up it will bring many delights: waterfalls, orchids, postcard-perfect clearings...Further on a second small river joins this one. It has a small plain a kilometre or so up which in the summer is a riot of everlasting daisies.

The best part is that when we want to head back to the car we can just blow up the packrafts and enjoy a delightful day or two (like Huck and Tom - or Ratty and Mole) just drifting and 'mucking about' on the river.

Of course this was not the end even of this trip. I was in no hurry to get back and had two days' walk in any case, so I took my ease for a couple or three of delightful days lying about in my hammock in the sun, fishing, nosing up a side gully or two... Just in general really enjoying our beautiful Australian bush - and my solitude!

Alas, this is pretty much all I managed to recover from the stag. This was also just about the only time I have left meat in the bush. I had forgotten to pack my 'embryo wire' or even a folding meat saw, so I had to take the antlers off one at a time (I could not even remove the skull cap whole). I only managed to do this by standing back a ways and putting a couple of shots into his skull so I could recover each antler with a shard of broken bone. Sometimes I am not so well organised either! Still, at least I have the antlers, arranged decoratively in a vase by Della as a reminder of a mountain adventure years ago. Hopefully, even at 68 there will yet be many more...

Unfortunately others have followed our trail, though most only travel one day upriver camping approximately where I crossed on this occasion, so that the deer thereabouts are much more skittish nowadays. Sometimes I venture a further five days upriver (as I said) where in winter there is never anyone about, and the deer are as common as rabbits!

27/05/2017: Hunting Thumbtack Reflectors: Thumbtack reflectors such as ‘Fire Tacks’ are a great way to mark any route you may need to travel after dark – eg after sitting up over a wallow or game trail for a sambar deer until the light fades and then wanting to get back safely and quickly to your camp. NB the Stealth ones visible only at night or in UV light. A search for ‘hunting relectors’ or ‘reflective thumbtacks’ will find you quite a range. They are usually only a few dollars for a pack of 25, so you can economically mark quite a long trail. Of course they have a million and one uses other than for hunting. See eg: https://www.firetacks.com/

At night they look like this. You shouldn't have any trouble following them!

26/05/2017: Happy Birthday Ultralight Hiker: My blog is two years old today. Many thanks to my daughter, Merrin for helping create and maintain it, and to my many readers and supporters for enjoying it. There are now 924 posts here, so plenty of things to enjoy! My post about canoeing the Seaforth River Fiordland is also two today, so I have moved it up the list so you could enjoy it again: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/dusky-track-canoeing-the-seaforth/

I also could not resist reposting two of my most popular photos, this wilderness river stag:

and this snap of us on Cox's Bight from our 2011 trans Tasmania hike:

26/05/2017: Dusky Track: Canoeing the Seaforth: Some folks are just downright suicidal, and sometimes I am one of them! In 2009 I had conceived a plan to be the first person (I think) to canoe the mighty remote Seaforth River in Fiordland NZ. I had a brand-new Alpacka ‘Fjord Explorer’ packraft (https://alpackarafts.com/product/fjord-explorer/) courtesy of Kevin Rudd’s bushfire compensation scheme following the 2010 fires here which left us trapped at home for weeks with fires burning all around us.

That year I walked in from Lake Hauroko to Loch Marie (3 days) with my raft and gear in my trusty Gossamer gear G4 pack: http://gossamergear.com/g4-ultralight-backpack-all-bundle.html. On the fourth day I canoed across the lake, then walked down to just past the Bishop Burn and spent the rest of the day canoeing the Seaforth. I had carefully checked out the river from Google Earth which misses some big rapids -Trust Me! I had also walked around that lower section of the Seaforth quite a lot of times so I thought it was pretty safe. Well, I knew there were a couple of quite deadly rapids, but I was indecently confident I would hear them coming up and could safely portage them. (Every man has a plan which will not work!)

Most of the river is deep and wide and consists of pebble races or Grade 1-2 rapids at most. Unfortunately, there are 2-3 rapids which come up on you pretty quickly, which it would be death to attempt, and which are quite difficult to portage. The worst was in the general vicinity of the old Supper Cove Hut. Suddenly on a left-hand bend, there it was: with perpendicular river banks both sides, but no other option but to grasp a tree root on the right bank and hang on for dear life! I did manage to climb 5 metres up that vertical bank pulling myself up by the tree root, then haul up my pack and the raft (both of which I had tied to a line) after me. There was one other nasty rapid below this - which I had never seen even though I had walked that section near the mouth of the Henry Burn (Moose Creek) extensively.

Once I was in the flat water below I thought I was home safe. By then it was getting pretty cold and daylight was fading. I had realised that there were oodles of sharks in the Fiord but I thought to avoid them by paddling the shallows on the margins of Supper Cove. I had forgotten the 2-3 kilometres of tidal deep river above the Fiord, which teemed with them! They were mighty curious too, repeatedly cruising underneath the raft, gently lifting it as they rubbed underneath. It was a little unnerving!

Steve must not have been on their menu that day! I had this experience about twenty times before I made Supper Cove where you can be sure I hugged its margins like a drunken sailor! However, as you can see I made it – much to the astonishment of the (few) onlookers, including my daughter Irralee, who had been anxiously awaiting me there for three days! The Seaforth River is a beautiful and exhilarating trip. I somewhat regret I might not paddle it again though!

I have been back for other looks though, as recently as a month ago. See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/from-dawn-to-dusky/ & ff.

Thousands of beautiful tarns on the way across from Lake Roe - Seaforth in the background

Thousands of beautiful tarns on the way across from Lake Roe - Seaforth in the background

A very steep descent to Loch Marie

A very steep descent to Loch Marie

First view of the Seaforth coming across from Lake Roe

First view of the Seaforth coming across from Lake Roe

Putting in to cross Loch Marie

Putting in to cross Loch Marie

Some beautiful serene stretches of river along the way

Some beautiful serene stretches of river along the way

Some awesome views

Some awesome views

One of those vertical banks I had to climb

One of those vertical banks I had to climb

Quite a few log jams along the way

Quite a few log jams along the way

Some beautiful views along the river

Some beautiful views along the river

One of those 'killer' rapids i avoided

One of those 'killer' rapids i avoided

Sunset over Supper Cove Hut

Sunset over Supper Cove Hut

My daughter Irralee waiting for me on the Boat Shed beach at Supper Cove

My daughter Irralee waiting for me on the Boat Shed beach at Supper Cove

Supper Cove Hut loomed a welcome sight after such a river journey

Supper Cove Hut loomed a welcome sight after such a river journey

Packraft and Big Agnes mattress/floor inside Supper Cove Hut

Packraft and Big Agnes mattress/floor inside Supper Cove Hut

Great fishing for Blue Cod at Supper Cove

Great fishing for Blue Cod at Supper Cove

See also:

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/dusky-track-canoeing-the-seaforth/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/dusky-track-adventures-1/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/eddie-herrick-moose-hunting-at-dusky-sound/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-friend-i-met-on-the-dusky-track-fiordland-nz/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/dusky-south-coast-tracks/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/dreaming-of-the-dusky-track/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-dusky/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/moose-hunting/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/fiordland-moose/

25/05/2017: How Long Till Sundown? Here is another neat trick. If you hold your hand out at arm's length, the width of your fingers approximates to 15 minutes. You can use this to judge how long it is till sundown (and remember you have approx half to  an hour of usable light after sundown). Using this you can judge whether you will likely make your destination, or whether you need to make camp sooner.

25/05/2017: I Love to Go A’Wandering: Hiking Songs: Songs to maintain your walking tempo, if your spirits begin to flag or when hiking with children.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/content/dam/Travel/leadAssets/32/16/salzburg5_3216560a-large.jpg

Since time immemorial people have walked (and marched) to the accompaniment of songs, and oft with fife and drum, so I when I took my infant grandson for a walk around to the weir the other day (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/invisible-worlds-the-weir/) and we needed to jolly him along a bit, we quickly ran through our rather short repertoire of readily remembered tunes.

When we got home I naturally thought I would try the internet for some more suggestions but Google drew (relatively) a blank on this one, no matter how I searched. Yet I am sure that when Alexander crossed the Hellespont or Caesar the Rubicon, or Napoleon marched on Marengo or Washington on Valley Forge (& etc) it seems vanishingly unlikely that the troops did not swing along with a rousing chorus on their lips – maybe their last words: ‘Once more into the valley of death…’ & so on.

The secret of (winning) infantry is to move large numbers of men (often along a narrow course) quickly and unexpectedly. The ‘Little Drummer Boy’ had several tempos in his repertoire: the slow march (often reserved today for ceremonial occasions – but more normally a resting beat), normal time and double time for example. As hikers we can add a few more to this list: skipping and polka for example, which might look a bit silly with a column of troops in full accoutrements!

Here are just a few which come to mind. You might use the first letter of the last word to 'trigger' the memory of which song to sing next. The first one is particularly evocative: it was sung by our brave First AIF as they went into battle at Gallipoli, Frommelles & etc.

A Long Way to Tipperary,

Be Kind to Your Web Footed Friends

Clip Clop My little Horse

Down by the Riverside

Five Hundred Miles

Found a Peanut

Frere Jacques

Grand Old Duke of York

Hey Let's Go

Hi Ho It’s Off to Work We Go

I Want to Go Home

If I Had A Hammer

If You're Happy And You Know It

Irene Goodnight

John Browns Body

Kum Ba Yah

Loch Lomond

Mares Eat oats and Does Eat Oats

My Grandfather's Clock

Old Man River

Pack up your Troubles

Popeye

The Ants Go Marching

The British Grenadiers,

The Happy Wanderer

There's a Hole in the Bottom of the Sea

What Shall We Do With the Drunken Sailor

When Johnny Comes marching Home Again

When the Saints Go Marching In

You are My Sunshine

See Also: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/man-is-the-measure-of-all-things-pythagoras-some-handy-estimation-tricks/

24/05/2017: Man is the Measure of All Things (Protagoras) Some handy estimation tricks.

 

https://c1.staticflickr.com/3/2798/4070224502_15fe75a2c6_b.jpg

This astonishing Pre-Socratic was a brilliant mind. I guess everyone knows his 'Theorem" about right angle triangles. The saying above might not be quite so well known (or his enjoiner, 'Eschew beans'! I think I know why!), but we can use some of the proportions of the human body and the a property of an Isosceles Triangle (ie one with two equal sides) to do some pretty handy estimations.

You hold a stick at arm's length as shown in the drawing on the left so that the top of the branch exactly aligns with the top of the object whose height you want to measure. You can do one of two things: drop the stick over as in the drawing on the right, or pace the distance between you and the object. The height of the tree will be exactly the same as the distance from you to the object (Isosceles triangle, you see) Or the point on the ground where the stick on the right indicates.

You have formed a little isosceles triangle with your eye, your arm and the stick This triangle projects forward to the larger isosceles triangle formed by your feet, the distance to the base of the tree and the height of the tree itself, so the height of the tree is always exactly the distance from you to the tree..

Here is an interesting proportion. The distance between your eyes is almost exactly 1/9th of the length of your arm to the tip of your thumb (as shown below). By alternatively closing one eye and then the other, and estimating how far the object aimed at with your thumb 'jumps' sideways, then multiplying that estimated distance by 9 (it might be easier to multiply by ten which is close enough really) you can get a pretty good estimate of the distance to that remote object (ie it will be distant roughly ten times the distance your thumb jumps!) Neat eh?

This can be useful if you are taking a long shot (eg at a deer) with a rest, or eg if the object is your destination and you wish to know how far away it is, or if you need to cross a river and you want to know how wide it is so that you can judge how far upstream you need to start swimming or paddling (on your Thermarest Neoair mat) to safely get across. Always cross at the deepest, slowest straightest spot. You will already have measured the speed of the current by throwing s floating twig in and timing it.

If you dropped the stick to the side as in the right hand drawing in the first illustration, you can use the approximate number of tree lengths to estimate how far your thumb has jumped. If you assume that a similar tree near you which you measured by pacing is the same height as the one on the far bank, you will have a very clear idea of the distance to the remote object in tree lengths. From then on, it’s only a matter of simple multiplication.

The featured image is Da Vinci's famous 'Vitruvian Man' where Da Vinci sets out his ideas of the ideal human proportion: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitruvian_Man

23/05/2017: Epirbs are not Taxi Hailers: Lots of people are misusing these tiny devices. I guess because they are (relatively) cheap, but really if you want to spend time in the wilds, spend some money to get a decent communication system eg either a satellite messenger or a satellite phone – or both.

 So many people are pressing the panic button because they have a sniffle or ran out of Oreos occasioning hugely expensive search and rescue operations for them that eventually governments are going to have to charge everyone for the thoughtlessness of the few. Mostly people just want a specific thing eg a helicopter pick-up from a specific point (which will be an extra for a search and rescue operation) but which is relatively inexpensive (say $1-2,000) and ought to come out of your own pocket. Often such a pick-up is non-urgent as well.

 Val from Hauroko Tours related to me an example from a few years back. He had dropped a group off at the Hauroko Hut to begin the Dusky Track (See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/from-dawn-to-dusky/). Later the very same day they hit their Epirb. Within an hour of starting out on the Dusky, they found the Hauroko Burn flooded. In my opinion they could have proceeded, but in any case it would likely have gone down by the next day (and they had a lovely dry hut to stay in whilst waiting it out).

 Any walk on the Dusky is likely to encounter flooding/ waiting etc. Such is wilderness experience. Also, Val would have been back in three days, so they only had to wait. Clearly they had food for 8-10 days if walking the Dusky. Instead they hit the Epirb occasioning an urgent and expensive search which in my opinion they should have been charged for! Such ‘Crying Wolf’ behaviour is likely to cause the authorities to become less interested in launching into such wasteful exercises. The public purse is not infinite.

PS: Over reliance on electronic knick-knacks is problematic at best. before folks venture into the wild, they ought first have properly equipped themselves with a functioning set of the equipment they were born with: brain, eyes, ears, hand feet, back etc. The first of these needs some training. I will be posting some ideas about this soon, but in the meantime you might review this http://finnsheep.com/HIKING.htm

20/05/2017: Ultralight Ultra-Sharp Knives: Ceramic knives are sharper than metal ones and their edge can last 10 times longer. They can also be lighter. I have been thinking that this ‘ceramic escape knife’ would fit well in an ultralight fishing kit such as this: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-ultralight-fisherman/ This little guy weighs only 3 grams, has a blade 1.25” (3.175cm) and is 1.75” long  x .4” wide (4.445 cm x 1.016 cm) It may be illegal to import or sell this product in Australia. There is a metal version which weighs a colossal 8 grams: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/dermasafe-ultralight-knives-and-saws/

 

 

Some options:

 

http://www.dudeiwantthat.com/outdoors/tools/ceramic-escape-knife.asp

http://www.dudeiwantthat.com/outdoors/tools/covert-non-dulling-razor-blade.asp

http://www.derma-safe.com/product/the-derma-safe-folding-utility-knife/

This guy has an enchanting range of ceramic knives: http://ceramicknife.org/

 

19/05/2017: Antarctic Flights from $1199: Well $1999 if you want a better view, but really not bad for the visual feast of a lifetime. I know it’s a lot of money to spend for a 12 hour flight where you end up right back in Melbourne where you began, but ‘you can’t take it with you’, and it is unlikely you will be trudging across the icy wastes in pursuit of Scott and Amundsen. Della has already put her hand up for a flight when I find that tiny pot of gold I buried in the backyard some time – perhaps sooner: http://www.antarcticaflights.com.au/ https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=70&v=TfprD5OVtPU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=5&v=9qS_ShexHd0

 

https://scontent.fmel2-1.fna.fbcdn.net/v/t31.0-8/12132519_10153351107787730_4235972578757294318_o.jpg?oh=8cf74a06036597b0062432a841c125ec&oe=59A2872D

 

18/05/2017: Wings and Water: My favourite airline operates out of Te Anau Fiordland, New Zealandhttp://www.wingsandwater.co.nz/ I have flown in to or back from Supper Cove a number of times, so I have a collection of snaps which will maybe whet your appetite to the visual delights in store. It is almost impossible to take really good photos through a plane’s windows (as I’m sure you know), but these will give you some idea of the magnificence of Fiordland from the air. Some of the beautiful views I have experienced from their plane over the years:

Their pilot, Kylie ready to take you on the flight of your life at the lake’s edge, Te Anau.

Here is their plane at beautiful Supper Cove, Dusky Sound. The DOC hut is just a few steps up the path behind the plane.

And here it is taking off at Supper Cove

View of the Fiord

How steep the edges of the fiords are - notice all the fuschia regrowth (light green): this is a favourite moose food.

View of supper Cove Hut from the air.

Me at Supper Cove.

Leaving Supper Cove - view down the fiord.

A little further down the fiord.

Loch Marie - hut in centre.

Wet Jacket Arm.

Lake Manapouri.

 

Tarns in one of the passes probably Pillans.

Just look at this patch of fuschia regrowth - how many moose could such feed support? And how hard would it be to ever see one?

Pass.

Probably Doubtful Sound.

These new slips will regrow with Fuschia. Moose can travel around these steep sides, but I doubt you or I can!

Look at this wonderful perched lake. So many beautiful secret spots in Fiordland where no man's foot has ever trod.

Fiord after fiord after fiord.

Those mountains are certainly steep.

Looking up the Seaforth River, Supper Cove.

Trampers Transport : Supper Cove - Dusky Track. Take the easy way to the Dusky Track at 9am daily. Fly from Te Anau to Supper Cove or return. They can also ferry stores to and from Supper Cove. Duration: 30 Minutes flight time approximately - $330.00 per person (2017).

They also do a range of wonderful ‘joy’ or scenic flights. There are numerous places they can take you into the Fiordland National Park. Fancy a bit of hunting or maybe you are joining a cruise somewhere in the fiords - let them take you there!

Here are just some of their destinations: Blanket Bay (Doubtful Sound), Bligh Sound, Breaksea Sound, Caswell Sound, Chalky Inlet, Charles Sound, Charles Sound – Helipad, Dagg Sound, Deep Cove, Doubtful Sound, Dusky Sound / Supper Cove, Dusky Sound / Cascade / Luncheon, Earshell Cove, George Sound, Glade House, Te Anau Downs to Glade House, Glasinoch River, Gorge Burn, Junction Burn Hut, Lake Alabaster, Lake Hakapoua, Lake Hankinson, Lake Hauroko, Lake McIvor, Lake McKerrow, Lake Manapouri, Lake Marchant, Lake Mavora, Lake Monowai, Lake Poteriteri, Lake Rakatu, Lake Wapiti, Lake Wilmot, Long Sound, Martins Bay, Milford Sound, Nancy Sound, Preservation Inlet, Stewart Island, Sutherland Sound,Te Anau Downs, West Arm, Wet Jacket Arm, Worsley Arm,,Queenstown.

17/05/2017: Water from thin air: A New Dehumidifier: This device pulls water from dry air, powered only by the sun. It is still a long way off being available, but it may someday make long desert journeys much more possible:Imagine a future in which every home has an appliance that pulls all the water the household needs out of the air, even in dry or desert climates, using only the power of the sun...

The prototype, under conditions of 20-30 percent humidity, was able to pull 2.8 liters (3 quarts) of water from the air over a 12-hour period, using one kilogram (2.2 pounds) of MOF. Rooftop tests at MIT confirmed that the device works in real-world conditions.'

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-04-device-air-powered-sun.html

  Device pulls water from dry air, powered only by the sun

16/05/2017: Hiking Crayfish Bisque

First catch your crayfish...Once again here's a delicious soup to cook in the wild after you have been doing a spot of fishing. Naturally it uses only dried, concentrated and lightweight ingredients. I based it on a traditional bisque recipe we have eaten for years but with ultralight ingredients. My tastes run to peppery and my wife is a lover of tomato flavour, so at just these proportions the dish may be a little intense for you (or not enough), so you can play with the proportions a bit until you get it just right. I hope you enjoy it.

To 1 Litre of water add:

10 teaspoons of milk powder (add cold and stir in - it mixes better)

1 x 40 gram packet Continental French Onion Soup (NB low salt is good)

1-2 50 gram sachets of tomato puree (to taste)

1-2 small cubes or teaspoons of chicken stock

1/2 Teaspoon ground black pepper (to taste)

1 Teaspoon (to taste) of sweet paprika.

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Bring to the boil. Simmer 3-4 minutes Stir oiccasionally. Add:

200 gram can of shrimp (if you don't have a cray) A 100 gram can of tuna will do in a pinch!

1 x 85 gram packet of Magi 2 minute noodles well broken up (into 1 cm lengths)

Simmer a further 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Enjoy.

For other hiking food ideas, try a search for 'food' in the search bar at the top right hand corner of the page.

See Also:

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/steves-ultralight-fish-chowder/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hand-line-fly-fishing

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hiking-crayfish-bisque/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-ultralight-fisherman/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-coconut-fish-curry/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hand-line-fly-fishing/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-ball-of-string-and-a-feed-of-cray/

If you enjoyed this post and would like to make a small donation to the upkeep of this page, you can do so by clicking the PayPal button below. Even a small amount would be appreciated.


16/05/2017: So, they just discovered 5 million square kilometers of extra forests no-one had noticed before: that’s more than half an Australia. Pretty hard to miss: http://joannenova.com.au/2017/05/scientists-discover-an-extra-5-million-square-kilometers-of-forest/

15/05/2017: A Ball of String and a Feed of Cray: Once you have your feed of trout (See Below) you will have some heads, tails, fins etc left over. Now you have your cray bait for the next course! All you need to catch them is a bit of string. I have wound 50lb line on my ultralight hand line http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-ultralight-fisherman/ (because it was what I had lying around) – it would cast a lot further still with lighter line. Certainly though, a few 3-4 metre lengths of this is all you need to catch a feed of crays. You might need to mark the location of your lines with some tiny pieces of fluoro tape as this Dyneema line will be very hard to see.

If I am vehicle camping, as in the photo, I usually use a length of fluoro ‘builder’s line’ because it is hard to miss in the bush. When I am in the camper, I also have a small folding trout landing net with an extendable handle. It is very good for scooping them out. If you are lightweight hiking you will have to make use of a forked stick to pin them down, and maybe get your feet wet as well as you wade in to pick them up just behind the claws (as shown) – but the feed of crays will be worth it. NB: You cannot kiss a cray – definitely don’t try this at home! When there are lots of them on the move (they are easy to see particularly if you have polarising lenses) you can often just walk along the side of a shallow stream and just pin them down with a forked stick. I have sometime caught half a dozen in this way in a few minutes!

 They can grow to quite a size, as you can see! I am going to pretend my eyes are closed as I am dreaming of the Lobster Bisque in the next post, but I was just not ready for Della to take the snap, and in the next one, the cray was blurred from too much wriggling.

All you need to do is tie something smelly (like the fish heads) to one end of the line. I often use chicken necks because they are cheap and easy to tie on a line. Here and there along the bank in the vicinity of overhangs or upstream from logs, drop a bait into the water then tie the other end of the line to a branch. Don’t leave enough slack so the cray can pull the bait underneath his log as you may not be able to pull him out with it. Go have a cup of tea or something more refreshing, then come back in say half an hour. In most mountain rivers in Victoria there will be a cray on the end of the line, indicated by its having grown taut.

Very, very slowly without jerking pull the cray towards you until you can observe him. You need to be patient. He is greedy and doesn’t want to let go of his prize, but he will if you are foolish. You need to get him to where you can quietly scoop him from behind (or give him a little slack and he will back into your net). Or, if you only have a forked stick, you need to slowly move it from behind him until you can deftly pin him to the bottom just behind the claws. Then you can step into the river whilst holding him immobile and pick him up with the other hand.Watch those claws. They could almost sever a finger!

There are not so many about in the winter as they are less active. The old saw was that as soon as the wattle was on the water, they would be ready to bite. You can keep them in a bag in a cool place for hours, or tether them to a sapling with a length of string. I brought a bag back from deer hunting once (so they are about even in winter!) put them in the fridge in a supermarket bag for at least a week. When I remembered them, I was surprised they were all alive and ready to bite me!

There is a gender, size and number limit you must conform to if you don’t want to incur a penalty – and you want them to remain always abundant. If you have a billy large enough  to boil them in, that is the best solution. If you are car camping you will be able to first anaethesise them by adding some salt to the water (The reverse is true of sea crays – fresh water will knock them out). It is heartless to drop them straight into boiling water and is also likely to get you scalded as they will leap!

They only need a very few minutes to cook. Watch the colour. They do not go quite so red as sea crays. If you do not have large billy because you are hiking, you will need to kill them first eg by driving a knife (carefully) through their brain. Then you can just cook the bits with the meat. 1-200 grams of fresh cooked meat will be enough to make the accompanying bisque recipe if you are hiking. This will make them ‘go’ a lot further. There are few things quite so delicious as fresh caught crays, so enjoy!

PS: However, yabbies, their smaller cousins are just as delicious - but you will need more of them, a couple of dozen would be good. Most streams also contain 'ghost shrimp' which are smaller again but a few dozen still make a fine feed. They are very sweet. The method for catching yabbies is the same as for crays. Shrimp will come to all sorts of attractants (eg soap or crushed leaves) and will swarm all over a landing net laid on the stream bottom. Shrimp also make excellent bait for fish - so you can begin again!

See Also:

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/steves-ultralight-fish-chowder/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hand-line-fly-fishing

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hiking-crayfish-bisque/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-ultralight-fisherman/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-coconut-fish-curry/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hand-line-fly-fishing/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-ball-of-string-and-a-feed-of-cray/

If you enjoyed this post and would like to make a small donation to the upkeep of this page, you can do so by clicking the PayPal button below. Even a small amount would be appreciated.


13/05/2017: Vargo Titanium Pocket Cleats: Vargo has this lighter traction device for snow and ice slippery clay, etc:  They weigh 2.3 oz 66 grams nearly 1/3rd the weight of the competition so they might find a place in yoiur pack if you are going somewhere slippery. Cost is US$59.95

Ultralight Traction Device

 

‘Improve speed and traction on winter runs or ultralight hiking with the Vargo Titanium Pocket Cleats™.  The titanium alloy spikes claw into snow and ice yet weigh nearly a third the weight of the competition without reducing strength or durability.  When not in use the legs fold down and nest to easily fit into packs or pockets. Nylon carrying case included. 

 

Available in three sizes:

 

Small: Women’s 6.0 – 9

Medium: Women’s 9.5 – 12; Men’s 8.0 – 10.5

Large: Men’s 11 – 13

 

Note: Pocket Cleats™ will not fit or work well with shoes that have extra-thick soles ("Fat Shoes") or shoes with a non-hourglass shape sole.

 

 Features

 

Titanium alloy contstruction

 

Compact folding legs

 

Reliable Duraflex™ fastners

 

High strength nylon webbing

 

Convenient nylon carry case

 

 Specifications

 

Weight (medium)     Size Open            Size Closed

 

2.3 ounces each       5.9"L x 1.8"W       4.3"L x 1.8"W   

 

(66 grams)                (150 x 45 mm)     (110 x 45 mm)’

 

https://www.vargooutdoors.com/titanium-pocket-cleats.html

 

See Also:

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/boot-chains/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/4wd-boots/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/keen-shoes/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/foot-care/

12/05/2017: East Tyers Walking Track: I spent six hours yesterday working on some of this excellent track which had been long neglected and overgrown. Apparently there were six other people there though I never saw them, which indicates you can have a lovely solitary experience on the track. It connects O'Shea's Mill to Caringal Scout camp and thus comprises an interesting addition to the Upper Yarra Track Winter route - see: http://www.finnsheep.com/THE%20UPPER%20YARRA%20WALKING%20TRACK.htm.

The first third of it is roughly cleared now - starting from Caringal, but it is marked all the way now with tape, so it needs about two similar days' work to complete the job apparently expected to be done by Spring, but it is now walkable, so the more people walk it (with one of these: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-worlds-greatest-machete/) over the winter, the less work there will be to do.

I will now investigate re-opening the West Tyers walking track which has been similarly neglected and which links Caringal with Western Tyers/Morgans's Mill and the similar loop from Palmers to Growlers along the Western Tyers - both of which I have walked years ago. They are extraordinary beautiful sections which deserve to be open to everyone - not just the intrepid!

The track begins auspiciously. The track follows an old logging tramway linking bush mills (such as O'Sheas) to Collins siding where the railway ine to Melbourne was. NB: You can also walk along the tramway from Caringal to Collins siding.

There are some lovely stretches if river, somewhere to try this out: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-ultralight-fisherman/

Here's another.

And yet another.

There are some interesting bridges.

Some best avoided. You should never worry about getting your feet wet: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/why-you-should-get-your-feet-wet-when-hiking/

Some beautiful timber.

Mountain ash are magnificent - you can see why they were logging along here in the past.

An interesting geological formation.

It will be such a splendid track when the clearing is quite finished - and even better when it links both to Collins siding (Erica) and to Western Tyers (Morgans Mill) and beyond eg to Tanjil Bren and Newlands Rd so that a circuit of the Baw Baws can be had. Well, it already can. See below:

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/upper-yarra-track-osheas-mill/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/upper-yarra-track-winter-route-caringal-scout-camp-tyers-junction/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/upper-yarra-track-winter-route-western-tyers-morgans-mill-skinners-camp/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/upper-yarra-track-winter-route-western-tyers-to-tanjil-bren/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/upper-yarra-track-winter-route-downey-to-newlands/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/kirchubel-if-you-go-nowhere-else-in-the-world-at-least-go-here/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/up-into-the-singing-mountains/

12/05/2017: Dude I want that: Dude I want that... Indeed! This is not strictly ‘ultralight’, but I just thought you might nonetheless like this amazing gift site -at least the 'outdoors' section. If you have perhaps become jaded by the pedestrian offerings of your local outdoors store, check out some of these amazing products: http://www.dudeiwantthat.com/outdoors/  Here’re ten of my favourites:

Banana Lounger

Onegee Bungee

Onak Foldable Canoe

Swim Fingers

Folding Survival Bow

Pocket Bellows:

 

Trac-Grabber

Pocket Cleats:

Thermal Breaching Tool:

Gazebox retractable garage:

12/05/2017: Couple Marry on Everest: `It is a really catchy headline and image isn’t it - and a great idea? A friend of mine noticed a wee bit of Photoshopping but s/he was being pedantic. I suppose the next ‘logical’ step is for folks to marry on the summit of Everest where they could quickly combine the two important ceremonies (ie marriage and funeral) into one –if there was any celebrant foolish enough to accompany them! See: http://www.boredpanda.com/everest-camp-wedding-photos-charleton-churchill/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=link&utm_campaign=BPFacebook

For info on how to do this in an ultralight manner see eg: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/i-saw-below-me-that-golden-valley/ 

11/05/2017: The Ultralight Fisherman: Today is using a 1 oz (30 gram - including a selection of flies and leaders) hand line made from a 100 ml plastic 'spice'  bottle which easily and accurately casts 30 - 40 metres - as you can see! A pill bottle of roughly the same size  though slightly heavier, would work just as well. I tried an empty Nurofen bottle, for example. Another half an ounce or so would add a couple of lures, hooks, split shot, etc suitable for bait fishing as well. (This particular bottle is 14 gram 100 ml about 43mm wide and 80mm long and has the advantage you can see through it).

I must stock the repaired farm dam with trout! It already has eels.

Amid the windfall quinces in the garden.

The scales do not lie.

The pink 1 mm Dyneema string is a wrist strap in case you drop your hand line. A dab of silicon around the hole I had to drill to thread it would make it completely waterproof as well. Everything you need fits right in the bottle, in a few mini snap lock bags. You could even take some artificial bait with you.

I went for a walk around to 'The Weir' (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/invisible-worlds-the-weir/) again this afternoon - no fish trying to climb it, alas. It is a very small log-choked stream for fly fishing, but in 2-3 casts I did have a small trout following my fly - unfortunately the stream was too small, so he saw me and headed South. I will be going up the bush sambar deer hunting soon where there are much bigger streams and bigger trout. I will be eating some!

See Also:

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/steves-ultralight-fish-chowder/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hand-line-fly-fishing/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-coconut-fish-curry/

Soon to come: 'The Ultralight Deer Hunter'.

10/05/2017: Ultralight Coconut Fish Curry: We found this soup to be just about the most delicious we have ever eaten at home - and we eat a lot of soup, so just imagine how delicious it will be on the trail. Again it uses Continental French Onion Soup as a base and makes use only of dehydrated ingredients (or ingredients which will not leak, or which can be 'caught' on the trail).

1 Litre water

25 grams of Coconut Milk Powder (comes in 50 gram aluminium sachets. You could use the whole sachet)

50 gram sachet Tomato Paste.

40 gram packet of Continental French Onion Soup

2  Teaspoons (Clive Of India) curry powder

1/2 Teaspoon ground black pepper

Bring to the boil

Add

100 gram sachet Safcol Yellowfin Tuna

16 teaspoons Surprise Peas

Simmer 5 minutes

Add (slowly, stirring as you go) approx 12 Teaspoons Continental Deb Mashed Potato.

Serve and eat. Try this at home. You will be delighted.

PS: My daughter, who is more a coconut than a curry person says, 'Halve the curry and double the coconut'. You might try that if you think your tastes are more that way. If you don't like fish (what?) you might also try the recipe with a can of this: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/backcountry-meat/ The cans would also be perfect for making a 'Supercat Stove': http://www.theultralighthiker.com/supercat-hiking-stove/

See Also:

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/steves-ultralight-fish-chowder/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hand-line-fly-fishing/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-coconut-fish-curry/

09/05/2017: Invisible Worlds: The Weir: Just around the corner (about 2 km) from our house lies the Billy's Creek, the Morwell National Park, (the start of) a lovely walk (the Grand Stzelecki Track) and just a kilometre up the track and stream this lovely old weir (built in 1913) set amongst majestic blue gums in a lush narrow, steep valley. The weir used to be part of the Morwell Water Supply.

You can see it has a hole in it about 200mm/8" in diameter through which much of the stream flows. The hole has an enchanting history. It was created as an act of anarchy by local farmers who were incensed at how much of their own water supply had been stolen by the Government. A pity moe of us weren't as galvanised by government theft.

The hole is 2.1 metres/7'  above the pool at the bottom which is only 35mm/14" deep. On pretty much just one day of the year, trout try to swim up the outflow of that pipe, tunnel through that hole and so emerge in the stream above the weir to lay their eggs. Unbelievably some make it. We observed (and filmed) this on Mothers day 2006, May 14. Sometime in the next week, if you visit this weir every day you too will witness this natural miracle.

Below the picture I have attached a very poor quality video of the event, but you can still make out what the trout are doing. Unfortunately dogs are not allowed in the national park (which would not worry me) but there are some very busybodying locals (alas!) who will make a fuss if I take the dogs for a walk there every day, so I may not manage a better piece of film due to other work commitments - but you may!  http://www.theultralighthiker.com/invisible-worlds-the-weir/

It is a beautiful walk up amid the blue gums:

There are fine bridges to play on:

Milo spots a trout:

There is a lovely picnic spot at the weir with a sign implying no tents under this tree - but nothing about hammocks!

Milo is learning to be an ultralight hiker. He can really use that Gossamer gear pole.

It is quite hard work though and needs lots of concentration.

04/05/2017: 900th Post: Another milestone today: my 900th post here at the Ultralight Hiker. I am just back from walking the Dusky Track in Fiordland as my recent posts no doubt inform you. It is getting harder and longer as I age, but I am just glad to be able to be there and other wonderful places, and doing it. Plenty of time for the easier walks later on, I hope!

In my Hummingbird Hammock, (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-hummingbird-in-the-hand/) Supper Cove, Fiordland New Zealand 2017.

It's been a busy 5ive and one half months! What are some of the highlights of the last one hundred posts?

Well...Trekking in Nepal: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/thatendlessskyway/

And a much more modest walk on the Mirboo North Rail Trail: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-birthday-treat-mirboo-north-rail-trail/

Some ideas for pack rafting in Gippsland: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/gippsland-pack-rafting-routes/

and canoe hunting: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/you-take-the-high-road-and-ill-take-the-low/

A visit to the 'lost' Yarra Falls by 'a reader': http://www.theultralighthiker.com/yarra-falls-3/

A week canoeing the Wonnangatta/Mitchell: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/wonnangatta-waterford-to-angusvale-day-one/

A new $10 tent: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/poly-tent-by-the-ultralight-hiker-on-the-cheap/

Some thoughts on hunting: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-ethical-hunter/

A trip to Mt Horsefall: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/escaping-the-heat/

Camper Mods: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/found-space/

A new ground sheet idea: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/inflatable-bathtub-groundsheet/

An excellent ultralight hiking soup: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/steves-nepali-dahl-soup/

At last a map for the Upper Yarra Track: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/upper-yarra-track-map/

A canoe/motorbike trailer insert: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/canoe-motorbike-trailer/

A visit to Blond Bay, Gippsland: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/blond-bay-roseneath-reserve-hollands-landing/

and much more...

What have I planned ahead: well, I aim to complete a last prototype of my Deer Hunter's Tent http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-deer-hunters-tent/and make a cuben fibre version with a poncho floor http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hole-less-ponchoshelter/. I will be going into the Victorian High Country with a one-legged friend fishing and hunting for a week at least. I hope to complete the 'Four Rivers Circuit' I have mentioned several times before, to canoe the Wonnangatta from Hearnes Spur to Kingwell Bridge, to canoe/clear the Hawthorn Creek section of the Latrobe, walk some of Victoria's Wilderness Coast, complete a circuit in Wilsons Prom, take a trip to Western Vic and walk some of the hundreds of kilometres of coast walks there, get some more work done on my idea of a Gippsland hiking circuit, make a motorcycle carrier for the Discovery/Defender...I will be busy. And of course there are jobs around the farm that get in the way of such pleasures too! Today I am working on completing the pump house move so we can finish repairing the lower dam before winter. There is one shed to re-roof, one to demolish and rebuild. Many fences to build and many trees to plant...Life just gets in the way of making plans!

09/05/2017: Hunter, angler, gardener, cook. Interesting website. Some great recipes: http://honest-food.net/

08/05/2017: Steve's Ultralight Fish Chowder: Following my post about hand Line Fly Fishing I have had several requests for the Hiking Fish Chowder recipe so that I had to make it for lunch, and it was excellent. I doubt you have had a better hiking meal. Try it at home, then make sure you take the ingredients when you next head out to the hills (and streams) with your handy new hand line! http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hand-line-fly-fishing/

Take:

1 packet Continental French Onion Soup 460 kJ 112 calories 40 grams

1 Litre Water

4 (heaped) Teaspoons of milk powder -approx 350 kJ 80 calories 17 grams

16 Teaspoons Surprise Peas (4 Teaspoons per 250 ml) - 300 kJ 72 calories 80 grams

100 gram Sachet Safcol Yellowfin Tuna (or equivalent filleted fresh brook trout) - 616  kJ 150 calories

12 Teaspoons (Approx) Continental deb Mashed Potato - 150 kJ 35 calories 40 grams

Pepper or curry powder to taste (unnecessary)

Bring to the boil and simmer 5 minutes

Delicious! Total 1876 kJ 460 calories. 177 grams - not including the fish!

PS: The French Onion Soup makes a great base for many meals. I will be adding more! You can just make one cup of nit up on the trail and save the rest for later. Adding some peas makes for an interesting taste and makes it go a little further. The dehydrated mash thickening also makes it feel like you are eating more (and you are). (Weight and calories are approximate)

08/05/2017: Hand Line Fly Fishing: Fishing with a bubble or float is an old technique. I’m sure most of us have used this method with live baits to catch a variety of fish. It also works well with flies and other floating lures to catch trout.

My handline of choice is Streamlines Tideland which weighs 2.4 oz. I cut the rubber handle off mine (saving an ounce). It now weighs 1.5 oz (43 grams). You can easily cast over 20 metres accurately. It is as good as most spinning rods, better where there are overhanging branches, as you can cast underarm. It is ideal for getting a trout dinner out of small wooded alpine streams. I could trim its weight some more by cutting off the corner with the angle grinder and smoothing the finish. I might get it down to a functional 1 oz (or 30 grams), yet still have a superlative casting hand line.

Below are typical rigs taken from Martin Joergensen’s and Will Rietveld's articles below.

The technique is simplicity itself. Cast and slowly retrieve. The splash of the bubble hitting the water attracts the fish’s attention which is then directed at the fly tied to the invisible line. When it strikes you need only set the hook, reel it in, prepare it and eat it. More detailed tips in the articles below.

‘The Streamlines handline has landed trout in the Sierra Nevada mountains, bass in low land lakes, and up to six pound snook in Costa Rica. The Tidelands model is an inexpensive lifetime tool, ideal for backpackers, kayakers, or as a part of any complete survival kit. Casting handline has been used for decades in Costa Rica as the primary tool of ocean shore-line fishermen who must live on what they catch. Streamlines has evolved this tool, combining improved design with modern materials. It casts far and accurately, limited only by the skill of the fisherman. This go anywhere, fish anytime tool is patented and molded of plastic strengthened with 40% fiberglass reinforcing. It is overmolded with a rubber Santoprene handle.’ http://www.moontrail.com/accessrs/a-misc/handline.html US$ 17.90

You could even do it with my 4 gram fishing hand lines below:

2015-09-23 13.43.23 comp

Some great articles on the technique (and related matters):

 Fishing a bubble: Martin Joergensen: http://globalflyfisher.com/fish-better/fishing-a-bubble

 Spin Fishing Using The Fly And Bubble Method: Mike: http://fishingmyway.com/uncategorized/spin-fishing-using-the-fly-and-bubble-method

 A Simple, Minimalist, and Ultralight Approach to Catching, Cleaning, and Cooking a Backcountry Fish Dinner By Will Rietveld: http://ultralightinsights.blogspot.com.au/2017/02/a-simple-minimalist-and-ultralight.html

http://blog.gossamergear.com/how-light-is-your-fishing-tackle

 Ultralight Tic Tac Fishing Kit: Rik Christensen: http://blog.gossamergear.com/how-light-is-your-fishing-tackle

 For an ultralight hiker/fisherman I think Will Rietveld’s method of cooking trout takes some beating (particularly if you were using twigs in the Caldera Cone). However, I have also been experimenting with various dry ingredients to make up a tasty fish chowder. Continental French Onion Soup is probably already a standby with you (though it takes a five minute simmer). A packet contains about 8 teaspoons full which makes four cups, so you can make them individually. Added to the (filleted) fish, it makes a tasty broth. You can thicken it (as I have mentioned before) with some Continental Deb mashed potato. A little milk powder will add to the chowdery effect. I know you don’t have to add pepper or curry powder to everything (so my wife, Della says) but these can add some zest to the overall effect. Enjoy.

If you enjoyed this post and would like to make a small donation to the upkeep of this page, you can do so by clicking the PayPal button below. Even a small amount would be appreciated.


 Other Posts:

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/lightweight-fishing-rods-reels/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/pen-fishing-rods/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/3d-fishing/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/four-gram-fishing-handlines/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/fishing-with-floss/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/bcb-fishing-kit/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/bcb-fishing-kit-as-good-as-it-gets/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/lightweight-fishing-rods-reels/

07/05/2017: From Dawn to Dusky # 8: Upper Spey to West Arm is somewhere between 4 and 6 hours, nearer six for me these days. There have been a number of contradictory signs over the years. As the last hour or so is on a hard gravel road, and much of the walk is along flattish river banks and this is your last day,  there is a temptation to hurry. Most likely all this will achieve will be to finally tear your feet to pieces (especially your toenails) and you will miss or have to wait for the bus/boat anyway, so chill out and enjoy the scenery along the beautiful Spey River valley.

The mountain which hangs over Upper Spey resembles one of the Easter island heads.

Upper Spey sunset.

The colours are beautiful.

Leaving Upper Spey in a dewy dawn. The orb spiders have been hard at work on the coprosma.

Detail of the orbs and fruit.

Lots of duckboards at the beginning. This used to be quite swampy patch in years past.

All day is just a gentle incline following the Spey River valley downhill.

With some hobbity bits.

The Spey is a pretty little river. You can walk along in it for kilometres instead of on the track when the level is low. Good trout fishing too!

Bryn just could not resist the temptation to revel in some Fiordland mud one last time!

Eventually I tire of walkwires. There are three this day. The very last one over the Dashwood Stream I chose to wade.

But as I have said before, Bryn just loves them! That stream is really steaming...

A light in the forest.

Still a few muddy patches.

Spey river scene.

Lunch by the Spey River.

Easy fishing.

The very last walkwire over the Dashwood Stream.

One last glimpse of the Spey River

And we are out on the Wilmot Pass Rd - the end of the Dusky Track! We have made it!

Wilmot Passs Rd at the end of the track - with Steve Hutcheson 2012.

Bryn 2008.

An enigmatic Kiwi sign on the Wilmot Pass Rd echoes our feeling exactly!

Just in time to catch the Doubtful Sound bus - you wish!

 

Wilmot Pass - just a couple of kilometres off-route towards Doubtful Sound. When they were constructing this road in the 1970s a bulldozer driver saw  a live moose cross right here.

View of Doubtful Sound from Wilmot Pass, not such a clear day, unfortunately.

The Mica Burn.

Likewise.

 

Here we are at West Arm. Methinks they have cold beer on that 'real journeys' boat.

Inside the Manapouri Power Station hundreds of metres underground at West Arm. Unfortunately you can no longer see this.

 

I was right: A well-earned beer on the boat across Lake Manapouri.

Heading back to 'civilisation'.

It is a beautiful lake.

Hitching back to Te Anau from Manapouri 2012.

Fiordland Birds: An Aside: If you thought it was quiet (and peaceful) walking the Dusky track and that you don not see anything but a handful of birds as you traversed it, that's because New Zealand has lost 99% of 99% of its birds. Most were eaten by stoats or possums. This is a stoat trap along the Spey River intended to catch some of these pests. in places where there are lots of such traps and they are regularly checked (such as the South Coast Track) the birds are very slowly making a comeback - but it will be touch and go. Do not interfere with a stoat trap as someone has done here.

You are lucky to get snaps of more than a handful of birds, such as these:

 

It is such an awful change from what I am used to in the Gippsland bush, Victoria where you are likely to see up to 500 bird species, and at any time walking =in the bush there are probably fifty birds visible and audible of probably upwards of a dozen species - almost more than you are likely to see in a lifetime in Fiordland. They have a plan t recover their bird life. I hope they succeed with it.

02/05/2017: From Dawn to Dusky #7: You have a big climb and descent today: over a kilometre up and then down again from the Kintail Hut to the Upper Spey Hut. You don't have to worry. Though it takes me longer now, I did this section in 2006 when I was a mere 58, the first time I walked over Centre Pass, in five hours. I'm afraid today it takes me nearer 7. Still good to be out there. If you are young and fit and get an early start it might be possible for you to walk all the way from here to West Arm and catch the last boat across Manapouri (about 5:15, but don't quote me). I know I just missed it in 2006, and I was really hanging out for a cold beer in the Moose bar Te Anau after nearly two weeks in the wet forests of Fiordland!

Resting in the Kintail Hut with Steve Hutcheson 2012.

Crossing the Seaforth: I usually walk across the river at this point, but Bryn actually prefers walk wires!

My turn.

Beautiful flat stalking to begin with: one of the denizens seems to have lost something.

The track follows the Kintail stream upwards towards Centre Pass.

The Kintail Stream is quite gorgey. There are many beautiful views of water crashing down.

Like this.

The walkwire across the Kintail Stream. I find this the most frightening of the trip. It is so long, such a long way down and car sized rocks below with water torrenting over them should you fall. Bryn just finds it fun! If the stream is low you can cross in the stream below.

High on the face overlooking Tripod Hill and the Gair Loch there is a huge 'new' slip. You can see plants are beginning to colonise it. look out for moose browse on fuchsia here in 20 years' time!

You would not want to be here when this slip formed. Unfortunately (or fortunately if you are a moose - due to the edible regrowth) slips in Fiordland are very frequent. The 'Christchurch' earthquake of a few years back created thousands of them. They are as unavoidable as being struck by lightning but if you can you should avoid overhangs. that being said, I have never walked the Dusky without hearing a number of them!

The track becomes steeper. 

A bit of a scramble in places.

And steeper. Some places it is so steep you have to climb up a chain for support. Bryn Jones. But it is nowhere near so bad as the descent from lake Roe to Loch Marie. Soon you break out into leatherwoods and then into extensive snowgrass tops.

The mountains tower over you. There are many beautiful views back down along the Seaforth whence you came. if you are like me you will wonder whether you will ever see this view again . In 2006 oI thought I would never see it again, yet as it turns out it has become almost routine. Still i wonder whether I will ever gaze down upon Tripod Hill and the Seaforth ever again - or hear a lonely moose call. As I am quite old now, and ought to go places where Della can accompany me, this may be my last Dusky trip.

The awesome view back down the Seaforth somewhat spoiled by Bryn And me. Tripod Hill on my left shoulder.

Here it is without us. You have followed the Seaforth up from Loch Marie which you can just make out left of centre behind the Tripod Hill to the right of the Gair Loch (at the right base of the hill, then pretty much straight up to where you are now.

Finally you break free of the leatherwoods and have a view of Centre Pass - still a long way up, another half an hour or more! Some of the younger folk leave their packs near Centre Pass and climb Mt Memphis - risking the keas! I must say I have never been tempted, but then I have seen the view many times flying over it.

The cliffs certainly beetle overhead.

There are many strange plants in these high alpine meadows.

The last pinch is a bit of a climb - you wonder whether you will ever make it!

Centre Pass.

Time for a drink. You will miss that beautiful cystal clear Seaforth River water.

Now you have all that way down again to go to the Spey.

In Centre Pass in 2008 Bryn and I were visited by a pair of Kea who entertained us for quite some time with their many tricks.

I suspect they would have eaten out of our hands - or nipped our fingers off!

Again the cliffs beetle overhead.

You feel quite small in this grand scenery.

Just before you enter the leatherwoods you can turn back and view Centre Pass one last time. There is an hour or so of tree-root hopping to go - nowhere near so bad as the descent from lake Roe to Loch Marie though.

There is a substantial slip to cross. You may not be able to see the markers on the other side - look out for the cairns.

Finally you are down to flat going along the Spey River.

The Dusky still has the odd muddy patch awaiting you.

Finally you arrive at the Upper Spey Hut. Your last night in the wilderness of Fiordland. Time for a feast on all your remaining food (except tomorrow's lunch and breakfast).

02/05/2017: From Dawn to Dusky #6: Loch Marie to Kintail is another long section much like coming up from Supper Cove. It takes me 7-8 hours, but I am not a racer. Much of the trip is walking along pleasant river flats. Some of the clearings are so big you have to look out for the (large) triangles on the other side. There would be pleasant camping along this section, as in similar parts of the trip up from Supper Cove. I have seen fish in the river above Loch Marie, and there is a mounted photo on the wall of the Loch Marie hut of one such caught in the upper reaches of the Seaforth River above Kintail. It would also be a fine area for deer hunting during the 'roar'.

The first approx 3/4 of an hour are not so pleasant, hillsiding, rocks and tree roots, etc. this can be avoided if the river is low. You can walk up along the other side (or in the river) and cross once it flattens out on the true right bank as I have done here:

Looking back towards the Loch Marie Hut (centre) you can see it was easier going walking up the river.

You can avoid this bit of difficult going at the start when the river is low.There are a couple of  bits of hobbit country where you climb over tree roots for about an hour I guess, but it is very pretty, and not too bad.

This new bridge is a pleasant spot for a breather. It was not so nice wading across here up to your neck in the past.

There are some quite big clearings (more on the other side of the river - usually easily crossed in this section). this one complete with waterfall.

Hobbit country.

Some places you have to hang on so you don't fall in the river.

This debris gully is a good spot for a morning break.

And to check your map - you should have it laminated (as shown) for Fiordland weather.

You wouldn't want to be here when it was really raining though!

Lunch stop about half way you can get down onto these boulders and have lunch in the sunshine on a nice day.

Tripod Hill and waterfall.

 

We often stop for a break at the Kenneth Burn walk wire. Bryn taking it easy. Bryn and Irralee are both immune to sandflies. that would be nice!

Kenneth Burn.

After the Kenneth Burn there is a bit of a rocky climb around a giant slip and a bit of tree-root hopping going down to the head of the Gair Loch (which can be quite unpleasantly swampy when it is wet). After that it is easy river flat going to the Kintail Hut which is off the track a bit to the left. It is a very damp spot, so you probably won't be having a fire. You also have to walk back about fifty metres to get a sat phone signal.

The Kenneth Burn 'slip' has regrown with hundreds of acres of fuschia. This is a favourite food plant of the NZ moose, and you will see many examples (mostly old) of moose browse and barking if you keep an eye out. If you are very quiet and lucky you might even snap a photo of one -- there is reputed to still be a $100,000 prize! When I was walking out in 2012 there was one spot in particular to the right of the track just about the top where a moose had obviously stayed and grazed the tops of every plant for several days - just days before I passed, worse luck!

This is the Fuchsia slip I have been talking about. Hundreds of acres. You can imagine thousands such throughout the moose range in Fiordland.

Irralee pointing out some moose browse about 2.5 metres up a fuchsia on the Kenneth Burn slip.

Detail: You can see they have bitten through twigs between 1-2 cm in diameter and broken them off. Nothing else could do this 2.4-2.7 metres (8'-9')off the ground.

A bit of rougher going heading down to the Gair Loch.

A bit of swampy going near the Gair Loch.

Easy to go down to your hips!

Looking down on the Gair Loch from near Centre Pass. The track has circled behind the Tripod Hill(from left to right in the photo) then come along the right hand side of the Loch. There would be good fishing, I imagine.

And then pleasant walking for an hour or so until you come to the Seaforth walk wire and the Kintail Hut.

Like this.

Seaforth Walk Wire. The hut is a little further along about 200 metres back from the river on the true right bank

Kintail Hut.

28/04/2017: From Dawn to Dusky # 4 & 5: The trip to Supper Cove is a side trip taking two days - but really worth it! The walk up/down from Loch Marie to Supper Cove takes me 7-8 hours. I know you may be younger and in more of a hurry - who know why? Most of the distance is very pleasant, flat walking along a river/lake. There are two exceptions: the hour you have to spend climbing around the giant slip which created Loch Marie until after the Bishop Burn (which is not too bad actually), and the last hour if you cannot cross Supper Cove at low tide before you reach the Supper Cove Hut. It is one of the nastiest tree/rock hopping bits on the whole track, seeming doubly worse as it comes at the end of a long day. Many folks have turned their knee or ankle on this section (including me), so leave early enough you are not hurrying at the end of the day when you are tired.

Supper Cove itself is one of the pleasantest spots on earth, and you should plan to spend a few days there. It has likely got the very best toilet view in the world too! You might be able to prearrange (as I sometimes have) a helicopter or the float plane to leave some supplies tied up in a bag in the rafters of the boat shed so you can extend your stay. You will be able to have fresh fish three times a day if you have a hand line, some sinkers and hooks - or you may be lucky enough to find some there that the DOC has not confiscated. You should plan on this and have some oil/Alfoil (and a little salt to taste) to cook the fish with. The Blue Cod particularly, easily caught in the deeper water off the rocks behind the hut are perhaps the best eating fish in the world. Maybe include a cheap frying pan in that bag.

In 2009 I paddled this section with my Alpacka 'Fiord Explorer'. I am not going to do so again!

There it is on the shores of Loch Marie! See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/dusky-track-canoeing-the-seaforth/

I even paddled across the lake itself though I can't imagine why now.

First the track follows the old miner's track along the edge of the lake. A few rocks, but easy going.

The loch is beautiful in the dawn.

Everywhere there is the beauty of water moving.

My son Bryn crossing the first walk wire in 2008.

Some beautiful views of the lake through the ancient trees.

Sometimes when the lake is very low it is easier to walk along the edge of the lake. Look out fro moose tracks in the soft mud and sand. Such tracks have often been seen here.

At one point as you climb around the slip listening to the roar of the water as it crashes over the giant boulders and wondering that trout can find their way past it, you will come upon the remains of the iron tools C19th miners used to make this section of the track. What hardships they must have endured.

Lots of places DOC have put in new steel or wooden bridges (even a new walk wire) since I first walked it nearly twenty years ago. It certainly cuts out some difficult scrambling up and down.

Eventually you meet up with the Seaforth River again below the Bishop- Burn. This must be about where I put in on my raft trip in 2009. There are many beautiful river vistas ahead.

Mind you there were some rapids to avoid!

Real 'Huck Finn' stuff this.

The flat going is split by an unexpected ladder.

Crossing the Mcfarlane Burn 2008.

The Old Supper Cove Hut site. Just before you leave/join the river you will see (if you look carefully) the remains of the old hut. Right in the centre of the photo you can just make out the parallel lines of the tree fern trunks which formed its floor. It was the last point you could get to by boat. It would have been a useful shelter if the river and particularly the Henry Burn swamps were flooded. It would have been a cold, wet camp to have lived in whilst you were building the track in the C19th though!

My son Bryn demonstrating just how swampy it gets between the two arms of the Henry Burn in 2008.

My daughter Irralee crossing the 'Waterfall Burn' in 2007.

The Waterfall Burn. There is a 160 metre waterfall at the top of this unnamed stream. You can climb up with difficulty by following the next gully (ie on the true right down Fiord). in 2000 the top of this higher waterfall was shrouded in mist and it appear4ed to simply fall from the clouds. It was pouring with rain and photography was impossible/disappointing. There was fresh moose sign (tracks/droppings) up this burn then too.

 

 

Easy walking, as you can see. If the tide is not so full you can still cut off a fair bit of nasty stuff. The track is usually not far from the shore (after crossing) the first ridge. If you are looking across the Cove facing the hut you will see some white rocks on the other side. if you aim for the right hand end of those rocks, you might still see a taped trail leading up to the main track when you get near. This is the view looking from the hut side towards the 'Waterfall Burn' side. The low tide at Supper Cove is approximately 2 1/2 hours earlier than Port Craig (so, if Port Craig's low was at 1:30 pm for example (as it was on 21/04/2017), Supper Cove's was at approximately 11:00 am.. You can check the tide info at the Met Service NZ before you start on the track to see whether you will be able to cross Supper Cove.

If the tide is fully low you can walk all the way across the cove. You can just walk out past the boat shed and helipad, cross the Hilda Burn, then head straight across the Supper Cove flats. Only 'thermometer deep' as you can see Bryn crossing in 2008.

This is the first view of Supper Cove looking towards the hut (unfortunately at high tide). The hut (invisible) would be almost exactly centre. See the white rocks on the shore opposite. You would aim just to the right of them if you were walking across at a lowish tide, then walk up (approx 50-100 metres to the true left bank of the Hilda Burn) to intersect with the track. I did mark the low tide trail in 2014 with tape and a buoy hung from a tree on the shore. You might still spot them.

First view of the hut from the air (with Della 2011: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/10-days-in-fiordland/)

My daughter Irralee crossing the Hilda Burn 2009.

Arriving at the Supper Cove Hut.

This is the beautiful view from the verandah looking up the Seaforth. The moose were released on that sandbar (centre) in 1905. Many delights await at Supper Cove.

Such as fishing off the rocks for blue cod: my son Bryn demonstrates.

A Hummingbird hammock comes in handy at Supper Cove 2017: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-hummingbird-in-the-hand/

It is becoming a busy switch over point for tour boat operators.

You can often 'catch a lift' to/from Supper Cove from a a helicopter:

Or a float plane.

About 100 metres behind the Supper Cove Hut there are the remains of another 'mystery' hut guarded by a fantail. You can continue up that ridge (past the cataract) and drop down into the Hilda Burn upstream (if you are intrepid/foolhardy). Just after where the Burn splits in two I glimpsed a cow moose in 2000.

27/04/2017: From Dawn to Dusky # 3: It will take you slightly longer to walk from Lake Roe to Loch Marie than it did from Halfway Hut, though this will come as a surprise when you seem to have walked 3/4 of the way there over pleasant snow-grass tops sprinkled with myriad jewel lakes and you are gazing down on the Loch and its tree trunks just a kilometre below you. That last kilometre is a doozy!

Looking back towards the hut from lake Roe look-out reveals the way ahead towards Loch Marie.

Looking down from the climb in the previous photo.

Last view of Lake Roe and its hut. 

A myriad jewel lakes.

Mist magic.

Looking up the Seaforth towards Centre Pass.

First view of the Fiord and the sea faraway.

The last tarn before the perilous descent.

Loch Marie seems so close down there: It is. One false move and you will be there.

But it is not without its beauty.

It is horrendously steep. Not a track at all, but more like some horrific ladder mostly made of tree roots and rocks. Here and there a chain for support.

 

It is a nightmare descent which seems as if it will go on forever.

But finally it does come to an end (after 3+ hours!)

There is an emergency shelter in case the river is too high.

A very long, high walk wire if it is not quite so high, or you can cross below the walk wire if it is low, like this,

A very pretty waterfall to look at.

The lake of course with its many tree trunks.

And just a quarter hour's stroll from the walk wire the cosy Loch Marie hut on a n elevated peninsula overlooking the lake and the river - shown here with a fairly cold son Bryn in 2008.

27/04/2017: From Dawn to Dusky #2: If it took a little over 6 hours to walk from Hauroko to the Halfway Hut (as it did me this year - I was quicker seven years ago, no surprise), then it will take slightly longer to walk to Lake Roe Hut. Do not time yourself to arrive after dark. The hut would be very difficult to find in poor light as it is off-track to the right.

The view ahead out the front door of the Halfway Hut on a fine sunny Fiordland morning. Deer have kept the lawn well mown.

The same view from the air. It is a large valley. Room for a few moose there.

The trail begins: most of the day is tree root hopping (but it is not bad going) save between the two walk wires and after yoiu break out onto the snow grass tops for the last half hour or so.

Beautiful vistas.

Pretty views of the Hauroko Burn below.

Very roughly it is about one-third of the journey to the first walk wire, one third to the next, and the last third to lake Roe.

You could walk along the river fishing between the two walk wires. The track is almost always close by and in sight on the true right bank in this section.

Lunch at the first walk wire. I was in no hurry. My new Icebreaker 'Departure 2' wool shirt (http://au.icebreaker.com/en/midlayers/-departure-ii-long-sleeve-shirt-plaid/103036.html?dwvar_103036_color=301) worked wonderfully in Fiordland. It was soft and comfortable and protected me from sandflies. The breast pocket was just the right size for my pocket camera (Nikon Coolpix S7000). It was a beautiful temperature for the days' walking (about 15C) and had no unpleasant smell to it even after more than a week of wear without washing (it did get wet a couple of times though - as when I fell over in the Jane Burn for example). Once wet it did not strike cold after less than a minute, and dried out completely (from soaking) on my back in less than an hour. Highly recommended. It now comes in a beautiful green and black plaid - something for my Xmas list!

A note on sandflies: Generally they do not bother you when moving or of a night but some places especially near water they can be terrible. It is easy to believe that folks have been driven to suicide by them. Some places they will cover every exposed piece of skin in the blink of an eye. Most folks are allergic to their bites and come up like the surface of the moon in an agony of itching. There is a solution: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/insects-can-ruin-a-camping-trip/ Come prepared. I always carry extra repellent and ointment as it is easy to lose one from your pockets.

It is relatively easy flat going between the two walk wires; time for a spot of fly-fishing perhaps.

Through a serene and peaceful forest.

Until you come to the second walk wire.

After which the track starts to gradually rise until it eventually breaks out onto the snow grass tops. You know you are about there by the strong smell of deer in the leatherwood forests near this boundary.

You climb up the Hauroko Burn which becomes quite steep in places, falling in small cascades.

You begin to get views of the tops ahead and to the sides.

And the view behind down the valley is quite spectacular.

It is a pleasure though to at last start to break out into snow grass country.

The way ahead is now clear (if not well marked). it is straight over that hill in the centre.

Finally you come to Lake Laffy on your right. The hut is at the head of the lake behind those leatherwoods. As this lake empties into the Hauroko it may even hold trout. Worth a try at dusk.

First view of the hut.

Lake Roe Hut is just off to the right behind Lake Laffy snuggled amongst the leatherwoods.

Just in front of the hut a comfy seat has been provided.

The view in front of the seat is quite spectacular.

You can walk up the hill behind the hut and get some spectacular views of Lake Roe after which the hut is named.

25/04/2017: From Dawn to Dusky #1: Regular readers will know I have just returned once more from hiking the Dusky Track, Fiordland New Zealand - probably NZ's toughest and most beautiful. I have now been on the Dusky nine times. For most of its length it is more a route than a track. Take away the track markers and it would disappear completely. So many places too it goes where no sane route would take you: straight down a drop-off in the section from Lake Roe to Loch Marie, for example when any experienced off-trail person (a hunter perhaps) would follow the easier route down the Jane Burn.

You need to beware of kea in the Lake Hauroko car park - and elsewhere. They will tear unatttended packs and tents to shreds.

Most sections take all day, so it pays to get started early (at dawn - as you will need to do on the first day if you are to catch the bus and boat) as many places it would be extremely dangerous to be walking in poor light or at night. Also, being one of the wettest places in the world and with lethal changes of weather, it is essential you have some kind of shelter as you may easily find yourself caught out at night. Rain strips heat from your body 25 times faster than dry air. See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-importance-of-a-roof/ I chose a hammock and tarp as the often torrential rain may mean that it is impossible to find anywhere dry on the ground. At very least take a hiking umbrella: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hiking-in-the-rain/ It might be even more desirable and less tiring to slow your pace and plan to camp put some nights instead of staying in the huts (if the weather is pleasant). Most places, except when journeying across the tops, there are plenty of trees to swing a hammock - and if you are near a stream, there is the likelihood of fresh fish for supper - or breakfast!

Dawn breaks through clouds over Lake Hauroko

I find the Backcountry Navigator App and the NZ Topo maps which are free, really useful for keeping track of just where you are: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/nz-topo-maps-app-for-hiking-in-nz/ You can switch the GPS on on your phone to check this from time to time, leaving it usually in the default GPS off and Flight mode to conserve batteries. This way you would not walk past the hut, and might have a feed of fish as well. The Halfway Hut may be the last hut in NZ which has the old-style open fire places which were so warming and efficient. The new 'green' stoves are absolutely hopeless. I am not convinced they put out any warmth at all for a large expense of effort and fuel. You certainly cannot cook anything on top of them, or even warm it.

You should also download (to your phone) the map here: http://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/places-to-go/fiordland/places/fiordland-national-park/things-to-do/tracks/dusky-track/ and the brochure here: http://www.doc.govt.nz/Documents/parks-and-recreation/tracks-and-walks/southland/dusky-track-brochure.pdf so that you can study them beforehand and refer to them as you go along.

Especially in autumn there are often long periods of high pressure where you can walk for days without taking your raincoat out of your pack. I have found Elders 28 day Rainfall forecast for the bottom of Tasmania (http://www.eldersweather.com.au/raindates.jsp?dc=disableCookies&lt=wzdist&lc=t03) to be a pretty good indicator of the onset of such periods (allowing three days for them to cross the Tasman). By paying careful attention I have managed to visit Fiordland many times without getting wet. The GFS and NOAA’s Air Resources Laboratory also give a pretty good 16 day forecasts: http://ready.arl.noaa.gov/READYcmet.php

Finally a beautiful clear day as we chug North towards the Hauroko Hut and the beginning of the Dusky Track.

Most folk walk from South to North, ie from Lake Hauroko to Lake Manapouri. This is dictated by the availability of transport to begin/end the trek. Both ends are on a lake which has to be crossed, usually by boat. The regular Lake Hauroko boat drops off twice per week whilst there are several boats a day across Lake Manapouri. This means that if you wish to walk the track largely by yourself, you have only to wait at the Hauroko Hut for a day or two (fishing) whilst others get well ahead of you. I usually bring in some canned food to last these days, leaving them in the hut if I don’t need them where they are available to others who might be stranded there for a few days - but without causing a rodent problem. Of course you can charter a boat, plane or helicopter anytime.

Johan & Namu tied up at the mouth of the Hauroko Burn

It is also possible to do shorter sections of the track by availing oneself of ‘back loads’ on helicopters or the ‘Wings and Water’ float plane (http://www.wingsandwater.co.nz/ ) which operates a ‘regular’ service to Supper Cove at the head of the Fiord. It can land in many other places in Fiordland too, such as Lake Hauroko in this example. Another brilliant spot it can take you is to Cromarty on Preservation Inlet from where if you are very intrepid you can walk back all the way to Tuatapere or Lake Hauroko. The float plane is cheaper per hour than a helicopter and can take five passengers, so the cost can be divided in such a way as to cost only $100-150 ea. perhaps less if there was a full load both ways. This flight from Te Anau to Supper Cove would have to rank as the most beautiful plane journey in the world! The various helicopter operators can also often provide discounted ‘back load’ type fares, so it is well worth asking them about availability: http://southernlakeshelicopters.co.nz/ & http://www.teanauhelicopters.com/ & http://www.fiordlandhelicopters.co.nz/ In any case you need to take their telephone numbers with you and a (hired) satellite phone so you can call them in if you ever need them.

The Hauroko Hut, a comfortable hut a minute's walk from the lake and the burn.

Boat transport to the Hauroko Hut is usually organised with Johan and Joyce at Lake Haoroko Tours https://www.wjet.co.nz/pages/lake-hauroko-tours/ and bus transport to meet with them at the Clifden suspension bridge with Trips and Tramps https://tripsandtramps.com/product-detail/dusky-track-transport Johna & Joyce also operate a jet boat on the Wairaurahiri River (as does another operator) which has to be just about the best jet boat ride in the world (and a convenient way to begin or end the wonderful South Coast Track (see eg: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/south-coast-track-fiordland-nz-dellas-version/) You would probably leave your car at the long-term car-park at View St, Pearl Harbour, Manapouri, or you can catch a bus back to Te Anau from there.

The Track begins.

Track times are pretty fluid as with many NZ tracks. For reasonable fit people of my age (68) it is rare for a section to take less than six hours, and some will take more than 8. If you have a late start here, it might be better to wait until next morning so you won't have to hurry. That way you could also do some trout fishing in the Burn which the track parallels for many hours. It is possible to walk along in the stream in many places, then rejoin the track - if the water levels are low. The sign on leaving the Lake reckons about 6 hours to the Halfway Hut, which I reckon is about right.

The Hauroko is a beautiful little trout stream.

With more delights around every corner.

The first 3/4 of an hour after leaving the hut you are walking along on basically river flats quite by the true right bank of the Burn more or less until you come to a walk wire on a side burn. After that the track climbs and the tree hopping begins. Nonetheless it is fairly easy going until you arrive at the walk wire near the junction of the Gardner Burn. After that the track climbs around a gorge and the going gets pretty rough for an hour or so until you come out onto the flats along the Burn again (now the true left). You have nearly two hours walking along here until you come to the hut, set back a little from the stream so that you might not see it if you were walking in the stream fishing, for example.

The track begins to climb after you cross this pretty side burn.

There are some lovely views still down to the river.

And it is not without beautiful 'ents'.

It is a magical path.

Then you come to the Gardner Burn confluence walk wire

After the Gardner Burn there is a rough section.

Once you break out onto the flats again you could easily walk along in the stream fishing for your tea.

Bracket fungi make excellent fire starters when dry: some fine examples.

My daughter Irralee at the Halfway Hut 2009.

A note on getting lost: From time to time you will lose the track markers. probably about twice a day! There are many deer paths, and many wrong turnings others have taken to follow. As soon as you realise you have lost sight of the markers, Stop. Before ever thinking of panicking, have a cup of tea. My mother Marie always advised this, and it is damned good advice. Spending s a little time doing something else, then being warmed by a refreshing 'cuppa' does wonders to allay fears and settle your thinking. Consult your map. Try to work out where the track must be. Often the track follows one side of a stream or another. Try to remember when you were last on track, and how far back you think you went wrong. Try to remember the last little bit of your path. Mark your current position so you can find it again, eg by a small cairn, breaking branches, etc. Backtrack to where you think you went wrong, marking or at least noting your route as you go (so you don't get even more lost). You shouldn't ever be more than a hundred metres from where the last marker was unless you were really wool gathering and there was a very pronounced deer path (or etc) you have followed.

Sometimes it will be the way ahead that is unclear (even if you have the markers behind you.) Again, try to work out (from your map and the lay of the land) where the track must go. Make little forays forward and back to your marked position along obvious routes until you find the path ahead. If this does not work, try forays (back and forth) a little further off what you thought was the 'line' of the track until you find it. If you are starting to panic, have another cuppa! Unfortunately the 'obvious routes' are not always correct There are a couple of places (eg one below Loch Marie as the track skirts the huge slip which created the Loch) where the track switchbacks unexpectedly, and the markers are missing or hard to see, yet lots of folks have forged straight ahead making a very pronounced path where the real path is just about impossible to see. Remember that whoever fixed the markers ensured that you could always see one before or behind when they nailed them to the trees. I know many will have fallen off, but if you are 'lost' and careful, you should after less than 100 metres find one leading one way or another. You should by now have refound the track.

If you really find it impossible to follow the track in one direction, then follow it in the other. It is better to give up the idea of completing the track than to die! In the (very) unlikely event that you cannot find the track in either direction, go back to the map and try to work out where the track must be (eg it is roughly following the true right bank of a stream. If you follow the stream you will find it again (eg at a walk wire where it crosses). Be very careful walking off-track as the ground often has large holes which can open up beneath you. This whole area is an ancient moraine. You are much better carefully trying to find your own way out of a situation like this than immediately setting off an Epirb/Plb which might not work from the location you find yourself in - or the batteries might be flat! I carry both a satellite phone and a satellite messenger/Epirb hybrid (such as this: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-poor-mans-satellite-phone/). However both may fail, whilst you should always have your wits about you! You should in any case have let someone know your intentions and when/where to start looking for you. If you have a shelter and warm clothing, and do not stray even further from the general position of the track, you will be found alive, or you will find your own way out.

Perhaps the worst places to get lost are on the tops (which are often not as well marked as they might be). Frequently you cannot see the way ahead (especially in heavy rain, fog or cloud). You need to take extra care in those sections as it is colder, windier and harder to find shelter. Some folks decide they will walk all the way from Lake Hauroko to lake Roe Hut on the first day, for example. Once you break out onto the tops the route is marked by snow poles or such but they are often far apart and you sometimes cannot see the next one. Try to make sure you don't get in a position where you can't see the last one too! As the lake Roe hut is not on the direct line of the track (but off it to the right - walking in this direction) you would pass it by in the dark (which could be quite disastrous on a cold, wet night). Try not to have a fire at Lake Roe. There is very little wood thereabouts which should be conserved for real emergencies. I strongly advise people to take each section a day at a time. This is not a race. Haste will only mean you see less of the outstanding beauty of Fiordland. No-one will appreciate that you are some super hero able to run the whole track in one day as some kind of super-marathon. Such haste will also only make it more likely that some disaster will befall you: a fall, serious injury, becoming lost or hyperthermic in the dark, or etc. Plan to take at least seven days to finish this track, and allow for more like ten. It is likely to be nicer than you thought, or nastier - in either case more time will be required.

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.

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. Already two confirmed C21st DNA samples have been collected, and one indistinct photo. It is only a matter of time...

You are now one seventh of the way - More installments to come...

See also:

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/insects-can-ruin-a-camping-trip/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/dusky-track-canoeing-the-seaforth/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/dusky-track-adventures-1/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/eddie-herrick-moose-hunting-at-dusky-sound/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/eddie-herrick-moose-hunting-at-dusky-sound/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-friend-i-met-on-the-dusky-track-fiordland-nz/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/dusky-south-coast-tracks/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/dreaming-of-the-dusky-track/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-dusky/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/moose-hunting/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/fiordland-moose/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/fiordland-moose-2/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hunting-in-fiordland/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/off-to-fiordland/

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

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-best-toilet-view-in-the-world/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/10-days-in-fiordland/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/fiordland-2009/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/fiordland-nz-with-bryn/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/fiordland-april-2007/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/weather-for-fiordland/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/more-dusky-adventures/

05/05/2017: Jelly, The Smallest 4G Smartphone. This is a neat little phone – fits in your fob pocket, but has all the functionality of your regular smart phone. Only 60 grams, less than $100. It would be excellent for ultralight hiking. You might also consider it as a spare phone – if only you could have duplicate sim cards. Well, you can illegally, actually. Try Google. Personally, I am tired of phones being too big, and getting lost, broken or in the way. This is the solution: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jellyphone/jelly-the-smallest-4g-smartphone?_ga=2.148572213.380118193.1493830329-1204359062.1493816838

 

Super portable

15/04/2017: A Hummingbird in the Hand: I just took delivery of these fabulous new ultralight hammocks. One, (the lightest of course -147 grams) will be coming with me on my upcoming Dusky Track adventure. I would not be ‘betting my life’ on one for ten days in the wilderness unless I had every confidence they are a superior product.

These are the cleverest and best engineered hammocks I have seen – and I’ve seen (and made!) a lot of hammocks.  They are made from reserve grade parachute nylon and are designed, engineered and built to rigging specifications - meaning you can be confident their weight ratings will not fail you.

Button End.

The suspension system and button-link connectors are brilliant. The suspension system weighs just two ounces (60 grams) and is easily attached with the button-links. I know I could probably reduce the weight a fraction (maybe 20 grams) by replacing the ultra-light webbing with dyneema, but as this would harm the trees more, I hardly think it is worth it. Chris & Kathy have worked out the design and parameters of these hammocks just about perfectly. They have also ensured that everything packs down into the smallest imaginable packages for stowing in your ultralight pack.

Ultralight Whoopie Sling.

However, you know I can’t stop tinkering: I have already added dyneema gear loops to each end of mine so I can attach bits and pieces there instead of leaving them on the ground overnight – and I have added an adjustable centre line (these added 8 grams) to a see if I can achieve ‘the perfect hang’, though I am pretty sure the folks at ‘Hummingbird’ have so designed the hammock that you lie pretty flat in it, and the sides don’t press in too  much – more about that later.

Ultralight Tree Strap Suspension System - 30 grams/1 oz each end!

They have three sizes of ultralight hammocks:  Single 147 grams/5.2 oz - weight rated: 136 kg/300lb, Single + 210 grams/7.6oz – weight rated: 158kg/350lb, and Double 289 grams/10.2oz weight rated: 181kg/400lb. I will be using their Single ultralight hammock as emergency sleeping quarters in Fiordland (in case of flooding), and I might do some off-trail camps as well, as I usually do. It will also be excellent (along with my cuben tarp) for eating lunch on those (inevitable) wet days. Look out for a full(er) review on my return home.

Chris & Kathy also sell many hammock accessories (such as tarps eg ‘Heron’ from 243 grams/8.6oz) to complete your hammock home. All their gear is competitively priced given the high quality of their products.

'Heron' tarp.

Check out their page here: https://hummingbirdhammocks.com/

15/04/2017: 19 Gram Dyneema Camp Shoes: I just finished making this pair of ultralight camp shoes for my Dusky track walk which I start on Monday. They are made from 3.6oz/yd2 Dyneema fabric. Paired with a pair of  down socks from https://goosefeetgear.com/products/down-socks/ (approx 50 grams per pair), I should have nice dry, warm feet at the end of what is usually a fairly wet slog each day. I will post the pattern and instructions when I get back (promise).

See also: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/fifteen-gram-blue-foam-flip-flop/

 

14/04/2017: Camper Crane: As you know we have a slide on camper for our Defender. These usually come with detachable wind-up legs which are quite awkward to operate. I decided to instead suspend the camper on this crane arrangement in the old dairy for easy installation/removal. In addition, I bolted some 4”x4”s to the floor so that the truck would be forced into exactly the right position when I wanted to place the camper on it, then it is a quick and simple matter to bolt it to the deck. A couple of minutes and we are off on our next trip . See you!

 

Camper suspended above tray height. There is a crane (red above) at each of four corners.

The camper is connected to the crane with eye bolts and chain.

Detail from above.

 

This is quite a simple arrangement and really makes it enormously easier to fit the camper to the truck. I recommend you do something similar. I bought these cranes from eBay for about $150 each.

 

12/04/2017: Yarra Falls Shelter House: A reader has located the ruins of this magical place and forwarded some wonderful photos: ‘It is on the SouthWest side of the junction fairly high up, where the treeferns diminish (beneath one of the highest on the edge of the spur). It is extremely difficult to find and you could walk within a few metres and pass it.’

The chimney. The blue and white "Gentlemen" sign was found in the debris on the concrete slab and is fired enamel on steel.

The Fireplace.

Tag inside chimney.

Evidence of split timber formwork in chimney construction. Fireplace.

 

Henry Short and Robert Hoddles oil and water colour paintings of Upper Yarra Falls. Short incorrectly assumes this is Starvation Creek.

Main falls 2011.

Main fall Upper Yarra Falls 1910 and 2011

 

11/04/2017: More Dusky Adventures: I start on the track on Monday for ten days. As you travel to work on Monday, you can imagine me at the same time standing on the deck of a small boat (Nimu) chugging across beautiful Lake Hauroko en route to the Dusky. Walking the track takes seven days though if you are young and very fit, you might double up a couple of shorter sections into one day reducing the trip to five days or less. If you do not travel to Supper Cove (sheer insanity – it is the most beautiful part of the trip), it could be shorter yet. I will be taking my time, spending a couple of days at Supper Cove fishing and moose ‘hunting’.

 

 

See also:

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/insects-can-ruin-a-camping-trip/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/dusky-track-canoeing-the-seaforth/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/dusky-track-adventures-1/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/eddie-herrick-moose-hunting-at-dusky-sound/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/eddie-herrick-moose-hunting-at-dusky-sound/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-friend-i-met-on-the-dusky-track-fiordland-nz/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/dusky-south-coast-tracks/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/dreaming-of-the-dusky-track/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-dusky/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/moose-hunting/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/fiordland-moose/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/fiordland-moose-2/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hunting-in-fiordland/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/off-to-fiordland/

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

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-best-toilet-view-in-the-world/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/10-days-in-fiordland/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/fiordland-2009/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/fiordland-nz-with-bryn/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/fiordland-april-2007/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/weather-for-fiordland/

 

11/04/2017: Ultralight Travel Toothbrush: Not an ultralight hiking toothbrush perhaps. For that most folks cut their standard toothbrush in half, but this one is really good for travel, being very slim, compact and light and giving very nearly as good a result as a rechargeable such as the Braun or OralB, but without needing a power socket or all that extra space/weight. It is also very comfortable and non-slippery to the hand.  Colgate® 360°® Optic White™ Battery-Powered Toothbrush: 36 grams inc battery, comes in Soft and Medium. I have tried a heap of battery powered toothbrushes over the years: this one is by far the best, smallest and lightest. At that weight too I have no doubt some people will take it (and some floss) hiking too. The floss can come in handy for repairs, or for fishing: http://www.colgate.com.au/en/au/oc/products/toothbrush/colgate-360-optic-white-battery-powered-toothbrush

 

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/cf/1e/31/cf1e3199766e956a370ca26c5203afb1.jpg

See also:

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/self-threading-needles/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/fishing-with-floss/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/four-gram-fishing-handlines/

10/04/2017: You may want to get a pet raccoon after this: https://laughingsquid.com/two-raccoons-hilariously-playing-with-soap-bubbles/  

10/04/2017: Guy Builds Water Cooled, 72,000 Lumen LED Flashlight and Takes it for a Nighttime Stroll: http://twistedsifter.com/videos/water-cooled-72000-lumen-led-flashlight/

 

09/04/2017: Super Simple Trail Meal: Take one packet of Ainsley Harriot's Spice Sensation Cous Cous (100 grams) 1492 kj (352 calories) plus ½ packet (65 grams) Craisins Fruit & Nut Trail Mix 1389 kj(332 calories) Totals (165 grams) 2881 kj (684 calories) = 4.14 calories per gram. Just boil 2/3 of a cup of water (approx 6 mls meths) and add to the couscous, stir and wait a couple of minutes for it to fluff up, toss through the trail mix. Eat. Delicious!

https://img.tesco.com/Groceries/pi/945/5050665005945/IDShot_540x540.jpg

https://buy.oceanspray.com/getmetafile/b846bbea-1c5c-478b-a872-f8038ef54e96/Ocean-Spray-Trail-Mix-Fruit---Nut-8-oz?maxSideSize=700

 

08/04/2017: The Thylacine Returns: Here’s hoping that ‘Tassie’ follows the Night Parrot and other such ‘beasties’ back from extinction. We once tried to hunt ‘The Inverloch Tiger’ with hounds, but the hounds just would not give chase, and only behaved very strangely. Perhaps this was because it really was something different (from the foxes and deer they were used to trailing) - as I understand hounds have to be specially trained eg to hunt big cats such as mountain lions in the US. On the oher hand I have encountered both a striped fox and a striped dingo over the years, so I will wait until they have the ‘snark’ in their hands before I agree ‘Tassie’ is back from the dead: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-24/tasmanian-tiger-sightings-spark-scientific-study/8383884

Benjamin, the last thylacine in captivity, at Beaumaris Zoo Hobart in 1933.

06/04/2017: Catching Your Breath - Walking Uphill: I am often gob-smacked by just how bright Willis Eschenbach is, but THIS observation was astonishing. Could breathing OUT more combat the breathlessness you get by strenuous walking uphill. I tried this out on my recent hunting trip, and it’s TRUE. I was able to walk in one go to the top of hills I normally have to pause several times to ascend and arrive completely NOT out of breath. Try it yourself: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/09/23/catching-my-breath/

The 'Road' to Lobuche.

'He said “You’re not breathing out enough.”

He explained that particularly when we’re swimming, but also with any exercise, people usually end up panting, taking very rapid, shallow breaths. We focus on breathing in, on forcing more air into our lungs. He said that the way to break that habit was simple—when you start running short of air, don’t mess with the in-breath, just breathe out for one count longer.

He pointed out that when we swim or run, we usually fall into a pattern. With me, when I swam I breathed out and then took an in-breath with every alternate stroke of my arms. He said when I ran short of air, there was no need to mess with the in-breath—what I had to do was just add one more beat to the out-breath. So for example, if I was running, I was in the habit of breathing in for two steps and out for two steps. When I started running out of breath, I needed to lengthen my out-breath to three steps … and then if that wasn’t enough, lengthen the out-breath to four steps, and so on.

And that was it. There’s no need to make any alteration to the in-breath, we’re all really good at that part. Filling up the lungs isn’t the problem, it’s emptying the lungs.'

Another useful breathing technique: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/breathing-trick-that-puts-you-to-sleep-in-seconds/

First Published on: Sep 29, 2013

06/04/2017: Breathes There The Man... from The Lay Of The Last Minstrel

Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832)

 

Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,

Who never to himself hath said,

'This is my own, my native land!'

Whose heart hath ne'er within him burned,

As home his footsteps he hath turned,

From wandering on a foreign strand!

If such there breathe, go, mark him well;

For him no Minstrel raptures swell;

High though his titles, proud his name,

Boundless his wealth as wish can claim;

Despite those titles, power, and pelf,

The wretch, concentred all in self,

Living, shall forfeit fair renown,

And, doubly dying, shall go down

To the vile dust, from whence he sprung,

Unwept, unhonoured, and unsung.

05/04/2017: Breathing Trick That Puts You to Sleep in Seconds: I always go straight to sleep as soon as my head hits the pillow, but I know some people toss and turn, especially in the wilds. Here's how to go out to it just like flicking a switch:

1. Before you begin, place the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth just above your teeth and keep it there throughout the exercise.

2. Exhale completely through your mouth quite forcefully so you make a "whoosh" sound.

3. Close your mouth and inhale quietly and softly through your nose for a mental count of four.

4. Hold your breath and count to seven.

5. Next, exhale completely through your mouth, making another whoosh sound for eight seconds in one large breath.

6. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three times for a total of four breaths.

http://www.popularmechanics.com/home/how-to/a15524/sleep-breathing-technique/

A good pillow is a big help. here's one I use:

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/exped-ultralight-pillow/

Another useful breathing technique: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/catching-your-breath-walking-uphill/

03/04/2017: An early morning reflection:

 

.

02/04/2017: Saw my first waterspout today! It was only a small one, about a metre high, and it appeared suddenly while we were gazing at the Mitchell River, at the Mitchell River Silt Jetties where the river flows into Lake King. Of course, I didn't have my camera to hand and this picture was taken after the event....and no doubt I missed the only chance I will ever have to photograph one...but it was so exciting! There was no wind detectable and I heard a sound very similar to leaves in a willy willy. Then the spout appeared, a twirling vortex of misty spray dancing about a metre high above the water surface. I stood mesmerized (well, apart from calling to Steve to "Look at that" without any indication of what "that" was). We both gazed transfixed as it danced on past us and then meandered over to the other side of the river, taking about 2 minutes or so before it disappeared. I was sure that it was a "watersprite ", a word that came go me from Shakespeare, I suspect. My googling of the phenomenon threw up the more mundane term "spout", but it will always be a magical sprite to me after taking 63 years to show itself! Must be time for a unicorn sighting next!

Image may contain: sky, tree, plant, cloud, outdoor, nature and water

01/04/2017: Blond Bay, Roseneath Reserve, Hollands Landing…Gippsland is just magical. Where else can you drive right to a wild lakeshore amongst the banksias to camp for the night, be serenaded by vast flocks of black swans (and the occasional bark of a hog deer) then be woken to a glorious sunrise where waterbirds hunt the dawn? (And with an internet connection!)

Spot is mesmerised by it too.



Pelican at Holland’s Landing.


Gulls scour the surface watching for minnows rising.



Then drop and pounce.


A family of divers on their morning swim.


A gull combs the surface: So many birds.

31/03/2017: More Gippsland Secrets: Here are another half dozen beautiful Gippsland places that I love

 

Sale Common: This is a truly wonderful walk starting at the old Port (on the right as you enter Sale from the West). You can easily spend a whole day meandering along its many paths and enjoying breathtaking wildlife views just a toddle from the town centre.

 Ross Creek: A little more out-of-the-way. As you travel up from Erica/Walhalla to Woods Point, after you pass the Mt Victor Spout on your left you will see a number of tracks marked Ross Creek. You should take the last (third) of these (which has the gentlest incline). At the end of the track walk up the creek to the ruins of this delightful C19th mining settlement.  This is a huge boiler which the forest is making its own.

 Macailster Gorge: You will have to canoe down the Macalister from Basin Flat to Cheynes Bridge river height permitting (or walk downstream from Burgoyne's Track). The cliffs which mark the beginning of the gorge have a distinctive Chinese look.

Snowy Bluff: Again this is a walk into one of our fabled 'wilderness areas'. The Mt Darling-Snowy Bluff Wilderness was set aside by Joan Kirner back in the 1980s. Few people visit. You walk in from Dimmock's Lookout on the Mt Howitt Rd above Arbuckle Junction. The going is thick in places as the road has overgrown (this will lessen as more people make their way to it). It is better treated as an overnight trip. There is water in the Mt Darling creek (right of photo). So many things named after Governor Darling.

Wingan Inlet: Little Cormorants make their home right at the inlet's mouth. You access this trip (on good gravel roads) from Cann River. So many beautiful things to see along the Croajinalong Coast.

Combienbar: In East Gippsland is one of those places you have often seen the turn-off to but never ventured nearer. Do! It is a place of utterly astounding beauty.

See also:

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/gippslands-hidden-secrets/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-great-gippsland-circuit/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/gippsland-pack-rafting-routes/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/beautiful-east-gippsland/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/canoeing-the-thomson-river-gippsland-victoria/

30/03/2017: Cooking for men? Or you could try Steve's Nepali Dahl Soup. Now with Della’s ‘seal of approval’!

 

29/03/2017: From Shirt To Puffy: Imagine a light shirt that automatically puffs out into a jacket when the temperatures drop. A textile lab is working on a fabric to do just that. This is a step upwards from the inflatable clothing I have written about before. I think it still has a way to go before it replaces wonderful down garmens such as Montbell’s, but it sure is an interesting development: https://gearjunkie.com/watch-fabric-transform-t-shirt-puffy

 

Like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-shuegwsrI

 

See also:

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/unbearable-lightness-of-being/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/inflatable-insulated-clothing/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/montbell/

 

29/03/2017: Some good news: Brownie The Town Dog's Grave.

Owned by no one but beloved by all, Brownie was a good dog: http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/brownie-the-town-dog-grave  

28/03/2017: New Ultralight Survival Shelter: Terra Nova Superlite Bothy Bags. There are occasions when you just may not survive unless you have a roof, even when you are planning to arrive at a hut or paid accommodation (See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-importance-of-a-roof/) If you are not carrying a tent (or even an umbrella See eg http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hiking-in-the-rain/ or http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-umbrella-redesigned/)  you should think about one off these. This new model from Terra Nova weighs only 253 grams, shaving 100 grams off the one I own. I carried this one: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/survival-shelter/ on my Everest Base Camp walk (see eg: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/i-saw-below-me-that-golden-valley/)

It weighed 350 grams which may seem a lot to haul 5 ½ kilometers into the sky when I didn’t need it! Then again, I haven’t needed a funeral plan yet either, and I’m not complaining! http://www.terra-nova.co.uk/tarps-bivis-bothies/all-bothies-bothy-bags/superlite-bothy-2/

Available at Massdrop right now for US$79.99: Superlite Bothy Bag

Superlite Bothy 2

For 2 people

Fabric: 70gsm polyester with PU coating

Silicone-coated fabrics

Dimensions, packed: 5.1 x 4.3 in (13 x 11 cm)

Weight: 8.9 oz (253 g)

If you were sitting on your Neoair Xlite Women's in there on your CycloneChair you should survive the night in warm clothes even if it gets down well below freezing, and the rain is pouring down - otherwise you would die!

Superlite Bothy 4

For 4 people

Dimensions, packed: 7.9 x 4.7 in (20 x 12 cm)

Weight: 14.1 oz (400 g)

28/03/2017: Snow Goose is Good food: Absolutely. I’m sure there are many interesting ‘bush meats’ might be added to that cornucopia too here in Oz. Throw for koala, echidna, platypus…on the barbie: http://maggiesfarm.anotherdotcom.com/archives/29657-A-Snow-Goose-is-good-food.html Includes recipes!

 

27/03/2017: Astronaut who walked on the moon: ‘why I know aliens haven’t visited Earth’. I thought it was a great headline too. I really liked his argument. But there is much more to Alan bean than that. He is also a gifted artist who encompasses real moon dust in his works: http://www.news.com.au/technology/science/space/astronaut-who-walked-on-the-moon-why-i-know-aliens-havent-visited-earth/news-story/cf021030a1a1b21d712512eb118d6b61

 

27/03/2017: Ultralight Keyboard Warriors: I took a side-trip to Reddit to re-post some of my ideas/adventures thinking ‘like minded’ people there might be interested, people at such sub-reddits as Bushcraft, Ultralight, Wilderness Backpacking, Camping and Hiking for example. You would think so, wouldn’t you? There was considerable interest from the readership, as you might imagine.

 

Unfortunately, like much of the media, these ‘sub-reddits’ are controlled by a small clique of control-freaks and extremists – by and large very rude people as well! Even though I sought (and gained) prior approval to share these posts from their ‘moderators’, nonetheless they were universally condemned and/or removed by the moderators and their extremist allies even though clearly the great majority of Reddit readers (ie 19 out of every 20) just came over for a look and most stayed for a much longer visit –and I thank them for it! The clique staged a massed campaign of ‘down-voting’ as well as frivolous, rude and contemptuous commenting – this from folk who have not a shadow of our bush experience - and much of it carried on in secret (from the 'community') in that it occurred after my posts were taken down in contravention of an expressed promise otherwise. I should mention that neither the moderator at MYOG or Trail Meals acted like this, indeed quite the contrary (and thank you) - but there are many negative commentators nonetheless who serve only to alienate people like me from engaging