As Charles Dickens might say: ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…
The Best of Times:
The weather, although a little cold was fine and sunny affording us a pleasant walk over beautiful terrain.
Some sections had been burnt out by fire in 2015, but just seeing the regeneration and the hard work of the track volunteers gave us pause to appreciate the cyclical nature of life and recognising that some plants needed the fire to reproduce.
On our second day, we spotted a Wombat!! They are extremely rare here in Western Australia, and although the Primal Labrador tried to get close and snap a picture, not having a powerful zoom lens meant it was always going to be a difficult task… but with that low centre of gravity and wobbling butt there is no doubt what we saw.
I think I’ll forgive him in a few days for comparing my bottom to said Wombat! 😉
Our pack weights were just right, shedding the extra spare clothing was a good idea. We’ll probably never be truly ‘ultralight’ hikers, as some of our friends can attest it’s just safer and easier to have the right gear in case things go pear-shaped.
The Worst of Times:
The Primal Labrador (PL) started the hike with a couple of blisters on his toes from his run the previous day. This injury made things rather uncomfortable for him, and it continued to get worse the further we walked.
I have been running in a pair of Saucony Nomad Trail Blazer shoes in order to move more towards wearing light, minimalist footwear, and I chose to wear them instead of my hiking boots to see the effect of having less weight on my feet over a long distance. I have residual scarring from the treatment of a Morton’s Neuroma, and unfortunately, due to the added weight of the pack, I didn’t have enough padding on the bottom of my left foot over the rather hard ground. I had been running in these shoes for the previous four weeks and had not experienced any significant pain, so I felt the shoes would be good for the hike, as they are both light and flexible. I began to limp a little after having climbed both Mt Vincent and Mt Cuthbert, which caused stress to my right knee, and by the time we stopped for lunch on Day 2 at the base of Mt Cooke it was beginning to swell, and I was in a lot of pain. We pushed on and by the top of Mt Cooke, the highest of the three at 571m, I could barely walk.
Being a long way from anywhere all we could do was slowly pick our way down from the top, and after Anthony had examined the maps, he decided to get us to a track that led out to the main highway. At this point, he would leave me and walk out to the highway, either hitchhike a lift or walk to where our 4WD waited still some 25 Km away, and drive back to pick me up.
Amazingly he got a lift within a few minutes of reaching the highway from a lovely Aboriginal couple and was back to get me less than 2 hours after he left, I was most surprised and very relieved to be going home. The PL was an absolute hero, as he was walking/running on blistered feet himself.
At no stage were we in any actual danger, as we always carry emergency shelter, first aid, extra water and communications gear, so even if things went disastrously wrong we had other options.
We will simply come back at a later time to where we had to finish, and just continue… 145 Km down – 860 Km to go!
Thus ended our hike, one day early. And now onto the most important part… 😉
As a whole taking our own food rather than processed food worked out well. Even when tired, we still had energy to spare due to fat adaption. We found we took enough food that we were never famished, but not so much that we were carrying dead weight, aside from the fact we had the third days unused food parcel.
The Primal Labrador particularly liked the chocolate seed biscuits, even if they were a little burnt around the edges… He has requested to take more next time, and have them in place of his seed drink for breakfast due primarily to the simplicity. I liked my Caramel Nut Bar as well, and will definitely take more next time.
I recently got my hands on a jerky gun and using the raw offcuts from the jerky we sell I had made some beef jerky straps which were quite nice, although I will have to try to use a little less salt next time, and we could have done with more in each pack… It’s just a simple, easy snack when you’re on the move.
The home dehydrated meals, on the other hand, didn’t work so well. Although they were tasty, the meat remained a little hard and chewy given we didn’t want to carry the extra water while hiking which would allow them to rehydrate properly, and the portion size was waaaaay to big. Next time I am thinking of blitzing the dehydrated meals in the Vitamix and turn them into more of a bowl of soup, as this should hasten the rehydrating time significantly, and work better within the limitations of having only a Jetboil stove for cooking.
In conclusion, despite coming home a day early, the food worked extremely well, and we will continue to make our food on all our future hikes.
I am still working on the best recipe for the PL’s chocolate seed biscuit, but you can find the recipe I put together for my nut bar here. The only thing I am changing is swapping out the desiccated coconut for larger coconut flakes, for a bit of added crunch and texture.