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Put it to the Test

2019-09-22T10:42:22+00:00

This afternoon I went for a training hike in the pouring rain. It was cold, the wind on Willunga Hill was fierce and I even got battered by hail at one stage. Many people would think this is crazy. It’s much better to wait for favourable conditions to train in, right? Not necessarily. I made a couple of important discoveries during my training session.

I found out that my rain jacket, just over two years old now, is in serious need of an application of some waterproofing spray. Though it did not leak and the sealed seams are all intact, the outer layer quickly became waterlogged. Over time and with extensive wear, a garment loses its capacity for water to “bead” and run off like it did when the item was new. This makes it heavy, cold and less comfortable to wear. Applying a spray on waterproofing agent can greatly enhance the garments performance.

The situation with my boots, which are the same age as the jacket though they have endured much more wear, is more critical. It seems the membrane in the boots has deteriorated to the point where they are no longer waterproof. Sadly, even though they are still quite serviceable in fine weather, these all-time favourites will have to be replaced.

The thing is though, if I’d waited for better training conditions, I wouldn’t have come to these important conclusions.

At this stage in our preparation, the new members of our team are (hopefully) busy shopping for equipment. Even the old hands will no doubt be tweaking their kit to some degree. Buying equipment is fun, but you are not truly prepared until you put your gear through some serious testing.

One of the most under-rated (in my opinion) parts of our hike preparation is the requirement to go on at least two practice overnight training camps. These practice runs can lead to valuable insights, particularly if your gear is really tested by unfavourable conditions. There are a whole range of questions which can only be answered through testing yourself and your equipment. Do you need a silk liner to stay warm in your sleeping bag when it’s really cold? Does the floor of your tent alone provide adequate insulation when the ground is cold or wet? How much extra weight are you carrying when your backpack becomes waterlogged? How much longer (and how much extra fuel) does your cooker take to bring water to the boil when it’s cold? What type of hat best protects you from the sun without overheating you? What clothing combination do you prefer for hiking in changeable weather conditions? How much water do you need to carry on a hot day?

Equipment after a serious test run!

Spencers Creek and Happys Hut (first night of our KNP hike) are not the places where you want to find out your tent leaks or your clothing doesn’t perform as expected. Of course the manufacturer and the salesman claimed your gear was up to the task. But how will you really know unless you put it through a searching test run or two? It sounds very appealing to wait for a nice balmy summer night to do an overnighter. But your gear might not truly get tested.

In another month or so, we’ll all be resigned to a long, hot summer of training. Considerations such as waterproofness, windproofness and warmth can easily be forgotten about.

Now might be the time for some serious equipment testing!

 

Craig

22/9/19.

Put it to the Test2019-09-22T10:42:22+00:00

Revised 2020 hike dates

2019-09-11T10:01:54+00:00

As discussed, the hike has been pushed back a day. Details are now as follows:

 

Depart: Thursday evening March 26th.

Return: Friday evening April 3rd.

Revised 2020 hike dates2019-09-11T10:01:54+00:00

Route Plan for 2020 KNP Walk

2019-08-28T11:45:51+00:00

One group to walk as outlined below, the other group to do the reverse. Camping spots in italics.

 

Day 1: Thredbo (top of chairlift) via Rawson Pass, Kosciuszko summit, Main Range Track, Charlotte Pass to Spencers Creek. Approximately 22.4km.

Day 2: Spencers Creek via Perisher Valley, Smiggin Holes, Guthega Power Station to Horse Camp Hut. Approximately 20.0km.

Day 3: Horse Camp Hut via Whites River Hut, Valentine Hut to Grey Mare Hut. Approximately 19.9km (plus ‘side walk’ to Gungartan summit).

Day 4: Grey Mare Hut via O’Keefes Hut, to Mackeys Hut. Approximately 22.9km (plus ‘side walk’ to Jagungal summit).

Day 5: Mackeys Hut to Happys Hut. Approximately 17.4km.

Day 6: Happys Hut via Four Mile Hut to Kiandra (where track meets Snowy Mountains Highway). Approximately 25.5km* (plus short ‘side walks’ to Tabletop Mountain and Four Mile Hut). *Approximately 5km less if ‘off-track short cut’ taken north of Happys Hut.

 

Craig

28/8/19.

 

Route Plan for 2020 KNP Walk2019-08-28T11:45:51+00:00

Train hard, train smart … again

2019-07-19T05:51:28+00:00

Several months out from the last hike I blogged on this topic (you may want to look back on that one). This year I’m introducing it much earlier in the campaign as training is something which is a high priority in our hike preparation. Everyone is talking about it anyway, so let’s get specific!

Last time around, we introduced the concept of training hard but training smart. Generally I find, particularly at the start of the process, most of us don’t need too much encouragement to do the first part. If you’re part of a competitive, encouraging group like this one, the motivation to train is usually quite prevalent. Therefore, I want to focus on the “train smart” part of the equation.

To quickly recap information given previously, there are five main variables involved in your training. These are;

  • The frequency of training
  • The intensity or effort put in
  • The distance of the hike
  • The terrain you are covering (eg hills, steps, sand)
  • The weight of your pack

There is an understandable tendency to focus heavily on the weight being carried. I want to put to you, however, that this is far from the most important variable.

At this early stage of training, frequency is the most important thing. We are targeting twice a week and looking to establish a routine in this regard. In this way, we gradually build a hike fitness base. You can’t do that by having an exhausting training session then taking two weeks to recover until you can train again. Train at your capacity. Don’t bash yourself up if you have a week where the training goes out the window. That will happen to all of us occasionally. Just get back on the horse.

Since frequency is the focus, it is important to think about where you will train. People often make the assumption that it’s all about Mt Lofty. Don’t get me wrong. Mt Lofty is a great training ground. But training exclusively there in the early stages makes it difficult to allow sufficient recovery between sessions to keep your momentum. It’s also extremely crowded, particularly on Saturday mornings. Consider other options.

I regularly use a variety of training venues including Brown Hill, Aldinga Scrub, Willunga Hill and Hallett Cove boardwalk. I do little to no training on Mt Lofty until much later in the campaign.

 Is Paul training hard or smart?

As you get further in to your training regime, variables such as intensity, distance and especially terrain become more important. For that reason, from December onward, I will be encouraging everyone to climb hills whenever possible. Think about the time you are investing in each training walk and consider how you can maximise the climbing involved. For example, in the second half of the campaign, doing multiples on the steep section of Brownhill may be more beneficial than doing it once with flatter terrain either side.

Throughout all this, there must obviously be a gradual increase in the weight being carried. This is where we must be careful. If a given amount of weight is beneficial for resistance training (such as carrying a pack), then more must be better, right? Not necessarily.

The key word when we are talking about increasing the pack weight is gradual. Training at a given weight for an extended period then making a small increase is much more beneficial (and safer) than loading up quickly and trying to stay at a heavy weight over a long period of time. Here are some suggested targets for the weight of your pack as we go through the training process.

Now                              8kg minimum

Start of November         12kg minimum

Start of January             15kg minimum

Mid February                 20kg minimum

Start of March               25kg

1-2 weeks prior to hike- nothing!

The complication here of course is that many of us have done this before! The temptation for those people is to load up and get to the heavier weights much more quickly. This results in carrying heavy weight for an extended period of time, increasing the risk of burn out, extreme fatigue or injury. Train smart! For those who haven’t trained before, or those who may have struggled with training in the past, it is highly recommended that you stick to the minimum weights along the way. Do not succumb to pressure to keep up with someone else. This is a marathon, not a sprint.

In conclusion, here are some reality checks to consider.

  • All of us who are involved in the hike are past our physical prime. Sorry if that shatters anyone! We need to be realistic about training.
  • Those who have done this before are now a year older than last time.
  • The hike is still a long way off.
  • Most, if not all of us, have probably started training earlier than in the past so the time frame involved is longer.
  • The aim is to be at our peak at the end of March, not at Christmas.

Enjoy the training. Train hard, train smart!

Craig.

19/7/19.

Train hard, train smart … again2019-07-19T05:51:28+00:00

The Official Video Record – 2019

2019-06-29T12:26:10+00:00

These videos were compiled using media captured by various people during the trek. Together, the videos provide a reasonable insight into what happened during the 2019 Seeds Trek.

Craig’s Team

Jonathan’s Team

Google Earth Flyover from Bogong Village to Harrietville

The Official Video Record – 20192019-06-29T12:26:10+00:00

Sneak Peek at Peak Freaks’ Week

2019-04-11T00:43:51+00:00

Thirteen hikers formed a team

headed off to live the dream

undeterred, though it would seem

this would test our self-esteem

 

All our hopes had built for weeks

waiting on the God who speaks

through the things a hiker seeks

… ice-cold streams and mountain peaks

 

Full of hope, we hit the trail

searched the start to no avail

once on track, we would not fail

looking for our Holy Grail

 

Fallen trees along the tracks

water scarce at Bogong Jack’s

dodgy knees from heavy packs

resting eased our aching backs

 

Pressing on to higher ground

past the tree-line, summit-bound

cairns and trig points soon were found

prompting us to look around

 

Fainter’s views inspired the soul

Feathertop a distant goal

pushing hard was now our role

this was sure no pleasure stroll

 

Big name peaks were soon far-flung

cruising through the wombat dung

jokes were told and songs were sung

focus turned to Jaithmathang (Yate-ma-tung)

 

Made it to Tawonga Huts

stunning place – no ifs, no buts

snacked on chocolate, cake and nuts

three-peak days require some guts

 

Spending time around the fire

speaking of our hearts’ desire

we laughed and prayed to now inspire

joy of which we’d never tire

 

Up again, we met first light

left behind a rainy night

Pretty Valley came in sight

after that, we took a right

 

Half way through a third day loop

took us to the other group

climbed Mt Cope and earned a scoop

all together – what a troop!

 

Moving on, we had to scout

Weston Hut was crowded out

pretty soon we turned about

Blair’s was better … not a doubt

 

Now no option to defer

Knew the challenge must occur

slogged up Diamantina Spur

looking back on where we were

 

Challenged by the other mob

(lest they try to title rob!)

even summited ‘Big Knob’

keen to now complete the job

 

Big days’ work had left us wacked

Federation Hut was packed

thinking of the summits racked

there was now but one we lacked

 

This was not the time to stop

up at dawn to reach the top

marvelled at the massive drop

views that weren’t too hard to cop

 

Summiting was such a thrill

backed it up with Mollie’s Hill

running out of time to kill

next stop would be Harrietville

 

Brenton, Hugo, Paul, JD

Peters two and Michaels three

Marcus, Nathan, Ian and me

all convinced there’s more to see

 

Craig

11/4/19

Sneak Peek at Peak Freaks’ Week2019-04-11T00:43:51+00:00

Made for Adventure

2019-03-25T05:16:24+00:00

Around 3,000 years ago, an intimidating Hebrew warrior called Benaiah, right-hand-man of King David and one of my ultimate biblical heroes, performed what the Bible calls “great exploits” (2 Samuel 23:20 & 1 Chronicles 11:22). One of these was that he “went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion.” This feat, along with others in Benaiah’s resume (listed in the verses immediately after those quoted above), is not explained in any detail, although someone with a vivid imagination graphically described the scene in the 2017 novel, Succession Plan.

We may well ask why the Bible contains records of such events. Perhaps it’s because, like all good writers, those who were inspired by the Holy Spirit to record such things knew their readers. Assuming that roughly 50% of Bible readers are men suggests that action as well as fact is required in the narrative.

Benaiah’s life can be understood more completely by undertaking a study of the times in which he lived. David (particularly in his years as a fugitive) and his men were known to hang out at places like the cave of Adullam, the Crags of the Wild Goats and the Desert of Maon. These were men who knew how to survive and thrive in the wilderness for extended periods. In fact, it’s a common theme right through the Bible – men being summoned to the mountains or wild places in order to hear from God. Moses didn’t receive the Ten Commandments whilst sunbaking around the pool at a desert resort. He was called to Mount Sinai and ended up staying there for forty days and nights. He later sent some of his trusted men to check out Canaan for the same time period (that didn’t end so well in the short term). Elijah’s showdown with the prophets of Baal took place on Mount Carmel. Later, being pursued to the death, Elijah withdrew to a cave on a mountain where he would hear from God. Interestingly, it was quite possibly the same mountain (Sinai) for the same time frame (forty days) as that frequented by Moses.

Jesus, of course, spent forty days in the wilderness where he was tempted to abandon his mission. Scripture tells us that he regularly retreated to the mountains or wilderness to spend time with his father. An event which clearly had a profound influence on Peter, James and John as witnesses was Jesus’ transfiguration (Matthew 17, Mark 9, Luke 9 & 2 Peter 1:16-18). At this time, Jesus led them up a “high mountain” – probably Mount Hermon, an imposing snow clad peak near the border of Israel and Lebanon and roughly 1.5 times the elevation of Mount Bogong!

It seems there has always been an intriguing connection between wilderness experiences, men and their Creator. I wonder what God will do amongst a group of 13 men for 5 days on the spectacular Bogong High Plains?

 

Craig

25/3/19

Made for Adventure2019-03-25T05:16:24+00:00

Our Live Tracker

2019-03-24T10:33:47+00:00

Our live tracker updates every 5 minutes during the days of our trek. We usually turn it on when we wake up and turn it off when we get to our campsite for the night. Due to variable conditions, sometimes the trackers signal doesn’t connect straight away so sometimes if you are looking, you may need to be patient. This tracker is going with Craig’s team, which leaves from Bogong Village. The tracker only shows the previous seven days data so if there is no data, the page might look like it isn’t working, again, be patient.

Click here and the tracker page should open in a new window.

Our Live Tracker2019-03-24T10:33:47+00:00

BHP Hike Clothing

2019-03-02T01:48:23+00:00

You may have heard the expression “The weather on the Bogong High Plains has its own agenda” (Those who went on last year’s hike are probably rolling their eyes as they read this). The reason this quote keeps popping up is because it is so true. Consequently, the environment we will be hiking through demands that serious attention be paid to clothing needs.

Essentially, being adequately clothed for a high country adventure requires three types of layers for the upper body. Next to the skin is the base or thermal layer. Merino or wool blend products are ideal for this. They insulate against both cold and heat and do not retain body odour like many other products (particularly polypropylene!) Many of us have found that a short sleeve merino T-shirt for hiking and a long sleeve version for night time use is ideal.

Next is the insulation layer(s). Again, this can be merino, or some sort of fleece/wind stopper fabric. The number of layers of insulation required depends on the type of garment(s). Two lighter layers will give you more adaptability than one warm, bulky layer. Another option is a lightweight down vest or jumper.

The final, outer layer is the shell. This consists of a waterproof jacket, and is arguably the most important article of clothing in your kit for a hike such as ours. Warning: if you were thinking of saving money by purchasing a cheap jacket of inferior quality, forget it. This hike demands a high quality jacket.

Serious bushwalking rainwear has a number of specific features. Above all, make sure the garment is made from quality fabric and that it is seam sealed. Look at the inside to check that all the seams are taped securely; without this (or with an inferior version) the garment will likely leak badly in severe weather.

As well as being waterproof, it needs to be breathable (at least to some degree), otherwise the slightest bit of exertion whilst wearing the jacket will bath you in sweat. The more breathable it is, the more you will pay for it!

Typically, traditional bushwalking rain jackets are long both in body and arm length, to cover hips and hands when the weather is at its worst. They have a generous, adjustable hood and wrist cuffs, velcro closures to cover the zipper, a draw string waist to trap body heat when required and some extensive external pockets. Expect to pay at least $250 to get something of suitable quality. As a general rule, the further north you go from this price range, the greater the degree of breathability.

A selection of waterproof jackets (on some high quality models!)

Below the waist, layers are less numerous but still important. Many find walking in shorts is generally quite comfortable in autumn on the High Plains, with lightweight long pants for night time. “Zip-off” type hike pants are ideal – walk in shorts and zip the legs on when it gets cold. The real debate centres around the need for waterproof over-pants. While perhaps not essential, I would place them in the “highly desirable” category. In extremes of weather (cold, wet or windy), you will be glad you packed them. They do not need to be as expensive or high tech as the jacket in order to be effective. Some people ponder the need for thermals under the long pants. My advice would be to forget thermals and get a lightweight pair of over-pants to do the same job with more versatility. You might also have to factor in the quality of the hike pants. Whichever way you go, think twice before leaving the over-pants behind when heading to the Bogong High Plains. If you do go without them, make sure your hike pants are quick-drying.

There are some other articles of clothing to consider. Make sure your undergarments are suitable and comfortable. Wear one pair of good quality hiking socks (Aldi merino?) and take one spare pair. Wear a sun hat/cap for hiking and have a lightweight beanie or similar to keep you warm at night. Gloves, also not essential, are worth thinking about. A lightweight, close fitting pair is probably more practical than bulky ski type gloves.

My final pitch would be to try not to take more clothing than is necessary. But make sure the clothing you do take is up to the job. After all, “The weather on the Bogong …” – well … you know what I mean!

 

Craig

2/3/19

BHP Hike Clothing2019-03-02T01:48:23+00:00