Each year I try to walk a long distance hiking trail for my main annual holiday. Sometimes I do this solo and other times with my wife Gill. For Gill her decision to walk with me tends to be based on several factors that include the length of the hike. As a rule, her preference is around the 2½ week timeframe – she says there are so many other things she could be doing after that – so anything longer than 2½ weeks and I am on my own.
Walking solo as opposed to walking with others is a very different beast. It forces you to look inwards, to be self-reliant, and to be comfortable with long periods of solitude. For many hikers spending multiple days or even weeks by themselves in the middle of nowhere isn’t high on their list.
In November of this year, 206 days away to be exact, I am planning to commence my solo hike on the 680(ish) km Australian Alps Walking Track (AAWT). The AAWT starts in Victoria, travels through NSW, and finishes in the ACT, travelling through Australia’s alpine regions. The AAWT is by no means Australia’s longest trail, not by a longshot, but it is classed as one of the more technical walking tracks. This track can be impacted by snow for up to eight months of the year, is affected by bushfires in some years, involves travelling in remote parts of Australia’s high country, and the availability of water can be a bit sketchy. So, you need to plan and pay attention. In addition, there are some sections in open country that are off trail and as such, the ability to navigate is more crucial on this track.
As I write this post, we are in the middle of the Coronavirus crisis and #stayhome. Depending on where you live in Australia, the ability to travel remotely has been greatly curtailed for all but essential purposes. I am an optimist at heart and I am assuming that by the time I intend to start this walk towards the end of this year, travel restrictions will have been relaxed. Not to put all my eggs in one basket, I’m making alternate plans just in case.
My usual lead into a long distance hike happens in discrete stages. Stage one starts a couple of years out as I decide what hike I will be doing and I do general reading to familiarise myself with the chosen trail. If possible, I will walk a smaller section of the trail and in the case of the AAWT, I walked the 112 km section from Kiandra to Tharwa over Easter 2019. It was an enjoyable walk and confirmed some concerns I had, but also provided some clarity on what was required for me to do this track.
Stage two is where I am now and usually starts around six months out. This is where the detailed planning occurs and over the last ten days, I have done a fair chunk of my logistical planning. I have booked my leave at work, set out my first draft of my daily schedule, arranged my transport requirements, and completed my detailed food list. In addition to logistical considerations I am also ramping up my fitness training. Over the next few months I will review my gear – I have several items due to be replaced purely based on the logistical and environmental requirements specific to this track.
Over the coming months I will post updates at key stages and more frequently as I get closer to the start date. As usual, I will be podcasting during this walk but I have yet to work out what that looks like given the remoteness and potential for lack of connectivity.
If we all do the right thing now, my planning won’t be wasted. I look forward to sharing this trip with you.
Each year I try to walk a long distance hiking trail for my main annual holiday. Sometimes I do this solo and other times with my wife Gill. For Gill her decision to walk with me tends to be based on several factors that include the length of the hike. As a rule, her preference […]