I arrived in Hobart around 40 minutes later and while it was a smooth flight the poor little plane was battling 100km headwinds all the way there. I spent the afternoon socialising with family who I am staying with and taking in the views of the city down below.
One things that went through my mind was the day length as we approach the summer solstice in just under two weeks and given how far south we are the days are very long. In fact it was very very light at 9:00pm and by 5:00am this morning it was the same. My original plan was to start walking tomorrow morning but as someone who hates sitting around I’m seriously considering starting my walk this afternoon and doing 13.4km to Point Eric and given the Parks website rates this as ‘easy to medium’ and estimates it takes 3.5-4.5 hours that would meet by preferred stopping time of 8:30pm which would allow me to set up my tent in daylight and cook 9. I’ll see what happens when I land after the flight to Melaleuca this afternoon as to what the conditions are and how I feel.
Last night I put my final pack together and apart from water and gas which I’ll pick up when I land in Melaleuca.
Today is a matter of waiting and after an early lunch will head off to Cambridge airport for my flight to Melaleuca.
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As this post publishes I’ve been up for a few hours and am just doing the last minute watch charging and eating breakfast before heading to the airport for my flight to Hobart, Tasmania for the start of my trip on the South Coast Track. I started my leave yesterday and in all honesty I needed that extra time to play catch up on things that I hadn’t gotten to over the past week.
Yesterday was spent fiddling with my packing and from a logistical perspective I have a weight limit of 15kg on my both my check in luggage today as well as for my flight to Melaleuca tomorrow and the travel bag in this image is sitting at about 14.8kg. I also have a small lightweight daypack with some very odd things in it like gaiters, travel shoes for my return trip, and my electronics.
Not long to go!
In preparing for my journey on the South Coast Track I was tossing up between using one of two packs, my Osprey Talon 36, and my Osprey Exos 48. I know from previous experience that my 36litre option works for trips up to 4 days in non snow conditions and I was hoping that I could ‘push the friendship’ and manage to use it for this trip as well. Unfortunately no go and as expected it came down to my food taking up more space than my gear itself. Including food, gas and 3l water my total pack weight is 17.2kg and later today I’ll pull it all apart again and see what I can leave out to trim the weight before loading it into my transport bag for my trip to Hobart tomorrow.
Gear all sorted and ready to do a test pack/final pack tomorrow! If you are paying close attention to the image you will notice that there are two packs and the reason behind this is that I still have to determine which one to take. If I was just carrying gear I could very easily get away with my 36 litre Osprey Talon Pack but its going to be the food that may push me into my larger 48litre Osprey Exos. While I own a number of packs what’s missing as far as size is concerned is something around the 40litre mark which would be the ideal. This means that I will do a packing attempt on the smaller pack to start with and see how I go. For me its not so much about the weight but being able to carry a physically smaller pack is a real luxury as as it just creates a sense of freedom with arm movement that larger packs don’t afford. i got away the the 36 litre pack on my East Gippsland Rail Trail Trip earlier this year but that was with 4 days of food. We’ll see how the packing attempt goes in the next post.
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Part of yesterday morning was spent putting my food together for my upcoming trip on the South Coast Track which I start walking next Saturday after flying into Melaleuca the day before. I’ve done this enough times now that I’ve gotten quite quickly in doing it and this time it only took me just over an hour given that I had most of the food already in the cupboards. It gave me an opportunity to identify any missing items ( me evening meals are being delivered tomorrow) and get every bagged up ready to go for a trial pack in the next couple of days. I’m carrying food for the afternoon evening of the day I fly in as well as until I get a lift back to Hobart the next day so should I have to extend the trip for whatever reason I’m covered.
Over the past few years I have managed to work out what my eating patterns are and while I wont weight my food bags until tomorrow I am now at a pointy that I’m sitting at roughly 550 grams (dry weight) of food for each day. I’ve worked out over the years that it’s pretty much impossible to consume the amount of calories I burn on a daily basis and when I’m in full on long distance hiking mode I can burn up to 8,000+ calories a day on my really big days. This trip is nowhere near that extreme being a 5 day trip so I have weight to loose and plenty to eat as I go.
The other thing thats worth noting is that Tasmania has its own set of quarantine regulations like most states and its worth checking what these are rather than assuming what you are packing will be allowed in.
Tasmania is known for many things including for some excellent hiking but its also known for its rainy wet climate. Over the years that I have been researching the South Coast Track the impact of heavy rains on this remote and wild track has been a common theme with any number of images available online showing boggy conditions and hikers wading through deep mud.
Earlier this year when I decided to walk this track I identified mid November or early December as the two options available for me because like most tracks in Tasmania snow is always a potential. I’m really glad that I decide to opt for early December because the rain just kept on persisting through November and in addition the week I would have chosen had snow down to 500 metres. A couple of days ago the Tasmanian Parks service issued warnings for some areas of Tasmania will all the persistant rain increasing water flows and creating very muddy tracks in some areas.
Its now less than a week before I start walking the South Coast Track and while I’m going prepared for whatever conditions that are thrown at me we are now getting dry weather and good longer term forecasts which is a good thing. In fact temperatures are forecast to range between 6-19 degrees Celsius and almost no chance of rain for next Saturday which the day that I physically start walking but I’ll see what happens in reality once I get on trail.
Every time I undertake a new adventure I always look at my gear and where possible, see what new toys I can justify. I’m a master at coming up with reasons for why I need new gear – sometimes over and above any valid replacement reason.
Since we started Australian Hiker in 2016, my focus has been on becoming an ultralight hiker. This means that when it comes time to replacing new gear and all things being equal, wherever possible I will opt for lighter weight gear. Over the past few years I have tweaked this focus slightly with a prime example being my new sleeping mat; the Therm-A-Rest NeoAir XTherm which has now replaced my well used (after many thousands of hours) Therm-A-Rest NeoAir XLite mat. I made my decision based on the benefit of the features and was happy to accept the 110 gram weight penalty in the process.
In addition to my new sleeping mat, I will also be playing with some new blogging gear I have been eyeing off over the past few years so watch this space!
One of my big focuses for 2022 has been to lose weight and get back to a high level of fitness that was my norm prior to the start of COVID in 2020. I always find it easier when I have a key hike planned and while the South Coast Track is the shortest (at 85 km) of the three longer hikes I had scheduled for 2022, it will certainly be the most physically challenging.
On any given week I walk a minimum of 50+ km with much of this being with a 5-7 kg day pack. In addition, over the past month I have been doing hill ascent walks with weighted packs plus 3-4 hour walks on undulating ground.
I have now have two dedicated packs for these training walks. My hill ascent pack contains a 10 litre water bladder that I walk uphill with and drain at the summit to reduce the impact on my knees on the way down.
The pack I use for my long walks on undulating ground contains a series of 5 kg rice bags. I find using heavy duty rice bags an easy option and even after more than four years they have held up well – for carrying of course rather than eating!
I had a pleasant surprise a couple of days ago when I did my most recent weighted hill walk at the ease with which I did it and how well I recovered post-walk. Next week we are off to the Australian Alps for the last of my longer walks prior to the trip and before tapering off the training in the week before.
No matter what the trail there is always a degree of logistical planning involved. Some trails are relatively easy to manage while others can be quite complex and the south Coast Track in southern Tasmania falls into the later category. In fact this trail was once considered accessible to only the most experience hikers but has now become almost mainstream.
In my case in traveling from Canberra my logistical considerations start before I have even left home and include considerations on how to get to and from Tasmania and then how to get to and from the trail head where weather can play a big part, sometimes creating delays.
Again even before I’ve left home I need to look at the Tasmanian Biosecurity laws about what food stuffs I can bring into the state. Most people never even bother with this but you run of risk of loosing some of your supplies if you don’t take this into account.
Then theres the planned daily walking distances. At just on 85km this trail isn’t overly long but the terrain can be an issue with steep sections, wet sections, and even river/creek crossings that can be challenging and can create delays if the weather conditions have been particularly bad and in this case I’m glad I wasn’t trying to do this track a few months ago.
My logistics are almost done and I just have the last couple of bit of planning left to do as i head towards the start of this track in just under a month
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2022 has seen me pivot away from doing multi week trips due to a very busy work year combined with lots going on in my personal life. A few months ago Gill and I completed the Great Ocean Walk in southern Victoria and in early December, I (Tim) will be doing a solo hike on the South Coast Track in southern Tasmania. For many years this track was rated as difficult and only really suitable for very experienced hikers. While that’s still the case, many hikers with varied experience are now undertaking this walk with the ever increasing numbers impacting on the trail quality.
At just 85 km in length this track is typically undertaken somewhere between four and eight days based on write-ups I’ve reviewed. The Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service recommends six to eight days so I’ve opted to do this walk in five days. I do have a day up my sleeve if needed just in case water levels on the creeks create delays.
As this post goes to air, I’m in the process of working through the last of my logistics in addition to upping my training in the lead up to commencing the trip.
2022 has seen me pivot away from doing multi week trips due to a very busy work year combined with lots going on in my personal life. A few months ago Gill and I completed the Great Ocean Walk in southern Victoria and in early December, I (Tim) will be doing a solo hike on […]