The final week leading into a hike is definitely a frantic one for us. In addition to getting everything sorted at work and around the house, there’s the getting sorted on the hiking front and for us this falls into two categories. First there’s the social media and blog related preparations to put in place including podcasting and posting along the trail. More by chance, we have a newsletter due out two days after we start our trip, so and that’s the next job after finishing this post.
The image in this post is of our gear. It looks like a lot but it includes food and gear for two people including the sleeping bags that haven’t been stuffed into their compression sacks yet – they are the two bulkiest items in this image!
This is going to be the warmest trip we’ve done in a number of years which will impact sleeping bag and jacket choice helping to reduce a small amount of weight and bulk. We also have a few new pieces of gear we are testing out on this trip.
Tomorrow evening I have the introductory trip podcast episode to edit and release along with doing the final pack.
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Doing a walk in late March/early April isn’t a very common practice for us. Typically in most of Australia the temperatures are on the warm side. In fact, the first two days of this walk are forecast to be 28º Celcius which is not my favourite walking temperature and that’s why most of our multi day walks are undertaken somewhere between May and September.
The bushfires in Western Australia can also be an issue up until the end of April. There is one campsite along this trail which is currently closed due to fires which has impacted our daily planning and changed the direction we’re walking from South-North to North-South.
There’s always an upside and one bonus of doing a walk at this time of the year is that the night time temperatures are around 12º Celcius so cold isn’t likely to be an issue. Also being a mediterranean climate the rainfall is minimal – fingers crossed!
While it’s still a decision to be made, I’m tempted to leave my puffy jacket at home but I’ll definitely be in sun-smart mode covering up fully which includes my sun gloves to stop my hands getting sunburnt which is always an issue when using trekking poles in the heat.
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Yesterday was food preparation day and after doing this for a number of years we now have the process down pat. Having said that and even though I went shopping yesterday morning as part of my weekly routine, I totally forgot the last few items for our trip which required a quick shop run in the afternoon when we realised what I had forgotten.
There are a couple of differences with this trip than our usual remote wilderness adventures. First, COVID impacted our hiking trips over the past few years and as such we have a stock of ‘out of date’ meal packs that we are going to be using up on this trip. The dates are actually ‘best before’ rather than ‘use by’ so we’re confident the meals are still in good condition as the food is dry when you shake the bags. The only drawback is that many of the meals we have are single serve rather than double serve options so we will have a bit more fiddling around to do at dinner time.
Second, this trip takes us past a number of small communities, and we have the opportunity to drop into local stores to avail ourselves of at least one commercial lunch in Gracetown as the time we pass through this small town is perfect for a break.
The last food-related thing left to do is to pack the food into daily bags which we’ll do before we do a test pack on Tuesday.
The preparation progresses for our upcoming Cape to Cape Journey and we are now less than two weeks away before we start. One of the pre trip tasks that I do for every trip is a full gear review to make sure that we have everything we need. Typically we do this around two weeks out to allow adequate time in case we need to make any new purchases or replace any damaged gear. A good example here is that I have been having issues with my much loved Sunday Afternoons Ultra-Adventure Hat which after many years of faithful service has developed a kink in it in just the wrong place and while it is still usable I jam just finding it annoying so time for a new one!
In addition we will also be testing some new gear that we haven’t had the opportunity to try out on longer adventures including packs, trekking poles and in one of those rare occasions, at least for us, some luxury items like some lightweight sit pads for breaks along the way as we go as well as for the end of the day in camp. These sit pads are small enough and light enough that they’ll go unnoticed in the packs on both the bulk and weight front.
Over the past week we have done, and will continue to do, some short shakedown hikes to make sure everything is in place for the trip and is going to work for the way we hike. New hikers or old, shakedown hikes are a must before a trip even if all it does is confirm that what you have is still in good condition and does what its suppose to.
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Sometimes the logistics of planning for a hike can be more difficult than the hike itself and with thee Cape to Cape walk in Western Australia the planning, at one point, got to a stage where I was seriously looking at alternative hikes. To set the context, we needed to add some extra time at the beginning of the Easter holiday period which was the easy part.
Where things started to get tricky was that we need to to be in Canberra by Easter Monday at the latest to cater for work commitments. So holidays booked I started to work backwards from Easter Monday on what I thought would be an easy task. This was when I discovered that the commercial transport options from our initial plan of Perth to Augusta and then hiking north wasn’t going to work. The campsite I was planning on using was booked up (weekend traffic) and this forced me to then look at an alternate day and surprise, surprise the transport doesn’t run on Saturdays. Plan B was starting from Dunsborough and I still had the same issues, no public transport on Saturdays!
This is where I started to go into a flat spin and looked at different trails around the country without much joy. I can remember from last year that this time of the year isn’t the easiest with many trails undergoing high levels of maintenance and burn offs that make things difficult. After a good night sleep I got up and spent a good part of the morning revisiting the whole process and discovered that there are direct flights from Canberra to Perth and surprisingly enough it was at the end of my last working day so didn’t require extra holiday time. This ended up being a good outcome because it will allow us to start the walk from Dunsborough and hike to Augusta. This is a day earlier than planned and means that not only do we have extra time up our sleeve, we also travel home earlier than we expected which takes the pressure off the whole walk. In addition, the accomodation options and distances travelled worked out better. North to south is a rarity given I like to walk home but in this case we’re heading the opposite direction than I would originally do.
The trip south at the start involves a train then bus so we really do have the whole concept of ‘planes, trains and automobiles’. Our trip back is just in reverse and actually takes longer as we have around a four hour layover before we catch the bus back to Perth.
Distance wise we are planning on completing this walk in six days with distance travelled ranging from 10.3km on the first day, first half day really as we get of the bus, pick up gas for our stove, and head off on the trail head then onto our first campsite. The travel days vary:
One really big day, one short day, and the rest longish but manageable days. All that remains is to look at the food we’ll carry and check where we can pick up the odd lunch or dinner along the way.
It’s been just over 4 months since my last big solo hiking adventure and 6 months since our last couples trip and the adventure withdrawal symptoms have set in. This year we’ve decided for our 2023 couples trip that it was time to head back to Western Australia and do the Cape to Cape Track in the states southwest.
This track which travels between Cape Naturaliste to the north and Cape Leeuwin to the south covering a distance of approximately 123km and hugs the coastline for much of the trip, or at least stays relatively close to it. While this track undulates along the way the change in altitude aren’t really that great, at least for those used to hiking on the eastern coast with the highest point only being around 200 meters.
As I write this post I have spent much of the past 2 days sorting out trip planning, changing my mind about the whole trip altogether, and then managing to deal with the logistical issues that at the time seemed insurmountable (more on this over the next couple of weeks).
At around 123km in length this track is typically undertaken somewhere between six and eight days so we’ve opted to do it in six. We have a day up our sleeve if needed just in case we come across any unplanned issues.
It’s been just over 4 months since my last big solo hiking adventure and 6 months since our last couples trip and the adventure withdrawal symptoms have set in. This year we’ve decided for our 2023 couples trip that it was time to head back to Western Australia and do the Cape to Cape Track […]