Hume and Hovell Track 2019

Food caching
Cache container before painting
Cache container before painting
Cache container after painting as well as a drop box
Cache container after painting as well as a drop box

Today was food caching day and we drove in the direction of the Hume and Hovell Track to play hide and seek with our food. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term it’s the practice of dropping off food and/or water against a future need. If we are being precise what we did was a combination of practices:

  • A food drop at a place we will be staying; and
  • A food cache where we hid a sealed plastic container, essentially in the middle of nowhere, at a location where we estimate we will need to pick up food. The most important part is to ensure we can find it again.

This requires some careful planning because a miscalculation will have impacts. Drop too early or  too often and you run the risk of wasting food or having too much weight to carry. Drop too late and you run the risk being short of food. A day or two without food is manageable, if unpleasant. More than that can be a real issue potentially ruining your hike and becoming dangerous if you’ve really miscalculated badly and you are in a remote area.

One thing that amazed me today was we visited interesting parts of rural/remote NSW we have driven past many times but never visited. This has really whet our appetite for the hike ahead!

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Over the past week we have been progressively putting together food for our upcoming Hume and Hovell Track trip. Bit by bit over the past week the pile of meals and snacks has grown bigger across the lounge room floor and after finishing work yesterday, we spent a fair chunk of the evening finalising our food packs.  And when I say we, it was mainly Gill! The fun continued this morning as we double checked and took some items out and backed everything up ready to go. As part of the process we weighed our food and ended up averaging 659grams of food/per/day. This amount worked out pretty well as based on my Bibbulmun Track hike last year I ended up eating 659calories/day.

Now we have packed everything into day-by-day allotments, all that remains is to purchase a container for caching our food; but that’s tomorrow’s job.

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Eleven days to go and as we prepare for our upcoming trip a saying comes to mind ‘Life is what gets in the way of living’.

By this I mean that both Gill and I have so much to do before our trip before we go; around the house, in preparation for the hike, and in family matters. While we’re confident from a planning perspective we still have a lot things to sort out; finalisation of food packs, food caching, transport arrangements and last but not least packing our gear.

One task we have been meaning to do for a number of months has been to re-waterproof our rain gear and tent fly – something that is certainly needed. While these pieces of gear have been doing a good job of keeping us dry, they have long since stopped bleeding water which is a sure sign that their water proofing ability is on the wane.

Given all this, for us this is one of the most least organised hikes we have done over the past five years but certainly one to which we are both looking forward.

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We are now less than three weeks out from starting our Hume and Hovell thru-hike and around two weeks until we drive part way down the track to cache our food!

Over the past week we have worked out what we are short of, meal wise (we have a large stock of freeze dried meals sitting at home ready for use), have placed the order for additional freeze dried meals and mandatory Clif bars, have purchased our nut and dried fruit allotment ($194 worth, thanks mainly to $50 of Pistachios) and over the next ten days we will start packing our food into daily packs before working out what sized container we need for caching.

This sounds like a lot of money for dried fruit and nuts, and it is, but for those of you who have followed Australian Hiker for a while, you will know that time is our most scarce resource. And even though we won’t use the full purchased amount of fruit and nuts, from a ‘cost benefit’ perspective purchasing commercially prepared food is a logical choice for us.

Over the next ten days we will start assembling all our gear into a spare room in the house to identify any issues or shortcomings. We aren’t expecting any great surprises on this front but always like to do a pre-pack about ten days out just in case.

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For those of you who read our previous post, and can add up, you may notice that our departure date has changed. Less than an hour after I uploaded our first post the boat operator at Burrunjuck Dam contacted me with a date change bringing our trip a day forward. This actually suits us and was our original planned start date. So now we will commence our hike on Saturday 31 August.

Over the past week we have ramped up our training and are now carrying loaded packs on a number of our walks around town. Over the next few weeks we will be doing some longer walks in our local area to replicate our planned daily average on the trail of 22 km. For various reasons I’m now at the heaviest that I have been in around 15 years and am around  11kg heavier than my ideal hiking weight of 93kg. I expect to loose around 7-10kg over the trip but would have preferred to be starting lighter than I am. I still have nearly a month to go so need to get my act together.

Many of you are aware that last year I walked the Bibbulmun Track and even at 1005 km it was logistically easier with the track passing through a number of towns on a regular basis. This year we have no such luxury and will need to cache food in advance. I will also be without a power point for a period of 16 days. Due to my blogging and podcasting activities I have up’d the size of my power bank beyond what the average hiker would even consider. Not quite brick sized but getting there!

Over the next week we need to double check our proposed schedule, build our food list, and drag all our gear out to check any shortfalls. We are also both in the process of wearing in our chosen shoes for the hike.

For those of you who are interested in our journey on Wednesday 7 August 2019 we will be publishing our first podcast about this trip and we will provide an overview of the track, the logistics we need to consider, and our expectations for the trip. Go to our podcast page to listen.

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It’s time again for our big hike for the year and for 2019 it’s the Hume and Hovell Track. The Hume and Hovell Track is located wholly in the state of NSW with the northern trail head in Yass, just outside of Canberra, and the southern trail head 426 km to the south in Albury on the NSW/Victorian border.

This hike follows the approximate route of the Hume and Hovell expedition in 1824. These days there are a few new dams in the way and in an attempt to minimise construction costs, the route isn’t the exact one that Hume and Hovell undertook but its very close.

Now I have my big annual hikes picked out for the next four years and have the basics mapped out even for those hikes years in the future. In fact, I’m more ahead in my planning for next year’s long distance hike. This year is different. I usually start my detailed planning at least two years out from the start date and while the decision to do this hike occurred around 18 months ago, I only really started on the basic planning earlier this year.

Due to personal reasons it’s taken me until about two weeks ago to confirm the actual itinerary and even then the linch pin, the boat travel across Lake Burrinjuck, what determines our direction of travel and actual start date, was only confirmed this morning. We start on the 1 September! Now for those of you paying attention you may have noticed the plural pronouns and yes Gill will be joining me this year. As strange as it sounds, planning for a solo hike is actually an easier process (more on that in coming weeks).

Over the coming 34 days we will be posting at regular intervals, initially once a week and then daily in the final two weeks on this section of our website as we ramp up our preparation and planning for this hike. Over the hike we will also be posting as phone and data signal allows.

In the next few weeks the Australian Hiker podcast will dedicate an episode to our trip and we will talk you through what is one of Australia’s lesser known long distance tracks. We will also be recording and releasing podcasts on the trail as well, so you can hear the highs and lows as they happen.

We look forward to sharing this fantastic experience with you!

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It’s time again for our big hike for the year and for 2019 it’s the Hume and Hovell Track. The Hume and Hovell Track is located wholly in the state of NSW with the northern trail head in Yass, just outside of Canberra, and the southern trail head 426 km to the south in Albury […]