Didier Walks kids hikes on the Bibbulmun Track

Maddie on the Murray River

Maddie on the Murray River

Welcome Maddie to your new accomplishments, muscles and self-empowerment. This young lady (11) is my niece, she joined myself and her cousin Sheldon (14) who is now well known on my hikes, he’s completed over 250km with me.
This was Maddie’s first multi-day hike, approx 30km over 2.5 days and it wasn’t an easy one. We faced changing plans, overcome challenges which she handled maturely and confidently.

I parked the X-trail on Driver Rd and we joined the Bibbulmun Track with the Murray campsite the destination. Spent a day at the campsite on the river to explore, relaxed and then returned the next day.

Gear Issues

Her new backpack from Kmart broke in the first couple of hours but this did not sway her from the task. She immediately went into fix it mode which would have made her grandmother (my mum) extremely proud.

Things can happen quickly when you are hiking, I learnt to not panic, keep calm and make good decisions.

Maddie


Maddie carried own gear/consumables that weighed 11kg. Maddie is tall, determined and very fit from her athletics which she takes seriously.

In fact when Maddie asked me to come along, I asked her to perform a task for me. To carry a 10kg backpack for an hour. Maddie did it and walked to her friends house with her hiking boots on.

Maddie did well, I have invited her to come on a longer hike in Autumn, with a better quality backpack. We will look at how we can keep the weight to a manageable level which can be a challenge for smaller people.

A gift from hiking is self empowerment

Didier

Maddie popped her head out of the tent during the night. To unexpectedly see a million stars out to greet her. It was a moonless night. This new young hiker woke her cousin up, out of his sleeping bag and together they enjoyed the show.

If your kids show any sign of wanting to do some hiking, please encourage it and see it through. Make something happen for them.

It truly is an amazing experience for them. Kids learn self empowerment out here which is the only true empowerment.

Didier prior to his Bibbulmun Track end-to-end

Hike your own hike extends to your gear

“The photo above is Didier a week before he departed for his 2016 end-to-end of the Bibbulmun Track. He spent months researching and preparing. But nothing prepares you better than just getting out there.

 


 

– This article was written for the July 2018 issue of the Mundijong/Serpentine newspaper The Crier –

As we are now into winter and possibly your first overnight hike. You may not have the gear you need. But you don’t want to spend a fortune maybe not much at all on gear.

You may want to try hiking and gear out before you spend your money on something that will last for years

There are several options to getting hold of some cheaper or free gear, lets look at them.

The over $50 basics you just must have are a one-person tent, sleeping bag and sleeping mat. A 2 person tent can be shared a with someone else.

A tent must be carried on the Bibbulmun Tent even if you plan to stay in a hut/shelter.

Gear needs to be suitable for hiking, smaller and lighter the better. Most of us would like to carry lighter gear, but hiking is about being real not always comfortable. During my end to end of the Bibbulmun track, I carried an average of 19kg which I do not regret. It helped me become the hiker and person I have become now. Find out what your limit is.

As long as you can carry it in your pack and it all weighs 17kg, that is reasonable to expect.

Borrow

From your family and friends – Hiking and camping gear is something many people have in the shed and forgotten. They would be happy to see it used and you may also be able to keep it after or buy it off them after you try it out. But a warning check the gear, put up the tent, don’t assume it was looked after even if it wasn’t used.

 

Hire

The only reasonable place you can hire gear in Perth is the Bibbulmun Track Foundation; but they are very heavily booked during the hiking season. You can hire a tent, sleeping bag, sleep mat, everything you need. They only carry good reliable gear as it is hired out to end to enders.

Purchase 2nd hand

Your tent

You can purchase reliable 2nd hand tents online as my friend Louise and I discovered. Two one person 3 season tents for $100. The biggest consideration is that it’s a 3 season tent so can take the heavy rain, it can fit on or in your pack and its not too heavy. You can expect a suitable one person tent to weigh around 1.8kg. You can find much lighter, but the price increases dramatically.

Your backpack

A 50 to 70 litre backpack is the typical size for overnight hikes. You can easily buy 2nd hand packs online on either Facebook, gumtree for instance. You will find everything from dodgy, to unsuitable to quality bargains. Do your research beforehand on brands but mainly features and then search for that. I have recently seen 50 to 70 litre packs going cheap online which may sound great. But they are unsuitable for hiking because they are designed for climbers. They are long very narrow packs, which are difficult to pack with everything you need.

Your sleeping bag

Whether to buy or not buy a 2nd hand sleeping bag is a personal choice, you can get the bag washed and you can buy a sleeping bag liner which slips into your bag. It helps keep your bag clean, increases its temperature rating depending on the fabric and if it is a 2nd hand bag, keeps you separate from the bag. On the Bibbulmun Track in winter you need a bag with a comfort rating of no higher than -5. Or a sleeping bag, liner combination. Down in a valley it can easily get down to 0. Each sleeping bag has a , comfort, lower end and extreme rating. My Sea To Summit bag has a comfort rating of -5. I’m a warm sleeper so even in the -5 conditions of the Blue Mountains I was comfortable in simply shorts and t-shit

Your sleeping Mat

A reliable and comfortable hiking sleeping mat is important if you want a good night’s sleep. When you are hiking for a few days, you can expect to be using your mat around 10 hrs a night because you need the rest to recover. The risk in buying a 2nd hand mat unless you buy it early and test it out at home a few nights is obvious. Do not leave the repair kit at home, been there done that, fortunately I have not needed it but it’s useless at home.

Purchase new

If you want to buy new, look out for clearances, try cheaper stores like Anaconda, buying cheap mats like anything online is risky. Though check out online eBay stores read reviews on gear.

I haven’t included footwear on this list because all I ever recommend is comfortable walking shoes or boots. Walking shoes must have good grip. Whether you use shoes or boots is a personal choice. My brother in law and nephew have used their Big W hiking boots which cost under $40 for now over 120km, no complaints from either about comfort or quality.

I do most of my research on Youtube, by asking my hiking friends, other hikers then I make up my own mind. Unfortunately, advice I have received from a few different cheaper outdoor stores or who also sell non-hiking gear on more than one occasion which I won’t mention here was bad even potentially dangerous.

A Manager wanted to sell me a sleeping bag that was no where near warm enough for the conditions I told them about. Then a young sales person was arguing with me about a tent they said was a big one person but was obviously 2-person tent. They then insisted that the 2 after the name was the series not how many people it is designed to carry. Buy from the cheaper stores but research elsewhere.

You are always welcome to contact me about gear but I will also tell you Hike your Own hike extends to your gear. There is so much pleasure in researching and making up your own mind.

Sol cooling off during a ward day hike

Hiking In The Perth Heat

Hiking In The Perth Heat

The Perth hiking season tends to be between weather patterns than dates. We stop when it gets too hot early December and we start hiking again Mid March when it cools down.

During the summer if there is a glimpse of a cooler day, many Perth hikers will be very responsive and hike to it.

Hiking is about responsibility to the environment around you, others and yourself and during Summer multiply that by 10.

Summer may be one of the best personal opportunities to hike. That’s when most of us take time off work and relax.

I’m not into a blanket no hiking rule over summer, that just breeds ignorance. Get educated and take responsibility and action it. It requires all three.

You can still hike in a Perth summer with some considerations; everything below is actions that will only make you a smarter hiker which is what we all want.

Most people who get themselves into trouble on a trail is due to lack of planning, it’s so easy to forget something.

Create your own list and tick it off, don’t become complacent.

When I started hiking again after many years away, it was a game. It was fun until I was in trouble. Nothing serious but enough to give me the jolt I needed.

Plan your hike

Planning my hike is now one of the most enjoyable parts of the hike. In summer you will enjoy your hike a lot more if it is in the shade. Choose a trail that has plenty of cover like around Dwellingup rather than John Forrest National Park. Dwellingup has several suitable trails from Nanga Mill campsite, fees apply to enter.

Planning is all about research, never think that you know enough, your research never ends. One of the last things I do is get online and check weather conditions. Western Australian Emergency Services for current fires, Parks and Wildlife for track closures and diversions. The Bibbulmun Track Foundation site if it’s on the Bibb. It is not intended to sound patronizing but I have chosen to not simply provide the links because it’s about taking the responsibility to do your own research!

Writing this I visited no less than half a dozen websites about hiking in the heat.

Early morning hiking is a summer option, it is simply magical. Watching the light rise over a hill or through the canopy of Jarrah. Listening to birds greet each other good morning. Catching kangaroos looking for breakfast, enjoying the coolness of the morning.

While researching sites on hiking in the heat, some articles still suggested it was ok to have a campfire as long as you managed it. No, it is not! This does not come from me but emergency services and Parks and Wildlife.

I’m not going to tell you not to light a fire simply because it’s against the law, because many of us still speed 5km over the limit even though there is a law telling us not to. But in the bush, the smallest choice can have severe consequences.

Exercise: Next time you are in the bush on a hot day, get down on your hands and knees, be present, practise mindfulness and feel what is on the ground. It’s a combination of very dry leaves, twigs, branches. Then close your eyes and imagine a flame or cigarette, its scary imagining being stuck in a forest fire.

I purchase the balance water simply for the bottle, they hold one litre, are strong and the perfect long narrow shape.

The more of your body you cover up from direct sunlight, the happier and more comfortable you will be. It is worth investing in quality hiking clothing. I said quality on expensive. It is all about breathable lightweight long sleeve tops and long pants which you can buy anywhere or buy from hiking stores during clearances. I receive daily emails from all my favourite outdoors stores with great specials.

When you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated!

I sweat a lot while hiking, so when I’m hiking in any heat I carry 4 litres of water per day. I drink 5oo ml’s before I start. I may not drink 4 litres, but I may need it.

Take responsibility

This is when some of the ultralight hiking gear community whose aim it is to under kilo each other and not take responsibility should just keep their opinions to themselves.

I use a combination of a 3-litre water bladder which I blowback after each sip to prevent water in the tube from heating up. Then I have a litre water bottle with electrolytes/sports drink.

As well as drinking water, you need to replace the lost electrolytes. Bringing foods that offer you energy-filled complex carbohydrates like pasta, wholegrain bread, oats, green leafy veggies if you are doing multiple days or the day before a day hike.

If you plan to hike several hours, there are different ways of structuring your day. Leave at sunrise and reach your destination before lunch. You can have regular hourly stops under shade of trees. Many hike for a few hours followed by stopping for a couple of hours in a shady spot, take a nap or a swim if there is that option, then mid-afternoon continue to where you plan to finish or camp. I personally like all three options and will choose depending on the situation.

 

Summer brings out the snakes, they are one of the most feared elements of hiking in Summer. Be present, stay aware and remember snakes will not go out of their way to attack you unless you are potential food which you will never be or if it feels cornered.

Enjoy your summer hike, do your research, plan, take responsibility and you will enjoy it.