Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Physical preparation

This might sound scary, but a minimum physical preparation is required when you are planning such a backpack trip.

The backpack

As you can imagine, our backpack won't be feather light. We do not know the final weight yet but our first estimations indicate that we should be nearing 15kg at maximum each. It takes at least that to carry the tent, two sleeping bags, mattresses, cooking gear, cloths, water, food and our beloved gadgets. 

This will be our house for the next three months. Thus, it is important to carefully select what will be necessary and what equipment is a must have to be able to share all of it with you... such a smartphone, battery pack, SD card reader, backup hard drive, small computer etc..

To know what is or is not necessary, it is generally quite easy. Ask yourself the question "do I use this everyday", if no, then leave it behind. If yes, take it!

Training hikes with the backpack

Tioman Island (Malaisie) 7 km de marche pour atteindre Juara
Since Taiwan, we took the habit to go on regular walks. Not necessarily big ones, but at least 3-4 times a week.
In Australia, we lost a bit this habit, and what where riverside walks in Taiwan kinda became basic around the house walks .. quite boring.
But on the weekends, when the weather is nice, we do make longer walks and explore a bit of the surrounding Australian bush.

Around Epping (the place where we live), there are huge national parks,  as well as trails that connect Sydney to the northern town of Newcastle a few 250km away. A few weeks ago we did a small piece of that trail between North Ryde and Epping (15km) in the Lane cove national park. Have a look here at the statistical date and trail map.

Last weekend, we were especially lucky. Four days off (easter) and luckily four days of good weather. This was the perfect occasion to push the experience further and go for a training hike with our backpacks!

The idea was to do two days in a row with a camp stop. Sadly, on the trail we wanted to do, the camp spots were all booked out, so we changed our plans and ended up doing two walks with a stop back at home in between.

Saturday, March 30th - Great North Walk - 20 km

After a quick look at the different options available that star near our home, we've decided to go for a 20km walk from Epping to Hornsby (a town 4 train stops up north). Starting with a segment that we had already done previously, the second part appeared to be much more interesting and hardcore. Especially the last part. With huge rocks, segments going up down and finally straight up 200m to the finish. Perfect to destroy your morale and legs! (click here for the map)

2013-03-30 12.50.22

Sunday March 31st - Mt Kuring-gai Trail - 9 km

The next day, same idea ... but less brutal. We took on the Mt Kuring-gai Trail of 9km.

2013-03-31 15.38.25
Arrival at the top in Berowra
The first part of that trail is like a joke. It goes down for about 1-2km. Lots of rocks, so it still takes a bit of concentration to not fly down into the canyon. After that, it's a nice 3km flat walk following the river. Again, rocks, trees, branches ... almost the jungle!
This goes on for a few more km until the serious business starts. Going back up!

The initially said that this walks takes 4 hours to complete, and we are walking since 2.5h ... something is going to happen! Well once you are down, you need to go back up. 200m or sharp canyon to climb up, but what a view at the top! It took us 30min to reach the top, but I guess that taken easily, 4 hours is an optimistic measure.
Check out the map here

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