We are back from our eight day hike from Kosciuszko to Mt Hotham and are pretty tired. The hike turned out to be an epic, and although it was tough while we were in the midst of it all, it was good physical and mental training for the rigors of climbing Mt Everest.
We wanted a hike that would push us a bit, so in planning the route Fiona increased the distances that we would walk in a day. We usually find that we walk faster than expected, so she increased the distances significantly compared with our normal amount. What we didn’t take into account in the planning was that much of the route of the Australian Alps Walking Track between Kosciuszko and Mt Hotham is through untracked bush, and consequently the going is much slower. Partly this is due to the extra time spent navigating (we don’t have a GPS), but mainly because of the need to constantly battle your way through the dense scrubby undergrowth that has sprung up since the 2003 bushfires.
For four days in a row we woke up at 5:30am, were walking by 6am and at 10:30pm at night we were still walking! To save weight, we had only bought one torch with us, so this certainly didn’t help things (not the smartest decision in hindsight!). Normally we would cut back a bit on food to save some load in our packs, but we didn’t want to skimp on meals this trip as we are conscious of maintaining our body weight so that we have plenty of energy stores before we get to Nepal. From past experience we have lost a lot of weight on climbing trips, and Everest promises to be harder and longer than any others.
The first six days were really hard going, but the last two were relatively much easier, allowing us a bit of time to recover. Our friends Chris and Bridget met us on the last day and it was great to have some company. Much of the walk was very remote and in fact we didn’t see a single other person for the first five days.
On day six we were quite excited because we decided to make a detour so that we would pass through a small town marked on our map (Glen Valley) and could get some more food. The long days had made us really hungry and with the heat we were particularly looking forward to an ice cold drink. About three hours of walking through untracked bush later, we emerged at a small cemetery on the outskirts of the town, and rested there for a while. Some tourists were visiting the cemetery and came over and talked to us, as they were curious as to what we were up to – just appearing from nowhere! We explained and asked them if they had been through the town and if there were any shops. They said that they hadn’t got to the town yet, so didn’t know. They drove off, but about five minutes later came back with some terrible news – apart from a couple of houses, the town was almost non-existent. They then proceeded to the back of their car and gave us a couple of cold drinks from their ice box, saying that they knew how disappointed we would have been! Needless to say we were extremely grateful.
On the hike we saw a black snake right in front of us. When we saw it we froze and it froze, allowing us to get a picture! We also saw a small green grass snake on another day – strange as we have never seen snakes before on other hikes. We also saw lots and lots of brumbies, however they would always hear us before we got too close and would run away, so we never got a good photo of them. We couldn’t work out why they seem so timid when they seem to have no predators and are interested to hear from anyone who knows why?
We finished the walk at Mt Hotham yesterday and are happy to have done about two thirds of the Australian Alps Walking Track – will have to finish off the rest later, but definitely at a much more relaxed pace.
More gear has arrived while we were away – crampons, vacuum flasks, a head torch, thermals and socks. We have had our last vaccinations today and have been researching the medication we will take with us – more on that later.
Gu Sports, the makers of Gu carbohydrate gels and energy drinks have agreed to sponsor us and provide us with energy gels and powdered sports drinks. For those who aren’t familiar with Gu Sports Gels, they contain both simple and complex carbohydrates in an easy to digest form, giving you a quick burst of energy when you want it, and also slow release energy to sustain you for the next period (about an hour). Thanks guys, we will need it!
Til next time,