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Published: November 4th 2020
The plan to do another end to end was born out of being restricted to travelling within the state and having 8 weeks of long service and annual leave approved. Having done an E2E in 2016 north to south I always knew I'd do a south to north at some stage, just not quite this soon. Given that I had previous experience to fall back on it was pretty easy to get this one planned. I followed the same basic principles as it generally all worked well last time. My main areas of preparation were; coming up with an itinerary (gotta love the spreadsheet), working out and producing food for 56 days (the spreadsheet gets an extra tab), deciding what to pack (yes, another tab), and training. Life had other plans though so things evolved a bit as I went. Itinerary
I had decided that 8 weeks would be my preferred option again for the walk in order to really appreciate it and that I would like to have another week off work after it to allow for any issues that might arise i.e. illness, accident, inclement weather, general mayhem, etc and also to be able to reintegrate back
to my "usual life" after 8 weeks of wonderfully simplistic trek routine and significant amounts of solitude. I was going to walk south to north because I had already done the alternative. My initial start date was ultimately dictated by work- I had to be back for the school holidays and yes, she'd give me the entire 8 weeks off using a combination of annual leave and long service leave. I'd have to request days off before and after the finish to give me some time off before going back to work but that was pretty likely to happen. So, Thursday July 16th would become the earliest start date.
I then looked at the distances between huts and decided where to 'single hut' and where I could 'double hut', and where to take a couple of days off and put those things into the trusty spreadsheet. Another thing that was instrumental in choosing where to single and where to double was that there were group bookings in place for certain huts and I was desperate to avoid large numbers of people (the BTF website has a 'notice of intent' for groups). There were no scheduled closures in place for
any parts of the track or any of the shelters for my time frame which was good.
I utilised a couple of social media platforms, namely Facebook and Instagram. Of note were the Bibbulmun Track Hikers (private group) https://www.facebook.com/groups/1646437428771047/about
and the Bibbulmun Track group (public group) https://www.facebook.com/groups/110523759908/about
to keep abreast of goings on on the track. The BTF website became a daily visit to gauge updates and is an all round comprehensive resource https://www.bibbulmuntrack.org.au/
, the Department of Biodiversity staff also became my new best friends and were quite happy to field phone calls. I also utilised the DBCA website (https://alerts.dbca.wa.gov.au/
) for information about prescribed burning schedules.
My plans were almost completely railroaded mid June when I found a lesion on my scalp. I saw my GP who did a shave biopsy which revealed a squamous cell carcinoma, I got referred for urgent dermatology review. During this consult a lesion on my nose that had changed over the last 12 months was also of concern and a biopsy was scheduled for the following week with a fairly definitive "no, you're not going to be going on your hike". I got home and put away all of my hiking gear
State of my nose before starting
Hat and sunscreen will be most important items this time
and the food prep that I had started got shelved. On the 6th July I got told the nose lesion was a BCC and she had arranged a plastic surgery consult that afternoon. On the afternoon of the 7th July I was booked in and had an excision and flap repair of the scalp SCC and an excision and bi-lobed flap repair of the nose BCC. I was now on sick leave. The procedure went well, the nose stitches came out after 7 days, the scalp sutures the following week. The plastic surgeon said that based on my progress and the fact I wasn't in a hospital work environment there was no reason not to do the track as long as I was diligent about sun protection and keeping the wounds clean (challenge accepted!). Given that I'm a nurse he was confident I'd know if there were any problems. So..... it was all back on. I had 3 days to finalise my preparations.
My new start date was the 24th July but I would still be due back at work on the same date so the itinerary required reworking to condense it into 49 days. Yep, doable, I mean lots of people walk in way less time. My 49 day schedule looked good as long as I didn't need any rest days. No worries ?! Food Prep and Resupply Boxes
I was in the fortunate position to be able to prepare all of my meals ahead of time. I worked out how many breakfasts , lunches , dinners, snacks and drinks (tea, coffee, milo, powdered milk in grams) that I would need and created yet another spreadsheet (with colour coding!). I also factored in arriving and departing the track towns where I would buy some meals/snacks and not eat my own supplies. Dehydrated spag bol versus steak and salad in a track town- a no brainer!
Being the, now well experienced, owner of a dehydrator (Sunbeam Food Lab DT6000 https://www.sunbeam.com.au/Food-Lab-Electronic-Dehydrator-1.aspx
) I set to work on my food prep with confidence. I used the Backpacking Chef http://www.backpackingchef.com/
site extensively again for some new ideas as well as a few others- Doomsday Preppers actually have some decent info!! Really! Backpacking Chef is really clear with lots of pictures and hints on packaging, storage, etc so I'd recommend it to anyone just starting out. Some sites were pretty technical and looked at kilojoule, protein, carb amounts required but I didn't go down that path- I went on the cross your fingers and hope it works out path last time as well as this time. Breakfasts
were my easiest. I love oats. I made up lots of little zip lock bags of oats and added milk powder and dried things to them. I ended up with a few varieties:
banana, dates, cinnamon, nutmeg
cranberry, nuts, cinnamon
I added a spoon of protein seed mix to everything- I love that stuff.
I also had a couple of Sultana Bran bags and a few bags of Wheatbix with grains (YUM!!!) all mixed with powdered milk. Lunches
included cup of soups, tuna in foil packets, homemade dehydrated hummus, crackers (ryvita, vitawheats, rice crackers and rosemary cheese flavoured crackers), wraps and those cheese triangles in foil. I also added in blocks of fresh hard cheeses as they keep really well. Bread rolls, fruit and boiled eggs were a great addition that I could pick up in the towns. Dinners
were a rotation of:
Chilli with mince
Chilli without meat
Savoury mince with veges
Cauliflower and green lentil curry
Pumpkin and chickpea casserole
Indo mie chilli noodles x 2 packs (wish I had had more- so delicious)
For the beef dishes I made a large pot of spag bol sauce, a medium pot of savoury mince and a large pot of beef mince chilli and dehydrated them then measured them into plastic ziplock bags. The vege dishes were both made in large batches and divided too. I separately dehydrated an assortment of veges- onions, capsicum, carrots, cabbage, broccoli, peas, corn, tomatoes, pumpkin and parsnip which I added bits and pieces of to all the vege based dishes. For the carb component of the dinners I cooked and dehydrated various types of rice, lentils and pastas and added them to the bags. It seems counterintuitive to precook the rice, etc but it actually made sense in that that it greatly reduced cooking times at the campsites- the plan was that I'd just add boiling water to them and let them rehydrate rather than having to actually cook anything. I also had couscous which is super instant. Snacks
were plentiful- I counted on 3/day and amassed a variety of biscuits, fruit cake, trail mixes (made about 5 individual varieties), mini chocolate bars (fun size snickers, mars, etc), big chocolate bars and muslei bars. As stated I also bought fruit and additional snacks- vanilla slice, choc caramel slice, etc in the towns. Storage
- I stored all of the meat dishes in the freezer bringing them out a couple of days before packing the food into my resupply boxes. The dry goods I stored in a cupboard- keeping it all together gave me a good sense of what I had. I removed all of the cardboard or superfluous packaging to reduce weight. Packing resupply boxes
- Using the coloured spreadsheets I divided the meals and snacks into separate larger ziplocs or vac bags (I vacuum sealed daily packs last time- a tip from Backpacking Chef- it really reduced the volume for packing them into, firstly, my resupply boxes and then into my food bag for each section but I didn't have as much time to do that this time. Into my resupply boxes I then added things like new gas canisters, the section map/guidebook, tissues, hand sanitiser, paperback books, mosquito coils, my daily contact lenses, Paracetemol, etc. It was a giant production line when it came to creating the boxes and was pretty time consuming but it meant that I was very, very organised! Last time two weekends before the start of my End to End I took a road trip south and delivered each of the resupply boxes to the visitor's centres in each track town. The boxes were clearly labelled with my name, contact number, husband's contact number and expected collection date. Not this time- this time Geoff dropped me in Albany and dropped all my boxes off on his way home to Perth. Made it very easy for me. Lots of people also mail out their boxes to hostels, post offices and visitors centres (good option because they are open 7 days a week, albeit on sometimes short opening hours). Gear
My aim was to have my pack absolutely
under the 15kg mark (with 2l water). I didn't actually get around to weighing but I'm sure it was about that on the longer sections. See the photos of my packing list with the weights of everything (at the end of the trip blog. I'll also comment on the workability of the gear list and what I would do differently next time). I've done a lot of multi day hikes now and have a good sense of what works for me. I had most of the stuff but purchased a few new things for the trek. I needed a new Luci light (last one left in the caravan park at Prevelly) https://lucilights.com.au/products/luci-original
and a new head torch- found a new style for this trip- light and no batteries required https://www.knog.com/product/bandicoot-headlamp/
I would have liked a new lighter weight pack but didn't get around to it so my tried and tested Osprey came with me again.
My aim was to be very fit and train with a full pack. I never really did get around to actual training, especially as I was consumed with the operation stuff. I generally walk about 8km 4-5 mornings a week but on the flat, that'd have to do. In an ideal world I would have been doing lots of hills. I have done the Cape to Cape in the south west of WA for the last couple of years with little training, I thought it'd be fine.
In terms of baseline health I just have the usual aches and stiffness. I did visit the podiatrist for a check of my orthotics- I have bunions and my 2nd toes get sore from the "clawing" grip that often occurs with bunions, she did some minor modifications but that was it. The Write Up
I wrote a long daily blog of my 2016 E2E, this one is less wordy. Last time I wrote everyday in the pages of whatever novel that I was reading for that section, this time I was more minimalist and just dot pointed on the back of my paper planning spreadsheet. If you're keen for the long version see below. https://www.travelblog.org/Bloggers/gillg/Trips/29729
Tot: 2.349s; Tpl: 0.025s; cc: 24; qc: 124; dbt: 0.0572s; 2; m:saturn w:www (22.214.171.124); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.8mb