Over the next few days with the lead up to my departure I will be sharing with you my journey of preparation that I have taken so stayed tuned!
Also check out my post on Bibbulmun Track to see more about it.
My Training Program:
As I prepare for any of my hikes and adventures I always like to be prepared mentally as well as physically. These both require exercise in a very different way and for me I have over the years realised how important they both can be to a trip. What I share with you is purely what I do, this is not must or how to, just what simply works for me.
The physical to me means not only physically fit but also healthy on the inside. I am quite a fit active person in my day-to-day life and do spend a fair amount of time being physical, but as I get closer to a trip I zone in the physical to activities that will benefit my journey ahead. I will start months in advance with walking and over the time add my backpack with weight and each week increase the weight till it is at the weight I will expect to carry on the journey. With this I also wear the boots I will be walking in to get my feet comfortable in them, which isn’t hard they seem to melt beautifully into my boots every time singing I’m home.
This all sounds simple and it is but for the walking I try to walk on terrain that mimic’s the terrain the best it can that my journey will be, for example if there is a lot of sand walking to do I will walk along the beaches in soft sand for km after km, or rugged climbs I will take every possible hill climb possible and try to go bush for it. This does prove difficult at time as I live in Western Australia and we are not known for our hills so I will then do bike riding as it helps build the muscles necessary to climb. Squats is the other thing I like to do and I gradually build them up to squatting with a full pack! (handy thing for a woman) I also like to do walking laps and swim at the local pool as well as at the beach. I particularly love walking in the ocean knee-deep and tend to do this over the summer a lot, really find this strengthens my legs well.
The time I spend on training is dependant on how busy my day-to-day life is at that particular time. I do try to go every day and I don’t always go by how many km’s I walk and not even the amount of time I walk. This is what I use to do but now I find I listen more to my body and work with it and take direction from it. I do find though if one can walk with full pack on a moderate walk for 2 hrs straight have a 5 -10 min break get up and feel good and ready to go again then you are doing well.
Another part of my training is one I have just incorporated into my everyday life and have been doing it for so many years that I hate missing it and that is Pilates! I really feel this has been one of my most important parts to my training as it has helped me so much with the strength of my core and the way I can hold my body to support the weight it needs to carry on my back. This has also helped with the way I walk and over the years, and my beautiful trainers have worked well with me to improve my hiking style. Big thanks to Bec and Grant from Bodyworks in Subiaco. They have been really supportive and help me prepare myself for not just this journey but past as well. They also are great to help in the recovery of an injury along with my wonderful physiotherapist, Damien, who has been working with me for so long now and he has helped me prepare for all my crazy adventures and fixes me up when I break. Thanks Damien and I promise to try to come back in one piece.
Inside health is just common sense and I always try to eat healthy, though I am not overly strict, I do pay attention the getting the right balance in my body for it to perform at it best. I will also add supplements as the body may scream for it especially extra magnesium to help the muscles recover. On this journey I will be eating all my own dehydrated food and though I have cooked and prepared it myself it is still food that my body is not used to on a regular basis so as I have come closer to the departure date I start to eat the dehydrated food at least once a day so my body get use to it. This isn’t something everyone would do but I do as my stomach requires it and it helps it transitions before I hit the trail. I do this when I am preparing for an overseas trip by introducing the types of foods I will be eating in that country.
I also do go to the dentist and the doctor and have check ups to be sure I don’t have any surprises while away. Proven to be a good thing when your dentist insists you need a crown before leaving because you sure as hell don’t want to be out in the middle of nowhere or in a foreign land and have dental or any health issue.
Now for the Mental Prep:
I lot of people don’t even think of this and some probably don’t need to but I do. I like to prepare myself mentally for any trip and every trip is different. I started meditating many years ago and found that this helps me a lot especially when you are on a trip alone and for a long period of time. I have found that it really helps when in a situation on a track arises (which can happen at any time) or you have not seen anyone for days and the only voice is your own. I will meditate each week and when I am walking and training I will spend time meditating. I remember on one trip in Portugal and met an Englishman who I walked on and off with over a week, he told me of how he meditates while walking and showed me how. It was and has been a great lesson.
The other part of the mental prep is the knowledge part. This is where I will focus on the journey ahead and what to expect, research, talk to others who have walked it, study the maps, check websites of the trail and be updated on weather, diversions etc. For me this is important not to go into a journey blindfolded which I see happen a lot.
The last part of my mental step for this journey will be on my 6hr bus ride to Albany from Perth. This is where I will switch off my everyday routine and focus solely on the walk ahead. In doing all this I am prepared as I can be to enjoy the journey the best I can.
What to pack:
When planning a trip especially one like this you have to think about what are you going to pack. I always say ‘You Pack It You Carry It!’ and on this trip it means that for the 53 days I’m on the trail I am carrying everything I need on my back. That is around 2 months worth of stuff!
Lessons of the past…..
What does one NEED for 2 months? not WANT, NEED! I always remember back in school when we had to write the list of wants versus needs and I always thought back then ‘what do I care about learning this stuff? who cares this is modern life we can have what we want, right?’ Well who would have thought that all these years later I revisit those lessons of school and have to think “what do I NEED not WANT”
So what does one need in the bush for 2 months while walking the track?
Start with the basics –
The Bibbulmun Track is so well set up to provide two of these needs. There is shelter available for you at each campsite. This is in the form of a three-sided (mostly wooden) hut that has platforms for sleeping, a roof to protect from the elements and most the time a picnic table in the middle. The shelters are well thought out and are positioned in the best way by facing away from the typical direction of the wind in that area. Each campsite is a comfortable days walk along the whole track with the northern end typically 10km’s apart, (this is due to the built up population of the area and that the terrain is more rugged than the south) and 12 – 25kms apart on the southern end.
It is always suggested that you carry a tent with you especially if you are walking the whole track just be sure you do have cover for the night. I always do this even if I know there is a shelter at the end of the day or not. Why? because if something was to go wrong in between camps and I can’t make camp I will always have shelter. Sometimes I carry my hoochie, a light tarp or my tent. The other reason is the shelter might be full, this has been the case on some occasions but do note on the Bibbulmun the End – Enders have right of shelter over day walkers. I personally prefer my tent so always try to sleep in that and only use the shelter is there is a storm.
Water in Western Australia can be hard to find as it is quite a dry place at the best of times and can have very long hot summers and not a lot of rain. You quite often read on the map there is a creek or stream crossing coming up and it usually is dry. The southern part of the track does get more rain normally and you will get to cross or even walk in water.
The Bibbulmun Track have the water part of the needs covered for you by the way of water tanks at each campsite. Most will have two tanks and depending on the summer season to how much water you would expect to find in them so it is important when out there to be cautious and considerate of others by using only what you NEED.
The water is rain water but is always advisable to treat this water to be safe. Sometimes the water can come out of the tank quite dark in colour, like coke-a-cola, This is OK don’t worry as it is only the tannin from the leaves of the trees and won’t harm you just look awful.
This is up to you to sort out. Read the post on food below to see what I did.
Once the three main things are covered what else does on NEED? You need a bag to carry it in, one that is of good size for you, one that is comfortable on your back. To help choose a bag for you can read my post here; How to choose a backpack.
Maps and Guidebooks:
Important to have UP-TO-DATE maps and guide books. I can’t stress this enough! Tracks change and are re-routed all the time! Why? because as a community, a society we are growing and moving all the time and to accommodate this new towns, new roads etc are built which means things get moved around and the other thing is natural this with the land change all the time and we have to accommodate that as well. So that map you had in the 80’s I can pretty well guarantee it won’t be the same as today’s track.
Where to get these maps and guide books? You can buy them at most outdoor stores or even go on-line to the Bibbulmun site and buy there. http://www.bibbulmuntrack.org.au
The other important thing to do is Learn To Read The Map! No point in carrying one if you can’t read it!
I take the bare basics. I have only one change of clothes and that is it but I do carry what is suitable for the type of hike I will be walking. Do your research and find out what is the typical weather patterns and the temperature expected in the area that you are walking and pack accordingly. Have clothes that are suited to what you are doing for example I need clothes that breathe well with good wicking, can give me warmth as well as keep me cool, dry really quick and be multi functional. Don’t want much do I?
To help choose what clothes etc to choose check out some of my past posts: How to choose Underwear for hiking!, BOOTS. How to choose., Sleep Gear – How to choose, How to Choose Socks, and also check out my Gear Review this is building slowly so keep an eye on it!
I try to keep this as minimal as possible meaning I don’t carry plates, pots etc. On this trip I will be taking my Minimo Jetboil. It is my stove, pot, plate, bowl, coffee plunger and can be my cup but like to carry my old metal cup. Most (not all) campsites have a fire pit but do not rely on this to cook your food and be aware that in Western Australia there are fire bans and restrictions. Respect this! I can’t stress this enough, these restrictions are in place for a very good reason and it is to keep us safe and the bush safe from bush fire. Always check the www.bibbulmuntrack.org.au site and http://www.dpaw.wa.gov.au for updates and check the notice boards at the campsites as many post the updates and fire season on there.
To see everything I will carry on this journey watch my video of ‘Whats in the Pack’ What’s in the Pack! This video I put together to show exactly what I would carry when walking a track like the Bibbulmun.
This is a big part of preparing for a journey like this. I will be out in the bush for 53 days with only 9 points of contact. That is 9 times I will be in a town or some type of civilisation where I can buy food and stock up on food. Some of the places I will be stopping will have a limited choice in what I can have and get so I have prepared all my food before I leave.
It is not until you start to get the food together that you realise just how much you need to prepare. Lets face it, it is not everyday that you get organised for such a long journey bush, a lot of the time it might be a few days, a week, maybe 2 weeks or so. That can be a mission in itself to get organised but for 2 months it does become more of a challenge, especially when like me you are cooking and dehydrating all your own food.
How do you decide what food to cook and pack for that amount of time?
It is important to remember to keep your body as healthy as you can and give it the right amount of nutrients it needs to perform at it’s best while out there. You must remember that your body will be working a lot differently to how it works in your normal day-to-day life. To begin with you are constantly walking in a more rugged terrain with a heavy pack on your back, this means you will be using more energy than you most likely use at home. The other thing to remember you are not ending the day sitting on your comfy lounge and having a warm shower and sleeping in a cosy bed and resting soundly for your body to recharge. You are outdoors, no shower, no couch, no cosy bed, just you and the campground, your tent or the shelter that have boards to sleep on. So your body won’t rest as well and recover as good.
I started my preparation of food some 4 months earlier with cooking meals that have lots of veggies including beans, lentils, rice, some with pasta as well as some with meat. Once cooked I would then dehydrate the meals and pack them into portion sizes and vacuum seal them. Sounds easy but very time-consuming. I also made a variety so not to be bored out there eating the same food every night. Some nights I will have Spaghetti Bolognese filled with veg, other nights will be yummy salsa with loads of beans (good job I’m in my own tent) and some nights just a real hearty casserole with mash potato. I have also packed damper mix to cook on the fire, some have herbs in, some falafel mix and mash potato.
Desert I have yummy pancake mix i will use to make pancake bombs (best desert ever!), cake in a cup mix I do in the shell of an orange I eat earlier in the day and cook in the coals of the campfire, custard as well as some dehydrated fruit pieces I will re-hydrate, marshmallows/chocolate and something to snack later popcorn to cook in my pot.
For my lunches I will be taking soups, crackers, tuna, baked beans and on the odd night when I have a camp fire I will be making some bread for my lunch the next day.
Snacks I have lots of nuts, protein bars, some yummy sesame snaps and I also dehydrated lots of fruit pieces and made them into fruit chips as well as I made puree fruit that I dehydrated into fruit leather.
Breakfast I have rice mostly and some dehydrated fruit to put in and some mornings I have a nut/fruit muesli to eat. I have also added to this some dried protein powder. I don’t have milk and oats just no longer like me so I turned to rice as the best thing to eat. Then there is my coffee! I love real coffee, not instant so I carry real ground coffee and my Minimo cooker has a plunger with it so I can make nice coffee! There also hot chocolate ( which I like to put in my coffee) and tea.
Once I had all the food cooked, dehydrated and packed up I divided it into 9 sections with 8 of these becoming food drops that are sent ahead of time to a destination for me to resupply. Like I said earlier sounds easy but really time-consuming and I have to say I had a lot of fun with it!
Nearly time to go:
The days are drawing near to my departure date and I am so excited it feels like a child before Christmas! I am finding it hard to contain myself with the urge to just keep on walking and exploring this great world getting stronger by the day.
Over the process of my preparation for this walk I have found not only the excitement building in me but many of you around me! This has been so encouraging and gives me strength to go forward and I am excited to share that along the way I will be meeting some other wonderful fellow hikers who will join me on the track later in the journey and have a bit of an adventure themselves. I am proud that I have been able to encourage these wonderful people to come out and join in and experience some of this amazing track with all her beauty and wonderment she gives. (yes guys the track is a she!) and super excited that one of these hikers is travelling all the way from Melbourne to join in! Thanks Helen and to all you gorgeous friends I will be very excited to see you all out there.
With the planning for this journey I have also been very busy with another project! This as some may know is a fundraiser for the Bibbulmun Track foundation. Fundraiser for the Bibbulmun Track Foundation. This has been a huge project with many hours of promotion behind it. I thank all the wonderful companies, magazines, websites, FB pages and groups that have been getting behind me and helping with the promotion of this fundraiser.
Part of the fundraiser is also a really exciting fun-filled event for all to come and join in on. This event is on the 28th May 2017, the day I walk into Kalamunda after spending 53 days and 1000kms on the track! I want all who can to come and join me on this day to celebrate the track and help give back to the track and the wonderful volunteers who give share their time in giving us such a great track that is FREE for ALL to use and enjoy! I can’t wait to see as many of you possible! All details are here Fundraiser for the Bibbulmun Track Foundation.
My other big project has been Making a Documentary for this walk! This will not be a documentary on my walk but on the Bibbulmun Track itself as well as all the amazing people on and behind the track! Thank you to all who have been supporting me in this gigantic project I am undertaking. As many know I am not a film maker by any means but I do have a whole lot of fun filming and sharing and with this project I am very keen to share to the world a track that means a lot to me as it is in my own backyard. So keep eyes open for this doco in the very near future and I will keep all updated on its progress.
The preparation for such a long bush walk has been huge and a whole lot of fun! With the preparation of food being the biggest thing to do. As one can imagine when you are going bush (as Aussies would say), and going for an extended time food does become a priority. What do you do when there is no shop down the road or restaurant or cafe?
On this track it is predominantly bush (outback, wilderness etc), and out of the 53 days I am out there I will have what I call 9 points of contact! That means 9 times I will walk into civilisation! 9 times I can get to a shop! So what do you do for the rest of the time for food? You need to carry it! But don’t worry you don’t need to carry it all at once. On walking a long distance trail of this sort hikers would send food drops (re-supply boxes) ahead and collect then along to way for stocking up of their food and supplies. This means being organised ahead of time and having the right amount of supplies at each drop to get them through to the next drop.
I have done 8 food drops along the way for my re-supply of this trip. In my boxes I have enough food to get me through to the next food drop as well as a few items I know I might need to stock up on that I predict would need. These boxes are posted ahead of time or in my case I have had many generous people take them to the drop off points for me. Thanks Guys!