the hardest trip

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Re: the hardest trip

Postby TerraMer » Tue 23 Oct, 2012 9:45 pm

wayno wrote:whats the hardest trip you've done and why was it hard?
were you expecting it to be that hard?
would you do it again?
what lessons did you learn?
...


After a bit of trekking in Kashmir and Karakoram I headed up to Annapurna. It was wet season so the leeches were out in force, rivers raging, fog hanging over the mountains all day and night. I tried to hire a guide and/or porter but they gave me a map, arranged my permits and sent me up to ABC solo. On the first morning some local teens attached themselves to me and we spoke English all the way to lunch (when we had enough breath to speak that is). From that lunch on I ate with the locals and ate what they ate, they adpoted me for a week. The family were from Annapurna and were doing a pilgrimage to a sacred lake located about 5,000m with a pass crossing about 6,000m. As we made our way further up, further from the villages on the main tourist tracks we slept in yak huts, head to toe with goats, bullocks, yaks, sheep and each other. A couple of the growing party were suffering from altitude and one night I nearly choked on a phlegm ball the size of a golf ball. Out of 30 locals only the 3 teens spoke English but I really connected with their mum, gran and aunties. Communication was mostly sign language and predicting each other's needs. The food was awful but they made it clear i wouldn't be able to join if I couldn't handle it. I drew the line at salty yak butter tea.
It took 4 days to climb to the final camp then a whole day of rituals and ceremony, including everyone stripping naked and washing (no soap) before stepping on sacred ground and walking barefoot around the lake and then some high altitude athletic games like races, pony riding, shotputt and javelin (they let me win the shotputt).
It was all over with 4 hours of light left. The younger family members and porters carrying the remains of their sacrificed livestock decided they could make it back to the closest village before dark so i joined them. We ran, jumped, stumbled all the way back but most of us didn't have enough energy to lift ourselves if we fell. We didn't make it before dark but one of the aunties knew the path to the closest village so we stuck close together with everyone helping each other when someone fell. What took us 3 days to climb took 5 hours to race down with only one break for water. I fell while getting caught in some tree roots and I had absolutely no energy left to lift myself back onto my feet. It was a bit scary but seeing the lights of the village glowing through the fog was a huge relief.
I continued on to ABC after the pilgrimage and was treated like royalty after work of the pilgrimage travelled through the villages. The fog cleared the one night at ABC and I spent an hour standing outside marveling at the monstrous mountains surrounding me then watched an avalanche fall off the side of Annapurna sounding like a hundred trains crashing down the valley.
After completely losing track of time I had only 3 days left until I needed be back in Pokhara to phone home for my dad's birthday but after the pilgrimage everything felt easier, lighter, faster.
My scarpa boots completely fell apart, couldn't cut it in an Himalaya monsoon.
I was the second only foreigner ever to be allowed to the sacred lake and the first person ever allowed to photograph everything including the rituals.
Nobody asked me for money, all they asked of me was to respect their traditions, follow their rituals to keep the ghosts and spirits happy so everyone stayed happy.
It was the hardest trek ever but the biggest honour and privilege and one of the most amazing experiences in my life.
I would do it again without any hesitation but I would do it differently. Next time it will be with my beautiful friends and their own daughters and I will learn a bit of their language before joining the pilgrimage. I will be able to contribute practically with local food for big family meals and pack my own mint tea.
No more scarpa. In monsoon season I carry a pouch of salt to rub on leeches. Chewing peppercorns helps relieve symptoms of altitude sickness, gives an energy boost and relieves thirst. Warm pepper and lemon water helps relieve congestion caused by altitude and keeping the neck wrapped up prevents it getting worse, even if it feels warm.
Some of the friends you make in some of the wildest places can become some of the most true and loyal.
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Re: the hardest trip

Postby mikethepike » Tue 23 Oct, 2012 10:45 pm

Thanks to Paul (who sent a personal email and Strider in response to my earlier post seeking more information about the original and Paul's walks.
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Re: the hardest trip

Postby mikethepike » Sat 17 Nov, 2012 5:14 pm

stu wrote:I'm positive my hardest will be the Prince of Wales Range (12-14 days), we start this one on the 1st January next year...stay tuned

I'd also be interested to read how you go on the POW. I read an account a few years ago, I think by a SUBC party, of the scrub bashing just to get there and living on moss water while retreating off the dry range in what must have been a partly dehydrated state. The description of the scrub alone made me decide that if I ever could have done it, it's too late now. I'd be a passenger and need porters to carry my rucksack. And probably me! :)
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Re: the hardest trip

Postby north-north-west » Sun 18 Nov, 2012 4:35 pm

The last one. Because, somehow, despite having left a packet of chocolate in the bag with my walking clothes the previous week and always keeping a spare packet in on of the balance pockets, there was none to be seen when I was dressing or during the walk. I spent the entire first day hoping it had accidentally been repacked in the Load Limo, and all the second going through major withdrawal. TWO whole days without chocolate!!!!!!!!! *shudder* Horrendous. Never again.
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Re: the hardest trip

Postby cooee » Mon 28 Jan, 2013 8:14 pm

Sorry to drag this link up, but the walk still haunts me to this day.
I had been in Tassie for around 18 months when I was told that 6RAR wanted to do an exped in Tasmania. I being the bushwalk fanatic was asked to take them. I’d done a lot of walks by that stage, but never Frenchmans Cap.
6RAR is based in Queensland, so use to the heat. Tassie in late November can be very fickle at the best of times, and the weather had been very mild to say the least.
The day we started it was 39, doh……………………………… Here was me leading and all l was doing was following.
Drank plenty of water and still got heatstroke, just made it to Vera hut. Remember plonking myself in that water for at least 2 hours. Next day 36………. Pfffff by Tahune hut l was stuffed and so were they. Next day it poured with rain and the next. Walked out never making the summit.
The bus waiting on the Lyell Hwy was a god to me, never have l been happier driving away from a walk in my life.

Was i expecting it to be so hard: Hard yes, just not that hard.

Would i do it again: For sure, never made it the first time.

Lessons learned: Back in those days we had salt tablets, tasted crap but that was what l was lacking.
When it comes to charity, a lot of people will stop at nothing.
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Re: the hardest trip

Postby Gippsmick » Sat 16 Mar, 2019 8:43 pm

Actually I’ve found something harder than my initial post on Reedy Creek Chasm. Little River Gorge has to be hardest I’ve now encountered. Short distance but very tough terrain indeed.
https://mickbeckers.com/hiking/trip-rep ... ang-falls/
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Re: the hardest trip

Postby Ms_Mudd » Sun 17 Mar, 2019 9:23 am

My hardest walk/trip was hard because of the context in which I took it, which I will explain briefly.

I have a 3hr round trip commute from my rural area to the hospital at which I work.
0550am I encounter in the middle of nowhere a serious motor vehicle accident that had occurred 100km+ an hour. It is a long, lonely wait for an ambulance and help in the country with a seriously injured person. Once personnel arrived it was initially our local crew so I still stayed hands on helping, given I had the skill set and the situation needed all the help that could be given. I do face life and death in my professional life, but I will say that I live in a small town and everyone knows everyone, so something so close to home really rattled me. Once the chopper left with a precious life still hanging in the balance, I returned home on autopilot, showered and as I had intended to be at work that day, had no plans so I grabbed my daypack to head straight up the mountains.

I got my water filter, but didn't think to pack any food. It was only a 15km walk and I hadn't eaten yet that day, which is not unusual for me, I tend to eat later in the day anyway. However, I had not accounted for how much of my reserves the adrenaline of the early morning scene would have sapped. I felt weak and nauseous after the first few sweaty kilometres. The weather was in the mid 30's and I had a splitting headache (electrolytes? low BGL?). Walking was such a big effort, my body felt weary and heavy. It was such a battle of the mind and unwilling body. In the end the mind won and I found a strange peace at about the 12km mark, despite feeling quite physically awful.

What did I learn? Walking was good therapy. Always have snacks/electrolytes in my daypack even if I think I won't need them on a shorter walk.
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Re: the hardest trip

Postby Warin » Sun 17 Mar, 2019 10:35 am

Ms_Mudd wrote:Always have snacks/electrolytes in my daypack even if I think I won't need them on a shorter walk.


It is hard...
"I'll just go for a short walk" and take nothing ...
The potential is to find a person in trouble who you could assist if you have supplies with you. A diabetic who needs sugar, someone dehydrated ... and so on. Not hard to take this stuff .. but it is 'just a short walk'. I frequently see people with nothing other than the cloths on there back. Few have a day pack of any kind.

I do take walks with a loaded pack for pretrip exorcize ... sometime the loaded pack misses things .. like the first aid kit! More usually it misses my camera that could have gotten a good shot but it is not to hand.
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Re: the hardest trip

Postby Ms_Mudd » Sun 17 Mar, 2019 10:44 am

Yes, always take something! Autopilot is not the most clear-headed state to be throwing things into a pack
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Re: the hardest trip

Postby Mechanic-AL » Sun 17 Mar, 2019 8:25 pm

mikethepike wrote:
Paul wrote:Whats the hardest trip you've done and why was it hard?

Our retrace of Mr.Alexander Pearce's footsteps from Coal Head in Macquarie Harbour to Ouse - 23 days.
It was hard because of the terrain, weather, vegetation and remoteness.


Hi Paul. I would be most interested to read an account of your walk. Did you write/publish one and what year did you do it? Also, do you have a reference to Mr Pearce's walk. I take it that you carried all your food (no food drops) and that explains the 600g/d which is very light for such a strenuous walk. Is that correct?


+1 would love to read a trip report on this one.

HARDEST TRIP.
first time on South Coast Track.
Sooo long ago. complete newbie to overnight walks. loaded up like a camel, crap gear,even worse weather but have never felt more ALIVE !

WERE YOU EXPECTING IT TO BE SO HARD.
was expecting mud, lots of it. but the ups and downs and tree root hopscotch were seriously more than I had bargained for.

WOULD YOU DO IT AGAIN ?
have done numerous times.

WHAT LESSONS DID YOU LEARN ?
the importance of good gear. I recall passing a lone walker heading in the opposite direction on the South Cape Range. It was bucketing down and I was soaked to the bone and dragging the chain heavily. By comparison the guy going the other way looked so comfortable and travelling at ease. he appeared to be shedding water instead of soaking it up like a sponge. I knew then and there that if I was going to continue walking in the future I had to become that guy going the other way.
"What went ye out into the wilderness to see?
A reed shaken in the wind"?
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Re: the hardest trip

Postby madpom » Thu 21 Mar, 2019 2:03 pm

I think @gippsmick sums up quite well what it takes to make 'the hardest trip'.

For me it would be the trip I've just got back from - between the North Fiord and South Fiord west of Lake Te Anau in NZ's Fiordland.

It is the relentless, overwhelming combination of factors that knocks it out of you:

Risks: Every day on the recognised Moir's routes in fiordland at some point you find yourself climbing / traversing / descending 70+ degree faces, often above serious drops, using nothing but vegetation and the fall-back of an ice-axe in the soil for support. Not for long - minutes in the day, but you know that today, tomorrow and every day until you get out these little risks will keep adding up. Even on 'flat' valley floors moss-covered morrain, boulder scree and windfall mean that every step often needs to be tested for firmness before committing weight, fearing the 1-2m drop through it all to terra firma below.

Remoteness: West of the lake you have 3 possible exit points, from which a boat can pick you up. You are in wilderness, so a heli-pickup is only an option as a response to a declared emergency. And it is a 14-21 day trip to complete the full traverse (Milford Road to Doubtfull Sound road). And with the exception of the Worsley and Glaisnock at the northern end, from the standard traverse route it is 2 days from the nearest point on-route to the lakeshore pickup points. Which means you're generally 4-6 days from a viable easy 'out' if you want one, if injuries mount up, or you get minor illness or just simply a case of tired and wanna go home. And each time you pass a potential exit point you are committing to carrying on for at least 6 more days (with a weather forecast valid for only 4).

Energy required: Every day is a hard day. There are no tracks. You are doing one of 3 things: crawling up swampy, bouldery, windfall-covered river valleys in thick wet bush and pepperleaf scrub; climbing from 200m valley floors to 1400m+ passes up near vertical spurs, with that wonderful 200m to 400m scrub layer to look forward to before you break out onto the tops. Then repeating the whole thing in reverse back to the next valley floor; or traversing 1200-1600m high undulating ridgelines in what is generally the cloud layer, picking your way through strata of bluffs with typically 100m visibility, in an area that is the most innaccurately mapped in NZ, days consisting typically of 1200-1800m vertical gain/loss.

Wet environment: Unless you are really really lucky, you are constantly wet. It takes a day or 2 for the bush to dry after each rain, and it rains on average a day in 3, generally with showers in-between. It's summer, so it's warm and wet. Which is fine from a safely point of view. But wet clothing, full boots, skin chafes, skin softens, packs get heavier and heavier, morale gets lower and lower ...

Pest species: And then in the evening you pull out your still-wet tent, strip off your saturated clothing, and are bombarded instantly by 1,000,000 sandflies. It is all you can do the dunk yourself in the creek, hang clothes up on a branch or guy, and dive into the confines of your tent and close the door until dark when they all go away. During which time the kea come out out play and try and steal / destroy all your gear. Even that tired, cooking often has to wait till dark, rather than venture out in that maelstrom. And 6am the next morning - in the first hintings of light, they're all back out again. Add in a possum or two crying out for hours after dusk and before dawn from the tree right above you ...

Opportunities to camp: and finally there's a real lack of places large enough, flat enough to pitch a tent that aren't already under water. Some valleys are good, but in the swampier ones: the Worsley, the Taheke, the Gorge for example, you can walk for 4+ hours without passing a viable tent pitch. In such valley route guides do list the possible spots to camp - often as little as small 2x1m clear ledges on river terraces or above tarns. But it means again, on passing each, you're committing to another several hours before another comfortable spot for the night.

So - did I enjoy it? Um. Give me a few more days to think on that one.

Type 1 enjoyment moments were few and far between - but when they did come wore immense: camping in fog/rain by small tarns above Lake Ione, I wake at 10pm to find the weather dry, the cloud lifted. A whole landscape of mirror-flat tarns stretches out below me, reflecting a butter-yellow moon. Un-photographable. Standing atop Mt Donald, looking down and the ribbons of cloud that are the valleys I have left, looking north as far as Mts Earnslaw, Aspiring, seeking out Cook in the far distance, Garvies, Takitimus, Kaihiku to the east. The Tasman to the west. The lake Te Anau basin a sea of cloud.

Type 2 enjoyment - the memories of struggle, the fatigue, the injuries are all still too recent, too ongoing for type 2 enjoyment to have kicked in yet. So for now it's just a case of 'thank god that's all over'. But give it a few weeks and I'll be saying "Thank god I did that trip, that was one of the best trips I've ever done'.
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Re: the hardest trip

Postby Don R » Thu 02 May, 2019 11:51 pm

Plenty of hard walks, with different climatic or vegetation challenges. Probably the Mt Bowen to Diamantina Traverse on Hinchinbrook Island (first time it had been down in 26 years after Alf Rosser's party in 1960s), monstrous scunge, no semblance of a trail,baking heat, challenging route finding, limited water, poor campsites. Climbing a rock wall out of the Inaccessible Gulf at Woollomombi Falls with broken ribs ? Or maybe Haven Lake to Scott Peak Dam in a day which started with driving rain and developed into baking heat with a massive pack and a broken shoulder harness. I remember crashing on the ground when that one was over. One walker suggested I go back to help another member of our party navigate through in the darkness, and when I declined she pointed out that he was my best friend to which I answered and your his wife ! We then concluded that it was all ok and we would continue to be immobile ! A hard walk is when the rational part of you questions why you do this stuff to yourself, the answer is a selective memory. Wouldn't have missed any of it if given the chance.
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Re: the hardest trip

Postby north-north-west » Fri 03 May, 2019 11:36 am

The hardest trip? The one on the ridgeline heading for Eldon Bluff.
Why? Because my foot was so tangled in the scrub that got me that, with the pack weighing me down, I couldn't get up unaided. Could barely move.
Would I do it again? I am not that desperate for another helicopter ride, thank you very much.
What did I learn? Don't walk with other people (OK, learnt that way before but...) and, if you succumb to the invitations, never push to try to keep up with them. Walk your own way at your own pace. And be careful about where you put your *&%$#! feet!

Speaking of tripping, have you ever noticed that if you have a bung knee - or one knee that is bunger than the other - that's always the one you land on if you trip? Unless it's a soft landing, of course. But if there's rock or timber under you, it's always the bad knee that takes the brunt of the impact.
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Re: the hardest trip

Postby Petew » Fri 03 May, 2019 12:28 pm

Not bushwalking but ski touring.

When I was 18 in 1989 (and stupid) me and a mate went ski touring on the main range. All gear was begged or borrowed and way under spec.

We had a three hoop fairy down tunnel tent that we had set up near Blue lake. We went on a day trip to Charlotte pass without much gear.

On the way back to the tent we got overtaken by a blizzard, wearing thermals and not much else. Visibility was very poor and it was extremely cold ( sunny and still just before).

We got to where we thought the tent was and couldn't find it! By this stage hands and feet were numb and taking a pee I couldn't feel my bits at all..

We eventually found a bit of tent fabric poking out of a drift. Two of the three poles were broken with only the smallest rear pole intact. Being the idiots we were, we had left the snow shovel in the tent.

After digging it out by hand we crawled inside the collapsed tent and shivered for a bit.

We managed to patch up the poles with a repair sleeve and a Billy handle.

The next two days sucked in a major way! I can't count how many times the tent collapsed and got covered with snow when aleep. I can vividly recall the sensation of peeling frozen tent inner slowly off my face....

We were lucky not to croak it. Very inexperienced and stupid.

To give you an idea of gear used I had 300 weight fleece salopettes, a 200 weight fleece jacket, thermals, Mont dry japara jacket, Kmart foam sleeping pad and a 5c rated sleeping bag.

Still remember that trip with fondness. Very educational!
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Re: the hardest trip

Postby Moondog55 » Thu 23 May, 2019 11:17 am

The next one.
Totally unmotivated, unfit, fat and unprepared.
Also I have the dreaded lurgy and doing everything except coughing up blood and that isn't helping
Ve are too soon old und too late schmart
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Re: the hardest trip

Postby trekker76 » Wed 24 Jul, 2019 12:50 am

Ive lived in a few countries, including 3rd world. Hardest hikes for me still are offtrail in my hometown area when its very hot. Thick rainforest with regrowth vine thickets, down to a couple hundred metres an hour, sweating through,scratched up, itchy as hell, muddy head to toe from being on all fours or bootscooting half the time, keeping an eye out for stinging trees. Being a technical terrain while you are fresh you negotiate it easier. Once tired you stumble and get lazy and hung up on vines not ducking your pack enough, water and calorie intake spikes as you move less efficiently. Find a creek to camp so can get GPS signal in the morning, have a dip or water bottle bath to get detritus and muck off. Carry out personal care- remove leeches, check ticks, dry and powder feet and chafed areas, pick out splinters. If no new leeches appearing(some areas are like nests), move any rotting wood to avoid scrub typhus, make tent, check kit for repairs, hang wet clothes up, get into dry set, hit the hay. Still sweating through with temps pushing 30 at midnight. Wake up early, get into the wet 'day' set of clothes again, walk up creek bed to get sky to get GPS signal, then pack up and head off again. Wouldn't swap it for anything :)
Im still impressed with the cold climate hikers though. My environment just makes you hate your life, extreme cold kills.
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