AAWT OCT17 northward - no cached food drops

A forum for discussing the Australian Alps Walking Track. This is a 655 km long track from Walhalla (Vic) to Tharwa (ACT)

Re: AAWT OCT17 northward - no cached food drops

Postby Lophophaps » Sun 29 Oct, 2017 8:37 pm

I cannot recall crossing Big River at T Spur with spring snow melting. All my crossings have been shin to knee deep, not hard at all.
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Re: AAWT OCT17 northward - no cached food drops

Postby north-north-west » Mon 30 Oct, 2017 5:48 am

I did once, but it wasn't a heavy snow year. Water was about mid-thigh with considerable force behind, but I managed the crossing safely (without the chain as it was semi-detached),

Think there's a trip report here somewhere about that circuit.
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Re: AAWT OCT17 northward - no cached food drops

Postby Dreamer » Tue 31 Oct, 2017 2:23 pm

For gear heads...my complete gear list for up coming departure on AAWT is attached. Base weight on back (excluding clothing worn) is 6508g, total including consumables for 8days/7 nights (first section) is 12777g. That's with just 700ml of water where sources common, there will often be a need to carry more (3.7L capacity). Any suggestions to reduce or add? Two resupplies are factored in: at Mount Hotham & Thredbo.

Corrected version, click to view clearer...
Screen Shot 2017-11-01 at 12.20.01 pm.png
Last edited by Dreamer on Wed 01 Nov, 2017 11:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: AAWT OCT17 northward - no cached food drops

Postby Mark F » Tue 31 Oct, 2017 2:48 pm

It looks pretty good - I wouldn't quibble with the big 3. My only comment is why the 3 (2+1) litres of storage and filter plus 750ml of water + a 240g flask (consumables section). I agree with the 3 litre part - I carry as standard a 1 litre collapsible for use during the day and a 2 litre collapsible for camp or long dry sections. In dry country (water once a day) I would replace the 1 litre with a second 2 litre which only adds 11g. Perhaps carry a an additional 1 or 2 litre collapsible through to Hotham and then drop to the 1+2 litre collapsible. Ditch the 240g flask (1 gram of container for 3g of water). If this necessary why not replace the flask with a 600ml or 1 litre PET bottle which weigh about 40 grams.
"Perfection is attained not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing more to remove".
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Re: AAWT OCT17 northward - no cached food drops

Postby Dreamer » Tue 31 Oct, 2017 8:45 pm

Corrected...I think I was drunk :) I mixed up mass & volume amongst other errors.

Gee Mark F, I'm impressed! For a minute I was trying to work out what you were talkng about...had a few whiskies...then I realised I had swapped out a 1L PET bottle for a 700ml PET 'smartwater' bottle at 731g full instead of the 990g listed (should have been 1044g for a full 1L PET container). The 700ml plastic bottle just sits more securely in my low side pocket and is easier to grab and replace with pack on. :) I decided I'm not that fussed about the this xtra 31g PET container...it's nice to drink out of, adds redundancy if I lose a lid or break a container and the xtra total water capacity can't hurt...

Further...your got me thinking, so I reweighed my empty containers: 2L Evernew pouch 46g + 1L Sawyer pouch 34g + 700ml PET bottle 31g = 111g for 3700ml/3700g water = ratio of 1g container for 33g water. I'm happy. (your formula should be 1g container for 30g water shouldn't it?)
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Re: AAWT OCT17 northward - no cached food drops

Postby dashandsaph » Wed 01 Nov, 2017 9:34 pm

I walked SOBO leaving mid November 2016 and although we walked for about a k in slushy snow and kicked steps up some steep banks in the day before Kosi, but we weren't seriously inconvenienced. I don't think microspikes or similar would have helped. They will give you a little more traction on the slush, but we didn't encounter any hard ice. The snow baskets are a very good idea. I think based on the Spencers Creek snow gauge you will have less snow on the ground. Other than that your gear looks pretty tight. I carried 2x 1.25 lt soda bottles and a 2.5 lt platypus and that was about right, mainly so I only had to do one water run for an overnight. I carried a Tarptent Notch and would have found a small wettex or similar very useful to wipe the inside of the tent. On your schedule I don't think the condensation will have much time to dry in the morning. I crossed Big River on 9 December and it was very manageable by then.

Have a wonderful trip!

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Re: AAWT OCT17 northward - no cached food drops

Postby Dreamer » Thu 02 Nov, 2017 9:36 am

Thanks dashandsaph and others.

I agree about removing microspikes altogether (snow does seem to be dissappearing rapidly).
I will take the Big River crossing at T-Spur
Added light microfibre cloth +22g
Added headnet +23g

All packed (including food) ready for testing...space is enough but tight in this 35+15L...I expect the new white SWD pack to develop an earthy patina by the end of the trip!
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Re: AAWT OCT17 northward - no cached food drops

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Sat 11 Nov, 2017 8:48 pm

That foot wear does not look like it has much high ankle support. If you roll your ankle badly then your trip could be over.
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Re: AAWT OCT17 northward - no cached food drops

Postby Dreamer » Sun 12 Nov, 2017 7:52 am

Thanks paidal_chaine_vala, yes that is a consideration when choosing footwear which is a very personal choice. I have tried both and find I MUCH prefer low cut light weight trail shoes and will never switch back. I have done many trails in these or similar and have had zero ankle problems and usually no blisters (I now buy 1 size larger shoes resulting in zero blisters). 90% of long distance hikers in the USA seem to wear this type of low cut footwear now. What's the saying? 'a pound on your feet is equal to 10 on your back' or something like that!

PS What could send me home is 'Jumpers Knee' (patellar tendonitis) around my left knee - OK at the moment but it comes and goes. I'll have a strap if needed.
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Re: AAWT OCT17 northward - no cached food drops

Postby madmacca » Sun 12 Nov, 2017 10:28 am

paidal_chalne_vala wrote:That foot wear does not look like it has much high ankle support. If you roll your ankle badly then your trip could be over.


If you wear shoes with good proprioception (as Dreamer is doing), you won't roll your ankle in the first place.

And walking poles are a MUCH better "hobble to the nearest exit point" option than ankle boots if you do roll your ankle. Boots offer external protection for rocks and sticks, but not much in support.
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Re: AAWT OCT17 northward - no cached food drops

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Sun 12 Nov, 2017 10:32 am

I am poles , high gaiters and boots kind of bushwalker. You must have trekking poles!
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Re: AAWT OCT17 northward - no cached food drops

Postby Lophophaps » Sun 12 Nov, 2017 11:32 am

The science that equates weight in boots and how much this equal to in weight on the back came from the 1953 Everest expedition. This was at altitude, so it may not fully apply at lower places. See this
http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1 ... 8608968276
"indicating that it was 6·4 times more expensive to carry weight on the feet as compared to the back."

This needs to be considered regarding where the walk is going. On a good track a lighter low-cut boot will suffice, but if deep in mud country then higher cut boots with gaiters are indicated. Higher cut boots and gaiter keep out mud better than lower cut boots and gaiters.

Ankle support is a bit of a myth. Higher cut boots do not necessarily give more support than lower cut boots. The support comes from the rigidity of the sole-upper combination. The ankle part of the boots cannot give much support because if it did then the ankle would not move very easily.

I walked for about 20 years in runners, KT26, Vollies and the like. Now that I'm quite old (over 40) I need more solid footwear and want less mud inside the boots.

Does anyone have the weights for low- and high-cut boots?
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Re: AAWT OCT17 northward - no cached food drops

Postby Dreamer » Sun 12 Nov, 2017 12:30 pm

Well my Altra trail shoes weigh 726gram per pair. They are waterproof but still quite breathable. I use gaiters only if needed and I use trekking poles. I think boots can weigh at least twice that.

For me it's a non-argument. I am never going back to boots. Of course, I'm also never also going to climb to the summit of Everest (or anything like it)! :) If I did the Everest basecamp walk I'd use my trail shoes. I like to walk light and fast. I usually just walk straight thru puddles and streams and keep going. To me boots suggest 'plodding' along...sorry for those who like boots...no offense meant :D

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Re: AAWT OCT17 northward - no cached food drops

Postby Dreamer » Sun 19 Nov, 2017 5:21 pm

Well, I have been out, had a relatively short but interesting adventure, and am now safely back home earlier than anticipated. I’ll leave the full details to a report in the AAWT Walhalla section (give me a week), suffice to say that my arrogance got the better of me and the more experienced posters on this forum were right - as usual! I exited early due to constant wet feet causing worn in-steps (salute to paidal_chalne_vala) making it painful to walk, low moral due to overgrown tracks & an equipment failure which contributed further to my low moral. My last post here must have cursed me...I was thinking of high elevation & snow...I reckon I would have been better off with non waterproof trail runners that drain quickly, liner socks and much lighter merino blend socks (suitable for hot muggy wet conditions). Everywhere was wet and it was difficult to get stuff dry.

Let me say now that the AAWT is one bad-ass track! I am a little disappointed with myself but very happy to be home and to have the memory of a portion of the track. I may complete the other sections if/when the memory of the bad parts becomes dim enough. My stat’s are from a TomTom Adventurer watch (some distances are longer than guidebook…eg Day 1...not sure what that’s about. I did a little backtracking and looking around but I would think that would not contribute much to distance. I kept looking for the Rock Shelter once my watch reached the 31.1 mark...didn't get there until 35km?)

Flew to Melbourne, train to Traralgon, free pickup by Star Hotel for transport to Walhalla.

DAY 1: Walhalla to Rock Shelter (near creek - plenty of running water)
35.38km
8.4hours active/4.1kph (11:10 total time)
1854m ascent/ 762m descent/ max. gradient 41%/ max. elevation 1532m

DAY 2: Rock Shelter to Thompson River (had a full dip in the fast flowing water)
30.86km
8.04hours active/3.8kph (10:45 total time)
779m ascent/ 1741m descent/ max. gradient 53%/ max. elevation 1626m

DAY 3: Thompson River to Black River- on track east side before crossings (crystal clear water)
36.91km - arrived in the dark!
10.32hours active/3.5kph (14.44 total time)
2165m ascent/ 2050 descent/ max. gradient 72%/ max. elevation 1331m

DAY 4: Black River to Rumpff Saddle (bountiful water at numerous points along Middle Ridge Road before Rumpff)
20.81km
6.49hours active/3.1kph (10.44 total time)
1337m ascent/ 625m descent/ max. gradient 53%/ max. elevation 1336m

DAY 5: Exited to Mount Skene lookout on Jamieson-Licola Road (as I believed this was the last easy exit point before Hotham)
Hitched a ride to Licolla, then to Traralgon, then return train to Southern Cross Station Melbourne, Skybus to airport then flew home (all without a proper wash…apologies to those who had to sit next to me!)

PS Shout-out to only hiker I saw ‘davesisbuldging’ who I caught up with at Red Jacket and is hopefully safely still out there ‘bludging’ away on the track
Last edited by Dreamer on Mon 20 Nov, 2017 3:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: AAWT OCT17 northward - no cached food drops

Postby neilmny » Sun 19 Nov, 2017 7:47 pm

Good to see you out safely Dreamer. Sounds like a lot was learned and it's great your able to post about it.
This will surely help others planning to do the AAWT for the first time.
Hope you give it another crack after you recover from this episode.
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Re: AAWT OCT17 northward - no cached food drops

Postby Lophophaps » Mon 20 Nov, 2017 10:39 am

As Neil said, good to see you back. This is better than a news item about a bushwalker on the AAWT being rescued. Long days you had. In summer I start early, usually 6-6.30 am, and finish by noon-2pm. On very hot days I leave at first light, 5,20am in summer. Doing not much in the afternoon is relaxing.

Wet feet should not have been an issue, as training trips in the wet would have identified any shortcomings. If necessary, train in hot dry conditions and pour water in the boots every 30 minutes. Engo patches may assist. See this:
https://www.blisterprevention.com.au/about/
I've used these; they work well.

You've learned about the AAWT, and will be able to apply that to a second attempt.
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Re: AAWT OCT17 northward - no cached food drops

Postby Dreamer » Mon 20 Nov, 2017 11:21 am

Thanks, I'll give the ENGO patches a try.

Yes, I hate inconveniencing others so there was no way I was going to be the subject of a rescue unless it was absolutely necessary. The issue was that the inside soles of both my feet ('in-step' behind the ball) developed hot spots and then 'sheared' to the the point where the skin was broken. It started on Day 3 and became almost unbearable by end Day 4...even with padding and bandaging. Thin liner socks may have helped to prevent rubbing (I considered and did not take). Lucky I exited as both feet have since swollen as if infected and it is difficult to even walk around the house. I'm keeping my feet elevated and iced occasionally. Good news is I'm sure it will be fine after a few days of rest. I have not had this issue before so I obviously just over did it...trying too hard to make the distance. Not sure I could do it any other way as some parts of the track are just not that inviting to hang around in (for me by myself). Progress on the track can be very slow at times, which can be frustrating without the right mind set. Oh well, everbody at home seems most relieved I'm back and it was a good experience. The forests are amazing, especially the relatively untouched areas...the early settlers certainly weren't concerned about rampant destruction completely razing the hills.

PS A big THANK YOU to The General, Hotham for kindly fully refunding my accommodation booking. They obviously understand the flexibility that hikers require.
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Re: AAWT OCT17 northward - no cached food drops

Postby bigkev » Mon 20 Nov, 2017 3:12 pm

Hi Dreamer,

Good to hear that you got out safely, I'll stop looking over my shoulder for you now :D I know of a couple of others that pulled out as well, one bloke scared himself trying to navigate over Mt MacDonald and retreated and another girl hurt her achilles heel and skipped the Low Saddle to Hotham section. I can't count the number of trips over the years that I've either had to modify or abort, there is a skill in having the good judgement in knowing when to pull the pin as like you I wouldn't want to inconvenience others.

On a brighter note I think that as long as we don't get any more catastrophic fires in the high country the AAWT should get better and better (the 2003/2006 fires are why I've left it to my fifties to walk the track), even reading reports on the forum you can see how things are slowly improving as the fires recede into memory.

I'd second you on your thoughts about The General up at Hotham, I showed up wet and bedraggled after a couple of days of rain and snow a day ahead of schedule and the staff couldn't of been more helpful.

Cheers Kevin
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Re: AAWT OCT17 northward - no cached food drops

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Mon 20 Nov, 2017 5:49 pm

I agree with LOPS about early starts in daylight savings and just chillaxing all afternoon. That is what I did when I walked a bit of the AAWT near O Keefe's hut in NSW.
It helps to beat the heat early esp. on steep spur ascents.
I have walked some sections of the AAWT in VIC and in NSW . Others who have walked the whole thing from Walhalla to the Omeo Road say that the views and scenery only become worth the effort once you reach Mt. McDonald in the Jamieson river catchment area.
Leeches would be an issue in the warm and wet lower elevation areas of Gippsland. I met some older fellows last summer in the KNP who were walking a two week section of the AAWT every January. They were relaxing at O Keefe's hut when I rocked up from Round Mountain Hut.
Bush Bashing affects different people in different ways. I just swear more and crash through. Having poles,long sleeves, long pants, long gaiters, gloves, a well attached hat and sunglasses all help protect the skin and head area for this taxing part of bushwalking in SE Australia.
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Re: AAWT OCT17 northward - no cached food drops

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Mon 12 Feb, 2018 1:42 pm

The Quartz Ridge is a super highway as of Jan. 2018. Walk it while it is still in top condition. Parks Vic. recently did a lot of work with chain saws on that track.
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