Thursday, May 25, 2006

South Coast Track - Day 4

Previous post: Day 3 South Coast Track | Next post: Day 5coming soon

Day 4, Sat Dec 31, 2005 (new years eve)
I awoke much like the previous day, unsure about my health having gone to bed feeling a little under the weather. I lay awake on my sleeping mat for ten minutes or so, waiting anxiously for any sign of nausea. Thankfully, all appeared to be in order. I was particularly concerned about my health on this day more than any before because all my acquired knowledge of the South coast track indicated that today was to be the hardest day's walking of the whole hike. On most statistics however, you would never know this. Both the Louisa creek camp site where we had camped that night, and our destination, Deadman's bay, were similarly elevated (at around sea level). In addition, the actual distance to Deadman's bay was listed as about 8km, which by usual standards, is quite tame (particularly when considering the previous day was a 17km walk). Of course, there was one other crucial fact to consider, and one that made all the difference - a 900m climb and descent, over the infamous Ironbound ranges.

Even our track notes were being uncharacteristically frank about the task at hand, giving it the grading of demanding. This was in stark contrast to previous days, for which the track notes deemed only to be easy, or at most, moderate. This sudden jump to demanding was slightly disconcerting given I had found nothing to date anything less than hard (albeit due to illness). Having also not eaten well in the days leading up to this, i was quite understandably unsure about my ability to take on the Ironbounds.

In looking back on this, I find it interesting how knowledge of impending hardship can lift one's ability and drive to achieve one's goal. The only thing worse than enduring this walk in ill-health would have been to stay put. With this in mind, I became increasingly anxious to get started as quickly as possible. My thoughts became motivational, telling myself that after today, it's all plain sailing - "you'll be nearly finished this stupid hike!" I would say to myself. Having been so sick so early on in the hike, it is a shame looking back on it, that my enthusiasm for the hike had dropped to such low levels that I was thinking so negatively. It was, however, this same desire to finish the hike that injected new life into me. I was quite prepared to sprint up the bloody thing if it meant getting home sooner.

I was first to emerge from my tent. I quickly made my way to the river to complete my usual morning ritual of dipping my head in water to tame my wild, just slept in hiking hair (which no one wants to see). I realised as I walked back from the river, that most occupants of the Louisa river camp site had already packed up and left. This made me nervous because I knew the day was going to be a long one, and clearly everyone else thought it was long enough to warrant leaving considerably earlier than we had.

When I arrived back to our site, we were evidently in no such rush to get started, given there were still no signs of anyone else joining me for breakfast. I began boiling water for my much needed morning coffee, and mixing the remainder of the water into my milk powder and muesli. "Another breakfast of champions", I thought. After a little bit of deliberate stomping around the camp site to ensure others knew I was already up, I was soon joined by all my fellow hikers. I was quick to point out to everyone that we were, in fact, the only people left at the camp site. This seemed to have the desired effect, for within 30 minutes everyone was packed up and ready to depart.

The walk began heading east, with a moderate ascent out of the Louisa creek ravine where the camp site was situated. Before too long, we emerged from the relatively dense forested area that hugs the Louisa river, and were almost immediately re-united with the now very familiar button grass fields we had spent much of previous day walking through. With the trees gone, and virtually no vegetation above waist height, we now had a strikingly clear view of the Ironbound ranges, and the path of our ascent. The track was entirely visible, partly because of the lack of trees on the north western side of the ranges, and partly because the climb was almost entirely marked by stairs that had been built to assist with the steep sections (which was most of it). After about thirty minutes of walking through the button grass, we finally reached the beginning of the climb.

I remember thinking how unusual it was to actually know exactly when a big climb such as this begins. Often these things are not so obvious, because the ascent usually begins gradually, and you normally cannot see so much of the track ahead of you due to trees and vegetation. As such, you are often never completely sure you've started the real climb, or just a small foothill climb. On this occasion, however, the "real" climb was made plainly obvious by the sight of a stair case ascending steeply up the first spur and beyond. It's always a bit disconcerting when you nearly strain your neck attempting to view the climb before you.

The looming sight of the Ironbounds, and my anxiety about completing this mammoth mountain pass, did serve to focus my mind on the task in quite a rarely experienced way. In many respects, it was similar feeling to when I was one month away from submitting my Masters thesis, with chapters still to be written. Perhaps it was the engineer within that was suddenly brought to the fore as I gazed at the mountains in front of me. During the approach, I had spent considerable time studying the Ironbounds, trying to understand the stages of the ascent. My aim being to break the task up into smaller sections, so that I could more rationally consider what had to be done in order to achieve this task. I identified three clear stages. The first was a relatively short but steep climb to what my map suggested was about a 250m elevation. After this, Stage 2, a long ridge with a gradual ascent to an unknown elevation. And finally, Stage 3, which appeared both on map and in reality to be the most difficult of the stages, climbing steeply to the top. When I looked at it like this, things didn't seem so bad. Unfortunately though, my decomposition of the climb into these smaller bight size chunks, failed to account for what I later labeled Stages 4, 5 and 6, which unfortunately were hidden from our vantage point at the bottom. Despite this miscalculation, my general strategy of breaking the task into stages did serve me well, particularly in the first hours of the climb. Perhaps almost too well as things turned out.

My anxiety to get started on the climb reached its peak as we stood staring up the first set of stairs. Given this, I decided to lead the group up the first stage of the climb. I took one final swig from my drink bottle before taking the first step onto the Ironbounds, and so it began. Almost immediately, I slipped into what I refer to as machine mode. This is a highly desirable state to be in, particularly when making a big climb. Without any concious effort, each step follows the rythm of some imaginary sound of a banging drum - finding this rythm puts me instantly into a semi-meditative state. Having a stair case rather than a steeply inclined track does help this alot. Such luxuries were always welcome on days like this. In addition to helping with finding the zone, the stairs also provide some relief to you're calf muscles, which would normally be burning with pain when climbing up a slanted track - having said this, the strain obviously has to go somewhere, and it was most certainly my thighs that took the honors. Thankfully, my regular up hill cycling in the months leading up to the hike, appeared to serve me well. For ten minutes, I continued to plod along, and was pleasantly surprised at how comfortable I felt. It wasn't long, however, before the familiar burning sensation of lactic acid build up began to make itself known. In response, I slowed my step rate, which appeared to keep this in check, and so I continued up the first stage with only a couple of momentary pauses to take in the view.

After a further 20 minutes of climbing, I paused for a moment to look ahead, and then behind. With the track ahead flattning out considerably, I realised with great satisfaction, that Stage 1 was complete. What I also realised as I dropped my backpack to the ground, was that I still felt relatively fresh and energetic. Given all my anxiety leading up to this, I was clearly very pleased with things. I was almost enjoying myself, which was quite something else given I hadn't felt this way since the first couple of hours of the first day, after leaving Malalueca. While my spirits were up, I was also quick to keep this in check. I had only completed Stage 1 after all, and was barely more than 250 metres up. All previous hiking experience has told me to never celebrate until the task is done. This, I find, is quite important. There is nothing worse than letting yourself think you've finished, when in reality, you have much more to do. When hiking long distances, over many days, high spirits can quickly give way to fatigue, which can bring morale right back down. Setting yourself up for such a fall should always be avoided - but can be hard to avoid when you are also trying to keep yourself up beat and motivated. I find the best solution is to stop thinking, and just get on with it. With this in mind, I quickly stood up, took one final swig from my drink bottle, and threw my backpack over my shoulder once again. While not everyone was ready to leave, everyone seemed happy enough for me to continue walking, and so I did.

As I began walking, I quickly found my rythm again, but this time with considerably more speed. Knowing Stage 2 was not terribly hard walking, I decided to get it over with quickly, and get onto Stage 3, which was looming ever so closer, and looking ever increasingly like what in hiking circles is often referred to as "a bastard" of a climb! After 30 minutes of walking along the ridge, the track began to ascend steeply, as it scaled the perimeter of a rocky knoll. This was the last section of Stage 2, which brought the track up to a saddle, at which point the towering ascent of Stage 3 began.

Upon reaching the saddle, I again took off my backpack, and consumed a significantly greater amount of water than any time previously. Being at a much higher point than the rest of my group, I was able to spot each of them along the track behind me. Much to my surprise, I was a considerable distance ahead of Alec, who was clearly the next along the track. I must admit, being so far ahead, and still feeling reasonably fresh did make me feel quite proud of myself. Perhaps a little too proud as it turned out.

As I considered the next stage, and the distance between myself and the rest of the group, I was faced with a decision that would unfortunately haunt me for days to come. Do I keep walking? Or do I wait for the others? Ordinarily, I would wait. Well, actually, ordinarily I would not have to consider this question, because ordinarily, I am not the person waiting for others to catch up. While common sense would say I should wait and keep the group together, there was an overwhelming desire in me to keep walking and get this final stage over and done with. I thought about it for another minute or so. It will probably take Alec another ten minutes to reach me, and if I wait for everyone, another 20 minutes. Including break time, I will probably have to wait about 25-30 minutes before I get going again! While I could sit and enjoy the (quite spectacular) view), my desire to get going prevailed.

"I'll see them at the top!", I thought to myself.

When I made this decision, given what I could see, I figured I was about 30 minutes from the summit. This turned out to be a rather unfortunate error in judgment. As I embarked on Stage 3, it was immediately obvious that my predictions were true, it was indeed going to be a right royal bastard of a climb! I began ascending towards the rocky peaks that had been visible from the very moment we first laid eyes on the Ironbounds the previous day. Again, "machine mode" kicked in, albeit at a very low gear. Each step I made was slow and carefully placed. The steepness during most of this stage was at it's most extreme, and while there was no serious danger of falling any great distance if you slipped, you would certainly be in a fair bit of discomfort if you did happen to trip on the edge of the wooden framing of each step. Fatigue, perhaps for the first time, was beginning to effect me. Rather than ascending to the next step of the staircase with each stride, I opted instead to bring both feet to the same level, before taking on the next. As I put one foot forward, I placed both hands on my raised and bent knee, and pushed myself up to the next level. I repeated this for a considerable time, and despite the slow and steady nature of each step, I managed to advance up the hill relatively quickly due to the significant height gained in step I completed. Some steps were so big that it required both hands and feet to make it to the next level.

I periodically looked back to see where the others were. After a while, however, I lost sight of the track below due to various rocky outcrops and variations of the terrain I was climbing. I decided to keep climbing as I could see ahead, the track winding it's way around one of the large rocky outcrops at the top of the climb. Believing the summit was just behind this, I figured I should continue on to the top, and wait there. And so I carried on plodding my way up the mountain, in the same cautious but relentless fashion.

I soon reached the rocky peaks that for so long, had been my ultimate goal. As I approached them, my spirit began to lift as I realised I had almost finished the much dreaded final Stage 3, and would soon be gloriously placed at the top of the world, having conquered my nemisis, the Ironbound ranges. As the track went behind the rock, however, I was somewhat surprised to find the track continuing to climb, albeit at a far less graded inclination, beyond the rocky peaks. The track, in fact, appeared to extend a further 400 metres or so. I continued walking along, assuming it was only a matter of minutes before I would reach the top. As I walked however, it became more and more apparent that there was still some considerable work to be done. In fact, as I looked further on, I could see the track winding it's way up a number of hills. Clearly Stage 3 was not the grand finale I was hoping for. I looked behind me in the hope of seeing others from my group, but they were no where to be seen. I figured I was probably about 30 minutes ahead, and so decided to continue to the top, wherever that might be. It was another hour before I reached the highest point of the walk.

On a clear day, the highest point of the walk is made obvious my the sudden panoramic view you are greeted with as you reach a rocky ledge which jets out to the North.. Looking Southward, you also see for the first time, the more heavily forested Southern side of the Ironbounds (in stark contrast to the barron Northern face), as it plummets towards the Southern Ocean 900m below. Also in viewm is the track as it starts a gradual descent towards the Southern face, clearly signaling that the highest point of the walk has indeed been reached. Needless to say, I was ecstatic, and indeed, very pleased with my efforts. The endorphin high quickly kicked in, and I took my back pack off, and began to explore the area for a place to sit and enjoy the view. I was very lucky, for I had the clearest of views one could hope for. The rain and clouds of the previous days appeared to have all vanished, giving me a picture perfect reward for 5 hours of climbing. The only disappointment was that I did not have the camera, and so could not take any photos. "That's ok", I thought, "Aff will be here soon".

I must admit, being on top of the world, all alone, was a very satisfying feeling. If I was to be totally honest, I would also admit that the desire to have this alone time on top of the highest point of the walk was a factor in my decision to push on without waiting for the others. Part of me knew it was wrong, but again, the overwhelming desire to complete this challenge took precedence over everything - a fact that I must say, I am not proud of when I look back on it.
Even at the time, as I sat and enjoyed the view while munching on a muesli bar, I became increasingly aware of my selfish act as time ticked on, and there was no sign of anyone. I estimate it was about 45 minutes before I caught sight of Claire and Aff in the distance, and even then, they were a good 15 minutes away.

I jumped to my feet, relieved to see them, having not done so for about three hours. As I waved to them, almost perfectly on cue, clouds quite rapidly began to gather at the peak. The Ironbounds are reknowned for the variability of the weather at the top, with plenty of warnings given to avoid the pass if the weather is bad. It appeared we were about to find out what they mean. It was quite a sight. Clouds, quite literally, rose from beneath us, and swept over the top of us. The 360 degree panorama I had enjoyed for the last hour, suddenly vanished in a thick layer of fog. This was not good.

When Aff and Clair reached me at the top, I had put on my rain coat and jacket. Still excited to see them, I went over to congratulate them on reaching the top. If I was hoping for jubilant hugs and kisses, and compliments on my all conquering efforts to reach the top so quickly, I was sadly, and quite naively mistaken. There was no such scene, but rather the tense feeling of discontent. My naivete to my wrong doing was probably best summed up when I greeted Aff and Claire with the phrase "you should have been here ten minutes ago, the view was amazing!". This was clearly not my finest hour.

It only took another ten minutes for Alec and James to make their way to the top. It was equally apparent, at least from Alec, that I was not the groups favourite hiker at this time. By this stage, the weather had well and truly set in, and the rain began to drizzle down. When I think back to it now, it was probably the weather that contributed as much to the ill feeling as my own selfishness in going it alone. I am quite sure that if everyone had seen the view I saw when I arrived, then things would have been quite different, and the satisfaction of having completed the biggest climb of the hike would have overidden any ill feeling (to some extent at least). It is important to point out, however, that very little was actually said to me regarding my decision to walk on. To a large extent, my interpretation of people's reactions came largely from my own feelings of guilt about my decision. In reality, I don't know whether Claire, Alec or James really cared that much at all. Aff certainly did, and with good reason. I had abandoned her, and she had found the climb extremely taxing. Given the relative comfort in which I had made the climb, I most certainly should have held myself back, and perhaps taken some extra load - at the very least offered some support. These things, of course, are apparent now, but were largely hidden from me at the time. When I think back to it, I can see why I did what I did, but can also see why what I did was wrong. It is important to remember that I began the day doubting I would even make it up the Ironbounds. My mind set from the start was entirely self-focused, but it was also with the belief that I had to be this way in order ensure I didn't hold the group back anymore than I already had. My mistake was that I should have realised after Stage 2, that I was not struggling anymore than anyone else, and so should have stopped being so self-focused. This whole event was a significant learning experience for me, and one I will not forget. I should also say that after an hour or so of the cold shoulder treatment from Aff, we patched things up. Any discontent held by others appeared to diminish quickly enough, and I soon found myself back in the conversation, albeit feeling rather humbled.

Due to the rain and wind, we were unable to eat lunch at the peak, and so continued walking along the track as it began gradually descending towards the densely forested southern face of the Ironbounds. As vegetation began to surrounding us, we found partial shelter from the rain on a section of the boarded track, and ate a very well deserved lunch of "mountain bread" and cheese. Having eaten food, morale in the group also seemed to improve. We quickly rose to our feet, ready for the descent to Deadman's bay. In our minds, the hardest bit was over, and it was all good from here on in. I cannot count the number of times I thought this, and how many times I was proven wrong.

Most people would argue that downhill, as a general rule, is easier than up hill. I used to think this - that this, until day 4 of the South Coast track hike. It might have taken us around 4 or 5 hours to climb the 900m to the top of the Ironbounds. Well, it took at least this long to descend back down to sea level. I don't think I will ever come across a more challenging, more relentlessly slow hiking track in all my life. The track down to Deadman's bay winds it way among a dense array of jungle like plants, and complicated networks of exposed tree roots. Between these tree roots, thick, varyingly coloured mud at least as deep as your ankles, but frequently deeper awaited each step. Every movement you made required not only the careful placement of your feet to ensure safe a footing, but both hands clinging onto tree trunks, rocks, vines, moss, possum crap, or whatever else happened to present itself at that instant in time when you felt the weight of your body edge ever increasingly down the steep slope of the mountain face. Unlike the Northern face, there was no view to be seen. You had no idea how far you had gone, nor did you have any idea how far you had to go. Also unlike the morning's uphill climb, I was no where near as comfortable with these conditions. Having had ankle, and knee troubles for many years, I was especially nervous about twisting an ankle or knee. The fact is, my anxiety was not miss-placed. I had at least five or six very close calls which only further exacebated my stress.

Alec, James and I all appear to hike in a similar way, particularly when faced with such adversity. Throughout the descent, all three of us were bunched reasonably close together (although I often fell behind because of my extra caution), but we rarely spoke. I am a reasonably quiet hiker in the best of conditions, but almost entirely shut up shop when dealing with harsh conditions such as this. Alec and James, who were both looking far more comfortable than I, appeared to also do the same. In contrast, Aff and Claire, who were some distance behind us, could be heard chattering away for hours. How people can have so much to say, when faced with so many potential ways to die, is beyond me. Eventually, as the hours of relentless clambering, slipping and sliding went on, everyone fell silent. When Aff and Claire first fell silent, I figured they had fallen significantly further behind, and so took the opportunity of a very much needed, toilet break. Given the lack of food I had eaten, this was actually my first toilet break in about 48 hours, and as such, it was going to stop at nothing. I, of course, wanted to get as far off the track as possible, but this was difficult given the dense forest, and so could only find a spot a couple of metres off the track. As I squatted down, and looked up the track, I suddenly caught sight of Claire as she came around the corner. "Stop!" I yelled, "you really don't wanna see this!" Thankfully, Claire instantly caught on, and turned the other way as I finished the job at hand. Despite the awkwardness of the moment, I felt considerably better afterwards, and thanked Claire for her patience, and alertness.

During our descent, the rain had well and truly set in, and despite wearing rain coats, we were all soaked through. Compounding this discomfort was the drop in temperature, which would quickly take hold when ever we paused for a break. It was clear as the hours passed, that everyone was close to their limit. Thankfully, however, just as I thought this to myself, we suddenly emerged from the heavy forest, and began walking along flat ground for a few hundred metres, before catching sight of the very familiar orange triangle, nailed to a wooden post, which signified the close proximity of a camp site. We had made it!

One could be forgiven for expecting us to suddenly drop our bags, and start randomly hugging strangers (of which there were many), but in truth, our spirits were not particularly lifted, despite the obvious relief we all felt. The rain, by this stage, had become increasingly heavy, and the light was almost completely gone. I estimate we arrived at the camp site at around 8.30pm, which is further testimony to the mammoth day this was.

Another factor in our lack of jubilation as we arrived, was the ridiculous overcrowdedness of the camp site. Due to the bad weather, a number of hikers going in the opposite direction to us, had decided not to attempt the Ironbounds climb. Apparently it had been raining at Deadman's bay all day, which just goes to show how variable and localised the weather can be in this part of the world. Another contributor, or should I say another 14 contributors to the overcrowdness of the camp site was a large guided hiking group, who had taken up a significant portion of the available space with their tarpaulin shelter and numerous tents. Of course, we have no more right that anyone else to the Tasmanian wilderness, but I do think the national parks should not allow such large groups to go all at once. It was incredibly anti-social, and for 5 drenched, travel weary hikers like us, it was not a welcoming sight.

After some walking around, all of us managed to find space for our tents, though unfortunately, we were unable to pitch our tents close together. Given the lack of shelter under which to cook, our cold, wet and tired bodies, and the unrelenting rain which was going no where fast, we were all forced into our tents for the remainder of the night. We managed to distribute the task of cooking a Thai green curry among our three tents, and I must say, after eating one of the most appreciated hiking meals in all my life, my spirits did lift. Of course, being snuggly wrapped up in my sleeping back with thermals on, probably also assisted with this. The only dampener on my morale at the time was the thought that this was new years eve, and I was stuck in a tent. This, however, became something of a joke among us, and in this light, Aff divvied up the rum and raisin chocolate (the only alcohol we had access to), and made a quick sprint to Alec and Claire's tent, and James' tent, to offer them a celebratory "drink".

As I drifted off to sleep (well and truly before midnight), I thought to myself, "well at least it's over - now it's all plain sailing".

As I said earlier, I lost count of how many times this thought was proved wrong.

... to be continued

Previous post: Day 3 South Coast Track | Next post: Day 5coming soon


Blogger Pearcey said...

"How people can have so much to say, when faced with so many potential ways to die, is beyond me"
That, Macca, is GOLD!

5/28/2006 06:35:00 PM

Blogger macca said...

Thanks Pearcey.

I'm impressed you read that far down !

5/29/2006 12:24:00 PM

Blogger Frank and Sue said...

This is just a MASTERPIECE of writing, congratulations, I absolutely loved it. You were able to describe the track perfectly and almost mirrored my thoughts and actions over the whole "Ironbound" day. A wonderful read.
Boy, you MUST have been in the doggy doo to reflect about your learnings so much on breaking away from the group (I read Aff here ..might be wrong I know)Naughty boy, (pleased you got to see the view IS spectacular)
Many, many thanks again for taking the time to post your South Coast experiences. You do it VERY well....Frank (btw I have added a GPS elevation view of the Ironbounds to our blog, you may be interested)

5/29/2006 06:47:00 PM

Blogger macca said...

thanks Frank! glad you enjoyed it. I'll definitely check out your elevation view.

As for being in the "doggy doo" - As I said, in the post - a lot my perceptions of other people's reactions came from my own feeling of guilt, more than anything else. I'll let Aff post her comment on this day, which she is apparently planning to do.

5/30/2006 11:01:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for this blog, I enjoyed reading it very much, love the detail, and appreciated reading how hard someone else found the walk! I did the Port Davey track (6 days plus a rest day at Melaleuca) and the South Coast track (7 days) in a group of six in December 2005. A five foot nothing, 51 year old woman who has never been particularly fit, I was prepared for mud and rain, but found it much harder physically and mentally than I expected. The mud was SO slow (I took double John Chapman's maximum times on parts of the Port Davey track!) and taxing, and the arduous descent of the Ironbounds started blisters that turned the rest of the hike into a test of mind over pain. Rain nearly every day, leeches, mosquitoes and flooded rivers were lesser challenges. Would I do it again? No. Was it worth it? Resoundingly Yes. I often stopped to marvel at being in such a remote, incredibly beautiful place and the challenges gave it an extra dimension that made it even more memorable. I couldn't have done it without the support of my son, but I did it! I feel privileged. Thank you once again, I hope you post again soon - I want to know what happened on the rest of your trip.

From another Canberran

6/14/2006 12:21:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, Thanx for the Blogg. We are planning to walk this track in Jan 2007. So def. interest in the rest of the days!


7/18/2006 04:36:00 PM

Blogger Dave Smith said...

I’m very much enjoying this read. My wife and I were there in March with significantly different conditions. We arrived just after a lot of rain (the mud was as bad as described by others), but we did not have any rain until camp was set up on the last night – thereafter it did not stop. Unfortunately it was also cloudy as the top of the Ironbounds but all in all I would say we had near perfect weather. The crowded camp site is not something I would like to experience which is why we always trek off season in Aus and NZ. There were 6 people at our 1st camp site, after that we had every site to ourselves – primo position every night! We experienced the isolation we had hoped for but also found this a discomforting at times, especially when at one stage we went 2 ½ days without seeing another person on the track. I personally found it as much of a mental than physical challenge with a cooker that didn’t want to work properly and a wife who kept slipping over and threatening to injure herself (fortunately, although she does slip over a lot she always gets back up). We’re going back to Tassie in Oct to do the Overland Track for the 2nd time and taking along my brother who hasn’t trekked before. I think the Overland is as good an introduction to trekking as you could experience. Although a beautiful trip, I doubt I will stand atop the Ironbounds again.

8/02/2006 04:18:00 PM

Blogger Dave Smith said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8/02/2006 04:27:00 PM

Blogger macca said...

great to read all your comments. I do plan on finishing this, but as I am sure you can all appreciate, this takes a fair amount of time (especially when you crap on as much as me). I will get onto this in the next few weeks, so please do keep checking.

8/07/2006 10:06:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


Really it is too much to whet the appetite of your readers and then just abandon them!

I'll keep checking.


12/02/2006 05:34:00 PM

Anonymous Sydney Meg said...

Hello Macca,

First of all, thank you so much for writing up your experiences. You have no idea how helpful it has been for me and my friend. We are planning to do the South Coast track over this Christmas. Though the track notes and maps are all necessary and helpful to some extent there's nothing like hearing the details from someone who has actually done it. To be honest we have so far been thinking about it as a difficult walk, but hadn't considerded in detail the actual difficulties such as the Ironbounds and the unrelenting bad weather. Your blog has also helped up plan better, in terms of gear. Once again, thank you for this. It's a great idea.

Waiting for you to post the next entry.


12/08/2006 11:32:00 AM

Anonymous Robyn from Kariong said...

My husband has just talked me into do the South Coast Track in March 07... We met a few years ago doing the 100km Oxfam Trailwalk in Sydney , so luckily he knows what I am like under pressure.

Thanks for the frank blog, I now know what I am facing. I am always up to a challenge and I think he has got one for me this time...If not he has 2 pack and a 70kg wife to carry.

1/08/2007 07:09:00 PM

Anonymous breminator said...

oh Macca, u bring back the memories like they only happened yesterday! The ironbounds were a real pain - especially the false summits. We reached the top after 2.5hrs and thought "yay! we ripped up Chapmans time" somehow it managed to take us 5 hrs to descend that bugger. the only place i have ever experienced worse is the trackless parts of federation peak and the eastern arthurs. i reckon looking through the rainforest coming down the ironbounds and seeing the ocean was bad because you see the waves, but you don't know if they're small and ur low down or what the go is! so you convince yourself that your nearly there and poof! ur still 500m up!!!!!! very good blogging, macca looking forward to next instalment.

a fellow Canberran (who may be at ANU in 08)

3/31/2007 10:06:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

So here I am, considering re-hiking this track that I last did in Jan. 97, and I find your blog...

A group of four of us, I the senior of the group at a whopping 20 years of age, started off from the east end of the track with minimal food and only a tourist map of the track--no elevatations listed at all.

On the first night, possums raided our food supply early on, and by a stroke of amazing bad luck our camp stove blew up. But we decided to press on.

By the time we got to the base of the Ironbounds, we were basically out of food, and one girl in the group was not doing too well. It was a coin toss to cross the Ironbound and hitch a plane in Melalucca, or turn back. Either way, we would have to make it in two days, as we were out of food.

Reading your blog I've actually remebered how rough it was getting over that pass, and I've never really thought about how truly lucky we were not to have ended up having *real* problems on this trek! It also makes me think I should, in fact, try it again! :)


-Older in Auckland-

10/04/2008 05:24:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh what a shame you never finished the story... this is an awesome read!
I am planning to do the Port Davey and South Coast Tracks in December, and this is the best impression Ive received yet of the challenges I should expect.

10/27/2008 02:30:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a really great account of what happened to you! I want to hear the end of the story especially since I'll be doing the Port Davey and South Coast Track with no previous hiking experience!

Please finish it for my own sake!

10/27/2008 07:10:00 PM


Post a Comment

<< Home