Tuesday, October 11, 2011
With Spring now here in the Southern Hemisphere, and football season out of the way, it was definitely time to hit the trails again.
After my knees took a beating on my last (admittedly tough) hike over summer, I had been looking at ways to reduce this problem. Over winter I did some research into a concept called ultralightweight backpacking, which I think has the potential to significantly reduce the stress on my knees of long distances and steep descents. So with some thought, some ruthlessness in selecting what gear (not) to take, and a few new purchasses, I have reduced my load by about 5 lbs. So I was keen to see how all this worked out in practice.
I took off early from work on Friday, and took the bus up into town of Gembrook in the hills just outside of Melbourne. As it was the suburban bus, I did get more than a few odd looks with my hiking gear. What the heck - it's not like I was going to see any of these people again.
I started hiking at 4pm, and within 10 minutes was clear of the town. I was using gravel roads with no sidewalks, and while there were a few cars around, they were pretty courteous and gave me plenty of space. All the same, I was pretty glad when I reached the edge of the Bunyip State Park after about 45 minutes. After all, I was going hiking to be in forest, not just a rural area.
I kept up a good pace for about 4 hours, and 'stealth camped' by the side of the track at nightfall - about 8pm, having covered about 16 km (10 miles).