Sunday, December 16, 2012

Local Micro Adventure

Leo raps into a deep pool

If your based in Brisbane and looking for a good summer micro adventure close to home, upper Cabbage Tree creek should be on your short list. Starting and finishing at Boombana cafe in Mt Nebo makes a nice 10k loop. The highlight is the really pretty canyon type section through the creek with deep, clear pools to cool off in, followed by the stupid-steep climb out via Bitch Break and a short trot along rainforested single track to finish with a cold drink at the cafe. Thanks to Mike, Liam, Bec, Ray and Leo for a great morning out!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

A DIFFERENT KIND OF SUMMER


The flowers are in bloom and snakes are on the move..


but this year the local trails are dry and dusty, time for some very early morning and night time runs in the lead up to Bogong to Hotham..

Liam, Miyoko and myself, all smiles before cooking for 19hrs at Hells Bells last weekend..

For the last two summers the Obi, as well as other local creeks, have frequently looked like this. This year looks less promising..packrafts and whitewater boats will, unfortunately, likely be getting wet less often. Preparation for January's Franklin River trip will need to be done elsewhere.. 

while I suspect my sea kayak will be getting wet more often

We got a taste of what we might expect from this summer in SE Queensland over the last couple of days. It was the taste of sweat mixed with hot, heavy, smoke filled air. The kind of days where it takes the rest of the day to re-hydrate after a two hour run or ride. For those of the hiking/running, biking, paddling, climbing persuasion heat is not usually welcomed (except for rolling sessions I guess). But it is what it is and we adapt. Night time becomes our friend and shady trails with water holes to cool off in are everywhere. So for those of you based at warmer latitudes, I hope you find creative, fun-filled, adventurous ways to enjoy this summer. Thanks for checking in. 











Sunday, August 12, 2012

THE GIFT

Danno takes in the sunrise from View Point Buttress, part way up Mt Maroon

My brother and I have just celebrated my birthday by spending a couple of days exploring the ridges and gorges of my favourite local playground, Mt Barney National Park..I could hardly have asked for a better, more fitting 40th birthday gift. 

We started hiking at first light from the Cotswold rd trailhead at the base of Mt Maroon in perfect south east Queensland winter conditions, cool and dry with a cloudless sky. An hour later we stood on the summit, shivering in a brisk south westerly wind while scoping our route over Mt May to the west. Maroon Gorge has a well defined footpad at the moment, obviously seeing a lot of traffic this season, which made travel quick and easy down to Paddys Plain. From here we walked in a more northerly direction before heading west to meet the ridge to the north of Paddys Peak. For the most part the off-trail travel in this area is quite fast at the moment with just the odd bit of thicker scrub. Around five hours in we were on the summit of Mt May admiring the classic view over the Barney/Ballow massif. The steep south west ridge lead us down to easy walking along Waterfall Creek road, over Cleared Ridge and down to the stunning Upper portals on Mt Barney Creek. We kicked back here and had some lunch to fuel up for the long section of gorge walking ahead, first rock hopping downstream before heading up to Mt Barney's east/west saddle via Barney Gorge. At the old hut site in the saddle we got out headlamps and an hour or so and 800 vertical metres lower we made camp on Cronin Creek. 

On account of me being old and soft, we ( I ) slept in and bailed on our original plan of hiking the Mt Ernest razorback. As part of his preparation for a mission on the Bibbulman track in late September, Danno has been logging some big days on foot. This, and the fact that he is a strong walker anyway meant that, unlike me, he didn't find the 13 hours and 2000m of elevation gain of our first day very taxing. Instead of Mt Ernest we headed straight over to Mt Maroon's south ridge via the road. Neither of us had been on the south ridge before so we paid attention to the map in this section. Despite this we did make a small nav error before making our way up to a small break ( 732 787 ) in the south eastern cliff line via a great talus cone, passing a section of cliff with some Frog Buttress quality cracks lines. Another hour or so of nice walking with the odd short scramble and we were on the summit, soaking up one last view of Mt Barney before descending to the car and the end of the adventure. 




Danno made me an awesome new bivy sack for my birthday. This is easily the best bivy I've used. Its super roomy, has a very breathable highly water resistant Pertex top, full length zipper and comes in at 200g. These will be avialable for order in the next few months. Also note the Cuben tarp he has just sewn up - 160g with linelocs and guys!! 

On Maroon's summit for the second time


 






    



Sunday, July 29, 2012

SAND: The Gear and The Video


I won't go into a huge amount of detail here, just a quick run down on the gear we used that some of you will find useful when planning a trip like this.

THE BIKES -

Salsa Mukluk 3 with 1x10 gearing, 22t front and 11-34 cassette. Apart from one broken chain, the bikes ran perfectly. This gearing gave us a top speed of about 18km/hr on the hard packed sand which was a little frustrating at times. Even though the trip wasn't about speed and I would use a 1x10 setup again, a 26t front ring would probably be a better choice. For the sake of simplicity and weight savings we chose not to fit back brakes, which worked well, but we should have packed spare pads, by the end of the trip the pads were almost down to the metal. For spares we carried one tube each, some patches, chain links, a few M5 bolts and one derailleur hanger.

PACKING SYSTEM - 

Seat Bag - Revelate Viscacha with Spocket. An amazingly well designed and made bit of kit. Lightweight, stable and can be removed and put in your pack if need be. This carried our shelter, both sleeping mats, both bivys and my spare clothes. The Spocket carried chain lube and sunnies. If your only going to buy one piece of bikepacking gear this should be it. Gear of the trip.

Frame Bag - MYOG. I made this from materials salvaged from an old tote bag. It worked well but I don't expect a long service life. I think I'll make the next one from a heavier fabric like VX21 perhaps. This carried spare tubes and parts, stove, tent pole, headlamps, spare camera batteries, Kindle and food.

Handlebar Bag - Revelate Pocket with 13l S2S Big River Dry Bag. This worked well as long as the straps were tightened regularly to keep the dry bag in place. I would possibly consider the new Sweetroll next time. The Pocket itself carried a GoPro, sunscreen, a Leatherman and snacks. The dry bag carried food.

Top Tube Bag - Revelate Gas Tank. Super handy. Carried a multi tool and snacks.

Backpack - Sea to Summit Ultra Sil Dry Day Pack. Seam sealed with a roll top closure, this 22l pack stuffs to the size of an apple when not in use and weighs 100gms! This carried a quilt and the map.

Water Storage - 3 x King Stainless Cages with 1l Zefal bottles and 1 x 2l Platy. Didn't need the Platy, water is everywhere on Fraser.




SHELTER - Black Diamond Mega Light. It rained a lot so having a big shelter was great but head nets would have been good to have for the sand flies on the west coast.
BIVY - MYOG. Just used as a ground sheet.
MAT - Thermarest Neo Air short. Great.
QUILT - MLD Spirit 30. Too warm.
STOVE - Jetboil Sol Ti. Very fuel efficient, used less than one 100gm canister.
RAIN JACKET - Arc'teryx Alpha LT. Great.
T-SHIRT  - Patagonia Cap 2 x 2. Great
L/S SHIRT - Patagonia Cap 2. Didn't use.
WARM JACKET - Patagonia R1 Hoody. Great.
LONG PANTS - Patagonia GI2. Great.
KNICKS - Pearl Izumi. Good knicks but one small Bodyglide was not enough chamois creme! We also forgot wipes which was a serious mistake. Not surprisingly a week riding on a sand island did lead to some chaffing. 







Sunday, July 15, 2012

SAND


The largest sand island on the planet, more perched lakes than anywhere else in the world,  giant 1000 year old Satinay and towering Tallowood trees, Australia's purest strain of Dingo and crystal clear, sand filtered, freshwater streams running through postcard perfect sub-tropical rainforest. Fraser is special. And this was a special trip. The kind of trip that reaffirms just how important spending time in nature - with nature is, that going outside and staying out for more than a day or two is the only way to (at the risk of sounding trite) 'drink deeply' of the bush. 


Unfortunately, since being listed as a World Heritage Area in 1992, Fraser Island has not been given the protection it deserves. A seemingly unregulated stream of four wheel drive vehicles pour on to the island everyday despite the fact most of the island is national park. For those that like to travel in a low-impact fashion Fraser offers outstanding opportunities to explore - places the 4WD crowd can't reach - by foot, sea kayak, bike or combinations of. Sal and I had walked and combined paddling and walking on previous trips but on this trip our tool of choice was our Salsa Mukluk fatbikes..fast enough to get us all the way around the island in seven days but not so fast as to not allow us to 'stop and smell the flowers'. Helped by plenty of rain to keep the sand moist and firm, our four inch wide tyres proved to be a fantastic choice for a leisurely sand tour. 







The itinerary:

Day 1 - Hook pt to near the Maheno wreck 70k
Day 2 - Maheno to Ocean Lake 40k
Day 3 - Ocean Lake to Rooney pt 45k
Day 4 - Rooney pt to Moon pt 50k
Day 5 - Moon pt to Lake Mackenzie 50k
Day 6 - Lake Mackenzie to Dilli Village 35k
Day 7 - Dilli to Rainbow Beach 35k

See map.

All distances are approximate. Due to the firm sand on the beaches and inland tracks travel was fairly easy for most of the trip and we rode our bikes 95% of the time. On the beach we were able to ride about two hours either side of high tide. The west coast was a bit of an unknown, particularly Rooney pt to Wathumba Creek, as we knew of no one riding a bike on this beach before (although I'm sure someone has). As it turned out, apart from a few soft patches here and there the beach was firm and rideable. Wathumba is the biggest creek on the west coast and needs to be crossed about 500m upstream from the mouth within an hour of low tide. Ideally Coongul Creek should also be crossed close to low water, we didn't and the water was well over waist deep, lucky fatbikes float! All the other creeks are no more than about knee deep. Overall we had close to ideal conditions for a Fraser fatbike tour. A video as well as a gear rundown will follow.  

Monday, June 11, 2012

PACKRAFTING, THE FIRST YEAR

Sal on the Travers River, NZ.

I first heard about the use small inflatable boats to float down wilderness rivers in the late nineties. The protagonists were Alaskan and they used packrafts as a tool to help them move quickly through huge chunks of backcountry during the original adventure race, The Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic. After our '09 NZ trip Sal and I decided we wouldn't return to the southern alps without packrafts. We finally placed our order with Alpacka early last year and it has honestly been one of the best decisions we've ever made. For anyone with an interest in exploring wild places or just wants to add another element to their time outside, I can't recommend a packraft highly enough. 



The Nymboida/Mann video

On Teewah creek.

Putting in on the Sabine River, NZ.

Going for a cruise on Lake Angelus, NZ.

Danno on the Obi last weekend.


The Nelson Lakes video.


Sunday, May 20, 2012

GIRRAWEEN GOODNESS


At this time of year there isn't many places in south east Queensland comparable to Girraween. Cool nights and not-too-warm days with the kind of stunning, impossibly clear bluebird days we've been having are typical. 



Girraween isn't a big park so any dome you fancy spending the night on is within the scope of a weekend walk. This weekend we chose Twin Peaks, which we hiked to via Mt Norman and returned via the Aztec Temple and Underground Creek. There is a great leaf covered dirt campsite on the eastern peak that is just big enough for a two person tarp.






Monday, May 14, 2012

COOLOOLA FAT STYLE


The focus of this weekend's Cooloola micro-adventure was meant to be figuring out which gearing, ways to carry stuff, tyre pressures and pedals would be most suited to upcoming longer adventures.  But as is usually the case, 'gear testing' was just an excuse to be there.



Still, some valuable lessons were learnt (early days yet though). Gearing: This is tricky, at low tide on hard packed sand even fatbikes can pick up some decent speed. But, these things are freakin heavy! Even the slightest rise with a loaded bike needs little gears. At the moment we are running a 1x10 setup with a 22t front ring and a 11-36 cassette. This seems to be a reasonable compromise between cruising speed on hard sand - if your not in a hurry - and a super low gear for climbing and soft sand. It also saves weight and means less parts to clog with sand and salt.
Brakes: Just one on the front seems to be adequate. Again, one less part to be destroyed by sand and salt. 



Pedals/Shoes: For bike trips that involve hiking and/or hike-a-bike sections, pedal and shoe choice becomes something of a dilemma. After this weekend I think I'll look for a bike shoe that is ok to walk in. Nearly 20 years of riding clipless seems to have made being attached almost essential..or maybe I just need more practice with flats. 




Packing: I figure approaching bikepacking with a backpacking mindset makes a lot of sense. Simply choose the lightest available items that actually work and don't take anything that isn't absolutely necessary. The real question is how and more so where to pack the load. On the weekend I used a 13l dry sack for a seat bag, a large Revelate Tangle bag in the frame and a small Revelate Pocket with 13l dry sack on the bars along with an Osprey Talon 33 pack. On the second day I ditched the seat bag and carried almost everything in the pack, probably the best option if there is lots of pushing and carrying. For longer trips I'll probably end up with a full size frame bag and a Revelate Viscacha seat bag as well as Salsa Anything cages. 






Sunday, May 6, 2012

'TIS THE SEASON

For my first trip of the year to Mt Barney I was lucky enough to get one of those perfect south east Queensland autumn days. Dry, crystal clear air and cool enough to move quickly without losing bucket loads of sweat. The classic Logans/SE ridge loop is a relatively short,  direct and continually interesting route that I never tire of. An ideal start to the season!