My (Life) Journey
My First Ever Overnight Hike (solo!)
Amount saved: $5,000
Big Ticket Items I have bought so far:
- 2-man hiking tent (1.3kg): $150
- Sea to Summit Comfort Plus Sleeping Mat (825g): $189.50
- Enlightened Equipment Revelation Sleeping Quilt (680g): $380
- Nemo Fillo Luxury Pillow (340g): $84
- 360 Degrees Furno Stove & Pot Set (358g): $50
- Secondhand Klymit 60L Backpack: $50
After doing some pretty major damage on my credit card (don’t worry I always pay it back almost straight away, I just want the points!) I felt like every time I flew home from site was like a mini Christmas, I had so many packages waiting for me it was awesome. Everything I ordered online arrived and I was like a kid in a candy store, I set everything up in my living room and gave each item a bit of a test run. I couldn’t believe how warm my sleeping quilt is and how comfortable my mat is. I ordered my sleeping quilt from Enlightened Equipment in America and it is rated to -12⁰C which may seem excessive but I always get so cold! It can really ruin a camping experience for me if I am cold, so I went overboard. I couldn’t get over how light and soft it felt. So worth the almost $400 it cost me. I was also really impressed with the delivery, it arrived less than a week and a half after I ordered it (all the way from America).
I am so so happy with my purchases! In addition to the big ticket items above I have also bought:
- Evernew 2L Collapsible Water Container: $23
- 100% pure Marino Wool Thermals: $100
- Sea to Summit fitted sheet for my mat
- Foldable Backpack (for little off the track hikes): $10
- Gas Canisters
- Lightweight cutlery
- Bibbulmun Track Maps
- Backcountry Dehydrated Meals pack
After posting lots of comments asking for advice on the (awesome) Bibbulmun Track Group Facebook page I decided to fork out the $22 and download the Bibbulmun Track info in the app ’Guthook’ which is such a great app! It includes soo much info for so many different trails, including GPS tracking, distances, elevations, locations of shelters / camps, water points, toilets, towns and services. I feel like with this app I will never get lost because you can download all the content offline so it doesn’t matter if you don’t have phone reception (I still can’t get over technology these days!). Other maps I will download in the future will be the Cape to Cape and the Larapinta Trail, which I hope to do one day.
I wanted my first hike to be relatively easy and close to Perth because I won’t lie, I have done close to zero training. I did go on one short hike with 8kg in my pack but that is the extent of my preparation. I decided that I would walk from the Perth Hills Discovery Centre (just past Mundaring Weir) and end up at the Northern Terminus of the Bibbulmun Track in Kalamunda. This covers around 20km all up with the Hewetts Hill shelter almost exactly half way. So that meant I would walk approximately 10km a day. A very doable target for my first hike carrying an overnight pack. I will also have reception the whole time and there are nearby roads (things I am not too worried about but my mum was not too keen on me going alone so it gives her peace of mind).
I made a list and packed my backpack the day before. I googled ‘how to pack a hiking pack’ and followed the directions of putting the lightest stuff (like my sleeping bag and clothes) at the bottom, medium weight stuff in the middle and the heaviest stuff such as my tent at the top. When I tested it out I could not believe how good it felt! My guess is it weighed about 14 – 15 kg but possibly less. It would weigh more on a longer hike because I would have more food and water (I only carried 2 L of water because I knew there were multiple places to fill up my bottles on the walk).
So, how did I go….. WELL…. Jeff (my boyfriend, yep I have a boyfriend…. an amazing guy who I have been seeing since late last year) drove me to the Perth Hills Discovery Centre at 730 am in the morning, I had to go early because he had to go to work (what a man! It was definitely not on the way to work for him!!). Luckily he was working at the Midland Fire Station that day so only 20 mins further (oh did a mention he is a Fireman?? haha). It ended up being a great thing to start early because I was the only person on the trail for the first few hours. I followed the Bibbulmun Track down to the Mundaring Weir through the beautiful Jarrah Forest. It was mostly down hill so relatively easy and I was so stoked with my pack and how it felt.
We all know the saying ‘what comes up must go down, well what goes down must come up too! After reaching the Mundaring Weir which is probably the lowest elevation of the hike, I had to walk uphill for what seemed like ages! It was a good test for me and I realized just how unfit I am, it was a struggle I’m not going to lie!! The approximately 8km I walked to the Hewetts Hill shelter was very up and down, very beautiful and peaceful but also challenging at times and my pack felt heavier and heavier with every km.
I arrived at the shelter at 11.30am, I wasn’t quite sure what to do with myself for the rest of the day! I knew I would arrive early because I left so early and probably could have walked further if I really wanted but I was BUGGERED. Even setting up my tent was a bit of a struggle because I was feeling so tired. I was so impressed with the Hewetts Hill camp site. The shelter itself was great with plenty of room for hikers to sleep on the wooden bunks. I wanted a bit more privacy and to test out my tent, so I found an awesome little tent spot about 50 m away from the shelter. Close enough to feel safe and further enough away to feel isolated and alone in nature (which is exactly what I wanted).
Setting up my tent and everything else for the first time was easy, I was proud as punch with my little set up. Of course I had to test out the bed so I had a little lie down. Well that turned into a 2-hour nap! I was so tired from the walking. It was sooo nice and comfortable, the fitted sheet for my mat really made a difference because I used my sleeping bag as a quilt (unzipped).
During my extended (not intended) lie down, I put my phone on airplane mode to save the battery. When I put it back to normal mode I had 5 missed calls and a message from my mum saying ‘Call me now’. I knew something was not right, so I called mum straight away. She was in a bit of a panic and said that one of our family members who I had been in contact with was just diagnosed with shingles (which is the same virus that causes chickenpox). I had recently gotten all my bloods done and was not immune to the virus so had a potential of catching it. Mum said I needed to go to a hospital straight away to get a shot which would help fend off the virus just in case. I said to mum ‘I am nowhere near a road and I have just set up my camp for the night in the middle of the bush!’. Mum said that it is not worth the risk of waiting and that I should pack up my camp and hike to the nearest road (which was 1.5km away so not too bad really) where my sister would pick me up and take me straight to King Edward Hospital to get the shot. So I hung up the phone, burst into tears, and started packing up my camp. I was sad that I had to leave but understood it was something I had to do (on a side, more positive note, packing up my camp was so easy! It only took me about 15 mins).
So you might be thinking, why didn’t she just wait till the next day, its not that bad getting chickenpox. I agree and if it was just me I would have stayed for sure. But it is not just me. I have someone else to think about now. I have known for a couple of months but haven’t said anything because of the risks, but I am actually pregnant. I still can’t believe it and it is really really weird to even write it in this post. I am just over 3 months pregnant and can finally now tell people about it. Not something expected or planned but both Jeff and I are really happy and excited. It just feels right. The downside of this life changing event is that my plans to walk the entire Bibbulmun Track in October are out the window. I will be 8 months pregnant and not something I can realistically do. I am quite sad about that but I know I have such an amazing (and difficult) time ahead of me.
I still plan on doing little hikes before bubs is due (6th November) and my dream of completing the Bibbulmun Track from end to end will definitely happen, I am just not sure when! Isn’t it crazy how life can change so quickly. I am just so happy and relieved the 12 week scan went well and everything is developing normally.
So, back to my hike…. My sister picked me up from a road 1.5 km from the campsite and took me to the hospital. After that was all over and done with, we knew it was too late to head back to the camp site (I didn’t want to walk in the dark). So the new plan was for Jeff to take me to the exact spot I got picked up at on my next r&r. From there, both of us would walk to Hewetts Hill shelter, cook dinner together on the fire and enjoy the bush together. He would then walk back to the car and I would camp out on my own and walk 10 km to the northern terminus of the Bibbulmun Track the next day where he would pick me up. It was a win win because I could experience some of the walk with him (and he could carry the food!) as well as get my solo experience of sleeping in the bush on my own. I am so lucky that he supports me with this, I am not entirely sure it is the right thing to do (camping out alone whilst pregnant) but my instinct says I have nothing to worry about and I can always call him to pick me up if I am worried about anything.
It was great, we cooked lamb chops on the fire and toasted marshmallows, the only thing that would have made it better was if I could drink a beer (I’ll have to wait 6 months for that!!). There were two other hikers staying at the shelter and we had some great chats with them and I learnt you can cook a meat pie in a pot, genius! It was a bit chilly that night (it got down to 8 degrees) so having the camp fire was awesome. Jeff left at about 6.30 pm and not long after I was in my tent ready for bed. I was so happy to be able to share some of the experience with him but he knew it was important for me to do it solo too. I was initially sooo cold so I wore my balaclava. gloves, 2 pairs of socks and most of my clothes to bed, but after an hour or so I had to take most of it off because I was so nice and toasty under my sleeping quilt. I had a relatively good sleep which I didn’t really expect because I am such a fussy sleeper. My sleeping bag and mat kept me really warm.
I wore my earplugs to bed because I always do, the next morning I was up at about 6.30 am. I stayed in my tent for a while because I was so nice and warm before venturing out to the campfire. Man did I get a shock when I left my tent.. I am not exaggerating when I say there were about 10 extra people camping at the shelter, tents and people everywhere! They were a school group that were doing a night hike as part of Outdoor Ed class and they rocked up at 10 pm, I didn’t even hear them!! I must have been sound asleep! Most of them were huddling around the fire because it was still so cold and they all said they didn’t get much sleep because of the cold. I am sooo happy i spent the extra money and bought a really good sleeping bag.
I used my stove and pot set for the first time to make porridge and coffee for breakfast. Sitting on a rock looking out into the bush eating my delicious porridge (it was a ‘Backcountry‘ pack with lots of extras like sultanas and cinnamon) was such a special moment, I felt so happy and was loving life. If only I knew what awaited me…..
The 10 km from Hewetts Hill camp to the Bibbulmun Track Northern Terminus in Kalamunda was TOUGH. It was so much hillier than the first days walk. Really up and down. Although I struggled, the scenery was beautiful and there were heaps of cool granite outcrops.
It was so beautiful walking through the Jarrah Forest, my pack certainly didn’t feel any lighter going up and down the hills, but I liked the fact I was getting good exercise (I need to work off all the food I have been eating!!! I have an excuse though right… eating for 2? Haha). Getting to the finish line was such an amazing feeling. I know I didn’t really walk that far in the big scheme of things, but I was really proud of myself for finally doing it. I have definitely found a new hobby and passion in my life and can’t wait to do more. I know that one day I will take my son or daughter with me and I hope he/she loves the bush as much as I do. Jeff is also a massive nature lover so I think the odds are with us.
Although I won’t be walking the whole Bibbulmun Track anytime soon I will still go on many adventures and continue writing about my experiences as I get more and more of a belly, and I can’t wait to take my baby on its first camping trip (I was speaking to Bec from Trip In a Van the other day who said she took her son camping when we has just 6 weeks old, goals right there!). I am excited about the future and to share it with you guys. Thank you so much for reading I know this is a long one. I appreciate all your comments and ongoing support.
PPS. Here is a video I made of my first overnight hike if you would like to watch it ?
A video of my first ever overnight hike. It goes for 9 mins 26 seconds. I still can’t believe I slept through a school group turning up late at night!
Another video (3 and a half minutes) of everything I have in my pack for anyone interested. Please don’t be shy if you have any questions, just ask 🙂