My (Life) Journey

My First Ever Overnight Hike (solo!)

by | May 5, 2018 | 20 comments

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 was pretty proud of myself after setting up my 2 man ‘Naturehike Cloud Up‘ tent for the 1st time on the grass outside my unit

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.

This is the app you can download called Guthook. It is free to download and you pay for the individual trail info. There are trails throughout the world on here, so awesome!

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).

My first overnight hike. From the Perth Hills Discovery Centre, past Mundaring Weir to the Northern Terminus of the Bibbulmun Track in Kalamunda. Camping half way at Hewetts Hill Shelter. Total distance approx. 20kms

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).

Testing out my pack for the first time at home (I guess it weights between 14 and 15 kg)

The contents of my pack. If you want to know anything specific write a comment or send me a message 🙂

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.

Jeff and I at the start of my walk at the Perth Hills Discovery Centre. What a legend for dropping me off

Mundaring Weir in the background. I didn’t see anyone else for about 2 hours

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.

It was basically all downhill to Mundaring Weir. After that LOTS of hills

After walking about 5km it was soooo nice to put my pack down

The Bibbulmun Track markers which are every 200 m from Kalumunda all the way down to Albany (1000 km’s away!)

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).

Hewetts Hill Shelter, I was so impressed. You can sleep in here but I chose to set up my tent in one of the ‘tent spots’ to have more privacy

View from the inside of Hewetts Hill shelter on the Bibbulmun Track

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).

 

Setting up my camp for the first time ever in the bush. This tent site was really secluded and private yet only about 50m away from the shelter

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.

The pic from my 12 week scan. Not a planned or expected thing to happen in my life right now but so happy

I cannot describe the relief of knowing everything was going smoothly. So so happy

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.

Jeff had dinner with me. He carried the food then walked back to his car after tea. What a legend

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 started the night with my balaclava and gloves because I was freeeezing. It got down to 8 degrees. I ended up taking it all off because I was so warm under my sleeping quilt

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…..

I used my new stove and pot set to boil water and had porridge and coffee for breakfast. The morning was so beautiful and I was feeling really happy

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.

Beautiful on my 10km walk from Hewetts Hill to Kalamunda. You can’t really tell from the photo but it is STEEP

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.

Made it!! The last 10 km was TOUGH, very up and down. It took me about 3.5 hours to walk from Hewetts Hill camp to Kalamunda

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.

Lauren ?

PS. Don’t forget to follow my Instagram @auscampingadventures and my Facebook Page AUS Camping Adventures if you want to see heaps of extra photos and videos of my little adventures.

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 🙂

20 Comments

  1. Michelle

    Good on you for going solo, that’s awesome! I’m with you on the being warm thing… I’m pathetic when I get cold. :-/
    But mostly… congratulations!!! That’s wonderful news, and what an exciting time you have ahead of you. 🙂

    Reply
    • Lauren Wallman

      Thanks Michelle 🙂 and yep out of the about 15 people all camped at the shelter I think I was the only one that wasnt cold! So worth spending the extra money I think

      Reply
  2. Heather

    Congratulations on being pregnant! Such exciting news! I don’t know how you had the energy to walk that far while being pregnant! I was always so short of breath & tired while I was pregnant so that was a pretty good effort!

    Have you got yourself some hiking poles yet? I had an older couple come and look at our house that is for sale yesterday and turns out they are very experienced hikers and after they seen my hiking pack (still haven’t purchased a tent but if you think the nature hike is good I’m just going to go with one of those!). Anyways they grabbed their hiking poles out to show me. Rather than being straight up and down the handles are angled (more ergonomic, helps with posture which means less aches & better for your wrists which is great as I got really sore wrists walking up to Windin Falls the other day from straight up & down poles) and so I gave them a go and they are so awesome! Definitely could feel the difference in having the angled handles and they are so light. They are called pacerpoles which they ordered from the UK. On the expensive side (think I worked out about $170AUD) but I’m definitely going to save up and get some! He was also trying to convince me I needed to not get a tent and sleep under a hiking tarp instead to keep my pack weight down, but I told him no way if I’m in a tent nothing can eat me while I’m asleep lol. He laughed at my sleeping mat (sea to summit comfort lite) and told me it’s too big to carry and I’m carrying far too much weight. I laughed back and told him if it means I get a good nights sleep then that’s what I’m sleeping on & if I can piggy back my 25kg daughter a couple of ks I’ll be right coz my pack is only about 15kg once I add a tent! Lol

    Reply
    • Lauren Wallman

      Hi Heather thanks so much for the hiking pole tip I will definitely look into it. I literally just use the best stick I can find haha, I end up upgrading as I find better ones along the way lol. Quite a few people have told me not to fall for the ultralight advice sometimes. If you have a few extra kg but it means you are comfortable and warm then it is so so worth carrying a bit of extra weight, well that’s what I think anyway. How awesome you are going to go hiking with your daughter, I am so going to do the same thing 😀 Lauren

      Reply
  3. Kathrin

    Dear Lauren, that’s some exciting news! As you know, you are the reason why I started camping on my own after the terrible breakup. And I’m happy that with hiking you found another hobby that makes you happy. While reading your post, the happiness is shining out of every written word. I hope you know what I mean ?. I hike on my own for some years. It’s a great connection with nature I feel while hiking and it unwinds me.
    As police officers and firemen are like a big worldwide family, I can tell you that I’m really proud of my brother in blue Jeff that he’s supporting you that much. That’s a trait you barely find these days. You should keep him ?.
    I’m looking forward to read more about your adventures soon. All the best for you from the other side of the world, Kathrin (Hamburg/Germany)

    Reply
    • Lauren Wallman

      Hi Kathrin! So good to hear from you, you know I always love seeing your adventures too 🙂 Your comment is so nice and really made me happy thank you so much. Yes Jeff is definitely a keeper I am really really lucky to have him. Please keep sending me photos of your camping adventures. Lauren oxox

      Reply
  4. Ian Raftery

    Wow, Lauren, that is one amazing report . Congratulations on your great news!! And well done on your hike test. I am sure your little one will love the outdoors too. They are never too young to start. Good luck and take care.

    Reply
    • Lauren Wallman

      Thanks so much Ian. Lots of changes in my life now but very excited for the future. Thanks for always reading my posts 🙂

      Reply
  5. Mike

    Well done on your first of many.

    Reply
  6. Holly Jones

    Congrats!! Very exciting news. The Bibbulmun is lovely too, especially once you get down near Dwellingup and it’s so green and beautiful. Around Walpole is gorgeous too. You better make sure you get a baby carrier for little walks 😉

    Reply
    • Lauren Wallman

      It is so beautiful in the south-west isn’t it. Can’t wait to explore more 😀

      Reply
  7. Ebonny

    So exciting for you Lauren, big news by amazing ahead. We camped since our first born was 6 weeks old, best thing we ever did and wouldn’t change it. Get out and exploring will be part of your family!
    Ebonny from @08Feet Travelling Australia

    Reply
    • Lauren Wallman

      I really can’t wait Ebonny. Oooh I’ll look your page up :))

      Reply
  8. Serena

    What exciting news! So happy for you and congrats on your first 20km’s. I’m such a terrible sleeper also, I’m curious about which earplugs you use?

    Reply
    • Lauren Wallman

      Thanks Serena 🙂 I just buy earplugs from the chemist, they are tan coloured and really good! They don’t hurt my ears at all 🙂 they come in packs of 3 pairs. I am not sure the name !

      Reply
  9. Pia

    Hey Lauren
    I used to work on Barrow at ESS admin and I remembered you as I got to recognize faces at check in. I started following your insta back when you did your Aus trip. I was sad to hear about your breakup, but tonight I saw something on your insta about being pregnant! I finally clicked onto your blog and just read this post! So happy for you! News of your man and the baby! How bloody exciting! Hope it all goes well for you ☺️ It’s awesome that you get out and camp on your own, you are so brave! I’m sure you will do the bib hike when the time is right for you and your family ? Anyway just wanted to say that I’ve enjoyed following your story so far x

    Reply
    • Lauren Wallman

      Awww hi Pia thanks so much!!! I remember you from Barrow also (just did a quick facestalk haha). There has certainly been a lot of ups and downs this past year but I am so stoked with life right now 🙂 I am a bit sad about not being able to walk the whole track this year but I will do it one day, that just might be a while away, or I will do it in sections. Great to hear from you, and you could camp solo too you know ! I was a little scared the first time but then it was just great because I realised you can do anything you want and not have to have someone to go with (I was pretty proud of myself too haha). Lauren ox

      Reply
  10. zealous

    Hey there! Ӏ’ve been foⅼlowing your ᴡeb site for some time
    now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you ɑ
    shout oᥙt from Porter Texas! Juѕt wanted to mention keеp up the fantɑstic work!

    Reply

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