Coming Soon – Brand New Hiking How-To Videos and New Look Blog!

Yay! I’m so excited!!

You know how they say that change is as good as a holiday? Well, I guess I’m about to feel as though I’ve had one big holiday, because there’s a whole lot of ‘change’ coming very soon.

If you follow the @Lotsafreshair Instagram or Twitter, you might have seen me and the crew oot n’ aboot (a loving nod to my Canadian friends) shooting new clips for the 2nd series of the Lotsafreshair – How To Hiking videos.

The amazing crew of Mark (Big Dog), Peter and I, spent an incredibly busy day up in the Blue Mountains at the end of 2013, putting down as many tips n’ tricks as we could in the time we had.

That's a wrap!

That’s a wrap! Big Dog & Caro – Butterbox at Sunset – near Mt Hay, Leura.

Thanks to the awesome guys at National Parks, we had some amazing locations including Pulpit Rock, overlooking the Grose Valley, and the Butterbox at sunset, out near Mt Hay.

And as they say in late night TV, ‘…But that’s not all!‘ Alas, I don’t have any steak knives to give away, but I am also working on a lovely, fresh new look for the blog. Well, actually, the lovely Cath from Phase Creative is doing all the pretty stuff and I’m super happy with it.

Lotsafreshair.com - New Design Sneak Peek!

Lotsafreshair.com – New Design Sneak Peek!

I’ve been frustrated with the existing design, as I didn’t feel the design allowed enough topics and content on the screen. So we’ve been working on moving from WordPress.com to WordPress.org (the bloggers amongst you will know what that all means!), and using this renewed flexibility to come up with a layout and design that really works.

And another sneaky look...

And another sneaky look…

The great news is that the design phase is nearly complete, and now it’s just down to the developing and coding side of things… oh you amazing, mighty, Web Princess of the dark arts of < and >. I am not worthy!  So no launch date yet for the new blog design, but you will start seeing the new videos over the coming weeks… YAY!!!

I’d love to hear what you think about the teaser video and any thoughts on what types of videos you’d like to see in the future. Please drop me a line below to let me know!

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Six Foot Track Project Launch!

Ok, so you know how they always say, ‘Never start with an apology – it’s too negative.’?

Well, here I am breaking with tradition because for the last couple of weeks, I’ve taken leave of my blogging senses to concentrate on a very exciting new project that is launching this week!

For the past year, I’ve been working with the fabulous Matt McClelland (www.wildwalks.com and bushwalk.com) and Geoff Mallinson (geoffmallinson.com and Dad of danmallo.com) on a new approach to multi-day hike websites. We’re getting down to the pointy end of the work these last two weeks and we’re racing to get it all ready in time!

We all share the same aims of wanting to encourage people to get out into (and enjoy) the bush in a safe and fun way, so we pooled our collective skills into this project.

Geoff goes for a slide at Norths Lookout

Geoff goes for a slide at Norths Lookout

The Six Foot Track is one of Australia’s best known multi-day hikes and although the 45kms is usually done as a 3 day trip, it is also run during the annual Six Foot Marathon in around 5.5hrs.

The book, website and associated YouTube channel are full of information, photos, track notes, videos and an exciting new development called, ‘EmuView’ which adds a 360VR experience to the interactive maps on the site.

Guess who on the bridge?

Guess who on the bridge?

We’re launching this Thursday night with a shindig at the Hornsby RSL, so once that’s out of the way, I hope to return you to your regular weekly blog programming!

Hope you enjoy it!

Hiking Food : Hidden in your Supermarket

Continuing the theme of trying to get inspired by lunch in the bush, I recently decided to spend some quality time browsing the shelves of my supermarket, to see if there were any hidden gems just itching to get out into the wilderness.
I came to realise that I have developed shopping blinkers when it comes to scanning shelves for familiar brands, packaging or solutions. I’m sure some advertising market researcher would be able to explain the reasons and psychology behind this, but for me, it felt like I was shopping in a foreign country. I was suddenly seeing things on the shelves that I walk past everyday and seeing familiar products in a new light.

All wasn’t gloss and excitement though, the grocery Tombraider in me discovered a few things that are best left on the shelves… or even buried in said tomb.
The winner of this category would have to be anything with the fetching ingredient of Mechanically Separated Chicken in it.

Mechanically Separated Chicken

Mechanically Separated Chicken anyone?

Yep, this little gem, with it’s somewhat industrial sounding name, is about as far from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall as you can get.
And with a name like that, is it any wonder that it is usually found tucked up tight inside a tin with other serial offenders such as MSG and TNA’s*?
So unless you’re happy to chow down on a series of numbers and hormone pumped, pulped chicken…(and I mean every bit of it), I’d give this little gem a miss.
So I encourage you to put aside some time for quality shelf browsing and not only in your supermarket, but head to the health food store and (my personal favourite) the Asian grocery store.

Asian Supermarket Gold

A Treasure Trove in the Asian Supermarket

Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you don’t know what something is or how to use it. If you get the cold shoulder or find that language is a problem, find another shop. You’ll need to take off your rosé-coloured, blinkered, pre-conceived shopping goggles and enter with a fresh approach, asking yourself how different things could be used, how they would travel and deal with some of the conditions that you may find in the bush.

Oh and remember, (almost) everything tastes good in the bush… Although I’ve never had much luck with dried fish!

*Three Number Acronyms

River and Creek Crossings – Dealing with Wet Feet

Whether it be a canyon trip, a simple creek crossing, fording a river or the good ol’ stuff falling from above – there’s lots of reasons why you might end up with wet socks and shoes in the bush.

Check river heights online if there’s been rain in the catchment (Coxs River, Yellow Pup Spur, Blue Mts NP)

I remember my first wet feet opportunity years ago and how I stood beside the creek trying to figure out what to do for ages.

At the time, I was in my dim dark days (now long gone) of wearing heavy leather walking boots. I was so proud that they were lined with Goretex and all, but so called waterproof boots quickly become waterproof buckets when the water goes over the top of the ankle.

In off track country, the river can be your highway. (Colo River, NSW)

It’s no wonder I couldn’t make up my mind what to do. In the end, I took off my boots and plunged my feet into the chilly water and slowly crept across the creek, trying best to avoid sharp rocks as I went.

When there’s only going to be one crossing in a day and you’re not in a hurry, an approach like this is usually going to be fine… as long as you don’t cut your feet (!).

These days, I’m much less worried about it all. I wear a Merrell shoe with mesh in it. The mesh not only helps your foot breathe better (theoretically less sweaty and stinky!) but also allows water to drain better. I’ve worn these everywhere from trekking the Huayhuash Circuit in Peru (high altitude glacial moraine) to pushing through muddy/scrubby/ rocky/rough off-track terrain elsewhere. With the amount of wear and tear I give them, they’ll probably only last a year, but for me, the pros outway the cons (of which I can’t think of any).

Basically, I just walk right on through the water if it’s safe to do so. I don’t stop on the other side to drain or dry out – I just keep going and gradually dry out as I keep walking.

OK, ok, so I hear some of you wincing about blisters. On short trips of up to 3 days, I’ve never had a problem with blisters from wet feet and dry my feet out each night. For longer trips, where your feet are constantly wet, you need to be mindful that blisters may become an issue.

What are your options?

  • Change your route or find a dry crossing up/down stream.
  • Barefoot (Pros: keep shoes/socks dry. Cons: time consuming and can injure your feet on rocks)
  • Change of shoesCrocs, Teva style sandals, Scuba Booties, Volleys (Pros: keep shoes/socks dry, give feet some protection from rocks. Cons: time consuming unless you can continue in these shoes for a large part of day depending on terrain, additional item to carry.)
  • Don’t worry about it – just walk on through (Pros: fast, especially good for multiple crossings, protect your feet, nothing extra to carry. Cons: Your feet are wet – suck it up Princess!

Q: What do you do with your wet feet?

Whichever way you choose, many people find that using a stick or walking pole is helpful in negotiating the slippery and uneven rocks on a creek bed.

The important thing to do, is to dry your feet out when you’re at camp. Here’s a simple (lightweight) solution.

Shopping bags and dry socks for camp

  1. When at camp, remove wet shoes and socks.
  2. Dry your feet and put on your dry socks.
  3. Insert your feet into a shopping bag (make sure there’s no holes!).
  4. Put your (wet) shoe back on.
  5. The warmth from your feet will help dry out your shoes, whilst your skin/feet stay nice and dry.
  6. If you’ve got a fire, try drying out your wet socks by putting them on a stick and wafting over the heat… (just don’t put them too close and watch out if they stink n steam!).

The other benefit of the plastic bag option is that it keeps your feet warm and gives you protection around the campsite… [**ed: unless your name is Dot Butler] it’s never a good idea to you walk around in bare feet.

In some places there’s no alternative than straight down the guts of a creek. Such as impenetrable scrub or steep / sheer rock faces (Ettrema Creek, Morton NP)

How to Waterproof your Backpack

There are several different approaches to ensuring that your gear stays dry inside your pack. As with all things in life, it’s just about finding out what works for you.

Sue and Dudley Float their pack down The Colo River

The important starting point is realising that your pack (unless it is a ‘drybag’, no matter what the shop assistant tells you) is not waterproof. It’s a little like raincoats… there’s no such thing as a waterproof rain jacket.

The most popular approach is to line your empty backpack with a large tough plastic garbage bag or two (the strong orange ones seem to be good) or commercially available pack liner or dry bag. Then everything simply gets packed into this as per normal.

Barrington Tops National Park, NSW
Notorious for needing to waterproof your pack!

This method has some advantages, especially if you know you’re going to be canyoning or using your backpack as a float/pack-raft along rivers. When you go to seal the liner, you can make sure that there’s a good amount of air trapped inside which will aid buoyancy.

Another approach is to use a Pack Cover like the one in this photo taken in Barrington Tops National Park during my Tops to Myall Heritage Trail trip.

However, for most trips, I use a method that sees the individual items waterproofed. (For me, I find that the all in one liner bag tricky to negotiate, whilst still ensuring a tight pack to my bag.)

Overnight Canyon Trips – Essential to keep dry 
Bowen Creek South, Wollemi NP, NSW

So in my approach, I have my clothes in a lightweight Drysil bag, my First Aid Kit is inside the waterproof plastic containers and all my food is in Ziploc bags.  Therefore, the only thing I need to waterproof is my sleeping bag. (If needed, I can put my matt inside a Ziploc bag also).

So here’s a video that shows you a little trick about how to waterproof your sleeping bag.

Q: Have you got another method that works for you?