Overland track with an 11 kg baby - food drops, lighter tent

Discussion specifically about the Overland Track should be posted in this subforum, including side trips and the Cradle Mountain day walk area. Alternative access routes and connecting routes belong in the parent forum.

Overland track with an 11 kg baby - food drops, lighter tent

Postby emma_melbourne » Sun 18 Jun, 2017 10:06 pm

THE CHALLENGE - WANTING ADVICE:

I am wanting to do the Overland track in late November.

I have a baby who is currently 15 months old (born Feb 2016). So she will be under 2 years old, and based on her current weight and trajectory, she'll likely weigh just under 11 kg.

That's 11 kg of baby PLUS all my equipment. I'm going just her and I.

Obviously I'm going to have to be really smart about equipment and weight. And if there was an option for a food drop service that anyone knows of, that would really aid my predicament. I'd love any advice that hikers can offer on getting my equipment weight as low as possible.

MY WEIGHT:

I am 170 cm tall, 68 kg, fit and have some experience hiking. I have a number of hikes planned between now and the Overland, to improve fitness and strength over distance. My understanding is that hikers should aim for their pack to be under one third of their body weight.

EQUIPMENT:

My equipment set-up so far is here: https://lighterpack.com/r/875egz (I still need to add clothing, nappies, weight of medical supplies, survival kit items, sunscreen, repellant, etc)

I've got a good baby infant carrier by Wilderness Experience, with in-built capacity for 30 L at bottom pocket, and additional velcro-on side compartments which add a further 8 L each side. So although it's heavy due to the sub-structure support frame, I think it's a necessary 3-ish kg.

Where I think I can save weight is:

- TENT - LIGHTER THAN THE ONE I HAVE THAT WILL WORK ON THE OVERLAND TRACK?
Currently: I have a Naturehike Star River 2 person tent, and it weighs about 2.1 kg all up with the pegs, guy ropes and ground sheet, but it is freestanding which I've liked.
What should I move to?
I think the lightest are Cuban Fibre like Zpacks Duplex, but they're super-expensive, and would need to add freight to Australia. I know Naturehike also do a Cloud Up 2, and a Taga 2 person tent which are around 1.2 kg plus pegs, and are inexpensive, but would either of these be suitable on the Overland Track?

- OTHER - MATS, SLEEPING, etc
My existing mat is an Exped SIM UL 5 mat (660 grams, R value: 4.6), which in a discontinued model that I like because my hips get sore after giving birth when I sleep on a thin mat such as a 3.8 cm, and I like SIM mats that aren't crinkly-noisy.
I could upgrade to a lighter weight mat - such as a crinkly noisy NeoAir XLite or XTherm, or the Nemo Tensor 20R which looks interesting but is thin fabric, or a Sea to Summit mat Ultralight. I just wonder if it's worth the $200 to $400 upgrade to a lighter mat and save 200-300 grams, and also be less comfortable and possibly get less sleep.

My baby daughter's on an Exped SIM UL 2.5 XS mat, which is the short version 120 cm x 50 cm and thin at 2.5 cm thick. It packs small, weighs 330 grams, and straps nicely to my rectangular pad so the mats don't go sliding around the tent. It's a low R value (2.1 R) but I add clothing underneath it and have a Space blanket lining the tent floor.

In terms of sleeping, I have an Enlightened Equipment Revelation 20 F quilt custom-made Extra Wide, which weighs 636 grams. My baby will sleep in the Macpac Primaloft onesie which works like a baby sleeping bag, and weighs 256 grams.

- FOOD - I need as ultralight food as possible, and ideally even a food drop part-way in.
I'm much more used to dayhiking than overnighting, and while I've scheduled some planned overnighters before we go do the Overland Track, I'd love any advice on how on earth to keep the food weight as low as possible. Although my daughter's a baby, toddlers actually eat a surprising lot of food for their small size.

And is there any commercial service that does food drops half way in?

Thoughts?
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Re: Overland track with an 11 kg baby - food drops, lighter

Postby north-north-west » Mon 19 Jun, 2017 10:58 am

Wes Moule does food drops for the commercial tour groups. I've no doubt he'd do one for you although I have no idea how much it would cost.

There are tent platforms at all the major camping sites and these mostly have some degree of shelter, so you can get away with something other than a 4 season tent. Either of those two Naturehikes would probably be OK. There are also companies who will hire out tents and this might be a better way for you to go until you're sure you're going to be doing enough overnight walking to invest in a really good tent.

I've heard good things about the S2S mats and they are quite thick when inflated. I stick with my NeoAir AllSeason regardless of noise or weight but I'm a big believer in comfort first. Getting a good night's rest is very important on multiday walks.
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Re: Overland track with an 11 kg baby - food drops, lighter

Postby Nuts » Mon 19 Jun, 2017 11:24 am

Hi Emma,

I'm inclined to try and help for OL track info but am always concerned for the little ones. You wont be the first to take a baby, so it's possible. So was the moon landing :)

Have you talked to anyone about whether you in fact 'should' do this before deciding?

Iv'e only seen small groups carrying the excess gear and helping mum out (among the OL's iv'e done). Even from those few, can't recall any doing it particularly easy.
The terrain involves a lot of climbing and a track still rough in places. Combined with bad weather can be very challenging, snowstorms are not unusual now and then in summer. It can take all day for emergency services to reach you in such weather, in some places (and as long to get you out).

Most of the designated campsites are fairly close affairs, even snorers can build up some disruption, and I suggest you at least plan to stay at them (near the huts).

I'm not aware of a commercial group with a concession to just deliver food (?) If there was, I can't imagine responsibly assisting you as plan sitting well with them.

(PS. As it has been brought up. No, Wes has no business offering this)
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Re: Overland track with an 11 kg baby - food drops, lighter

Postby GPSGuided » Mon 19 Jun, 2017 11:56 am

Curious. What is your plan for your baby daughter's nappy? How many changes in a day and are you planning to carry all of them out yourself? Thinking back to my child's early days, 5 days added up to a lot of nappies (in weigh and volume).
Just move it!
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Re: Overland track with an 11 kg baby - food drops, lighter

Postby Lizzy » Mon 19 Jun, 2017 12:06 pm

In my opinion this idea is just asking for pain! Don't get me wrong taking kids out is an awesome thing to do but perhaps consider something a bit shorter with better weather!!
Nov in Tassie can be quite wet & chilly- it would be hard to keep Bub warm & dry sitting in a pack- you are moving about to keep warm while they are just sitting there.
The amount of gear & food will be heavy! Ideally you'd have an extra person or two to help spread the load.
Try an overnighter in winter & see how you go...
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Re: Overland track with an 11 kg baby - food drops, lighter

Postby Lizzy » Mon 19 Jun, 2017 12:22 pm

In terms of gear- I would think your pack capacity may be too small. You'd need lots of spare gear in case the little one gets wet. It is a big undertaking not to be underestimated.
Read Son of a Beach's trip report on taking his Bub in to Scout (on the Horse track)- he did a couple of loads & they were staying in a hut!
viewtopic.php?f=42&t=1131&p=318033&hilit=Scout+hut#p318033
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Re: Overland track with an 11 kg baby - food drops, lighter

Postby emma_melbourne » Mon 19 Jun, 2017 1:25 pm

Thanks so much for all your thoughts and input.

I appreciate your concerns. My understanding is that it's quite common for people to do the Overland Track with 18 kg - 20 kg. I am aiming to get as close towards that 20 kg mark as possible, by way of light tent, light food and possible food drop part way in, light down quilt, light clothing.

I'm doing a lot of practice hikes before I go, building up my fitness and strength.

I'm doing a lot of research to get my weight as low as possible. So whereas others may go out with a 3 kg tent, a 1.5 kg sleeping bag, I'm shaving weight everywhere I can.

Regards time of year, I'm completely amenable to changing the time of year that I go. What would you all - who know Tasmania - recommend?

I guess what I was trying to achieve is to go when it's not the busiest peak season / Christmas holiday period. Beyond that I am flexible as I am self-employed.

Feedback on clothes for baby - very helpful. I have a Macpac snow suit onesie already for her, in a bigger size than she currently is for her to grow into by the time we're at the walk. I'm also getting wet weather gear. And the infant carrier I have has these side compartments that do provide some protection from sun and rain, and I have the rain cover and sun cover to go over it. And I'll have her in Merino wool. But I'll note to put a lot of thought and effort into solving the wet weather as much as possible.

I'm also happy to take longer to complete the walk, and take a zero if needs be. (I presume that's allowed, that one doesn't have to rush through the trail in terms of the time you're allowed on it?)

One of the women in my 'Hike a Baby' group in Melbourne has done a 4 day Tasmania hike. She and her partner were each carrying 23 kg. So I feel like it should be possible.

Regards nappies, I can use a mix of biodegradable nappies and nappy liners. I imagine that Parks won't let people bury nappies, even if they are biodegradable, so I'll have to pack them out. She normally goes through 5 nappies a day, but if I use nappy liners as well, it will be less.

Regards spreading the load with someone else, I guess the other option would be if there's a commercial tour guide who can be hired to assist a single person. But I imagine that would be hugely expensive, as the cost of hiring a tour guide is usually spread over a group of people, not 1 person.

I realize I may well need to "throw money at it", to achieve my goal. I suppose the questions is where the money is best spent.

A Zpacks Duplex Cuban Fibre tent weighs only 600 grams, so that's an option for helping the weight down most substantially. I just gulp at the US $600 cost, but may have to just do it.

And shaving weight off elsewhere wherever I can. I feel that the Enlightened Equipment Revelation 20 F quilt is a good option for weight, and the extra wide size means it can go over both my baby and I, if needs be, on top of her snowsuit. And the Space Blanket will insulate the floor.

So I'm trying to be as smart about this as possible.

It's only going to get more difficult as she gets older, and gets heavier, so I feel that this is my opportunity to do it - this coming Summer. She won't be able to trek beside me on it until she's 8+ years old. And given I was diagnosed with melanoma from a mole on my arm (not from the sun interestingly, from an injury which is a rare form), I don't necessarily count that I will be around in 8+ years, as morbid as that sounds. I lost my father to cancer, my grandparents, several aunts and uncles, and I don't take long life for granted.

I am a healthy 37 year old, with a 15 month old, so I feel this is my opportunity to do it.

So any ideas anyone has - I'm really open to feedback and advice.

Best,

Emma
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Re: Overland track with an 11 kg baby - food drops, lighter

Postby emma_melbourne » Mon 19 Jun, 2017 1:37 pm

I've just read that post: viewtopic.php?f=42&t=1131&p=318033&hilit=Scout+hut#p318033

Ah that's actually very interesting insight. I'd like to think I won't have as much bulk as they did.

But I am open to potentially doing a smaller / shorter walk.

In my head, I ideally wanted to do the Overland Track while I still can. (ie While I'm 37 and in good fitness and health, and my daughter is under 2 years old, and under 11 kg to carry.) But if anyone's got a proposal of an alternative shorter option, I'm open to hearing.
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Re: Overland track with an 11 kg baby - food drops, lighter

Postby gayet » Mon 19 Jun, 2017 2:03 pm

I'd suggest leaving the OLT till your daughter is able to walk herself and carry a bit of her own gear, despite your concerns re longevity. Or find someone willing to walk with you and share the load - you might be able to arrange something with the members of your 'Hike a baby' group - someone does the trip with you and your bub, you reciprocate for them on a later trip.
You mention your friend
One of the women in my 'Hike a Baby' group in Melbourne has done a 4 day Tasmania hike. She and her partner were each carrying 23 kg. So I feel like it should be possible.

except that was 4 days and 2 adults. And did the 23kg each include the baby?? You are talking 6 days + and 1 adult. So while its not 46kg you could be looking at well over 20kg and I can assure you its hard work hauling that up a climb. To reach your 20kg max load you only have 9kgs for food, shelter, clothes, water, bedding, wet weather gear, stove, fuel, safety gear, all for 2 + 20 - 30 nappies which will be heavier when you finish than when you started.....

Look for a shorter, less wilderness walk to start the overnighters. Somewhere a bit closer to home and with easier exit options than parts of the OLT.

Just my thoughts, you know what you are capable of better than others, but I don't think the OLT by yourself is the best option to start with.
Last edited by gayet on Mon 19 Jun, 2017 4:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Overland track with an 11 kg baby - food drops, lighter

Postby Lizzy » Mon 19 Jun, 2017 2:15 pm

Have you looked at the 3 Capes trek- i haven't done it but it has good huts & you don't need to carry cooking equipment I believe
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Re: Overland track with an 11 kg baby - food drops, lighter

Postby gayet » Mon 19 Jun, 2017 2:20 pm

3 Capes would be a good option - easier terrain, good tracks and shorter.

I haven't done it either but there are a number of reports on this site about it to give you an idea on what to expect.
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Re: Overland track with an 11 kg baby - food drops, lighter

Postby Son of a Beach » Mon 19 Jun, 2017 3:32 pm

Have you ever done the Overland Track yourself? It sounds like perhaps you've never been there yourself.

At the risk of sounding like the fun police, and trying hard to avoid some of the more potentially offensive phrases that come to mind when reading this topic, I would suggest that taking a baby on an extended bushwalk that you've never done yourself is a bad idea. Also, you asked about when is a better time of year to do the Overland Track. This question alone indicates that you may not be fully aware of the issues, as the Overland Track can experience treacherous weather at any time of year (although it's obviously less likely at some times of year). And it cannot always be accurately forecast 5 days ahead of time.

Sorry to sound like a kill-joy, but I've done a number of walks with babies, and with young kids ranging from 3 months to 10 years and while they're less than 5, it is a very serious undertaking to even do rather short overnight walks, and I've found that until the kids were about 6 year old, I was never able to achieve the distances/times that I had anticipated (in fact, nowhere near them), and that carrying all the required gear for babies was very painful.

I cannot overstate how easy it is to underestimate the difficulty of doing this.

I'm not trying to suggest that it's impossible (I know that it is possible) or that it cannot be enjoyable. However, if you've never done this walk before, and if you've not done a solo 6 day walk with your baby before, I would suggest that you could be quite shocked at what you will be faced with. If taking a baby into the wild, you need to think of the baby's needs first, and you need to be very, very certain of what you are doing. The best way to do this, is to work up to it bit by bit, doing short walks first, and gradually extending them. Or do it with a team of other people. OR to do the full walk yourself without a baby first. Or all of the above.

From my own personal experience, doing overnight walks with babies is really tough, but doable. BUT, it is WAY more fun for both the parent AND the child when they are a little older and able to interact more with what's around them and appreciate all the things they're seeing.

I hope that you and your bub have a great walk, in any case, whatever you decide to do.

(And if you really insist on doing the Overland Track with the bub, and you would like a support team, I'll put my hand up, and bring my kids along! - if I can find the funds for it)

PS. Nappies... Here's how we handled nappies over 3 days with TWO kids:

1. We left the cloth nappies at home and brought a large supply of disposable nappies (very important to bring MORE than you think you might possibly need - imagine what a nightmare it would be if bub got the trots and you ran out). Make sure that they are a brand/model that you are very confident in and have tested extensively over a decent period of time. In my experience, there is no such thing as a nappy that never leaks. However, there ended up being only one brand that was reasonably reliable for us.

2. We brought several EMPTY 'Huggies' baby wipe bags. These bags are large zip-lock bags and are somewhat more tough than most other zip-lock bags. These are perfect for storing USED nappies. If you put some effort into compressing the used nappies, you can fit a large number of them into a baby wipe bag. The bags are easy to open and close, fit a lot of nappies, and keep the smell well contained. I think you could fit about two days worth of dirty nappies in a single baby-wipe bag from memory (but don't rely on this, that was about 9 years ago, so my memory is getting a bit vague).
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Re: Overland track with an 11 kg baby - food drops, lighter

Postby tastrax » Mon 19 Jun, 2017 4:08 pm

OK, here is my two bobs worth - Don't do it, because it wont be a pleasurable trip for either of you!

My kids (now in their 20's) would often sleep in a backpack (or the snow sled) as we walked/skied so your baby wont get a real appreciation of the scenery or the effort you are putting in on their behalf. Plus, if they have slept all day then night time will be playtime :-) !

1990's ski fashions!

snowsled.jpg


Instead load your car up with another 'Hike a baby" person and enjoy a Tasmanian holiday together with your babies. Check out some day walks, paddle in Lake Dove with them, relax on the beach at Wineglass Bay, climb Mt Amos, walk out to Cape Hauy (on the Three Capes Track), climb Cradle Mountain but most of all enjoy yourself. Camp, climb, eat great food, try the wines! Maybe pick a couple of locations and base camp and do day trips that can be determined by everyone's health and temperament.

Come back in a few years and do the same again - this time with your young child walking and getting to check out this great island and the scenery. You will only see half as much as the first trip because kids are such sloooow walkers but that means you get to relax even more and teach them all about what they are seeing! For kids its not the length of the walk but the pleasure they are getting being in the environment. They wont remember the walk, they will remember the sugar free jelly babies they got at each track intersection or creek crossing as you urged them through the wilderness.

There is plenty of time to do the Overland track later when your children can carry their own minimal requirements and actually appreciate it.

Enjoy your Tassie trip ....however you decide to travel.
Last edited by tastrax on Mon 19 Jun, 2017 4:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Overland track with an 11 kg baby - food drops, lighter

Postby Azza » Mon 19 Jun, 2017 4:11 pm

You at least want someone else or two for support with some idea of walking in Tassie.
You need to be fairly conservative with your plans.

I have 20 month old twins I carry both of them around - one in a backpack and the other in a front pack - combined it ends up being 25kg+ and its hard work.
I also have about 25 years experience walking in Tasmania, I'm done some dumb/crazy stuff in my time.
I carried my two up Mt Wellington from my house when they were 6 months old in the middle of winter, got to the top and there was gale force winds.
The short dash across the top to the car really highlighted to me that you don't want to be caught out in the open in those conditions with small children.
My wife wasn't impressed. I'll be saving the overland for when my kids are more around the 8yo mark.

My toddlers do not like being in the front pack or backpack for an extended period of time now. They get cranky after a while and they want out and they want independence big time - they're not babies anymore.
I think I would struggle to walk a full day let alone multiple days successfully with them, a few hours from the car would probably be the limit that we all could cope with.

I personally would consider taking my kids into New Pelion Hut for a night or two via the arm river track but that would be the limit of what i'd consider.
Have to be a perfect weather forecast and you've also gotta consider what your escape options are incase everything goes south and you need to abort.

Minimum weight for one person to walk the overland track is probably ~15kg just for yourself.
Keeping the weight down tends to mean compromising on equipment - durability, reliability etc. Fine for yourself, but ultralight does not necessarily mean smart.
Having seen a few tents obliterated by Tassie weather and spend a few sleepless nights holding onto my tent to stop it getting ripped apart I'm not keen to compromise too much.
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Re: Overland track with an 11 kg baby - food drops, lighter

Postby emma_melbourne » Mon 19 Jun, 2017 7:40 pm

Thank you all for your feedback and thoughts. I really appreciate how generous you've been with your time in replying to me, with your feedback and suggestions.

I take on board that it's not everyone's cup of tea, hiking with a baby. And that it's going to be tough.

I am doing training towards it, overnight and multi-day hikes with my daughter in Victoria. I am not planning on going from nothing to a 6 day hike.

My daughter actually loves being in the WE Wildchild backpack. She sits up high in it, the view is above my head, and she claps her hands and enjoys it. I talk to her while she's in the backpack about the different sights and point out things to her. We sing songs. She can get stroppy on occasion, and I am sensitive to her and can stop to give her a run around and a break.

Of course she's not going to "remember" it.

But unlike some of you, given my experiences of cancer, and deaths in my family from cancer, I don't count on being able to do it with her when she's older, as I don't know for sure whether I'll be around. I've had a melanoma cancer scare with a 95% chance of 5 year survivorship, and that melanoma was only taken out on my insistence as doctors thought it was a normal mole. If my melanoma cancer had grown further down into my blood and lymph system, I'd have a very slim rate of 5 year survivorship.

This changes one's philosophy, to more of a "carpe diem" - seize the day. I don't know if I'll be around in 8 years for sure. So I don't look at this hike as something I can just put back 8 years until when my daughter's older.

That may be hard for some of you to understand, but when you've lost your father, aunts, uncles, grandparents to cancer, and had a close shave yourself, one feels differently about mortality and fitting things into life that one wants to do.

However I am not planning to take any risks with my daughter - in respect of I will train hard for this, I will take the right equipment. I'm not afraid to cancel or adjust my plans if the weather forecast isn't looking good. I'm also taking in equipment for bad weather in case it changes to something other than forecast.

Regards weight concerns, I am concerned myself about this and doing everything I can to reduce weight, hence my post.

Cuban fibre is actually one of the most durable materials possible for tents. So with regards to the concern on lightweight tents and durability, if I splurge and get the Cuban fibre (Dyneema Composite) tent - such as Zpacks Duplex - it's actually MORE durable a material than other tents, and ultra-lightweight. For those of you interested in Cuban fibre (Dyneema Composite) - there's a Youtube clip from Darwin on the Trail here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2GG4_SCupkY&t=245s

So the ZPacks Duplex tent for example is 600 grams in Cuban fibre, and uses trekking poles. So I think this is going to be a good option, but it's US $600, so I'll have to swallow that cost.

With food, there's a really good site here showing how to do nutritious meals at 400 grams a day for 1 man with freezer bags and adding boiling water. http://www.theyummylife.com/Backpacking_Food

I'm looking at porridge for breakfast with addition of dehydrated fruit, milk powder etc. (Baby loves porridge, that's pretty normal breakfast for us anyway.) Dinners of couscous mixed with lemon-infused olive oil, dried onion, garlic powder, chopped dates, sliced almonds, into a freezer bag and add boiling water. A variation of the meal on bottom of this page from Backpacking North: http://www.backpackingnorth.com/ultrali ... -the-menu/

I imagine that if I do this very smart and organized, and I try everything out first, several times before we go to Tas, both at home and on trails in Victoria, I *think* we can get away with about 600 grams for us both, 375 grams for me, and 225 for baby.

So I end up with something like:

FOOD - Taking guidance from http://www.theyummylife.com/Backpacking_Food and using porridge portions, dinners of add boiling water carbs and dehydrated adds into freezer bag, plus lunches / snacks etc.
600 grams x 6 days = 3.6 kg. Add extra weight for spare food in case, so an extra day's food = 4.2 kg

TENT - 600 grams Zpacks Duplex

SLEEPING BAG - 640 grams Enlightened Equipment 20 F Down Quilt, Extra Wide.

MATS: Approx 1 kg for both of us. (May be able to shave off 200-300 grams if I upgrade mats)

And then I'll have to be really smart on clothing, and have enough dry clothes for multiple days, as contingency planning.

I've got an Exped First Aid drybag, and then a vast medical kit which I can pick from as to which pieces I want to take with me and I'll weigh them all.

I have a Space blanket, and an Emergency blanket.

For my daughter, I have a really good Macpac onesie, and I'll probably get a second of these, and I'll invest in lots of fine merino layers, and waterproof outer layer. I'll be layering the merino layers with the poly long-sleeved with the insuloft and then rain layer. I've also got a rain hood on the carrier, and I've got a hiking rain umbrella as an option although I think I'll want my hands free for walking poles.

I'll need a number of ultralight Cuban fibre waterproof dry bags, for lining pack.

So I don't think I'm being crazy about the way I'm planning to do this. I get that it's not everyone's idea of fun.

My father was a champion marathon runner, and I think I've inherited something of the psychological toughness for endurance. And I need to pair that with fitness and hiking skills to match, ensure I've got the right equipment, ensure I've got my daughter the right clothing. And remain smart, savvy to weather reports, willing and ready to amend or change plans if the forecast isn't amenable to the hike when I get there.
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Re: Overland track with an 11 kg baby - food drops, lighter

Postby emma_melbourne » Mon 19 Jun, 2017 7:47 pm

PS Thank you also for the suggestion of the 3 Capes trek.

I'll totally look into that as well, as an option.

Best,

Emma
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Re: Overland track with an 11 kg baby - food drops, lighter

Postby GPSGuided » Mon 19 Jun, 2017 8:20 pm

Cuben and technology can only take the weight down so much. There's still food, water and baby needs that aren't so light weight. Appreciate your desire to share experiences with your baby and limited time. But I would just also like to remind that safety is still paramount and risks needs to be managed if you are to maximise the times together. OLT is in the wilderness and there are risks involved.
Just move it!
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Re: Overland track with an 11 kg baby - food drops, lighter

Postby Lizzy » Mon 19 Jun, 2017 9:56 pm

IMG_1695.JPG
Overland Nov
IMG_1695.JPG (57.34 KiB) Viewed 2416 times

Here is a nice end of Nov/early Dec photo at the turn off to Barn Bluff. Beautiful!!! but I did slip over on the icy duckboard & after another prod ended up needing surgery on my shoulder :(
I get your need to not put things off- I'm a bit like that myself. However this is not a walk in the park- do it yourself & see. We took our kids (10 &12) to Tassie this year. I had bushwalking & packraft adventures planned & we had a ball. I changed quite a few of the plans as I gauged how the kids (& us parents) were going especially with the weather. We didn't end up doing an overnight packraft trip as the kids got too cold too quickly & the day trips were magic. Much better to have fun memories than make it just a hard slog.
Maria Island is a fantastic spot- the wildlife is great & there are some nice walks too. The kids loved devil spotting at night & their walk up Bishop & Clerk was a real highlight of the trip. Perhaps something like that would still have an element of adventure but not be so risky.
Best of luck
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Re: Overland track with an 11 kg baby - food drops, lighter

Postby Hisham » Mon 19 Jun, 2017 10:41 pm

Hey Emma. Have you done many day or overnight walks with bub already? We have a 4 month old and day walks are much slower, and that's with me and wifey. Hopefully will get easier as he grows... although Im told the challenges just evolve.

We are thinking of doing the walls of Jerusalem loop later this year with him. I just think the overland would be too much pain and organising for us to really enjoy it unless we had a tonne of time and bit of logistical support perhaps. Walls of Jerusalem loop looks good cos it's a 2-3 day thing normally, and we can hike in for a day, set up camp, do some day walks on subsequent days, maybe find another campsite, take another day off, walk out. Has the benefits of wilderness, but with less movement and more flexibility.

Oh and for safety I would take a sat phone and my plb although The plb is possibly enough.

Oh and my wife says there are biodegrable nappies out there somewhere.
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Re: Overland track with an 11 kg baby - food drops, lighter

Postby emma_melbourne » Mon 19 Jun, 2017 11:48 pm

Hi Hisham,

Yes I have done quite a bit of hiking and overnighting with my baby. I'm planning on upping the hikes over the upcoming months, in preparation for a long multi-day hikes.

She's 15 months and is walking now, and enjoys walking. Obviously she'll tire and not get far before she'll need to go in the carrier. I got the WE Wildchild specifically for purpose, and it's working very well for that. It takes the weight very easily, and adjusts as she grows. She sits up high, above the loaded compartment, so she gets a great view out over my head. It takes 30 L in the bottom compartment, 8L on each add-on side compartment that I purchased as an add-on. So 46 L in total.

When I do the weight and volume calculations, and try packing it into the carrier, where the plan falls down is the food weight and volume.

Without the food, it all fits.

Baby clothes as you know don't take up a lot of room or weight, particularly little baby merino Tshirts and tights. I can get loads of merino on sale at present. It'll pack very small. To which I'm taking her Macpac Primaloft onesie snowsuit, a couple of fleecy onesies, polypropylene base layers, and a waterproof splash suit onesie.

I've got a very compressible down quilt. The sleeping mats fit. Tent fits. Clothing fits. First aid kit fits. It's the food that's the challenge - both weight and volume, to fit in the infant carrier pack.

So I'm going back to the drawing board.

Re nappies, yes I have biodegradable instant nappies here. However I think technically one is still meant to pack them out. And I wouldn't want to suggest otherwise on this forum (wink).

I will definitely need to look at taking various safety precautions. However I won't even set out on the hike if the weather forecast is not looking good. Obviously things can be changeable despite the weather forecast, and I'll go prepared if I do set out in fine weather with fine weather forecast.

I will have a look at the Walls of Jerusalem.

Regards hiking speed, ironically I didn't really get into hiking in a big way until after I had my baby. So for me the slow pace with her weight is all I know. I basically don't know what it's like to be unencumbered by baby weight. It's my normal. As is looking after her around the clock, 24-7, without any help. (I don't have family or a partner in Australia.)

So in a way, everyone's objections are similar to what I experienced having a baby alone. "It's too hard". "It's not possible". Anecdotes of their own experience and how much they struggled looking after a baby even with a partner, and with family, and how it'll be so hard without family or a partner or an established friends network. Whereas actually for me it's fine. It's my normal. I understand that other people would find it hard looking after a baby as a solo parent with no family or friend or partner support. I manage fine.

I think for the hike, either I'll try and arrange a commercial guide to help with weight, or a commercial food-drop part-way in, and only go if there's fair weather forecast. Or I'll downgrade the hike plans to something that's not as long and as many days.

Sending all my best wishes to you and your wife with your 4 month old. And for your Walls of Jerusalem loop. And I'll look into that track also.

Best,

Emma
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Re: Overland track with an 11 kg baby - food drops, lighter

Postby GPSGuided » Tue 20 Jun, 2017 6:29 am

So you have 15 months of walk experiences... That's not a lot.
Just move it!
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Re: Overland track with an 11 kg baby - food drops, lighter

Postby neilmny » Tue 20 Jun, 2017 7:11 am

emma_melbourne wrote:............So in a way, everyone's objections are similar to what I experienced having a baby alone. "It's too hard". "It's not possible". Anecdotes of their own experience and how much they struggled looking after a baby even with a partner, and with family, and how it'll be so hard without family or a partner or an established friends network. Whereas actually for me it's fine. It's my normal. I understand that other people would find it hard looking after a baby as a solo parent with no family or friend or partner support. I manage fine.....................


Hi Emma,
I think you are misinterpreting polite support as objection by the uninformed.
Some very experienced and very capable people have been responding to your idea.
It looks to me that no one wants to stomp on your idea but just want to offer good, experienced advise.
It's not about how hard it will be for you (Emma).
Good luck.
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Re: Overland track with an 11 kg baby - food drops, lighter

Postby Ant71 » Tue 20 Jun, 2017 8:30 am

Hi just wondered if you had looked into doing the track with Cradle Huts. Its not my sort of thing but it may be ideal for you as you would not have to carry a tent or as much food. Maybe worth looking into. Just a thought
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Re: Overland track with an 11 kg baby - food drops, lighter

Postby Nuts » Tue 20 Jun, 2017 10:46 am

emma_melbourne wrote:I think for the hike, either I'll try and arrange a commercial guide to help with weight, or a commercial food-drop part-way in, and only go if there's fair weather forecast. Or I'll downgrade the hike plans to something that's not as long and as many days.


Here's a contact for advice on who can consider offering this service, they'll also be able to help with other advice (difficult to successfully bury anything out there, you may be able to use the toilets, or maybe not) : OverlandTrackAdministrator@parks.tas.gov.au

These topics can often leave the new forum member deflated. Support is easy, makes friends, builds popularity among the helped. It's otherwise going to unavoidable that folks pass on their experiences and concern, those displaying conscience and a level of responsibility.

Imagine someone fully in support of single parenthood, living in the moment and freedom of choice.. still being concerned enough to give an honest response for this topic.

Three Capes, Walls of Jerusalem are good alternatives to maintain independence. SoB's offer is a good'n.
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Re: Overland track with an 11 kg baby - food drops, lighter

Postby emma_melbourne » Tue 20 Jun, 2017 11:16 am

Thanks everyone for your input and feedback.

I haven't explained by way of context that I'm from New Zealand. I've done a lot of New Zealand bush walking (we call it tramping), and camping, mostly dragged along by my parents as a child. I studied in the South Island of New Zealand at Otago, and the weather down there is cold, and the tracks can hit bad weather. I've been down in Southland near Foveaux Straight which looks out to Antarctica.

I just never got independently passionate about hiking myself until having my baby. All of a sudden I had a massive drive to do hiking, whereas previously I was more dragged along hiking as a youth and uni student.

To ease part of your concerns...
I know not to go out ill-equipped. I know to watch the weather forecasts, take proper clothing and be prepared for the unexpected. I know to layer base layers with insulation layer and waterproof layer. I know it's the cold wet clothes - and people wearing cotton - that often causes problems. I know to take a medical kit and know first aid. I know to log your trekking plans so people know the route you're taking and your expected arrival. I know to take survival blanket and a good durable shelter. I know to call off a hike if the forecast isn't good, to not even set out. And I know to change plans or take a zero if there's terrible weather, and stay in the hut or a shelter near the hut ideally. And to take GPS, map, personal locator beacon, signalling mirror, compass, whistle, Space blanket (which is bright orange one side), and I always take 3 types of fire-starter re waterproof matches, lighter, vaseline cotton balls, and fire starter stick.

In New Zealand, there were disaster stories of tourists who would go out on a day hike (or longer) in fine weather, with the wrong clothing, cotton is the typical disaster, not tell anyone where they're going, not log their trip. Typically they'd step off track to go to the toilet or something, and get lost and disorientated in the dense bush. Or stuck with bad weather set in, and no shelter, no rain coat, no insulated jacket, no way of contacting people. I'm talking also in days before mobile phones, and even with mobile phones now they often don't work in the middle of the mountain tracks. And they run out of battery, even if they do work in terms of signal.

However I do take on board your concerns regards my baby, as she's not moving in the backpack getting warm like I am. She's in the backpack although I will of course have her well rugged-up in merino, insulation / snowsuit, and waterproof onesie. She is used to hiking with me. We chat, we sing. I also have one of those convex mirrors on a pull-string attached to the baby carrier which allows me to see her at any point by pulling the cord and looking at her in the mirror. We stop and I feed her and she has a run around, and semi-walks part of a track holding onto my hand. But if the weather is awful, it's not going to be hugely fun for her. And if I at any point get a wee bit anxious, she is very perceptive of my emotions.

I'm also concerned at the weight and indeed volume with the food, not fitting in the infant carrier backpack and being too heavy.

So overnight, I was thinking about what I am actually trying to achieve, as in what's the purpose - what does the Overland Track represent. As perhaps there's another solution which fulfils the same desires. A different track or a different goal.

And I think it's about:

1) Achieving some kind of distinctive bucket-list kind of goal, in respect of hiking - with my daughter.

2) Having something to work hard towards, training, increasing fitness and knowledge, equipment, to achieve the goal.

3) And no matter what happens in respect of cancer - if my cancer does return and take my life - my daughter will have the photos and I guess an image of her mother as someone who was strong, and fought.

4) To have experienced an adventure, and some of the beautiful nature in the world.

5) To feel alive, an animal in the natural world, as we humans are - but often forget the way we live in boxy city apartments.

However I certainly do want to do things safely and sensibly and certainly not put my daughter at any significant risk.

So actually now that I've kind of deconstructed it, what the Overland Track represents, I am amenable to an alternative plan. And perhaps this breakdown also helps some of you understand what I'm trying to achieve, which may help with alternatives also. The idea of going camping with someone in my Hike-a-Baby group doesn't appeal at all to me. Their motivations for hiking are quite different from mine. Many of them just like a short slow social walk of 3 km around a park in Melbourne, with baby in pram or front carrier. Then return to their car and go about their life as normal. Most of them don't overnight hike, and just have a front carrier, and are not carrying any weight apart from their baby.

And absolutely nothing wrong with that, by the way. I don't judge them for wanting a casual social walk, but it's not my motivation for hiking, if that makes sense.

So in any case, loving the alternative suggestions.

I appreciate the time everyone's taken to write. And I understand your concerns - I do, with a baby.

If anyone has any thoughts regard what might be the ideal in relation to Bucket List-y, Sensible, Beautiful Scenery, I am open to it.

I'll look into the suggestions you've all made so far also.

Best,

Emma
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Re: Overland track with an 11 kg baby - food drops, lighter

Postby gayet » Tue 20 Jun, 2017 11:51 am

Hi

I'm glad you have considered why you want to do this and accept/realise that the OLT is not the only solution.

As suggested earlier - have a look at the 3 Capes walk. Its shorter, less arduous, great scenery and good track infrastructure and facilities. You can do it solo and not have quite as many risks to overcome as the OLT. I believe the days are shorter so neither you nor bub are likely to be quite as tired hence better able to enjoy it.

Maria Island is also a good option. As is Walls.

There are many places that will meet your tick list for going, without the risks and difficulties that could seriously affect you on the OLT. Its a time to enjoy, rather than push yourself to extremes.

All the best.
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Re: Overland track with an 11 kg baby - food drops, lighter

Postby GPSGuided » Tue 20 Jun, 2017 12:02 pm

Thanks Emma, now I feel much more comfortable of your endeavour. I too thought the OLT was a risk to you both given a lack of knowledge of your experience and thought processes. We've taken our young one on walks when he was 1.5 in a baby carrier. It was real hard work even without camping gears and sustenances. What you are planning can only come from a loving mother, I wish you the best. Maybe a track that has shorter sections and less arduous climbs would suit better for you. One that we've done is the southern end of OLT, up to Pine Valley. A much gentler walk and you can base at Pine Valley for a few days and explore the surrounding day walk areas. If you are lucky, walkers along the way may assist with some of your carriage, making it all much more practical. I'm sure others will chip in with even better ideas for your consideration.
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Re: Overland track with an 11 kg baby - food drops, lighter

Postby tastrax » Tue 20 Jun, 2017 2:53 pm

emma_melbourne wrote:However I certainly do want to do things safely and sensibly and certainly not put my daughter at any significant risk.


This, to me, is the key sentence in your text and its the one that tells me to continue to advise against the Overland Track in November. All walking in Tasmania (like New Zealand), at any time involves risk. The Overland Track in November can be unpredictable weatherwise and to reduce some of the risk it would not be my favoured time to be doing your first multi day walk in Tassie with a child. On the other hand, a walk on the Three Capes Track would reduce some of the risk to you and your daughter for the following reasons.

  • The trip length and walking times are shorter - this puts less stress on you to have to keep pushing on through should conditions deteriorate. There are also alternatives if something goes wrong (plus staff at the huts)
  • Its completely hut based with cooking facilities, beds etc so less weight for you to carry. This gives you respite if conditions are foul.
  • It still has some spectacular scenery (plus a boat trip)
  • Track conditions are better
  • There is still plenty of exposure to the elements to test any walker (especially at that time of year)
  • Its a good trial/test before doing the Overland next - you could even carry your tent etc to see how you go with room/weight/nappies etc

If all goes well, then consider coming back in February/March when the weather on the Overland Track is "generally" the most stable. The trip on the Overland will be about 30% longer in distance, maybe only one walking day longer, but I reckon about 50% harder with a child.

http://threecapestrack.com.au/experience.html
Cheers - Phil

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Re: Overland track with an 11 kg baby - food drops, lighter

Postby Gadgetgeek » Tue 20 Jun, 2017 5:23 pm

Sorry if this has been mentioned already, or isn't even viable, but I have a family friend who does overnights with his little guy a lot, he uses a harnessed gear trailer. An investment, but allows him to carry gear and kid when needed, and allows a better split so he can relay stuff when needed. I've always found that weight does me before miles do, so I'd rather walk it twice with half the weight, but that's me.

My opinion would not be to plan for the OLT, but to plan for the ramp-up trips. make them as realistic and close as possible and instead of making guesses, just know what your per-days look like. It also means that even if that goal never gets hit, you have plenty of other walks that you can jump to when opportunity arises as they will be right on that comfort-zone edge, and pushing on it, rather than just being "training"
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Re: Overland track with an 11 kg baby - food drops, lighter

Postby Mark F » Tue 20 Jun, 2017 6:01 pm

To some extent you seem to be driven to this by an expectation that you will be too old/infirm to experience the beauties of the olt in 8 to 20 years time. You are obviously maintaining your health and fitness during a stressful period in your life which is a great thing to do and I expect you will continue this as a lifestyle choice. By doing this you really are ensuring that you can do the olt at almost any age into the future. There are plenty of people doing the walk in their 60's and 70's. My partner did it for the first time at age 64 with no problems.

While walking the South Coast Track 18 months ago I met up with a mother/daughter combo who used the trip as a bonding exercise as part of the daughter's trip from dependency to independence - the mother had undertaken this journey with her own mother when she was entering womanhood some 25 years previously and she was making it a family tradition.

Don't feel pressured to do it now - it may be more meaningful to both you and your child in 10-18 years time.
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