Rookie, whats the worst that can happen. ;)

A forum for discussing the Australian Alps Walking Track. This is a 655 km long track from Walhalla (Vic) to Tharwa (ACT)

Rookie, whats the worst that can happen. ;)

Postby WadeThrupp » Wed 21 Sep, 2016 12:25 am

Hey everyone,

I heard about the aawt about 6 months ago and it has since consumed my thoughts so much that I have no choice but to do it.

Now I have 0 hiking experience and probably only plan on doing a 10km or something hike as practice. I've never navigated in the bush but after watching a youtube video on how to read a compass and a map I'm actually thinking how hard can it be. I am seriously considering buying the topographical maps to put this new skill I've learnt into action but I also plan on taking 1 or 2 smartphones with removable batteries with me so I can rely on gps. I don't know that much about layering but from what I gather from these forums and google, it's not that hard. I've also decided to buy some trail shoes instead of boots (thanks to those who helped me realize my normal joggers were rubbish). As for sleeping, seeing as I want to stay light I'm considering no tent. I also own Chapmans book and will be doing 5 food drops.

Questions or topics for constructive criticism I especially welcome from you all are:
1. What more do I need to know about reading a map and compass if I understand what all the lines mean and know how to adjust for true north?
2. What apps can you recommend for my smartphone. I tried one called mapmemory (or something like that), I had a free trial of the victorian map pack and it was excellent however it was expensive, are there cheaper options for something of similar quality?
3. Those with experience of camping on the alps without a tent share your experiences, I will probably take a tent but I would really like to hear more about ground mat and tarp options.

Some of you still reading probably think I'm going to die out there. I want you to tell me why you are thinking this. And if fitness is a concern I also want to mention I'm 26 old and can run 10km anytime anywhere without training, this is not to brag but to mention my mind and body is strong. I'm also pretty good at working out my nutrition needs but any more advise is still welcome.

Ok let the grilling begin.
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Re: Rookie, whats the worst that can happen. ;)

Postby ribuck » Wed 21 Sep, 2016 12:59 am

If I hadn't experienced that feeling when an idea becomes compelling and totally consuming, I'd assume you were trolling :)

You could just launch into your trip gung-ho style and see whether you succeed, but you'll probably have a much better trip if you do a few easier multi-day trips first.

Perhaps start with a relatively tame three days along the Six Foot Track between Katoomba and Jenolan Caves. That will be a great way to see which parts of your gear and supplies work well, and which don't. Also which parts of your body work well and which don't on this type of trip. And it will give you some experience of having to think about water supplies, even though it's fairly easy on that track.

Next you could do an off-track overnight walk to see how you go with navigation. Perhaps go to Morton National Park and see whether you can get yourself to Wineglass Tor and then on to the Shoalhaven and back to your car again.

Incidentally, if I were doing the AAWT then I would do as you suggested and bring two separate smartphones with sufficient external batteries, and dispense with the paper maps. You would need to configure an app such as OruxMaps (free) and pre-load the topo maps and other maps/guides into it (because you won't have coverage for online maps). You need bulletproof waterproofing for your devices. Others here will disagree strongly with this approach.

I have done a couple of trips against people's advice (cycled the outback, and hiked the Papua New Guinea highlands) and both worked out fantastically. Good luck!
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Re: Rookie, whats the worst that can happen. ;)

Postby wayno » Wed 21 Sep, 2016 6:09 am

put priority on learning map and compass skills over smartphone apps. using GPS's can make people lazy and they can get caught out if the gps device runs out of batteries or dies.... you have to be pretty sure about reliable weather to sleep without a shelter.
the forecasts arent reliable enough where i come from a lot of the year for me to sleep out all the time.
as someone posted recently on another thread if you dont have any bug protection in your camp then you may end up more up close and personal with the wildlife than you expect... biting flies and mozzies are a problem in some parts where i'm from but i dont have anywhere near the issues that a lot of places in aus have around poisonous wildlife....
where i'm from i dont see anywhre near the insect and wildlife i've seen close up in parts of aus. you can consider yourself priveledged to see much at all here..
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Re: Rookie, whats the worst that can happen. ;)

Postby Gadgetgeek » Wed 21 Sep, 2016 7:01 am

Relying on only GPS is a bit of a concern in that there are no guarantees there. World events could mean you find yourself lacking in GPS capability.

Sleep, you can do it however you want, but make sure you can sleep in whatever you intend to take, full nights in your bag, and on your mat. Poor sleep leads to mistakes, never assume a system is going to work for you, prove it first. if you are fit enough, you are better off practicing your cooking and camp skills rather than walking.

Also consider what your evacuation and trip abort plans and conditions are. One of the major things that gets folks into trouble is pushing on because they've already invested in the trip, when they really needed to back out and try again later.
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Re: Rookie, whats the worst that can happen. ;)

Postby Bushman_Craig » Wed 21 Sep, 2016 7:34 am

All good points.

Might I also suggest contacting your local bushwalking club? Head out with them for an overnighter, preferably one which includes some off-track walking. This single bushwalk will do more to help to crystallise your planning and preparation for an AAWT trip than a million questions on a thousand internet forums.
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Re: Rookie, whats the worst that can happen. ;)

Postby Lophophaps » Wed 21 Sep, 2016 8:53 am

There's rather a lot that can go wrong on a trip like this, even for an experienced person. These aspects have been covered above. Some further comments.

There's no way I'd support going on a trip of 4-8 weeks until there's adequate experience in overnight and extended walks. This will give time to sort out what works and what does not work for you. In bushwalking there's often no right or wrong way, just personal preference. Conventional or Aarn pack? Gas, meths or something else? Tarp or tent? (A shelter must be taken. Must.) Tent footprint or not? What sort of GPS and PLB, if any? What sort of water containers suit you? What is in the first aid kit and do you know this area? Can you recognise hypothermia-exhaustion, and do you know what to do about this?

Navigation needs to be good in a number of places, notably Viking. How far can you go in a day carrying perhaps 20 kilograms? What sort of food do you prefer? Freeze dry, home dry or some of Sonya's recipes? (See http://xtremegourmet.com/pages/about-us)

There's simply too many unknowns that need to be determined, and this can only be done by going on trips.

Your age and fitness are positives, as is your seeking advice. Please note that running is not the same as going up a mountain in bad weather with a heavy pack. Stamina is important.
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Re: Rookie, whats the worst that can happen. ;)

Postby Neo » Wed 21 Sep, 2016 9:52 am

Hi Wade
I am also new to overnighters and all the advice above is great. Definitely worth testing your gear and no harm getting out on a few short trips first. This will help guarantee your safety, enjoyment and success.

My first time out I picked a flat walk from a nearby town out into a National Park. Pretty tame 10km each way but easy exit if required. I used everything that I took in my new kit except first aid and a wind/rain jacket so think I did pretty well.

The best lessons were how important water is to me and weight. I now do regular walks from home on mixed terrain and practice with my gear. I've trimmed a couple of kg of gear and can reduce more which will make it all the more enjoyable for me. I also practice food options.

At the tourist info I found a list of day walks run by the local NPA group, several of which include off track, so will join in on these to learn some walks in my area.

Today it's raining so no work but I'll be going for a walk.
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Re: Rookie, whats the worst that can happen. ;)

Postby north-north-west » Wed 21 Sep, 2016 11:05 am

In brief - the worst that can happen is you die. Well, no - that's the second worst. The worst is that people looking for you die.

This isn't a walk you use to find out whether you can cope with multi-day walks. OK, you're young and reasonably fit, but carrying a pack for long distances over sometimes very rough terrain is not the same as going for a run somewhere relatively tame.
Getting advice from here is all very well , but it's best to find people who can, in person, critique your gear and preparation. Bushwalking clubs are a good place to try that.
While it is possible to do the AAWT with lightweight shelter, you're relying a lot on not being unlucky with the weather. Conditions can, and do, change dramatically with little to no warning. If that happens when you aren't near a hut, or you're in an exposed area, you want to be certain your shelter is going to cope.

I don't think you necessarily will die out there. But if you go into this without adequate preparation (and this includes a degree of experience) you're increasing the chances of that happening.

One question that doesn't seem to have been touched on yet - are you planing on walking solo, whether the whole way or just in part? 'cause that would increase the possibility of problems.
Don't get me wrong, I'm a solo walker myself almost exclusively, but it's not something you just get up and do one morning without any experience at all.

I hope you can get organised and do it - and that it's just the first part of a long and varied career in bushwalking. But I still have to wonder whether you realise just how big a mouthful you've bitten off . . .

ps: "How hard can it be?" must be right up there on the list of Famous Last Words.
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Re: Rookie, whats the worst that can happen. ;)

Postby wayno » Wed 21 Sep, 2016 11:21 am

in NZ the news is full of people who bit off more than they could chew in the outdoors... often they were on a hiding to nothing early on and didnt have any idea of how over their heads they were geting until things got very serious. a lot of people only alive because of the expertise of search and rescue often putting themselves at risk to save others who needlessly got into trouble
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Re: Rookie, whats the worst that can happen. ;)

Postby Mark F » Wed 21 Sep, 2016 11:29 am

I won't comment on the thoughts posted above but suggest a couple of things:

1. Walk N to S as this gives you easy navigation on generally well formed tracks down to the Victorian border. This should allow you to dial in your camping and walking routine in relative safety and practice navigation. Apart from 2 nights you can do this section hut to hut in an emergency. Though Victoria it lifts to a higher level with much more need for competent navigation skills and general knowledge about how to travel through rough and sometimes untracked terrain.

2. These long walks require more mental stamina and strength than physical. Be prepared not to see a living soul for a week at a time and have to live with your thoughts, doubts and fears.
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Re: Rookie, whats the worst that can happen. ;)

Postby Giddy_up » Wed 21 Sep, 2016 1:16 pm

Hi WadeThrupp,

First thing to do is watch your local weather forecast and wait for the wettest day and night you can find. Whilst waiting, select your ground mat and sleeping bag of choice and what ever else you want to take. Once this is established and it's raining cats and dogs, strap on your pack and using your map and compass walk to the clothes line and set up camp, cook a meal, remove wet clothes and put on dry sleeping clothes, then wait the hours required in the said camp until sunrise, now navigate back to the house. With this done you can think about how much fun it will be when you're "a little under done" on planning and equipment.

Cheers
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Re: Rookie, whats the worst that can happen. ;)

Postby WadeThrupp » Wed 21 Sep, 2016 4:57 pm

ribuck wrote:Incidentally, if I were doing the AAWT then I would do as you suggested and bring two separate smartphones with sufficient external batteries, and dispense with the paper maps. You would need to configure an app such as OruxMaps (free) and pre-load the topo maps and other maps/guides into it (because you won't have coverage for online maps). You need bulletproof waterproofing for your devices. Others here will disagree strongly with this approach.


Thanks ribuck I will check out that app.

north-north-west wrote:In brief - the worst that can happen is you die. Well, no - that's the second worst. The worst is that people looking for you die. ...

....One question that doesn't seem to have been touched on yet - are you planing on walking solo, whether the whole way or just in part? 'cause that would increase the possibility of problems.
Don't get me wrong, I'm a solo walker myself almost exclusively, but it's not something you just get up and do one morning without any experience at all.

I hope you can get organised and do it - and that it's just the first part of a long and varied career in bushwalking. But I still have to wonder whether you realise just how big a mouthful you've bitten off . . .

ps: "How hard can it be?" must be right up there on the list of Famous Last Words.


I agree, endangering the lives of others to rescue me would be a terrible feeling. I'm going solo, pretty set on the s - n route, maybe some side trips. I realize it's extremely hard, I wouldn't want to do it if it wasn't. Thanks for your comment.

Also thank you everybody else that commented, keep them coming.

General consensus is that I should test the gear and practice. Can somebody point me to the direction of some Melbourne hiking clubs.
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Re: Rookie, whats the worst that can happen. ;)

Postby wayno » Wed 21 Sep, 2016 5:02 pm

from the land of the long white clouds...

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Re: Rookie, whats the worst that can happen. ;)

Postby Lophophaps » Wed 21 Sep, 2016 5:13 pm

WadeThrupp wrote:General consensus is that I should test the gear and practice. Can somebody point me to the direction of some Melbourne hiking clubs.


Try http://www.bushwalkingvictoria.org.au/
Look for close by geography, possibly age, possibly religion, possibly gender.Some clubs have harder walks, some have mainly day walks. if you give an idea where you live we may be able to suggest options.

It will take time. I've held quite a few poistions in BW clubs and all had a rule that new starters need to slowly become known to us before going on harder walks. The sequence is:
* day walks
* harder day walks
* base camps
* easy overnight on tracks
* harder overnight, possibly off tracks
* extended trips
I've been on longer trips where new starters assured us that they could cope and did not. One bloke lasted just 30 minutes. One bloke did not even get out of melbourne - the pack fell apart (detour to pick up one from a party member) and then he realised he had no sleeping bag. Oops.

On the way the new starter learns about many aspects of bushwalking. THis could take a year.
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Re: Rookie, whats the worst that can happen. ;)

Postby GBW » Wed 21 Sep, 2016 5:56 pm

That's a long sequence of steps Lophophaps, but definitely do some walks/overnighters in the ANP beforehand to get an idea of the conditions and test your gear. Maybe a couple of days across Baw Baw, Mt Feathertop, Tali Karng, The Crinoline to test out those legs. Then if time permits do a 5 day walk. Or you could do what I did and go straight up the Bon Accord first up...but I wouldn't recommend that. Do your planning right and you're 50% of the way there. Good luck and safe travels.
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Re: Rookie, whats the worst that can happen. ;)

Postby Gadgetgeek » Fri 23 Sep, 2016 5:53 pm

I just wanted to say that there is no shame in not knowing. I'm still involved a bit with the local TAFE campus and help out when I can in the outdoor rec/ed program. Even for people who have walked a fair amount, or rather SHOULD have, there are occasions where people struggle with a certain aspect because they just have not experienced it yet. It doesn't come quick. Thats where a group/mentor/instructor is priceless. As the old saying goes, learn from the mistakes of others, you won't live long enough to make them all yourself.
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Re: Rookie, whats the worst that can happen. ;)

Postby GregR » Wed 28 Sep, 2016 3:17 pm

Somebody has to play Devils Advocate here.

Wade you are doomed.


"Now I have 0 hiking experience and probably only plan on doing a 10km or something hike as practice". Doomed!

"I've never navigated in the bush but after watching a youtube video on how to read a compass and a map I'm actually thinking how hard can it be. I am seriously considering buying the topographical maps to ...." Doomed.

Doomed I say.

Now to the other side of the coin 2 of the best books I have read in recent years involved Cheryl Strayed and Bill Bryson biting off far more than they could chew and yet somehow despite all their inexperience, lack of training, and general naivety , & at times a surplus of stupidity , both managed in their own ways to accomplish what any sane rational bushwalker would think was the impossible. They survived and walked incredibly long distances albeit in very different circumstances to the AAWT.

In short they were doomed too. But they did it. Time will tell.

Don't let negative @#^&& like me stop you.
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Re: Rookie, whats the worst that can happen. ;)

Postby Bill P » Wed 28 Sep, 2016 10:40 pm

Hi Wade,

If its not a winter trip, Go for it.

Take a tent though, while there are lots of huts, you dont need the stress of struggling through foul weather to reach one.


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Re: Rookie, whats the worst that can happen. ;)

Postby north-north-west » Thu 29 Sep, 2016 1:36 pm

GregR wrote:Now to the other side of the coin 2 of the best books I have read in recent years involved Cheryl Strayed and Bill Bryson biting off far more than they could chew and yet somehow despite all their inexperience, lack of training, and general naivety , & at times a surplus of stupidity , both managed in their own ways to accomplish what any sane rational bushwalker would think was the impossible. They survived and walked incredibly long distances albeit in very different circumstances to the AAWT.

In short they were doomed too. But they did it. Time will tell.


Let's be honest - Cheryl Strayed survived and achieved 'cause she was a good-looking young blonde chick whom all the blokes who knew what they were doing fell over themselves to help. (Maybe that's sour grapes from someone who is no longer young and never was hot or blonde, but I bet I'd never have scored all that useful attention.)
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Re: Rookie, whats the worst that can happen. ;)

Postby WadeThrupp » Sun 02 Oct, 2016 8:46 am

GregR wrote:Wade you are doomed.

GregR, I had a little chuckle to myself reading this. Thanks for being honest.

Bill P wrote:If its not a winter trip, Go for it.

Take a tent though, while there are lots of huts, you dont need the stress of struggling through foul weather to reach one.

Cheers got a tent, going to try and avoid the huts and stress.

Thanks again everyone. And that's a great saying Gadget geek.
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Re: Rookie, whats the worst that can happen. ;)

Postby jimmeyer176 » Mon 16 Jan, 2017 12:06 pm

" Now to the other side of the coin 2 of the best books I have read in recent years involved Cheryl Strayed and Bill Bryson biting off far more than they could chew and yet somehow despite all their inexperience, lack of training, and general naivety , & at times a surplus of stupidity , both managed in their own ways to accomplish what any sane rational bushwalker would think was the impossible. They survived and walked incredibly long distances albeit in very different circumstances to the AAWT."

Ummm...yeah, on the PCT and AT in peak thru-hiker season. Do you have any idea of the sheer numbers of people on those trails during the thru-hiker 'bubble'? The PCT was far less busy back then however single women hiking on long-distance trails are generally treated like royalty and very well looked after - sometimes even harassed by other hikers unfortunatley. In 2008 I was on the AT again and within 12 miles of leaving Springer I ran into a women who had fallen and broken her arm, she had been there for about 30 mins before I came along and got her to safety. On the PCT is might be 6 hours or a day at most, but someone is going to come along.

The AAWT? I wouldn't bet on it.
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Re: Rookie, whats the worst that can happen. ;)

Postby Lophophaps » Mon 16 Jan, 2017 2:03 pm

In the last few years I've walked about 450 kilometres of the AAWT (more or less near Jagungal and the Main Range) and only met a handful of parties at intervals of up to four days. On the long hard days I was alone. Somehow on Mt Wills to Mt Bogong I missed meeting two friends who were walking north when I was walking south. So it's not possible to count on assistance from other people.
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Re: Rookie, whats the worst that can happen. ;)

Postby GregR » Mon 16 Jan, 2017 7:32 pm

jimmeyer176 wrote:" Now to the other side of the coin 2 of the best books I have read in recent years involved Cheryl Strayed and Bill Bryson biting off far more than they could chew and yet somehow despite all their inexperience, lack of training, and general naivety , & at times a surplus of stupidity , both managed in their own ways to accomplish what any sane rational bushwalker would think was the impossible. They survived and walked incredibly long distances albeit in very different circumstances to the AAWT."

Ummm...yeah, on the PCT and AT in peak thru-hiker season. Do you have any idea of the sheer numbers of people on those trails during the thru-hiker 'bubble'? The PCT was far less busy back then however single women hiking on long-distance trails are generally treated like royalty and very well looked after - sometimes even harassed by other hikers unfortunatley. In 2008 I was on the AT again and within 12 miles of leaving Springer I ran into a women who had fallen and broken her arm, she had been there for about 30 mins before I came along and got her to safety. On the PCT is might be 6 hours or a day at most, but someone is going to come along.

The AAWT? I wouldn't bet on it.

I agree
I was just trying to not be totally negative, and I did say" albeit in very different circumstances to the AAWT"
Unless a major attitude change has occurred I still think DOOMED is the most likely outcome.

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Re: Rookie, whats the worst that can happen. ;)

Postby Neo » Mon 16 Jan, 2017 7:38 pm

I wonder if Wade has had a go yet? I think he took on some of the advice in this thread.

On the other side, the crowds on some big walks like those in the US would actually deter me from wanting to go!
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Re: Rookie, whats the worst that can happen. ;)

Postby jimmeyer176 » Mon 16 Jan, 2017 8:45 pm

Fair enough Greg
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Re: Rookie, whats the worst that can happen. ;)

Postby WadeThrupp » Wed 18 Jan, 2017 9:29 pm

Neo wrote:I wonder if Wade has had a go yet? I think he took on some of the advice in this thread.

On the other side, the crowds on some big walks like those in the US would actually deter me from wanting to go!


Planning my trip for October this year. I'm going to test my gear on the Grampians over the next few months, this will give me time to play with maps and test the warmth of my gear.

Of course I took on some of the advice in this thread.. I'm not ignorant. :wink:
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Re: Rookie, whats the worst that can happen. ;)

Postby neilmny » Thu 19 Jan, 2017 7:25 am

WadeThrupp wrote:
Neo wrote:I wonder if Wade has had a go yet? I think he took on some of the advice in this thread.

On the other side, the crowds on some big walks like those in the US would actually deter me from wanting to go!


Planning my trip for October this year. I'm going to test my gear on the Grampians over the next few months, this will give me time to play with maps and test the warmth of my gear.

Of course I took on some of the advice in this thread.. I'm not ignorant. :wink:


Not much point in testing your gear for temperature in the Grampians Wade. You'd best test it in the Alps but October temperatures will be much colder than Jan/Feb temperatures.
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Re: Rookie, whats the worst that can happen. ;)

Postby GregR » Thu 19 Jan, 2017 9:04 am

WadeThrupp wrote:
Neo wrote:I wonder if Wade has had a go yet? I think he took on some of the advice in this thread.

quote]

Planning my trip for October this year. I'm going to test my gear on the Grampians over the next few months, this will give me time to play with maps and test the warmth of my gear.

Of course I took on some of the advice in this thread.. I'm not ignorant. :wink:


Good to hear Wade.
I might have to eat my words yet!!!!

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Re: Rookie, whats the worst that can happen. ;)

Postby peregrinator » Thu 19 Jan, 2017 9:51 am

neilmny wrote:Not much point in testing your gear for temperature in the Grampians, Wade. . .


Major Mitchell plateau in July might be worth visiting. Here's the 2016 data from the weather station on Mt William at 1150 m:

http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/dwo/201607/html/IDCJDW3097.201607.shtml

Those sort of numbers are not really what NNW had in mind when writing the best comment in this thread, but they do suggest that a few weeks up there (snow is possible) would be quite challenging.

north-north-west wrote:In brief - the worst that can happen is you die. Well, no - that's the second worst. The worst is that people looking for you die.
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