Halfway through and I'm still alive - update

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

Halfway through and I'm still alive - update

Postby Stroller » Wed 22 Mar, 2017 5:05 am

Well I've made it to Mt Hotham! (From Walhalla that is) I'll have a little rest and regroup here then carry on. I have taken just over 30 days to get this far and for the most part it's been good but still, very hard.

I've had incredible good luck with the weather - no rain except this last day and right at the beginning;, quite a number of small to significant equipment failures despite having pretty good gear. The route is often pretty *&%$#! and I've slept badly but adequately most of the way. I got lost on top of the Viking and slept the night on a rock top before refinding the mysterious track and getting out the next day by 2pm. I sure do dislike the Viking but now that I've been through that, the next time would just about be a doddle, should I be insane enough to want to have another go. The Razor is also hideous and I met several who lost the track there despite being experienced bushwalkers. There's no acceptable excuse for the poor track marking as I can see as in some spots in these two areas there are a lot of track markers. Chapman's book osometimes has poor descriptions though in the two difficult spots just mentioned, I concede the route is very difficult to describe accurately to someone who can't see the track. I got completely befuddled by the second cairn on the Viking summit. Apparently it leads to south Viking but how was I to know, nothing is said about it. Mycompass fidnt work in that spot and I was reluctant to go towards the top of the rocky ridge. I had misty conditions to deal with also. I found the whole Viking thing scary. And I don't like heights but anyway I made out alive, but only just short of having to be rescued as I had run out of water.

Bushwalkers and others are leaving rubbish along the track and this is very upsetting. The roadworkers are buggering up the track in spots by pushing huge logs in front of the track exit points at times. The worst spot is when coming into Low Saddle but also on Murray hut site there's no way to find the track to water now, should thee a tuallybe any when it's not raining.

I don't know how people can do this route in anything less than six weeks and I myself will need more than the eight weeks I have planned for. Afterall it has taken me 31 or 32 days to get to mt Hotham . I got lucky by finding extra food at Rumpffs Saddle and was able to carry food for 18 days through section three. I could phone up the food drop owner and ask so don't jump to any negative conclusions. I could not have done section three in 10 days or less but then I'm 53 and don't have a fast stride. And female of course. I think my age is a key factor in my slow pace. So I took a day off after every long day as I also have had to build fitness and worried a bit about damaging my knees and having to abort the trip as a result.

The chapman book is highly inadequate on the subject of food drops. Of course I couldn't do any of this without that book but a major update is well overdue and improvements in track descriptions and fooddrop info would be essential in my opinion. Problem areas I found being Black River, and the leg going past high cone and square top. Discussion about how to manage the water issue from mt spec to Barry Saddle is needed and also there are water issues after South Selwyn in my experience. Yes there's water at the selwyn creek road but why would I go almost two kms out of my way for it in the middle of a leg. I wiuldnt be able to carry it over for overnighting. How anyone can do this track wearing shorts is beyond me. It seems the height of stupidity to wear them in the Victoria section at least where there is quite a bit of prickly and thorny vegetation.

Incidentally I made a water drop for Viking Saddle and that's the only way I could get through that whole section. I could not have walked from Catherine Saddle to Barry Saddle in a day as others seem to do. It took me until 3pm just to get to the razor with a half empty pack to drop the water so anyone who can do the other, particularly women, you are heroic in my eyes. And I know two of these.

Before I left I wrote a post about getting lonely on the track. Well it hasn't been an issue. I've generally been too busy to get lonely and secondly at times, I've met a lot of people, ie specifically at Mt Speculation which is a gorgeous place. I spent four days there in total.

Anyway that's it for now. My next challenge is make mt Hotham work for me without bankrupting me. The food situation here seems pretty dire if you are on a budget.
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Re: Halfway through and I'm still alive - update

Postby andrewa » Wed 22 Mar, 2017 6:47 am

Nice to hear of an adventure like this. Well done.

Did the AAWT 35 yrs ago through to Hotham - as 18yos, we knocked that bit off in 11 days, with 1 rest day at Black River!

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Re: Halfway through and I'm still alive - update

Postby neilmny » Wed 22 Mar, 2017 2:56 pm

Well done Stroller thanks for the progress report. :D
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Re: Halfway through and I'm still alive - update

Postby scoha » Wed 22 Mar, 2017 5:29 pm

Well done Stroller - its a great adventure and sounds like you are getting lots out of it - everyone gets different things out of the AAWT, though one take-out will be common - overwhelming sense of satisfaction. Keep going. BTW - I did it all in shorts in 35d and couldnt imagine doing it in longs - way too hot for me :)
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Re: Halfway through and I'm still alive - update

Postby bigkev » Wed 22 Mar, 2017 6:28 pm

Thank you for the up date Stroller, I'm heading off after winter and like you are on the wrong? side of 50. I couldn't help but smile to myself as you described the Razor Viking section, I've been through twice before and it's never easy, I definitely wouldn't be looking forward to do it in misty conditions.

Good luck with the rest of the walk.

Cheers Kevin
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Re: Halfway through and I'm still alive - update

Postby Tortoise » Wed 22 Mar, 2017 7:33 pm

Congrats, Stroller! Thanks for the report. Brings back lots of memories from...well, over 30 years ago. Hot, dry, scrubby, dehydrated. Did I say hot? Dry? Slooooooow? We were very relieved to have a thunderstorm on Mt Despair, when we collected some delectable water. We carried 6 litres each whenever we came across water, but we needed a lot more than that.
Ah, and Mt Spec. Still one of my favourite places. :D
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Re: Halfway through and I'm still alive - update

Postby Stroller » Thu 23 Mar, 2017 12:42 pm

Tortoise how did you go about collecting water? I don't think it's going to be an issue for me going forward but it's seems to be one thing I never gave a moments thought to beforehand. I think the the best I could do now is position some plastic bags at certain points around my tent. My ground sheet can't hold water as it's woven weed batting. Bits could run off my tent but I don't know how to maximise catching it. I have a tunnel shaped tent with no outer fly.
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Re: Halfway through and I'm still alive - update

Postby bernieq » Thu 23 Mar, 2017 5:57 pm

Hi stroller and well done so far!

Keep in mind that the Razor Viking area is a wilderness zone. The track marker there now are in response to regrowth after bushfires as many people were losing their way. I'd actually prefer no markers but I understand the need - but let's leave a little challenge, eh?

That said, it can be a bit tricky coming of the Viking and a functioning compass and/or a GPS is advisable. I'm pretty sure JC mentions this. As for carying water from Catherine Sadle to Bary Saddle, why? when there is water at Viking Saddle. You do have to drop down a couple of 100m but it's pretty reliable (last time i was there, as I arrived into the saddle, a young guy was coming back from looking for water and said there was none - he didnt go far enough. There was plenty of flowing water)

Mt Spec is, indeed, a special place. But, you are correct. Some thoughtless people are leaving rubbish and not burying excrement and paper - very distressing.

The section from Rumpff to Hotham took us 10 days and we were all 60+ (although we skirted the Twins, around the road).
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Re: Halfway through and I'm still alive - update

Postby Stroller » Thu 23 Mar, 2017 6:54 pm

At the present time there is no water at Viking Saddle . Three guys who spent the night at Viking Saddle went in search for it and had to go very far down the river and battle blackberries along the way. They were quitewater stressed by their own report. When I was there, at the same time and just around a week ago, it hadn't rained for at least a month.

I know a gooddownpour can change all that overnight and we were expecting rain but only got a few dropsoverthefour days I was in the area. I guess if you're thinking about spring time,,conditions maybe entirely different. Anyway tomorrow I have to get back out there after a nice little rest up here in Mt Hotham.
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Re: Halfway through and I'm still alive - update

Postby bernieq » Thu 23 Mar, 2017 9:30 pm

I was at the Viking sadfle at the end of Jan and there was plenty of water. It does go underground in many places so you do need to know where to look. The young guy I mentioned made this mistake - went too far down, didn't see any water and concluded there was none.

I've been there quite a few times (inc dry autumns) and there has always been water (although once it needed a bit of digging and a lot of patience).

As for Spec (or Catherine) to the Barrys in one day - just plain silly - you'd be missing out on enjoying some of the best of the AAWT - not to mention the risks.
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Re: Halfway through and I'm still alive - update

Postby Stroller » Fri 24 Mar, 2017 7:39 am

It seems your local knowledge and water finding skills are well above the average persons who's is walking through. You can't expect everyone else to be as expert.
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Re: Halfway through and I'm still alive - update

Postby bernieq » Sat 25 Mar, 2017 8:41 pm

I always appreciate good scarcasm :)
Having witnessed someone missing the water, I just wondered if others were making the same mistake.

Anyway, hope you enjoy the rest of the trip - still good bits ahead, although I think the best is behind you.
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Re: Halfway through and I'm still alive - update

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Wed 26 Apr, 2017 2:29 pm

A most impressive effort! :-)
Shaabaash , well done!
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Re: Halfway through and I'm still alive - update

Postby jobell » Thu 27 Apr, 2017 8:59 pm

Stroller - for your resupplt - there's a day bus that runs through Hotham from Omeo to Bright and back. Not every day in the week though. Theres a Woolworths in Bright. Good luck with the rest of yr walk.
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Re: Halfway through and I'm still alive - update

Postby neilmny » Fri 28 Apr, 2017 5:56 am

jobell wrote:Stroller - for your resupplt - there's a day bus that runs through Hotham from Omeo to Bright and back. Not every day in the week though. Theres a Woolworths in Bright. Good luck with the rest of yr walk.


From O'Connell's web site - https://www.omeobus.com.au/
"O'Connell's Omeo Bus Services would like to advise all of our friends and customers that after almost 60 years, we have ceased operating as at 1st April 2017.
​We are pleased to announce that the Dyson Group has purchased our business and will take over our school runs and the Alps Link Bus Service between Omeo and Bright."

Dysons - https://dysongroup.com.au/news/dyson-gr ... us-service
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