Walk With Me.

It’s the start of a brand new year and there’s big things on the horizon for me. To start with I’m in full planning mode for my trip in May and it’s going to be a BIG trip with lots of highlights. There’s a weekend retreat to kick it off, a 10 day walk along Hadrian’s Wall, a summit of Ben Nevis (contrary Scottish weather permitting), five days of day walks in the wild and windswept Orkney Islands, ten days in England with more walks being scheduled and a week in Paris (possibly to recover from all the walking with wine and cheese and pastries and all things French) and they’re only the main bits, I’m sure there’ll be lots of exciting things happening in between these. Walk With Me And the most exciting thing as far as I’m concerned is that I’m taking you all along with me. No, I’m not paying to fly you all over there and actually, literally, physically walk with me but I’m taking you all along through the wonders of social media and my Walk With Me project. You’ll get to see it all, from my training here in Perth to the famous wall that the Roman Emperor Hadrian had built (to keep out those damned barbarians) and the wilds of the Orkney Islands. If you’re lucky I might even take you to Paris with me to wander the streets and over indulge in the culinary delights of that city. So how will this work? Come take a virtual walk with me. Blog posts Before I go I’ll be keeping you updated with...

Lukla Airport – up in the clouds.

When I made the decision to trek to Everest Base Camp to celebrate my 60th birthday in 2013 I don’t really think that I thought it through, it was one of those ‘it seemed like a good idea at the time’ moments. As it turned out it was one of the most exhilarating and rewarding things I’ve ever done and it challenged me in ways that I certainly hadn’t anticipated, but initially I didn’t realise what I would be in for. Then I did some research and, talking to myself as much as anyone else, it was a case of, remind me again why I’m doing this. I think I made my first mistake in planning the trip when I delved into the Wikipedia site on the airport at Lukla. Not a good idea as it turns out. Sometimes I just don’t know when to stop, because then I made my second mistake, I watched U Tube footage of a plane taking off from Lukla airport. Google maps showing the terrain really didn’t help either. Lukla is the starting point of several treks in the region and to get there requires a short flight from Kathmandu in a Twin Otter aircraft.   World expeditions, in their blurb, describe it as ‘a memorable flight with amazing views’. I didn’t doubt it for one minute. Notice the mountains in the picture? Well the pilot, of a tiny aircraft, needs to navigate his way around those mountains, banking and descending through several layers of cloud and mist, apparently without the help of landing aids, using just his own keen sense of sight...

Three Capes Track, Tasmania

I must admit to being a bit slack lately with updating this blog – and for that my apologies to you all, my bad. But I do have something to update you with now, a few weeks ago, along with Kim who did the last Everest trek with me, I took on the Three Capes Track in Tasmania. What a wonderful hike, we thoroughly enjoyed it. Oh, and another apology … for the length of this post, I think I got carried away, but there’s so much more I could have written. I might have to do another post soon on the actual practicalities of the hike. *************************************************************** The Three Capes Track walk starts, strangely enough, with a boat ride. Day 1 – Port Arthur to Surveyors The starting point for the walk is the Port Arthur settlement, where we met the other hikers who would be keeping us company in the evenings when we all met up at the end of each day. Although up to 48 people can set off each day it’s an independent walk – you go at your own pace but meet up at huts that have been purpose built for each of the three overnight stops. The boat trip around Port Arthur takes just over an hour and our guide Ben was an absolute fount of knowledge, pointing out Sea Eagles and their nests and explaining all about the formation of the dolomite cliffs and the caves beneath them. And then it was time to get serious! Although I’ve done a few serious treks in the last few years I’ve only ever had to carry a day pack, this...

The Cape to Cape Track

The Cape to Cape track is one of Western Australia’s most stunning walks and before I go any further I’ll apologise now for my overuse of adjectives in this post. I recently spent six days walking this track with two friends and was astounded by the stunning coast, its diverse and constantly changing ocean views, its incredible array of wildflowers and its perpetually changing terrain. This part of the Western Australian coast is unique and the only way to see it at its best is to walk it. On the Cape to Cape track you’ll cover areas only accessible by foot. Surfers find ways in to some spots on 4WD tracks but the majority of the coastline is inaccessible to vehicles of any kind. This walk takes you from Cape Naturaliste to Cape Leeuwin and normally takes around six to seven days to complete. We did the walk in reverse, we walked for three days from Cape Leeuwin, had a days rest and then completed another three days to Cape Naturaliste. It was September and it was spectacular, the weather was perfect, the colours unimaginable and the peace and tranquility a welcome change from our busy lives. There are campsites along the way if you want to camp but we had the luxury of being picked up at the end of each days walk. One of our group lives in Busselton and her husband was our willing chauffeur. For those who want to camp out there are campsites positioned along the track. Some are commercial campsites but there are also isolated sites where you can pitch your tent in...

My new daypack – The Osprey Sirrus 24.

I’ve had my hiking pack for over three years now and it’s certainly been places. That pack and I have been to Everest Base Camp twice and it’s had lots of ‘stuff’ stuffed into it. It’s been drenched in the Himalayan monsoon, it’s been covered in snow and it’s been carried, dropped, pushed and just about kicked, all over the mountains. Not to mention being used as a pillow when I had to sleep in the hotel car park after the major earthquake in April this year. But there comes a time when a pack has to make way for a newer version – and that’s what’s just happened to my trusty red pack. It’s done a brilliant job and it will certainly see a lot more service in the future, but for my current purposes it’s a bit too big. I’m training for the Cape to Cape walk in the south west of Western Australia next month and am doing some day walks on the Bibbulmun Track in preparation, so I needed a pack that would suit the purpose. I needed a smaller pack but one that still had the required number of pockets and the features that are necessary when out hiking. I did my research, listened to other hikers, figured out the features from my bigger pack that I still wanted on a smaller one and came to my conclusion. My choice was the Osprey Sirrus 24, a 24 litre daypack designed specifically for women that comes in different back lengths. I’m somewhat vertically challenged so I needed the extra small/small length and it fits me beautifully with...

The Bibbulmun Track – a day walk.

I live in Perth and, up till recently, I’d never set foot on the Bibbulmun Track. I’m a trekker, I’ve trekked to Everest Base camp – twice – yet I’ve never walked on the closest long distance track to my home. The Bibbulmun Track runs for around 1,000 km from Kalamunda on the eastern outskirts of Perth to Albany in the south west of the state and is a world renowned walking trail. Hikers come from around the world to walk on this track, they spend months, sometimes years, planning the 8 week walk to become ‘end to enders.’ But you don’t have to do it all in one go. Let’s face it not many of us have the luxury of being able to take off from our work and family commitments to spend a couple of months exploring ourselves and the world that we’ve found ourselves in. This track is easy to split into sections, you can do day walks or you can spend a few days or even a couple of weeks on certain sections and this is the most popular way to do the walk. So, I figured it was time to see what all the hype was about and get out there myself. For my first taste of the Bibbulmun track, a friend and I headed up to Kalamunda early one Saturday morning a couple of weeks ago for a day walk. We were lucky, it was a beautiful day – cool first thing but sunny and pleasantly warm once we got going. When I’ve never done something before it’s the little things that tend...

Nepal is open for business.

As some of you may know I was in Nepal when the country was rocked by the major earthquake on 25th April this year. I’d completed my trek and was sitting in the lobby of my hotel when the earth, quite literally, moved and it’s not an experience I’d ever want to repeat. When I got back to Australia I struggled for some time to come to terms with what had happened. I struggled with my own personal experience, yes, but also with the enormous impact that this disaster had on a country that I’d come to love and it’s people, who had been devastated by such an enormous loss of lives and the destruction of buildings and ancient monuments. Apart from families having to come to terms with the loss of loved ones, the major impact of this disaster has come from the downturn in their major form of income – tourism. Thousands of Nepalese families derive their income from tourism, from housing, clothing, feeding and guiding the trekkers and mountaineers who have descended on the area, in increasing numbers, every year since Sir Edmund Hillary stood on the summit of Mt Everest over sixty years ago. In the aftermath of the earthquake bookings for upcoming treks were cancelled and operators have struggled to entice people back for the trekking season about to begin. A family that I have become close to had their home damaged and were not able to move back in, they are now living in a tent. The father is a school teacher but his school was too badly damaged and has not reopened,...

Gokyo Ri – climbing a mountain.

It’s almost impossible to define when a hill becomes a mountain. I’ll not go into the differing opinions (you’ve got Google for that) but in my opinion any peak that stands over 5000 metres above sea level is definitely a mountain. And when that peak is in the middle of the Himalayas I think *mountain* is the only way to describe it. So, having established that, I consider that I climbed a mountain. By that point I’d already trekked from Lukla at 2,800 metres up to Gokyo at 4,750 metres, so, in my mind at least, that adds a certain credence to my claim. Gokyo is a small village in the Solokhumbu district of Nepal, it sits quietly on the edge of a serene and sacred lake and is one of the highest settlements in the world. Rising in front of the village is Gokyo Ri and this is where my definition of a mountain comes in. When you stand on the top of this peak you’re at around 5,400 metres above sea level. So – I climbed a mountain! And I had to trudge through a load of snow to get to it. It was an early start that morning with a 5.30am wake up call, and we were on the track by 6.15am. The lower part of the climb was on gravel which, at times, made it difficult to maintain our footing but the unseasonal amount of snow that the area had been subjected to in the previous weeks meant that the top two thirds of the climb were a struggle through that snow. The view on...

Going back – revisiting the Himalayas.

I don’t know about you but there are so many places in the world that I’ve visited that I’d love to go back to. I’ve been there once … or twice … or several times, and still there’s a pull that they exert on me to keep revisiting. The pressure to go back. I want to go back to Paris for the pastries and the sheer Frenchness of it all. I want to go back to Rome for the ancient monuments and the quirky streets, to Florence for the art and the architecture, to Crete for the laid back Mediterranean lifestyle, and I’d love to go back again to England and Scotland, for the history, the Roman ruins and the beautiful countryside – and the list goes on … Switzerland, Cairns, The Black Forest, Antibes, Broome …… In a weeks time I’ll be touching down in Kathmandu ready to head off on my trek into the Everest region – AGAIN! But my reasons for wanting to revisit this area and this type of holiday (okay – some may not call trekking at altitude a holiday) are different and a little hard to describe. The pressure of life. As I sat in a café today with my flat white and white chocolate and Raspberry muffin – because I’m going to be burning it all off over the next few weeks – I looked around me and saw so many people with so many things to do and so many places to go. They’ve made time for coffee with family or friends but they don’t seem relaxed, it’s more like an obligation in their lives, having to schedule...

Countdown to Kathmandu and my Everest Trek – 30 days to go!

The countdown is definitely on. It’s nearly two years now since I did the Everest Base Camp Trek and would you believe, it’s only 30 days now till I head back up into the Himalayas to have a go at the slightly more strenuous Everest Circuit Trek. Fingers crossed, but if my commitment to training is anything to go by this time, I WILL make it to the top of Gokyo Ri and Kala Patar. The clear, crisp air up there in the mountains is a photographers paradise and, although I don’t lay claim to being anywhere near an expert photographer, even I managed some amazing shots last time. You really can’t go wrong. So, in anticipation of my journey back to Everest and her white capped neighbours,  today I thought I’d reminisce and bring you some of my favourite shots that I took on the last trek. I know you’ve seen most of them before but I didn’t think you’d mind my little indulgence as the excitement is really starting to kick in.   Like this:Like...
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