Overnight hike novice

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Overnight hike novice

Postby JaguarShark77 » Fri 09 Jul, 2021 1:29 pm

Hi guys, slightly nervous first-time poster who is looking at easing into overnight hikes in the not-too-distant future (maybe once the weather has started warming!). Was hoping to lean on your experience for advice as far as avoiding what-not-to-do's.

I have at least some bushwalking experience down here, and have been out at least once a week - give or take - for the past couple years on walks of varying difficulty. And I like to think of myself as a considerate, moderately sensible bushwalker who does his best to adhere to leave-no-trace principles. But I'm also well aware that I'm essentially still a novice, and that ignorance can be as damaging to the environment as carelessness. So guess I'm just trying to remedy that, as much as possible.

So what kind of things should I be mindful of (location, etiquette etc.) when looking to pitch a tent out in the middle of a walk somewhere? Think I'm pretty good at cleaning up after myself - just want to make sure I'm not missing something obvious that'll turn me into a cautionary tale.

Appreciate it, guys - cheers.
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Re: Overnight hike novice

Postby north-north-west » Fri 09 Jul, 2021 3:17 pm

Avoid hollows - I've seen even very experienced walkers get flooded out due to heavy rain when they pitched in a slight dip.
Try to pitch on durable surfaces - rock, dirt, hardy low vegetation.
Take careful note of the direction of the wind and possible influences on it (eg: being funnelled through gaps). A mild through-breeze helps minimise condensation, but you don't want to endure a nightlong battle with strong winds.
No fires in FSOAs and, when you do have a fire, keep it small and watch it very carefully. Make sure it's out before you leave (or retire for the night). Don't cut wood - use fallen vegetation. Don't burn food waste or packaging.
Old news, but be careful pitching near trees, especially in windy conditions and especially eucalypts.
Pitch for the morning light - if there's condensation or night-time rain, the tent will dry out quicker if the sun hits it straight away. It will also wake you up earlier. :)
Don't pitch too close to other walkers unless there is literally nowhere else to put the tent. If the camping area is small, with regular visitation, try to leave room for late-comers.
Soap is not good for the environment, and deodorants are wasted on the wombats. Learn to love your own stench.
Enjoy every moment of it. Even if you're cold and wet and none too certain of exactly where you are.

There are a lot of little tricks you will learn as you go along. Common sense is a good start.
"Mit der Dummheit kämpfen Götter selbst vergebens."
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Re: Overnight hike novice

Postby ChrisJHC » Fri 09 Jul, 2021 6:28 pm

Practice putting your tent up and down at home so you are confident you can do it in the bush.

Keep your gear organised!

If you have a fire, make sure the embers don’t blow onto your tent.

You don’t say where you are located. You might find there are locals on this forum who would be happy to go out with you and show you the ropes.
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Re: Overnight hike novice

Postby JaguarShark77 » Fri 09 Jul, 2021 6:30 pm

Thank you so much for the excellent advice, NNW - will be writing all of this down AND committing to memory. Some great tips on tent pitching, too - I get the feeling I will be thanking you more than once on that score!

Absolutely with you on the no-fire and no-soap thing too.

And thank you - so far, the enjoyment bit has come easy. Certainly planning on keeping it that way.
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Re: Overnight hike novice

Postby JaguarShark77 » Fri 09 Jul, 2021 6:33 pm

Ah, thanks Chris - excellent point about practising at home first. Imagine trying to put up a tent properly for the first time on a dark, wet spot in the middle of nowhere isn't the most fun. And absolutely agree, re: keeping gear organised!

I'm in the Meander Valley here. Beautiful spot, though I've discovered that descriptor can apply to pretty much this entire state.
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Re: Overnight hike novice

Postby north-north-west » Fri 09 Jul, 2021 7:04 pm

Well, being up there, you're close to some great walking. So many ways to get up onto the CP, and routes are only limited by your imagination and determination.

Ohh, also - start small and easy. Do something like Mother Cummings Track, where it's only an hour up to the valley and you have plenty of room to camp and plenty of options to keep you entertained for the rest of the day. Higgs track to Lady Lake, Western Creek track, Syds, Parsons, Yeates, all the Lake Mackenzie tracks and off-track options, the Walls ... lots of good starters there.
Once you get into multiday walks - the second day is always the hardest. Plan for a short easy day.
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Re: Overnight hike novice

Postby wildwanderer » Fri 09 Jul, 2021 8:29 pm

Make a list of the stuff you plan to take. When packing put all your gear on the lounge room floor etc and check it off your list before you put it in your pack.

Bring a closed cell foam sit mat and bit of tarp or tyvek to sit on while at camp.

Try out your camp menu at home before you go bush. There are many other tastier and less expensive options than backcountry.

Have a think about the toileting technique your going to use and where your going to go before you need to go. Keep as far away from streams etc as practical and go downstream of any spots people commonly gather water.

Oh and don't be that guy who brings a radio.. other campers within a km or so will thankyou. Sounds travel a long way at night.

Enjoy yourself and don't forget the hot chocolate/tea/coffee. :)
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Re: Overnight hike novice

Postby JaguarShark77 » Fri 09 Jul, 2021 9:50 pm

Ah, thanks NNW - yeah, we're certainly spoilt for choice around here. Want to spend more time on the Central Plateau - did Warners Track a few weeks back and the views back across the Meander Valley were absolutely stunning (got very lucky with the weather, too). Looking at a Lake Mackenzie-Ironstone Hut wander when the weather gets a bit warmer. Will definitely bear your second-day advice in mind!

And thanks for the excellent pointers, WW. Wouldn't have thought to bring something to sit on at camp but makes a huge amount of sense. And promise I'll be leaving the radio at home!
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Re: Overnight hike novice

Postby Baeng72 » Fri 09 Jul, 2021 11:15 pm

north-north-west wrote:A
Pitch for the morning light - if there's condensation or night-time rain, the tent will dry out quicker if the sun hits it straight away. It will also wake you up earlier. :)

What is this heresy? I've never slept from dusk to dawn.
This time of year that would be 14 hours.
Anyway, I'm packed by sunrise at the latest (OK, when travelling with son on Overland, he could sleep through a cyclone, so packed once he was awake).
I hate wasting the day by not being on the move when there's light, and if it's the last day, back to the car early means junk food reward earlier. :)
Wipe the tent down and be on your way.
EDIT: I should mention, I'm a relative novice and NNW is an expert. I'm just jealous of the idea of sleeping all night, sleeping pads aren't that comfortable, but I do like to be on the move by sunrise.
Last edited by Baeng72 on Fri 09 Jul, 2021 11:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Overnight hike novice

Postby Baeng72 » Fri 09 Jul, 2021 11:16 pm

wildwanderer wrote:Make a list of the stuff you plan to take.

This.
I start with the Overland gear guide and add/remove based on season/area I'm going to, but without a list, you end up without bog roll, or a sleeping mat.
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Re: Overnight hike novice

Postby Lophophaps » Sat 10 Jul, 2021 7:35 am

There's good advice above.

If at all possible, get everything inside the pack. gear that is outside the pack risks getting wet, torn or lost. One trip descending a steep rocky section a branch that had snapped off snagged a tent pole bag and the person did not notice. On longer trips have small rolls of toilet paper in each food bag rather than in one big roll, with the roll in use separate, perhaps in the lid of the pack in a waterproof bag. That way if one roll gets wet you have not lost all the supplies. Rocks, cardboard and snow are not quite good enough. In most places, except for emergencies, fires are ill-advised or proscribed.

I carry a small piece of soap but rarely use it - only dirty people wash. Most of my campsite have hot water (in the creek, above zero Celsius) and some have cold (in the creek, below zero). This is all that I use for washing after toileting and before cooking or eating.

Camping out of the wind is important. I like the idea of the tent facing east, quite delightful in winter. I tend to get going early and arrive in camp early, relax, watch the clouds, cup of tea, useful things. Camp away from areas that may flood, which may mean a metre or more above the current water level. Look for flood debris in trees and be above that. If you can, cross the creek to camp rather than on the near side. This avoids a crossing first thing in the morning. This does not matter if there's a bridge.

Let someone know in writing where you are going, time of return.
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Re: Overnight hike novice

Postby ChrisJHC » Sat 10 Jul, 2021 9:06 am

And one more:

Consider camping near your car for your first overnighter.
Pack your gear for hiking (and, as said above, make sure it’s all inside your pack).
Then drive to a place near a camping spot and hike a short distance to your overnight location.
That way, if all turns to custard, you can head back to the car and go home.
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Re: Overnight hike novice

Postby ChrisJHC » Sat 10 Jul, 2021 9:10 am

Baeng72 wrote:What is this heresy? I've never slept from dusk to dawn.
…snip…
I'm just jealous of the idea of sleeping all night, sleeping pads aren't that comfortable, but I do like to be on the move by sunrise.


Get thee to a hammock!
My record so far is 12 hours uninterrupted sleep.
And I mean interrupted - went to sleep and then did not wake at all until morning.
Admittedly that was after a 35 km hike as part of a 5-day trip.

If I do have to make an early start, I always set an alarm on my phone just in case.
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Re: Overnight hike novice

Postby JaguarShark77 » Sat 10 Jul, 2021 10:16 am

Wow - thank you, guys. I'm humbled and hugely grateful for all this terrific advice. I reckon you've all already saved me an enormous amount of headaches/frustration!

Baeng72 - starting with the Overland gear guide is a fantastic idea. I know it can be hard to keep track of everything when a heap of stuff is going in your pack, and Murphy's Law decrees that the one thing you forget will be the one thing you really wish you had!

Lophophaps - great advice about splitting up the toilet rolls and keeping as much as possible inside your pack. I know how often my bag gets snagged, and how easy it is to just keep going - can only imagine the annoyance of arriving at your campsite to find yourself without pegs.

And Lop/Chris - I'm with you on the early starts, and the alarm is a great idea. Can imagine waking at the crack of dawn unaided is markedly tougher after walking 30km the day before! And Chris, great idea about staying near the car when starting out. Definitely baby steps at this point.

Thanks again, guys - you rock.
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Re: Overnight hike novice

Postby north-north-west » Sat 10 Jul, 2021 10:37 am

JaguarShark77 wrote: Want to spend more time on the Central Plateau - did Warners Track a few weeks back and the views back across the Meander Valley were absolutely stunning (got very lucky with the weather, too).


Did you get up Adams Peak as well? I love that track and the views from the summit. Once you get into off-track exploration it's worth going across to Johnstones Peak, Ritters Crags, etc. Great little loop up to Wild Dog Tier along Sales Rivulet valley.
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Re: Overnight hike novice

Postby JaguarShark77 » Sat 10 Jul, 2021 10:42 am

north-north-west wrote:
JaguarShark77 wrote: Want to spend more time on the Central Plateau - did Warners Track a few weeks back and the views back across the Meander Valley were absolutely stunning (got very lucky with the weather, too).


Did you get up Adams Peak as well? I love that track and the views from the summit. Once you get into off-track exploration it's worth going across to Johnstones Peak, Ritters Crags, etc. Great little loop up to Wild Dog Tier along Sales Rivulet valley.


Ah, I didn't this time, NNW, and was kicking myself. But planning on heading back up first chance I get and doing Adams Peak too. It's a lovely track, isn't it?

And yep, very keen to explore more off-track once I've gotten better/more confident with the navigation!
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Re: Overnight hike novice

Postby Baeng72 » Sat 10 Jul, 2021 1:35 pm

ChrisJHC wrote:Get thee to a hammock!

I have enough fun trying to get a taught pitch with my Aricxi knock-off tent.
A hammock seems like another world of pain.
I'd have to find trees that are suitable for my bulk. :)
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