Monday, 12 June 2017

Adventure 40 - The one with the babies on the 'Bib'

Where: Bibulmun Track, Northern Terminus, Kalamunda
When: May 2017
Adventure Companions: Mr MAP, Mini Monkey, Giant Baby and the Hike it Baby crew.

How many babies can we get on the sign?

I posted a photo of the Bibulmun Track Northern Terminus sign on the Hike it Baby Facebook page to generate some interest for our upcoming hike. The bets I had ranged from 5 to 11. I thought that was a little ambitions but we ended up with 9 kiddos and 12 adults, our best numbers for a hike yet.

It was a beautifully sunny day and we all set of pretty hopeful. The littlest of the kiddos surprised parents in how much they wanted to walk, the real babies refused naps and the older toddlers wanted to be carried. It was pretty topsy-turvey!

The Northern Terminus is not a great place to start a hike for the babies as it after a couple of hundred meters the trail runs alongside a road for a bit. Whilst this isn’t much of a problem for people who walk even for a couple of hours, it forms quite a large proportion of the hike when you walk at the speed of an 18 month old toddler. However, we have done it. We have the photo to prove that the babies have started at the top and now we can get down to the real business of hiking more of the beautiful trail.

Opening hours: Never Closed

Cost: Free to walk but please support foundation and become a ‘Friend’ for $40 to help maintain this amazing resource.  

Adventure 39 - Guest post by The Giant Baby: My first trail walk

Where: Ellis Brook Valley            
When: April 2017
Adventure Companions: Mr and Mrs MAP, Mini Monkey, some Hike it Baby friends and Velcro Dog

I’m so excited! Mum picked a really nice trail for me to walk today. I started off in the Tula but there was no way I was going to sleep today. We stopped for some early snacks. We sat next to the path and had mandarin and biscuits. That was very tasty. Mum thought I’d like to go back into the Tula after snack time was done. She was wrong. After a few attempts, I made my opinion known and she let me walk.

The trail was so much fun. Not many rocks to fall over and trees one either side to help know which way to go. At one point, everyone else was going the wrong way. There was lots of discussion until finally we were all going the same way (my way, I think).   

On the way back down, we took the road route. Mini Monkey fell on his face so the mums and dads decided all of us had to be carried until the car because they said we were tired. I didn’t like that one bit. I wasn’t tired. I could have kept walking all day. Then we had more snacks on the table at the end so I guess it was ok. Cheese is yummy.

Opening hours: 8am-5pm daily

Cost: Free 

Adventure 38 - The one with lots of sleep (for me)

There were some hills...
Where: Bibulman Track (Mudaring to Dale Road)
When: April 2017
Adventure Companions: Adventure Jane

Do you know what to do if you get lost or have an accident?

Mr MAP was more than a bit concerned that, not only was I going to do my first, overnight, unsupported, self-guided hiking and camping trip, but that I was also going with his baby sister. Thankfully, Adventure Jane and I have more than 60 years of combined wisdom between the two of us and had lots of contingencies up our sleeve. More importantly, we had selected a well maintained and well signed trail to do our trip together: The Bibulmun Track. The Bib track is 1000km (and some change) walking track which extends from just near Perth all the way down to Albany and is exquisitely maintained by an army of volunteers. This track is so accessable to us that I would really like to walk all the way from top to bottom (eventually). There are two ways in which the Track Foundation allows you to claim an ‘end to end’: 1 walk end to end in one go, which takes about 8 weeks or, a more appealing option to a family member with a full time job, do it in pieces over several years. I may have to up the ante as at three days a year, it will take me 18 years to complete!

Adventure Jane and I have been planning this trip since we were in Tasmaina. Over the last 9 months, I have slowly realised that I have a lot more knowledge (and equipment) from my old travelling days and maritime background than I had previously given myself credit for. Add to that my increased knowledge of the region doing Hike it Baby stuff and you the recipe for one enthusiastic and hopeful backpacker! To assuage Mr MAP’s fears of myself and his baby sister getting lost in the wilderness, I also equipped us more navigational and emergency aids than you can shake a stick at (which yes, I also knew how to use!).  

Wildflowers on the trail
The whole family, including Grandma, Grandiddy and Proodle came to Mundaring with us. We were going to walk across the wier as a little outing for those of us not carrying ont, but it’s currently closed (not an auspicious start). Adventure Jane and I said our good byes and set off on our way with our packs to conquer some hills. In about two seconds flat, I was boiling hot and had to stop take layers off. With that kerfuffle over, we got on our way properly.

As I said, the track is well signed. The only places where it becomes a little sticky were around places of residence, like Mundaring and the Perth Hills Discovery Centre. Other than that, it was pretty hard to get lost and we only got the map out once to check where we were going.

We made good time through out the first time and made it to Helena Camp early. The track has designated camp sites at about 10km intervals and strongly encourages hikers to overnight there to reduce the impact to the surrounding bush land at other places. At both camps where we stayed, there was a three sided hut with bunks, tables to eat at, a fire pit and a very nice, stink-free long-drop.

Despite being the Easter weekend, we had clearly timed it well as there were only four other people who stayed at Helena that first night, an Italian couple with the biggest tent ever who mostly kept to themselves and a lovely couple of ladies who we spent all evening chatting with. The night was clear with the moon and stars lighting up the sky. Snuggling into my sleeping bag at the end of the day was a delight and I slept for a total of 10 hours (as a mum of two young children, this is something out of the ordinary worth recording). I felt unexpectedly well rested and ready to take on our ‘big’ day.

Sunrise at Helena Campsite

Day 2 saw us take on 20km with a hilly start and then flat, sandy paths to our camp site. Adventure Jane, the seasoned hiker, didn’t even seem to notice the hills. We had some amazing views and varying terrains. One of the really interesting sights was seeing the super saturated, green re-growth on fire-blackened tree trunks.

I had always thought camp food would be a little boring and army ration style but was pleasantly surprised with the menu Adventure Jane and I put together (especially the DIY trail mix with so many delicious M&Ms). We were well fuelled for the whole trip with emergency supplies for another full meal, should our timing calculations have been wrong.
After another decent nights sleep, we set off for our rendezvous with our ride home. It was a beautiful walk out from the camp to Dale road. It was somewhat of an anxious wait for our ride, which finally turned up an hour late as we had no reception. Typically, we had just decided to bust out the tea making gear when they turned up.

At the end of the trip I felt unexpectedly refreshed. I had slept well, eaten well and talked enough to take the ears off a chicken. However, it was fabulous to have a hot shower and put some clean clothes on! I loved the trip and it has definitely given me the confidence to take my mini family with me next time.

Sandy tracks on the trail towards Dale Road
Opening hours: Never Closed

Cost: Free to walk but please support foundation and become a ‘Friend’ for $40 to help maintain this amazing resource.  

Adventure 37 - The one with lots of face time

Where: Caversham wildlife park
When: April 2017
Adventure Companions: Grandma and Grandiddy, Adventure Jane, Proodle, Mr MAP, Mini Monkey and Giant Baby

Can you sit in the back and keep them awake till we get home?

The boys were shattered. Having never visited Caversham Wildlife Park before we had made some fairly school-boy errors. Firstly, the journey was longer than we had thought (and so arrived lated). Secondly, we had underestimated the time it took to get between places, including the car park and finally, we kept ‘popping in’ to additional places as we were trying to  leave. All up, we were waaaaay late for getting home and knew that if either of the boys fell asleep in the car it was game over for the well needed nap time (queue: parental nightmare x 2).

The park has so much to see and both of the boys were well entertained. Mini monkey spent the entire time rushing around between the exhibits, soaking up information like the little sponge he is. The Giant Baby had an amazing time being carried around by Grandiddy in the Tula and chatting non-stop. Whilst it sounded mostly like ‘duck’ repeated 10 million times I’m sure Giant Baby knew what he was on about.

We saw every Australian animal imaginable, held a wombat, and stroked kangaroos. There’s plenty more we didn’t see so I’m sure we’ll be back at some point in the future.
Giant Baby and Grandiddy having some 'face time'

Opening hours: 9am-530pm daily
Cost: Adults $28, Child $12.50 (3-14 years). 

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Adventure 36 - The one with the Twinkles

Where: Yanchep National Park
When: April 2017
Adventure Companions: A bunch of other (crazy?) trail runners

Do you need a sweep?

After running a race nearly every two weeks for the previous three months, I decided I would like to give something back to the trail running community. I volunteered to ‘sweep’ the course the first night trail run of the Perth Trail Series 2017 series. The job entailed running the course, slowly, picking up all the course markers and a couple of marshals along with way. We were also there to catch the back of the pack: provide encouragement where needed or just sit back and let the runners push on if they were happy.

I was sweeping with a couple who I had met briefly a few years before so we chatted the night away, picking up reflective tape and fairy lights as we went. Down the far side of the lake the chitchat slowed a little and we could hear the frogs singing in the wetlands. The field was pretty fast and we only caught up to them towards the end. No encouragement needed so we just sat back and carried on picking up the glittering course markers. At the end, most of the runners had dispersed as prize giving had been and gone. We joined in with the other volunteers to help break down the finish area before heading off home, warm with a glow in knowing that we helped others have a bit of fun.

Opening hours: Never Closed

Cost: $12 per car

Adventure 35 - The one with the Giant Spiders

Where: Bold Park
When: April 2017
Adventure Companions: Runner Bob and Velcro Dog.

What that a spiders web?

One of my good Hike it Baby friends has a PhD in spiders, more specifically Golden Orb Weavers. The very first time I met her we were walking with her baby and The Giant Baby, trying to put both to sleep and have a much needed ‘mum chat’. She spotted one of her Orb Weavers right next to the path and told me all about them. Fast forward to tonight and, after my friend, Runner Bob, and I had just run through a massive spider’s web and I remembered my friend telling me about how the Orb Weavers will throw webs across the paths at dusk. Sorry Mrs Spider*. With our head torches on and awareness heightened, we were able to spot six more sets of glowing green eyes and dodge under the massive webs over the path.

Other than the first web encounter, it was a pleasant run which was surprisingly warm. I was happy that Runner Bob knew his way around Bold Park better than I did as I am sure that, having started from a point I am not familiar with, I would most certainly have gotten lost in the dark. I am officially a night running convert.

*How do I know it was Mrs Spider? Mr Orb Weaver is very very small so that he can get in and out quickly before becoming Mrs Spider’s dinner. Oh the life of a spider.

Opening hours: Never Closed

Cost: Free