It’s been sooooooooo long since I’ve done a decent hike and haven’t even used my new pack properly yet so, during my days off work I made a plan to do the Alligator Gorge hike from Mambray Creek. Even though I’ve already done it I just wanted to use my pack, get out there and see how my body and everything else goes.
I’ll try not to write too much because I know I wrote a lot in my trail journal which I’ve included further down.
So, with my usual excitement I get before a hike, I laid out my gear and got my pack sorted.
From left to right, top to bottom:
- Pack (Osprey Aura AG 65)
- 3L water bladder (Osprey hydraulics)
- Tent (Nemo Equipment Dagger 2P)
- Sleeping bag (Kathmandu Polaris XT mummy down regular)
- Bedtime bag (explanation below)
- Sleeping mat with pillow rolled up inside (Sea to Summit Comfort light insulated)
- Food bag (explanation bellow)
- Tyvek for sitting on and extra groundsheet
- Notepad & pen
- Cooking water
- Kitchen (Macpac Uber Light TI stove, Vargo Titanium Ti-Lite 750 mug, fuel canister, sponge and lighter)
- Wet wipes
- Camp shoes
- Rain jacket
- Pack rain cover
- First aid kit (bandaids, wool, bandage, safety pins, ointments and sports tape)
- PLB (personal locator beacon)
- Screen cloth
- 2in1 sunscreen & insect repellant
- Spare batteries and trekking pole tips
- Toiletries (TP, toothbrush & toothpaste)
- Waterproof matches
- Body Glide
- Headtorch (Black Diamond Spot)
- Long-handled spork
- Flick knife
Forgot my trekking poles in that photo but they’re the Black Diamond Distance FLZ 95-110cm.
My Bedtime Bag
- Puffy (Kathmandu XT Ultralight Down Jacket)
- Thick bed socks
- Polypro thermal leggings (Kathmandu Polypro Long Johns)
- Polypro thermal top
- Change of undies
- Spare hiking socks
In there I always keep some emergency noodles. For this trip I had some Back Country Cuisine, pasta, oats and random snacks of nuts, dried fruit, jerky and protein bars. I threw in some double-choc muffins as a treat as well 🙂
I’ve always been prone to blisters and I’ve tried experimenting with different things to prevent them so for this trip I tried the sports tape over my heels where I usually get them.
At the Trailhead!
I park in my usual spot at the trailhead and get my pack out and start going over everything. Just as I’m putting it on and getting comfy the ranger comes over to check on me and what my plans are. I tell him and have a quick chat about my car and then I’m off.
I always like to take photos of the trailhead sign even though I know exactly where I’m going. It’s just a habit I guess. So I’m doing the purple line return over two days.
Off I Go!
Straight up on the trail there are emus cracking me up. I love them so much!
This junction is 3 kms in and usually a good spot for me to sit for a minute and take a breather, have a drink, eat a snack and then get my trekking poles out. From this point on, there are creek crossings (if it’s wet season) but it was mostly dry. Still good to use them for stability on the rocks though and help with the inclines and declines.
Not sure why I look so mischievous. I’m only eating dried apple. Had some emus wander up and away while I sat there.
I finally remembered to grab my gaiters so I could use them.
I had pants on to start with which defeats their purpose, I know, but I still wanted to wear them. They’re tight-ish, but not uncomfortable around the top of the ankle which stops dirt and shit getting into your shoes & socks, which for me, causes blisters as well, so these gaiters are awesome! 😀 I got them from Dirty Girl Gaiters .com.
A lovely morning for a hike 🙂
Not sure why I always take a photo of this sign either but I do. It’s just before Hidden Camp heading North which is where I stopped for my second snack and a sneaky timed selfie.
Again, looking very mischievous lol. Chillin on my Tyvek. I love that stuff! So light, yet strong, and so handy.
Made it to Blue Gum Flat Picnic Area and took the time to check out the trail sign because last time I did this hike, I did a long-arse hike from the bottom of Alligator Gorge and I wanted trailhead-sign reference to it. It was the Ring Route hike (the red line) so I knew I definitely wasn’t doing that one again. It would be an alright trail except last time I had a bad experience when I stupidly ran out of water on it! Anyway, reading the sign I decided to chuck a righty and do the Narrows or Gorge Circuit Hike in green. It was only like midday when I got there so I knew I had plenty of time for exploring.
Gorge Circuit Hike
I’m so glad I chose to do that hike because it was beautiful there! I remember thinking to myself, I could possibly like this part of Alligator Gorge more than Hidden Gorge, which is a big call for me because I LOVE Hidden Gorge.
With water running through, it would be stunning!
There was a little bit of water around, as you can see, but not much. It’d be an adventure & a half if there was a lot (end of Winter) and you’d have to expect to end up soaked from crossing through it.
I came up to a section that I’m assuming is “the Narrows” part which you’d be walking through water I’d say but it was awesome while I was there and it reminded me of the walls in the Labyrinth movie.
It wasn’t far after that section when I came to the bottom of the stairs down into Alligator Gorge so I dropped my pack and sat with a snack for a bit. I could hear people around and at the lookouts above me. It’s a fairly popular spot to visit and there are usually people there.
Looking up at the 100’s of stairs (no lie) I was yet to climb. Last time I did this hike I came down to this spot and then decided to do that Ring Route hike so I’ve never had to climb up them. I just took it slow and kept a steady pace all the way without stopping. Stuffed at the top but trying not to look it in front of the people up there.
Had a quick look at the board and thought while I’m here I may as well do the lookouts again so I checked them both out. They’re not far so I didn’t mind.
After reaching Allys lookout I planned to share some photos to social media but to my surprise had no reception up there so I made my way back down and headed to Kingfisher Flat camp.
Some cute roos on the trail. It was then I noticed some darker clouds moving in and thought I could get the bit of rain that was predicted for the following day.
Kingfisher Flat Camp
Made it to camp and to my growing delight had a camp fully equiped with a couple of roos nibbling the grass, not even worrying about me.
I found a good spot to set up camp for the night and got to it.
Having worked up quite a hunger I got some water on the boil straight away while I set up the rest of my tent with the fly on ready for that possible rain.
After dinner I got changed and then set up my bed. It was getting cool so I got in and had my dessert muffin in my warm sleeping bag, trying not to put crumbs everywhere.
I needed to get away & go camping but mainly hiking & use my new pack properly so I’m doing the Mambray – Alligator Gorge hike and at the moment I’m at Kingfisher Flat camp. I’ve set up on the other side to last time and it’s nice except I’m further from the toilet but at least I have one.
Today was so good. I left about 8 or just after, after talking to the ranger for bit. Then off I went. I first stopped at the little junction with the water tank and had my dried apple while a couple of emus walked by, had a drink & got my trekking poles out. I then stopped at Hidden Camp for another snack – my protein bar and then I stopped at Kingfisher Flat camp to go to the toilet, air my feet & check for hotspots. I put tape over my heels where I usually get blisters & so far I can’t feel any rubbing whatsoever.
I love my trail runners! I pretty much love everything I have now except maybe my sleeping bag (I’m considering buying a quilt) and maybe my trekking poles because I can’t make them any longer for going down hill. It’s not a huge issue. I do still like mine.
It’s sprinkling rain at the moment. I hope it doesn’t get heavy or windy.
Anyway, I continued on from Kingfisher Flat and pulled into near Longhill Camp and ate my sandwich there and changed from my hiking pants into my shorts. Much better! I then got to Blue Gum picnic area and decided to take the Narrows hike to Alligator Gorge and that was coo! I wouldn’t want to do it in full wet season though, you’d get wet for sure. Made it to Alligator Gorge and had my beef jerky and some maple cashews down the bottom. Then walked up the stairs (which I didn’t do last time) that was kinda hard. Did the Gorge & Alli lookouts again and then headed back on a trail to Blue Gum but it got a little confusing so I back-tracked a little and got on the road but I was there anyway. Had a look at the sign – it said 2 hrs to Kingfisher Flat, 4 hrs to Hidden Camp & 7 hrs to Mambray. My plan was to camp here anyway so I did that (well doing).
My arms were getting a little cold so I put on my puffy over my fleece.
I think I’m going to need to pee again before I go to sleep.
I’m so impressed with my feet not having blisters! It’s great. My legs felt stronger even though I got that pain again in my left groin area. That hurt a fair bit. My neck & shoulders were hurting a lot as well which was annoying but my overall fitness feels like it’s improving.
Generally the pack was good. I liked that I could feel the breeze on my back through the mesh. Love the size of the hipbelt pockets. I’m going to cut off all the extra strap length.
I love my tent! I love how spacious it is inside. I don’t think I’d ever go back to a 1p again.
My feet in general were getting sore by the end but maybe that’s because they’re not used to it and doing such a long hike to start with. I think my legs will be sore tomorrow. I just realised I didn’t stretch! I always forget to do that!
OMG I forgot to mention the roos that were here in camp. Two of them just chillin while I set up camp and had t and went to the toilet and got into bed. I’ve since heard them hopping around. So cute! Oh and I had two emus running ahead of me on the same part of the track as last time I did this hike lol. They crack me up when they run!
It’s going to be such a hassle if it’s still raining when I need to go to the toilet because I’m going to have to swap pants, grab my rain coat, and wash and change when I get back.
Starting to lose light so I put my headlamp on. I think this rain is making me wanna pee more. I don’t think I’d walk all the way to the toilet, I’d just squat near here. I might have another choc muffin 😉
I had the muffin and then felt tired so I got comfy but then heard these weird rustling sounds right near the tent. I thought it’s weird for a kangaroo to be so close, turned on my light and it was a mouse thing trying to get in my pack! Sneaky critter.
I didn’t bother setting my alarm. I knew I didn’t have far to hike back so I thought I’d just let myself wake naturally. I woke up later than what I thought I would but it was still early. The sun was just up and trying to come out. I needed to pee so first thing’s first, puffy on, grab toilet paper, unzip, put on camp shoes and carefully slide out from under the wet rain fly.
I knew there was a sign about those annoying critters during the night so I took a photo of it for future reference.
I could hear them crawling all over my pack and they were even getting into it! I shook them off and brought my pack inside the tent. Then I could hear them climbing the bottom part of the side walls of the inner tent and I could see them running all over the top of the mesh. Eventually I just got used to them and their noises and fell asleep.
Got the water boiling for my Back Country Cuisine cooked breakfast. One of my favs. Ate that then brushed my teeth and then started to pack up my bed, got changed into yesterdays clothes and then packed up the tent. Even though it was wet on the outside, the bag for it wasn’t too bad so I still slid it inside my pack where I had it before. I have everything else in dry bags anyway and my fleece was up the top.
It’s hard to see but there’s an emu in that photo.
My most frightening emu encounter happened while hiking back on that section of trail. I could see one in the trees to the right of the trail and I could hear their sound they make when there is another one in their territory so it was like I was scaring this emu into a place it didn’t want to be so it got on the trail a fair way in front of me and then sprinted straight for me! Luckily it veered off the trail about 30 m away from me to my right. Then I could hear their sound again and it did the same thing again except this time it was running at me closer than before so I slowly moved to the left side of the track and watched it, quietly freaking out a little, and then it shot off the track about 7 m away from me to the right again. This time it seemed to head back from where I came so I started hiking again, looking behind me every now and then. Freaky! Emus running crack me up but not so much when they’re running straight at me!
This sign is so silly and unnecessary it makes me laugh. It’s a “no camping” “that way” arrow. Like WTF lol. Normally those signs are to tell us where we CAN camp and considering the terrain there I don’t think anyone would even try lol.
Sometimes, while hiking, you might see some trail markers that weren’t put straight or might not make sense as to where you have to go, and then there are others that are just hilarious!
This one was likely put there with good intentions but it makes me lose my shit. Not that this would happen (I hope!) but I just picture a less experienced hiker walking inside the tree looking for a tunnel or something lol! I guess we make our own amusements on the trail 😉
Like a hiking-silhouette-selfie.
Almost back to the trailhead when I see a couple of little Euros. They’re great. Not as fearful as kangaroos.
I had to disturb that one because it laid down on the trail even after it saw me coming and then as I got closer it got up and moved off.
Before I ran out of trail I thought I’d pose for a quick photo.
Everything went well. I am ecstatic about the non-existence of blisters or even a single hot spot! I’ve got another two days of hiking coming up so we’ll see if I’ve got this issue sorted once and for all! Fingers crossed.
The pack was a joy to use and very comfortable except I’ll have to figure out why my neck and shoulders were hurting sometimes. It felt like I had most of the weight on my hips so I’m not sure about that.
I definitely like hiking in shorts better than pants, however, if I know the trail is especially narrow and brutal then I’d wear pants.
Love, love, love my gaiters! They did exactly what they’re meant to and I don’t think I’ll ever hike without them again.
So I’m still fine-tuning I guess but pretty much got it all sussed – what I like and what I am like on the trail. I just can’t get enough of it!
Stay tuned for more escapades! 😀