I’ve been waiting for a time when I can hike with my kids and that time finally arrived last weekend when my six (almost seven) year old daughter joined me and some friends, and their ten year old daughters for a moderate grade hike to Sealers Cove, Wilson’s Promontory National Park.
It’s a 9.5km journey over varied terrain which includes crossing Sealer’s Creek (depth dependent on tide). It took us about 3.5 hours with a couple of short breaks for the kids to refuel. We left early on Saturday so we would have plenty of time to enjoy beautiful clear views of the mountains and Sealer’s Cove in warm weather, as well as set up for overnight camping.
But the weather report for Wilson’s Promontory continued to change in the days before our hike so we were unsure about how much rain to expect on Sunday and when it would arrive. When we woke on Sunday and wandered out to the beach, it was clear that rain was coming and we had just enough time to pack up our camp site before it all got wet.
We hiked out of Sealer’s Cove in some strong wind and 16ml of rain. It was much too wet to risk taking out my phone (from what I hoped was a waterproof location in my pack) to take photos. Though I wish I had some photos to preserve the memories for Ainsley.
At some points during the walk it was eerily dark and noisy in the bush and small rivers of water ran down the track and over our shoes as we plodded up the hill. Ainsley said she had feared a tree would fall on us after she looked up and saw the wild tree tops.
We had a lovely chat at bed time last night about how amazing and powerful nature is and we recalled the events of the weekend, like how I almost got bitten by a snake walking barefoot back from the composting toilet (I looked down to see I had stopped on a track three inches from a Red-Bellied Black Snake in strike position!), how her and the other girls learnt to climb a big rock by themselves, making sand sculptures, playing in the waves and seeing fish, counting 30 skinks whilst walking, possums trying to break into bags to find food, walking sections independently (we gave the kids time to get far enough ahead of us so they were on their own), and more. Ainsley loved our little adventure and I can tell she feels very accomplished.
I still don’t think there is a better way to ensure the wellbeing of our children and the wellbeing of our planet than by immersing our children in nature at every opportunity. I wrote more about why I think this in No Nature Deficit Disorder Here.
So how did we complete our two day hike ‘zero waste’?
Hiking is different to regular camping as every bit of weight and volume counts because you will carry it on your back. You can’t bring many things ‘just in case’ but you do have to be prepared for a range of situations.
This is a list of equipment used by Ainsley and I over the two days. As we don’t do a lot of hiking it doesn’t make sense to own everything ourselves so we borrowed some items from our friends who are much more experienced. If hiking becomes something we do more (which I’m hopeful of), we will make some decisions about what equipment we should get to fill the gaps.
- A backpack for each of us
- Walking poles (borrowed) and a brace to support my dodgy knee
- One head torch
- My phone for photos, torch, time and emergency calls
- Basic first aid supplies
- Small tube of sunscreen (borrowed)
- One roll of toilet paper
- Two toothbrushes and toothpaste tube
- Slither of soap
- One travel towel
- Two person tent (borrowed and carried by my friend)
- Two compact sleeping bags
- Two compact mattresses (borrowed)
- Two cups
- Two plates
- Two forks
- Two spoons
- One sharp knife
- One small chopping board
- Food bag to keep the food together
- One Trangia cooker and fuel (borrowed and carried by my friend)
- Hands free hydration bladder 2L full of water
- 750ml bottle full of water
- Aquatabs water purification tablets (borrowed)
- Swimmers for Ainsley
- Thin raincoat each
- Two hats
- We walked in the same clothes each day except for socks and knickers
- We had a second set of camp clothing for evening and sleep wear which consisted of a t-shirt, long sleeved top, warm vest, leggings, and knickers
- Unused clothing was used as a pillow – this turned out to be a lot of clothing as it was a very hot night.
Thankfully my warm clothing stayed dry in my backpack so I could get changed at the car after walking in the rain but Ainsley wasn’t so lucky with her backpack, having no dry clothes. I did have a towel and a blanket in the boot of my car though, and my friend had spare kids clothes she could borrow. Next time I will remember to leave a change of clothes in the car! I asked Ainsley what else she thought we could improve on and she said “nothing”, but I wish I could have organised the food a little bit better, not that I was unhappy with what we had.
Like our camping trip the weekend before, I found myself pushed for time when it came to food preparation because I have little package-free food options other than to make it myself. In the end I don’t think the meal plan was too bad for something decided on the night before, using what I already had at home.
- Nearly 3L of rain water from home for the walk in
- Creek water boiled for cooking and hot drinks (water boiled for one minute kills all pathogens)
- Milo decanted into a small plastic tub for a hot drink in the evening
- Nearly 3L of creek water treated with purification tablets for the walk out
- I made my own trail mix from supplies in the pantry and put it in a cloth bag
- I made bliss balls from dates I had in the fridge and some supplies in the pantry, I put these in a small plastic tub
- 2 x Nashi fruit and 2x nectarines. Pips and cores came home in the empty lunch container for composting.
- Tinned tuna.
- Sides of home-grown cherry tomatoes, celery with peanut butter, laughing cow cheese wedges wrapped in foil which I took home and added to my foil ball for recycling. A cucumber and carrot did not get eaten so they went back in the fridge at home. The empty tuna tins also fit into the empty lunch container to come home for recycling.
- On the second day we had a hot lunch at Tidal River after we changed into dry clothes.
- I decanted dry pasta into a cloth bag but as we were packing my friend said she already had a bag with more than enough pasta for us, so I left mine behind.
- I mixed the pasta with a slither of butter which I had wrapped in a torn-off piece of butter wrapper, and salt and pepper which I grinded into a small glass jar.
Ainsley and I were happy to eat this dinner, we enjoy it, but in the end we were encouraged to mix in some of the extra peas and salmon (long life) brought along by our friends. The young girls also shared their 2 minute noodles with Ainsley for a snack and my friends snuck out a block of chocolate and a small bottle of port after dark, which I did not resist!
All in all, it was a wonderful catch up with best friends I met at university twenty years ago, made more special by having all our daughters with us for the first time.