Presentation - Hiking Mt Kilimanjaro for a Cause


Mt Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, Africa is special to me as I was lucky to share the climb to the summit with my son Ben for my 60th birthday.

It was fantastic hearing the enthusiasm of Nathan from when he presented at  on hiking

Mt Kilimanjaro for a cause, outlining the great work that School of St Jude do for educating disadvantaged children and details of Safari tours.

Nathan (Nate) started in late 2015 as he wanted to help travellers give back while they explore in disadvantaged communities.

 Nate was very informative and below are some of the questions that were answered throughout the presentation

  • How high is Mt Kilimanjaro (5895m above sea level)
  • How many people a year climb Kilimanjaro (over 30,000)
  • What are the oxygen levels at the summit (appx half the oxygen we currently have)
  •  Is it technically hard (no, the Baranco wall has some rock scrambling and the trail to Summit is loose scree)
  •  Is it cold (could get 4 seasons in 1 day - mornings and evenings can be cold and could get to -25 degrees at the summit)
  • What is the scenery – (hike through 5 different types of  vegetation – farmland, rainforest, heather & moorland, alpine desert, arctic),
  • What is altitude sickness:
  • AMS - Acute Mountain Sickness – mild altitude sickness - headache, nausea, and fatigue
  • HAPE – High Altitude Pulmonary Edema - excess fluid on the lungs, and causes breathlessness
  • HACE – High Altitude Cerebral Edema - fluid on the brain. It causes confusion, clumsiness, and stumbling
  • How many different routes are there up Mt Kilimanjaro (7 main ones – Marangu, Machame , Lemosho , Shira, Northern Circuit, Rongai, Umbwe)
  • How long does it take to climb to the summit, )(depending on route you choose – between 5 to 9 days)
  • What clothing should I wear (layer up with merino and fleece and good waterproof jacket and trousers, balaclava, well worn in boots),
  • What are the toilets like (basic - porter will carry toilet)

If you would like to visit Tanzania in Africa and climb this mountain at the same time for a cause to help disadvantaged children contact Nate who will be keen to chat and answer all your questions

Have you climbed Mt Kilimanjaro? - would love to hear about your experience

Would you eat a cane toad to survive in the bush?

Survival in the bush comes in many forms and a morning on the trails of Ewen Maddock Dam with Rick Petersen from 'Men of Change' introduced us to many interesting bush survival skills including some of the following.

  • What weeds are edible
  • What plants can be used for medicinal use
  • How to use  a survival straw
  • How to apply a snake bandage
  • How to judge distances when hiking
  • How to use the shadow stick method
  • How to work out directions
  • How to start a fire without matches
Rick Petersen talking about edible plants

Rick Petersen talking about edible plants

Bush tucker - edible plants

Bush tucker - edible plants

We all had a fright and jumped into action when we thought Rick had been bitten by a snake. People grabbing for their phones to make emergency calls, my getting Rick to lay down as he appeared disorientated and telling him to stay with me and asking people for a snake bandage. Fortunately it was only a scenario to see how we would react.

The best of the day was to come where Rick cooked up a bush tucker meal with plants from the bush with a special treat.

Rick played a 'Bush tucker Challenge' where we had to guess the height of Mt Kosciuszko and unfortunately I won!

 He told me I was to have a treat that not many have the opportunity to enjoy. As I saw this small aluminium foil parcel being presented to me I knew what it would be - CANE TOAD!! Rick had presented Survival Skills in the Bush at my group 'Your Boots are made for Hiking and had talked about how you could eat CANE TOAD!

As I opened up the package and saw those hind legs splayed out with it's long sharp toenails I suddenly felt like I wanted to vomit. I thought I have to save face in front of the 18 other people I was sharing this day with on the trails. I could feel their eyes staring at me waiting to see my reaction when I take my first bite of this ..........!! I turned to Rick and said 'You go First' - I then quickly picked it up by it's legs and took a BITE! - I am sure I had a very strange look on my face. Hmm... a bit tough I thought - fortunately Rick had cooked it in a lot of Moroccan spices which overtook the taste. One little bite was enough for me so I handed it around to the rest of the group. Not everybody was game but some enjoyed this most unusual treat. Yes cane toads are poisonous but as someone said to me - just trust Rick so I did trust that he had removed the body properly so all the poison was gone - guess it must have been as I am still here! Can tick that one off the list along with having eaten guinea pig and frogs legs.

What unusual delicacies  have you eaten?

The Cane Toad!

The Cane Toad!

Do I look like I am enjoying this!

Do I look like I am enjoying this!



A test of my fitness - 24 km hike Summer Falls

A great 24km hike on Sunday tested out my fitness. No wet feet with the 3 very low creek crossings to Booloumba Creek day use area then a steep climb to Summer Falls and return.

Perfect weather for hiking as we crossed the 1st creek the sun filtered through the trees showing us the gravel road to hike towards the next creek crossing, farm gates made from old rusted tools and birds singing in the trees and the chatter of hiking mates was a good start to the day.

We started the switchback climb towards Summer Falls passing the turn off to Mt Allan and Artist Cascade. Lots of different flora lined the track. As the hill seemed to go on forever it was good to see the many Great Walk signs telling us 6.2kms, Easy track, 3 kms to Summers Falls.
We crossed over a couple of main roads before the last few kilometres walk down to Summer Falls and the camping ground.

I have camped at Summer Falls before and it is a lovely spot with a large open area also small private areas with platforms.
A very enjoyable lunch break overlooking the falls with the water falling over the phyllite rocks and reflections in the rockpools.

As we hiked back to the Booloumba Creek day use area a small bandit type snake slithered across the track and we were serenaded by the bellbirds and greeted by cows in the paddock.

My ever evolving collection of backpacks

When I started hiking many years ago in Tassie I had no idea what was the best backpack to buy and nor did I ask for any expert advice in the shops. i just tried  a couple on and if they were comfortable I bought the one I most liked.

1st backpack

My first backpack was a dark green color and fairly large with a drawstring to close the main body of the pack. I felt very proud as I placed this backpack on as I now felt like a real hiker. It only had a thin hip belt and no straps across the front, but it had lots of big pockets to store things in. This backpack was my pride and joy for many years. 

I also bought a smaller backpack for shorter day hikes - this was made of a material similar to canvas.the outside pockets were different as they were made of a mesh and instead of a drawstring it had a zip for the main body

I didn't have any waterproof cover so always had to have an emergency poncho to put over me and my bag

In those days I did't use hiking poles as the knees were a bit younger and packs didn't have anywhere to store them when not in use.

Once I moved to Queensland to start hiking much more seriously with a  hiking group i could see I needed to look the part so off to Mountain Design to see what is available. They explained to me that the Deuter Futura was specially made for women as the shoulder straps are more narrow and shaped for women. Also the hip belt is a good fit for womens hips. 

After being fitted with a 30 litre backpack I certainly could feel the difference with so many straps that could be adjusted if needed, loops for my hiking poles, lidded top that can be adjusted to the main compartment, chest strap, strong hip belt, good side pockets with zips, inbuilt rain cover, mesh back ventilation. The only thing I find is the access to water bottles in  he side pockets is difficult so I overcame that by buying a 3 litre widepac Source hydration system which I love and there is a special place to store this in the backpack. Knowing how to fit and adjust your backpack certainly makes for a more comfortable trek.

This backpack has seen a lot of the world hiking overseas in Africa, South America, Italy, Switzerland, France, Jordan and many more places.

I found that I needed a smaller one for day hikes so bought another Deuter 22 litre. it is comfortable but lacks some of the features of the larger ones eg it has a much thinner hip strap and I find it moves a bit and the main compartment is zipped but it also has many straps for adjustments and built in rain cover.

A quick hike up some of the local mountains needed a small backpack to carry water and a snack so the Mountain Design Pump 3L fitted the bill an it comes with a free Source 3L Filtration system

The 3 Capes hike in Tassie was coming up and I realised that once again I would need to upgrade as I needed to carry my food, sleeping gear, clothing for a 3 night  / 4 day hike. I bought another Deuter - this time 34 litre and could fit all I needed in it. All my previous backpacks were a green colour and this time I splashed out and bought a red one. This pack had nearly all the features of my 30 litre and with the lidded top it was very useful to be able to put my gortex jacket under it and pull the straps down tight.

 I have recently done some overnight / multi day hiking carrying all my gear and now find I will need to upgrade my backpack to between a 45-50 litre backpack. Will check out the Deuter and Osprey packs.

Any recommendations for a good pack would be appreciated.


Getting fit again

After a week off work with Woman Flu (bad head cold and coughing) it was time to get up early and get this body moving again.

The thought of a beautiful sunrise was my incentive and was I pleased I made the effort.

Feeling very stiff in the right hip as being back at work sitting all day at the computer didn't help. A walk on the beach taking time to enjoy the sunrise and take some photos has made me motivated again.

So many people out exercising with personal trainers, bike riding, pushing babies in prams, walking, running and most people smile and say good morning.

Approaching the steps I normally train on - will I or won't I - no not this morning.   I know that is the wrong attitude!

On the way back Pacific Terrace came into sight - press the button on those lights and cross over and walk up the hill - will be a good stretch for the legs. Yes,  did it!

Will I or won't I go to the gym - quickly get changed into your gear before you change your mind. Arriving at the gym I was pleased  to be back. I had planned to do some stretching and balance exercises but the area was being used for a class so jumped onto the treadmill and then the elliptical. Good workout to get the legs moving and heart rate up.

Sunrise will be calling again in the morning and this time so will those steps!!