Trip Map

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Photos of Frenchmans Cap trek

Base Camp Tasmania (I had the tent).

So much energy at the start of the trip!

Buttongrass and shrubs on the Loddon Plains

My first view of the Cap... SO FAR AWAY!!!

About 12:00 the first day... hot already

The first hut, which I stayed in on night 3 - as it poured buckets of rain!

Lake by the hut:

Many steps were cut out of logs like this!

In the rainforest from the first lake to Barron Pass

View as I topped out over Barron Pass - incredible!

After Barron pass, my next view of the cap

View back to barron pass from the summit:

Another view from the top

View looking over the cliff- BASE jumpers were heading up when I got back to the road - that would have been a sight! Not sure where they land, though... no bare ground anywhere!

At the top, I had this moon rising on one side,

and this sun setting on the other!

The top section of the trail DOES go straight up this!

The Cap from the lake

Back to Barron Pass, and VERY HOT by now...

Halfway out on the last day, the clouds lifted a little

And SUCCESS! back to the road... that was a great feeling!!!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Frenchmans Cap

Frenchmans Cap was an amazing experience! It is one of the best treks in Tazmania and also one of the most difficult ones. The trek just topped 1000 visitors a year for the first time last year, compared to the famous Overland trek here which allows 60 people per day on it. There were about 6-10 people at each of the campsites while I was up there, so I saw maybe 20 people total in the huts, and rarely while hiking. The two parts of the trek that make it difficult are the Lodden Plains and Barrons Pass (and the infamous local weather, of course!) more about those later. The Cap itself is white quartzite which is in stark contrast to the black rock below. The cap looks snowcovered from the ocean and was a landmark for early sailors. It is shaped somewhat like traditional British golf cap, but is supposedly named for a old French cooks hat.

My backpack isnt really made for trekking, so I had to strap things all over the outside, but it worked well enough :) I packed food for 5 days, rented a tent and few other camping items that I didn't have and was dropped off at the trailhead by Tazmanian Wilderness Adventures... with a hearty 'good luck'!

I was actually quite lucky to get very fabulous weather, and the first 3 days were clear, calm and hot. The weather is very tricky in Tazmania, and can change within an hour. It is really a maritime environment on the west half of the island, and any storms moving across the island build up quickly and dump all their rain - and the Frenchmans Cap track is usually right in the middle of it! The trail was about 18 miles in, so I made the first campsite at about 10 miles the first day. There is quite a nice hut built there, but it was good weather so I camped out. Took a very refreshing swim in the high alpine lake and recovered from an exhausting 6 hr walk in. I actually had it fairly easy because usually about half of the first days trek is in very muddy conditions (knee high is common and waist deep happens!) Fortunately it has been dry, so I didnt get over 8" of mud, which my gaiters took care of. The 'Lodden Plains' (affectionately known as the Sodden Loddens) that the trail crosses are very fragile button grass so they erode very easily, after only 100 walkers or so, and mud tracks are created very quickly. To protect the area wooden paths have been laid across many of the worst areas, but still plenty of mud to get through! There is an immense amount of track work done and I cant imagine how difficult the trail must have been 20 years ago, especially in wet weather! These Tazmanian trails average between $40-100 PER METER to build, so you can imagine how difficult the environment is considering that most of the trail isn't built up.

Day 2 wasn't as bad as I was mostly out of the mud and wet areas. The trail went along the lake, climbed through a beautiful cool rain forest, before breaking through Barron Pass, which is the first real view of the Cap and quite a spectacular point of the trail. It was a lot of vertical up the pass, but it was cool and protected so it wasn't nearly as bad as I expected. From there it was 2 hours to traverse along a rocky ridge and high alpine vegetation to the hut. It was a lot of climbing and took about 4.5 hours to reach the upper lake and hut. The upper camp area is only at about 1000 meters elevation, but the trails are constantly up and down - there are very few flat stretches, so it probably climbs double the total elevation gained. I was very happy to see that there was actually a small beach on this lake and after another very much needed dip I made good use of it! It was probably in the 80's and damn hot on the unprotected upper section of the track so it felt SO good to cool off! The upper lake sits right under the dome and is a wonderful place to relax and take in the surrounding views.

It is another 400 meters or so to the summit, with the first half being steep steps and winding trail and the second just scrambling up the rock cap. I was able to make the summit in 40 minutes with a light pack (felt really good about passing everybody else that was going up- I think my legs are probably in the best walking shape of my life after toting this pack around for 10 weeks!) and spent about 3 hours just enjoying the scenery. The sun started setting in the West and the full moon came up in the East and it was absolutely beautiful! I stayed until almost dark and then started down. It was quite easy in the dark because the moon lit up the white rock brilliantly and made for an easy decent to the bottom. I camped alongside the lake and spent the next morning lounging around, just taking it all in. Finally left early afternoon in time to get back to the first hut near dark, and spent the night inside the hut, as the weather report called for heavy storms. Fortunately I listened to them because a howling wind came up at about 10:00 and torrential rain started at 2 am!

I had to be on the trail no later than 7 to meet my ride at noon, so I was trying to sleep thinking about how much fun the walk out was going to be! Again, I got lucky, because the rain stopped about 6:30 as I was packing up. I put on all the rain gear I had, wrapped everything else in trash bags and took off. Even without rain, after 2 minutes walking down the trail it might as well have been pouring, as I was the first one down the trail through the thick vegetation. It was probably upper 40's F so not too bad and it was comfortable walking in the cool temps. There was water everywhere and you pretty much just wade in and plan on getting water over the tops of your boots... there isn't any other way! Most spots weren't too bad, but across the Loddens (they were sodden this time!) I went up past my knees a few times in mud and nearly lost my boots, too! The water runs down the tracks like a river so I pretty much walked in water all day, so I can see how miserable that would be if it were cold! Arrived safe and sound back at the road just before noon, as the sun came out so I had a little time to remove all my wet outer gear before my ride arrived, and was reflect on how lucky I had been for the good weather, great scenery, and no close snake encounters! Many people trek all the way in there and either cant summit or summit and cant see anything because it is socked in, so I hit it just right.

All in all, quite an experience and I have a ton of pictures and video that I want to upload but for some reason this website wont accept them at the moment. I have posted a few of them on facebook - locate my profile by my email- if you would like. Hopefully the next time I sign in I will be able to download some. Now, its off to Cairns to try scuba diving and hopefully dive on the Great Barrior Reef!

Friday, February 15, 2008


Today I got to the city of Hobart, Tazmania and this island is beautiful! Seems very dry but supposedly it gets some rain because thunderstorms are predicted off and on for the next weeks. I have scheduled a bushwalking trip for 4 days, 3 nights to Frenchmans Cap which is supposed to be impressive so that should be quite an experience. There are 2 sleeping huts if we get to the right spots, and will camp the rest of the time... I am way excited about it!
Next week, I am flying to Cairns in Queenland, Australia and doing a 5 day scuba diving course and get to dive the Great Barrior Reef! So much cool stuff coming up, so I will update when I'm back from the hiking trip!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

SA, Singapore and Sydney

I had an absolutely fabulous time in Capetown; it is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. I met some really cool people and pretty much just relaxed all week. I did manage to take 2 bus tours around the area, climb Table Mountain, and spend a lot of time analyzing the beaches and the effects of global warming. I didn't make it to Kruger park, so no lions :( ... but had to leave something for next time! The 2010 World Cup is in Johannesburg, and a bunch of matches are being played in Capetown, so they are building a sweet new stadium and redoing parts of the city. The backdrop to the city is Table Mountain, which rises just behind it and is a big plateau on top. One of my tours went around the back of the mountain, and it is very lush, cool, beautiful trees, birds and wildlife, and lots of vineyards. There are still remants of pre-apartheid visible in the shanty towns that are still very much in use, across the road from mansions... pretty crazy! Unfortunately, I left my camera at home that day, and Leandro (who I went with) had his stolen, so no photos of the bird park or the trip.
We hiked Table Mountain on my last day, and it rained the whole way up, which was a good thing because it stayed cool. The day before was ike 30C so we lucked out on the temperature, but the view was crappy, so that was too bad. My camera batteries died that day, so I only got like 3 photos to show for it, but it was a really nice hike.
I flew to Johannesburg and then 11 hrs to Singapore the next day. It is the cleanest city I have ever seen! The subway cars from the airport were Spotless, the streets are clean, everybody is very orderly - hardly anyone was talking on the subway, and everybody stood to one side of the escalators... kinda like robots! It was really easy to get around, super safe, and suprisingly cheap. I had heard it was quite expensive, but it is much cheaper than Sydney, and most places in Europe. I only had 10 hours there, so I took a city tour bus, and saw the usual sights- wuite a few really cool builings, an amazing flower garden, a brand new Chinese temple, the good luck fountain etc, etc. People were very nice and most spoke good English, so it was quite a nice day!
Flew overnight to Sydney (7 hrs) and was beat. I had spent the previous 2 nights on airplanes and busy both days, so after I got there, I walked around for a few hours (in the rain) and then crashed! Today I went to see the Opera House (AMAZING!), and Sydney Bridge and walked all over the downtown area. There are tons of parks, memorials, churches, very friendly people and it was sunny and warm. It was quick trip, but tomorrow I head to Tazmania, where I want to do some hiking and spend some time at the beach. let you know how it goes!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

A few more pics...

Another random mix of pictures!

The Hagia Sophia in Istanbul:

The Blue Mosque in Istanbul:

The Almafi Coast in Southern Italy:

With the crew in Capetown: Lindsay, Leandro, and Sylvia:

This one is obvious! Cairo...

Dubai! The tallest building in the world... 800 meters or so right now, and growing!

The worlds only 7 star hotel, Dubai:

Tiger Woods practicing before winning the Dubai Classic on Sunday:

More Dubai:

Friday, February 8, 2008

South Africa update!

Been all over, so here is a quick rundown. I will embellish more later.
Spent 4 days in Istanbul, Turkey, and it was the most surprising city I have been to so far. Super easy to travel in, friendly people, modern, clean etc etc. I would love to go back and spend time touring around the country because there are some really unique and beautiful parts of Turkey that would take at least a month to explore.
From there, I flew through the Kingdom of Bahrain to Dubai. That city is AMAZING!!! It was everything I hoped it would be - the buildings and infrastructure there are just spectacular! There are something like 5000 multi story buildings under construction right now and I heard 2/3 of the worlds tower cranes. That seems high, but I counted up to 7 tower cranes on 1 building, plus the surface cranes, rooftop mounted concrete pumps, etc, and you get the idea. I have a ton of really cool pictures, just need to post them! Alongside all the construction there are still the traditional souk markets, the ancient wooden dhow boats and the same culture that has existed in the middle east for ever. It is quite a contrast, but it fits well together. Probably the most modern city in the world; the whole city is completely planned out, they are building massive amounts of infrastructure and their goal is 10x the current construction for the city - so another 50000 buildings over the next decades. Also caught the final day of the Dubai golf classic, so I got to see Tiger, Sergio and Ernie Els play which was way cool! I had to leave before the end so I missed the close finish, but it was really neat to see those guys play!
My flight to Johannesburg had a stopover in Cairo, Egypt, so I added 1 day there and did a quick tour of the city. It was very overwhelming especially for just one day. It is quite dirty, crazy busy and a lot people working with the same methods they have for generations - mules, carts, cows, hand labor etc. etc. The pyramids, sphinx and tombs were very impressive - they are just so massive and have been there for so long it is just blew my mind. I think i would have had a better time there if I had stayed longer and gotten used to the flow of the city, but being so quick I didn't adjust very well, so it was a bit nerve racking for me.
Flew to Johannesburg, then to Capetown, South Africa, where I am now. This is another of the most beautiful cities in the world! Great beaches, lots of sun, lots of fun travelers, and a very laid back culture. This is somewhere I could totally get used to traveling to! If it only wasnt so far from Idaho...
Leave Monday for Australia (through Singapore!) so I will have been here a week. It feels like vacation here instead of traveling, so I am really enjoying relaxing on the beach. In fact I am late to meet my friends at the beach, so gotta run! priorities!