Pacific Crest Trail here I come.,

Pct-logoWell, it’s been a very long while between drinks and actually posting a blog update to this site. And what a way to kick this blog back off again by announcing that I’ll be hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) next year.

During my hike across the length of New Zealand 2 years ago, I got bitten by the long distance hiking bug and got bit bad. Hiking, I love it! And the longer and harder the better. The PCT has been on my bucket list for many years but without some long distance hiking experience under my belt I felt it to be out of reach. Now, having completed the Te Araroa trail in New Zealand on top of my extensive shorter hiking resume I am more than confident I have the necessary experience to take on the PCT.

For those unfamiliar with the PCT, it is a 2650 mile dedicated scenic trail in the United States, extending from the Mexican border near Campo, California, to the Canadian border in Washington. It covers diverse and challenging terrain, starting with 700 miles of desert walking, including the Mojave desert, moving the Sierra mountain range, dry northern California, volcanics through Oregon and into the North Cascades in Washington. Check out the PCT Associations page for all the ins and outs of the trail:

Planning has been underway for a while and it is quickly coming together now. My first hurdle was actually securing a long distance hiking permit to walk the trail. A first come first served ballot was launched online on November 1st his year and I found myself glued to the laptop at 3:30am Australian time to match the US time of the launch. It was like trying to buy tickets for a Rolling Stones concert. You have 13 minutes to complete the application but with everyone around the globe attempting to get a permit at the same time the server was really, really slow. I would enter my name and hit enter… tick, tick, tick… the clock ticking down and the timer showing 11 minutes left… The screen would refresh and I could move onto the next question with the same result…tick, tick, tick… and time disappearing, fast! Each page would take 2 to 3 minutes to complete and refresh onto the next. The whole process timed out on my 3 times. But fourth time lucky I secured a start date and a permit. What a relief. Without securing a date I was going no where.

With a permit date confirmed and knowing I would be hiking, it was time to start the US visa process. Luckily I started planning early. To obtain a long term B2 visa for the States required that your passport has at least 6 months validity beyond the date you expect to be in the US. I was out of luck. Expecting to depart the US in October, my passport only extended to February and I was 2 months short. So, off to get a new passport it was. With a new passport in hand I then kicked off the visa application process and I’m pleased to say arrived in the mail this week. Wohoo!! This trip is definitely on. Now to apply for extended leave from work.

pct map

The biggest challenges on the PCT are mainly logistical and mental, not physical, although a high level of endurance will be required to back up 20-25 mile days, day after day.  Starting too early from Campo could mean that winter snows still block passage through the high mountain passes in the Sierra; and leaving too late in year could mean walking through the desert in mid summer or allowing the summer snow melt to turn the many river crossings into uncrossable torrents. Then, it’s a case of staying strong mentally and physically to reach the Canadian border before the winter really kicks in and deep snows make it impossible to reach the northern terminus. Early May is my chosen Goldy Lock’s zone to start this epic journey and I expect it will take around 4.5 to 5 months to complete.

The logistical challenges come from the gear swap outs required for different sections and the need to ship food resupplies ahead for some locations, particularly in the northern states. Hikers in the US typically have some support from home to mail food/gear supplies to key locations on the trail ahead of hikers which are picked up at as the hiker comes through. Being a foreigner, I won’t have that luxury of support from home and it’s a bit tricker trying to work out how to stay supplied or swap gear out. I’ll be looking to switch to warmer gear through the Sierra and add equipment like micro-spikes and an ice axe; switch back to summer gear for Northern California and switch again to wear gear and better rain rain for Oregon and Washington. I’m really thankful to have enlisted the support of a fellow thru hiker who I met on the Te Araroa who may be able to assist.

Very exciting and I can’t wait to get back on trail for an extended period of time.

I thought about creating a separate blog page similar to my Te Araroa page but have decided to use this one. So watch this space for many new updates over the coming months and to follow my journey from Mexico to Canada.

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McKillops Bridge uncoventionally

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Gloucester Tree

With some time to kill today I made the short 3km walk to the Gloucester tree that is just out of town. Wow. It is massive and the view from the top awesome. Not much in the way of protection up the 53m climb, just hold on tight.


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Launch of Project 40 – Te Araroa Trail Page

I’ve just added a new page that will take readers to my Project 40 – Te Araroa blog that will document my 3,000 km tramp through New Zealand later this year. Hope you enjoy.

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Reblog of interview with East Gippsland Outdoors editor Andrew Barnes

I didn’t want to loose this so have re-blogged here.

EGO is going to post occasional interviews with ‘local adventurers’. First into the public EGO eye is Bairnsdale local Mick “Boris” Beckers. Boris is a relaxed, 38 year old bloke: a Fire Management Officer with the Department of Environment and Primary Industries, a Level 2 Operations Officer and an Air Attack Supervisor.

When interviewed, he was asked if he worries much when fire fighting and he replied, “Try not to. Worrying takes energy that could be better directed to achieve a result.” EGO’s ‘no worries’ interview progressed into some deep questions which he replied with deep answers.

EAST GIPPSLAND OUTDOORS (EGO): Where have you lived your life Boris?

BORIS: “I grew up in Melbourne before leaving home and heading to Ballarat and Melbourne for uni studies. After uni I chased work to Gippsland, initially at Erica before moving further East. I’ve lived in East Gippy for 15 years, enjoying time in Bendoc, Orbost, Marlo and now Bairnsdale.”

EGO : So you grew up in suburban Melbourne and have lived your entire life in Victoria. We thought you were an international adventurer?

BORIS: “Well, some of my best adventures have been overseas. I travelled and lived in Europe and have done all sorts of stuff in places like New Zealand, Nepal, India and Canada.”

EGO: What do you mean by ‘doing all sorts of stuff’?
BORIS: “Well, I like to think of myself as a mountain climber. I’ve climbed Mount Aspiring in New Zealand and five peaks in Nepal upto 6200m, equvilent to camp 1 on everest. Rock climbed at Hampi in India, and all over Victoria and New South Wales. I have to say, my best ‘cultural adventure’ was pilgrimage  through India: colourful sights, chaos and a plethora of smells smacking you in the face! That place puts our comfortable Aussie world into perspective and you learn very quickly what is really important in life.”

“I’ve travelled all over Australia, from central deserts to tropical rainforests. And I love the challenge of remote bushwalks in places like Tassie where I’ve walked the South West Cape, Western and Eastern Arthurs and climbed Federation Peak.”

EGO: What created your passion for the outdoors?

BORIS: “Funny, but my childhood house was next door to a scout hall. From about six years I climbed the fence to check out all the cool things they were making with knots and poles. I joined as soon as I could and was introduced to camping and bushwalking. We moved to Emerald where our house backed onto a bush reserve and my brother and I were always outside, building tree houses, abseiling the local quarry on polypro ropes and homemade krabs, building campfires and cooking hot chocolate. From around 15 years old I would load up a pack, jump on my bike and take off for the weekend. Later I joined Army Cadets where I was introduced to rock-climbing and abseiling and love it. “

EGO: You’ve been an adventurer for quite a while. What do you miss about the ‘old days’?
BORIS: “The simplicity. The times when you could just pack a kit and go. The free reign that kids used to have and the carefree attitude to risk management. Society has become so ‘over the top’ with risk management – it sickens me – I guess that’s part of my current passion for remote out of the way places; away from all the modern crap!”

EGO: Does that mean you don’t like the modern era?

BORIS: “No, no. The modern era brings in great innovations. The internet provides access to information for researching the next trip and sourcing satellite photos and real time weather information. I like reading peoples blogs and trip notes. And digital photography, with the ability to see what you captured, learn instantly and adjust what you need to.”

EGO: Has embracing modern technology changed your attitude to outdoor adventuring?

BORIS: “Yes. For good and bad. Especially for good, the adoption of ultralight bushwalking gear and techniques. The advancements in materials have shed kilos off the gear I carry out bush”

EGO: Are you still passionate about the same outdoor sports as when you were a teenager?

BORIS: “Yes I am. I love my bushwalking, rock climbing, mountain biking and backcountry snowboarding, but my top passion is for mountaineering.”

EGO: You would have experienced some scary moments while mountain climbing?

BORIS: “A couple of moments when climbing Mt Aspiring in New Zealand. The first was negotiating a serac on a section of the mountain called the Ramp. The terrain was very steep and icy, around 70-80 degrees. The serac had come away from the rock leaving a large gap behind it and threatening to collapse into a crevasse. No other way around other than to climb over it and the thought of it ripping away and sending us into the crevasse had to be blocked out.”

“The second moment, descending late in the season meant there was a massive crevasse high up on the French Quarter Deck. Too wide to negotiate and too deep to allow a descent, meant we were forced to the very edge of the glacier. The terminal face where the ice collapses and falls 1000m to the valley below. Dangerous. Scary. Negotiating narrow ice bridges with black chasms below. Wow!”

EGO: After being in such dangerous situations where death is possible, does something called God enter your mind?

BORIS: “No it doesn’t. Especially when climbing I’m just completely focused on the present, the here and now; what is in front on me and what I need to do next. Life is just really simple when climbing. I am in awe of the universe though and marvel at just how massive everything is, but I don’t think we humans are that special enough to require gods to explain our creation or situation. I would have to say though that I’m agnostic, in that if you show me enough evidence to counter what I already have I could be convinced. Religion gave humans some great ethics to live by and we need to live by them but I think man invented God.”

EGO: So, to ask you a cliché, what is the meaning of life?

BORIS: “The meaning of human life is in the doing. Life is seeing, dreaming, deciding and doing. Choose an adventure, however small, then begin it. Grasp and appreciate the authentic bits as you go. Finish it somewhere along the way.”

EGO: Do you have adventure heroes?

BORIS: “Yep. There are many people who inspire me, who have exceptional personal qualities that I admire. Climbers like Chris Sharma, Reinhold Messner and Greg Mortimer. And in triathlon those amazing super humans that push beyond what was previously thought possible, like Chrissie Wellington and Craig Alexander. And John Muir, the American photographer who campaigned hard to save wilderness areas. There are just so many people I consider heroes – too many to mention here but because I’m a drummer I have to mention my drum heroes; Danny Carey and Thomas Lang!”

EGO: Why do you live in East Gippsland?

BORIS: “It has everything I need. Forests, oceans, estuaries, bike tracks, the odd bit of rock, the Alps, gorges and the Snowy River. And most importantly, great, like-minded people. And it gives me freedom. I have been very lucky with the circumstances that I find myself in. I can do anything in my life. It is mine and I am free to decide what to do. And, most important, it gives me space to play my drums fast and furious, jamming with other people!”

EGO: What’s the best thing that has happened in your life that does not involve outdoor adventuring?

BORIS: “Absolutely meeting Jacinta, my partner and best friend for over 15 years.”

EGO: And, the most important question, what’s your favourite food?

BORIS: “Pizza. Any type, any time. What about now…. would you like some? Well then, let’s go have one!”




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Western Arthurs Range, Tasmania

Check out my latest trip report for the Western Arthurs in Tasmania.

I’ve also added a new section to the blog with Gear Lists.

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Full traverse of Western Arthurs not to be

Unfortunately my trip to the Western Arthurs was cut short. I was hoping to traverse the whole range from Moraine A to the Lucifer Ridge and back along the Mackays track but after 5 days of constant fog, misty rain and the occasional heavier rainfall, I cut my losses and descended off Moraine K. Over the 5 days I really only caught 3 or 4 views of the surrounding mountains, with each only lasting around 10 mins. This was disappointing as half the reason to traverse the range is to take in the incredible views and appreciate the sheer beauty of the place. Not to worry, it just means I have to come back again. This is arguably the most difficult walk I’ve undertaken, increasingly so by going solo and in the wet conditions. There are some serious features to negotiate and it’s not a trip for the faint of heart. The crew that pioneered a route through here in the 60’s were out of their minds and deserve medals if they haven’t already got them – Order of Australian Champions I’m thinking. I’ll write a trip report up with photos and video when I get back to Vic. There is some great gopro footage. Big shout out to my trail buddies (hope I get this right) Aleisha, Sue, Kate & Steve – I know you’ll be reading this. Go team Launceston!

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