Jason’s been preparing to hike across Tasmania starting this Friday May 21st, but he’s learnt a few things he didn’t expect to along the way.
It was June 2020 and I’d recently completed the Great North Walk – which also happened to be my first solo multi-day hike. Needless to say, I loved it and I wanted more! I began planning the next one (Taree to Newcastle) and after completing that trek late 2020, I decided it was time for something bigger.
I wanted something outside NSW and ideally, something very different. I began looking at the Tasmanian Trail but quickly noticed it didn’t touch either the Overland or Three Capes, which was really disappointing as I’d attempted to lock these two treks in during 2020 – but COVID sunk that plan.
Still, I had set my mind on Tasmania and began crafting my own route that would see me visit these two incredible locations – but in a timeframe that would work given my full-time job.
I also decided that I wanted the challenge to serve a purpose beyond my own adventure. The size and difficulty of this endeavour presented an opportunity to ask the community for support – not for myself, but for charities and organisations that have been supporting Australians through COVID and the 2019 / 2020 bushfires.
1. Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way!
The first challenge I noticed was the distance I’d need to walk each day because of the timeframe. If you do the math, it’s 30km every day – but of course it’s not that straightforward. For example, some days on the Overland Track will require that I walk less to ensure I have a hut to sleep in if the weather is bad – or later in the walk I may need to go further to reach the next town.
I’ve learnt from my previous treks that carrying a 25+ kilo bag on your back severely limits how far you can walk – it slows down your stride just like walking in sand or scurrying over rocks. With that in mind, I don’t want to be walking more than 25km or so with a fully loaded pack.
20 days was my maximum allowance, and I couldn’t extend beyond that. However, I absolutely wanted to reach the 600km mark. It quickly became obvious that I needed to approach things a little differently if I were to succeed. I needed some kind of hybrid approach that made sure I was fully equipped for some days, but light and speedy for others…
2. Hybrid Trekking is a Thing
Over the entirety of the walk, I’ll be trekking in three different formats: Heavy Hike, Mid-Size Walk and Light Run. Without overloading with detail, each setup represents a different goal – be it self-sustainability and camping, long-distance days (50km+) or a middle ground between those two. I’ll be explaining this more throughout the hike itself.
To make this approach possible, I popped over to Tasmania for a weekend and deposited bags and gear in key locations along the trail to ensure I can switch out my packs where necessary.
3. You Can’t Always do it All
Tasmania is absolutely beautiful – I have 20 days. Anyone who has explored the wilds of Tasmania, even just a little, knows that 20 days is miniscule. The route I’ve constructed essentially has four primary objectives.
- Trek the Overland Track
- Trek the Three Capes Track
- Traverse Tasmania
- Complete the route in 20 days
Once those four objectives were applied, I had a limited ability to adjust the route to include other (absolutely worthy) locations into the walk. One major disappointment is the omission of the Penguin to Crater Track – an almost perfect fit for this endeavour if it weren’t for the extra 70km it would add to the route.
I like to do it all, I think most of us do. But sometimes you need to stick to a finite number of objectives and keep focused.
4. Fitness is More Than Just Physical
Let’s be honest – I’m not in fantastic shape right now (I’m looking at you dumplings!). You may think that an undertaking such as this one would require serious fitness and I’d be training like mad. But I’m no better than the next person at training and my physical form right now would be classed as average at best.
But here’s what I know from my previous treks and adventure races; a significant part of this challenge will not rest on my ability to put one foot in front of the other, rather it will rely on my ability to make myself. What that means is that your ability to push yourself, to stay positive, to endure – that’s going to make all the difference. If you can be super fit – kudos to you and you’ll have an even better time, but that’s not me.
On a solo trek, there’s no mates to rely on, no one to help fill the silence. It’s 20 days of gruelling physical effort with only yourself and your mind to account to. Having completed a few extended treks prior to this one, I know what it means to feel like the challenge ahead is insurmountable. I still certainly hurt physically, but the mental fatigue and challenge – that’s the one to prepare for.
5. Walking May Just be The Easiest Part!
The Tasmanian Traverse has been a huge undertaking. It’s unlike anything I’ve done before in terms of scale and effort. But that effort began long before any walking – it began a year ago when I started planning, then kicked in to overdrive in early 2021 when I sought support from sponsors.
But the hardest part without a doubt has been fundraising. I guess anyone who’s fundraised will know, it’s not easy asking people for support, especially when that support is financial.
I set a target for $10,000 AUD and to date, the fundraising is sitting at 25%. People have already been so generous, and I sincerely hope throughout the trek that number will keep rising. As a bonus, anyone who donates $20 or more will be entered into a prize draw with prizes from the likes of Paddy Pallin, Back Country Cuisine, Columbia and Blackwolf.
Donate here: The Tasmanian Traverse
I enjoy watching others suffer – how can I watch your progress across the 20 days?
Don’t fret, I’m sure I’ll suffer plenty!
And once I’m back I’ll be uploading video to my YouTube.