Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Back in Belgium - Thomas De Dorlodot

EN: Back in Belgium, not ready for my second winter in a row but winter brings conferences. I just caught up with Tom (Thomas) De Dorlodot and his SEARCH PROJECTS. People believe I'm mostly outside Belgium, well I'm mainly in Belgium while he's really mainly outside the country so when I can meet him, I take the opportunity.

FR: De retour en Belgique, pas vraiment prêt pour mon 2ème hiver d'affilé mais l'hiver amène les conférences. J'ai recu Tom De Dorlodot qui a fait une conférence et un update de SEARCH PROJECTS.

Beaucoup pensent que je suis tous le temps en dehord de Belgique mais je suis principalement dans le pays, lui c'est l'inverse il revient quelques mois par an donc se croiser est toujours une bonne chose et une opportunité à saisir.

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Tasmania Winter Trek - Summary dispatches and quick debrief

Day by Day dispatches
D00 - 3 Aug All batteries are charged, food is ready, equipment is ready. I just need to pack everything. No idea how everything will fit in and outside the backpack. I'll wake up at 6am and John will drive me to Penguin for a start at 9.00 Tasmanian time. D01 - 04 Aug 62kg in fact. Road boring. Now pct ok. Going to #Leven River, felt it's too dark and dangerous so I'll stop and camp here. 18:40. Tracker off.
D02 - 05 Aug Started after the rain. Ups and downs. Hard work. Walked back and forth with stuff since the end of the day until now. Good campsite. Still wet. Clothes don't dry.
D03 - 06 Aug All good so far. Slow but progressing. Mindset positive. Equipment OK. Supplies OK. Such a hard climb! Leeches everywhere. So many logs to go over or crawl under. Back and feet need a rest. Check my position #TasmaniaWinterTrek
D04 - 07 Aug Back and forth all day. Dried blood in sleeping bag. Found the culprit: big leech! Nature is great. Set up camp early. Relatively dry.
D05 - 08 Aug Big rain all night. Put bandages on my feet. Useless after descent and wading in a creek up to the knees. Long safe descent to tarmac road. I hate tarmac. Dry day.
D06 - 09 Aug A day to remember. Lesson: no more trek with such load and steep slopes in the dark. This pct is not easy. Tired, setting up camp. Hopefully safer tomorrow.
D07 - 10 Aug Another slow and dangerous day following the Leven river upstream. I fell on a finger and cut it open over 2 cm. Directly took care of it. Moved 40 fallen trees.
D08 - 11 Aug And another day with the river. 1 blister on my left foot doing more work. Now setting up camp. Test research in the morning.
D09 - 12 Aug Rain at the end of the day. Passed the island of the river. Now camping safely after the Rope mentioned in the tracknotes of the Penguin Cradle Trail. So wet. Need sun.
D10 - 13 Aug I laugh at how slow I am. Reached Loongana high point. No rain but heavy wind. Might dry my tent. John left me food at the pass. Will not use but give away.
D11 - 14 Aug When there is sun, it's not on my side of the gorge. Going down is also slow as no wrong step allowed. Fell a few times on my bum and arm. Calves and knees swollen.
D12 - 15 Aug Drizzle and rain all day. High vegetation and ferns so my pants got soaked. Shoes and socks too. Saw 2 dozen of wallabies. Walked with full load at the end of the day.
D13 - 16 Aug Climbed all day in changing weather. Rain, sun, hail, snow. 2 feet wet and frozen. Now at 1200m on snow. Exposed to all weather elements. Hope it's not too bad. Keeping faith.
D14 - 17 Aug Spent the day in the expedition drysuit. Up to 40 cm snow. Used snowshoes until more wet plants than snow. Fog, zero sun. Rain now. Wind. 1 wombat. All is wet.
D15 - 18 Aug Woke up under 5 cm of snow. Left camp when snow stopped but it never really stopped. All day the same: buttongrass, snow, mudpools. I dream of a dry and hot place.
D16 - 19 Aug Sleeping mat has a leak. Must inflate every 40 min during the night to avoid contact with snow. Will try to use repair kit asap. Broke 1 trekking pole. 20 cm snow last night.
D17 - 20 Aug So close to end leg 1 but with deep snow, mud and slush I didn't reach Cradle Valley. Feels like 10 day delay but I still got a lot of food and gas. Days will get longer eventually.

D18 - 21 Aug Non stop wind & rain last night. Most of the snow now replaced by slush. At Cradle, rangers gave me space to repack and check remaining food (ok). Fixed the leak in sleeping mat.
D19 - 22 Aug I met Marion, a Belgian girl, while ascending. Lookout and full deep snow plateau. Made me happy. Best weather since june. Summited Cradle Mt: best view ever! Yup!
D20 - 23 Aug I overslept. Woke up when the sun was hitting hard. Again dry and windless day. Met hikers, talked. Fell by slipping on a boardwalk under the snow. Now camping on platform.
D21 - 24 Aug Started late, finished late. Apparently still a few more days of good weather so I should start early to make progress. Hope to climb Mt Ossa tomorrow.
D22 - 25 Aug Ossa up in 2h20, down in 1h20, good snow. Left hand swollen for 2 days now. No pain, can move. Feet ok, dry. Pack doesnt hurt anymore. Will start longer days. Food Ok.
D23 - 26 Aug Dry weather, started the day with my dried hiking clothes. Then came the rain, then snow... Now drenched once again. Ate supper in a hut. Drysuit on.
D24 - 27 Aug 20 cm of snow in the morning. Catching packs of it when I walk underneath the branches bending under it's weight. Got my packraft ready at the hut, then reached a lake while paddling.
D25 - 28 AugStarted paddling at 12. Passed Lake St Clair and Derwent Basin without much trouble. Had to stop for a log, could've walked around it but decided to give it a go. Raft got stuck half under water. Could've lost it all. Could've died, even. Lost camera, mic, headlight, water containers, stuff to inflate raft. Small hole in hull and 10 cm tear in floor. Continued on sinking raft to a house. Now safe.
D26 - 29 Aug Bought a 15$ headlight, got sunglasses from Lost&Found. Repaired boat. Paddled entire Lake King William in dusk, dark then under moonlight. New route via The Spires.

D27 - 30 Aug Cognitive tests #9 this morning. My brain clearly not at 100%. Wrote log, repacked backpack and packraft. Started offtrack bushbashing. Going in circles at Night. Hard.
D28 - 31 Aug Bushbashing in tea tree, acacia (?) and a thick wall of cutting grass. 250m in 2h. All with massive mikado of huge fallen trees. Lost the paddle then found it again. Ok.
D29 - 01 Sep Light rain, snow and scrub. Not yet at Gell river. Vegetation around old airstrip is huge compared to 2006. Branch in eye. Cannot see well. Hope it's not permanent >:-(
D30 - 02 Sep Hard to find motivation. Rain, leeches, high scrub or forest for which my backpack is too high and wide. Tried to find old track, found man-cut branches but lost the trail again.
D31 - 03 Sep Sunny but pointless day in the forest. Finally an early start. Hard but now back in scrub/buttongrass. So near airstrip & river. Camping between buttongrass.
D32 - 04 Sep Dried tent, sleeping bag and clothes in the sun. Found a rusted chaintractor on old airstrip #2. Steep down to Gell river. Needed water. Crossed, walked and crossed again.
D33 - 05 Sep My legs are so skinny, almost no power. Still some belly fat left, though. Weather mostly sunny. Terrain is better. Made navigation error to wrong mountain. Had a nice 2m roll, fell on my head, back, legs, but all ok.

D34 - 06 Sep Started early after drizzle. Could walk a bit on rocks in river, with drysuit even in water. So cold! Had water inside, fixed a tiny hole below knee. Now hard rain.
D35 - 07 Sep Heavy rain in the morning. Left when it stopped. Checked map: more forest along river. Got stuck, decided to go up in the mountains, better up there. Each day harder to find a decent camping spot
D36 - 08 Sep Went up again, east Mt Curly. Hard to choose route down other side.Went down by 3pm. Broke 2nd trekking pole by 4pm. Cried for 2min. Can't just stop, I chose to be here. Fell more.
D37 - 09 Sep Sunday with big rain & wind. Waited for better weather to get out. So slow & weak. I feel I'm older than TAS expedition 2006. Will I reach lake tomorrow? TO ALL: worldcleanupday.org next Sat 15/9!
D38 - 10 Sep Up to saddle, great view. Down forest following ck, ok til I reached a 30m waterfall drop. Cliffs all around. Stuck, got out after 80°climb. One mistake meant dead. Now safe. This is hell.
D39 - 11 Sep Woke up with pain & issue in my right eye. Tried to solve the problem for hours, without success. Doc in Hobart. Got out of the forest, then easy on to the lake. Not sure if it's a puncture after all that bushbashing! ...but hey: raft tested successfully! No more supper food. 3 breakfast rations left. 1 chocolate bar, 1.3kg nuts, 1kg hemp seeds, 30 clifbars. It is now a race before 21 Sept.
D40 - 12 Sep Heavy rain & wind all night, could use wind blowing South but at inlet it changed to heavy SW with 1m+ waves, rain, hail & often gust. Wanted to SOS but pushed to island
D41 - 13 Sep Waited for the right time; waves ok so I went straight. Body warm. Rather easy. Then dodging trees on flat water until Pedder river. Class 3 rapids, so the only way up was on land. Food 4.7kg
D42 - 14 Sep 1,5h writing & research tests this morning then walked to road/Pedder Lake where a police officer was waiting. We discussed plan. Nice sun. Paddled against the wind, slow.

update from John: "Louis-Philippe today passed from Lake Gordon to Lake Pedder, an important milestone. Conditions have been très difficile, and the police have been very worried about his condition. They have been liaising with me seriously this past week with thought to enhancing L-P's safety. They wanted him to retire. Today they met him as he crossed a rare road and were pleased with his condition; stronger than they had feared. If L-P can safely cross Lake Pedder tomorrow; I think he will complete the journey, but it is dangerous. It has been a draining but magnificent achievement so far. Best regards, John in Tasmania."
D43 - 15 Sep Crashing waves made me capsize passing the tip of the peninsula. Fun! Relaunched and padlled. Later on the wind was too strong, with 2m waves. Had to stop on island. Now, please, Tasmania, send Margot Robbie with pizza & beer.
D44 - 16 Sep Almost no sleep because of wet sleeping bag, burnt it a bit while drying it with stove. Other holes in airmat. Felt like another rain & wind day...but with the wind on my side. Now safe.
D45 - 17 Sep Good progress but lost 1h to go back to yesterday's landing spot to get my 2nd 6dl bottle. Lost it. Hungry! Just now looked for a bag of food…mmm. 2.7kg left, will have to last 5-8days!
D46 - 18 Sep I completely underestimated the distance compared to what the notes of my map say. 1 gaiter dead. Tried to repair the airmat again til 4am, but it's still leaking. Backpain. Starting rationing tomorrow.
D47 - 19 Sep Boring rainy morning on Port Davey Track till Spring River. Mostly sunny in the afternoon. Paddling to Melaleuca in the moon light. Un peu tardif mais: Joyeux Anniversaire Sacha! Tomorrow South Coast Track with 30kg. 4 days maybe!
D48 - 20 Sep Very cold night at Melaleuca. So tired, fell asleep after breakfast till 9:20. Then late start. Hard to get here tonight. Hunger, back hurts and worst wet socks ever. Pain like sandpaper.
D49 - 21 Sep Good, confident start. Up Ironbound, wind at the summit so strong, threw me to the ground. Stopped at 8pm, feet hurt, rash. Need rest! Drysuit wet inside, taking it off tomorrow, back into normal clothes.

D50 - 22 Sep Last test, write, repack, taking care of my feet. Left late. Finished crossing with the raft at 6pm. Walking in the forest with the flame of my lighter. Lost the track then light battery died. Bushbashing in the dark to reach previous point. Took battery pack to charge lighter. Fell in a pool with mud above the knees. Trying to reach South Cape Rivulet tomorrow, ending at South Cape on Monday, reack Cockle by midday. Not there yet. Will need food & scale at Cockle.
D51 - 23 Sep 50gr of food left. Not enough for bushbashing to the cape. Might try a bit if enough time. Wanna end around noon. Thinking about writing a book about my 2 TAS expeditions.
D52 - 24 Sep End of the exped.tomorrow night on ABC News! Lost15,5kg. Will be in Hobart by 4pm. Suggest a bar on fb if you wanna meet! Will choose one near hostel. Bus to Laun in the morning.

Quick Debrief.

This is the hardest, the most dangerous and longest expedition I have done. Happy to succeed more or less (I haven't been to the far south cape, I had to re-route and avoided Mt Anne in the Winter) even if I have lost a lot of equipment and more importantly most of the video footage so there is no film possible. Because the scientific part was 100% a success and I have some videos about it I hope to find time and edit something about the science part of the expedition.