16 Things Learnt on an Overnighter with Ambassador Caroline Laux
Last weekend, She Went Wild partnered with Blue Mountains Guides and embarked on a 2 day, 1 night hike through Secret Valley in the Blue Mountains. Caroline Laux our ambassador was part of the 7 in the group.. Here are a few tips we picked up from each other:
1. Don’t ever forget that adventuring is not a competition. This might seem like a given, but we all agreed that there can be a lot of insidious competition in the women’s adventure world. Remember that what you are doing is about you, about pushing your own limits and having fun along the way, not about impressing others.
2. Tampons are highly flammable and make great fire starters. You just need to pull all the fibres apart and they will catch on fire very easily!
3. Wee before you go to bed and get up for another one if you get cold during the night. It might sound counterintuitive, but your body will be able to focus on keeping you warm instead of keeping all that pee to body temperature. We tested it and it works!
4. Practice with your Shewee before you take it out in the bush. When we say practice, we mean for real: standing up, pants half down. Conditions in the bush are quite different to those in your private bathroom and we have heard of a few disasters…
5. Line your sleeping bag with a garbage bag, from the inside. Take your sleeping bag out of its stuff sack and line it with two garbage bags. Push your sleeping bag in, squash everything down to extract the air, then twist and close one garbage bag after the other. Last, compress everything further with the straps on the sleeping bag’s stuff sack. Much more lightweight and cost-efficient than putting your sleeping bag in a drybag! Plus, once at camp you can use the garbage bags for rubbish or collecting water.
6. Be a stuffer: don’t fold and roll your sleeping bag. Just stuff it in, literally…It’s a time saver but more importantly, it actually helps keep the sleeping bag fluffy and warm over the years.
7. Don’t store your sleeping back compressed once you get home. If you do store it compressed, the fibres (or down) will break and it will lose a lot of it heat potential.
8. Dry your tent before you pack it up. This will help prevent any mould and help preserve the lining of your tent. If you don’t get a chance to dry it off before you pack it up, just unpack it at home and let it dry completely before you pack it up and store it.
9. Don’t leave food in your back pack overnight. Bush rats (or possums) will find it and they won’t hesitate a second about chewing through your bag, leaving you with a nice big hole and some spoilt food. Place the food in hard containers instead if you can (like your pots with the lid on for example).
10. Be a gear stalker. Gear shops and online reviews are great, but it is hard to know how it will really perform when it’s crunch time, or what it will feel like using it. So chat to your fellow adventurers, look at what they have and ask them what they like and dislike about their gear.
11. Mark your gear. Make sure you have a way of differentiating which gear is yours. My partner and I bought the same bag because it matched all our requirements – same model, just different sizes. When I started adjusting the bag to hit the trail, I realised I had packed his instead of mine. Even with the straps tightened to the max it wasn’t ideal! First thing I did when I got home? Marked mine!
12. Test your gear before you leave. Been camping last week and thinking you don’t need to check your headtorch’s batteries? Wrong! The last thing you want is to be stuck in the bush with no light, just because you didn’t take a minute to check the batteries before you left.
13. Be like an onion: dress in layers. Instead of bringing one pair of warm pants, bring thermals that you can slide under lightweight overpants. You don’t want to be stuck with that one warm pair of pants when the sun comes out later in the day or the next day! The same goes for your tops: wear a merino singlet for example, and pack a T-shirt, a long sleeve T-shirt that you can wear on top. This will be much more efficient and versatile.
14. Go for merino over cotton or polyester. Yes, it might be a bit more expensive to buy, but you won’t regret it. Merino doesn’t smell as much as polyester when you have worn it for a day or two, and it dries much quicker than cotton – quite useful when you get sweaty (or wet from the rain)!
15. Throw a few handwarmers in your bag. You can use them for some added warmth and comfort throughout the night.
16. Being pregnant doesn’t mean you can’t go on an adventure. Just make sure that what you are embarking on suits your fitness level and get medical clearance from your obstetrician. Be reasonable, and make sure everything you are doing is sage for you and bub.
This article was written by She Went Wild Ambassador Caroline Laux in collaboration with Ruth from Blue Mountains Guides (www.bluemountainsguides.com.au), and the five awesome adventurers who took part in the Secret Valley hike on 17/18 June 2017: Joyce – our shoulder massage queen, Kylie – our intrepid pregnant mum and gear guru, Lucie – our steep terrain master, Mel – our official photographer, and Zina – our smiley adventurer.