Living the Dream (You have imagined)

Southern Alps, New Zealand

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams, live the life you have imagined…”

Henry David Thoreau

Sound advice Henry!

Photo: Baz, Climbing on Fox Glacier, Southern Alps, New Zealand
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Living Works Of Art (In the Australian Bush)

Wildflowers
A Fringed Lily – Minute and as Delicate as life itself…

Perhaps this will come as little surprise, but today we were Out and About in the Australian Bush…

TomO was having a sleep over at a friends place, although the term sleepover is used merely to highlight that he wasn’t at home with us, because if I know those boys there would have been little sleep happening.

Hell, come to think of it, the poor bloke was probably cleaning up the aftermath of the dinner party we enjoyed with the parents of TomO’s mate last night…

Now nothing ever seems to happen in our house before a cup of tea has been taken, which shouldn’t be that surprising as Janet’s father, Archie, was a tea importer, so after our mandatory cup of tea this morning we boarded The Landy, camera gear at the ready, and headed about 50-kilometres to the north of Sydney into Yengo National Park.

This park is a favourite of ours and we have spent many hours atop Devil’s Mountain watching the sun set on the the park’s western horizon, or Burragurra as it is known by Australia’s first inhabitants.

The mountain has many aboriginal rock engravings etched into its surface, including the spirit footprints of Wa-boo-ee, the creator of heaven and earth.  In aboriginal legend he stepped from here to Mount Yengo in one stride and then ascended back into the sky.

Yengo National Park
Mt Yengo, Australia

All this, just to the north of Australia’s most populous city, strewth, how did we Aussies’s get so lucky?

And you know how I tend to rave on about the Australian Bush and Outback, well just take another look at the beautiful example of a Fringed Lily.  They are so minute and in flower presently.

And as harsh as the Australian Bush can be it is such a fragile environment producing what can only be described as Living Works of Art…just like the Fringed Lily!

Crikey, all together now, say it!

(Big Bad) Baz, we wouldn’t wouldn’t be dead for quid’s!

Photos: (Big Bad) Baz, The Landy

Dawn breaks over Australia’s Outback (In a brilliance of colour)

Dawn break over Australia’s Outback (In a brilliance of colour)

Dawn and the hour or so before the sun pierces the eastern horizon is a favourite time of day for me.

And when travelling in the Australian Outback I am often rewarded with a view like this one, captured at Welford National Park…

Crikey, tickle me pink, how good is this sunrise over in the Outback.

Photo by: Baz, The Landy (how can I tell? Janet and TomO aren’t early risers!)

Sand Dune Country (In the Australian Outback)

National Parks in Australia

I love the colours in this photo they take me to the Outback, no matter where I am…

What do you reckon?

Photo by: Baz, The Landy

Outback Australia (Mutawintji National Park)

Dawn breaks over Mutawintji
Dawn breaks over Mutawintji

Have you ever wondered what it is like to stay in an underground motel, a room dug into a side of a hill?

Tonight our accommodation is the Underground Motel at White Cliffs in far-western New South Wales.

TomO and I have been frequent visitors over the years, stopping off on our way to and from the Outback, but seemingly, Janet has never been on those trips, so tonight is a first for her.

And what a welcome sight the reception was, standing tall on Smith’s Hill, about the only hill in sight for a hundred or so miles, well not quite, but the landscape is very flat and barren.

We have spent the past three days in Mutawinji National Park undertaking a number of walks through the magnificent gorges set in the rugged and fiery red Byngnano Range. And the wildlife was beautiful…

Kangaroo - Mutawintji NP
Kangaroo – Mutawintji NP

Mutawintji is the tribal area of the Makyankapa and Pandjikali people.

Aboriginal people have lived and hunted in this area for thousands of years and during our stay in the park we spent time with an aboriginal elder who took us to view some rock art and engravings of great significance to his people.

Mutawintji Hand Painting
Mutawintji Hand Painting

Mark shared the love of his land, his people, his culture with great passion and enthusiasm and we look forward to meeting up with him once again in the future, to share the experience of this great land together…

Strewth, you wouldn’t be dead for quid’s, hey!

Photos: Baz, The Landy

Crikey – Talking about Neighbour’s (Don’t mess with this bloke)

Ever had a next door neighbour that you wish would just go away? You’ll know the ones I’m talking about, loud, unruly, parties until all hours, beer bottles chiming to the sounds of cheers!

Mind you, it almost sounds fun when it put is that way, but it does wear thin after a while.

 And then there are the silent ones, no noise, no parties, pretty much keep to themselves, but shikes, they sure can give you the creeps.

Strewth, we’ve had our fair share of them over the years, but we are lucky to have great neighbours all around us these days!

But I’ll share a yarn about one neighbour that we had a while back, in the outback.

We were out touring in Far North-Queensland, FNQ (pronounced ef-fen-Q), up in the Gulf Savannah Country where Janet has her roots.  Mott’s are still grazing sheep and cattle in that region to this day, and for me this region was my backyard as I grew up in Townsville…

Over the past few years we have made the 7,000 kilometre round-trip to one of our most favourite spots in the Australian bush, Lawn Hill Gorge.

Now let me tell you, this is one heck of a beautiful spot that we first visited back in the 1990s. It was literally a flying visit in an aircraft we owned, a Piper Arrow, call sign Foxtrot-Tango-Hotel.

This was before the little tacka, TomO,  came along, and we flew it extensively over the Australian outback before selling it some years back.

These days we enjoy the drive north through the outback in The Landy just as much as we did flying over it.

The Aussie Outback, it’s a great place to just stand still and take it all in, a place where the barren land and ochre red soil meets the deep blue of the never-ending sky…

Anyway…

When we were last up there we had no problem securing a great spot beside the creek, which surprised us as there were a few others around at Adel’s Grove, a small tourist resort that caters for travellers just nearby to the main gorge.

It turns out our neighbour was a magnificent Olive Python measuring about 5 metres in length.

A beautiful specimen and apparently they are only known to eat small children…

Just kiddin’…

It had taken up residence just on the bank where we had set up camp.  Despite their size they are not an aggressive snake and they are not venomous. And we have our fair share of those venomous ones.

Crikey, we’ve got a bagful of the world’s most deadly snakes, and none of those “rattling” things that they have elsewhere, just hard-core mean and downright dangerous ones!

Okay, fair’s fair, the North American rattle snake does make it into the top ten…

Most passing by our camp were totally oblivious to it being there, many who saw it thought they were about to be eaten alive, others were curious at a seemingly chance encounter with something so wonderful.

Late in the day, as the sun drifted low into the western horizon and shadows started to cast long, it would move on, returning first thing the next morning to take up its position once again.

Yep, neighbours, they come in all shapes and sizes, some you love to bits, others you’d be happy to see the back of, but for sure, we’d be happy to have this bloke as our neighbour anytime – best “guard dog” we’ve ever had…

Ps. For those who might be wondering, Janet was the photographer and loved it. Um, I must’ve been busy with something… 😉

High Altitude Climbing and Acute Mountain Sickness

I have been researching the impact that high altitude climbing will have on my body, what I can expect, what I can do to assist my body’s ability to cope.

And importantly, to be able to recognise the onset of Acute Mountain Sickness in its more serious forms.

Acute Mountain Sickness, AMS as it is often referred to, is the effect the declining number of molecules of oxygen in the atmosphere has on our body as we ascend in altitude. It can range from a mild illness, to the more severe life-threatening forms of the illness, such as High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE), and High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE).

The latter two conditions require immediate attention and descent from altitude otherwise death is the most likely outcome.

I’m not intending to go into a great discussion on either, nor am I qualified to do so, but as part of my “journey to the mountains” and extreme  altitude climbing I want to gain a better understanding of both conditions.

High altitude is defined as 5,000 to 11,500 feet, very high altitude 11,500 to 18,000, and extreme altitude as 18,000 feet and above.  At extreme altitudes physiologic function will outstrip  acclimatisation eventually.

My reading has taken me across a wide variety of topics, but the one that caught my attention was the connection between muscle and the requirement to fuel our muscles with oxygen when under exertion.

Over the years I have trained as a power-lifter for strength purposes and I have achieved results I am happy with.  As a consequence I have grown muscularly and currently weigh-in around the 95 kilogram mark.  This has given me a good power-for-weight ratio and has enhanced my speed on the kayak over the short to mid sprint distances.

Power-lifting has helped me develop strong legs, especially my quads through squatting, and dead-lifting.

Will this muscle help, or hinder me on the mountain as I trudge up the side of an 8,000 metre peak??

When exercising, the body, or more specifically the contracting muscles, have an increased need for oxygen and this is usually achieved by a higher blood flow to these muscles.

And therein lies the dilemma as I see it.

Due to the less dense air at altitude the number of oxygen molecules for any given mass of air will drop. Consequently, mental and physical performance will decline. The larger the muscles, the larger the requirement for oxygen to prevent muscular fatigue…

So what can I do?

There is not a lot that you can do to prepare for the effect of AMS, some people will adapt and perform better at altitude than others and this is hard to predict from one individual to another.

What I can do is decrease my muscle mass. Whilst that will mean a decrease in overall strength I can try and maintain the power for weight ratio balance.

The upshot of all this is that ahead of my expedition Nepal where I will be climbing three 6,000 metre peaks, including Lobuche East, I will deliberately take around 12-15 kilograms out of my frame…

The climbs in Nepal will be done without the aid of supplemental oxygen.

Essentially, I will not change my training routine at all, I will maintain my same level of weight training, kayaking, rowing and other activities. I have found the best way to control weight change, either gaining, or losing, is via the kitchen and diet.

In fact I won’t even modify my diet to any great extent, simply quantity control.

Baz - Meteor Peak
Baz – Meteor Peak