Cooler Weather for Walking

The winter months are a great time to get out into the elements and warm up the good old fashioned way with some nature based exercise. There are many things you can do to stay dry, warm and safe throughout your winter hikes and here is a list of some of our best tips.

warm winter walking

Check the Weather Forecast

Before heading out into the elements it is a good idea to check the temperature, the wind direction and speed as well as if any rain is forecasted so you can prepare both physically and mentally for the conditions.

Replenish Your Energy and Fluids

Sometimes in the cooler weather it can be more challenging to remember to drink enough water, but it is important to stay hydrated on a hike of any length. Your body also uses up more energy trying to stay warm so it’s important to bring a lot of high-energy foods like trail mix, fruit and bread to sustain energy.

Layer Your Clothing

Wearing the right gear while out in the elements can be the most important factor in determining your experience during a light sprinkle of rain, a storm or even snow. Generally, the modern technical clothing available to us in the 21st century is designed to the be used as a layering system where each layer is serves a purpose in retaining warmth. Therefore, you are able to combine different layers to tackle different conditions which is particularly important for activities like hiking so you avoid overheating whilst on the move but still stay warm when you are taking breaks. Typically there are three integral layers that you will need:

Base Layer: This is the layer closest to your skin so it needs to be breathable but moisture wicking. Your base layer should either be wool or synthetic, both of which have different advantages and disadvantages.

Mid Layer: Your mid layer should be used as insulation, but should also be breathable. Often, fleece, wool, synthetic or down are the top picks for hikers depending on the weather conditions.

Outer Layer: An outer layer should shield you against the rain and wind. Fitting snug over your base and mid layers, it is important to make sure your shell is comfortable and easy to access.

Small Pieces of Clothing Make a Big Difference

It is always a good idea to pack a beanie, some gloves and an extra pair or two of socks on your hike. These lightweight accessories are worth their weight in gold when you are cold.

Protect Your Pack

It’s a great idea to pack a waterproof cover for your pack, even if wet weather isn’t forecasted.

Thermos

There is nothing like pouring a hot tea or coffee out in the wilderness while taking a break from a hike! It’s also handy for carrying soup which can make a yummy lunch teamed with some fresh bread.

Plan your Breaks

Take shorter breaks more frequently so that you do not loose too much heat. If you do require a longer break to eat or recharge, add another layer and remove it once you begin hiking and warm up again.

With some planning and the right gear, winter can provide some of the most rewarding and memorable hiking experiences. Cape to Cape Explorer Tours offer all of our self-guided walks throughout the winter months and we would love to help you stay warm and fit this season!

Salmon seek warm water for spawning

The migration of the Western Australian Salmon (Arripis truttaceus) draw crowds in their thousands to Australia’s south-west corner every year. Although not as delicious as the mouth-watering pink fleshed Atlantic salmon (Salmo solar), and not at all related, the Aussie salmon sure is good fun to fish! More closely related to herring or tommy ruff, anglers enjoy fishing for these fighters right from the beach where fish will often take to the air and run hard out to see once hooked. The fish are also sought out by commercial fisherman, with some licensee’s historically catching over 2,500 tonne of fish per year.

 

Salmon fisherman

A Salmon fisherman from the south coast (Photo: ABC Rural – Tyne logan)

The fish begin to arrive in mid-March and tend to stay around all through April after migrating along Australia’s south coast from as far as Victoria and even Tasmania. Adult fish form large schools along exposed beaches and rocky reefs. Western Australian Salmon can grow up to one meter in length and can reach a whopping 9kgs. Mostly, they feed on bait fish and they are eaten by sharks, seals, dolphins and of corse, people.

A school of Western Australian Salmon under water

An underwater shot of the Western Australian Salmon (Photo: WA Museum – Barry Hutchins)

They make their journey west to take advantage of the Leeuwin Current, which runs from north to south along the Australia’s west coast, around Cape Leeuwin and then eastward along the south coast. Teamed with the offshore winds, these conditions are perfect for the fish to spawn.

A school of Salmon in the clear waters of Contos Beach.

An uninterrupted school of Salmon in the clear waters of Contos Beach.

Eggs and newly hatched fish are carried in the Leeuwin Current and settle along the south coast between South Australia and Tasmania where they mature for three to four years before moving westward to live in schools around Hopetoun and Esperance. This is where most of the schools we see along the Cape to Cape Track head home to after their visit to the Ngari Cape Marine Park to spawn.

School of Australian salmon at Contos

An enormous ball of salmon spotted from Contos Cliffs

Connection to Country Confirmed

Last week Nature published the first findings from the Aboriginal Heritage Project, which aims to build the first genetic map of Aboriginal Australia and help indigenous Australians trace their ancestry and family history. Analysing DNA in samples of hair has revealed that since their initial arrival in Australia around 58,000 years ago, communities of Aboriginal people have remarkably remainded in the same regions across the continent.

Studying the mitochondrial DNA from over 111 Aboriginal hair samples collected from across Australia between the 1920’s and 1970’s has uncovered that all Australian Aboriginal’s living today are decedents of the first population to arrive in the country and  over 1,500 to 2,000 years, groups of people spread across the land to both east and west coasts before eventually meeting in South Australia. Mitochondrial DNA is often used to trace maternal ancestry and map out ancient linages from deteriorated samples.

Field stations visited between 1928 and 1965, indicating sites where hair samples were provided.

Field stations visited between 1928 and 1965, indicating sites where hair samples were provided.

“These findings confirm what the Aboriginal community have known all along – that their deep ties with country stretch back thousands of years,” said Dr Raymond Todler, co-author of the study from the University of Adelaide. The study confirms that there is a real deep connection between Aboriginal people and country that has developed over thousands of years.

Feature Species: Slender Tree Frog (Litoria adelaidensis)

So far this summer has shaped up to be one of rather tropical characteristics. Warm days, high humidity and unseasonal summer rains in the southwest have created the perfect breeding ground for an array of insects.

With all the extra water around this summer, the insectivorous Slender Tree Frog, along with many other native frogs have been out and about making their presence known along the Track and in our gardens.

With their loud calls, these little beauties are often in great interest to our pets. Be sure to keep a close eye on your dogs and cats if you happen to suspect one of these little guys, or any other type of native animal may be living in your backyard.

Slender Tree Frog

A striking green Slender Tree Frog

They are a small frog, reaching a maximum length of 4.7cms with a narrow and tapering head. They have long slender un-webbed fingers, however their long legs end with webbed toes. These little Amphibians come in a range of colours, from green to all shades of brown.

Often making an appearance through winter and spring, it has been a real treat to spot a few of these guys enjoying all the water and feasting on a variety of tasty morsels so early in the year!

Hens Day Hike a Hit!

Hens group in front of the bus at Smiths Beach before the hike

Getting ready for the hike at Smiths Beach!

Last week a group of lovely local ladies joined us to take a look at their own backyard and enjoy a pre-wedding celebration for their dear friend Mandy! A hen’s day with a difference, we started the adventure with a hike from Smiths Beach to the Aquarium.

Hiking through the granite gneiss south of Smiths Beach

Hiking through the granite gneiss south of Smiths Beach

With the weather on our side, we were presented with light winds and clear waters, making a dip in the sheltered waters a highlight for many! In the shade of a marquee we enjoyed a delicious and fresh roll from the Margaret River Bakery before a game of quoits and bocce.

Cooling off at the Aquarium

Cooling off at the Aquarium

We continued our hike along to coast to eventually reach the protected nook at Canal Rocks. Indulging in an afternoon feast of fresh fruit, dips, cheese, chocolate coated strawberries and of corse, champagne!

Enjoying the shade of a Melaleuca tree

Enjoying the shade of a Melaleuca tree

Congratulations to Mr & Mrs Mills, we wish you a happy and long future together :).

West Coast Swimming Club joins us for performance camp!

Up and coming athletes from the UWA West Coast Swimming Club made their way down to Margaret River for a ‘Performance Camp’ to welcome in the new year. In the pool at the Margaret River Recreation Centre and out on the Cape to Cape Track, everyone had a great time focussing on their skills and immersing themselves in the elements.

West Coast Swimming Club

Day 1 – Walking out of Smiths Beach.

After a training session in the pool, the first day out on the Track saw these young fish out of water walking from Smiths Beach to Injidup! The team took a dip in the ocean and enjoyed a little snorkel at The Aquarium to cool off.

Snorkling at the Aquarium

Cooling off and enjoying a snorkel at the Aquarium

The following day was spent at the beautiful coastal hamlet of Gracetown where these kids completed a variety of team building challenges. From Spider’s Web, to Leonardo’s Bridge, to Raft Building, the group excelled through the activities by maximising communication and assigning competent leaders.

Launching the raft in Gracetown

Launching their competed raft into the bay at Gracetown

It was a really rewarding day for the kids and gave them the opportunity to get out of the pool and reconnect with nature together, whilst having to think on their feet.

Spiders Web

Spiders Web in action!

A great time was had by everyone involved! Well down to all the swimmers and we hope to see them back next year to take on some more of the Cape to Cape Track and continue developing their leadership and team work skills!!!

Leonardos Bridge

The team successfully constructed Leonardo’s Bridge

Looking for a camp for you and your team? Whether you are professional athletes, from the corporate world or just want to pull your organisation together for something fun and rewarding we can tailor a package to suit your needs. Email us at info@capetocapetours.com.au so we can meet your needs and create a program to suit your outcomes.

Year One’s from Margaret River Independent School take on the Track!

The students from the Margaret River Independent School are always so much fun to take out exploring on the Cape to Cape Track! These local kids spend their days learning in small classes in a beautiful bush setting about 10kms south of Margaret River. The schools vision is to provide an environment that caters for the whole child in development of lifetime learning skills as well as academic and creative excellence. This year, the year one students joined our managing director Gene for an overnight camp full of leadership and team building activities.

Gene chatting to the kids out on the Track.

Gene with the Year 1 students from Margaret River Independent School

We are always impressed by the knowledge and respect that these children have for their local environment! These 6 and 7 year olds are often finishing our sentences when we begin talking about some of our endemic flora and fauna species. Their enthusiasm and connection with nature is inspiring.

Kids in Boranup Forest

Enjoying some shade in Boranup Forest

As well as walking through the bush, we worked on some of our favourite team building and leadership activities including Spiders Web and Pipeline.

Being briefed on the Spiders Web activity

Being briefed on the Spiders Web activity

The challenge was set for the children to make their way through the web of the mighty Hamelin Spider, which the kids took to quite well. Without facilitation, they formed a circle, selected a leader and formulated a plan that would see all of their classmates get safely through the web.

Forming a circle in the shade to formulate a plan

An empowering moment for the children

The kids were very impressed with themselves after the activity concluded, and rightfully so! Who would have thought that a group of 6 and 7 year olds could make such a great team!?

Celebrating Spiders Web success

Celebrating Spiders Web success

The class also demonstrated amazing patience and cooperation throughout their pipeline activity, which they very quickly got the hang of. Returning to the Pipeline activity throughout the walk allows the group to try and better their score that is measured by how fast they can move the ball through the pipeline with dropping it to the ground!

Pipeline in action!

Pipeline in action!

The camp finished with an expedition through the awe-inspiring and mighty Giants Cave! With crawling, ladders and sliding, each one of the children made it the entire way through the 500m underground labyrinth. It is always such an empowering experience to reconnect children with their natural environment. As you can see, Cape to Cape Explorer Tours love hosting camps for school and youth groups! We are more than happy to creative a package that suits the needs of your group. Check out our Schools page to find out more information or send us through an email at info@capetocapetours.com.au today!

A special thanks to Lauren Trickett for the incredible photos she took throughout the camp.

 

All the gear with great ideas; tips for happy hiking with Nyree

Heading out to explore a trail or take on a long distance hike for the first time is both an exciting and daunting experience. Around a quarter of our hikers are about to embark on their first ever multi-day long distance walk when we meet them for the first time and what I’ve gathered after two years of guiding on the Cape to Cape Track is that regardless of experience, tips for making your walk more enjoyable are always welcomed! Even with the incredible and awe-inspiring beauty of the Track, walking 20kms a day for 7 days straight is both a physical and mental challenge for even the most fit, experienced or determined. From gear to daily tips, here are some of the most important things to me while I’m out in the elements!

Nyree guiding at Cosy Corner

Out at one of my favourite sections of the Track, Cosy Corner

Do your research, then gear up!

Before you hit the shops or online stores, have a good read through your itinerary, planning, preparation and packing notes provided by us! This guide will allow you to go through the equipment you already have and figure out what else you will need to get the most out of your hike.

  • Footwear 
    • Your shoes is the most integral component of your hiking attire. If you haven’t worn your hiking boots/shoes for six months, make sure you get them out and take them for good stroll before packing them in your luggage and crossing your fingers. Shoe rot on the first day of your hike is the last thing you need when you’ve got six more days on the Track to follow. If you’re going to wear shoes you’ve worn on previous hikes, make sure you take them out and test them in soft sand. I would say that close to 30% of the Cape to Cape Track is variable sand, which is very different to walking on firm or rocky terrain. Your feet will move more in your shoes and they are likely to fill up with sand – two things that increase your chance of blisters.
    • If you are buying new shoes for the trip, I recommend either Salomon‘s (narrow / medium foot) or Keen‘s (medium / wide foot). Although our paperwork recommends boots, if you are an experienced walker with good ankle strength you can definitely comfortably walk the Track with lighter hiking shoes. Also, it’s not a bad idea to bring some hiking sandals! These can be great on warmer days with less soft sand beach walking.
    • When buying new shoes, make sure you purchase them at least one size too big. For example, I usually wear a 38 but my Salomon’s are a size 40. This will leave more room when sand walking and also extra space if you need to apply blister covers or wear extra socks.
    • On that note, make sure you get comfortable socks! I really like Bamboo socks as they are reasonably prices, antibacterial, super soft and durable! However, many hikers choose marino wool and toe socks to keep their tootsies comfortable and rave about them! Whichever you choose, make sure you wear them in with your hiking footwear.
  • Backpack
    • One of the many bonuses to walking with us is that you will only be hiking with a comfortable day pack! Choose a pack with enough space for your water (bladder pocket ideal), lunch, wet weather gear, swimmers, microfibre towel, personal medication, first aid including blister treatment (Compede & Fixomull) and a compression bandage, sun protection and Track notes. Somewhere between 25-40L will usually do the trick.
    • Although sometimes this feature is only available on a larger pack, it is great to find a bag with a hip belt as this will help distribute the weight evenly and reduce the load on your shoulders.
    • A metal frame with mesh across the back is also an added bonus, especially on hot days.
    • A lot of our hikers like Osprey or Deuter, I currently have a Companion and love it.
  • 3L Hydration Bladder
    • A lot of people opt against these because they can have a plastic kind of taste. However, they will ensure that you stay hydrated whilst on the Track with great ease. You can add a sachet of Hydralyte or any other powdered sports drink to remove the unpleasant taste.
  • Microfibre Towel
    • Great for dusting the sand off your feet after a beach walk or water crossing. These lightweight, compact towels can be aired out on the outside of your pack after use.
  • Adjustable hat
    • I prefer a broad brim adjustable hat so I can be confidently protected from the sun in strong wind
  • Light weight, quick dry pants
    • These are all I wear on the Track now. Not only do they add extra protection from snakes and sharp shrubs, they also keep you ready for any kind of weather. Remember if it’s a warm day and the ocean looks inviting, you can always jump in to cool down! Patagonia make some awesome pants for both men and women.
Nyree guiding at Moses Rock

The hike from Moses Rock to Gracetown is a great day to wear hiking sandals on the Track.

While you’re here and hiking!

It’s all well and good to be geared up and ready for the elements, but there are also a couple of simple things that might make the hiking days a little easier whilst you’re here with us.

  • Keep hydrated
    • Each morning before you get out on the Track it is a great idea to consume at least 500mL of water (that’s in excess of your dehydrating coffee). When I know it’s going to be a warm day, I’ll make sure that I have at least a whole litre of water before hitting the Track.
    • Hydralyte is a godsend after a long day in the sun. Bring some a long and take it whenever you are feeling tired or dehydrated during the week. You may also want to put some into your water bladder to spruce up your taste buds.
    • Another tip is to store the bladder in the fridge the night before your hike! The water will generally stay cool in your pack throughout the day and keep you feeling refreshed.
  • Good quality lip balm
  • Zinc
    • Everyday that I am out on the Track I make sure that I am protected from the sun with both SPF 50+ sunscreen (Cancer Council or Le Tan). I also apply a layer of Surf Mud to my face. This amazing natural products smells like honey and keeps me protected from those harmful rays.
  • Look after your muscles
  • Get enough sleep – aim for 8 hours every night
  • Stretch
    • Particularly the legs and hips. Check out these yoga poses to help release some of that muscle tension. Magnesium will also help with this.
    • Bring a tennis ball – roll it under your feet and up and down your hamstring
  • Blisters
    • Dress your blisters with Compede & Fixomull. Sometimes wool can also soften your toes in tight shoes.
Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse from Skippy Rock

There is no feeling quite like the one of arriving at Cape Leeuwin after 135kms of hiking.

When you get home

It’s important to give yourself some time to recover after your hike. Make sure you take at least a day or two for downtime and to unpack before heading back to work.

  • Clean your gear
    • The one item that most people forget to clean is their hydration bladder! Without proper cleaning and storage the tube is a breeding ground for algae and bacteria.
      • Hot water & bicarb soda generally does the trick. Make sure you massage the tube to exfoliate off anything that may be growing inside! After you have finished, rinse all the grossness out and re-rinse with bicarb to store.
  • Keep stretching those legs
  • Stay active
  • Continue drinking lots of water

I hope these tips and tricks help you plan your next adventure on the Cape to Cape Track! They certainly help me get through lots of days on the Track during our peak seasons. My best advice would be to keep training in the shoes you plan to wear on the Track for long distances on variable terrain. If you are interested in hiking the Track this Autumn, check out our Guided or Self-Guided experience and make sure you book on soon to avoid disappointment!

Staff Christmas party a hoot!

On Saturday 10th December the team from Cape to Cape Explorer Tours got together to celebrate another amazing year showing hikers the incredible trail that we are all so passionate about! We spent the day under the shade of the Melaleuca tree’s and down on the beach in the beautiful and coastal hamlet of Gracetown.

The CCET Team

The CCET Team of Spring 2016. Back (left to right): Ro, Bec, Gene, Nyree, Sarah, Mike, Lisa & Heather. Front (left to right): Rusty, Rich, Danny, Saul & Jamie. Absent: Shell, Laurie & Adzy.

With low winds and warm weather, we couldn’t have picked a better day to pull the team together and have some fun! Everyone brought along their families to enjoy the festivities which featured diving, fishing and stand up paddle boarding.

Crayfish caught by Sarah and Rich

Sarah and Rich went out for a quick dive and came back some delicious crayfish!

A huge hats off to our amazing catering coordinator Lisa for serving us up a feast of freshly BBQ’d local line caught fish, monster sized prawns, delicious healthy salads and yummy deserts. Kudos to all those who helped cooked the BBQ and prepare the food on the day, what a team!

The team getting into the BBQ

A fantastic feast in the shade!

BBQ at Melaleucas

The day continued after lunch with what to many was the highlight of their day! A massive thank you to Gene and the rest of the Hardy family for bringing down their boat and taking everyone out to give skurfing a shot!

Gene, Rich and kids on the boat

Gene and Rich taking the first round of kids out skurfing on the boat.

Our Operations Coordinator Saul was a natural!

Saul skurfing

Saul skurfing!

The beach was also quite a comfortable spot to spend the afternoon!

Relaxing on the beach

Danny & Saul’s partners Harmony & Kerry enjoyed relaxing on the beach!

Thank you to all our staff, their families, our business partners and our clients for making 2016 the best year yet for Cape to Cape Explorer Tours. We would like to take this opportunity to wish all our readers a very Merry Christmas and safe and Happy New Year. We look forward to a sharing a whole lot more fun out on the Track in 2017!