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!