Larapinta Trail preparation

I like challenges. And what better thing to choose than hiking the Larapinta Trail solo. I’d done a bit of hiking overseas (with porters or donkeys to carry my gear) but now it was time to carry everything on my own back and get lost in the outback of my own country, Australia (hopefully not literally ‘lost’ though).

Considered one of Australia’s most spectacular and challenging multiday walks, the Larapinta Trail runs for 223km west of Alice Springs from Telegraph Station to the summit of Mt Sonder. It can take anywhere between 20 days to as little as 4 days (that would be for ultra runners though!) but the average is between 14-16 days for independent hikers.

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Mt Riddell (my training walk)

I spent a few months pouring over maps and reading plenty of blogs on people’s itineraries and ‘what to pack’ lists but I have to say the itinerary didn’t mean anything and mine changed a bit after I’d started walking. However, I’m proud to say I didn’t overpack and I did use everything that I took (which really wasn’t that much). I carried around 18kg including four days worth of food and a day’s worth of water. It got lighter as I ate but then got heavier the few times I had to carry extra water for dry campsites for the night. Of course, I met people with as little as 12kg and as much as 25kg; it really comes down to luxuries and how lightweight your gear is.

I started compiling my food and gear weeks before I was set to leave. I spent a lot of time thinking about the food I would require but which also had to be lightweight. Being gluten and dairy free also presented other challenges but I ended up putting together a pretty good stash of food (but not cheap though!).

DCIM101GOPRO

So with my new Osprey backpack fully packed, food sorted, maps memorised, too many training walk/runs up Mt Riddell to count, I left for the airport. It reminded me that I’d clearly forgotten how easy domestic travel was compared to international; it had been a while.

I stayed in a private room at Alice Lodge Backpackers in Alice Springs and soon had the entire room covered in all my gear and food as I tried to organise my three food drops into the large plastic containers Zak from Larapinta Trail Trek Support had given me. When I went out to meet Zak, one of the first things he said was, “Nervous?” and my answer was, “Pfft, no. I’m excited!”.

I’m sure people doubted me, thought I was a little mad, but I’m well and truly used to that now. I wasn’t nervous, I was going to finish the Larapinta, there was no plan B. Zak assured me that as a solo hiker, him and his team fully look out for us on the trail and are well prepared to pull us out if something happens. “But I’ll be picking you up at Redbank in 16 days time though, right?”. Absolutely.

The Larapinta website states quite prominently that only fit and experienced bushwalkers should consider undertaking the trail end to end. Fit, yes but experienced, not really, it would be my first solo, independent hike. It probably would have been smarter to start with something like the Overland track in Tasmania first, but I don’t tend to do that. Go to the top of the list first. Like I said, I like challenges.


 


Packing list

Equipment
  • Tent (OzTrail Starlight)
  • Sleeping bag (Macpac Latitude 700)
  • Thermal liner
  • Inflatable sleeping mattress (Sea to Summit Ultralight)
  • Inflatable pillow
  • Solar lantern (Luci EMRG)
  • Headtorch
  • Foam sitting mat
  • Trowel
  • Hiking poles (Helinox)
  • Water bladder 3L (Osprey Hydraulics)
  • Water bottles x2
  • Backpack (Osprey Xena 70L)
  • Small daypack (Kathmandu pocketpack) (I put this in my last food drop and just used to hike up Mt Sonder and back)
  • GPS Watch (Garmin)
  • Solar panel (Goal Zero Nomad 7 Plus) (this was the first time I’d used it and I was beyond happy with it)
  • Battery pack (Goal Zero Venture 30)
  • GoPro and charger
  • Phone and charger
  • Notebook and pen
  • Rope (my dad suggested I take it for some of the sections that required a lot of rock scrambling but I never needed it, only used it as a clotheslines a couple of times)
Clothing
  • Thermal headband (Macpac merino wool)
  • Gloves (Macpac merino wool)
  • Cap
  • Beanie
  • UV resistant long sleeved shirt (Mountain Designs)
  • Hollow yarn long sleeved shirt (Mountain Designs)
  • T-shirt (Icebreaker)
  • Zip-off pants (Kathmandu Clarks)
  • Thermal tights (Kathmandu) (only used to sleep in)
  • Jacket (Aldi merino wool)
  • Wool blend socks x3 (x2 Aldi and x1 Wigwam)
  • Plastic poncho (never needed it!)
  • Hiking boots (Mammut Trovat Goretex)
  • Packing cells (Kathmandu)
Toiletries
  • Travel towel (Liveventure)
  • Multipurpose wilderness wash (Sea to Summit)
  • Deodorant
  • Aloe Vera
  • Toothpaste and toothbrush
  • Lip balm SPF15
  • Facial wipes
  • Hair ties and comb
  • Small sewing kit (didn’t use, but good repair kit to have)
  • Toilet paper (every campsite that had a toilet had paper too!)
Medical
  • Tape x2 rolls (Elastoplast)
  • Taping strips
  • Acti-Bliss wool (didn’t need, what a miracle)
  • Antiseptic cream
  • Emergency blanket
  • Gauzes, bandages, alcool wipes and band aids
  • Hydration tablets
  • Nurofen
  • Insect repellent (didn’t need)
  • Sunscreen
  • Whistle
Cooking
  • Foldable kitchen sink 5L (Sea to Summit)
  • Cup and bowl (bowl wasn’t really necessary I ate out of either the packet or the pot)
  • Cutlery
  • Matches
  • Cooking fuel (100g Jetboil) (had 5 with one in each box and two with me but only used roughly two and a half without knowing for sure)
  • Jetboil Zip
  • x1 cooking pot 2L
Food
  • Bliss balls (Carmen’s x1 packet)
  • Leda Banana Bars x8
  • Kez’s Kitchen Lamington Bars x4
  • Loving Earth chocolate x4 blocks (my dessert after dinner)
  • Home made trail mix (x4 bags of cashews, almonds, walnuts, coconut, dried mango, dried banana, goji berries, dried apple)
  • Forbidden Foods Brekky Rice 125g x10
  • Carmen’s porridge sachets x6
  • So Good Almond Milk 250ml x3 (I didn’t carry these but they were in my food drops for the next morning’s breakfast)
  • Table of Plenty rice cakes with dark chocolate x2 packets
  • Local Legends beef jerky x3 packets
  • Organ quinoa crisp breads x1 packet
  • Health Discovery savoury crackers x2 packets
  • Sweet Potato chips x1 packet
  • Mayver’s peanut butter (I spooned some into three small containers and divided into my food drops)
  • Back Country meals x12
  • Hart & Soul soup x2 and microwave rice 125g x2 (I didn’t carry these but were in my food drops for dinner that night)
  • Tea bags (Green and Chai)
  • Coconut water x3 (I put these into my food drops as a treat)