A step closer to Heard Island

IMG_0998Last week the Sydney based participants of the Heard Island Expedition meet with Bob Schmeider, the Californian based expedition organiser.

And with that meeting it was proved to me that this really is happening.  The idea to visit Heard Island was first planted in my mind 2 years ago and it wasn’t until last week that I really accepted that this was a real extreme adventure that I fortunate enough to be involved in.

Bob was excited to tell us about the planning that’s going on in California, the chartering of the Akademik Shokalskiy, the discussions with Australian Antarctic Division representatives for the permit to land on the island.  There is now only 8 months until we depart and still much to do.  But now it’s real!

IMG_1002And then to spend time with  Grahame Budd, Mr Heard Island for me.  He’s been to the Heard Island 8 times already, he was the first to summit Big Ben and he has authored many publications about the island.

It is now a proven fact!

Inactivity and hotel restaurant meals do not improve your fitness levels!

For the past 5 months I’ve spent a lot of time travelling back and forward between Sydney and Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.  Focused on establishing myself in a new job in a new industry I’ve found little time to spend in the outdoors.

IMG_0962So to reverse the trend last weekend, I signed on for a 30 kilometre walk in the Grose Valley, located in the Blue Mountains near Sydney.

Over confident  –  in word YES!  Come Saturday morning at the allotted time and place I found myself joining a group of 4 others, 3 at least intending to be competitors in the upcoming North Face 100.  I was out of my league – there was nothing more obvious.

At the top of ascent number 1 - DaFaur Head
At the top of ascent number 1 – DaFaur Head

And so began 7 hours of physical abuse to my body.  I stayed with the group for the first hour – that was all down hill.  And then the first ascent for the day – almost immediately out the back of the group and struggling.  Luckily this was a “there and back” leg of the trip and I was collected on the way back.  So off we go down hill again – and this time running was introduced to the punishment.

Blue Gum Forest - one of the few unlogged areas in the Grose Valley.
Blue Gum Forest – one of the few unlogged areas in the Grose Valley.

By now it was obvious I wasn’t going to stay with this group for the planned 30 kilometre trip.  After an hour heading north up the Grose toward Pierces Pass, and just before beginning the second ascent I called a halt to the beating I was taking and made the

Heading home - the last ascent out of the Grose Valley.  Endless steps up to Perry's Lokdown
Heading home – the last ascent out of the Grose Valley. Endless steps up to Perry’s Lokdown

decision to turn around and begin the solo trip back to the Blue Gum Forest.  From there I could make my own slow ascent back up to Perry’s Lookdown .

It’s now Sunday evening and 24 hours have elapsed since I made it back to the car.  I can hardly walk, stairs an huge obstacle but I can say I did enjoy he day out.  I’m now well aware of where my fitness level is at (or not depending on how I look at it) and how much work I have ahead of me in the next few months.

And I must take a more measured approach to those hotel breakfast and dinner meals.

Sogeri Village, the gateway to …?

PNG_Sogeri-9200The Kokoda trail of course !!  The trekking Mecca for all Australians.

Well I din’t know that either but on a recent trip out of Port Moresby and into the “hills” we visited the village of Sogeri and it all became quite clear.

On past Bomana cemetery at 9 Mile, and pushing higher into he hills east of Port Moresby. very lush and green – thats an understatement – within in no time after commencing the climb th road was engulfed in the clouds and at times when we stopped to take in the view wisps of cloud would race past on the updrafts from the valleys below.

PNG_Sogeri-9175The terrain is spectacular – there’s no way you’d find me walking at night here – the chance of walking of the edge of a severe drop is just to high!!

Just before Sogeri village there’s a intersection (maybe an overstatement) and the muddy road that curved to the north takes you to the start of the Kokoda trail – just 5-6 kilometres further on.  Maybe one day soon I get to see if that’s true and make the trek across the mountains to Kokoda on the northern side.  Although having seen the relief map of the trek I’m not so sure.