Having just made the summit of Mt Feathertop, I wanted to share a few tips about how you too can conquer the beast that is THE RAZORBACK and summit Mt Feathertop.
1. Over prepare:
Over preparation is always the best. Don't decide to do a hike based on some inspirational Instagram photo a stranger posted online. Read up, ask people who have climbed it, visit information centers if you can.
When we were doing our research on the optional routes, one blogger recommended to make it a two day journey, but it was possible to do it in one. We analyzed the starting points, one being Harrretville and the other, Diamantina Hut. Because we were on a short schedule, we decided to attempt it in one go, but planned for the worst case scenario and made sure we brought our headlamps in the event that we didn't finish before the sunset.
It took us 7 hours roundtrip (that includes breaks, and photo taking, etc)
Summary: 3 hours to the final ascent, ascent took 30 minutes and was pretty much a vertical climb, and the return trip from the base of the summit to the car park was 2.5 hours without stopping.
We packed trail mix nuts, PB&J's, apples, avocados, bananas, protein drinks, and high carb bars. We had food left over and that was reassuring, and a nice treat on the long drive home.
Bring more water than you think you need. That seems to go without saying, I know, but during our hike we only saw two groups of people. One entire group had all run out of water (and these hikers we super experienced). The Alpine Region is known for having natural fresh water and some tanks at the huts, but there were some contamination issues a few years back. The woman at the information center in Bright told us to bring all the water we would need in our packs. My husband had a 3L camelback which we shared, and I had 1L bottle in my bag. Hubs ran out of water with a few 100 meters remaining, but that is mostly because we shared his pack due of the convince of the mouthpiece.
There is phone reception on Mt Feathertop, but that doesn't mean you should put all your eggs in one basket. Bring a hard copy of your map if you can. If your phone is your only source for taking photos or being connected in case of an emergency, bring an external battery charger to provide back up juice for your device.
4. Take your time:
It is 22km (13.6 miles) RETURN. That means it's 11km to the summit and then 11km to get back. If you decide to visit the Federation Hut, it's an additional 1km (500 meters each direction). I would highly recommend visiting the hut if you can.
5. Have fun: There are parts of the hike that sneak up and you are simply grueling. Talk rubbish with your mates or play a game, but keep the interactions going and the time really seems to go quickly through those rough patches.
6. Know when to take breaks: Remember to refuel and stretch. It is better to preempt the need for a mini break rather than waiting until it's too late.
7. Look UP: Much of The Razorback trail is rugged. So rugged in fact that there are long patches where you won't lift your eyes off the earth below your feet. Remember to keep your neck and shoulders relaxed and look up ahead of you when the trail does smooth out and become easier to navigate.
8. Extras: Don't forget to bring a small roll of toilet paper, or wet wipes. I brought both. Also, pack a small trash bag. The mountain doesn't deserve to covered with half eaten apple cores, banana peels or used toilet paper.
The last few months have flat out, and a trip away was just what the doctor ordered. My husband was able to secure two days off, and it also happened to be over our wedding anniversary, 5 years married (WHAT!!!). My parents were visiting from America as well, so they tagged along and we had a very memorable weekend away.
Our plane took off before the sun rose on the Friday and we returned very late Sunday night. Sydney is a spectacular, vibrant city that celebrates two of my favorite things: food and the sea. That's all we did the entire weekend: hike, explore and eat our way through the world's third most livable city.
We truly lucked out with the weather which was outstanding on Saturday, 20C and clear. We took the ferry to Manly, a place I've never been before. I'd done some research into the best places to eat, and I came across an American BBQ joint that was highly rated. I didn't think American BBQ in Australia sounded appealing whatsoever, but we decided to give it a go after stalking a few videos of renowned chefs chatting about it on YouTube.
The place was called Papi Chulos, and it was out of this world good. Located on the wharf at Manly cove, we sipped beers and fruit infused teas while watching the boats putter by and the wild, aquatic bird sunned themselves. There was a DJ playing jams from the 60's and 70's and the decor was so cool, it felt like we had traveled to some quirky little cafe in South America.
Since we are avid Masterchef fans, we made a reservation for dinner at the Bridge Room the moment Ross Lusted graced the TV screen. He was awarded 2014 SMH Good Food Guide Chef of the Year and the Australian Hottest Chef in AUS. It was great to see him in action in the kitchen and we had a delicious meal, including his signature dessert which was voted the best in Australia in 2014.
The meal that took the cake was our anniversary dinner at Aria. My husband actually said that his tastebuds died and went to heaven! Matt Moran has really hit the nail on the head here, boasting an outstanding trifecta: five star food, unbeatable location and ambiance.
We stayed at the Westin in the CBD, walking distance from The Rocks and the Sydney Harbour. For those of you looking to see more of the coast or Bondi, you could still stay here and use public transport, but is it about a 15 minute cab ride.
For you history buffs out there, make sure you check out Susannah Place in The Rocks. It's only $8 and the tour efficient, detailed and well executed. The museum features four attached homes that were built in 1844 and had occupants until 1990. You learn about the history of The Rocks, immigration, poverty and the ever changing times of neighborhood. It's truly fascinating and I highly recommend it.
Until next time Sydney! I can't wait to return during SUMMER!
“We need the tonic of wildness... At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.” Henry David Thoreau
Mt Teide National Park is roughly an hour from our apartment which was nestled in the city center of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Visiting this National Park has been on our " Tenerife Bucketlist" since we arrived, but we hadn't pulled the trigger due to a lack of free time in my husband's schedule.
We made a spontaneous decision to go explore the park a few days ago, and I'm thrilled that we did. We live right smack in the city center of Santa Cruz and the population is approximately 210,000 people. We knew since day dot that we were 5 minutes from the ocean and 10 minutes from the mountains, but we had no idea what else was at our doorstep.
When we started our ascent in the park, it felt like we were driving anywhere in Northern California. I actually felt a sense of deja vu on some of the bends that are so characteristic of the stunning drive down into Halfmoon Bay in CA. The woods smelled divine and all we could see on the either side of the car were thousands of lush pine trees. I completely forgot that we were on a tropical island, that is until we were high enough to look down on all the sandy white beaches, palm trees and the sapphire blue Atlantic Ocean.
In what seemed like the blink of an eye, the terrain changed drastically. We both did a double take because it was as if we had teleported to the moon! I demanded that my husband pull over so that I could snap the picture (above) which was a stones throw from the lush woodland we had just admired. Volcanic islands are incredibly fascinating and diverse, a geologists wonderland!
Twenty minutes later we decided that Mother Nature was simply playing a joke on us. Surely, surely this isn't real. We had just driven through lush green forests, then moon rocks, and now we are in the heart of a crater with 15% vegetation that transition into a RED wasteland desert....
We really enjoyed hiking around the center of Tiede and taking some GoPro shots. We also found an outdoor cafe in the park and enjoyed an icy cold beer which was super refreshing and a welcomed surprise in the middle of national park.
I can't recommend this place highly enough, it is a must do if you ever visit the island of Tenerife and appreciate the outdoors.
Four and a half months ago I was living in East Ukraine. It was bleak, cold, and I had zero friends. I lived off pasta, organic mayo, carrots, bottled water and potatoes. Ukraine isn't in the world news headlines all that often, but for the last three months I've seen "Ukraine" in big bold letters every.single.day. on my BBC.com homepage. I happened to pack up and leave right before Russia invaded because I had family matters to attend to. My husband stayed behind to fulfill his job contract, but each day things got worse and progressively worse. I started to read the news more frequently, and then I started to worry, like, a lot. Long story short, Dan had to flee the country and got a flight to Australia from Donetsk to Melbourne ASAP thanks to his club. Don't believe me...? Then read this.
We got word from a friend of ours who was still living in our old town last week. He texted Dan saying that it was "so great" Dan fled the country because things had escalated rather quickly. People had set up barricades in the streets and were walking through town wearing balaclavas and homemade armor. That same day he added that three people we shot down and killed in the streets. Five people were killed the day he fled back to his home in Serbia. Dan and I were in complete disbelief for we had always assumed our incredibly remote town would have remained somewhat safe.
I've lived in Ukraine (off and on) since October 2012. We lived in two major cities and one small town: Dnipropetrovsk, Kiev and Mariupol. I never in a million years thought I would step foot in that part of the world, let alone live there. However, we did and we thrived and grew in ways I never could have imagined. It's a fascinating opportunity to see how other people live in various parts of the globe. Matter of fact, it's one of my favorite parts of being an expat- witnessing what life is like outside of my comfort zone in the all too familiar US of A. The appreciation that I've gained is utterly priceless.
And now, here we are, back in the Canary Islands. We lived in Las Palmas (Gran Canaria) from 2008-2010 and I honestly never thought we would revisit these beautiful 'islas" off the coast of Africa. It has been a righteous treat and a blessing after the bleak winters and hardship of Ukraine.
Thank you to all our friends and family who offered us support during this bizarre transition at the beginning of 2014. Your calls, texts and messages were all immensely appreciated.
We only have 67 glorious days in Tenerife, and we sure as hell are gonna make the most of it!!
1. Visit Teide National Park : Check!
2. Hike to the summit of Teide: Booked for May 28th!!
3. Visit Playa Teresitas : Check!
4. Explore the ancient city of La Laguna : Check!
5. See the La Laguna Easter procession : Check!
6. Visit Playa de las Americas in the South: Check
7. Complete the Masca Gorge hike
8. Tackle Siam Park, the water kingdom : Check x 2
9. Shop on Calle Castillo : Check!
10. Walk through the Botanical gardens in Puerto de la Cruz : Check!
11. Visit Puerto de la Cruz : Check x 3
12. Swim in the natural pools at Garachico : Check!
13. Take the Fred Olsen ferry to Gran Canaria : Check x 2
14. See Los Gigantes: Check!
15. Go to a futbol match
16. Find the most authentic Canarian food on the island : Check!
17. Drive around the entire island in one day