1 Adventure of a lifetime
Welcome to the Summit to Sea blog for 2019. Updates will occur every couple of days. We’d love to hear your comments!
With cooler weather in the ACT for this year’s start the team have been enjoying getting to know each other and form as a crew. It’s been an exciting start with everyone being challenged on our ropes course. First aid sessions, gear sorting as well as morning jogs have ensured that the first days have been productive. There is a great vibe going with a lot of smiles and support amongst all crew members. We are excited for what is to come.
Notes from the field:
The team had a fantastic time on the ropes course and getting to know each other. Common feelings are of excitement and nervousness for what lies ahead. The full days are also giving people a challenge to adjusting to with a number of tired team mates at the end of the day ready to get to bed for what lies ahead on the next day.
The crew is formed and the planning has been pretty much completed with everyone’s backpacks heavily filled for the first expedition. To capture the feelings they work together on a picture using paints and colours. They also have the opportunity to take part in the Murrumbidgee River corridor restoration project that participant’s at Outward Bound Australia’s national campus have been involved in for the past 8 years. This small service will of course have a lasting positive environmental impact in years to come.
The crew is gathered to farewell and begin their journey underneath the Blue Peter flag pole. Raising the Blue Peter flag as each Summit to Sea crew do signifies that the crew is ready to leave the safety of the harbor. They will head out to the southern section of Namadgi National park now and begin their journey southwards. A great chance to solidify some of the skills they have learnt in the past few days.
Yesterday the team began their expedition. They camped at their start point ready to get an early start in the morning.
Notes from the field:
“This morning we woke up to kangaroos in our campsite in the fog and wild dogs howling in the distance. Some of us had never seen kangaroos in the wild. It was a really special moment to look out side out shelters as we were laying in our sleeping bags and see them jumping around in the fog.
We packed up and began our first full day of hiking. The route we chose headed up to the top of Mt Morgan. To practice, we navigated from each small knoll to the next knoll working out the best route and building confidence on reading topography.
We had to pull up short of Mount Morgan and camped in the saddle.
Our first day of hiking was challenging to say the least. We learnt a lot about the mental challenge vs the physical challenge and reflected on how much mental attitude helps to overcome the physical challenges.”
Notes from the field:
“We woke up early with hopes getting to camp early, we were tired but motivated for the day.
The Summit of Mt Morgan was beautiful and we could see for miles. We looked back at where we had come from and the route ahead.
On our way down Mt Morgan heading south we came across a lot of boulders which affected the pace of our hiking. Luckily we came across a track which allowed our pace to pick up a bit to make it to a camp spot. We filled up water from a creek which was a first for a lot of us.
Our hopes of getting to camp early did not come to fruition today, we ended up eating dinner on the trail and then continuing to hike into the night.
A few of us are struggling but we are keen to support each other and get through the challenging moments together.
Today we learnt how important time management can be but also that plans don’t always work out and that is okay, we just need to be adaptable.”
Finishing the first leg of their expedition through the northern part of Kosciousko National Park the team has reached Lake Eucumbene. Obviously re-energising with large spoonfuls of vegemite the team resupplied and got ready for paddling down Lake Eucumbene. Paddling with a good tail breeze the team enjoyed learning some new skills and having a break from carrying their backpacks.
Notes from the field:
“After collecting our food drop a few hours late on day 6, we really had to high tail it along a fire trail to make up some distance to get us back on track. We had a lot of singing going on while hiking the fire trails which really helped the mood and helped to kill time.
We ended up making good time and on night 6 we camped near a historic hut which was interesting to explore.
After a bit more trail walking, singing and tea we made it to the Eucembene dam which to be honest started out more like a stream because the water level was so low. We had a quick hassle to get a few things ready then jumped on our canoes and headed down stream before making camp on what would be the dam floor if it was higher than 20% capacity
We learnt how important time management is when there is a large group of people with a common goal. We also learnt that we love to chat and make tea which sometimes (frequently) slows us down. A few things that really challenged us during the past two days; the heat, crossing a swamp and camping on sand (it gets in all the food ☹)
Today (Day 8) we continued down the river and into the Eucumbene dam. We got to experience a few rapids (more like pebble runs really) before hitting the big water! The wind was with us for the morning, which was also when we spent most of the time relaxing on the canoes. It picked up in the afternoon which we weren’t impressed about as we had to cross the dam. We learnt that when the wind is nice, make the distance count. 😊 We were pretty much pirates- a few people tried to raid another canoe, a few people capsized, a few people fell in. All in good fun really.
It was a pretty hot day so we were all a bit cooked afterwards, in our loopy state we decided that we should make a group uniform and get Mouth Grills- although we wont be able to find them out here that’s for sure.”
Notes from the field:
“We biked from Eucembene to Guthega!!! It was hott!!!
Day 9 took us to a beautiful campsite along side Gungarlin River which we promptly jumped in to cool off. That river was a savour! So refreshing to bathe in the chilled mountain waters after biking all day in the heat and sweating our hearts out getting covered in dirt. It really was fantastic.
We got into camp super early which I think we all needed. We even had dinner at 1800, which was a first. So much time for activities!
We learnt that organisation and initiative combined with a lack of consistent chatting and multiple hot drink breaks can really pay off after experiencing that relaxed evening at camp.
The next day of our bike leg (day 10) was even hotter, honestly who turned the heat up?
For some it was too much, and they got to experience some aircon in the support vehicles, that doesn’t mean they didn’t give their all though. We all agree that the entire group really put in so much effort getting to the mountains. AND we smashed our time goal too! Our team is really starting to work well together and we are really beginning to run the show. We are all very excited to jump up on the top of Australia and spend some time cruising and taking it reasonably easy. One thing on our list is to drink from the head waters of the Snowy river!
We learnt that sometimes taking the easy option is actually us making a mature decision to conserve ourselves for the rest of program.”
Guthega, Main Range to Dead Horse Gap:
When we set out from Guthega, we thought we had a couple of easy kilometers to reach our first campsite on the Main Range. We should have looked at the contour lines on the map, rather than the optimistic lines of each other’s faces, but we made camp eventually on the soft tussocks of grass midst granite boulders by the Snowy River.
On our first Main Range morning, we split into two smaller crews – the better to traverse the saddles and lakes on the one hand and the knolls and spurs on the other. The Climbers had morning tea a top Mt Twynam, then lunch at Carruthers peak, did gymnastics on Mt Northcote, and made camp at Mt Townsend. The Lowlanders stopped by Blue Lake on the way to a saddle below Mt Kosciuszko, where the two groups came together the following morning for the great ascent
At the top of Australia: Laughter, wild whoops, ebullient chatter. Then, for some, a final peak at Ramshead, and for all a descent to Dead Horse Gap, feeling refreshed by the Mountain air and water, and exhausted by the challenging hikes.
The group was greeted by an Outward Bound bus which delivered the group to a lower section of the Snowy River at the mighty McKillops Bridge. From here the group will spend 4 days paddling down the Snowy River.
Pictures to come….
Notes from the field:
“After a few days on the main range (with some very hot days before that) we were all very excited to get onto the Snowy River and meander down stream.
The river started off quite low but picked up on the second morning which made the rapids easier to maneuver. This meant that we didn’t have to drag the rafts down. We all really enjoyed being able to swim throughout the days as they were hot.
We’ve seen some amazing things which include platypi swimming, a wild boar attacking a massive goanna, goannas swimming in the reeds on the river edge, Jack saw an brown snack eating a water lizard which it dragged into the water and drowned it, a few black cockatoos and some amazingly big eagles.
At the campsite on the second night our instructors challenged us to be creative with our bivvies. The boys tried a few things but in the end gave up and slept under the stars. Us girls made a massive bivvy which we called the Raft house which could accommodate us all :).
On the final day one of our rafts was leaking so much so that we couldn’t paddle it. We had to problem solve how to get it down the river, we ended up towing it.
During our rafting expedition we got to camp every night early which we all really loved as we were able to relax a little bit more and really enjoy the serenity. We learnt how to captain our own rafts and really were able to gain some good skill by day 4 on the river. We also learnt how to read white water which was very interesting and helped us gain some deep appreciation for the river and its dangers.
We had our mid course review where we were able to reflect on what we had learnt so far and give feedback to one another. We found this to be insightful.”
The team has completed the traditional 3 day solo experience. A chance to reflect and rejuvenate after a grueling first 2 and a half weeks. The poem below is by Carl. Due to safety concerns with fires and extreme heat and wind conditions the route plan was changed to ensure everyone’s safety. All crew members are well and there are no further concerns,
Notes from the field:
“We are all feeling really refreshed after our Solo time. We had a chance to write letters to friends and family and to ourselves, catch up on sleep, observe nature and make gifts for the group.
We spent a lot of time reflecting on our journey so far and our journey to come and through this reflection learnt a lot about ourselves.
We also learnt the difficulty in going timeless as we removed our watches and had to live by the sun and stars and ration our food by our hunger and not boredom.
The solo experience was an emotional one but every one of us think it was extremely worthwhile and for some, the most rewarding part of the adventure so far.
After our solo we were moved to a safe location as there were fires near by. Near by the small town of Nowa Nowa, we spent our afternoon after Solo by a river which helped to relieve the 46 degree day.
We spent the following day (day 20) by the river preparing for our Final Expedition, planning where we needed food and water drops and our route. To add to the challenge we split into two smaller groups to navigate through to our final destination.”
Outward Bound is definitely not a guided tour. Crew members rely on each other for successful expeditions – taking turns to lead, support and step outside their comfort zones. For three weeks they have practiced skills under the guidance of their instructors. The last part of any Outward Bound expeditions crew members are expected to assume responsibility for the team. This is called Final. On Summit to Sea, Final involves a multi day expedition and empowers teams and individuals to assume full responsibility for themselves and others.
Notes from the field:
“For final we split ourselves into two teams. We took into consideration our strengths and weaknesses ensuring that each group had someone with solid leadership qualities, navigation skills, a people person and someone with some solid banter amongst other necessary skills for a small group environment.
During our 4 day final expedition our instructors shadowed us. Which meant we had to basically ignore them unless there was an emergency. For some this was difficult but others really relished the independence out in the bush with our team mates putting into play all the skills we had learnt over the past few weeks.
We made a few mistakes which usually occurred when on a track. We think this came down to our complacency when on a track; expecting it to just go in the right direction. When we actually went through the bush and used our map and compass we were very good at our navigation.
This mistakes were sometimes hard to take, as it made our days, hours and distance longer as we still needed to make it to our food and water. We were tired and sore and sometimes we got on each others nerves but we realized this was only when we were having a difficult time with our navigation and we were all able to look past those moments and remain a solid team.
One group had an afternoon at the beach because of some really quick walking. This revitalized the group and made for a very memorable afternoon.
Both groups got to the end destination by lunch time on the 4th day of final and there was a very happy reunion of the two groups. Some witty banter and animated story telling took place of countless cups of tea.”
Notes from the field:
We woke early and began the day as one group again starting out for a 6km walk through the forest. This was a warm us for our Final run which took us to the mouth of the Snowy River. It was cold, windy and misting on us but we all jumped in for a swim across the snowy. We were pretty cold when we got out but it was exhilarating to be at this point in our program. Energy was bouncing around us.
We then went to the camp ground where we were able to have our first shower in 24 days and it was HOT!!!!! It was honestly a strange experience for a few of us and in some ways felt confining being inside a cubicle. But it was great to be clean again!
After a cooked lunch we went to a residential retirement home where were spent some time chatting with the residents. A few of us were able to help them out with some gardening before we all joined them for some afternoon tea.
We went back to the camp ground and spent the afternoon sorting out our things and cleaning some of the gear we used during the program before we had a BBQ dinner.
After dinner we had our final group debrief where we had a chance to share our reflections and learnings with each other. There were some really special moments and a few tears. It was hard to believe that the end had finally come.”
Summit to Sea is Outward Bound Australia’s premier challenge adventure for adults. To challenge yourself to complete 26 days journeying through the spectacular Australian wilderness, supporting team mates to be their best and in turn being supported to be your best is a great accomplishment. Before departing from the ACT they raised the Blue Peter flag (a naval flag) to signify that they were leaving the safety of the harbour. Today they lowered it.
“A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.”
As Outward Bound alumni they will now have the courage and grit to continue to become their best selves. We congratulate the Summit to Sea 2019 crew and wish them the very best on their onward journey!
Final notes from the field:
“Our final morning together was a happy and sad occasion all rolled into one. We shared contact details and memories before bringing down the blue peter. We then received our certificates, warm and fuzzies (an envelope filled with positive affirmations written by each person in the group for each person in the group) and our Blue Peter Pins before saying our final good byes to the OBA team.
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