Welcome to the Summit to Sea 2017 blog. Today 20 people will begin Outward Bound’s most famous epic journey through three states, from Australia’s highest mountain to the south coast of Victoria. In just under 4 weeks, they will discover new things about themselves. As often quoted at Outward Bound Australia “A ship is safe in the harbor but that is not what ships are built for.” The Blue Peter naval flag which designates a ship leaving the harbor will be raised at the beginning of the program symbolizing everyone sailing out to new beginnings. We wish all 20 participants good winds and a wonderful program. Updates will be made to the blog every few days so make sure you check in regularly for updates. Feel free to leave some comments as well.
All 19 participants arrived safely to a hot Canberra day. After welcome and introductions they were divided into the two teams for their expedition. They will be spending the first couple of days in Canberra organizing their gear and challenging themselves on the high ropes course before beginning the first leg of their expedition. We wish them well and hope that you are excited to be following them in the Summit to Sea blog.
What a big day! The two teams had the opportunity to challenge themselves on the high ropes course. Each individual pushed themselves to new heights (literally) as they put their trust in themselves, their safety buddy and their team. The high ropes course saw them 10m high in the air completing a number of challenges such as The Rickety Bridge and Traverse Wall. The most nervous time was pushing themselves to let go of the safety rope and go ‘hands free’. They also worked together to complete the Giant Ladder. Whilst the team took care of safety on the ground each individual and a buddy worked together to get to the top of the shaky and narrow wooden rung ladder. Participants enjoyed a respite from the heat in the afternoon and were briefed on the route. However, a busy time ahead as they pack the gear. Tomorrow they will head off on their adventurous journey.
Bags are packed, route plans made, and where was that compass? Both teams are ready to go and are excited as well as nervous for what lies ahead. Both teams meet underneath the flag pol, ready to raise the “Blue Peter” flag and head out on their adventure. Michael and Amabel take on spokesperson roles as they introduce their team names. Both teams have chosen pioneering names Gunn for Blue group and Cotter for Red group to signify the resourcefulness, tenacity of spirit and people focused attributes of these two families. Whilst they will be in two teams there is no competition and they raise the flag together. The next few days will test out their ability to put into practice navigation, leadership and teamwork as they head down to the Cooleman plains in the northern part of Kosciusko National Park and begin their trek to Mt Kosciusko. We wish them the best.
Day 4, 5 and 6
After getting their first glimpse of Australia’s High country, Team Gunn and Team Cotter hoisted their backpacks onto their backs and began their first day of hiking. Mt Morgan (1852m) on the edge of the ACT and NSW was the first challenge. The trek up was steep and hard work for the first day and the Gunn team made camp at last light around 9pm. The view over the plains below was worth the effort. The day provided some good opportunities for both team to practice their navigation and also how to walk as a group. There was a realisation of the enormity of the hike and the challenge that lay ahead.
Day 5 proved a flatter and easier walk with both teams covering more distance. The Gunn team stopped to explore Pedens Hut and a high summit beside the plain whilst Cotter group pushed onto camp at the dam wall. Whilst setting up camp both teams were hit by a storm moving through. A good reminder to be prepared at all times. Some of the team members realised how important it is to waterproof and have an organised pack.
The two teams continued hiking south towards Eumcumbene Dam where they would pick up their rafts to paddle down the dam for the day. A good rest for sore feet and legs. However, the mountain biking leg lies just around the corner.
Excerpt from the field:
“Woke up to frozen bivvies. That morning we walked to Gavells hut and then started the climb to summit mouth Gang gang. Then moving into the afternoon we went from trekking to paddling. We started the first section of the paddle to Eucumbene damn wall. Getting acquainted with the gear and techniques so that we are ready for a big day tomorrow.
The morning went slow with our first really cold experience. Once the sun broke the frost the rest of the day was fantastic and enjoyable. Starting to feel fitter, progress and pace are noticeably improving.”
The teams paddled across the Eucumbene and camped near the dam wall.
Day 9 and 10
The mountain bikes arrived to the campsite. Over the next two days the backpacks would be transported from campsite to campsite and everyone would cycle with daypacks. This provides everyone with a break from carrying the heavy backpacks but definitely works the legs. The route takes them through the mountains along fire-trails. Up hills and down hills. Many of the hills see participants pushing up the last little bit but the down hill sections are exhilarating. Here’s a collection of photos taken over the past few days!
The team will reach Guthega by bike and be reunited with their backpacks. From here they will head over the main range. Wishing them good weather and great views!!
Day 12 -14
Both groups left Guthega and headed south towards Mt Kosciuscko. They crossed the headwaters of the Snowy River as a small two meter stream on a foot bridge and began to climb. The Cotter team reports:
“The group was energetic and excited to be on the main range and found the entirety of the leg invigorating. The main reason for feeling this way was a direct result of a sense of achievement for the days walking along with just getting to “BE” in such a beautiful place…Our group stamina has increased notably since the beginning of the program. Which meant we were able to summit or “bag” more peaks than we originally had planned on.”
The Gunn team reports:
“The group began the main range track from Guthega. During the first day they managed to bag little Twynam, Mt Twynam, Mt Carruthers, t Mueller and Mt Townsend. The views from all were great but Townsend was by far the pick of the crop. It was spectacular and well worth the effort that became a very emotional moment of satisfaction and success for the entire team.
The next day involved a 4am climb of Kozi for a Summit Sunrise and then a day of hiking in some pretty ferocious weather, winds-storms-icy needles in exchange for what we usually call rain, all the way through the Rams heads and down to Dead horse gap.
The group felt very excited to bag the summits on the main range and the final summit on the first day, Townsend, was the pinnacle to a physically and emotionally tolling day. The storms on the second day tested the groups mettle and were an all-round achievement to get through, in good spirits, as most people spent a good portion of the day working hard to stay warm and dry. Finishing the range and walking down into Dead Horse Gap had each member of the group feeling incredibly proud of their achievements.
The greatest challenges of this leg of the trip were the physical ones such as how to stay warm, finding the reserves to push from summit to summit. Along with the physical, staying motivated to push that little bit further in the conditions that were what we had was no small task either.
Also when John lost the creamed corn and could not find afternoon tea also was another significant challenge. ;)”
Reaching Dead Horse Gap which is south of Thredbo the teams were picked up and transported back to the Snowy River on the Victorian border. There they would again take to rafts and head down the Snowy River – A well earned break for their feet. Both teams are doing exceptionally well.
Day 16 – 19
Reports from the teams have not come over the past few days as they have been on their three day solo. Solo is an integral part of Outward Bound Summit to Sea program where participants get the chance to spend time by themselves. It is a chance to reflect, plan, and reinvigorate themselves for the final part of their journey. They finished their solo this morning and trekked to some local adventure cave. Tonight they head to the caves. Stay tuned for some photos.
With head torches turned on participants lowered themselves down a narrow caving ladder into the darkness below. The limestone cave seems fairly roomy at this stage – hard to believe that it sits beneath a cow paddock. When all of the team reach the bottom they go exploring. The cave has some great features with small rim pools, long stalactites hanging from the ceiling and stalagmites reaching up. The floor is damp and muddy. Everyone holds on with a hand so they don’t slip over. The caves seem roomy and the team starts to relax until half way through when they have to climb up and pop themselves through a small hole in the wall to another series of chambers and crevices. Twisting on their sides to fit through or crawling on hands and knees you begin to feel confined. A pair of feet merge out of the darkness ahead while you can hear someone breathing heavily behind you. Now this is caving!! As they loop back towards the entrance and the caves begin to get bigger again everyone has enjoyed the experience and most would do it again. They climb the ladder and emerge out of the cave to see the sky. What an adventurous experience.
After caving the team washed the mud off and then began to prepare for the final expedition. With still about 60km to cover to the sea and many mountains in between the team has a big challenge ahead. This is also not factoring the heat that is forecast over the next few days. The teams will need to look after each other and hike in the cool of the day. Their final team briefing contained some surprises. Teams would be mixed up. Team Gunn and Cotter are disbanded and replaced by Team Green Machine, The South Sea Six and Golden Pheonix. Each team would not have their Outward Bound staff with them. Instead the staff will follow at a distance. Teams will have to rely on each other.
Team Green Machine report:
“Everyone is pushing hard and proud of our achievements thus far. Although the muscles are sore, we look extremely forward to the days to come”. A delay in photos but they are still coming. Check back soon!
With the hot weather the teams are resting in the middle of the day to ensure they remain hydrated and safe. James had a birthday and had the delight of hearing happy birthday sung to him across the radio and his team mates putting together a little celebration. The teams are doing well and putting in a big final effort.
It’s the final day!! Congratulations to everyone for completing such a spectacular and magnificent program. Unfortunately we’ve had some transference of photo problems due to the remoteness of the areas that the team has been going through. We will have all photos uploaded early next week. In the meantime a quick recap of what’s been happening over the last few days.
The final expedition really challenged all groups with them all doing really well to collect as many checkpoints as possible as well as pushing hard to get to the final checkpoint before too late.
Day 25 saw each individual face their final challenge – the final run. The final run would see them push themselves for the final stretch and would be undertaken as individuals without the team around them. Everyone was so excited as they crested the final sand dune to catch a glimpse of the sea! Well done to all.