Weaknesses

The walk is only 3 months away!
And this blog has been a great opportunity to share stories of the prep leading up to my next adventure.
And I get a lot of hints, tips and ideas that has extended my makers vocabulary.
Of course you also get people telling you you’re crazy (I agree)and it’s dangerous especially when you…

1. Have type 1 Diabetes!!

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Diabetes means I will have to carry food and meds at all times during my walk. If I miscalculate it can be dangerous and having low blood sugars in the middle of no where would not be fun for anyone.

Strength
But really diabetes makes you plan ahead as a habit. I have been carrying back up food and meds since I was 16. And planning out your day and adapting to unseen circumstances is part of everyday life when you are trying to manually balance your blood sugars on a daily basis. Diabetics are the batmen of the real world.

2. Are making stuff

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Weakness
Making stuff is sooooooo time consuming. And with technology making packs and hiking gear lighter and more efficient you will end up spending most of your time on repairing and replacing heavier and less efficient stuff.

Strength
But 6 months of continuously use of gear will always lead to it breaking no matter how good it is.
So no my stuff isn’t as good as the latest super light weight whatevers. But making your own stuff gives you the flexibility to adjust items. Improvements are slow but inevitable and the skills you’re left with…..(I can make over 12 ft of rope in under 40 mins)

3. Are walking barefooted

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Weakness
Carrying extra weight without heel support! The wear and tear from long days walking. And broken bottles and gorse! Diabetics are more prone to infection on top of all that. You don’t stand a chance.

Strength
Yes I’m sure I will be full of regret when I get to gorse riddled sections. But I will have a first aid kit and back up shoes (both I will be making myself)…but no blisters, no wet socks and no smelly feet. And I see your lack of heel support and raise you a learn to walk properly (I have a whole 6 months and 3000 km to practice).

4. Are hunting and gathering as a food source.

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Weakness
Another waste of time especially without a gun. Can you even get enough calories to sustain yourself on the trip? Just a lot of useless gear you will never use.

Strength
But there are plenty of pest animals that are tasty and bad for the environment. And I have been told I should get used to the taste of bugs by hunters who have done similar stuff.
I will be covering how I plan to hunt on the trip next blog. This is the last major challenge I face before the walk. All I can say is that I am quietly optimistic.

The self made gear

I just spent four days in the bush over Easter trying to figure out how exactly I will be hiking on my journey. And a common theme arises when tying to make your own gear…mainly it is heavy.

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So heavy

Here are the 5 major self made gear for my four day hike (and the Lessons they taught me).

1. Pack frame

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My pack frame was one of the first things I made. It seemed straight forward a few bits of wood put together and some straps. A pack frame would also give me the flexibility to make flax bags of any size depending on what gear I had to carry.

Life Lesson
l. Make comfortable straps!!! (I know this is common sense but seriously when you have spent half a year weaving rope you really get sick of it).
The first night I went out to a DOC camp site 2 km of easy road walking and the straps I had woven instantly started cutting off important blood supply to my arms. But it was late, stormy and dark.

2. Balance your gear weight low and even around your hips.
The discomfort was worse as I walked and I shifted my pack around trying to make it bearable until finally the whole thing came apart breaking to pieces. Mostly mad I ended up making camp on the side of the road not even lasting 20 mins. Luckly the next morning I found a chopped down gum tree with the perfect size and shape for a frame and some long pieces of flax for thicker straps and ended up with a much better frame.

2. Cooker

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In terms of cooking I have two burners. A twig burner

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made from tin cans

and a gas burner

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made from a coke can.

Life Lesson
Nothing you make is perfect the first time around.

Well my gas burner is very good and super small though its a little heavy on gas for my liking.
And the twig burner is good in theory using gasification it needs only a handful of sticks or leaves to cook a meal. But my design isn’t perfect so it will take a bit more tinkering to workout what I am doing wrong.

3. Eel trap

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The eel trap is made of bamboo and is a dual purpose tool. Most of the time it will store my tools and cooking gear and sit at the top of my pack. But if I make camp by a stream or river it will catch my breakfast.

Life lesson
Use what is avaliable.
Willow beats bamboo hands down when it comes to making baskets. Just easier to work with but I never found a good source in Wellington so  I settled for bamboo.

4. Fishing net

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Another dual purpose bit of gear the fishing net is made of flax rope and will be used to catch fish by the sea sections of the trail and will be a hammock to sleep in the rest of the time. My sleeping blanket and fly are wrapped in the net and is tied to the frame as the first thing to come off for easy set up.
Life lesson
You can never have enough rope.

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I never got to sleep in the hammock as it was too short and the sections of rope I made too thin broke under my weight instantly. So I ended up sleeping on the ground staring enviously at some hammock tenters down from me.

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I am so sick of making rope.

5. Cloak

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Pre colonial Maori used to make simple cloaks from flax called pake. These were used as a basic shelter when sleeping outdoors.

Life Lesson
No matter how much time and effort you put into something sometimes you have to compromise to achieve the larger goal.
Pake are heavy take a lot of flax and too big to pack nicely but too small to sleep in. It will take a tougher person then myself to give up my modern Shelter for the old school version. So sadly it will be left behind. Lots of tourist wanted photos with me though.

In general I am feeling confidant about using self made gear to hike. Each project though not perfect has given me a lesson on how to improve the next verison. Being mindful of the reasources around you gives you the freedom to make use of what you have instead of wishing for something you don’t. Adaptability and imagination are your strongest qualities when it comes to making stuff.  With four months to go I still have a lot to over come but feel ready for the challenges ahead.

Jory