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Benen Huntley
(benen) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
Larapinta Trail on 07/01/2011 06:46:38 MDT Print View

Hi everyone :)

I'm about to begin planning a thru-hike of the Larapinta Trail for mid next year for my wife and I. It is 223km (138 miles) through central Australia. It is recommended to plan to do it in 16-20 days to give time to take in the extra side tracks. Generally, trekkers place food along the way at designated food drops but I want to be self sufficient, only relying on the water tanks at the camps along the way as required. How feasible is this? How much weight in food do you guys and girls carry per day?
Sharing gear means that our gear list keeps us fairly light. A new tent, specifically for this trail is more than likely though.
I've not done more than 2 day hikes so far so the plan is to build up to longer trips in the next 12 months learn everything that I can.

I know this is a big deal to plan so any help would be greatly appreciated!!

Cheers

Benen

Jeremy Platt
(jeremy089786) - F

Locale: Sydney
Big plan on 07/02/2011 23:57:01 MDT Print View

Hi Benen,

Sounds like a great adventure you have ahead of you. I have only done a 10 day unsupplied trip which was pretty uncomfortable (with heavy gear back in the day), however if you freeze dry everything it is definately do-able. See - http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/iceland_packraft.html

Having said that though, and it is personal preference, if I had any option of re-supply I would definately take it.

Benen Huntley
(benen) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
Larapinta trail on 07/03/2011 00:01:33 MDT Print View

Thanks for the reply! I think I'd be looking at around the 14 day mark. It has been done in 10. The less days the less food but I still want to enjoy it all!

Rod Lawlor
(Rod_Lawlor) - MLife

Locale: Australia
14 days is doable on 07/03/2011 00:13:50 MDT Print View

At least from a self sufficiency viewpoint. That's only 12.6kg of food at 900g a day. As long as you keep everything else light, and use a really well harnessed pack (ie heavier) you should be fine.

I really recommend doing at least a five day trip first though. It will show up any holes in your gear choices, and help to dial in food requirements much more accurately.

Check out the regs on open fires/bushbuddy type stoves too. This could save you a heap of weight out there if they're legit.

Dehydrate everything, or else go with freezedried, or a mix.

My biggest carry was 16 days of food. It was heavy. I strongly recommend hiking poles, and since you're carrying them, take a shelter that can use them. Alternately consider taking just a bug net and no shelter if you're going in the dry.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Larapinta Trail on 07/03/2011 04:16:52 MDT Print View

Hi Benen

Sue and I did the full trip from Redbank to the Alice, took 10 nights or 11 days. One food drop at Ellery Ck. Granted, we did not go wandering off on side trips, but we did climb Mt Sonder.

Carrying 11 days food would be a bit needless imho. Why not use 1 drop and enjoy it more? Typically we would be using ~0.75 kg dry weight per person per day.

There's an article on it at http://www.bushwalking.org.au/bushwalking/BWWinter06.pdf, on pp 11-12. And a somewhat longer one at http://www.bushwalking.org.au/FAQ/FAQ_Larapinta.htm

Cheers

Benen Huntley
(benen) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
Thanks! on 07/03/2011 05:09:52 MDT Print View

Thanks for all the info! I think we have a pretty good gear list so far. I would probably look at a lighter tent option though. The Hubba Hubba is nearly 2kg and there are some nice lighter options out there that use trekking poles like the Scarp 2. I'll probably start a post or two leading up to our more detailed planning. Everyone is super helpful on here and I really value the masses of knowledge. Plus, the members here are generally really nice which makes spending time here so pleasurable!

Benen Huntley
(benen) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
Larapinta trail on 07/03/2011 05:40:18 MDT Print View

Roger, could you tell me a big about your experience on the trail? Ie. When did you go? What did you take to wear, what was your sleep system and how did you fare comfort wise with that gear? It would really help me out a lot with my planning.
My concerns so far are whether our neo-airs will be suitable or if we should go for a warmer mat at 3/4 length to keep the weight the same.
What clothing to take to keep weight to a minimum but remain warm at night.

Thanks

Benen :-)

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Larapinta trail on 07/03/2011 16:22:36 MDT Print View

Hi Benen

Experiences? Well, very different to the Blue Mts! Desert conditions (dry, sandy) in many places, VERY harsh (sharp) old hard rock in other places. Little surface water except at the waterholes and a few springs.

The only time to do the Trail is in winter. It can be cold at night. The air flowing out of Redbank Gorge was just slightly below freezing, but every other night was OK.

Sometimes tempted to go back and spend more time off-trail, exploring. Fascinating stuff.

NeoAirs and summer quilts should be fine.
Light summer clothing, long! sleeves and big hat.
Something warm for night-time - we took BPL Cocoons and Oz thermals.
We carried 4 x 1.25L PET bottles for water, and camped with that up high at times.

Cheers

Simone Zmood
(sim1oz) - MLife

Locale: Melbourne, Australia
Larapinta Trail on 07/07/2011 04:49:40 MDT Print View

Hi Benen,

I've heard great things about the Larapinta Trail and would like to do it one winter. At the moment we are building up slowly from day walks to 2-4 nighters and have just booked to do the Overland Track this summer. Sun protection and water are key in northern Australia. Going light will make definitely make the walk more enjoyable. Have you considered doing a shorter NT walk like the Jatbula Trail (58km, 4-5 days) first?

Look forward to hearing more about your preparations and adventure.

Cheers!

Benen Huntley
(benen) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
Jatbula Trail on 07/07/2011 20:41:16 MDT Print View

Hi Simone,
Our plan is to build up to longer and longer trips over the next 12 months. I've not heard of the Jatbula trail but I will definitely check it out and see what I can find!
At the moment we are planning 2-3 day walks in nearby conservation parks to build up experience.

Simone Zmood
(sim1oz) - MLife

Locale: Melbourne, Australia
Jatbula Trail on 07/09/2011 06:56:29 MDT Print View

There is a 6-page article on the Jatbula Trail in the April/May 2011 Great Walks magazine. Also lots of info on the web. There is a short thread on Jatbula at: http://bushwalk.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=40&t=2323

Being shorter than Larapinta means that there is no need for food drops. Also looks like there are no water availability issues.

Simone Zmood
(sim1oz) - MLife

Locale: Melbourne, Australia
Jatbula Trail, NT on 10/22/2011 22:28:32 MDT Print View

Hi Benen,

I hope your preparations for the Larapinta Trail are going well.

I mentioned the Jatbula Trail a while back and just read a great blog describing it. See http://mattdownunder.com/archive and look at the October 2011 entries.

Cheers
Simone

Adam Kilpatrick
(oysters) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
Re: Larapinta Trail on 10/23/2011 18:18:22 MDT Print View

Hi Benen

I haven't completed the whole trail, but I've done several sections. If you have the time and plenty of experience navigating in rough off track conditions, doing a side trip (adds 1-2 days depending on how fit/fast you are) up Mt Giles is well worth it. I did it a few years ago, the Rangers can probably still give you a contour map (100m contours), that has a couple of springs marked on it at the bast of Mt Giles...there wasn't a huge deal more mapping available back then (2004). The view from Mt Giles is probably the best view I've had in all of Australia. I hope to go back there in the next couple of years and sleep on the top (that will be rather cold in the winter).

Tents...it very rarely rains in this part of the world, particularly in winter. You can easily get away with sleeping under the stars every night, though I would carry a light tarp (~8x10) just in case. I would only carry a couple of pegs, if it looks like rain, you can find a sheltered spot from the wind and use sticks for poles and rocks/natural anchors for pegging it out without hassle.

Cooking...rules on fires may have changed but check with the rangers, it was no problem back then for us to cook on fires. In many of the campgrounds there are fire places, and elsewhere fire is such a big part of the ecology of this region that having a small open fire to cook on is no big deal at all, as long as you don't set the place alight or use wood that animals might use, etc. A little bit of spinifex is an excellent fire starter. A bushbuddy would definitely be fine to use if you have one.

Footwear...like Roger said, this region is HARSH underfoot. Some areas the rock just rips rubber soles apart. If you use trail runners, start with a new pair. I'd take a small unopened tube of superglue. Don't be surprised if after ~250km your shoes are knackered. I'd definitely recommend a good pair of gaiters (canvas ones are better than nylon in my experience, avoid goretex, it will just be perforated goretex by the end) or some tough pants for spinifex, particularly if you are going off-track. Normal nylon travel pants (eg like Columbias) don't provide much protection against spinifex, it often pokes straight through.

Temperatures...in July its pretty common for it to get to zero or below every night. During the day it can sometimes only get up to say 14 or 15C too, or it could get up to the high twenties. It is the best time of year to go there though for sure.

Food drops shouldn't be an issue to do, unless you have a burning desire to do it "unsupported" then I would use one or two. Several tour companies now will take walkers to/from Alice Springs and will be able to provide info on the best place for food drops and arrange that for you.

Definitely build up the trips before you go and do one of a few days. You are from Adelaide? Head up into the Flinders to get a bit of a taste of what the terrain is like if you can, and head off track if you can. If you want to get experience fast its good to learn from other people (though hard to find UL bushwalkers in Adelaide!). The Adelaide Bushwalking Group often have trips into the Flinders. Someone there will probably have a good trip planned for the Easter LWE that you could attend. I don't know anyone from the club but you can look them up. AUMC (Adelaide Uni Mountain Club) also do trips up to the Flinders most long weekends during bushwalking season; I can put you in touch with some of them if you like, I think you can join these days even if you aren't a student.

Had a look at your gear list quickly...Your Osprey packs will handle food and water loads no worries.

Good luck, you guys will definitely love this trip!

Adam

Gary Weir
(aussieranger) - F

Locale: Central Australia
Re: Larapinta Trail on 10/24/2011 02:40:37 MDT Print View

Hi Benen, there are a lot of good comments in response to your post here but I can't help honing in on one of your statements about enjoying the trip. This is a challenging walk so why make it harder than necessary?

As a ranger who has not only helped build the Trail but also walked it I would suggest that you take some of the advice provided. There is alot of good information to be had by visiting our Lara Trail website found at http://www.nt.gov.au/nreta/parks/walks/larapinta/package.html .

It also mentions that open fires are not allowed on the Trail so you will have to find a suitable light weight burner to cook with. IMHO a tent is a personal thing but probably something that isn't required. Yes, it does sometimes get below freezing and it can even be quite windy at times but every extra item you take is extra weight.

Use the info available to help you make decisions and I can even suggest one of my friends to help out with transfers or even to make those food drops you don't want to make. Her name is Leanne and she is also a ranger (on maternity leave) with experience on the Trail as well. You can find her at http://www.llttransfers.com/index.php .

This is by far one of the most beautiful and striking parts of the centre of Australia and the last thing you want to do is not take the opportunity to enjoy every step of the way. Someone said try the Flinders and this is probably a good idea but I would also try the different foods available and make sure your boots are comfortable and that you can take the strain day after day.

This "practice" will help to ensure that you are physically and mentally prepared and that the gear you choose will help to enjoy what will no doubt be something that you won't forget in a hurry. I hope you and your partner enjoy it immensely.

cheers
Gary
www.travel-outback-australia.com

Andrew McAlister
(mcalista) - F
Agree on 10/24/2011 09:07:36 MDT Print View

I agree with a lot of the advice here.

Flinders Ranges is probably the best and most convenient place to try a dry run of your equipment.

A silnylon tarp is probably good insurance in case it does rain (unlikely, but why be uncomfortable if it does) - and a weight penalty of just 500 grams. Can also double as a sun shelter for lunch.

I think I saw on the Larapinta website that food drops can be done for $20. Even just one drop will halve the amount of food you have to carry, and make a big difference to overall weight.

Benen Huntley
(benen) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
re: on 03/10/2014 21:27:37 MDT Print View

I just wanted to jump on and say a very late thankyou for the replies back in 2011. I never ended up doing the trail as some things came up unfortunately. But I'm back out hiking and looking forward to some overnight trips soon. The Larapinta will have to wait a while yet but I really appreciate the answers i received on this thread. Hopefully the posters are still around :-)

Adam Kilpatrick
(oysters) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
Re: re: on 03/10/2014 21:29:46 MDT Print View

Hey Benen

Glad you are back out bushwalking again mate.

I'm getting back to Adelaide (from Japan) soon and will be getting out and about with the young family. Just in time for Bushwalking season, yay!

Cheers,
Adam

Benen Huntley
(benen) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
re: on 03/11/2014 01:54:24 MDT Print View

Ah nice one. I live near Modbury, not far north of the Adelaide. Definitely looking forward to th cooler temps coming up.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Write up and pics of Larapinta Trail on 03/11/2014 03:56:50 MDT Print View

There's a write-up and some small pics at
http://www.bushwalking.org.au/bushwalking/BWWinter06.pdf

Cheers

nick beaudoin
(nick_beaudoin) - MLife

Locale: Palmy
Trail notes on 03/11/2014 04:29:16 MDT Print View

At the end of the thread is our info on the trip>

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=81466

Any questions you can send me a PM.
Cheers