Sunday, 26 July 2015

Moreton Island 3 day Wintersun bikepack - day 3

Hehe, frustrated mosquitoes hovered around my bugnet, searching for an entrance throughout the night. Sometime during the night, the wind turned offshore and the sound of surf dropped to a pleasant level, a quiet reminder of your location as the birdlife ratcheted up to 11:

I've lost count of the early mornings I'd drive to the coast for a dawn patrol surf. I don't get the chance as much anymore, but sure is nice to just be there for those first rays of sunrise. Maybe I need to bolt the boardrack to the bike more often, bring it along and catch an early peak - not let a quiet, solo lefthander go to waste.

Breakfast - you know the drill by know. At Rous there is a fresh water tank, sign suggests boiling before consumption. So many different ways to treat water, the correct method defined by many variables (my primary test is smell). In a 'State of Fear' world, some might think I take too may risks with simple things like this - I drank from the tap and topped off the bottles. In my opinion and experience, exposing my gut microbes to a variety of 'controlled digestive challenges' prepares it for travel and off-the-grid reliability. YMMV.

Another cracker of a day. We ride 3 or 4 km south, to the entrance of the Little Sandhills.

For my Iditarod family: 'the trail had blown in' :)

A short trail through the Casuarinas leads us to...

...that first view - a 'Lawrence of Arabia' moment. Confronted with a seemingly endless line of high dunes, but it's only a few km from east to west. The dune lines run roughly parallel to the beach, with vegetation down in the gullies. The western faces of the dunes can be quite steep and loose, with predominant south east winds blowing loose, aerated sand down the back (west side) of the dunes. Care must be taken of route choice - sand avalanches are not uncommon with poor route choices!

Yeah, was a bit windy. Strong south west winds approached 50km/hr in my estimation. Of course, we were...heading...west...against...the...wind. Sand blizzard - all I saw was crunchy snow!

But it's not all bad. The path I take is never point to point, and changes like the shifting sands. I like to zig-zag and flow with the dunes, identify imaginary topo contours, aim for visible firm patches and slowly gain elevation while savouring the constantly changing vista with each turn.

Descending can be a cautious affair, threading the needle on the more shallow angled dune backs. Finding safe descent points is more art than science, so invigorating to be following no path at all.

Follow me to braaaaap!

Midway up the highest dune, remains of an ancient forest that must have been perched high.

Nature finds a way - a stoic termite nest in the trunk with the essentials of food, moisture; and the luxuries of location, great views and solitude.

On the crest of the final dune the wind at full force. Bare skin was grit blasted. Loaded fatbikes were like huge sails, catching the wind and throwing you off bearing. Looking west, the whitecaps in the bay display the winds velocity.   

Down in the gully it's a different story. Heads down, buffs up and pushing to the summit.

It was sooo easy to turn my mind back to earlier in the year on the Iditarod, pushing through the blizzard on the Kuskokwim River and over the oxbow bend shortcuts.

Sand-strugi! Was fascinating to watch up close.

Dropped down to the beach track, high fives all round and head north on the west beach.

Adjacent Big Sandhills, there is a campground with a sand spear hand pump. The water here is fresh and clear, but best advised to pump it a few times to flush out the slightly rusty water that accumulates after a period of time.
The western entrance to the Big Sandhills. Visualise with me in monochrome...sand or snow?
At Shark Spit there are wrecked remnants of ancient steamers, run aground from big storms over 100 years ago.

Clear views of the Glasshouse mtns to the west.

Wrecks of another kind - had to admire the intelligence of the double entendre!

We rounded Tangalooma Point and suddenly the adventure felt over. We had the wind at our backs, and with the resort in view, we very casually made our way over the last few km - trying to wring out the last few drops of adventure. We had a bit of time until the Micat departed, so a hearty lunch at the resort rounded the trip, all smiles after an awesome trip like this. Yes, I'm smiling.

 Let's finish up with some packing tech. Each trip is different, what you take and how you carry it is more art than science, it's an evolution of past trips, the weather you expect, what gear you have at your disposal to pack it all with, blah blah - I think you've heard me mention this all before...

So, in the grey eVent drybag (small size) is my sleeping bag (Mountain Hardwear Ultralumina 32) first secured to the rack with 2 x Salsa anything cage straps, on top of that is a Revelate Pocket (large size) containing sleeping pad (Klymit X frame), silnylon footprint (Gram Counter), Sea to Summit 1 person bugnet, Integral Designs 2 person tarp and some small plastic sand pegs.  The pocket has it's own set of integrated straps that perfectly clip and cinch easily around the rack and drybag. The secondary reflective strap is for, well anything. The Revelate Spocket on the top holds the first aid kit, head torch and blinky taillight. Bungy cord attachment for the Spocket allow for quick stowing of stuff - like gloves.

The framebag has 3 compartments - the side facing the camera is the office - it has flat items stowed: phone, paper maps. The lower compartment is like a garage - spare tube, tools, spares and repair kit for just about anything. The top pocket holds the 4L MSR Dromedary water bladder - I prefer the durability and sturdy fabric of the heavier weight Dromedary bags, instead of the lighter Drom-lites. I have a long, insulated camelbak hose (with quick disconnect) clipped to the bars. The Revelate Jerry Can (near seatpost) holds the camera for quick and easy access. The front Revelate Gastank (near stem) holds my Bonk Breaker bars, spare camera battery and SD card, notepad and pencil, compass, Alpen 8x21 monocular.

Tech tip: I lubricate all the zips on the bags with Ride Mechanic Bike Milk OR Bike Butter (depending on the time available) This improves the slick one handed action during operation.

Front rollbag is a Revelate Sweetroll, in this was my foodbag (2L Sea to Summit cinch top drybag), stove stowed in the pot, , overflow clothes (Macpac pants and TNF poncho). On top of this is my Zipshot tripod and padded bag , then over the top of all this is a small Oveja Negra handlebar bag, from BikeBagDude - in this I put small overflow clothes like the buffs and spare straps. Didn't really need this storage on this trip, but was eager to field test this new product.  

Finally, I sling two Revelate Mountain Feedbags on either side of the stem. I run a moderately long stem reach, so these feedbags don't hit my knees when I climb out of the saddle. The left bag held the 500ml clear water bottle (I like clear bottles, to visually check for particulates when topping up from water sources), the right bag contained a bag of trail mix for quick random snacking.  The side mesh pockets of the feedbags are a great spot to quickly stash rubbish. The wide Arctic Gastank was a limited run bag - much wider than standard - for Iditarod.

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