Overland Track, Tasmania, Australia

In preparation for a Feb. 2007 trip to Tasmania, I’ve been consulting with John Chapman, by far the most authoritative author of Australian guidebooks.

I’ve decide to hike first the Overland Track, widely listed the best established walk in Australia. 65km (40mi) plus sidetrips, 5-6 days.

Overland Track on besthike.com

I’ll be using John’s dedicated Overland Track guidebook.

Time allowing, I want to do more in Tas. John suggests:

  • Walls of Jerusalem (2-4 days)
  • Pine Valley (2-3 days)
  • Walls of Jerusalem to Overland Track (6-8 days)
  • Cheyne Range (4 days)
  • Eldon Range (9-12 days)
  • Traveller Range (7-9 days)
  • John even spoke of a trackless bushwalk on the wild West Coast of Tasmania from Strahan to Port Davey. On his completely undeveloped route you must swim a 1km river.


    More Overland Track photos by Paul Lenehan on Flickr

    books – Anthony Bourdain

    There’s only one cook who will be highlighted on besthike.com, my culinary travel hero Anthony Bourdain.

    I recently got the chance to see Bourdain at a Vancouver book flogging event. He was irreverent, controversial and extremely entertaining. I got an autographed copy of his most travel related book — A Cook’s Tour — companion to the TV series of the same name on the Food Network.

    In July 2005 his new TV show, Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, premiered on the Travel Channel.

    Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisines

    hiking out of Whistler, BC, Canada

    During a one night stop at the luxury ski resort I took the opportunity to research the hiking opportunities in these fantastic mountains close to Vancouver.

    I was shocked at how little hiking is being promoted. A visit to tourist information will get you only a list of short day walks appropriate for non-hikers.

    Why? The problem is that Whistler has so much to offer besides hiking — especially skiing and mountain biking.

    The tourist infrastructure is geared for the 2 million+ gift shop tourists each year.

    No need for a serious hiker to plan on basecamp hiking out of Whistler. Head for the much less expensive climbing mecca of Squamish instead.

    A day hike up granite Stawamus Chief looming over the town is an excellent warm-up.


    To plan your hikes, grab a copy of “Don’t Waste Your Time in the B.C. Coast Mountains” and head for the hills independently.

    books – Robert Young Pelton

    You’ve probably heard of Pelton’s TV show or his books:

    The World’s Most Dangerous Places
    The Hunter, The Hammer, The Heaven
    Come Back Alive
    Three Worlds Gone Mad
    Licensed to Kill : Hired Guns in the War on Terror

    Pelton was the first Western journalist to meet with the Taliban after they set up offices in Peshawar, Pakistan. He simply walked in the front door with his cameras. When told the Taliban do not allow photographs because of the Koran …

    I explain very carefully that only cowards do not show their faces and that in my culture a man who does not wish to be seen cannot be trusted. Just to make sure I get my point across I ask, “Must their leader hide as women must hide behind the veil?”

    Pelton survived that time.

    In fact, his most harrowing tales in the one I just finished are of an upbringing in a broken Canadian home. Good book.

    A Life In Dangerous Places

    introducing Chris Townsend

    townsend.jpgChris is one of the world’s leading long distance wilderness walkers.

    In 1988 he was the first to walk the continental divide of the Canadian Rockies, a 1600mi challenge. The book is titled High Summer.

    He published too his 2002 desert trek: Crossing Arizona

    In 1996 he climbed all 517 summits over 3000ft in the Scottish highlands.

    He has walked the 2600mi Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada, the 3000mi Continental Divide from Mexico to Canada and 1000mi south to north through the Yukon.

    In Europe he has walked 1300mi end-to-end through Scandinavia and 1250mi from Lands End to John O’Groats in Britain.

    The Backpacker\'s HandbookIf you buy only one how to hiking book, it’s his Backpacker’s Handbook.

    Aside from his books, he’s authored hundreds of articles, and contributes regularly to TGO (The Great Outdoors) magazine. He’s their gear guru.

    Chris Townsend’s official website.

    introducing John Chapman

    If you want to hike in Australia, you want to know John Chapman. He is the hiking author down under.

    John and his wife Monica authored the first 3 editions of the Lonely Planet bushwalking guides for Australia. When John decided to self-publish the 4th edition, Lonely Planet changed the title and focus of their guide, now more of a general overview: Lonely Planet Walking in Australia

    Many hikers from abroad are unaware of John’s 4th edition. (Only the 3rd edition is listed on Amazon.com, for example.) Check John Chapman’s up-to-date list of his many published guidebooks.

    For example, I will be buying his dedicated Overland Track guidebook for a planned pilgrimage to Tasmania in 2007.

    mountaineering ethics

    In the death zone everyone is at risk. It’s not an Olympic yacht race. The same rules do not apply.

    Anyone who climbs that high knows the risks.

    As I write at least 10 have died during the 2006 Everest high season. Thomas Weber died on the way up at 8,700m. His partner David Sharp freaked out on the way down and died 300m below the summit. Perhaps 40 climbers passed unwilling or unable to save him.

    My Journey Home from EverestThey were criticized by Edmund Hillary — but I don’t judge them. I’m not sure what I would do.

    Lincoln Hall, another day, was left for dead at 8,800m. He survived overnight, a miracle, and was helped down the mountain next day.

    What I am saying is that this issue is more complicated than it seems. Read Beck Weathers uplifting book Left For Dead before you pass judgement.

    Climber left for dead rescued from Everest

    introducing Ray Jardine

    jardine.jpgThere is no hiker more famous than Ray Jardine. He is often credited with igniting the light weight hiking revolution.

    Jardine championed hiking the entire Pacific Crest Trail using only lightweight gear.

    He replaced tent with a tarp & sleeping bag with a quilt. He advises that we make & modify our own gear.

    Ray Jardines Guide to Lightweight HikingHis controversial book Beyond Backpacking (1999) is now the Bible for many thru-hikers.

    In his spare time, Jardine rowed across the Atlantic, kayaked to the Arctic Ocean, cycled across America twice, and canoed the sub-Arctic wilderness.

    Oh, and he invented the “Friend” used by all elite rock climbers.

    Check Ray Jardine’s eclectic website.

    book – The Dolphin’s Tooth, Bruce Kirkby

    A Decade In Search of AdventureInspired by Chris Bonnington’s Quest for Adventure, a regular Canadian kid became an Adventurer.

  • cycling the Karakoram Highway
  • hiking the CANOL trail
  • paddling the Blue Nile
  • guiding paddling tours in the Arctic
  • kayaking in Belize
  • Kirkby hooked up with Jamie Clarke, Calgary’s most famous adventurer for:

  • Mt. Everest 1997 (Kirkby was communications man)
  • Empty Quarter of Arabia
  • His greatest claim to fame (or greatest sufferfest) was what he called The Grande Cirque — the first circumnavigation of British Columbia’s southern Coast Range.

    His best destination so far — the Mergui Archipelago of Burma, off-limits to everyone for the past 50 years.

    Read more on BruceKirkby.com

    %d bloggers like this: