Our mate Nick Skarajew is taking on the second ever Hunt 1000. Below is his overview. This is one extreme event.
Words - Nick Skarajew
Images - Hunt 1000 mastermind Dan Hunt from Hunt Bikes
The Hunt 1000 was created by Hunt Bikes founder, Dan Hunt. Departing from Braddon in the ACT on November 26th 2017, it will wind its way through the Alpine Towns of ACT, down NSW, to the Murray River border, through Victorias high country and finishing in Edinburgh Gardens in Melbourne. Unlike some other big bikepacking events that have taken place this year, the Hunt is not a race, but a spirited ride through the rugged wilderness. Just being able to complete the route will be a major accomplishment in itself, as shown by the high attrition rate in 2016.
Traversing across Kosciuszko, Alpine and Namadgi National Parks, the terrains diversity is one of the big challenges facing the entrants. Through the 1048km, less than 30% will be on sealed roads, and anywhere up to 100km will be walked (or hike’a’bike as its affectionately known). 22,000m of elevation gain…. Let that sink in... 22km.. That’s nearly 3 everests. Or doing ‘3 peaks’ 5 and a half times…in a row.
Most will be on the rocky and rugged firetrails that wind their way over the peaks, like maple syrup over ice cream. The weather is very unpredictable over the high country, and while it can be warm and sunny down in the gully, it can be very very cold up in the peaks. It is not uncommon for cold fronts to bring in rain and snow (even in November). Also the tracks are just opening up from a bumper snow season, so expect plenty of sticks branches and litter, to make a mess of your tyres. There are multiple river crossings which you’ll need to be mindful of, and to be prepared to sacrifice your feet and sit out hours in the saddle with soaking shoes and socks. A little pointless taking your shoes and socks off when an hour later you blast through a puddle and get everything wet.
Navigating will be a difficult task. The meadows and fire trails are very remote and can be very overgrown in some places. 20% of the route is on signposted main roads, so you’ll need to always keep an eye at where you are. If you get stuck, there isn’t a contingency plan. You really need to be self-sufficient in getting yourself out of danger. There won’t be a sagwagon coming behind wrapping you up in foil, like a mini burrito.
A sturdy navigation device like an Etrex is optimal. Waterproof and can be used in sub 0 temperatures. Always have a backup with a smartphone using offline maps or some paper ones if you have the space. As much as GoogleMaps is your friend, it wont have your back with you’re on a bushmans track without phone service. It had been reported last year that trees were down on some of the tracks, and some of the river crossings required diversions.
Last years route had supply points as far as 225km apart. Which doesn’t sound all that bad in a Fondo or Around the Bay, but the average speeds are far slower over this terrain, and with average speeds below 10kph you could end up going more than 24hrs without food. Load up on those Peanut butter and Jelly sandwiches, cliff bars or whatever else is calorie dense!
Water is an easier prospect, but all water will need to be treated before drinking. So everything will eventually taste like chlorine. The route goes past some really nice country pubs, like Licola and Reefton. A pot, parma and chips has never tasted so good after nights of eating cold oats soaked in river water.
Imagine 3 scale bars. One listed comfort, one price, and one weight. As soon as you start scaling up on the comfort, you’ll be compromising your ability to carry/weight. Start buying lightweight components and clothing and quickly start melting that credit card you only ever use for “emergencies”. Do you go a Tent? Do you go a Bivvy Bag? All these will need to be taken into consideration. Knowing that you will be past the limit of exhaustion, and likely to be up and getting ready to go before the sun comes up. Thankfully the route goes through many of the Huts and Cabins built in the early 1900’s used by sheep and cattle herders. If you’re near the middle/back of the group you may even be lucky to come across a fire already lit! But if you’re biting off more than you can chew, you could end up 10km short of the next hut, and have no choice but to sleep on the side of the track.
Check out Nick's full bike setup for the Hunt 1000.
Spreadsheets are so, so important for knowing what’s ahead. Elevation profiles help with what climate and work is ahead. Listing the opening times and phone numbers are critical, as you will not be able to proceed past a town if you can’t eat, and more importantly load up for the next 12 hours of slogging it out. I list all the huts along the trail, as well as creeks for water refilling.
We'll keep you posted on Nick's progress and publish some more articles about his adventure.
In the meantime: