The Last of the Mountain Men:

Isn’t this the feeling everyone who ventures far from track or trail is seeking: the freedom of the wilderness, the exultation of the hills, the distant roar of rapids, the whistle of wind in the trees, the ubiquitous echo of birdsong, the warning bark of a deer in a golden sunset… Della and I are back from three days and approx 50 km walking in one of our own trackless wildernesses in the Gippsland mountains, testing out ourselves and the functionality of our for two hikers plus two dogs. As Della is partially sighted I have now cleared a walking path approx 60 km long to make our journeys there easier – and there is so much more to explore still downriver and up the three major valleys encountered so far to keep me busy in the future.

We need to do a little more work on warmer clothes for Della as she sleeps rather cold. A down hood (eg or and a pair of Montbell’s down  trousers ( should do the trick (added to her down socks, two insulated jackets plus vest and -7C down sleeping bag). On the same night where she was still a little cold (in all but the hood and trousers) I was quite warm enough in a -1C down sleeping bag in wool singlet and shirtsleeves with no socks. We are all different.

The 4WD track which gets us to within 5km of the river is very overgrown. This is a good section. A couple more summers and we will be walking all the way, but we will keep on driving it down whilst we can.

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Around a 10 km walk to the riverbank where we made our bed. A toasty warm fire heats our tent where we are serenaded by the river’s murmur and deer barking at the end of Day One.

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Morning has broken. Spot loves to help Della with the dishes. The river is quite low this winter.

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Though a little crowded, as you can see next morning we all fitted into the little tent. You can picture us sitting on our Cyclone Chairs at the entrance watching the best show in town, the flickering of the embers of a night as we enjoyed our hot chocolate (or Smackos) before bed.

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In summer we will venture the river too on a multi-day trip with our packrafts. It looks quite delightful. Here is a major rapid we could still hear roaring at night from approx 5 km away! (Aside: I have a WordPress glitch with this picture which appears twice. WordPress is having image problems Sorry).

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You never tire of gazing at the poetry of water on stone. Will need to watch out this one does not tip us out of the canoes though.

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In the early morning light it is a beautiful stretch of river.

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And just keeps going on and on. Around the river’s bend may wait…

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Carrying water up from a magnificent valley nearby on the second night we camped high on a wonderful clear ridge with truly vast views of the river and the huge valleys all about. Sunset was indelibly memorable. In Della’s photo here you can see the tent suffused with it as we put it up and I gather some kindling in the background.Tiny has already settled in for the night.

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Tiny was quite tired out – she is 16 ½! She loves Della’s sleeping bag.

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This young ‘black velvet’ fellow was harvested for meat. Amazing ears.

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Tiny below. Both the dogs love to sit on the packs during rest stops. My trusty take-down .308 in the background:

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The tent proved excellent for one – if a little crowded for all four of us, but at <750 grams (in Tyvek) it is an easy carry. I will be remaking it (soon) with a cuben fibre roof and 1oz/yd2 silnylon poncho floor – perhaps even with .7oz/yd2 insect netting at the front door. This version should be well under 400 grams, so will undoubtedly become my ‘go anywhere’ tent.

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4 thoughts on “The Last of the Mountain Men:”

  1. Hi There
    Happy new year.

    Can we please discuss the possibilities of building. Something similar- a purpose built 9′ x 9′ CF , single pole tent, with bath tub and insect net.

    I have viewed your blogs previously but have not yet inquired about a simple light weight CF tent. In an earthy colour , , maybe with a flue for small wood stove?
    Could you please respond when time permits.

    Sincerely John
    [email protected]

    1. Hi John,

      Happy New Year to you too. I’m afraid I’m not much closer to being able to supply tents. I will (I hope) finalise the plans for the ones I have been working on this year and move from prototypes in Tyvek to working models in silnylon or cuben. Titanium Goat makes something like what you want with a stove. I think you should have a go at making your own. Unless you are planning on staying somewhere very cold for a long while I think an open shelter which takes advantage of the fire outside it is really good. It has been good enough for me for decades anyway! My larger decagon tent ( is about the size you envisage. It is huge! Why don’t you have a go at it in Tyvek? It will only take you a day (You can buy the insect netting from Tier Gear in Tasmania) and it will only weigh a little over a kg with the insect netting – though I realise it will weigh much less than this with cuben walls and silnylon floor. You would sew a strip of insect netting connecting the floor to the walls (or just let it drape in) and sew two triangles of netting which just sort of fall closed over the doorway. I have bought the .9 oz silnylon and .7 oz insect netting to build my ( version of it but I still haven’t done it. Life just seems to get in the way! This morning I am still playing with a hammock (tent) and bathtub floor groundsheet. I have to work at my daughter’s shop and have some sheep work to do, then it is on to fixing the car/motorbike and modifying the trailer for a canoe trip Wednesday probably. Retirement sure keeps me busy. I am spending too much time on all these blogs really, but so many people seem to appreciate them – and I find it great fun. May even do some good in the world – who knows? PS: The (small amount) of sewing involved in making the Decagon tent from Tyvek you will learn very quickly. It is all straight seams. This guy has some really useful instructable concerning sewing a tarp which is quite appropriate; I hadn’t realised there was a better way to do my tie outs until I read it. I am also wanting to do quite a few trips around different areas of Gippsland over the summer – and to clear some of those little rivers (eg the Upper Latrobe and Tyers). I could use some help actually. Life is very busy.Thanks for your kind comments. I hope my reply has been some use – if not quite what you hoped for! Cheers, Steve. PS: Cuben is really expensive. A simple cuben project would be to make the tarp I have strung up over my double hammock right now (in the second last post) but to sew two other identical ‘wings’ on it. This will require nearly 10 yards of cuben at @ US$25/yard just for the materials, but it will give you a superb hammock tent and a really great waterproof tarp (which weighs around 250 grams), and it is really simple to make, with very little waste.

  2. Hey steve!
    Are you still using the BLR takedown? How is it holding up for you?
    I have been looking at one for a while now and have heard nothing but good things so far.

    I am also a lefty and it is hard to find a similarly priced left handed bolt action that compares, seeing as they are not in as popular demand as the right handed models.

    Great pics btw! It looks like I can see the BLR leaning up against the tree in that last shot.

    1. Thanks Hugh! Yes. that’s it in the last pic. BLR works well for me. Maybe Winmag would be an even better round choice than 308 but they are in short supply (as are Winmag.375s), so I’d probably stick to the 308.

      Yes lever action are not handed. Second, you can get a first shot off more quickly from an unloaded gun (safer) though the action is noisy. Second shot (if needed) also very quick. Gun fits in pack (handy) allowing carry out with shortened carbon hiking poles (which also do).

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