Hike the grade 4 & 5 trails in the Great Southern both safely and sustainably.
This guide is intended for those wanting to hike the well marked grade 4 & 5 trails in the Great Southern region of Western Australia. It is not a guide for hiking overnight, on unmarked trails or through areas with no trails.
The grade 4 & 5 trails include:
Monkey Rock Trail
Mt Lindesay Trail
Peak Head Track
Mount Frankland Summit Trail
Sheila Hill Trail
Plan your hike in advance and stick to the plan. The most common reason for people getting in trouble is being underprepared. Know the trail length, duration and any technical features. Start the day in good physical health; get enough rest, pre-hydrate and get good nutrition. Inform a reliable person where you are going and when you’ll be back, let them know when you have returned. Have a set turnaround time to ensure that you are back before sunset. It is best to hike in a group, four people hiking together is ideal. Note the trail classification and ensure it is suited to you and your group’s capabilities. Allow plenty of time for your hike.
Watch Your Step
You shall see some amazing views on the trails. At the same time it is crucial that you regularly check where you are putting your feet. Trails have many different and changing surfaces such as rock, sand, mud and wood. Look out for rocky areas, slippery granite rock, sudden drop offs and soft edges. Pay attention to how you land your feet to avoid falls or twisted ankles. Snakes are shy animals, give them a wide berth. Do not provoke or frighten snakes as they may attack and are deadly. Be aware of your surroundings and heed any visitor risk warning signs. Take note when you see the red danger triangle. Take the time to read the trail head signage.
What to Wear
Your hiking outfit is your first line of protection from the cold, wind, sun, rain, insects, snakes, scrub and rocks. Make sure that your clothing is comfortable, protective and can adapt to a change in conditions. Multiple layers are better than one thick layer. Your outer layer should be water resistant, to prevent chills if it rains. Your hiking boots or shoes should be sturdy, comfortable, and non-slip, with thick well fitting wool socks. Wear long trousers and gaiters. For sun protection wear a hat, a lightweight long sleeve shirt, sunglasses and sunscreen. For protection from the cold take or wear a beanie, gloves, and a fleece. Bright colours are best in order for others to see you on the trail.
What to Take
Not too much, not too little. Put everything in a plastic bag inside a comfortable backpack. You will need water, food, hat, sunscreen, first aid kit, fully charged mobile phone, map, compass, torch, spare batteries, warm jacket, space blanket, electrolytes, whistle, any prescription medications for ongoing medical conditions and a watch or time keeping device. Take one litre of water for each hour you are on the trail. Most trails do not have available water, therefore carry enough for your needs. If you are hiking a trail that is not frequented often and has limited mobile phone coverage, then you shall need to take a PLB (Personal Locator Beacon,) or GPS (Global Positioning System.)
Stay on Track
Always stay on the trail, for your own safety and out of respect for the natural environment. Straying from the path can be dangerous as there might be caves, holes, rocks, sharp sticks, snakes and spiders. It is important to preserve the wildlife, plants, culturally sensitive areas and landscape by not treading on animals, plants, animal’s homes or by causing erosion. Resist going onto ledges or cliff edges in an attempt to obtain the perfect selfie. One can easily become lost in the bush when not on the trail. If you need a rest, step to the side of the trail in order for others to be able to pass easily.
In an Emergency
Your brain is your best survival tool. In an emergency situation, stop and think. Stay calm and don’t panic. If you have mobile phone reception, call 000 and ask for the Police. If you have SMS only, SMS a friend and ask them to call 000 for you. Seek shelter and signal for help using your whistle, mirror or torch. Stay where you are and stay together as a group. Install the free Emergency Plus app on your phone. If you have a GPS tracker, use it to track your route, this gives you the ability to return via the same route if you become lost. If you have a PLB and are in an emergency situation, activate it to alert the authorities.
Know Your Environment
Learn as much as you can about the trail in advance. Research before you go and read the experiences of others online. Check the sunrise and sunset times for the day you plan on hiking. Keep a close eye on the weather report for the day, paying particular attention to; the wind speed and direction, chance and time of rain, temperature, is it sunny or cloudy? Do not attempt to hike a closed trail. Mobile phone reception can be limited on some trails. Be aware of your surroundings and regularly watch for landmarks. Always know geographically where the trail head is. Be prepared for unexpected changes in weather.
Know Your Limits
While being outside of your comfort zone can be a positive experience for self growth, hiking in nature can also be dangerous. It is best to hike in a group, with at least one experienced hiker who is able to guide others. It is good to know the capabilities of others in your group and their previous experience. Be aware of your limitations. Walk as much of the trail as you feel comfortable doing. Completing the trail is only one part of the trail experience and is not a necessity. When hiking, keep enough energy to return to the trail head. Be aware of how you are feeling and communicate it with your group. If you feel tired or unwell it is best to return home and if needed seek medical advice. Take care of yourself and others. Respect your feelings and the feelings of others. Take regular breaks, it’s also a good opportunity to enjoy the view.
Respect the Environment
The environment of The Great Southern is very old, fragile, unique and beautiful. Please respect the natural environment and culturally sensitive areas. Take only memories and photos. Do not litter, take all your rubbish home with you. If you see any rubbish left by other less considerate and less aware people, please take that with you also. Do not feed, touch or harm any birds or animals. Do not deface rocks or trees. Ensure that your hiking boots and clothing are free from mud and dirt before entering the trail to stop the spread of dieback. Respect is mutual, respect yourself, respect others, respect culture and respect the natural environment. Toilet waste should be disposed of in a hole at least 15cm deep.
Whatever the Weather
Weather can change quickly in the Great Southern, transforming a comfortable hike into a challenging one. Take rain protection even on a sunny day. When hiking in cool weather, wear layers as the weather can become hot unexpectedly. Check the weather report before you go, noting the wind speed, wind direction, chance of rain, and UV index. If weather conditions are not favourable, reschedule for another time. On a hot day, plan on hiking in the early morning when it is cooler. Avoid walking on hot and windy days due to increased bushfire risk! Adverse weather can lead to sun stroke, heat exhaustion and hypothermia. If lost or forced to stop due to bad weather, stay together and in one place. Find shelter from sun, wind and rain.
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