There are memories that last forever, and there is mud that will never wash away. The Bergans pants on the photo above will never be clean again. Carstensz was a challange equipmentwise. We had to keep out gear at a weight minimum to be able to travel fast and easy through the jungle and tricky terrain. It was extremely wet and humid and some gear was never dry for over 2 weeks. When we had sunshine we’d quickly get everything out to just have the sensation of ‘dry’ for a few hours before the rain.
My good friend Rob who did the same trip last year wrote me in a letter “it’s very difficult to stay dry and clean”. It wasn’t difficult. It was impossible.
I did, however find and make a few tricks to make things better. It’s down to details, but on expeditions small things can make a big difference.
In our team we talked about the lack of information around Carstensz, as if there was a secret no one wanted to tell. We’d have to find out. And that was part of the fun, discovering all the things that made this expedition special. We even talked about not that maybe we shouldn’t give away too much information, because that would ruin the surprise. But having the right gear on a trip like this makes a enormous difference, so here is my tips for anyone thinking about going to Carstensz or a similar place.
– Have a dry and a wet area in your tent. Keep disciplined.
– Sleep with the innersoles of your rubber boots in your sleeping back to dry then during the night. It’s great to at least start the day with semi-dry feet.
– A hot waterbottle can be used for drying socks. Wrap them around the bottle.
– Don’t unpack everything in the tent. Keep stuff in your duffel in their waterproof bags.
– Always keep a backpack cover at hand. When it starts to rain a little it will be pouring down within 5 minutes. It’s good to keep the backpack dry in the tent, and if the back soaks in water it will be wet to carry if you’re not wearing a rain jacket
– Very wet stuff dries faster inside the tent if the sun is out in the morning
– Get a really good pair of rubber boots. It’s worth the investment. You will actually hike in them most of the time!
– An umbrella was great to not get soaked and rain into everywhere. Also great to eat lunch under in the open
– Bring enough socks, 7 pairs of thin ones for 2 weeks at least. + camp socks to keep feet dry
– Poles are great for balancing on wet wood and stones as well as for walking down
– EVERYTHING needs to be in drybags. Your duffel will (somehow) get wet on the inside. Rain will be inside everything.
– Only synthetic fillings in sleepingbag and puffy jacket!!! Down will get wet and never ever dry in jungle
– Merino wool undergarments! Will keep you warm even though wet, and not stink.
– Get everything waterproofed; camera, solarcharger, satellitephone, mobilephone, mp3-player…
– Wetwipes for hygiene is as close as you get to a shower, apart from rain showers.
– Bring enough moleskin to change everyday if blisters show up