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Terrain and Difficulty

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Rock Hopping

What it is like to walk through untracked wilderness is almost impossible to describe to someone who has never done it. The one term which causes the most difficulty is rock hopping. Broadly speaking, rock hopping is walking while stepping from one rock to another. The rocks may be truck-size boulders. They may be no more than 10 cm (4 inches) in diameter. They may be anywhere in between. The land where the rocks are may be quite steep, relatively flat or anywhere in between. The photo at the right gives one example. This particular photo was taken on one of our level 3 trips.

The terrain through which we travel varies from flat, open, and easy to steep slopes covered with dense vegetation. The photo on the left below shows that some of the walking can be as easy as walking along a footpath. The photo at the right is more typical of what we call "easy" terrain. As you can see, the vegetation requires you to pay some attention to where you are putting your feet.

Walking on flat rock ledges Walking in open terrain

Much of the terrain is more difficult as shown in the photos below. The photo at the left shows just how thick the grass can be. When it is this thick, you need to watch your every step. The photo in the centre shows an easy climb down rock ledges. The photo at the right shows scrambling over boulders without packs. The lack of packs means that this last photo could be on a level zero trip.

Walking through thick grass Easy ledge climb Boulder scramble without packs

Wet season creek crossings inevitably mean that you get wet feet. In the dry season, you may have the choice of wading through or hopping across as shown in the photo at left below. The photo on the right shows a typical rocky descent. As no one in either photo is wearing a pack, these photos could have been taken on a level zero trip.

Jumping across a creek Typical rocky descent

While walking along creeks, we often find that we have to make our way along rock ledges. Sometimes this is quite easy. Sometimes it is difficult enough to require passing packs from one person to another. The four photos below show some of the possibilities. In both rows, the photo at left below was taken on a level two trip; the one at the right on a level three.

The difference in levels is due to a combination of factors including just how much relatively difficult terrain there is and just how much you have to carry.

Ledging along a Kakadu creek Passing packs
Ledging along a Kakadu creek Ledging along a Kimberley creek

Finally we come back to rock hopping.

Rock hopping requires a good sense of balance. Some people find it easy from the beginning; others find it very difficult. Most find that it gets easier with practice. For a few people, however, no matter how much they do, even relatively easy sections of rock hopping remain an ordeal. The photos below show some examples of rock hopping.

Moderate level rock hopping A serious rock scramble
Serious rock hopping

The photo at the right shows just how difficult rock hopping can be but even here, as there wasn't too much of it on this particular trip, the trip was rated as level three. If you have never done any rock hopping and would like to get some idea of how well you might cope, try putting on a pack and stepping up onto and down off of a kitchen chair without using your hands. If this seems easy, you are not likely to have much trouble in the bush. If it seems impossible, you are likely to find it quite difficult at first.

Not sure how you would cope? Try it. If you have never done any walking of this type before and you live near the coast, you should be able to find a rocky bit of coast line somewhere nearby. Walk along the rocks there. That should give you a good indication of how difficult you will find the trips.

Every trip we offer contains some rock hopping. Some contain much more than others. If you think you are likely to find it difficult, choose a trip which doesn't have much. If the trip notes don't tell you enough, please contact us and let us help you choose the trip which will suit you best.

After rock hopping, our climate is the second factor most likely to cause problems for those who have never walked in the tropics.

The climate in the areas where most of our walks take place is tropical monsoonal. This link explains it in detail.

The level of difficulty of our trips cannot be described in a few words. Click this link to find out exactly how we work it out.

Willis's Walkabouts, 12 Carrington Street, Millner NT 0810, Australia walkabout@bushwalkingholidays.com.au

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