Posted by: Katy Welter | December 1, 2012

Backpacker Gear Tester Video Submission

Here’s my video pitch to be a 2013 Backpacker Magazine Gear Tester, featuring clips from our adventures. Enjoy!

Correction: the Alpacas are in Rathdowney, Australia — not Brisbane.

“Man on Fire” — Written & Performed by Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros

Posted by: Katy Welter | May 2, 2011

Serenity Now — Kalalau Beach at dawn

I took this video at about 5 am at Kalalau Beach. I was standing right in front of our tent. I’ve been fortunate to see many of the world’s most beautiful places, but nothing tops the natural beauty and peace of Kalalau. The video is best if you can listen to it without distraction.

Posted by: Katy Welter | May 2, 2011

Kalalau Trail — An Overview

This is the second time we’ve hiked the Kalalau Trail. The first was late December, 2009. In fact, we camped on Christmas at Hanakapei Beach! Camping at Hanakapei is no longer allowed, perhaps because it’s such a high traffic area. It’s located just 2 miles in from Kee Beach at the Northernmost point of Kauai, and attracts many day hikers.

Looking back on Kee Beach from the Kalalau Trail

Last time, we visited dropped off our packs at Hanakapei and then walked to Hanakapei Falls, another 4 miles round trip. By the time we got back, we were ready to settle in for the night.

First stream crossing at Hanakapei Beach

This time, we skipped the Falls and proceeded along the trail. We expected to reach Kalalau Beach by dusk, but shortly after Hanakoa campsite (the only official midway site), we realized that we were losing the sun. This was shortly after crossing the notoriously steep, exposed area around mile 8 of the trail.

These "Hazardous Cliffs" signs abound on the Kalalau Trail -- we call these "No Fall Zones"!

We pitched our tent at a small bald area on a gorgeous cliff instead.

Morning at our first campsite; gear ready to go.

In 2009, our second day of hiking (covering the bulk of the trail) was dominated by a powerful rain storm. This made for many rainbows, but extremely slick hiking conditions, since the red soil has the consistency of clay when wet. If you’re considering the trail, be aware that a dry day bears little resemblance to a wet one, in terms of difficulty. If you or someone in your group is inexperienced, then a wet Kalalau Trail is not the place to cut your backpacking teeth. However, a dry trail is manageable for any fit person without a terribly heavy pack. Rick took his large Osprey 70L bag, but I just brought a 35L pack.

We pack very light camping gear, and no extra clothes, but we bring quite a bit of food and cooking gear. That’s so we can make amazing things like these beans, rice, and scrambled egg breakfast quesadillas!

Rick has perfected the backcountry quesadilla. Not your average trail food!

With an early start, we reached Kalalau Beach well before noon, since we only had about four miles to go.

Back on the Kalalau Trail, Day 2

A wooden sign ushers you into the magical Kalalau Valley.

Welcome to paradise!

And shortly after, the secluded beach reveals itself, sidled next to the gorgeous green cliffs of the Na Pali coast.

Kalalau Beach tucked between staggering green cliffs and vast blue ocean.

At last, we found the perfect campsite, and set up our luxurious hammock. We didn’t bring a hammock last time; but you really shouldn’t go without it!

Relaxing at Kalalau Beach, Kauai

Posted by: Katy Welter | April 27, 2011

Back from the Beach

After 4 nights and 5 days, we’re back in Kauaian front country–which is to say, back in paradise.

Happily, our car was neither towed nor ticketed, even though we parked in a No Parking area along Highway 56 near the trailhead. We honestly didn’t have a choice because the nearby beach was so crazy. Kauai is definitely in Spring Break mode and it’s a far busier place than we left it at the start of 2009.

We’re settled in and have already enjoyed a veggie puka dog and a locally brewed beer in the shower–a post-hike must.

We’ll get the photos uploaded soon, and share a few trail stories. But for now, here’s a representative photo from the Kalalau trail.


Posted by: Katy Welter | April 22, 2011

Kauai, redux

The first thing we noticed, aside from the unabated perfect weather, is the absence of Ford Mustangs.

We’ve just arrived in Kauai. We won a week stay at Hideaway Cove, a fantastic, independent place on the south side of the island.

But first, we’re going to revisit our old friend, the Kalalau Trail. More to follow!

Posted by: rbieterm | February 13, 2010

A Story Book Ending


Married at the San Francisco courthouse in jeans and a t-shirt.

How sweet it is.

Posted by: rbieterm | February 11, 2010

The Overland Track (Tasmania)

Though the logistics of getting to the trailhead we’re terribly painful (I’ll explain later.), we finally reached what many consider one of the top five hikes in the world… The Overland Track.

A bit misty but nothing a wide brim hat can't handle.

Seconds later, we spotted a wombat! They look like a koala faced overweight rodent.

The track consists of a fifty mile horseshoe beginning at Cradle Mountain and finishing at Lake St. Clair with a handful of side trips to summits (including Mt. Ossa) and waterfalls. Much of the track is boardwalk (some new, some old) although there is quite a bit of tree root and rock hopping/dodging. I’d advise some high ankle support on this one.

So here’s how our 5 days went…

Why can't they make rain pants that breathe? Within minutes, the layers had to come off and Katy realized Bill was wearing an old pair of her pants!

It was pretty flat up until this point and then came Marion's lookout, an intense 30 min. uphill climb.

The stairs were nice but an elevator might have been better.

At the top, things got a little windy.

I can fly!

And a bit foggy.

But eventually the sun came out to play again... and so did the greenery!

Full bloom in Tassie.

Even the rocks grow bright green.

By day 3, the rain had passed and it was all smiles.

Even through this maze of forest.

And around the rock wall.

Eventually we found our way out of the forest and into more dramatic scenery.

In Tassie, no water treatment is necessary. You can drink right out of the stream.

Steep cliffs and broccoli trees (well, they look like broccoli stalks anyway).

Camp below Mt. Ossa

Our view from the kitchen.

Sunset and pizza bombs!

The next morning, we began our hike up Mt. Ossa

The FALSE summit.

The real summit. Way to go Bill!

A long hard hike deserves a cold drink from the puddle.

On our way down, we saw these men and women who were trail running the entire 50 miles in one day! Unbelievable!! And we thought we were tough.

Later that night, we had a visitor, a brush tail opossum. He loved crackers.

But who needs crackers anymore, we found Lake St. Clair. Our journey is over.

So I showed you the beauty. Tough to beat. But here were the problems and expenses we ran into getting to the trailhead.

1. No car means public transportation. $50 dollar one way bus ticket from Hobart (3 hours) and another $50 back. Even if you have a car, you have to park it at the end of the trail and take a 2 hour bus ($100 dollars per person) to the trailhead. Pain in the butt and not much of an advantage.

2. You must buy a parks pass as well as an Overland Track pass (total cost $150 dollars per person) and you must start on the start date you give the parks or you may not start at all. Hope nothing goes wrong. No refunds given. Do your research before you begin. For a 5 day hike, the expenses add up pretty quick. I’ve done it once. It was beautiful, but I probably wouldn’t do it again.

Posted by: Katy Welter | February 2, 2010

Heading Overland.

tomorrow we begin the Overland Track in Tasmania. We’ve had packed days with lots of driving, meeting new folks, and very little Internet time. sorry for the scarcity of posts recently. We’ll have to do a giant wrap-up . . . from the USA, where we’ll be in just 8 days! Wild.

Signing out for a 6-day hike,

Katy & Rick

Posted by: rbieterm | January 31, 2010

Life back on the farm…

Oh man… is it ever hot.  98 degrees in the shade!  Sure makes for some long hours.  Luckily, Sheila has been taking very good care of us.  A break around 10, lunch at 1, and a nice cool shower at 5 followed by some wonderful meals.

Our days are similar to what they were 6 months ago.  Lots of care for the pacas and some painting and heavy lifting here and there.  When we arrived, we were so happy to learn that there were 2 pacas born less than two weeks ago.  Here’s one now…

Katy thought she would strum this 5 day old like a guitar...

While I had the honor of handling dad, the new "macho" in town.

And here's the whole family posing for their holiday card. Happy Australia Day everyone. Look at dad giving his daughter a big kiss while tending to mom's needs too 🙂 What a family man.

As if this wasn’t enough of a treat, we helped in the mating process once again.  I’ll never forget that sound.

We took Osama for another walk.

I took Osama on his last walk at Triple Peaks. He was off to a new farm the day we left.

And a couple days later, we had a new arrival.  A BABY GIRL!

It's a girl. Check out that umbilical cord!

The sniff test. Are you my baby?

Pacas on watch. Baby in the middle.

Do you like my eyelashes?

"And I'm not very good at eating yet."

A few hours after the birth of our young INDIANA (that’s the paca’s name), we decided to celebrate at the Rathdowney rodeo!

Ahhh, felt like I was right back at Country Thunder in Twin Lakes, Wisconsin.

But if you’ve ever been to a rodeo, you know music isn’t the main attraction.  The first bull rider we saw was 4 years old, “the youngest man in the National Rodeo Association.  Let’s see how he does.

And this guy (as the announcer said) needed some medical attention.

To wind down our week and celebrate another great experience, Sheila invited us to her friends house for a gourmet wood fire pizza party.

Where there is pizza, there are camels??

and wallabies...

And a live in alpaca who was crazy about wood fired pizza!

And a few days later, we were off again.  Next destination Tasmania.

Thanks Triple Peaks and Sheila for some wonderful memories and new friendships.

Posted by: Katy Welter | January 30, 2010


Sheila’s place is always full of surprises. Within hours of our arrival, we’d seen baby alpacas, cane toads (and cane toad tadpoles), and, most fun of all, green frogs! But these weren’t your typical green frog. These were toilet-dwelling green frogs!

Sheila has a set of public restrooms near her house, for the many visitors to the farm. Since Rick and I are staying in the traditional pioneer hut, these restrooms are for us as well. When I went to use the toilet, I saw that the back of the stall door had a sign saying I should leave the top lid down so that frogs don’t jump in!

A cautionary sign.

I thought the sign was some kind of joke. Then, I flushed. Despite having just read the sign, I was shocked to see *three* large, green frogs dive into the toilet bowl along with the water!

Not your ordinary flush! (The bits in the bowl are from *them*!)

I left the bathroom and went to the house, where I found Sheila and Rick and asked what I should do about these loo loungers! Sheila said, “I was hoping you’d take them out!” Being a lifelong frog catcher, I was happy to do so.

Lucky for you, this has been happening a couple of times a day, every day that we’ve been here! Here are the highlights.

Making new friends.

Stiff neck from living in a toilet?

Taking a shower break from the bowl . . .

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