If you are walking in the central ranges you will quickly become acquainted with spinifex; from afar it can look soft and lush, when it flowers it can look like a field of wheat. Up close, it’s far from any of those things; it’s spiny, super spiny.
It is obvious to most people after their first encounter with spinifex that they will need to be very careful when they get their mattress out at night, or their reservoir out to fill at the water source.
Clearly the campsite is going to need to be closely inspected for any tiny tussock of spinifex, and other sharp objects. But, what they don’t think about is that the threat is there all day long on the trail, not just when you get your gear out of your pack. Spinifex has no problems at all penetrating a pack and piercing anything in its path within, like your mattress, or your water reservoir.
Here at Lone Dingo we commonly have people complaining of deflating mattresses and tiny holes in water reservoirs. Every time the victim claims to have been super careful at the campsite, used a ground sheet under their mattress etc etc. And yet time and again we find the tell tale tiny, slow leaking puncture hole characterized by a spinifex puncture.
So when does the hole get there? Probably during the day when the victim put their pack down during a break, or sat down on a perfectly situated rock for a rest. They didn’t realise that adjacent to that rock they rested on was a tussock of spinifex, and spinifex only needs one chance. It could have happened on that steep decline where spinifex was at pack height as they clambered down among the rocks.
As for putting your mattress on the outside of your pack, unless it’s an EVA closed cell foam mat just don’t do it! It’s a sleepless night or wet bum just waiting to happen. And that’s best case scenario; losing all your water out on the trail is a recipe for disaster and lying shivering on the hard ground for a night, or week of nights is going to be very unpleasant.
Prevention is always better than cure so watch out for the spinifex, all day. But if it happens then you may need to implement some field repairs, and that’s a story for another post….