Tuesday, 9 June 2015

The Tarptent Notch.

I think I may have found an answer to my tent question. I've just ordered one of these from California, it's with custom's at the moment. It doesn't have poles, you use your walking poles instead.   

It's very hard trying to compare it to my Macpac just using the size dimensions given on their website. But I think the inner will be a little higher and slightly narrower. Weighs approximately 700g. Comes with an all mesh inner or half mesh half solid - as in the photo - which I've gone for. It would have been quite cheap if I'd brought it in the states but I think with shipping and duty added it wont be. Can't wait to try it out.

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Into the wilds.

How long can I go unsupported into the wilds?

Is a question I've been pondering lately. Over the last couple of years I've been thinking of a long trip in Arctic Sweden and this question is going to be key. Last year I did a trip through Knoydart over nine days, I actually only walked for seven but carried everything for nine. That made a pack of 17kg (37.5lbs) which included a litre of water and my walking poles. I've tweaked my kit a bit since I got back, to loose some weight and update some stuff. This year I'm planning on taking two weeks (15 days) food and gas which comes to 7kg. If everything else comes to 8.5 to 9kg then the final weight shouldn't be much different from last year.

Trouble is I've little room for trimming any more weight, the only thing I can see is changing my tent for a lighter one. I could go for a Hilleberg Akto at 1.7kg ( a saving of 200g) but at a cost of just under £500. Or, the Terra Nova Lazar competition 1, at 790g (a saving of 1.11kg) at £250. The Akto is a more robust constructed tent than the Lazar, At least as good as the Macpac I'm using at the moment, I'm not convinced the Lazar is as good. Both the Atko and the Lazar have a single hooped pole across the body of the tent and smaller poles at each end to hold the inner tent up. In the Akto there are two small poles at each end and the Lazar there's just one at each end. The inner tent of the Lazar is very close to the face when your laying down, something I think I would find very irritating.

Another consideration is which pack to use, my new Lightwave pack weighs 1kg and is really comfortable to carry, but at 60lts it's full with two weeks food and kit. I still have a huge Low Alpine pack which would carry everything with easy but it weighs 2.5kg so any savings I could make on the tent would be swallowed and more by using this pack.

I like using gas stoves to cook with (I'll really only be boiling water) I like their simplicity, their small size, light weight and their fuel efficiency. I can make a 250 canister last seven days, I'm taking a 500 canister with me this year, which I hope will last me fifteen days (I'm taking a 100 canister as back up). But, I think at fifteen days I've reached the point where the weight of metal in the canisters is out weighing the saving of using a simple gas burner. In the past I've used petrol stoves, the burner units are heavier than the gas ones and there's also the weight of the pump unit, but the fuel can be carried in lighter bottles. For solo use I've never found them all that efficient, if anything they produce too much heat a lot of which is lots around your small pan. I've also tried meths stoves, the full sized 25 and 27 model Tranga's are quite fuel efficient as the wind shield holds the heat in and the wind out but they're too heavy for solo use. The mini tranga is lighter as there's no wind shield but this makes it very fuel inefficient, the wind blows the flame all over the place and most of the heat misses the pan. There are on some of the ultra-lightweight backpacking websites some very lightweight if very flimsy looking meths stoves which might be worth looking at.

Finally, how much can I carry? The 17kg I carried last year wasn't too bad, I felt I was keep up quite a comfortable pace climbing munro's in Knoydart and Kintail. In the dim and distant past I've carried heavier packs both climbing in the Andes and in the military but that was 30+ years ago and I can't say it was all that much fun.

Then there's getting there, not many flights for under £400 and the ones that do go that way don't seem to connect. So there's always a long lay over in Stockholm or Copenhagen and the whole journey takes about three day each way.     

Everything for two weeks in the wilds.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

2015 Ski season.

Photo's say it all really.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

The White Tailed sea Eagles of Kerrera.

I did this little trip back at the beginning of November. Ray and I drove up to Oban for a day paddle  around Kerrera. At the south-western tip of the island is the headland of Rubha na Feudain. Whilst paddling along I noticed two funny looking lumps on top of the headland.

Sitting on top of a rock were a pair of White Tailed Sea Eagles not something you see every day.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

The Auchmithie Caves.

From Arbroath to Auchmithie is a spectacular stretch of coast full of sea stacks and caves. Over last weekend the weather turned out great so what better way to spend the day than paddling than paddling this fantastic coast.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

One I did earlier.

I haven't done as much kayaking this year so far as I have in other years. This trip was at the start of June. We did an overnight trip down the Isle of Lismore, camped at the end overlooking Mull and came back the next day. Nothing special just a laid back paddle for the three of us. 

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Somebody arrived in the middle of the night, a German I think, stomping around in his jackboots on the wooden floor. I left him in bed in the morning. For the first time on the trip I didn't need waterproof to start the day. As I wandered along the path to Kinloch Hourn the day just got better and better. I treated myself to a cheeseburger and coffee at the cafe, first non freeze-dry food of the trip.

A couple of K's from the village is Loch Coire Shubh. Here I take a path off to the north at first through a forestry plantation,  deer fences on either side. I'm thinking "this is not so good", but I'm soon out of the woods and into an open Coire,  Coire Sgoireadall. The gradient is nice and easy, the path good I'm making good progress. I head for a bealach at the head of the coire. This takes me into another equally wild coire, Wester Glen Quoich. I'd hoped I could contour around the head of this coire but no chance, I dropped down and started climbing again. I camp for the night a couple of hundred meters below the Bealach Duibh Leac.
 In the morning I have two options up to the bealach and down to Sheil Bridge if the weather isn't good or up to the bealach and along the south Sheil ridge if it's good. It was good. I'm on top of Creag nan Damh by 08.00. I don't see anyone else till midday, then as the day goes on more people cross my path their all doing sections of the ridge. I drop off the end of the ridge looking for somewhere to camp above Loch Cluanie but all the streams are dry it hasn't rain for two days. I ended up by Loch a'Mhaoil Dhisnich only two km from the Cluanie Inn but I didn't want to camp by the road.
A red deer hind was staring at me when I opened the tent next morning only yards away, she barked and ran away. I had planned to cross the valley and "do" the north side over the next two days but my body was saying. "No, That would be a ridge too far". I dropped down to Sheil Bridge and got the bus home.