This year is turning into a bit of a disappointment. A couple of weeks ago I had been planning to do a trip to Dartmoor for four nights, then I got covid. It was like a bad cold but I recovered quite quickly. Then I thought I’d go up to the Peak District this weekend. Now the Peak District National Park has closed Access Land due to fire risk. It looks like it’s going to be another disappointing year for backpacking trips.
Dan Durston has designed a new pack to go on sale soon. My wife would probably divorce me if I bought another pack! Looks good though.
I thought I’d add some gear comments from my “Sneaky Camp” post. I’ve added a couple of mods on my Notch Li that you can see from the picture above. I’ve added a pocket just below to mesh vent and above the existing pocket. I cropped an old Alpkit stuff sack. Attaching it with safety pins means I can move it around if I want. Ideal for tissues, hand sanitiser, penknife or other light items. Unlike the Tarptent pockets, items don’t fall out! Also in the picture you can see I’ve added a shock cord and cord lock which attaches to the trekking pole (a suggestion from a member of Trek-lite forum https://www.trek-lite.com/index.php?threads/tarptent-notch.5007/page-11 ). It pulls the inner tent out slightly and helps to reduce flapping on the inner tent.
Next up, instead of laying the rucksack in the porch, I hung it from a loop of cord at on apex with a mini karabiner. It keeps the rucksack out of the way, giving a bit more room in the porch and stops it getting wet. I also put some of my gear in a waterproof rucksack cover in the porch (the fluorescent yellow material in the picture) which keeps things tidy and dry.
Lastly I used my Sea to Summit Ultralight insulated sleeping pad and a short fleece cover (zebra pattern https://blogpackinglight.wordpress.com/2011/06/15/myog-fleece-sleeping-mat-cover/) which I made ages ago for another mat. The S2S at 482g is not “ultralight” but it is comfortable. I have the woman’s version which has a slightly higher R value than the standard version but is slightly shorter. However, it’s just about long enough for me. The fleece cover adds a bit of warmth and comfort, especially with a quilt. The S2S mat is a bit thinner than many other mats but in a way it makes it more comfortable as you don’t bounce around and it’s more stable when you kneel on it. It also takes less pumping up. The S2S has a “pillow lock” system which attaches a S2S pillow to the sleeping pad. I use the S2S Aeros pillow and pillow case which works really well.
I managed to get out for a sneaky camp on Monday night. The forecast was some heavy rain. I managed to pitch before the rain but in the event there were only a few light showers. Looking at the rain radar, it passed further south. However, I was able to take some moody cloud photos. It was good to use the Notch Li again. I’ve done a couple of things to it which I will share in another post.
As some readers will be aware, TGO Challenge legend, Alan Sloman, arranges a pre-TGOC walk every year as a warm up to the Challenge itself. Covid interrupted these for a couple of years, but things have now got back to normal, so the Daunder as it is known was revived. There’s not much of a story to tell, so I’ll just post some pictures. This year we went to the Yorkshire Dales starting at Dent then walking to Ingleton via Whernside. On the second day we walked back to Dent via Ingleborough.
Day 1: Dent to Ingleton via Whernside (19.7km, 669m ascent)
Second breakfast at Dent and a late start
Walking up from Dent
View north on the ascent of Whernside
Ingleborough from Whernside
Sink hole on Whernside
Lambs near Ingleton
Day 2: Ingleton to Dent via Ingleborough (25.8km, 1,041 ascent)
Path up to Ingleborough
Whernside from the top of Ingleborough
Looking back to Ingleborough
Pot hole on western side of Ingleborough
Waterfall near Greensett Craggs
A last look at Ingleborough
All in all a fine trip. The second day was quite taxing, but enjoyable. We were lucky with with the weather althought there was a strong cold wind, which is why we skipped a wild camp. It’s a long time since I’ve walked in the Yorkshire Dales. I think I’ll go back and do a bit more exploring.
The last time I went on a backpacking trip was July last year in the Lakes. I’ve done some quick overnighters since but not proper backpacking. Next week I’m going with friends to the Yorkshire Dales for a three night trip. We are going to start at Dent, staying overnight at the camp site. The last time I was in Dent was in 1979 doing the Centurion Walk!
The next day we go over Whernside to camp at Ingleton. The following day we head back north over Ingleborough, which I’m looking forward to as I’ve never been there. We will probably do a wild camp on the northern side of Whernside, before returning to Dent the next day. Let’s hope the weather plays ball!
It’s been a frustrating winter as my plans to do some overnighters have been thwarted by poor weather. Over the past four months or so, I’ve been concentrating on building up my knee strength and stability. My knee injury just under three years ago demonstrated that I can no longer rely on my natural strength and fitness. As we get older we lose strength and condition. I’ve reached the age where I need to do something about it.
I found some BUPA videos on YouTube by chance. I’ve been religiously doing the bodyweight squat and glute bridge exercises and found that they really help. It takes about two months before you feel the strength building up. The other exercise that helps is balancing on one leg with hands by your sides for two minutes on each leg. Worth trying.
My Salomon X-Ultra Mids have started to leak so I needed to replace them. Instead of getting the new X-Ultra 4s, I’ve been tempted to try out some Keen Ridge Flex boots. I’ve never had Keen boots before so it was bit of a punt.
They are not a straight swap as the Keens are leather rather than fabric, but they should be a bit more robust. The flip side is they might be a bit warmer. The fit is rather different too with a broader toe box. I was concerned there might some heel lift but the heel retention system is excellent, probably the best of any boot I’ve had.
Despite being leather they are very flexible with “bellows flex” on the toe. That said, they do feel a bit more like a boot than the X-Ultras, which are more like a trainer. The stability and comfort is good, although I’ve only used them on short, easy walks so far. I don’t know how waterproof they are but being leather and having a membrane they should be pretty good until the membrane fails.
The broad front foot makes a big difference in terms of comfort especially with thicker socks. I suffer from a mild case of Morton’s neuroma and have found that allowing my toes to splay out helps alleviate it. The mid height gives good ankle mobility. I have started not using the top set of cleats which makes it even better, especially as the heel retention is so good.
The only quibbles so far is the cleats are a bit small and fiddly. Securing and locking the laces takes a bit of care. Not a deal breaker, but could be better. For choice, I’d rather have deeper and more widely spaced lugs on the sole. The sole pattern gets quite clogged with clay. Hopefully this is less on an issue in the hills.
Overall, I rather like them. I can’t make a definitive judgement until I’ve used them on a proper trip but first impressions are good. Keen also made a fabric boot, the Tempo Flex, which I might get for warmer weather. As I said, I’ve never had Keen boots before, but I’m impressed so far.
Disclaimer: I have no relationship with Keen and bought these boots with my own money.
I would love to go backpacking in Scandinavia. Unfortunately that’s unlikely to happen. However, I enjoy watching videos of trips on YouTube. Recently a video popped up of a Norwegian guy who has done a grand tour of many of the best places in Sweden and Norway. He’s only part way through publishing the series, but I’m hooked.
Here’s the trailer for the series:
Here’s a stunning section of his night on Stor Svuku in Norway:
Alan Sloman has started his 2021 TGO Challenge account on his blog https://alansloman.blogspot.com/2021/10/tgo-challenge-2021-shiel-bridge-to.html . His crossing this year was an amazing achievement as he did it after a second kidney transplant. I’m pretty sure he’s the only person ever to have walked across Scotland with four kidneys. Pop over and have a look.