Friday, 29 May 2009

Here's the final Kit List...

Backpack - Golite Quest - 1355
Pack Liner - Sea to Summit - 94
Bivi - Big Agnes 3 wire - 850
Tarp - MSR E-Wing - 185
Umbrella - 220
Can opener - 8
Lighter - 14
Spork - 10
Sleeping Bag - Cumulus Quantum 200 - 536
Sleeping Mat - Thermarest NeoAir - 370
Pillow - 85
Big Agnes Pumphouse (pump for mat - doubles as dry bag) - 46
T'Shirt - Berghaus - 110
LS Top - Merino Wool (N.Face) - 186
Shorts - 149
trousers - Lowe Alpine - 246
Underware - 65
Socks x2 - 126
Waterproof Socks - 77
Waterproof Coat - Berghaus Paclite - 390
Waterproof Overtrousers - Berghaus Paclite - 150
Down Jacket - PHD Ultra Down Pullover- 224
Hat - Tilley Lighterweight LT5 - 90
Buff - 36
Boots - Asolo Atlantis GTX - 1130
Trekking Pole - REI - 182
sunglasses - Smith Toaster - 28
Compass - 42
Strip Maps - 80
Map case - Ortileb - 58
Whistle - 4
GPS - Satmap - 290
Spare Batteries - AA Lithium - 135
Head Torch - Petzl (Tikka) - 76
Pack Towel x2 (one for Patch!) - 28
Wet wipes - 52
Lip Balm - 8
Multi-use Soap - 82
Toothbrush - 12
Mini Mirror - 8
Trowel - 56
Toilet Roll - 94
Hand Sanitiser - 36
Sunscreen - 57
Deet - 57
Mozzy Coils - 70
Money stuff - 100
Phone & Charger - 218
Stuff Sacks - 40
1st Aid Kit - 122

Patch -
Coat - 110
Boots & Liners - 193
Security Lead - 260
Lead - Clix - 50
Bowls - 22
Vetwrap - 34
Butterbalm - 35

This gives an FSO weight of around 10kg + food and water.

I've finally decided on the Paclite Jacket, but John will have my Montane eVent jacket in his box of alternative items so I can swop when I meet him at the end of June if necessary.

I'm probably going to start with the Laser tent, for the first month to escape the notorious midges in Scotland, but will then swap to the bivi bag and tarp for the rest of the walk.....

Well that's it...I leave tomorrow to start driving up to Scotland, and will get to John O'Groats on Sunday. The hike starts Monday with a 20 mile walk.


Thursday, 21 May 2009

A setback....

We've had a minor setback...Patch has an abscess - we think she's picked up a bit of grit. That's really not good timing as our daily walks are now on hold, but she seems to be on the mend thankfully. I think we'll be using her boots quite a bit along the walk...

I've made a last minute change to the first part of my route. Initially it involved a fabulous remote walk through northern Scotland, but I'm a bit worried about how Patch will cope with the RAF aircraft passing overhead. She's reduced to a quivering wreck when they pass overhead here - and I think northern Scotland will have even busier skies. To play it safe I'm going to stick to the coast road which is a real shame,. The up side is this means I have less food to carry. On the old route I would have had to carry 8 days food, but on this route I pass through towns / villages daily.

The change of route means I've had a last minute panic printing new sets of maps and changing the re-supply food parcels that I'm sending ahead, but I'm back on track now.

My final kit list will soon follow...I'm currently experimenting with a bivi bag and lightweight tarp...

Sunday, 17 May 2009

A doggy post....

There are a couple of people who have given doggy help without even being asked.

The first person is Gabriela Lerner from Collarways. Gabriela has really taken Patch under her wing. She has provided her with Bow Wow Butterbalm, a Wacky Walker lead, toys, Flea Repellant Coat Spray, a fantastic new Lupine collar, and some Joint Aid. All this without being asked at all - what an absolute star!

I have to say the products are fantastic. The Vibram toy is the only toy I've found that Patch hasn't destroyed - and she's had a good go at it, and the Lupine collar is great - it's guaranteed even if chewed, which is very good news to me - Patch got one of my mothers geese last year when her collar broke.

The real gem we've found is the Bow Wow Butterbalm...I've never used anything on Patch's pads before - I thought it was a bit, well, wussy! But I have to say, it's amazing stuff. The breakthrough came when I had a cold - my nose was so sore I was using my Body Shop cocoa butter lip balm on my nose in desperation! I then tried the butterbalm and it was amazing - it soothed my nose straight away, and within 24hrs the redness had decreased enormously. I realised how good it is for soothing any irritation on Patch's feet that I may not be aware of. It's made from Natural Ingredients and is lovely quality - it smells wonderful! I'm now going to always make sure I have some of this handy as it's wonderful for so many uses!

I'm going to get some of this for my mother as I think it will really help her dermatitis type irritated skin. The pot lasts ages as you only use a small bit - I've put some in a smaller pot from Icklebockle to take on our walk, and John will bring the main pot along for me to restock from when we meet up! I may find some more uses for it myself along the way!

The other person I'm grateful to is Penny (ebay ID: angelica1963) who knits wonderful baby clothes and sells them on ebay. I contacted Penny to see if she could knit some made to measure wooly liners for Patch's boots to provide extra protection against rubs. Penny was fantastic - she searched the web for suitable patterns and spent a lot of time and effort making sure the liners were right - sending me "prototypes" to try before making the final set in pure wool for me. Penny made us two perfect sets that have extra padding everywhere except the foot - I wanted the extra protection against rubs, but I hoped under the foot could be kept simple to give Patch stability underfoot.

The wooly boot liners seem perfect inside her Ruffwear Grip Trex boots - we completed a 5 mile walk with no rubs or irritation which is great news. After going to so much effort for us Penny wouldn't take payment.

How often do you come across such wonderful people?! I'm so grateful for their help to make sure Patch is comfortable and healthy.

Friday, 8 May 2009

New kit - Golite Quest, Big Agnes bivi and Therm-A-Rest NeoAir

I've had a spending spree....again....all in the name of trying to lower my pack weight. That's it now - I'm done!

I've bought a new pack - a Golite Quest. Weighing 1355 grams it's about 1200 grams lighter than my Gregory Diva. the padding on the hip belt isn't nearly as thick as the Gregory pack, but I've now learned (thanks to comments from my "followers") to keep weight down more, so hopefully I won't miss the extra padding - which can be a tad warm on a hot day.

On first inspection this pack seems fab - some really useful features, like the zipped bellow pockets on the hip wings, and a good pocket either side that's slanted so you can reach the contents / water bottles on the move. It seems to fit perfectly which is great as I bought it online which can be a gamble. The only oddity is the lack of a separate bottom compartment for the tent, but the side compression straps rather nattily can be extended across the back of the pack and fastened to the opposite compression strap which allows the possibility of lashing the tent on the back. My tent (Laser competition) can be a bit tricky to pack if I leave the small side poles in it makes for a longer package, but these can easily be left in place if I stick it on the back of the pack.

I've also gone for the Big Agnes bivi bag, which I bought for a very good price from good old eBay. It hasn't arrived yet but I can't wait to get my hands on it. It's statistics are very good weight and size wise. My thoughts are to use the tent for the first part of the hike where I'll appreciate the shelter from midges, plus a porch where I can cook a meal as it will initially be around 8 days before I can re-stock or find anywhere to eat. Once I get to Kilsyth I meet up with my hubby (John) for the day and plan to collect the bivi bag from him and leave the tent and stove. I'll be able to buy food along the way more easily from then on so I can live without the stove.

The NeoAir hasn't arrived yet - I'm looking forward to this one as although my Big Agnes insulated aircore mat is really comfortable, it isn't the lightest mat. The NeoAir will save me around 200 grams.

Its been pointed out to me that I've turned into a weight freak - and I think they are right!

I'm itching to get going now....3 weeks to go. My friend Sue is incredibly stressed this weekend after taking on my work, bless her. I'm hoping to get out for some backpacking days this week if I can and try out the new kit - time is getting short.

Come on warmer weather.....

Sunday, 3 May 2009

A visit to Elan Valley

Our plan was to spend the weekend hiking around Elan Valley - a beautiful area of hills, moorland and reservoirs. Our plans were cut short though as our dogs were squabbling inside the tent - our little one "Snowy" is incredibly insecure and wasn't coping with being shut in such a confined area with Patch (my sweetie). So we ended up plodding back to the car after the first night, rather than continuing on. What a shame.

Never mind...we did have a fab night wild camping...and still have the rest of the walk to look forward to another day.

The outcome of this is that we have decided to now camp with separate accommodation...John with his dog, me with mine (Patch). Some may think this odd, but it's a good solution for the I get a slight break from John's snoring....!

We are thinking of eventually getting a bivi bag each, plus a lightweight tarp to use for cooking etc under if it's rainy / midgy. So far we're looking at the North Face Backpack bivi (910g) and a Gossamer Gear SpinnShelter (250g) - the idea being to use the bivi as the main shelter, and the tarp only when necessary. Of course it would help to win the lottery first...! I'd be interested to hear other people's ideas on this combination - feel free to leave comments or email me.

On a different note, I loaded myself up more than necessary in preparation for our upcoming Jogle, and found my new waistbelt and shoulder harness incredibly comfortable...the weight wasn't a problem at all...until I went uphill...