Thoughts and fears

Seeing as though I’m sitting at home this weekend rather than being in the mountains I thought I’d share some thoughts and fears from my recent wildcamp weekend. Thoughts on kit etc. and fears because it was my first solo trip and I have to admit there was some trepidation as I set-off.

My car – one of the first concerns was my car! Where to park, will it be safe, will it be there when I get back, etc. I hadn’t helped myself by reading other reports of cars being torched in S.Wales. I still had the odd worrying thought on the Saturday and then again as I approached the car-park at Capel Curig on Sunday. The car was fine but unfortunately it is a serious consideration you have to make when leaving your car overnight.

Route choice – how much planning should I have done, should I know my route and stick to it, will I find a suitable camp-spot? I’d set off without a concrete plan, but I knew my options and in the end kind of went with the flow and felt a little more relaxed as a result. Although there is a tendency that you don’t push yourself as much as a result – its a bit easy to take the easier route unless you have a set objective/goal in mind. I guess there’ll be trips where both approaches have merits. Interpreting the map, reading the landscape is half the fun.

Going solo – will I get bored of my own conversation, will I look like billy-no-mates, will I be scared!? I’ll admit it was a strange sensation setting off from the car-park knowing I wouldn’t be back that night and not knowing where I was really heading. Watching the last walkers descend the path past Llyn Idwal at dusk I was conscious I was alone, but not lonely. Go at your own pace, stop when you want – I never felt alone, more at peace with the surroundings, it was easier to absorb the wilderness when solo..and I don’t mind my own company.

Kit Thoughts:

OMM Villain rucksack – as I mentioned in my earlier post it never felt totally secure with almost 13kg, the weight not really transferring satisfactorily to my hips. Lowering the weight would of course help, I’ll also experiment with shaping the Fformat back-pad and how its packed for the next trip.

Sleeping Bag – I’m awaiting delivery of a PHD Minim 300 to replace my Marmot Sawtooth and save me almost 1kg in the process.

Tent – I knew my TNF Tadpole23 was heavy (2.3kg) for one but I had little choice. Of course the TN Laser Comp is the defacto lightweight solo tent (sorry Akto owners!). The dilemma is whether to plump for the Laser Comp for those solo trips and bear with the Tadpole for when there’s two of us; or go for the slighly bigger TN Laser which is a little heavier but could (at a push) be used for two people as well.

Water – I took a new Aquagear filter bottle which was fine if not a little slow and hard work to fill a Camelbak. Finding clear water was no problem so I’m thinking a Steripen would have been an easier option – though few fellow bloggers seem to mention them?

Cooking – I took an Optimus Crux stove and Optimus Terra Weekender pot/pan set. Both worked well – the Crux stove boiling water quickly without a wind-shield, though I’ll pack one next time. The Reiter dehydrated meal wasn’t up to much – must do some more research. Also learnt that pitta-bread sarnies disintegrate too easily – wraps next time.

Jacket – I’d bought the Montane Atomic DT jacket in Pinnacle stores just before I set-off. It was light, small (you wouldn’t believe it would fit in its stuff-sac) but since the weather was dry and blustery its chief role was cutting the wind, but as ever lack of breathability was evident. I’m still hunting for a lightweight softshell/fleece that fits me and perhaps a Montane windproof top. With most brands my shoulders are too big for medium but the large drowns me – anyone any suggestions?

So that’s my thought and fears – my first solo trip and definitely not my last. I’d rather be in the hills this weekend than sipping Lemsips, but hey, that’s life – I just need to get the diary out!

6 Replies to “Thoughts and fears”

  1. We had an “I hope the car is ok” moment on our return after 2 night away wild camping in Glen Isla. As we headed along the track back towards the road and our car, we could see several tents pitched close to where we had parked. There were several young folks hanging around listening to music and drinking, but as we go closer they drifted off. Once at the car, we saw their camping spot was littered with empty cans and bottles and rubbish and there was muddy footprints on the bonnet of our car! So that’s why they scarpered. Fortunately there was no damage to the car.

    Re the tent, we use a Laserlarge 1 for the two of us. I can’t remember the weight, but we like it for comfort. We find it an ideal sleeping, pack storage and food preparation size and ok ventilation. We bought a Tadpole for our middle son for his solo trips. and we borrowed this one weekend and didn’t like it at all for two. We were really pushed to fit two rucksacks in teh porch.

    Last weekend, I, too, tried pitta bread as an alternative to slices of bread which easily get squashed. For something so dry, I was surprised that the pitta bread broke up. My lesson from our last weekend away is to take an alternative dinner which require no cooking, in case we’re too cold or tired to prepare anything at all. We ended up eating our breakfast cereal at 8.30pm and cooking ‘dinner’ the next morning.

  2. Reading that I see someone who learnt a lot and is gaining experience. Kit is a personal choice. The Laser has space but those pulley cords to vent it are fiddly and annoying in my view. Hence I got the comp. SteriPEN is sound thinking and I have one on order (get mentioned on LFTO forums). I hate to think how much my kit makeover has cost me. New tents and a new sleeping bag which arrived Friday. Kit is good as long as it works on our terms. PHD 300 bag gets great reviews so sounds a good buy. Just think that and a LC would be over 2kg saved. That Villain might be up to the task after all 🙂

    PS on a overnight I take Wayfarer meals. I am to lazy to cook and prefer the taste vs the weight saved with dehydrated stuff.

  3. Envious reading that.

    wanted to do my own first wild camp last week up in the lakes but a dodgy foot put paid to that idea.

    Going up again in 3 weeks, this time not alone so maybe will get a night or two in the wild.

    I use an OMM Villain also and I was ok with about 11.5kg in it, but Im still looking to get under 10kg if possible.

  4. Martin – yep you can’t beat experience in the hills – the first solo trip is a real eye-opener. I’m a confessed gadget addict so the Steripen is right up my street (Tamarack Outdoors have 20% off till 4th May so its only £72).

    Dave – I’ve first hand experience of cancelled trips. I need to get up to the Lakes. I’m sure the Villain will be just fine after my recent weight-saving purchases!

  5. Reading this just brings back the memories of my first solo and I had to laugh when I saw that I’m not the only one worries about my car!

    Getting the weight down should make a huge difference as Martin says and in my experience can really make a trip more pleasant.

  6. Funny how you can walk into the middle of nowhere and sleep in a tiny tent completely at the mercy of the wild yet worry about the car 🙂

    Like the convenience of a car but I like the spirit of adventure the train adds to a trip !

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