woensdag 30 januari 2013

January record

Just 4 days ago a period of 13 days of continuous temperatures below zero ended and last night saw a recordbreaking 13 degrees above zero. A January record including daytemperatures !
We had a reasonable amount of snow but I've never seen it disappear so quickly.
Of course winter isn't over yet, we'll have to wait and see what's instore for us the coming weeks.

vrijdag 18 januari 2013

Practise makes Perfect : a 30km walk

I had the very rare opportunity of walking for as much as I wanted yesterday. Snow had fallen two days before and it was below zero so I decided to stretch my goal for the day a little bit.
Het Voetstappenpad is a nice circular walk around Hilversum (The Netherlands) through heath, forests and a bit of Hilversum itself.
The lenght is 25km and parking north of the walk the total lenght of the walk would be 30km.
Het Gebed-zonder-End
The temperature was minus 5 degrees but luckily there was hardly any wind so there was no windchill. I was carrying my backpack stuffed with jeans and filled waterbottles to reach the weight of 14kg. I was wearing a North Face Gore-tex trouser over synthetic longjohns, an Icebreaker Merino baselayer and midlayer and my Paramo Alta jacket together with Scarpa SL3 boots and a cheapish pair of walking poles and a thin fleece hat and gloves.
I never felt cold at all and sometimes even had to open the jacket to cool down a bit.
I started at 9.30 at a leisurely speed. There were a lot of tracks of small deer and rabbits in the snow. The human footprint you can see in the picture is the waymark of the Voetenpad, originally established in 1938.
I had my SatMap Active10 gps with me to test the batteries in cold conditions. I used rechargeable batteries that weren't freshly charged but all bars were shown on screen. The path is very well waymarked but I thought it was best to use the gps anyway. I had it turned on all the time in energy-save mode and the batteries only ran flat 600m before reaching my car again. During The TGO Challenge I will only turn it on when needed so I think I can get at least 2 full days walking out of 3 normal AA-sized batteries.  
Despite the lack of sunshine I was enjoying myself. I kept saying to myself this was all f...king fantastic, having decided to do this only 12 hours ago. The company was great (there was nobody around) and the views were stunning.   
Charolais cows
I didn't meet any Highland Coos, instead I met some Charolais cows who thought I was bringing something nice to chew on. I tend to ignore cattle, and in exchange they ignore me, but this time they followed me for a while at very close range. I had my poles ready to scare them off but didn't get the change (?) to test the theory.  

Dr.Albert Schweizer forest road
Kilometre after kilometere passed and I kept feeling good which was a bit of a surprise to me because I had injured my right knee 15 days ago. Despite the terrain being difficult to walk on from time to time - months of rain had turned the paths into deep mud and tracks of mountainbikers and walkers had frozen solid to form a sort of boulderfield - I didn't experience any pain in my knee. 
Hilversum's Wasmeer viewpoint
After walking for three hours I took a lunchbreak of 15 minutes at the Hilversum's Wasmeer viewpoint, south of Hilversum. As I was packing to leave two elderly men entered the viewpoint. One was obviously being 'guided' by the other and the newbie remarked this was a nice flat area. I thought : "It better be otherwise the Laws of Physics don't apply around here. It's a lake for God's sake !", but I kept my mouth shut.
The Hoorneboeg
Another 2 hours 15 minutes of walking on 'boulderfields' started to take its toll and at 3 o'clock I had another 15 minutes break. Calves, knees, hips and shouldermuscles were making clear they'd had enough of it but I still had to walk another 6km.

Me, Halvar Icebeard, getting a bit knackered 
I simply put one foot in front of the other and ending in my neck-of-the-woods meant I could split the remaing km's in manageable pieces : the pond, the left-turn at the road, three oaklanes, the campsite.... .
Eventually I reached the car having walked 30km for which I needed 7 hours. Time moving was 5hrs35mins, average speed was 4,3km and moving average was 5,3km/hour.

Today I expected to have sore and stiff legs (I remember coming down the stairs at Glenbrittle YH after a long day in The Cuillin) but that didn't happen. I actually feel good.
Some more of these walks and I'll be ready for the Challenge in May.

donderdag 10 januari 2013

Gear : Therm-A-Rest NeoAir Xlite Regular

A couple of days ago it was my birthday so I thought it was a good idea to buy me a present. I needed a replacement for my leaking Exped Down Air 7 mattress.
I visited BeverZwerfsport , a Dutch outdoorshop, to test the T-A-R NeoAir Xlite Regular. A very light mattress at 350 grams compared to the Exped at 900 grams. I've been happy with the warmth and comfort of the Exped 7 - I'm a sidesleeper - and thought I'd give the NeoAir Xlite a try in the shop.

My hips didn't touch the floor, even when deflated a bit for softness, but it's a bit 'noisy' when turning from one side to another. I don't mind. I'll be using earplugs.
Couldn't test the warmth but the R-value is stated as 3,5. I'll have to do some fieldresearch for that.
I left my cash at the shop and took the NeoAir home. I was happy.

woensdag 2 januari 2013

Rule 1 : Vetters are always right, Rule 2 : ...

On the last day of last year, or the first day of the first week of this year if you prefer, I received an email from the Almighty Coordinator in Settle containing my Route Sheet and the comments of the honourable Vetters Les & Issy Silkowski. There was work to be done.
I'd made some unexplainable typo's, forgot some FWA's, planned a lot of looooong days and my route contained several dangerous spots, not to mention the sheer madness of planning 45 Munros.

I didn't call it "Rising the 45" for nothing , did I ?

Actually Les & Issy gave me some sound advice and some good tips and I know I'll have to improvise in May due to weather- and groundconditions (my physical condition will be topnotch).
I've made some re-calculations, improvements and added a FWA here and there and send it in this afternoon. Let's hope it gets the Vetters' approval this time