About the Loon

My photo
A happy chap who likes a walk every now and then

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Pretty Bloody Obvious Really

I've never claimed to be the brightest of sparks, so I rekon I can be excused the odd idiot moment. 
But just the other day I was reading a really good blog with someone's TGOC 2014 gear list and I noticed that they carried only one 230g or 250g bottle. I picked up on the difference in weight as I'm basically carrying 400g for two full 100g canisters, where as just the one 230g cannister comes in at a measly 356g.

I have pretty much have always carried two 100g gas cannisters in my bergan, one on and one spare and Tbh other than that I've barely given much thought to the weights and price etc. I think the 100g cannister habit stems from my previous constant usage of a jetboil cooker where it fits inside the pot just grand. 

These days I favour a wee Kovea spider so there's not really the same russian doll system to manage, although I do like the fact that I can fit a 100g cannister into an Alpkit MytiPot with the cooker and a multitude of other little catering necessities, but thats not a deal breaker as the spare cannister had always just been stuffed in the bergan anyway. 

 Even better news, the two 100g cans cost roughly £4.00 each, while one 230g can costs about a pound more, So taking one larger can will give me an extra 30g of gas, save me 50g in weight and definitely more important to an Aberdonian, its 3 quid cheaper.
The only very slight downside,  previously when a cannister ran out, I knew to go and get another and it was easy enough always carrying a spare, with the bigger cannister its to much weight (and slight overkill) to have a spare, might have to instigate some sort of weighing regime so I have a rough idea how many days I have left.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Red deer starving to death they say.........

I've heard about deer being found starved to death before, and often hear of the need for mass culls as there's to many deer for the available real estate, thats fair enough but how many estates are actually fencing off hundreds (thousands?) of square miles of hill to keep deer out
This fence stretched for mile upon mile upon mile, just to keep deer out, I wonder if they have fitted the grouse with little zappers that give them "bloody what for"  if they have the misfortune of flying over it the wrong way.

The same fence about five or six miles away, the sheer scale of it took me by surprise to be honest

 Same estate,  another motorway for gout ridden beasts that struggle to walk the length of themselves under construction,  dont know why they dont just all line up in a handy estate garden, while some lackey releases a bird every 30 seconds or so, maybe two at a time for the more adventurous, save a load of effort, time and money, maybe add swivel seats which ones man could turn in the right direction for each bird. Grouse shooting for dummies

 Bloody trees are a nuisance as well, get rid. 

Bennachie Revisited

Its fine and handy for offvthe cuff tabbing, just a we scoot along the road, park up and a quick 7 miles in the sun.

No advesre effects from the Friday/Saturday jaunt,  so with the weather again being rather bloody good I headed off, it was a bit to busy for my liking, (i forgot it was a holiday). I bet there was a few people up there today wishing they had taken a bottle of water though, bet there's also a few who will wake up tomorrow wishing they hadn't gone up, fairly passed some states. Disgusting amount of dog shit over every path, utter utter inconsiderate minks. I feel sorry for wee bairns out on an adventure  getting clarted in the bloody stuff.

 A Robin, wondered where they all disappeared to between festive seasons.

 Agh, must be that way to the hill

Could be on the right path

 Looking good

 Looks like a hill right enough.

 The top, didnt go right up, it was mobbed and it won't have changed much since last month

The way down, only 20 days to go until the big one.. ...

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Corgarff - Glen Gairn - Loch Builg - Glen Builg - Glen Avon - Strathdon

A couple of days piece and quiet in the eastern cairngorms was the plan, I awoke at home to rather un Scottish April weather. After asking about, the general concensus seemed to be that it was indeed the sun.... ach well I wasnt going to let a we bit of sun stop me, bergan packed, porridge consumed and we are off. It took about an hour and a half to drive up the length of the river Don to Historic Scotlands Corgarff Castle car park, a quick pit stop on route at an inverurie supermarket ensured I wouldn't starve to death.

The route preview on viewranger was 21.8, actual was 23.2

I parked up in a busy wee car park below the castle and headed off south over carn mor (606), carn meadhonach (630), Camock hill (694) and Tom a Chatha before descending down into Glen Gairn.

Came across this shelter on the south side of Camock hill

 It was an ideal spot for sitting in the sun with a peperami and doing a bit of mountain spotting

South to Lochnagar with my planned route along the river Gairn in the centre. 

 It was like an ice bath, to be expected from snow melt I suppose, but so refreshing, a spot of Gehwol and it was like having new feet (only lasted for about 5 miles though),  
 Nice shiny head,  it's April, who needs sun screen........... more to follow on that.

 You come over a rise quite confident your at least 20 plus miles as the craw flies from the nearest railway line and there's a railway bridge

 Yup, that looks like a railway bridge to me

 And just along the track another wee bridge

 And another,  think i clocked 8 or 9 throughout the wander

 The Scarp with a view, a lovely April evening at the head of Loch Builg,  fairly puffed out after quite a long day, 14 miles and a decent accent, seeen more grouse than you can shake a stick at,  a dozen or so white hares, a few rabbits, a few english eagles, two large herds of Red deer and two magnificent huge real eagles.

 But.....before bed its supper time, not bloody steak again!!!!  at least I remembered the colmans mustard this time (and the rolls weren't squashed flat either)

 Day two, view from the scarp door, seriously this is Scotland in April,  loch Builg looking stunning

 A bit random, but came across this sign at the other end of the loch, very informative tbh, funnily enough I had wondered about a small fenced off area I had seen just before it, I had talked myself into believing it was a paddock for stalking ponies, doh. Indeed I came across another sign a bit further on, it was all about stalking and it was again very informative, asking walkers to adhere to certain simple requests during the season.  Kudos really must go to glenavon estate for their outstanding can do attitude, hopefully walkers reciprocate. 

River crossing while trying to take a picture and carry a brew, not the wisest move of the day so far.  Excuse the daft hat, as mentioned earlier, daftie misjudged the sun the previous day and needed to keep covered up today, to hot for my beanie, so buff it was, no one sees you up here anyway............. 

The big hoose in glen Avon, Inchrory house, it was stunning,  the grounds were stunning, the setting was stunning and loads of regeneration and protection of the woodlands round about, pretty sure I saw a blackcock/capercaillie here, but it was away before I got a good look.

Pretending to be a stone

Final 20 minute boots off stop, couple of nice broonies under that bridge, mind you it is one of the finest trout rivers in the country

Looks to me like they were ripping down remnants of the great Caledonian forrest, I hope not, but on this estate I wouldn't be surprised,  its one of those "Kill, Destroy and Exclude everything estate".

Anyway from the big house in glen Avon it was a right turn (east) and a case of following the glen and fledgling river Don for 5 or 6 miles back to Corgarff Castle and the car. It had been a great walk in absolutely boiling conditions (ok at least 14 or 15, im Scottish,  thats like being in an oven).  My feet knew they had been for a walk, I even had a blister from a pair of boots that ive never had one before in. 

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Food for Wandering

Ive never been much of a dried food fan, I know the weight savings can be huge but i find boil in the bag suits my needs just dandy, laziness probably has a lot to do with that if we're being entirely honest........ 

A recent selection of 3 days food, breakfast (various variations of beans and sausage),  lunch (tuna and frankfurters) and supper (chicken tika, Thai green chicken curry and pork curry nepalese style),  plus sundries, I usually supplement this stuff with a few extra swedgers as well, snickers being a favourite,  ive recently discovered the delights of the double snickers, i do like to sneak the odd can/bottle of diet coke in as well, it gives a great end of day boost.

For brews I usually carry enough for 4 coffees and two teas a day, I have two with breakfast and two in the evening and sometimes a midday treat, that leaves a spare for guests. Since this picture was taken ive started stripping the wee sachets down into little ziploc bags as I was ending up carrying to much rubbish

No, its not a well known brand of columbian marching powder that's recently been washed up on the shore, its that equally well known stimulant,  soup. When i do use some of the lighter foodstuffs I split three packets of cup a soup (tomato or mushroom), into two, a cup and half soup fits well in my mug. I'm quite partial to a very hot/spicy Korean noodle soup that Asda stocks and their own label mushroom and chicken flavour pasta is decent as well, although it needs two for a decent meal. 

Fresh is best though, can't beat a nice steak,  on a roll with mustard (handy wee sachets donated by your local pub grub supplier..........), rump steak, lamb steaks, bacon, eggs and sausages are fantastic alfresco foods, try not to squash the rolls though, i should heed that advice too.

Planned Kit list for TGO Challenge 2014

Certainly not light, but probably half of what I've spent most of my life lugging around on my back. There's still a few things that might yet be dumped or swapped, So there is still some scope to maybe go a wee bitty lighter yet, this is what ive been carrying around for the last couple of months so I am reasonably happy with it.  I initially aimed to get down below 12kg base weight and seem to be on target for that. Pretty happy so far anyway.

Boots/shoes (Solomon Eskape)--------------------------------  822
Socks (Dalgren alpaca dri stride)-------------------------------  76
Liner socks (fox river)------------------------------------------  23
Trousers (Montane terra pants + belt)--------------------------  361
Pants (ExOfficio give-n-go Boxer Briefs------------------------  71
Merino base layer (Redram)-----------------------------------  259
Softshell (Patagonia)------------------------------------------  532
Jacket (Marmot Cerro Torre )----------------------------------  670
Beanie (Arcteryx)----------------------------------------------  58
Buff-----------------------------------------------------------  37
Sun Glasses (LOL)--------------------------------------------- 43
Dog Tags------------------------------------------------------ 15
Walking Poles (Lekki) + wrap tape-----------------------------  631
TOTAL WEIGHT CLOTHING-------------------------------------  3598

Gloves/wind Mitts (Kraft)--------------------------------------  65
Camera + sp bty (olympus u840)------------------------------- 160
Phone in w/proof packet--------------------------------------- 156
Wallet---------------------------------------------------------  58
Camera Pouch------------------------------------------------- 31
Map (trimmed & in ziploc bag )---------------------------------  57
Chap Stick----------------------------------------------------- 11
TOTAL WEIGHT IN POCKETS------------------------------------- 538

Montane Grand Tour 55------------------------------------------  1290

Sub Total----------------------------------------------------------  1290
ON BERGAN (Straps & Waistbelt Pockets)
Compass (Silva)--------------------------------------------------   38
Knife/Handy tool--------------------------------------------------  49
Water bottle (Camelback)(Empty)----------------------------------  101
Water To Go Bottle (Empty)----------------------------------------  155
Specs and hard case----------------------------------------------  65
Head Torch (Petzl Tikka XP2)--------------------------------------  87
Lighter------------------------------------------------------------  13

Sub Total------------------------------------------------------------  508                          

IN BERGAN  (Accomodation)
Tarptent Scarp 1 (6 easton + 4 v pegs)----------------------------- 1553
Sleeping bag (Rab Ascent 700) + silk liner-------------------------  1636
Sleeping Mat (PO Ether Elite)--------------------------------------  407
Pillow------------------------------------------------------------  191
Sit Mat (Exped)---------------------------------------------------  129
J Cloth 1/4-------------------------------------------------------  10

Sub Total-----------------------------------------------------------  3926

IN BERGAN  (Kitchen)
Cooker (Kovea Spider)--------------------------------------------  182
Gas (full 100g) X2------------------------------------------------   400
Windsheild (home made) + wee clip-------------------------------  41
Pot (Alpkit MytiPot) with frying pan lid-----------------------------  154
Insulated Cup (GSI Infinity 400ml) with 3 days brew kit------------   217
Platapus 2lt (empty until required)--------------------------------   42
Diggers (Sea to Summit long handled spoon)---------------------   12
Scotchbrite-------------------------------------------------------  7
J Cloth 1/4-------------------------------------------------------  6
Lighter-----------------------------------------------------------  13
Velcro Strap------------------------------------------------------  8
Wee bottle Olive Oil-----------------------------------------------  45
Wee bottle Fairy Liquid-------------------------------------------   46
Wee bottle Tobbasco Sauce--------------------------------------   45
Salt & Pepper thing-----------------------------------------------  25

Sub Total----------------------------------------------------------- 1243

IN BERGAN  (Clothing)
Goretex trousers (Mountain Equipment)--------------------------  218
Down jacket (Marmot Ama Dablam) + Alpkit bag-----------------   689
Goretex mitts (Sealskins)----------------------------------------  159
Spare Base layer top (Red Ram Merino zip neck)-----------------   279
Long Johns x 1 (Patagonia)--------------------------------------  192
Spare socks x 1 (Dalgren Alpaca)--------------------------------   58
Spare Liner socks x 1(fox river)----------------------------------   23
Spare pants x 1 Army Issue--------------------------------------  83
Spare trousers (Rohan)------------------------------------------  361
Cap (Fjallraven)--------------------------------------------------  71
Camp Shoe (North Face Nuptse mules)---------------------------  236
Extra Buff--------------------------------------------------------  37
Stuff Sack x 1(8L)------------------------------------------------  32

Sub Total----------------------------------------------------------  2438

IN BERGAN  (Hygene)
Towel (Sea to Summit + net)--------------------------------------  119
Tooth brush/paste-----------------------------------------------   25
Soap Flakes------------------------------------------------------  14
Shaving flakes---------------------------------------------------   14
Razor------------------------------------------------------------   38
Mirror------------------------------------------------------------  18
Trowel-----------------------------------------------------------   51
Toilet Roll (+ Alcohol Gel + lighter in sealed bag)-------------------  165
Gehwol Foots Creams x2------------------------------------------  140
Vaseline (for the Baws)--------------------------------------------  46
Stuff Sack (2L)----------------------------------------------------   23

Sub Total-----------------------------------------------------------  653

IN BERGAN  (Random Stuff)
Rain cover for bergan (use osprey one)-----------------------------  96
First aid kit (Pills, Ticks and Cuts)----------------------------------  420
Repair Kit in Alpkit 2lt stuff sack------------------------------------ 245
Remaining Maps (1.50. Cut Down)---------------------------------  220
USB wall plug-----------------------------------------------------  47
Emergency phone charger +usb cable X 2-------------------------   325
Kindle (in waterproof bag)-----------------------------------------  261
Spare Bty Phone --------------------------------------------------  30
Spare Bty Camera-------------------------------------------------  15
Stuff sack (Alpkit 4LT)---------------------------------------------  18

Sub Total------------------------------------------------------------  1677

Sub Total Bergan---------------------------------------------------------   1290 
Sub Total On Bergan------------------------------------------------------   508
Sub Total Accomodation--------------------------------------------------   3926
Sub Total Kitchen---------------------------------------------------------   1243
Sub Total Clothing--------------------------------------------------------   2438
Sub Total Hygene---------------------------------------------------------   653
Sub Total Random--------------------------------------------------------   1677
TOTAL WEIGHT (without Food and Water)----------------------------------    11735

Repair Kit contents Complete---------------------------------------  221
Comprises of
Alpkit 2LT stuff sack-----------------------------------------------  23
Spare Titanium  pegs x 2------------------------------------------   30
Puri Tabs X 10 ----------------------------------------------------  2
Spare buckle and clip----------------------------------------------  14
Film canister------------------------------------------------------- 6
Mini cylumes x10--------------------------------------------------  4
Waterproof matches-----------------------------------------------  6
Emergency cylume------------------------------------------------  43
Housewife---------------------------------------------------------  3
Lighter plus sniper tape--------------------------------------------  20
Paracord 1.5mm---------------------------------------------------  14
AAA batteries X 4--------------------------------------------------  46
Mattress and Seat repair kit----------------------------------------- 9
Ear Buds/Plugs X 3 ------------------------------------------------  1  
First Aid kit contents complete--------------------------------------  420
Comprises of
Alpkit 4LT stuff sack-----------------------------------------------  18
Sun Cream--------------------------------------------------------  58
Midge Rep----------------------------------------------------- ---  71

One or two items to add, nothing major just few small bits and bobs, theres also a couple of things in there that I will be able to make a fraction lighter prior to the off (sun cream and midge rep), Pity the sleeping bag is so heavy, but I do like it, its toasty and I can't afford the same warmth in a lighter bag.

Initially I had Inov8 Recolite 190s as a camp shoe, but ive swapped them out for the north face Nuptse mules, in the main because the Inov8s are a right pain in the arse to get on in a tent/generally, the change knocked off 210g, major bonus. I have a pair of speedo pool shoes for river crossings but I think im going to gamble and leave them.

Ive also dropped a montane lite speed wind shirt as I really like my patagonia softshell and didnt see the point of them both, that could change yet.

Finally settled on the Alpkit MytiPot after a selection process thats involved the MytiMug (to small for boil in the bags and no frypan lid) and the primus Litech Trek Kettle (frypan lid far to small and generally to small for boil in the bags). Im quite partial to a fresh breakfast if possible,  so the frying pan is quite important to me,  bacon and eggs in the morning and maybe a lamb or rump steak for supper (any fool can live on dried nuts and musli :-)) The MytiPot is spot on for holding the cooker, a gas canister, brew kit and some other wee bits, it also saves me a couple of hundred grams on the frying pan I often carried around.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Tarptent Scarp 1 issues

Really bad condensation issues last week, never been this bad, I opened both inner doors at about 0200 but it didn't make any difference.  I'm blaming the absolute lack of a breeze (in Scotland, in April, amazing), if im being completely honest it didnt really affect me inside although the inner was very damp. Still without a shadow of doubt the best tent ive ever had,  absolutely loving it.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Two Days Lounging Around The Lairig Ghru

Sneaky friday off and a bit more TGO Challenge 2014 prep, an early start for the hour and a bit drive up the Dee, a quick admin stop in Braemar for Bacon and fresh softies at the wee shoppie and into the butchers for a nice steak as well, breakfast and supper sorted it was all systems go, nearly, one more quick stop to pick up a couple of lads hitching to the same place.

Braemar smelled amazing,  as soon as I got out of the car I was instantly taken back in time to my teens when I lived and worked in Glen Esk, Angus, the ultra low cloud base, slightly damp/faint drizzle, trees, no wind at all and the smoke from a few coal fires combined to instantly take me back a few decades.

Anyway after parking up at the linn of dee car park I said cheerio to my passengers as they headed off for a few days conquering big hills, I spent 20 minuets sorting myself out then headed off on a loosely planned couple of days leg stretching exercise

Looking up the Lui, plenty of high hills and low cloud ahead, usually the worst part of any walk starting from linn of dee is the 3 ish miles from the car park to the lodge, today was actually quite enjoyable,  not cold, not a breath of wind, not a soul in sight and grouse calling endlessly.

About 5 miles in - The Luibeg burn in various forms and off shoots,  I stopped here abouts under a fine scots pine for a quick beans and sausage boil in the bag, big cup of tomato soup and a dicht of Gehwol on the plates of meat, the rain came on and over trousers and jacket were donned for the next section.  The burn is still a bit to full for crossing with dry feet and with the bridge just around the corner i wasn't going to be bothered messing around with stripping down, so the bridge seemed the sensible choice for today, although wet roots and a steep muddy bank nearly combined to have me in the burn anyway, the path just before the bridge is getting more sketchy by the year

Just about to pop over into Glen Dee and a final look back to Glen Luibeg and Glen Derry, quite a decent climb out of the luibeg with a heavy bergan on, predictably the rain went off at the start which allowed me to cook just nicely on the climb.

Never seen as many grouse, they were everywhere, this one wandered along quite happily in front of me, when I got to the spot hes at now his previously unseen partner decided to get up from under my feet, causing a torrent of abuse to echo through the Lairig Ghru, sorry.............

The Devils point to give it its neutral name looking good, I expected more snow tbh.

Heading down the Dee towards white bridge, only 8 hours ago I was at the other end of it, a wonderful river from head to sea. The walk down the river was quite hard work,  very very wet paths and lots of that typical boggy patches where your never quite sure where the path actually is, I was getting quite tired as well and made a fatal error of thinking about the steak supper I had planned. A bag of skittles fairly perked me up though.

Walking along the geldie burn I looked back to see the first sun of the day, not bad at 1930hrs, unfortunately my camera is starting to go and the photos dont do the view justice,  about 5 minutes later I came across a dozen or so capercaillie roosting in a forested area, I have seen pheasants roosting up trees on numerous occasions but never capercaillie,  always good to get a first. 

Tent up, steak on, 15 miles under the belt and feeling remarkably good.

Sitting on a rock having a brew, four stags wandered down to the other bank before I let on I was there, its been a cracking day and other than the two lads I dropped off earlier,  I haven't seen another soul, what a fantastic day in a wonderful country