Now my place on the Challenge is a reality I have to get myself organised.
Fortunately I had spent some time in January working out a route from Mallaig to Lunan Bay. The first time I did the Challenge in 2008 Maryann and I started from Dornie and finished at St Cyrus. Last year I chose Torridon (as I'd not been there before) and had planned to finish at Bervie (Inverbervie). However when I had to re-route because of the bad weather and didn't go to Charr Bothy but walked from Tarfside I came across a sign post which told me that Edzell was only 1 mile away so I headed for North Water Bridge Campsite instead and finished directly on Montrose beach.
I finished off the details of the route, transferred it to the computer forms and sent it off to Roger last night. I fully expect to get it back full of mistakes and to have corrections to do!
I also booked a night in the West Highland Hotel in Mallaig. As I intend to mostly camp all the way across I thought I'd treat myself to a bit of luxury at the start. It wasn't cheap but not overly expensive either.
I replaced my trusty Osprey Aura 50 L pack at the end of last year. I had used it for two Challenges but last year I found it wouldn't adjust enough for me round the shoulders so decided to get something else. As I use a synthetic sleeping bag (don't like the idea of feathers) a pack with a separate compartment at the bottom seemed a good idea. So I found a Deuter 45 + 10 L which seemed to fit the bill. It has quite a few different pockets (I like that!) and is a slightly shorter back-length than the Osprey so it should work better for me.
Sitting here in the Alps while it and all my other 'stuff' for backpacking is in Scotland is rather frustrating. But I'll have to be patient until I get back home.
As for the things I'm seriously thinking about buying they are:- Trekmates Goretex socks for river crossings and as I'll be wearing lighter, fabric boots this year maybe for any very wet days too, Kahtoola Microspikes for security on any icy tracks. I don't anticipate going high enough for crampons but some extra grip might be a good idea.
Last year I made and dehydrated most of my meals and either took them with me or sent parcels ahead. This year I'm going to be short of time to do that (the dehydrating machine is at home). I also found the parcels ahead rather a worry when I had to re-route. So I'm going to try and dehydrate only a few major meals or just vegetables and re-supply on the way with bought basics like couscous, cheese and bread.
TVP mince and soy chunks don't take too long to rehydrate and are light to carry. I'll have enough room to take a supply of packet mashed potatoes, packet soups and oats, for breakfast.
Again, until I get home and start weighing things out it's difficult to make final decisions right now.
This is the most difficult thing to organise. There's still a lot of snow here so a lot of the available walking is not so easy. Now the skiing is finished we usually go home but this year we're staying over Easter. I've started walking every morning now for an hour or two and I will increase the distances I do in the next couple of weeks. I'm exploring the forest tracks and paths behind the house here. It is quite steep in places so that's good for me. Once home I'll be able to get a few longer days in with more to carry.
In the meantime there's always the stairs!
Of course the best way to get organised is to write lots of lists. You won't be surprised to know that I've started several of these already!