.............not all those that wander are lost..............

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Reflections..Part 1

The recent TGO Challenge is still on my mind so I'm going to share some of these thoughts in this post.......

First of all, I'm going to have a rant......about the state of the tracks left by the churning of the bike wheels by the riders during the Scottish Six Days Trial. It's really staggering to realise that this is being heralded as a 'great success' by the organisers with hill paths and tracks completely destroyed by the passage of hundreds of motorbikes. I hope their ears were burning as I tried to negotiate my way across this ground.

{Somewhere near the Blackwater Reservoir}

I'll move on to happier thoughts.......

The Challenge 2013 route that I designed for myself was officially Acharacle to Lunan Bay but those who've followed the links and read through my account will realise that once again I didn't finish at Lunan Bay! It's so seductive to wander along the trade-route from Tarfside to Edzell to North Water Bridge Campsite then across to the coast. NOT going to Lunan Bay is becoming a record in itself.....

After failing to continue last year I made a few adjustments to ensure I could keep going this year.....I bought a hip mounted water bottle which I could use without taking my rucksack off. I carried more snack bars and dried fruit for eating during the day. Whenever I pitched the tent I was ultra-careful to consider the wind direction and strength - even using heavy stones to weigh down the pegs.

The next problem I face every time on a long distance walk. The condition of my feet. I currently use Keen leather boots which overall are the most comfortable I have ever used. But I still had blisters. The first few days there were numerous river crossings which meant I removed the boots, put on sandals, waded the torrent, then dried my feet and put on the boots again. I think that protected my feet in some way, certainly cooled them down regularly, so I was pleased that at the end of day 2 I had no problems.

That changed after I had to walk the road. To begin with my heels became blistered, not something I'm usually bothered by......this pushed my feet forward in the boots and then my toes blistered too.


{On the mend - after getting the Compeed off!}

To try and stop this happening next time I've been reading up on Inov-8 shoes and found a pair to try at a reasonable price. I didn't use them when I was leading walks in Northumberland but I did try them yesterday on the Seven Bridges walk with Louise.

{First steps for new shoes}

I was worried the Inov-8's wouldn't be wide enough but the tops are quite soft so I think they'll mould to my feet. The insoles I replaced with my normal instep supporting ones. My feet tend to heat up quickly so there should be no problem keeping them warm in wet conditions.......only time will tell! Certainly for 5 miles on the flat they were comfortable and extremely light to wear.

{Cooling the feet in Glen Tilt}

The repairs I made to my tent withstood some heavy rain and gusty winds but I've redone them this week with some sealant better suited to use on the silicone-coated fly of the Hubba. None of the patches have moved at all. Once it's dried off again I'm planning a little overnighter somewhere local to test it out......

When I fell heavily in Glen Gour I not only banged my thigh and twisted my knees but bent my walking pole too. I've been using Mountain King TrailBlaze poles for a few years now. Admittedly they are rather lightweight for Challenge use but they've survived surprisingly well. After a phone call to Mountain King I sent them back for a 'reasonably priced' refurbishment - two new sections were put in for me. Great service - thank you!

During that fall I also ripped holes in my new Paramo Quito trousers. I continued to wear them throughout the Challenge - but they're away being repaired at the moment. Being Paramo they withstood rain, wind, sleet and hail, along with, mud, peat and river water, admirably. They're also not so heavy as the original Cascadas so were comfortable to wear all day.

A casualty of this thought process will be the Paramo 3rd Element jacket. I love it for its waterproof qualities but it's a bit short for me and if I'm being brutally honest, a bit tight for me round the hips.  It's going to be sold, probably on Ebay. It splits helpfully into a hood and sleeves, and a gilet. During the time I've used it I have also never unzipped it into two parts like that........

Meanwhile - I'm still thinking..............












7 comments:

Louise said...

So you'll be all sorted when Team Elles Belles hit the trail then!

Alan R said...

Oooo. Those blisters look sore. Get hold of some second skin ready for next year but with a bit of luck and your new shoes you won’t need it.
You must be the only person i know who thinks Paramo is waterproof. The body on my Adventure stays dry but the sleeve are hopeless. even after proofing they still leak and wet through. I have given up with paramo.
Good to hear your tent was ok.

Alan Sloman said...

I liked my Terrocs to start with but was appalled at their build quality. The internal heel cup soon lost its fabric covering leaving a sharp plastic heel cup ready to tear into the bottom of my hamstrings. Not good.

The uppers also split at the flex point and started coming away from the sole unit.

By comparison, my La Sportiva Raptors were incredibly well built and lasted very well.

Don't get me wrong - the Inov-8's are good shoes but don't expect them to last from now to the end of your Challenge next year.

Like Alan, I gave up on Paramo jackets because when you really need them to protect you 0- in really heavy wind blown torrential rain, they give up the ghost completely.

I went back to ProShell Gore Tex and for the last 2 years have found it to be totally trustworthy,

Laura said...

I've never had a problem with Paramo waterproofing - some ingress of water in VERY heavy rain perhaps, but it dries off quickly, - wet arms might be water travelling up from the wrist on the inside of the sleeve?

This is my first venture into using light weight shoes - I do feel they might not last long but if they suit me I'll just buy them up whenever I see a bargain! I haven't tried them in the wet yet......nor with a heavy pack.....so we'll have to wait and see.....

Louise said...

I also love my Paramo smock. I cannot deny that, had I been wearing a white t-shirt and had there been a competition, when I walked into the Glen Affric Hotel last year, I would have won, BUT even on the odd occasion that I appear to have been wet during heavy rain (which could have leaked through or I could have perhaps been glowing) I have not felt cold, which for me is the most important thing. When damp I can still stop for a while to faff or eat and not feel cold, where as with previous jackets, even when dry, I have chilled very quickly, which for me is taking a huge risk.

But as with all gear, everything is entirely personal. We both love Paramo, but I think it unlikely that I will be joining Laura in the light weight shoe thing.

Martin Rye said...

I often ask how Myself, Alan, James Boulter and Andy Walker could all get wet in Paramo at the same time if its so good?. We did on a walk in the Dales.

For me the truth is:

Inov-8 poor build quality and wear fast.

La-Sportiva and Salamon are superb trail shoes

eVent or Gore are the way to go. But a fleece is essential in bad weather under them.

Final truth go thin socks with trail shoes.

Laura said...

You do have to wash the Paramo very often and reproof regularly if it stops beading. Louise is right though it's a much warmer way to get wet! My Goretex Paclite is really clammy to wear, like a plastic bag!
As for the shoes, I've only worn them one day - they were comfy and light - even if I don't do long walks in them they'll be great for everyday.....