Sunday, 26 October 2008


Or should that be “after in-action report”? I know it wasn’t the Yukon, and only 47.5  miles (which should make it half-way up a 95 mile track). I also spent money in the locality for the extra days instead of in Canada, or giving up and bugging out to paint figures and watch tv. What I used to do, was spend a few days tidying the flat and some days planning the rest of the teaching block. A relaxing time. But I wasn’t achieving much.

I was asked if I was giving up, seeing as I don’t have the time for major Canadian-style expeditions, I was emphatic that I was merely seeing the last few days as throwing up problems to be solved. Some were gear-related, but many were me-related, physical and mental.

Starting from the ground up:

Feet - Problems

Feet were wet and I had problems caused by that. My feet end up like prunes, and I get more blisters as there are more edges rubbing against socks. Other parts of the feet developed red sores. I treated them at night, drying them off, puncturing large blisters and letting them breath after applying germolene, sometimes applying second skin. In the morning I would tape up blisters and some of the bigger sores. I had foot-talc in a small bottle and put on dry socks.

Feet - Solutions

Try and get used to Sealskinz socks, maybe with liner. I found they gave me blisters, so didn’t use them.

Get feet toughened up and acclimatised.

Learn more about foot-care. I’ll be ordering “Fixing your feet

Footwear – Problems

Water got into socks. I’m not sure how. The Scarpa ZG65’s are lined with XCR, and I clean and waterproof them before setting out.

Possibilities – Water gets in through proofing or failed lining. Water gets in via the cuff of the boot as streams in spate or walking through mud. Water getting under Paramo trousers (which didn’t fail).

Footwear – Solutions

Test how water got into boot and solve problem.

Purchase short ankle gaiters. I noticed that Paramo advertise a pair that will “protect against water drainage from trouser hems.” (source) I will order a pair.

Baselayer – Problems

Chafing at the upper leg. Every time I stepped out it was painful. Every time me foot hit the ground, it was painful. Repeat with other leg. At 1 mile an hour, that was a lot of pain.

Baselayer – Solutions

Get new pair of merino shreddies.

Get some BodyGlide or similar.

Phone Charger – Problem

When battery got low on Nokia 6220c phone, it needed a mains charge across it. Before that, the Tekkeon charger worked, and then it didn’t. I noticed coming back on the train, that the input charge kept dropping, and reckon that the long, slender “Nokia Slim” connector is too wobbly.

Phone Charger – Solution

I’m looking at chargers. I saw a pull-cord one in Blacks in Fort William, and thought that the similar charger for the “one laptop per child” and thought something like that would be more efficient, so will go and hunt one down.

SleepMat – Problem

The sleepmat lives against the back of my pack. It got wet.

SleepMat – Solution

Does anyone make a suitable dry-sack? I’ll just use a rubble-sack from the supermarket, I think.

Trek rate – Problem

I was down to 1 mph. This was when road walking on day 2, as well as later. Although down to pains as mentioned above, I need to get used to walking along. Last time, it was all novel to me. This was my second Way, and third Long Distance Trek. I found a lot of it dull (loch on the left, woods on the right). This doesn’t bode well for morale.

Trek rate – Solution

Get the stepping machine out of the airing cupboard and get some exercise. I lost 4kg. 8 pounds, in a few days. Stop comfort eating, especially at lunchtime.


Martin Rye said...

I use gaiters with trail shoes. Stop water getting in is the key. Maybe though the lining on the boots is shot? 10,000 flexes etc life time. Hope you fix it.

mike knipe said...

You sound quite depressed by the experience, Duncan. I wonder if, in fact, you've been nursing a little virus or something like that - and, lets be fair, the conditions were quite challenging. Let the water pass under the bridge is my advice... perhaps not the best wording....

AktoMan said...

@Martin - I'm planning on getting the boots into the basin and see if the water is coming in through the lining.

@Mike - I'm a bit tired, so off for an early night before work tomorrow, other than that, just wading through the washing (I must get that pump fixed), and drying gear (Akto fabric drying on the shower curtain rail, along with a pile of damp dry sacks). A few of us are arranging trips across on the Outdoor Bloggers Forum, and maybe something long distance next year if LondonBackPacker doesn't make it from the TGO Challenge reserve bench.

But, as I mentioned to Taffy elsewhere, these digs from folk to get to me. But it is the price of free speech. In days gone by, I'd just disappear into the background and leave it at that (eg, the gym, RPG, tai chi, dSLR, canoeing, knot-tying, fixing the washing machine).

But I rarely get depressed, there's too much in life to be happy about, seeing a cow staring at me on the Way cheered me up, so morale wasn't a real issue, just not enough to counter the physical pain caused by moving my legs. When I was walking recently in the Cairngorms and my Paramo trousers failed, my legs were soaked through, but I was still thrilled to see a rainbow, or concerned at Dawn falling (twice).

Thanks for the thoughts, Mike.

AktoMan said...

Paramo short gaiters ordered from

AktoMan said...

Using my reimbursement coupon from (on top of their 20% sale), I ordered:
bodyglide trial size: anti-blister, anti-chafing.
"Fixing Your Feet" (4th Edition)
and a pair of Possum Fur/Merino Wool mix gloves.

I couldn't find the fox hat to wear the next time I end up in Crianlarich.

Martin Rye said...

Maybe I am going blind but I posted some where a comment saying you made the right call pulling out of the WHW due to the foot problem. Seems to be missing. Anyway chin up you did good.

AktoMan said...

Nope, I'm not seeing it in my email notifications, Martin. You know I don't delete. Maybe it was elsewhere, eg Mick and Gayle's, or Robins, etc.

Oh, we had good larfs comparing Mick and Gayle's Terra Nova tent with mine. Especially when they thought their groundsheet had failed.

baz carter said...

From experience I usually have one or perhaps two things happen that I learn from each trip out but looks like you hit the jackpot with this one! I hope your next trip doesn't have such a steep learning curve.

As for those that posted disparaging comments - !!!

AktoMan said...

When I was chatting to Mick and Gayle about the wet sleepmat, Gayle pointed out that she had a similar problem on their Lands End trip, but only after x nr of weeks. I had the problem and came to same solution within 3 days.

Yup, have problem, fix problem. Some people might be happy to repeat the problem and ignore it, I like solving problems.

Speaking of problems - can you accidentally break Darren's iPhone, Baz. Just swing a trekking pole when he's blogging on the trail, accidental like. he's just too smug about what it can do, I bet it can't self-repair like a von Neumann machine.

baz carter said...

Well as it happens I've put a pole in just in case my bleeding knee starts to play up.

Martin Rye said...

He Baz I have come across many a person who had knee issues and found trekking poles helped them carry on walking.

PS Duncan I know you dont deleat etc I wonder if bloger had a hissy fit. As it can now and then.

AktoMan said...

LOL - okay, so just turn round sharpish with it when you here the tap, tap, tap of him blogging behind you. Maybe one of the dogs will mistake it for a chew-toy, just for added comic effect.

Darren never reads these comments, as they don't show on his Google reader, so he'll never find out. Muahaha.

AktoMan said...

@Martin - one of the reasons I got a trekking pole at the end of my second hill (Clachnaben) was the pain I felt in my calf muscle, the same pains I sometimes get at night and have to jump out of bed (talk about a comic effect), and spray on deep heat or walk it off.

As to Blogger, yeah, I had a #error t'other night when browsing from my tent. Luckily I noticed and went back and copied the comment and then reposted it. Sometimes life is like that.

GeoffC said...

Bad luck but good experience anyway, it's something to talk and laugh about later in the locker room!.

Wet feet on a long trek - yuk, a guarantee of problems. Boot liners can fail very quickly depending on the terrain you walk through: if I buy a pair in Spring I'm pleased if they last to August bank holiday, but I walk through very rough terrain.
You won't be disappointed with Bodyglide, amazing stuff. Not sticky or greasy, you don't know it's there but it completely eliminates chafing and one application lasts for days.

Dawn said...

Getting water in to boots with liners does pose a problem. It is something I have suffered with too. However, finding sealskins too uncomfortable and restrictive I now have a pair of bootee liners from Ellis Brighams. Again, goretex but have never had problems with them. A few years back, in appalling conditions, I was daily emptying my boots, my feet remained quite dry. A little dampness but not wet. My solution with anything you want to keep dry is to wrap it in poly bags. Duncan, I would be happy to pop in to Brighams and get you some bootees if you want. When I was doing a bit of walking back in April, just to put miles in, there where times when it just got gutty. Long plods, mile after mile of boring reservoir road an forestry track. We all go through things like that. You certainly where doing ok in the Cairngorms. Ok, you got a tad tired, but hey, it was me, not paying attention, that took two falls. Hang in there and put this trip down to experience. Dawn.

AktoMan said...

@Geoff - that's a bit worrying for liners, hopefully my tests will how if they have failed or not. Rolled-up newspaper and a bucket of water.

@Dawn, is that the Gore tex oversocks, like these?

baz carter said...

Duncan - if you pop over Darren's site I think you'll find that I was caught on candid iPhone!

@Martin - I found out about the poles that Bob at BPL will be selling so will probably invest in a a pair of these. After all I'll need them to pitch me tarp.

Dawn said...

Yes, those appear to be they. You know, I was just thinking Duncan. You where missing the bacon butties. After your breakfast of bacon butties in the Cairngorms you where going very well. Dawn

AktoMan said...

@Dawn - I'll drop you a message over the weekend after I've had a think about the gore tex socks.

By coincidence, one of the chaps at OM asked about using the SnowPeak 900 lid as a frying pan, and I said I'd test it making bacon butties. Just back from the supermarket with the test essentials and will do something tomorrow evening.

TBH, I really didn't eat much when I was walking on the Way. There was no place to hunker down, and I just wanted to push on. I doubt it had any effect, but I just wanted to get a move on. I think my heart has to be in it to achieve something, and I really couldn't be arsed as I'd done it before, had nothing to prove, and was in pain. My morale wasn't low, but my motivation was poor.

baz carter said...

When the weather is bad I tend not to eat - always regret it later. And it's probably not a good idea for anyone let alone a diabetic.

Paul said...

WHW was my first long distance path a few years ago now. Little previous experience so jumped in at the deep end. Thanks to a huge pack full of inappropriate gear I gave myself an ingual heria on the shores of Loch Lomond. However I didn't realise this until after finishing the WHW and the doctor told me so with a very stern look on his face. I then swore never to do anything like that again and told friends and family to beat me around the head if I ever again mentioned walking in their presence. As you may guess that was many trips ago, covering the full spectrum of experiences and emotions. Do what you need to do to enjoy your trips. Hope to see you on the track some day, Cheers.

chasrle said...

That book's been on my "must get round to getting" list for a while now. I may well end up BPL-ing it as well.

I've tended to stick to a routine of massaging my feet with vaseline in the morning before setting off and at the end of the day - which also allows a chance to check for sore spots. I've no idea if it actually makes a difference or has just become a hocus-pocus routine, but it seems to be when I forget to do it that I get the blisters.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Duncs, I'm a bit late on this, it's no dishonour to bail out if you need to. I've done it before. Especially if your boots are causing problems. On chafing, you might want to look at Sportslick, which swimmers (and me!) use:

It was fun to follow your live blog BTW

AktoMan said...

@Baz - I sometimes have problems with blood/sugar levels, but nothing out on the hills. I'm generally healthier as I'm not comfort eating.

@Chas - good idea. I prep at the start and end of days, but didn't find the foot rubs work to prevent blisters. I'm up for trying again though.

@Robin - thanks for the link, at least it shows I'm not the only one with the problem. When I come out of the winter diet, I'll get another pair of merino wool shreddies. As to bailing, well, I wasn't the only one, and didn't feel bad until the Troll got nasty. Shame, as it was a good, fun holiday.

But, I'm back at work, and need to focus on that, catching up with paperwork and getting out when I can.

Anonymous said...

Best socks ever:
They stop nearly all blisters and hot spots from starting :-)

AktoMan said...

Thanks, Sarah. I hear that these toe-separating socks are good. I'll need to give them a go before the next multi-day trek.

I'm off to a conference in Stirling (hence early post time), and was looking for my warmest civilian socks and wondering if I could get away with wearing my merino wool leggings under my suit trousers.