Saturday, 29 November 2008

Vaseline, Cookset Condom and Women’s Underwear

In the beginning … too cliqued, but the story has a beginning, not quite of Biblical proportions, but a beginning nonetheless. In the beginning, Big Kev was taking his son, “The Lad”, out for a trip to the Cairngorms. There was an open invitation to join them, so I pencilled it in my diary, and Dawn was going to travel up from London. Except for the plague that was brought upon both their houses. As I work for a far-seeing employer, I had already been inoculated against Cold, Flu, and the vengeful wrath of the Almighty.

And so it came to pass that I had a rapid turn-around after work on Friday night, and I was heading into the Chosen Land National Park. And lo, it was bloody brilliant!

Friday night.

With temperatures down to –4°c, it was going to be a cold one. I had the MWIS forecast and dressed accordingly. Also this month’s skymap was in my map-case. Leaving the car and walking through the woods, the cold mist clung to my face. No sounds except a distant water flow. No breath of wind except that which my lungs exhaled. The mist thickened with each breath and my gloves wiped away melting water droplets that clung to face.




Walking up the glen, I could smell woodsmoke from the bothy about 10 minutes before walking past it. No birds, no deer, no wind, no sounds bar the water in the glen and the occasional burn rushing down to join it. Clouds moved slowly in the sky, and a meteorite flashed by. Despite all the hi-tech modern kit, the inner-child still made a wish. About 90-minutes later, interrupted only by a “good evening” to a gentleman hiker walking his dog, I arrived at an empty ford (maplink). I had already decided to pitch where Mike and I had been earlier in the year. I stuck to that, even though I had the whole area to myself.


I cleared an area of debris, and pitched the tent. Then I cleared the debris from under the groundsheet. And once more before inflating my Insul sleep mat (the insulation will prove its worth tonight), and stripping down to baselayer, and climbing into sleeping bag (Cumulus Ultralight 350), and pulling my down jacket over my torso, and leaving my fleece-lined jacket over my lower body. I pulled on my warn cap and noted that the air inside the tent was much warmer than outside.


There was nothing interesting on the radio, so ate some peppered salami, drank some malt whisky and switched off the light and listened to Nature. I moved the Silva ADC device onto the groundsheet beside me. That would give me a shock in the morning.

I awoke twice in the night with a cold nose, so turned the cap around by 90° so that an earflap covered my nose.


With no fuss, it was morning. It was also –4.9°c and not quite 8am. Opening the zip on my sleeping bag, the cold quickly drove me to suit up – we’d see how good the Furtech trousers would be today!



Yes, there is an Akto in this photo

Filling the Camelbak from the stream, I found that the drink nozzle was frozen. This is the insulated version too. We had had problems with the crew-in gas canisters before, but was pleased to see that the Blackfly 4 worked well. However, I didn’t put it on a stone, and was using the Honey Stove separately, so it fell over as the frost in the ground melted. Twice.






Display reads –4.3°c

Leaving no trace

Any embers were doused with water, and scattered into the stream.


As I knew that there would be soot, I had carried in a ziplock bag to prevent it from making a mess of my kit.


Duly wrapped inside the pot-cozy, whilst the Honey Stove was back in its pouch.


I’ll do something about the fire starting kit, cutting the Maya sticks into shorter lengths, taking the small blue container of vaseline, pack enough cotton wool balls, and store it all in a lightweight, waterproof container, along with a knife that will fit there.


Everything was packed away and the ground checked for any tell-tale signs of my passing.


Hiking out




Low cloud gave glimpses of the mountains beyond. About 6 people had ventured past, and I would see two more before reaching the car.


South towards the Linn of Dee.


Looking back north up the glen.


Like some gate-keeper, this tree always freaks me.



A final parting shot from a great night out – a small party of deer were lurking near the car park.


Thank you, Nature. Shame out the cap, and the buff cravat.


Standard kitlist: Akto Year 2

Extras: SnowClaw (just in case), Alpkit Filo jacket, Extremities cap (apparently it is called a “Took” hat). Smartwool liner socks worn under thick Ultimax socks.

Things to do: cut Maya sticks in half. Replace batteries in headtorch. Protect Camelbak from cold overnight (by the way, my Silva measured –24°c in my freezer on Sunday). Water had frozen on the filter of the Aquagear, so that needs watching too. Look into a separate camera for video clips – maybe my old Sony stills camera.

New gear that made the grade and will be with me again: Furtech trousers, Lowe Alpine briefs (xl-w-noir), Honey Stove, Blackfly 4 (using a stable base).

New gear that didn’t make the grade: PossumDown Gloves – toasty, but left tickly fibres on my rough manly face. I also couldn’t operate camera whilst wearing them. My normal Mountain Hardwear “powerstretch” liner gloves will be staying with me.


Martin Rye said...

A certain person told me you had a cold time in the hills? Looking forward to that write up.

Gayle said...

And whilst looking forward to that write-up, that's an intriguing post title!

AktoMan said...

All will be revealed.

mike knipe said...

All will be revealed....oooer...

Where are the Fords of Derry?

AktoMan said...

Here, in the Cairngorms, Mike.

The Solitary Walker said...

Jesus, AM, you're going to get some mighty strange hits with that post title! I did one once with the title 'Giant Nude Girls' - which, obviously, was about the Pylon Poets poem - but it's still top of the search phrases which direct to my blog...

AktoMan said...

What, me a stat-wh**re? ;-)

Martin Rye said...

The suspense is to much Duncan. A certain person (Owns lots dogs and uses a tarp) told us a tale and said a few thing best not said here. We await in anticipation for the tale to be told:).

AktoMan said...

Processing the videos now, Martin. You can jump the queue by watching them on YouTube as they appear.

I'll then string the vids back together into single movie on the blog. All I have to do after that is process photos to Flickr, and write up across onto the blog post. Easy.

As to the dog-owning, tarp-using, stove-fettishist (that'll get some more hits), I hate to think what he was saying. That's why I was disappointed not to find a live feed or streaming video. It's just all sooooo last century!

Martin Rye said...

He has three more on order!. He needs help. Not mentioning any names here of course. No sir, not me. I would not tell on anyone me. That MBD 4 does what it says on the tin then. Boiled a brew. What more does a stove need to do. I'm still to impatient to wait that long.

AktoMan said...

First part of video is up on YouTube, and being processed by their servers (whirr, whirr, click, it's the engines cap'n they just cannae tak it, we should never have got those cheap dilithium crystals off eBay, but ye woodnae lissen ya fat bas..)

Gayle said...

Great write-up and pics. We'll be out next weekend, but unfortunately (based on the current plan) not anywhere nearly as spectacular.

AktoMan said...

Gayle, "spectacular" is a state of mind.

I'm sure you'll have a great time wherever you go.

Londonbackpacker said...

are the furtech as good as the paramo's ?

AktoMan said...

I don't know yet, George. Parky has done a great write-up on them across on Outdoors Magic. I just wore them and thought that they felt more like 'normal' trousers than the Paramo ones, which, to me, always felt 'silky'. I can't wait to try them in the cold and wet, but I amn't sad enough to jump in the shower with them.

I'll do a proper report when I have had the chance to wear them more.

John Hee said...

you can also find small flat tins of vasaline (try the make-up counter) which cuts down the weight and volume

AktoMan said...

Cheers, John. I dug out a wee blue "lip therapy" tin when I got back. Others have flavouring, so not sure if will work. Needs some thoughts and scavenging.

PhilW said...

Would be interested in hearing more of your views of the Furtech v Paramo. I keep thinking about both of these but don't think there's a Furthech supplier in this part of the world and both cost considerable dosh - so am wary of taking a punt on either of these without much thought.

AktoMan said...

I hear you, Phil. Money is money. If my Paramo hadn't failed in the cold, I'd have been fine with them. I'm looking forward to getting out in the Furtechs in similar conditions.

AktoMan said...

I see that Chris Townsend was up on the plateau on the Saturday.

I need to get out more!