Tuesday, 4 June 2013
When on the Challenge, your tent becomes your home and I like to be comfortable in my tent and on the walk in general. What did I take this year that made a difference?
Well, my tent, for a start!
My new tent
My tent was wonderful. It was tested to an extent in rain, wind and snow and I had no leaks or major problems with condensation. I felt confident with the pitching and didn't lose any pegs or pins. So I was happy.
I took a different cloth this year to wipe the tent down when wet, a spongey yellow one. It was brilliant, extremely absorbent and I could more or less wring it dry after use. It was also useful for drying my feet after fording in the first few days when I wasn't carrying a towel (I was wild camping all the way to Bearnock, seemed little point in carrying it, so I posted it to myself...)
Speaking of feet, my boots! My beautiful boots. My Meindl Burmas with green Superfeet were the bees knees. I know I only walked the first four and the last five days, but I didn't have a mark on my feet and for the last two Challenges, I've had the beginnings of blisters by the end of day two. I think I've cracked it!
I had my own iPod this year, a tiny little Purple Shuffle. Sir Ian MacKellan read to me every night and as on the odd occasion I may have woken up and realised I'd missed a bit, I think it worked!
The only other change would be the hand warmers. I carried my reuseable ones on my first Challenge and despite being cold on several occasions, didn't use the handwarmers because I would have had to boil them. Last year I carried a few disposable ones. I didn't use them either because:
a I'm stupid
b I didn't think of it and
c I'm stupid
This year I'd had one or two frights and was determined not to get cold. I carried enough handwarmers (and posted some on) to use a pair in the morning and pair in the evening, if necessary. That's nearly 24 hours of warmth if required and once or twice I did use them morning and evening. Once or twice I didn't need them in the morning, but did at night and used both pairs at once! It was bliss, waking a few times in the night and just moving the handwarmers around my body to the next chilly bit. Brilliant! I won't ever be cold on a backpacking trip again, yey.
As for Home. I was worried that when I came home, having failed to complete my Challenge, I'd be on a slippery slope again. I felt quite awkward at first when I joined Laura at Braemar, I wasn't quite 'one of the gang', I was an outsider, a bit of a misfit. As we walked however, it all fell into place, we walk so well together, Laura and I. After a couple of days I felt so much better, we were laughing and having fun, despite Laura's pain and discomfort and my disappointment. Once in Montrose at The Park I had a brief moment of upset (sorry for the damp sleeve Alan) but after we were settled in our roum and had met up with a few friends, we went out for a curry with The Pieman and Peter and had a brilliant evening. All was well with the world again.
Once home, I was happy. Happy I'd had a good time and happy to be back safely with my family and I had a head full of plans.
And planning has been done! I have the best walking partner ever booked for next year and I have a route. Happy, happy, happy!