Tuesday, August 1

Route Preparation - Fun or Hard Work Pt 3

So now it's out with the map measurer, checking the A to B distance. Then closely following the proposed route (a magnifier is a great help here) checking the potential ascent and descent.

The ascent is what slow things down, bearing in mind the associated pack weight, but I've found it best not to over estimate the descent time. That's when accidents can happen.

I used to find myself occasionally stumbling on these until I spotted I was over extending my stride as I wandered down. A legacy of fast walking on small hills, and gravel/sand underfoot. Not quite the same with boulder and scree in wet conditions.

The distance looks good, and there's a few likely looking stop spots on the way.
Now looking at my reference lists I can to start to pick out other things of interest.

A detour off the beaten track often turns up a less visited spot, especially the smaller tarns. The trick here is to build any detours into the route rather than end up with a steep descent, and an equally steep ascent back up the same track first thing in the morning whilst muscles are still grumbling about the previous day.

On this trip water shouldn't be a problem - there's a good choice of tarns to stop off at, but on predominantly ridge route it could be a case of carrying water for resupply. I try to avoid this wherever possible. After all 1 litre = 1 kg, so my usual 3 litres adds a massive 6.5 lb to the pack weight, or a couple of extra tents!

Preferably resupply is from tarn inlets, but where necessary I'll use streams/springs but these can be less easily spotted on a 1:25000 OS map. So prior hill experience can come in here spotting likely watersheds, tarns lower down the route indicating likely water feeds, and other similar 'shows' It's an ability that's picked up the more outings are made.

One brief aside. Foods great, but you can survive on very little on these shorter sorties. True it's not great fun, but consuming hoards of carbs isn't that necessary (Not with my carefully nurtured body fat. Ahem)
Although one tip I have read suggests stuffing your body before you go as the body takes some time to notice it's gone. A sort of sneak-attack to make up for all those snack-attacks?

But water is an essential.

Just don't get hung up on swelling yourself up like a bladder. A couple of times I've eaked out 3 litres of fluid for a 24 hour period, which included all cooking/washing needs (Washing - nice but who's around to complain about the smell!)

True, it's not something I'd really recommend, and the chance to rehydrate should be taken asap, preferably increasing intake more than normal until the old hillwalker's check - the colour of the urine - shows fluid is being taken on faster than the body wants it again i.e. fluid runs clear rather than dark.

A few well deserved end of walk pints can help tremendously - take Dr John's medicine if you will!

As mentioned earlier I've never felt a need to filter the water. Indeed on returning to using taps it can take me some time to get used to the taste & smell of the chemically altered stuff. But if you're on the cautious side there a number of filtering choices ranging from lightweight iodine drops (not a nice taste) to expensive and heavy filter kits. And there's something I've noticed recently - a purifying straw. I might even pick up one to carry on the off chance it ever comes in necessary. And then again perhaps I shouldn't carry weight for something I don't actually use.

(All together now - repeat the backpacker's mantra: "Carry only what you'll use. Leave the rest behind")

If you're interested in the topic there's a thread offering plenty of good advice running at present on Outdoor Magic

So the routes largely sorted. A further check of the map shows some quick drop-off points to the nearest valley, in case of bad weather, or the nearest habitation/bus route- in case of something a little more urgent.

A rough route list now sits in front of me and will be used for safety check-ins - something for the next post I think.

But to close this one - the route looks good, I've a few alternatives, but it's still too short for the time I intend to be away. So the next thing is to get out the map again and look for another area to visit, either to tie up with a direct walking link, or to hop the local buses to cut out any long and tiring valley trudges.

After all - there's a charge for valley campsites, and apparently other people stay there and make funny noises. And all that wide landscape so near as well

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