Saturday, 7 November 2009

Back in the Game

It took long enough but I eventually managed to get out again for a quick one nighter. I've been busy lately, working some extra hours and what with injuring my knee back at the end of July I didn't manage to get out at all but eventually thanks in part to a friend who was keen to try a wild camp I managed in the end.

Marcus had mentioned that he wanted to try a wild camp and we spent some time looking at gear in an attempt to keep the weight down. I suggested an Argos Hike Lite 1 tent as a starter and after letting him see mine thats what he went for. He had a sleeping bag and CCF mat and I sorted him out with an EK meths burner set-up and loaned him an Alpkit Mitymug. For food he settled on easy to prepare noodles/cuppa soup etc and managed to get the pack weight just under 9kg which is pretty good for a 1st attempt.

We set off pretty late only arriving at the start point near Quolie Dam at 4.00pm so what with Mid Hill and Collin Top and plenty of boggy or heather covered ground between us and Loughgarve, the spot I had picked as a camp, we were going to be covering most of it in the dark.

Thankfully it didn't rain and we eventually reached the camp at around 7.30pm. We managed to get the tents pitched on a reasonably level spot and settled in for the night getting the meths burners set-up. I was pretty hungry by this stage but had made the mistake of taking a Reiter Hungarian beef freeze dried meal which I hadn't tried before. I found it barely edible to be honest, really really salty and with a greasey taste to it. I ate most of it and it wasn't a happy experience but I managed ok as I'd started with a cuppa soup while waiting for the beef/noodles to rehydrate and finished off with a chocolate bar. I eventually settled down at around 10.30-11.00pm and didn't waken until 4.30am when I made some custard/raisins (Birds Instant custard powder in a zip-lock) and a mug of drinking chocolate.

I went back to sleep and wakened again around 8.00am and started to prepare breakfast, simply Tesco Museli with a few spoonfuls of coffee whitener followed by a mug of coffee.

It must have rained at some stage during the night but had stopped while we packed everything away. Our plan was to walk into Glenariff forest park before following the forest tracks for a few miles and then heading north (ish) over Trostan (highest point on the Antrim Plateau) before dropping down WNW into Slieveanorra forest to follow the tracks west to our suggested pick-up point at Altnahinch dam.

We made good progress on better ground with less heather than the previous evening and quickly cleared Glenariff park but as we headed up a track through the forest we found that our route was blocked by a motor rally of all things. We decided to wait a bit but were quickly running out of time as Marcus's sister had agreed to pick us up. We simply decided to walk back to the forest park and use the phone box (no network coverage on O2 or Vodafone) to rearrrange the pick-up and started off up the road to a car park to wait.

Other than getting blocked by the rally everything worked fine, I was using some gear I'd bought for summer use but wanted to see how far I could push it. I used a basic CCF mat, my ME Xero down bag which I supplemented with a PHD Ultra down vest, my waterproofs consisted of a Marmot Essence jacket, a pair of cheap Trespass Trestex packaway overtrousers and a pair of Marmot unlined shell gloves. I considered wearing my trail shoes but knowing what the terrain was like decided on my AKU Croda's with Trekmates ankle gaiters. The rest of my clothing consisted of;

Trekmates Bamboo L/S Top
Primark Zip Neck Fleece
Montane Featherlite Jetstream
Columbia Omni Trousers
Trespass Windproof Fleece gloves
Woolly Hat
Salomon Ski Socks
PHD Ultra Down vest

I carried a spare set of baselayer/socks for sleepwear consisting of a Chocolate Fish Merino L/S top and Trekmates Bamboo long-johns but as the socks I'd been wearing were dry I didn't use the spare set. I changed back into my other baselayer top in the morning although as it was only a one nighter I needed have bothered.

As I mentioned I used an ME Xero 250 down bag, Millets 3 season CCF mat and the Argos Hike-Lite 1 and carried it in a Haglofs LIM45.

All in all it was a good night, everything worked fine and more importantly Marcus was still smilimg at the end so it didn't put him off.