Sunday, 27 May 2007

Not prevaricating

I recall that my pack on the Pennine Way must have weighed at least 30lb and I'm only 5' 6" or so and weigh 10 stone. It wasn't comfortable either but I had no idea then about going light. There was a young lad we met who was carrying what must have been the original rucksack. It was canvas with a wooden frame and must have been excruciatingly heavy, particularly when wet. He said he was trying to get hiking out of his system and I wonder if he ever did.
After I finished the Pennine Way in 1977, I didn't do much more apart from day walks until 1990 as other things intervened (as they do). In 1990, I took myself off to the Lake District for a week at Keswick Youth Hostel and did day walks from there. I bought the first ever issue of Trail Walker (as it was then called) in Keswick and I've had every issue since, although I think I won't renew after the present year's sub expires. It's not what it was and TGO has more appeal now. But what to do with innumerable Trails? What I'm doing as a long term project with a view to future downsizing house-wise is scanning what I want from the mags with a view to disposal of them. I've already scanned a quantity of The Great Outdoors (as TGO was originally called) as there's some good stuff in them and it seems a shame just to send them for recycling but you can't keep them for ever.
After Keswick, there were similar trips to the Peak District and elsewhere but no multi-day hiking that I recall now.
Some years ago, I bought a Khyam Epic one-man tent which was great and it went up in seconds but probably best for car-camping. I still have it and it's very serviceable but when, a few years ago, I got to thinking about backpacking and cycle camping for a few days I came to realise that it wasn't right - too heavy and the wrong shape and size when packed to carry easily.
I then heard about Ray Jardine and bought his Beyond Backpacking which really opened my eyes to what could be done in the way of lightening up. I don't agree with all of his philosophising and in future entries I go into more detail about base weight and individual items of kit. So, over and out for the moment.

Saturday, 26 May 2007


While I should have been blogging on a Saturday afternoon, I was starting to celebrate the centenary of the birth of John Wayne! Watched True Grit which I'd never seen before. An excellent film. It featured Robert Duvall in a small part. He's been in lots of films but I thought he was superb in Lonesome Dove which was shown on BBC4 a few months ago. A real saga and the book's the best I've read in a long time.

First beginnings

Well, I have to start somewhere. Hiking for me began in the early 1970s when I was living in Bristol as a student. Day walks locally and in the Forest of Dean, mainly with a friend, Tony Martin, led to us doing the Pennine Way over 1975, 1976 and 1977. 1975 was as wet as it could be (waking up one night in the tent, which had been pitched in desperation on a cobblestoned path near Ponden, to find that there was two inches of water inside the tent); 1976 was the drought year and 1977 was hot and dry as well.

I lost touch with Tony many years ago. He came from somewhere in the Forest of Dean. if anyone knows of him then I'd welcome some news.

The backpack I used then came from an Army Surplus store in Bristol. There wasn't much choice then and lots of people had these. I still have it. Could I sell it on Ebay? Not very comfortable and the sleeping bag was stored in a black plastic bag on the outside at the base. My stove was a bog-standard Camping Gaz, I wore denim jeans, a woollen jumper and Tuf work boots. Still, it was all an unforgettable experience.

I'll leave it there for the moment. The layout and design will change as I discover more of the world of blogging so please bear with me.