Back from Snowdonia!

A quick photo taster - A cloud shrouded Mount Snowdon to the South West from the peak of Glyder Fawr. The more observant will cotton on that the banner photo of this blog is the reverse view! :)

A quick photo taster – A cloud shrouded Mount Snowdon to the South West from the peak of Glyder Fawr. The more observant will cotton on that the banner photo of this blog is the reverse view! 🙂

Finally got back from my solo 4 plus 1 day walk around Snowdonia. I have to say I was very lucky to be blessed by such good weather – most of the journey’s weather was a scorcher!

Over the next few weeks I will post up each day in detail, with the usual mini-photo narrative showing where I have been.

The whole 71.4km route. During that time I ascended 3762 metres and descended 3456 metres.

The whole 71.4km route. During that time I ascended 3762 metres and descended 3456 metres.

The walk totalled 71.4 km with 3762 metres ascent and 3456 metres descent – by far the most hilly route I have walked so far. I was initially carrying a 20 Kg load, though on weighing the pack when I got back, it was down to 12 Kg without water. I guess most of the weight was food!

In terms of my personal weight, despite eating a lot on the walk, I ended up losing 2.2 Kg of weight! I will have to ensure that I make up for this now that I’m back 😉

For me, this was one of the most gruelling walks I have had to do. It wasn’t so much the length – which is quite similar to last year’s Summer walk on Dartmoor – it was more the elevation changes.

As walks go, this one was the most hilly!

As walks go, this one was the most hilly!

Not only were the elevation changes in the 1000 metre range, but many of them involved grade 1 scrambles to ascend or descend. In plain english terms this means that they required proper climbing techniques with the use of all four limbs!

Scrambling with a pack weighing in the 20kg ball park was quite difficult, especially when climbing downward. During the descents I had to pay particular attention to make sure that the pack weight didn’t take charge.

Some of the scrambles even involved a little bit of elevation exposure, which certainly made for a little bit of excitement!

During the walk I learnt a fair bit. I learnt that I had taken way too much food – thank you Robin 🙂 I also learnt that I had not taken enough toilet roll. I did resolve this last technicality, but you will have to tune in to day 4 to see what I did!

Injuries wise, my right knee is now playing up a bit, though no where near as bad as after the Lake District Walk and I came away with some rather painful sores on both heels of my feet. Up front, both feet hurt but the blisters there seem to have hardened. No doubt when I get back to work tomorrow there will be a few people giving me the ‘I told you so’ look!

Also, whilst playing around with my software I have realised that I can filter my GPS recordings to make them suitable for use with Ordinance Survey’s GetAMap. As such, future posts will now include OS map views as well as the Google Map views to enable readers to more easily identify where my walk took me.

Unlike previous walks I will not be publishing the planned route. The reason for this is that the plan pretty much changed from the start of Day 2 once I realised that a particular ridge could in fact be climbed! All will be revealed in Day 2’s post.

The OS map showing my GPS Route. I have only just learnt how to do these - it turns out the OS software only allows 2000 waypoints, so I filter my GPS files to a max of 2000 points!

The OS map showing my GPS Route. I have only just learnt how to do these – it turns out the OS software only allows 2000 waypoints, so I filter my GPS files to a max of 2000 points!

In the meantime have a good one!



About RobP

Got into backpacking in the spring of 2012. I started as a couch potato then made my way through walker, hiker and now backpacker! As you can see from below I have far too many hobbies! :)
This entry was posted in Backpacking, Hiking, Multi-Day Walk, Snowdonia and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Back from Snowdonia!

  1. Robin says:

    Not wishing to induce more spending on gear 😉 but if you do any scrambling, you’ll find a more flexible pack like the GG Mariposa is an advantage. If you have a sore knee a Bioskin knee support is worth considering. I used one for a while when my knee was giving me trouble and found it helpful. It’s much more comfortable than other neoprene knee supports.

    If you are still wearing boots, you might want to consider going to lightweight mids, like the Salomon X-Ultras or if you want something a bit more supportive, Ecco Bioms. Of course, fit is all important, so you need to see whether they suit your feet. There are many alternatives. New Balance do different width fittings, although I’ve only tried their trail shoes. Trail shoes are another option, but I’d test them out on a short trip before committing. Personally, I prefer mid boots.

    I usually take too much food as well. Looking at your picture, you take a lot of packets. Personally I only have one sachet meal in the evening. Using alternatives should cut the bulk, although maybe not the weight. A good rule of thumb for food is 1kg of food per day. You shouldn’t need more on most trips.

    It’s takes a fair amount of trial and error to get the gear combinations right. Even now I’m still tweaking 🙂 . Over the past few years I’ve never gone over about 14kg total weight for a four day trip, which I think is an upper comfort limit.

    I look forward to reading about your trip. It’s a great area to explore.

    • RobP says:

      I always worry about the more flexible packs as I wonder how they hold up to supporting loads. The Osprey Exos really surprised me. Despite not being designed for it, it handled the initial 20kg very well. In fact, it’s one of the most comfortable rucksacks I have ever worn.

      As for boots these are always at the top of my mind. I have a love-hate relationship with my Scarpas. I hate the weight, but they have never leaked and provide amazing grip. My previous Salamon Quest boots started leaking after only around 40km and they were lethally slippery in the wet. That said, I loved their light weight and comfort levels.

      Food wise I had been having a freeze dried main meal, with a freeze dried dessert and a freeze dried breakfast. After a tip from one of my readers, I’m going to make a mod to my Jetboil system that will allow me to make standard food again for breakfast with no weight gain.

      From here on in, I will only do Freeze dried suppers. The desserts and breakfasts will be dropped. I also discovered that with a proper lunch and snack bars, the gorp I was carrying rarely got eaten, so I will be dropping this too.

      Your tip about oatcakes for lunch worked a treat. Over the 5 days I was out I never encountered the lack of energy issues that I had experienced on the previous two trips. Plus it forces me to have a proper stop to enjoy the scenery 🙂

      I suspect that our kit load outs will forever be getting tweaked!

      • Robin says:

        The Mariposa would certainly cope with 15kg. 20? Don’t know. It does have a simple internal frame. FWIW I think you should aim for under 15kg total load for 4/5 days.

        Footwear is the most difficult thing to get right. My Salomon Fastpackers (three pairs!) never leaked. They did get damp from sweat at the end of a wet day, but never uncomfortable. It will be interesting to see how my new X Ultras fare. My Bioms have been very good, but I’ve yet to wear them on a day of constant rain, but they have been thoroughly soaked on Dartmoor and were fine.

        Oatcakes are terrific as they are compact, good for carbs and keep for a long time. They are filling as well. I’ve tended to migrate to various types of bars and dried fruit as supplements. Everyone has their own preferences.

        Old M&S ice cream tubs are great for storing food that you don’t want crushed, e.g. fig rolls 🙂 (another good standby). If you have more than one tub, you can stack them when they’re empty, so you save space.

        In the end, everyone does things slightly differently and there’s no “right” way, just what’s suits you best. Gear is only a means to an end.

    • Martin Rye says:

      Looking at that map and the distance I would suggest its a 4 day walk, 3 nights (3 evening meals) out route. Food and kit could been around 9/10kg (and less based on experience) max for that, and a GG Gorilla would have been my choice. Rob lighter kit, trail shoes and your energy output will also be less. Light kit = less to carry less effort, less calorific need. Also food calories density helps keep the weight down. Look at that for future trips and a good starting place is Andrew Skurkas Ultimate Hikers Gear Guide for further reading. Anyway looking forward to the report.

      • RobP says:

        I agree with regard to distance, but after a Black Mountains walk last year, I have changed my planning methods to always include a spare day. It’s one of the reasons that I classed this route as a 4 + 1 – the last day being a spare with only a very small distance covered.

        Basically the route planning software I use seems to have issues taking slope into account which often results in calculated distances that are less than actually walked. In the Black Mountains case, it left me so short that for day 3 I had to walk 44 km, which whilst within my capabilities, turns the walking trip into a bit of a forced march – doable, but not pleasant!

        Another issue I tend to take into account is time. Except for day 1 of this trip, my plan was to get to every pitching spot just before sundown. This plan also had to have some slack, as I was kind of getting up when my body felt like it, rather than using an alarm clock. This gives the walk a much more relaxing pace.

        On all of the days except the first,I did actually make it to camp within around 1 hour of sunset at 1900, which suggests that the distance allocations were right for my style of hiking. Day 1 was planned to deliberately finish in the dark as I wanted to test out my new head light.

        I normally aim for around 22km a day – or there abouts – this seems to be my natural daily distance. However, on this trip the elevation changes were severe enough, that they impacted on the usual timings. For example, toward the end of day 2 I was descending/scrambling Pen yr Ole Wen – a nearly vertical descent of 1000 metres – at least it seemed quite vertical to me 🙂 The amount of time required to safely descend this kind of distance is phenomenal – making a mistake on that particular descent is not an option as my photos will show 🙂

        It could be though, that as you mention it is a function of weight. My speed down such descents might be so slow simply because of he weight I’m carrying, but I suspect it is down to my inexperience with such steep descents and my willingness not to fall of the mountain!

        I am intrigued by the concept of ultra-light and will buy the above book to see how it’s done, but there are some creature comforts that I really like – for example the Akto tent – I love that tent, it seems to hold together very well under very harsh conditions and offers a palatial like existence away from home. Most ultra lighters use Tarps, which for me are a lot of hassle to set up, plus many of them require the use of walking poles – something I don’t carry (though this could change in the future).

        That said I’m only into my second year of hiking and I think being ultralight is something that evolves over time. My base pack weight without food and water has dropped considerably, even in one year, I’m sure it will continue to evolve downward, especially after reading the book 🙂

  2. What an amazing hike. Looking forward to hearing ALL the details 🙂 namaste Lakshmi

    • RobP says:

      Thanks Lakshmi 🙂 for some reason I find being out in the wilds to be very invigorating and seem to be at my happiest when out and about. Will start posting the details soon 🙂

  3. Robin says:

    We each have a different trade off between comfort/function/weight. If you like the Akto, then stick with it. Same with rucksack. I suspect you can find some reasonable weight savings elsewhere in your gear. Keep experimenting to find your optimal weight.

    Descending rough ground always takes time. Better to be cautious and avoid an accident. 22km sounds a reasonable rule of thumb for a day. It’s not about distance, it’s about enjoyment 🙂 As they say in the US: Hike your own hike.

    • RobP says:

      ‘Hike your own hike’ – Never a truer word said 🙂

      I think many people get different things out of their outdoor experiences. For me, I like the isolation and the imagery of the beautiful country side and for some reason I’m at my happiest when out and about!

      Kit choice is part of that personal outdoor experience and does affect how you plan and walk your walk. So in many ways each hiker, even when following the same route, is in effect, experiencing things in their own unique way 🙂

  4. Martin Rye says:

    The rucksack is the last bit to lighten up. Simple truths are as you learn more you take less. I did an insight into reducing pack weight post way back Rob. and fun is key. Kit needs to be a system that works for you. Keep getting out and look at each kit area as you learn, and if you adjust it do so knowing how it will fit in with other changes later on. Good luck and the book will be helpful.

    • RobP says:

      That’s a great blog Martin – very insightful. It seems on some kit we use similar things like RAB Neutrino sleeping bags and eVent waterproofs. I’ve tried following your blog, but couldn’t see a way of doing it except via twitter – so I am now following you on that 🙂

  5. Great hike and stunning photo of Snowdon!

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