2013 – A Year in Review

2013 was a good year :)

2013 was a good year 🙂

2013 proved to be a great year of solo hiking with many memorable experiences.

In terms of raw stats I managed the following:

      • 6 Multi-day solo hikes over 24 days
      • 18 Nights spent in the Akto tent
      • A total of 366.7 km (227.86 miles) walked
      • A total of 15,365 mtrs (50,410 ft) ascended

In addition to the above, I broke my personal elevation record with the climb of Mount Snowdon. This takes the current record up to 1085 mtrs (3559 ft).

It also saw the heaviest carried load of 20 kg (44 pounds) during the Snowdonia walk. A lot of this weight was food – I was carrying way too much!

2013 was also the first year where I had hiked in truly mountainous terrain. This brought its own challenges, but the rewards in terms of outstanding views more than made up for it.

If I had to pick a favourite walk it would be the Snowdonia walk in September 2013. That was a walk that just kept giving. Each subsequent day seemed to top the previous day in terms of excitement and stunning scenery.

Here is the walking diary for 2013:

2013’s Walking Diary

March 2013 – 4 days in the Black Mountains

The Black Mountains walk was very cold!

The Black Mountains walk was very cold!

2013’s walks started with a very cold one in the Black Mountains. It seems that my timing was impeccable, in that it was the second coldest March on record since they began 100 years ago!

It was so cold that after I topped up my travel tap on the ridge-line, it had actually frozen up within 30 minutes! It meant that I had no water as all of my bottles were frozen.

The other ‘highlight’ of this walk was where I got blown off my feet twice – this resulted in a hurt wrist and my quick descent down off of the ridges.

The 67.9km Black Mountains walk with 2566 mtrs ascent and 2648 mtrs descent.

The 67.9km Black Mountains walk with 2566 mtrs ascent and 2648 mtrs descent.

The links for this walk are:

https://ukbackpacker.wordpress.com/2013/03/08/off-to-the-black-mountains-for-a-four-day-solo-walk/

https://ukbackpacker.wordpress.com/2013/03/12/back-from-my-68km-solo-black-mountains-walk/

May 2013 – 3 days on Northern Dartmoor

Looking Northward toward Yes Tor in the far distance.

Looking Northward toward Yes Tor in the far distance.

I loved this walk. My main memory from it was the sheer isolation and the fact that most of the walk was cross-country without any trails. Cross country walking whilst quite tough, does give one a greater sense of freedom.

It was also the walk where I first started noticing the positive improvements to my fitness as a result of my daily exercise routine. (https://ukbackpacker.wordpress.com/2013/09/11/fitness/)
The North Moors 46.6 km walk with 1454 mtrs ascent and 1410 mtrs descent.

The North Moors 46.6 km walk with 1454 mtrs ascent and 1410 mtrs descent.

The links for this walk are:

https://ukbackpacker.wordpress.com/2013/05/03/ready-for-north-dartmoor-2013/

https://ukbackpacker.wordpress.com/2013/05/07/may-2013-north-dartmoor-3-day-solo-walk-day-1/

https://ukbackpacker.wordpress.com/2013/05/18/may-2013-north-dartmoor-solo-walk-day-2/

https://ukbackpacker.wordpress.com/2013/05/22/may-2013-north-dartmoor-solo-walk-day-3/

June 2013 – 3 days for the Mount Snowdon Ascent 

Mount Snowdon from Garnedd Ugain.

Mount Snowdon from Garnedd Ugain.

This walk marked my first real mountain climb. It was also the first walk where I experienced some relatively high elevation exposure.

Whilst I can deal with big drops, I’d be lying if I said that I was completely unafraid. They seem to instil a certain sense of danger and certainly do get the old adrenaline going!

I got a great sense of achievement from climbing Mount Snowdon via the Watkin Path and have many great memories of some of the outstanding views from the top.

The 43.3 km Mount Snowdon walk with 2361 mtrs ascent and 2280 mtrs descent.

The 43.3 km Mount Snowdon walk with 2361 mtrs ascent and 2280 mtrs descent.

The links for this walk are:

https://ukbackpacker.wordpress.com/2013/05/31/may-2013-ready-for-snowdonia/

https://ukbackpacker.wordpress.com/2013/06/05/june-2013-snowdonia-solo-walk-day-1/

https://ukbackpacker.wordpress.com/2013/06/11/june-2013-snowdonia-solo-walk-day-2-the-climb-up-mount-snowdon/

https://ukbackpacker.wordpress.com/2013/06/18/june-2013-snowdonia-solo-walk-day-3-filler-day/

July 2013 – 4 days in the Lake District 

The view Northward from the top of Scaffell Pike.

The view Northward from the top of Scaffell Pike.

My greatest memory of this walk was the weather. It was extremely hot throughout the walk. Water consumption went through the roof, though luckily with my travel tap I could top up practically anywhere where fresh water was present.

I got my first exposure to scree slopes and discovered just how tiring they are to traverse.

This walk also included two relatively high vertical descents and introduced me to the world of hill scrambling. Both of the descents got the adrenaline going big time 🙂

Both Scafell and Scafell Pike got climbed on this walk – the highest Mountains in the Lake District and England.

On this walk every end-of-the-day camp spot was at a tarn which lent a very unique feel to this journey.

The 64.3 km Lake District walk to summit Scafell Pike with 3360 mtrs ascent and 3198 mtrs descent.

The 64.3 km Lake District walk to summit Scafell Pike with 3360 mtrs ascent and 3198 mtrs descent.

The links for this walk are:

https://ukbackpacker.wordpress.com/2013/07/05/ready-for-the-lake-district/

https://ukbackpacker.wordpress.com/2013/07/11/july-2013-lake-district-4-day-solo-walk-day-1/

https://ukbackpacker.wordpress.com/2013/07/15/july-2013-lake-district-4-day-solo-walk-day-2-the-ascent-of-sca-fell-sca-fell-pike/

https://ukbackpacker.wordpress.com/2013/07/21/july-2013-lake-district-4-day-solo-walk-day-3-the-descent/

https://ukbackpacker.wordpress.com/2013/07/26/july-2013-lake-district-4-day-solo-walk-day-4-spare-day/

September 2013 – 5 days in Snowdonia 

A cloud inversion whilst on the Glyder Fawr.

A cloud inversion whilst on Glyder Fawr.

This was my favourite walk of the year. Many of the sights from this walk are firmly etched into my mind.

The two that I remember the most were from the 1 km descent down from the peak of Pen yr Ole Wen and the total cloud inversion from the top of Glyder Fawr on day 3.

The 71.4 km Snowdonia walk with 3617 mtrs ascent and 3546 mtrs descent.

The 71.4 km Snowdonia walk with 3617 mtrs ascent and 3546 mtrs descent.

The links for this walk are:

https://ukbackpacker.wordpress.com/2013/09/20/ready-for-5-days-in-snowdonia/

https://ukbackpacker.wordpress.com/2013/09/25/back-from-snowdonia/

https://ukbackpacker.wordpress.com/2013/10/01/snowdonia-41-solo-walk-day-1/

https://ukbackpacker.wordpress.com/2013/10/06/snowdonia-41-solo-walk-day-2/

https://ukbackpacker.wordpress.com/2013/10/11/snowdonia-41-solo-walk-day-3/

https://ukbackpacker.wordpress.com/2013/10/19/snowdonia-41-solo-walk-day-4/

https://ukbackpacker.wordpress.com/2013/10/22/snowdonia-41-solo-walk-day-5-the-spare-day/

December  2013 – 5 days crossing Dartmoor 

Headed towards King's Tor!

Headed towards King’s Tor!

This walk started off with some truly atrocious weather, which just so happened to coincide with the part of the walk that was for the most part across country.

In terms of memories I remember the hike through the Northern Moors in the rain laden fog and was amazed at just how far forward my personal map and compass navigation had come.

The Okehampton to Ivybridge 73.2km Dartmoor walk with 2289 mtrs ascent and 2283 mtrs descent.

The Okehampton to Ivybridge 73.2km Dartmoor walk with 2289 mtrs ascent and 2283 mtrs descent.

The links for this walk are:

https://ukbackpacker.wordpress.com/2013/12/06/ready-for-41-days-on-dartmoor/

https://ukbackpacker.wordpress.com/2013/12/11/back-from-dartmoor/

https://ukbackpacker.wordpress.com/2013/12/14/dartmoor-solo-41-day-walk-day-1/

https://ukbackpacker.wordpress.com/2013/12/22/dartmoor-solo-41-day-walk-day-2/

https://ukbackpacker.wordpress.com/2013/12/26/dartmoor-solo-41-day-walk-day-3/

https://ukbackpacker.wordpress.com/2014/01/03/dartmoor-solo-41-day-walk-day-4/

https://ukbackpacker.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/dartmoor-solo-41-day-walk-day-5-the-spare-day/

2013 Equipment Changes

I don’t change my kit too often, but 2013 saw a number of changes for a variety of reasons.

Here are the major items of kit that got changed:

The Suunto M3 compass on the left replaced the Silva type 4/54 compass on the right.

The Suunto M3 compass on the left replaced the Silva type 4/54 compass on the right.

I had two issues with the Silva Compass. The first is that the needle didn’t seem that strongly magnetised, the  other was that it would often stick, especially after rotating the outer dial.

In the end I decided to replace it with the Suunto M3. Apart from weight, the M3 is a better compass in almost every way. It is much more strongly magnetised, has a smooth dial action that is easy to use with gloves. In addition to this one can dial in the magnetic variation prior to a walk so that one does not have to calculate it on the fly!

Further additions also include a ‘world balanced’ needle and a declination needle. All these features simply add up to one outstanding magnetic compass!

The Scarpa Active SL's on the right replaced the Salomon Quest 4d boots on the left.

The Scarpa Active SL’s on the right replaced the Salomon Quest 4d boots on the left.

The Salomon Quest boots that I had been using had eventually fallen apart with holes developing toward the front of the boots. They also leaked a lot which made walking in them a little unpleasant.

However, they are super lightweight and never needed any breaking in. So in terms of comfort – if you forget about the leaking water – they were very good.

Another issue I found with them was their complete lack of grip in the wet or mud. This resulted in a few occasions where I actually fell down! Looking on various forums, this seems to be a common complaint about them.

The Salomon’s construction also meant that they were very difficult to clean properly after a walk.

After a lot of research I went for the Scarpa Active SL boots. I currently have a love-hate relationship with these boots.

The SL’s have always given me blisters and I find them very heavy – almost 2 kg for the pair. This makes them twice as heavy as the Salomons and I am pretty sure that it is this additional weight on my feet that has resulted in a drop in my walking endurance.

On the other hand, they grip very well in all weathers, are completely water-proof – even when fording – and they are very easy to clean after a walk.

I’m pretty sure I will end up replacing them with lighter boots, but I will always keep them in reserve for walks that are likely to be very wet.

The Osprey Exos 58 on the left replaced the Berghaus Verden on the right.

The Osprey Exos 58 on the left replaced the Berghaus Verden on the right.

The Osprey Exos 58 was a revelation. It’s half the weight of the Verden and has so many come in handy features that I’m not sure how I ever did without them.

These additional features meant that I no longer needed to carry a water bottle sling or a gorp pouch. The former goes in the ingeniously designed side pockets, whilst the gorp goes in the zipped hip belt pockets.

I found the zipped side pockets were easy to use even when the main compartment was full of kit and I found that they could hold more.

I will do a review on the Exos pretty soon as it is an outstanding rucksack with so many great features that it deserves a blog entry all of its own!

The JetBoil Sol on the right replaced the Trangia 27 on the left.

The JetBoil Sol on the right replaced the Trangia 27 on the left.

After holding on to the Trangia for a year, I realised that it is in fact very heavy when compared to the competition.

The JetBoil Sol has proved to be less than half the weight – even with fuel and it boils water in around 2-3 minutes which is much faster than the Trangia’s 10 minutes plus.

The JetBoil’s flame is also a lot easier to control. The Trangia’s tended to be an all or nothing effort, even with the flame cover.

Another advantage with the JetBoil is that its flame is completely contained within the assembly. This is in contrast to the Trangia which can have a very tall flame. This means that it is much safer to use the JetBoil in the Tent’s vestibule without fear of an accident.

Hopefully 2014 will turn out to be as good as 2103! 🙂

Laters
RobP

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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, Camping, Dartmoor, Hiking, Lake District, Multi-Day Walk, Sca Fell, Sca Fell Pike, Snowdon, Snowdonia, The Black Mountains, Watkins Path, Wild Camping, Year Review and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to 2013 – A Year in Review

  1. Martin Rye says:

    Some great trips there Rob. I like some of those a lot. Now go find Scotland.

  2. RobP says:

    Thanks Martin. Scotland is definitely on the agenda for 2014 – especially the Cairngorms – I took one look at the map and fell in love with the place 🙂

  3. Martin Rye says:

    Go there end of May and enjoy it. Love the Cairngorms. Been there a lot over the years, and if you need any advice planning a trip there just shout.

  4. RobP says:

    Thanks Martin – I’m sure I will have some questions nearer the time, especially with regard to the dreaded midges 🙂

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