It’s been a while, but I’m now finally ready for the first walk of 2016 and the first walk for almost a year! Far too much elapsed time!
This particular walk will be one that takes me around the Northern reaches of Dartmoor – one of my favourite haunts.
The original planned walk was going to visit many places that I hadn’t been to before.
However, I ran into a slight snag during planning… 😳
This particular plan was put together around 6 months ago and then transcribed to the paper map a few weeks back. Yesterday I decided to Quality Assure (QA) the route plan to make sure there were no issues. It was at that point that I discovered two alarming mistakes.
Mistake number one had saw that I had accidentally forgot to plot a camp spot on the paper map. I number my camp spots based on the day of the camp. When I got to the end of the planning session the last spot was numbered ‘4’, which meant that I would need to book 5 days of holiday for the walk.
However, the missing camp spot equates to a whole day of additional hiking! A whole day I hadn’t taken into account, either in terms of holiday or the Army firing times…
Speaking of firing times, the QA also discovered that part of the plan would take me through a live firing range! As a result I had to spend a lot of time with the planner cutting out parts of the plan to get it to satisfactorily fit into a 3+2 day walk.
Alas, it seemed that a lot of the interesting new areas that I wanted to visit were the ones that had to be dropped. 😦 I guess that this was to do with the fact that a lot of them resided on the periphery of the original plan.
Despite the modifications, the new plan is still a good one – just not as good as it once was.
Food-wise I’m taking my usual load out:
These food supplies are enough for 4 suppers, 3 lunches, 4 breakfasts and daily on-the-go snacks.
The weather forecast for the whole walk is looking pretty grim with rain being a prominent feature. With that in mind I had decided that some parts of my kit would have to be upgraded.
First up were the waterproof trousers:
My old Berghaus Deluge trousers had stopped being waterproof a long time ago, despite many attempts to re-vitalise them with various sprays and washes. In the end I kept them around solely for their thermal properties rather than their ability to keep out water.
Given the amount of expected rain, I decided that it would be prudent to replace them.
I had been impressed with the Gore-Tex Pro material used in my existing jacket, so this steered me toward getting a set of Gore-Tex Pro trousers. Although expensive, this kit should last a fair while.
Next up on the shopping list was a new camera:
This camera doesn’t replace the Sony DSC-HX9V, instead, I plan to use it on walks where the weather forecast is predominantly rain…. Just like this one…
The Sony, whilst a very good camera, used to really suffer on wet walks. Sometimes it would just completely shut down and at other times the internal lenses would fog up.
To get around this I decided to purchase what is effectively an underwater camera. I figure that if it can survive the depths of the sea, then it should easily be able to handle some British rain.
The downside of the new camera, is a rather limited zoom capability and poorer image quality. I’m not too fussy about the latter as many of the photos that appear on this blog are vastly reduced in size from their originals, so the slight loss of detail shouldn’t be apparent – at least in theory.
Along with the camera I also bought Olympus’s action camera holder:
This mounts the camera onto the rucksack straps and makes it exceedingly quick and easy to get the camera out ready for use. Given the number of photos that I tend to take, this will be a blessing!
Next on the list was a map case replacement:
With the exception of the last one that I owned (no longer available), these map cases never seem to last very long with me. I guess they do tend to receive some rough treatment in the field. Hopefully this one will put in the same kind of sterling performance that its predecessor did.
In further kit news…
A year or so ago, Mountain Warehouse gave me a small vacuum flask as a Christmas present. I don’t normally use them, but I did decide to take it out on a December Dartmoor walk.
The result was that I was really impressed with the ability to get a hot drink anywhere and very quickly. It really made a difference on that walk.
Given the success of the Mountain Warehouse flask, I have decided to invest in a bigger flask and one that’s rated for 24 hours. This should provide me with hot drink for a whole day of walking without needing to get the stove out. The only downside is that I’m going to have to work out where to stow it…
Yet another new piece of kit! A dry bag…
I don’t tend to use rain covers with my rucksacks. I much prefer to seal the inside with a single large dry bag. This makes access to the rucksack much easier and offers more protection from the elements, especially if the rucksack takes a dunk in a stream.
Alas, my old one had developed some holes around the seal, due to over-zealous compression on my part – hence the replacement.
At this point you would think that this is everything on the new kit front, however, you would be very wrong… 😮
Anyone who has followed my last walk on Dartmoor will know that my Kobo Reader finally succumbed to the rigours of the outdoors. I really like to read and given the long nights in the Winter, this piece of kit is considered quite essential!
Unlike the Kobo, this one is backlit which means that I will be able to read it in the tent without needing to use a headlamp. It will be interesting to see how the Kindle performs.
On the hygiene side, I decided to upgrade the toothbrush:
I really like this one. It folds out to a full sized, quality tooth-brush, but when folded takes up very little space. For me, the added bonus is that its container forms an integral part of the structure of the brush. This means that I won’t need to carry a separate tooth-brush container.
The old feet haven’t been forgotten too:
Dartmoor is normally quite boggy. Given the recent rains that we have been having, I’m expecting this to be especially the case for this walk. My Salomon boots leak like a sieve, so as a result I have decided to get enough hiking socks to allow me to wear a clean pair every day.
Having this many socks will be a great luxury as it will allow me to start each day off with dry feet! Something that shouldn’t be underrated!
Finally! The last bit of new kit is a phone…
I know! It’s a phone with a physical keyboard! 😯 People do keep pointing this fact out to me, normally in the same sentence as ‘museum’. But this keyboard is a pleasure to use and it is touch sensitive to boot, so that it can also be used like a track pad. Very handy for accurately editing text!
The Blackberry Passport is heavier than my previous Blackberry, but it does have an awesome battery. On most days I can get by for 3 days before needing to charge it, not something that most other phones can do!
However, the battery isn’t removable. That bit does worry me, as removing the battery is the only sure way of ensuring that a phone won’t be accidentally switched on during the rough and tumble that is hiking. I guess we will have to see if this presents itself as an issue.
There have been a lot of equipment changes, which is unusual for me, but I’m hoping that these changes will enhance the walk, especially with the predicted rain.
That’s it for now. Excitement levels are sky high and I suspect that tonights’ sleep is going to suffer as a result! See you all in 5 days!
PS: If you haven’t voted for me yet for the Trespass blog awards, and wish to do so, please pop over to the previous blog post 🙂