Monday, 28 May 2012

BBC Interview on Ultralight Hiking and Homemade Gear

Over next weekends Bank Holiday I shall be out recording a piece for BBC Radio Scotland's Out Of Doors programme. The theme is on ultralight hiking and why we often use homemade gear. Interviews are normally something I keep well away from but sometimes it's good to push yourself out of your comfort zone. I will update this post with a link to the programme once I know when it will be broadcast. All interviews are carried out on location so we will be heading out for a hike in the Lomond Hills with me carrying a standard overnight ultralight load. I never normally think about what I take on a simple overnight hike but one of the questions is likely to be how much it all weights so I thought I had better weigh it all up. For those that are interested here it is.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

MLD Monk Tarp Review

The Mountain Laurel Designs Monk Tarp is about as simple as a shelter can be. In silnylon you get a single 9*5ft flat piece of material or a smaller 4*9ft piece should you chose cuben fibre. Cuben fibre is only available in smaller width rolls hence the foot difference between the tarps. My review is for the silnylon version and that extra foot of space is very useful for some of the configurations I use.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Other Gear Life Resources

Anybody interested in gear life should also have a look at German Tourist's, The Big Trip. She has hiked more miles than anybody else I know and her blog is an invaluable resource on gear life as well as much more. I had the pleasure to meet and hike with her on the Arizona Trail and she is certainly an inspirational character.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Coast and Moor 2012 - Idea & Route

2012 is a transition year for me. A transition from my 9-5 job, a mortgage and a car to basically a hill bum! My original plan had me heading over to New Zealand in October to hike the Te Araroa, but that was being optimistic about how long it would take to clear my life. I still have lots to do this year so my first real hike, of my new life, will now be the PCT next year. 

Fortunately I still have a month or two available! Starting after Phil Turners wedding, at the end of September, I shall be hiking my Coast and Moor route which combines the South West Coast Path (SWCP) with a crossing of Exmoor and Dartmoor. I hiked half the SWCP on my Land's End John o'Groats hike in 2000 and loved it. Its taken 12 years to find the time to return. Exmoor and particularly Dartmoor have always intrigued me so now's the ideal time to explore that area.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Colorado Trail 2011 - Part 4, Creede to Silverton

I was lucky to get a ride back the 15 km from Creede to the CT. Resupply options are often a long way from the trail on this, and most, of the major US hikes. Hitching is the only realistic option and is generally very safe outside of cities.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Colorado Trail 2011 - Part 3, Buena Vista to Creede

Heading out of Buena Vista, and back to the official CT, was via Highway 306 and then a mixture of tracks and roads around Mt Princeton.  Mt Princeton is known for its hot springs and a resort has grown up round it. For the hiker it has a useful store. 

Monday, 7 May 2012

Colorado Trail 2011 - Part 2, Frisco to Buena Vista

The section from Frisco to Buena Vista is a taste of what's to come on the CT. Much less forrest with wide open alpine vistas from the summits. Those vistas have to be earned and it starts with a quick hop-over to Copper Mountain ski resort. Unfortunately that quick hop-over Tenmile Range (3900m) is brutal with a 950m climb to its ridge. Altitude makes these climbs much harder. Slow and steady is the key.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Extremities - keeping them warm (2009)

A piece I wrote for Andy Howell in 2009 on keeping the extremities warm.


Reading it now in 2012 it still looks valid.

Skins Packs - the early days (2009)

In 2009 I came up with a new concept in backpack design which I wrote about for Andy Howell's blog.

Skins Packs - the story so far

Since those early days the packs have changed beyond recognition as my needs have changed, and I am now at the 3rd generation. I like the simplicity of these original packs and intend to update the design shortly.

Colorado Trail 2011 - Part 1, Denver to Frisco

In 2011 I hiked the Colorado Trail. I chose the Colorado Trail (CT) because I had little experience of high altitude hiking, and I wanted to get a feel of what to expect on my future Continental Divide Trail (CDT) hike. Both trails share the same route for nearly 300km, but so as to not spoil the CDT experience I hiked the CT from north to south. I'm sure when I hike the CDT in 2014 it will all look fresh from the opposite direction.

The CT is staggeringly beautiful for most of its 782km length. It starts just outside the city of Denver and finishes in Durango. With an average altitude of over 3047m (10000ft) and with many peaks over 4267m (14000ft) easily accessible from the trail it looked ideal for my needs. I expected the hike to take around 35 days but, unfortunately, not all went to plan and I failed to finish due to illness. To have to pull-out, only 4 days from the end, was tough but it didn't dampen my feelings for the CT, and I learnt a lot from the trail. I would recommend it to anybody looking for a challenge that includes altitude, jaw dropping beauty and  miles of wilderness hiking.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Arizona Trail 2010 - Part 9, North Rim to Utah/Arizona Border

Looking back towards the Grand Canyon National park for the last time. The Grand Canyon was certainly the highlight of the AZT and I intend to return at a later date.

Arizona Trail 2010 - Part 8, Grand Canyon Village to Grand Canyon North Rim

Your first real view of the Grand Canyon is special and cannot be put into words. It's immense in every direction and stunningly beautiful. I just sat and gazed for a long, long time. Everybody should visit the Grand Canyon at least once in their lives.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Arizona Trail 2010 - Part 7, Flagstaff to Grand Canyon Village

In Flagstaff I met up with Rob Hausam who would be hiking this section with me. I first met Rob on the 2007 TGO Challenge and had the pleasure of finishing that hike with him. Rob had been very helpful on the AZT by boxing up food packages and posting them ahead for me. Thanks Rob!

Arizona Trail 2010 - Part 6, Pine to Flagstaff

After a relaxing day in Pine it was back to the trail and my first and only rain shower in 6 weeks. Fortunately it didn't last long and soon we are back to normal. Todays section takes you along the Highline Trail and onto the Mogollon Rim.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Arizona trail 2010 - Part 5, Superior to Pine

After leaving Superior you climb into the Superstition Mountains which was designated a wilderness area in 1964. It looked like it might finally rain, but didn't! Soon the clouds shifted and normal service resumed.