Saturday, January 5, 2008


My kit is my kit...pretty well sorted out over the years. Not super lightweight, but put together with comfortable walking over difficult and varied terrain very much in mind. Depending on how much food and water I have aboard, I’ll be carrying 18-25 lb. (8-11 kg.) The only significant clothing element still up in the air is raingear. I’m concerned about the kind of chilly multi-day downpour Scotland has occasionally been known to produce, and I’m wondering weather to stick with my Marmot Precip or to go with a Paramo-style top. I’ve gotten thoughtful advice in both directions, and I change my mind weekly. I think I’ll be fussing with this for a few months yet.

And ticks. I’m worried about ticks. Most impressed by reports of “tick infested” campsites. My father was knocked out late last year by a tick-born illness called ehrlichiosis, and he spent a very nasty couple of weeks, and a long time recovering. I usually walk in shorts down to about 40° F (4° C.) or so, but because of the little bloodsuckers, this is perhaps not a great idea, especially in the west. My seldom-used long trousers are RailRiders, and my rainpants, which I pull on even less often, are light, full-zip Red Ledges. I may just stick with the tried and true, but I’m contemplating Cascadas to cover both bases (and, most likely, both legs).

We’ve been using Stephenson Warmlite tents since the early ’70s. Once, when we lived near London for a while, we took a coach with a club up to the Lakes, piling out into a dark and soggy farm field late on a chilly and very wet night, and were comfortably snuggled in our sleeping bags in about five minutes flat. We lay there emitting self-congratulatory giggles until the hammering and invective of our soaked fellow campers ceased some considerable time later. The Warmlite 2, which then was actually called the Warmlite 6, has always been a quick, taut pitch, sturdy in winds, and extraordinarily roomy for its weight. Very hard to beat. I’ve got a fairly new one now, even lighter, and it will be my shelter from Mallaig to the east coast. (Mine’s a nameless model 2, similar to Gayle E Bird’s Wendy, and unlike Alan Sloman’s famous Wanda, which (who?) is a shorter and lighter model 2C, a recent innovation designed for climbers who often have less room for pitching.)

I’ve been sleeping in the same Feathered Friends Swallow for a long time, too. It’s rated to 20° F. (-7° C.), weighs 2 lb. (900 g.), stuffs pretty small, and will keep me cozy.

I carry a McHale 0-SARC pack—comfortable, sturdy, and light enough. It claims 3,000 cu. in. (50 l.), but it’s clearly got more volume than that. I use a couple of hip-belt pockets for things like reading glasses, kerchief, lip balm, and camera. Did I say the pack is comfortable?

Little else of interest, just the usual mundanities. I’ll probably mention a few in future posts.

Oh, shoes. I used to wear Limmers, big, heavy, classic mountain boots beautifully built in New Hampshire for walking the steep and rocky trails of the White Mountain National Forest. I’ve gradually moved to lighter and lighter footwear, and will probably show up in Scotland in a pair of Montrail Hardrocks. I used Vitesses on the Tour du Mont Blanc in 2006, and they were fine once I paired them up with appropriate sox (my light running anklets were not so hot). But they’re hard to find now, and I’ve been walking in Hardrocks. They’ll do.

Does anyone recognize the location in the blister-easing photo above?

1 comment:

Phreerunner said...

Don't worry too much about the ticks. I didn't see any last year, though (Podcast) Bob and Rose did encounter them once, as did others. I haven't heard of anyone getting ill, though. Camping away from obvious signs of deer or other animals helps avoid them.