Entries by Black73Cat

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A little too close!

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There was a rough plan…very rough, to get out on Saturday night. A passing suggestion, earlier in the week, that I might meet up with David but right up until the morning, nothing was confirmed.
I kind of like it that way really, it adds to the adventure. When I say “adventure” this was certainly not going to be an epic. Family commitments on Sunday morning were going to restrict things a little. I needed to have a fairly short trek back to the car for a quick dash home. So it was going to be close to civilisation…but not too close!

A message from David to see what I was up to.  Still wanting to hook up but being a landscape photographer, he has very specific criteria when it comes to choosing a place to pitch.  He is a photographer first and only really wild camps to facilitate that.  So just any old view won’t do…he has to consider position of the sunrise/set and where the light will fall etc.  His first few suggestions were well out of my comfort zone.  I’m not a fan of stealth camping and the places on offer were all very visible from below.

Each to their own I guess, but it wasn’t for me, so I was set to head out for a solo somewhere.  Then one final suggestion from David looked slightly better than the rest…though only slightly.

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Broadlee-Bank Tor sits just below Grindslow Knoll on the Southern side of Kinder. On the map it looked ok at around 530mts but also completely surrounded by Edale and the Booths. Plus it was going to be very visible from the higher edges above. With assurances that it was “fine” I figured that it was worth a look though. If I took a different view on arrival, there were many alternatives within easy reach.
The Nag’s Head pub does a carvery on Saturday but not until late afternoon. As David had already spent the previous night on the hill, he wanted a good meal…so I arranged to meet him afterwards. Much later than I’d hoped but at 4pm we shook hands for the first time and set off from Edale village. Having previously only spoken to him via Facebook, it was good to have some face to face chat as we walked.

The forecast was for possible snow showers in the evening but with clear skies and calm winds overnight.  There was no suggestion of that from down in the valley though.  Bright sunshine and fluffy clouds made for a very pleasant walk.  Judging by the number of cars squeezed into the village, the weather was obviously enticing lots of people out for an evening stroll.  With the benefit of a good mountain forecast, we knew that these conditions weren’t going to last but looking at how some fellow walkers were dressed and equipped, the message hadn’t reached everyone.  I wonder how many of them got caught in what was to come because they would certainly have been very uncomfortable!

At this point, I’d usually make some quip about folks in “trainers” on the hill…with a disdainful shake of the head.  Such thoughts today though would see me labelled a hypocrite because after over 30 years of walking in nothing but “sturdy boots” things have changed!  I’ve finally succumbed to the overwhelming popularity of trail shoes…more specifically, lightweight mesh running shoes.  It still feels strange saying it but I went on the hill in “trainers!”

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I’ve been putting in a load of effort over recent months to lighten my pack weight and I’m pleased with the progress. Going from a base weight of around 16 kilos when I first started, I’m now down to around 8 kilos. This has taken a lot of research, not to mention cash, as I’ve upgraded almost every item of kit. So it seems crazy that I’m saving all of this weight but then swinging over a kilo on the end of each leg! I almost exclusively wear my Scarpa SL boots for anything other than low level, forest walks. They’re great and have served me well but at around 1100 gms each, they definitely don’t fit with my new ultralight ambitions!
Asking around the backpacking community, almost everyone assured me that lightweight footwear would be a huge benefit. I had lots of advice but I have to give a big thank you to Peter Dixon. His help is always appreciated and he really helped me to understand the concept and decide what to choose.
So there I was, tentatively sporting a brand new pair of Inov-8 Roclite 280 running shoes…no waterproofing at all and a forecast of snow. I can hear the voices of my old DofE instructors, decrying my decision. Even the echo of my former self was heard tutting on the breeze but I was feeling good about that.
I’d love to tell you about a great walking route at this point but in just over 30 minutes, it was all over! Yes, it really is that close! The spot was tucked in beside the drystone wall that we’d followed for most of the way. It was surprisingly well concealed from the valley below but looking up, it felt like we were in a huge amphitheatre…clearly visible, from almost any point between Ringing Roger and Swine’s Back! I could cope with that though we’d be pitching late and leaving very early, so all would be good.

Did I say “pitching late?” Well maybe not that late as I turned around to see David laying out his Terra Nova Voyager…it wasn’t even 5pm! It’s interesting seeing how other people camp…everyone does things differently I guess but such an early pitch was way out of my comfort zone! Especially considering the exposed location, I wasn’t inclined to follow suit for at least another hour. So I sat in the shelter of the wall and made a brew with my new “Stormin” cook system, whilst he fiddled with pegs and guys.
I’ll go into the stove in greater detail another time but for now, it performed really well and I’m very impressed.

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By around 6pm, the skies had darkened and a storm was moving in fast from the west…the “possible” snow was looking much more certain now. Time for me to break out the Trailstar and I had it up just before the first flakes of white stuff began to fall…. I’m still a bit of a novice with the shelter and I always need a bit of fiddling to get it right. Then to fit the inner… I think this was only the third time I’ve used the Pyranet from Bear Paw Wilderness Designs. Struggling to get it lined up properly, I got a bee in my bonnet and was determined that it was going to get sorted. So in what by now was almost blizzard conditions, much tweaking and repegging went on, until I was finally happy. It was half an hour, very well spent!
Snow was falling very heavily now and forming a decent blanket as it settled. No complaints from me on that score having missed every possible camping opportunity over winter, it was good to finally be out in proper (ish) snow!
Voices were coming closer “There’s someone here…” We were discovered by 2 very excitable lads who thought it was hilarious that they’d gone out for water and now couldn’t find their tents! They were asking questions about my Trailstar…seemingly confused by it. “Is that just a tarp? In this weather!” I gave a brief explanation but they shrugged it off and announced that they were all much safer because “We’ve all got Banshees and they’re awesome!” I figured that I was better off just giving them advice to follow the wall if they were lost and get back to Edale, rather than comparing the suitability of our shelters!

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David was hunkered down in his tent whilst I got the water boiling for my grub. Chilli and rice on the menu, home made and dehydrated by myself. 400mls of water and 20 mins in my insulated pouch and I was enjoying home cooked food…under a tarp, on a mountain side and in a blizzard! Every wild camper should own a dehydrator!
Through the open entrance to my shelter, I could see that the snow had stopped and the light was looking good. We’d missed the sunset but dusk over the now snow covered landscape was stunning. Just time for a few photos before dark. I took the opportunity to watch and learn a bit from David as landscapes aren’t really my strong point. We chatted as he took a few very long exposure images before the light faded. There was very little wind and the skies were clearing quickly, just as the forecast had said. Realising that he had left his spare camera battery in the car, David decided to walk back and get it…at 9:30 pm! That illustrates two points…firstly that he is definitely a photographer above anything else and secondly, that we really were too bloody close to Edale! 😀
I sat for a while watching the stars gradually pop out of the darkness before turning in for a very comfortable night’s kip. I’d decided to try the non-insulated Klymit Static V sleeping mat, just to get an idea of its limit. It was noticeably cooler than the insulated version but I didn’t feel cold at all, even with temps around freezing overnight. This is good to know because at just 514 gms, the non-insulated mat is almost 200gms lighter than its warmer brother. It also packs a little smaller but that’s not really an issue because I now fold my mat flat and slip it behind the removable pad in the back system of my Gossamer Gear Mariposa.
I was well away in the land of nod before David got back but he’d clearly survived the epic trek and was awake for sunrise, just before 5am. A cloudless sky wasn’t very photogenic, despite a lovely sunrise. Some low cloud to the North East looked good but it was barely visible from our position. So after a swift brew and a couple of pictures, we were packed up and leaving nothing more than patches of snow free, flattened grass as we headed back to Edale.

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It was a glorious morning with the Peak District putting on a brilliant snowy show for us on the way down.  The shoes were doing a grand job and I was amazed at how confident I felt, even in snow and on frozen ground.  I’d kept them in my rucksack overnight, so they weren’t frozen and a pair of dry socks made putting them back on very comfortable.  I’m a definite convert to shoes now.  Even on that very short walk, the difference is noticeable…I just wish I’d made the switch sooner! 

Not far from where we were pitched, we came across the “awesome Banshees,” presumably belonging to the lads we had met last night.  Three of them, huddled together behind the wall.  No signs of life, just a couple of army mess tins, still caked in last night’s dinner and a camera tripod.  I guess the photographer amongst them had missed the sunrise!

It took a while to clear the thick layer of frost from the car and even at 7am I had someone waiting to take my space as I left.  It looked like another busy Sunday on Kinder.  Not for me sadly, just an hour or so drive to home and a snowy Trailstar to dry out.

It was good to meet David at last and it’s always good to camp with someone new but I think that next time, I’ll choose where we camp!