20.8.16

Alone ................ knives and stuff

HELLO ................

Remember me??

I hope so, been a while though eh??

Well for my first post in a while I just wanted to chimmer a bit about stuff ............ ya you know like around a virtual campfire stuff.

Alone, the tv series, did you watch it??

No, oh mate, you should have. I loved it.

No really I did.

For many reasons as it goes but particularly from a amateur professional point of view (is there such a thing??)

It fasinated me for several reasons -

1. How someone who can be selected - pass casting and be credited as a survival expert - can only last what amounts to a long weekend in the woods - while others can go 60 or so days??

I am guessing thats casting for you - if they only selected the best it would be a dull program - they need canon fodder and maybe a pretty face to make the series .......... which seems a shame as I wonder how many actually really skills guys and gals got over looked in favour of the people selected on the bases they wouldnt be able to go the distance?

2. Knives ................ oh ya baby every one loves a knife.

The interesting thing with Alone is the vast array carried.

And the myths it puts to rest ............. bigger the knife bigger the fool ........... two kukris, a matt graham bushknife etc - prove that theory wrong.

A custom knife is better than a stock model .............. really - most of the better "contestants" had stock knives. A few did have custom jobs or at least top end stock ones but this I think proves that it isnt the knive but the user - a experienced bushcrafter can make a cheap knife work as well as a top buck knife and vicea versa.

3 The whole mental process involved - how strengths and weakness work for and against us .......... if you, like me, dream of the bushcraft ideal of going off into the woods forever with just a billy, a blanket and a blade, then this program really does make you think ............. ok sure some the guys "tap" for the most pathetic of reasons, or at least what we perceive to be such. I am sure to them they are totally legimate. But most in the end break for missing their families - or go on to win because they are doing it for their families, Alan (series 1) won because he wanted to be able to pay for his Dad to retire - David (series 2) won because he wanted his kids to have a better quality of life. These guys had solid goals ........... most of the others were there for the adventure and some found it more than they could handle.

So, if you havent seen it - come on - watch it ............... you'll enjoy it.

"Would I do it - hell ya I'd love to" - question is would they take a Brit on a US series?? Errr watch this space and we shall see .................




28.3.16

Welsh Wales and storm Katie

 
Gallt yor Ogof
 

I know, I know, it has been a while and I apologise .......... life that niggly little bugger just got in the way as I moved home, started a new job and generally tried to find my feet in a new town ......... The drift south west from Essex to Cornwall has hopefully stopped for a while at least giving me time to start doing the things I enjoy once again.

So this Easter weekend we decided to saddle up and weather be damned we'd head for the Welsh mountains and wild camp .......... oh ya and take along our 2 year old Labrador, a rescue dog who'd never been in the mountains before ............. untried dog, storm Katie and a night time assent on the north wales mountains ....... what could go wrong??


My basha looking across the snow capped peaks

Actually, not a lot!!

Boring I know but there it is. We scrambled and climbed into the hills by head torch -- the pooch had a head torch around his neck too, so we could see where he was (just in case)

By 2330 hrs we had reached the top arriving at the car park behind Joe Brown's Pinnacle café at 2130, so not bad going!! the weather was closing in and the temperature dropping.

Setting up camp proved interesting as the ground was sodden, after a search we did however find a small ridge just wide enough to erect a MSR Hubba for the ma'am Sab and a few feet away a second flat is section for me to stretch a Poncho over ......... yep that was my home for the night!!

Tracy's Hubba - me behind it with the basha as I brew up
 In the dark our camp was made, and after a quick brew we soon hit the sack, crawling under my basha which had about 2 inches of head room I struggled out of my wet clothes and into my sleeping bag and bivi .......... to my delight the ground was contoured to my back and laying there on my kip mat with my head cushioned on a small heather I was more comfortable than a man really has a right to be in such conditions. Sleep soon wrapped me in her loving arms and I was snoring soon after.

How long I slept I don't know but what I do know is I was rudely awoke by a slapped face ........... one corner of my tarp had been torn loose by the gale for winds that assaulted us and was now, icy and wet, slapping me in the face ...... I tried to ignore it as you do but then the hail started and I knew I was in trouble.

So question is do I dress or hope to repair the fault quickly enough that I wouldn't freeze to death .............. answer the later ........... crawling out my warm snug bag in long johns and a t shirt I struggled in the dark to locate my guy lines and re-secure the tarp ..........

Job done and not yet shivering uncontrollably I needed a wee ........ turning my back on the wind I let the little fella out and started to go ........... to late did I realise the wind was not only all around me but blowing up and down .......... Geezzz

I crawled back in my sack ................and was back to sleep in seconds.

One man and his dog - note the LK35
 The night passed, rain fell and storm Katie howled around us. My simple basha as basic as you can get would have turned the stomach of many a seasoned mountain man and yet I worked very well and I slept well ............ the MSR hubba on the other hand wasn't living up to expectation (MSR or mountain safety research) the porch was acting as a sail and the wind was driving the rain under the fly and into the inner ............ so while I lay there snoring under a £9.99 grade2 Austrian army poncho Tracy lay in a £200 tent with a snugpak extreme fur season bag and freezing cold didn't sleep a wink.

As I write this and as we descended the next morning I pondered this - all sense and most gear hounds would have said my simple primitive basic kit was a liability on the hill - I had a 3 season bag (not a four season like the snugpak) - I had a army foam kit mat and a poncho for my shelter yet I was comfortable enough to sleep the night away. How was it my kit did so well when a tent like the MSR hubba (which has served me well on so many other occasions) seemed to fail? I don't have an answer yet but on thing is for sure basic kit if used well and coupled with common sense and experience can be equal to the best or more expensive modern high tech ......

Rupert watches as shelter is collapsed and the new day starts.

Dawn was well underway when we finally awoke and broke camp - and what a morning that was - initially the views were fantastic but we could see the second wave of weather clawing its way towards us over the snowy peaks to our right .......... we broke camp amid a hail storm and winds so vicious that we had to huddle together in the lee of a rock shelf to break its sudden violence.

The storm came in waves and between waves we broke camp and packed - we were both cold and wet so I brewed up and fed the dog while I could.

Our descent was quicker than our climb, we only had one night out thanks to work commitments but before we left the mountains we struggled, but found time, to visit the pinnacle café and enjoy a hearty breakfast and stemming mug of coffee.

Smiling we listened to a handsome tall American chap telling a dis interested shop girl how he had decided to go home because the weather was so back, impressing upon her the fact he had enough gear to climb, hike or cycle ............. breakfast finished we had a quick mooch around the shop and looking a little grubby and weather beaten said lady asked what we had been up to, smiling I explained we had over knighted on top of the mountain before coming down for breakfast her reply was thus, "Really, these kids today go home with a bit of weather. Like Joe says only the old timers are real hard core these days ............."

Well smiling and with ego boosted this hard core old timer and his better half bid the lady far well and looking one last time at the storm lashed peak jumped in our car and headed for home!