Monday, 1 May 2017

It's the final countdown

Not long ago I was excited having been able to say "this year I will be walking across Scotland". Then I blinked once or twice and now it's "This month I will be walking across Scotland".

How did this happen? Where did all the time go?

It was probably not a time warp, though. I believe it's just my knack for procrastination that creates this last minute chaos every time I plan a trip, whether it be a week, a month or half a year in advance.

So far I have some things beautifully covered (travel, accommodation, maps, rucksack, boots, tent, a new phone and a power bank), some things well under way of being beautifully covered (food, meds, stove) and then there are the other things. Well. You can't always win, not even every time.

Yesterday I took my dog to her "summer camp" at my friend's, where she will stay until I return, and so today, a day off from work, has been all work and no play. So many things to do and so little time to do it! I have only had 5.5 months! Not nearly enough! Somebody stop all the clocks!

Boots waxed and updated with new laces.
Waterproof map prints acquired.
Hygiene kit assembly started.
Food dehydration 2/4 done.
I have decided to walk in my trusty old Hanwag Tatra leather boots although I know a lot of people prefer trailrunners for the Challenge. It's just that I've had my Hanwags for five years, and on all the different kind of walks, from Swedish fells to Cornish coastal paths, they have never ever given me blisters. I think that for me it's more a question of the pack weight than the terrain when it comes to choosing the right kind of footwear. I wore lighter shoes last summer to Denmark for a 75 km walk mostly on pavement, and got horrendous blisters. I do realise that the Hanwags will feel really heavy and stiff with all the road walking and that I will need to take them off for all the fording, but honestly, I don't give a damn as long as I know I'll probably be free from blisters. And it's not like I'm not used to taking my boots off for fording.

Boots and other items of clothing, that is.

When it comes to the perfect combination of socks and insoles, the jury is still out. As should I be, out, testing them. I'll walk to and/or from work these coming days to see if I reach any conclusions. 

I saved my route from OS online maps to PDF and got it printed on waterproof paper, double-sided. The whole route is now covered on two A3 sized prints (my route sheet on the other side of the first) and eleven A4s. Most of them are 1:50 000, but there are three 1:25 000 maps for the trickiest parts. The overall weight of these is just 150 grams! I will be carrying the six OS Landranger paper maps as well, divided into three batches (to go from the start and supply parcels 1 and 2), just in case I need to re-route dramatically. I like to carry the map in my trouser leg pocket, and now with the waterproof paper I don't need a map case at all. I've pierced each print's corner and will be running the compass lanyard through to be able to clip the whole lot to my trousers, just in case. Having once looked on helplessly when a gust of wind flew my map to Norway, I've learned to clip everything and anything smaller than a squirrel to myself or my pack.

is coming along. There's this really handy tip I learned from an ex-girlfriend (I suppose they all were good for something...) . The GoreTex tube at the bottom row is not GoreTex Paclite but a mini deodorant! Substance from a stick deo stuffed into an empty lip balm case and vóila! It weighs all of 12 grams and will suffice for a week. I'll have another in the second supply parcel. The only thing to remember with this item is to choose a lip balm tube as distinctively different from the actual lip balm as possible, to avoid any unfortunate mishaps. Not that I've done it. Not often at least.

The other genius item in my hygiene kit is the Kavat shoe wax. It's always nice to have an item serve at least two purposes when you're desperately counting grams. This shoe wax, made of solely natural substances, can be used as hand / foot cream as well. 

I'm dehydrating lactose free feta cheese right now. It's a delicious way of spicing up any bland food I may encounter. I've already dehydrated some pea soup and flavoured tuna for my tuna and mashed potatoes dinners. The rest of my food has been or will be store bought, some here in Finland and some on the way.

I'm waiting for my new trousers to arrive, and as they are Fjällräven Barents pro curved trousers with raw length - meaning that I will need to adjust them to my liking - I really hope they will arrive sooner rather than later. I work in a Fjällräven Brand store, though, so I can do it at my workplace before work. As long as they will get here in time... If not, I will have to squeeze myself into my Fjällräven Keb Gaiter trousers, that would me nice if the weather gets too warm (!), but I'd have to loose a kilo or two. That or not bend wearing the trousers, or breath too heavily. Or eat.

Everything else is also pretty much were it was months ago. I have a spreadsheet with all the gear options, but it doesn't come with an "automatic decision" -button! I need to make up my mind all by myself. Sometimes I wonder how I ever got to deciding to participate in the Challenge in the first place.

I'm also not sure if I should get myself a prepaid SIM card from a Scottish mobile operator to reduce the costs of phoning in the Challenge Control at least four times and possibly other places such as hostels. My mobile is a dual SIM phone so that would be easy and probably cost less than using my Finnish operator. 

Ten days and fifteen hours to go. Better get to it, then.

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