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Competition 2019 - Diary of a Winner - Week 2
"I did what I think should be the last shopping to get the bits and pieces I need for the trip.
By (slight) coincidence, having seen a TV programme about the route, I'd decided to do a trek over the Pyrenees in the last week of July, following one of the old escape routes used by refugees, escaping prisoners of war, spies, resistance fighters, etc, during World War II.
This will be the first 'proper' trek I will have done. It's significantly shorter, but the big difference will be that I have to carry all my gear. (Wish me luck!)
And as it is less than two weeks ago, the focus is on that right now, but it’s basically the same gear required – just that the Pyrenees trip will be slightly less luxurious, I think!"
"I’m hoping to get out for a hike again this week, but the weather has turned a bit sour for us in the Lakes (threats of thunder storms which are always worth avoiding on the hills!) and I’m a fair weather hiker! Well, that’s not entirely fair: I prefer to hike when the weather is decent and as the Lakes is on my doorstep, I can afford to be a bit picky.
I’ve also looked at the Chamonix forecast on the BBC web site – currently in the mid to high 20s, so it’s going to be warm. Maybe I should be doing some heat acclimatisation?!
Then I looked at the Toulouse forecast (near to my starting point for the Pyrenees) where it is currently high 20s to low 30s and forecast to go higher! Gulp! That should do it, then!!
When I got the phone call from Jane to say I had won, I was truly shocked and very nervous about how challenging the trip would be. As I mentioned, I’m no spring chicken, though I like to think I’m reasonably fit. I’m a bit more relaxed about it all now, but the altitude does concern me a bit. I realise it’s not exactly Annapurna, but I have hiked in the Alps before (many years ago) and I know you do feel the difference. Regrettably, as one gets older, these things all do seem to become somewhat more acute..."
"I am in that “I should be getting ready somehow” phase, but with nothing particularly constructive to do towards either trip. I’ve got all the kit I need, so I cannot go shopping (always a pleasure to go into outdoor kit shops, but I actually try and avoid them as I end up walking out with something I didn’t know I needed until I saw it!)
The weather forecasts are a bit dodgy at present up here, so I’m aiming to get out on Monday when things will have improved a bit. In the meantime, I continue with the dog walking (which is about two hours per day)
I do want to download some electronic mapping to my phone (I use a navigation app called Viewranger) for both trips and ‘plan’ the routes; it’s not that I don’t trust the guides, just force of habit really: when I’m hiking in the UK I tend to use the app because it’s quicker – and easier to see without putting my reading glasses on! And I carry paper map and compass as a back up.
In the winter, I also carry a ‘proper’ simple GPS. That was a Godsend one time when, on a particularly cold day – to my utter horror - my mobile phone faded in front of my eyes. It was foggy and with no clearly identifiable features, I really could not have worked out precisely where I was to walk out! And, of course, with no phone, I couldn’t even call Mountain Rescue! I fired up the GPS and everything was fine, but it was a great lesson learned"
"I undertook my last hike before I head for the Pyrenees next Sunday. I wanted to do a long hike with plenty of climb, so we headed for the Great Langdale valley (one of the most beautiful parts of the Lake District, in my view.) I say “we”: I mean myself and Chester my Sprocker.
My ever understanding wife stayed at home with Samson our other dog who, at almost 16 years old, is too old to hike.
The hike itself was about 12 miles and we climbed/descended around 1600m, so a good day out! We set off early as it was also forecast to be hot – it all felt like a reasonably good rehearsal for both the Pyrenees (for which the weather forecasts are frankly frightening).
The only thing I did not/could not simulate was the weight I’ll be carrying in the Pyrenees (that trip is unsupported) and the height and therefore thinner air I’ll experience in the Pyrenees and the Alps.
The good news is that both Chester and I survived OK and, apart from slightly stiff knees the following day, I’m feeling a bit more confident about taking on these to big treks!"