It could be worse

My plans turned out to be the sponge at the bottom of the trifle that was this weekend. Originally a free standing independant force, soon trapped by liquid poured from above. The callout to fix a boiler yesterday is probably the layer of custard over the jelly, but we won’t dwell on the detail of this for too long. Suffice to say, slipper wearing and extra cuppas this morning were the cream over the custard and indecision was the Chocolate Buttons and Jelly Tots.
However I did get out. The weather was terrible, really. Windblown rain in sheets with occasional spells of still damp greyness. Bloody marvellous.
I knew it would be like this, so I dressed sensibly: winter weight waterproof, waterproof pants and er, Inov8 X-talons. The jacket was a good choice, a Haglöfs Crux, it’s got an outstanding hood and pockets that you can put your hands in (!). Not used to that. However I was thankful as I was sheltering inside it as much as I was wearing it. At times I felt overdressed and was glad that no one could see me, at other times I was smug at my coziness and hoped to catch the eye of an angler shivering in his Barbour jacket. All I got were sheep, and one of those just stared at me as it peed.

High moorland in foul weather is a marvel. Even ground that’s familiar takes on a new ambience, distances flux and direction skews. Time took a right when I went left towards the lochside, I never looked at my watch again. I was watching my feet and the drips of rain falling from the peak of my hood being caught by the wind and finishing their downward journey somewhere else.
The Lochside always looks dramatic in low cloud as the far bank is invisible, a few hundred meters become infinity and the tongue of land takes on the look of a Roger Dean album cover from the 70s. If a little fuzzier…

Entering the forest is like opening the porch door and closing it behind you. If feels a bit indoors. That doesn’t last, the clattering and swaying of the pre-pulpmill wallpaper all around keeps my steps regular. I don’t care how close they’re planted, there’s still plenty lying flat having been pushed past the limit by previous high winds.
It’s dark in the trees as well, various fungi are still springing up, all brown ones now. It’s as if they know that can’t compete with all the glamour sprouts and just wait until the hoohah has died down and they can do their thing undisturbed.  Even here the rain has turned parts of the trail into a quagmire. The Inov8s and Sealskinz Merino socks performed with quiet confidence all day and kept my feet dry and warm.
The light was fading, and although I had a headtorch, instead of heading for the trig point, I took a diversion at the old fence and headed along the crags towards home.

I’d been out for hours and it was time for dinner. I hadn’t seen a soul all day since the start of the track when a fell runner with a long white beard came out of the grey and whistled past me. People don’t go out in bad weather. It’s probably a good idea, there’s all the wet stuff to wash and hang up, there’s muddy shoes.
But there’s the joy of it, the sound of the rain on the back of your hood as you cinch it in, there’s splashing in puddles without guilt or embarassment, there’s being in the weather instead of looking at it through double glazing.
But, now I’m indoors, dry and fed. I’m a happier man for going than I would have been for not.

15 thoughts on “It could be worse”

  1. Kit testing, aye.
    I’m not shooting myself in the foot again by saying anything derogatory about it. :o)

    Today’s gear as a real mixed bag, the most interesting thing is the bottle pocket I’m carrying (you can see it in the second photie). It’s from Radical Design in Holland. I’ve got some stuff in for test from them. A small independant with some original thinking. One of the items they sent has wheels…

  2. HE’S BACK! … and all is right with the world again.

    Isn’t that bottle pocket a little too close to the rest of your dangly bits?
    It would definitely get in the way if you were bending over or crouching down, in the same way as when you have too much stuff in your front pockets, rather than just your hands.

  3. That clag looks even worse than I got biking in Yorkshire on Saturday! Soaking wind-blown drizzle above Nidderdale – not pleasant conditions for bodging an exploding rear tyre with elastoplast… :(
    At least yesterday was only wind-blown! :)

    No lightweight jousting, but I did get home to find my replacement Haglofs LIM 45, so there’s an incentive to keep the backpacking kit lightweight for another month or two…

  4. Das, it would indeed compress your codlings during a crouch in that position. It’s supposed to be on the left side for a quick draw style along the lines of…can’t remember the film, but it was a Navy Colt, spaghetti western…anyway, the old KIMM sack I was using has the waist buckle at the left so the bottle pocket ended up in the middle. It’s a nice we bit ok kit.

    Matt, you have my sympathies there. I’m picturing that old advert where they put the elastoplast on a dolphins head for some reason, to prove its stickiness, waterproofness or to suffocate the dolphin?

  5. It’s not too bad actually. It’s not overly lightweight (just under 600g I think?) and the slim cut for a winter jacket means there’s not an excess of fabric rubbing on itself.
    It could be that I’m just immune and don’t here such things any more after months in Paclite.

    I’ll report back, if this weather continues I’ll only be wearing this or Paramo!

    Another quick point, the Crux’s got a total of seven pockets and I used them all yesterday. Okay, the arm one was just for a feather I found to take back to show Holly. But, usually I have one or two pockets at most and I’m never stuck.
    So, does this mean you don’t need features unless you have them and then you think you can’t do without them?
    Is this at the root of the misunderstanding of going lightweight?
    More going outside is required for research!

  6. Aye

    I got out a 2-hour run on the Eaglesham Moor yesterday, last training run before the OMM. Mental conditions, nearly got blown over by the wind a couple of times. Was surprisingly comfortable in my Montane Featherlite top – a marvel for its weight.

  7. Aye, it’s amazing how much you can get away with just wearing a windshirt if you keep moving and keep yourself warm.
    Good luck in the OMM. The chances are it’ll be another crazy weather classic.
    Remember and smile though, it’s getting filmed this year :o)

  8. The days of me picking and choosing my days out are gone. If I don’t just get on with it and deal with the weather then I won’t get out until April. Bergen – The City of Rain. They were not effing joking. I’ve come to embrace it. With the right, light gear, a high pace and an appreciation of nature in all it’s conditions then you’ll be happy. I’ve been up on the hills with slushy snow under my XA’s, rain falling on my Litespeed, darkness closing in and I’ve been grinning.

  9. Del
    I must of missed you as I was up there too !
    It is strange that the weather is crap but strangely satisfying being out in it.
    Is it because you know you have the right kit on or is it the rebelling child in you as you get to play in the rain ?

  10. Nope, It was a good weekend for the hills, especially when you have been house bound for too long.
    Isn’t that right Ptc?
    The right kit? Maybe. The rebelling child? Possibly. Getting/keeping the fitness levels up? Probably.
    October is just a load of keech anyway until the colder stuff comes along. It’s no fun, just keep the heid doon. It’s always been this way, the natural order of things.
    Saturday was a bit better than Sunday; and Saturday has shaped the future for me. Maybe? Possibly?
    LIM? I saw it all. Is it for me? Probably not? Maybe a wee bit? Possibly.
    Need to toughen up the mental side. It’s all in the heid.
    Isn’t it?
    If he can walk barefoot wearing only running shorts, maybe I can too. Or maybe not? Or possibly?

  11. We’re all of a similar mind, or minds even?

    Trial and error. Disbelief and revelation. Getting off your arse and finding a memory out there to bring back and remind why you should do it again the next time.
    Sitting on the couch is easy, but having fun is worth the hard work.

    It is indeed all in the heid.

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