Hiker Flap Jack

This is my recipe for flap jack, I use this when I’m hiking, its filling, calorie dense, and tastes good

Ingedients

  • 600g Rolled Oats
  • 300g Butter
  • 300g Sugar
  • 300g Honey
  • 200g Glace Cherries (chopped)
  • 200g Chopped Nuts (Walnuts/Brazil Nuts/Almonds/etc)

Method

  1. Melt sugar, honey and butter in a sauce pan, and stir until the sugar is disolved.
  2. Add all other dry ingredients, mix well until the mixture is a nice sticky goo
  3. Empty into baking tray and bake for about 10-15minutes at 180C until golden on top
  4. Place in fridge until set

This contains about 7400 Calories, and makes enough for 10 GIANT flap jacks weighing about 200g each.

Fun times on the west highland way

The West Highland Way is a Long Distance Footpath running from Milngavie to Fort William. This trail has been on my list for a while, and as its close to home, and I have a spare week, now is the time. Of course, at 96 miles, its not really that long, and would normally take me around 4 to five days to complete. As I need to get back in shape for some peak bagging in the Himalayas, I decided to add some side trips.

The Plan

Day 1

Leave Milngavie following the west highland way for about 20 miles with seven days food. Aim to camp at the campground at Millarochy or in some woodland nearby.

Day 2

Leave Millarochy and take a side trip to climb Ben Lomond, camp nearby Inversnaid.

Day 3

Leave the West Highland way at Bein Glas farm, climb Beinn Chabhair, An Caisteal, Beinn a’ Chroin , Glas Tulaichean and Cruach Ardrain before sleeping in woods near Inverlochlarig

Day 4

Leaving Inverlochlarig and climbing Stob Binnein and Ben More, before descending into Crainlarich for lunch. Post lunch regain the West Highland way towards Tyndrum and turn left towards Cononish, then ascend regain WHW, Ascend Ben Dubhchraig, and camp somewhere nearby.

Day 5

Climb Ben Oss, return to Tyndrum for lunch and a resupply before following the West Highland Way as far as Gleann Achadh-innis Chailean, follow the Glean before climbing Beinn Mhanach before finding a suitable camp spot.

Day 6

Continue on to the summits of Beinn Achaladair, Beinn a Chreachain, Beinn an Dothaidh, Bein Dorain, and return to Bridge of Orchy, Camp on shore of Loch Tulla.

Day 7

Leave Loch Tulla, climbing Meall a’ Bhuiridh, Creise and camp in Kinlochmore, resupplying as required.

Day 8

Leave Kinlochmore, heading east and attain the ridge to the peaks of Sgurr Eilde Mor, Binnein Beag, Binnein Mor, Na Gruagaichean, Stob Coire a’ Chairn, An Gearanach, Am Bodach, Sgurr a Mhaim, Stob Ban, Mullach Nan Coirean camping a few miles out of Fort William

Day 9

Arrive in Fort William, find accomodation, food, shower and resupply.

This gives me the flexibility to skip sections due to bad weather, (which no doubt there will be) or time, but still push quite hard.

The Gear

Backpack

ULA Catalyst 70L pack

Sleeping System

Hydration and Cooking System

Hygene/First Aid

Small first aid kit containing:

  • Medical tape
  • Bbandage
  • Sam splint
  • Pain killers
  • Suture strips
  • Iodine solution.

Hygene Kit containing:

  • Baby Wipes
  • Toothbrush/Tooth paste

Clothing

  • GT-2000 Shoes
  • Darn Tough Socks (2 Pairs)
  • Icebreaker Boxers (2 Pairs)
  • Running Shorts
  • Merino T-Shirt
  • Sweater
  • Goretex Pants
  • Goretex Jacket
  • Gloves
  • Hat

Food

Nutrition is an important part of any trip, if not the single most important part, especially when you are pushing for distance.  I wish to lose a few lbs on this trip, so I’ve set a daily calorie target of 3000calories.  Yes, that’s three thousand calories.  The recommended daily intake for an adult male is 2500 calories, that assumes a normal day sitting in the office pushing keys on a keyboard.  On this trip Ill likely burn between 4000 and 5000 calories a day, without at least 3000 calories a day, I’ll simply run out of steam after a few days as my body fails to get the energy it requires.

A typical day will consist of the following:

Breakfast

  • 1 Packet of Pop Tarts, these were my staple on the Pacific Crest Trail, and provide 400 calories per packet (4 packets per box)
  • Banana/Fresh fruit, when available, I’ll add fresh fruit to breakfast, this will likely be the first couple of days.

Lunch

  • Pork Pie (350 Calories)
  • Sandwich/Burrito 500(Calories)

Snacks

  • Home made Flap Jack (800 Calories)
  • Chocolate Bar (100 Calories)
  • Trail Mix (200 Calories)

Dinner

  • Pasta/Rice meal 250 Calories
  • Noodle Soup 250 Calories
  • Pudding or other desert (200 Calories)

The Illinizas

Illiniza Norte
Illiniza Norte

This was my first climb with Rafael, climbing with somebody new is always a little hard for me at first.  I hire a guide primarily as a climbing partner, whilst I usually learn an enormous amount from my guides, I don’t believe in offloading responsibility, to me climbing is about taking responsibility for not just your own safety, but for those around you too.  The guide of course has the last word, as they bring experience, local knowledge, and usually a bit of perspective to the table, but I don’t expect them to wipe my ass, carry my backpack or winch me to the summit – If I can’t get there on my own, I don’t have a right to get there at all.

Rafael on the summit of Illiniza Norte
Rafael on the summit of Illiniza Norte

I had a good feeling about Rafael from the moment we met, he is extremely experienced, and in fact I had no idea just how experienced and respected he was until well into our climbing trip, but from our first meeting, I could tell he was going to be a great guide. From my side, the key now was making sure he had the confidence in me as a client.  Illiniza Norte is a fairly easy scramble, and in good weather there are multiple obvious routes to the summit, however add cold temperatures, sleight and poor visibility and it becomes quite challenging to find the correct route, and with a layer of slush the surface becomes quite slippy.  Rafael dropped me off at the trail head and I hiked up for a couple of hours the previous day before getting a lift back down to the refuge, and the next day I felt in pretty good shape for the summit.  The climb was enjoyable, but the view was pretty minimal.  We picked up another tourist who was a little bit lost, and descended back to the refuge for dinner and an early night.

The next day it was time for Illiniza Sur, this is a more technical climb, and was really the opportunity for me to prove myself to Rafael, if I wasn’t up to snuff, I wouldn’t be climbing on El Altar, so I felt a bit of pressure not to screw up, healthy pressure.  We set off from the saddle, the climb is a delight, with great views down onto Illiniza Norte, on a reasonably exposed snow slope.  We used a 30M rope, either using a running belay, or Rafael leading for a pitch before dropping in a picket and belaying me up.  I’m pretty comfortable on this type of terrain now, and it was a real pleasure taking in the views.

Me on the summit of Illiniza Sur
Me on the summit of Illiniza Sur

From the summit we had perfect visibility over the avenue of Volcanoes and Rafael pointed out the other peaks we could see, before our descent back to the refuge.  On the way down we had a perfect view of Cotopaxi, and lovely snow conditions.  I didn’t screw anything up, and so far things were going well.  It took me a while to get used to group rope travel, but felt very secure and pretty strong considering the altitude.

Cyclemeter Link

[flexiblemap src=”http://www.clusterfsck.io/static/kml/illiniza_norte.kml” width=”100%”]

PNN El Cocuy

Laguna de la plaza
Laguna de la plaza

There is a classic circuit in El Cocuy, sadly it is currently closed as there are some tension between the indigenous people who live in the area, and the administration of the park. The result of this is that a large section is closed for anything other than day use. What this is translated into when obtaining your permit is that it is off limits, however, the reality is that if you can get the miles in you can still have a great time in El Cocuy.

In addition to some very accessible and enjoyable peaks such as Pan de Azucar, there are a number of nice day and multi-day treks. Again the administration will not give you much information/help going anywhere, but it is still possible. I did a nice lightweight hike arriving late afternoon and hiking up to the Laguna Grande for a couple of hours before resting overnight. The next day I scrambled up to El Toti before heading over the pass, this was a steep descent down very loose scree, but resulted in a wonderful view over laguna grande de la plaza before hotfooting it around the backside and out again before nightfall.

Cyclemeter Link

[flexiblemap src=”http://www.clusterfsck.io/static/kml/cocuy.kml” width=”100%”]

PCT Gear List – The Cascades

By Washington state, I was pretty much down everything I needed and nothing I didn’t.  Water purification still wasn’t quite right, and the weather was getting wetter, so it was time to tent up, and go back to Aqua Mira.  At first I wasn’t quite sure I had made the right decision ditching the bivy – it had faired well in the few storms along the trail, and was very comfortable for the 200 or grams it weighed, however I also know from experience that it is not good for prolonged storms as it simply doesn’t breath well enough and I end up a little sticky by the third night.  Washington rained, it rained a lot, and during an 8 hour thunder storm which comprised part of 8 days of very wet weather, i was very glad for the space and water tight tent.

Backpack

Osprey Aether 65
Sleeping Bag
Marmot Sawtooth 15F Bag
Sleeping Mat
Thermarest NeoAir Lite
Shelter
Rab Survival Zone Bivi, Rain Poncho
Marmot EOS 1p
Stove
JetBoil Sol with larger pot
Cookware
Titanium Utensil, Foldable Camping Knife, Small sponge for wiping clean
Water Treatment
AquaMira and Steripen Freedom
Navigation
Halfmiles PCT maps, PCT App and PDFs on iPad Mini
Entertainment
iPhone
Clothing
Icebreaker underpants 2x, Medium Thickness Woolen Socks 2x, Sherpa Shorts, treated with Permethrin, Icebreaker Merino T-Shirt, Rab Thermals, Patagonia Fleece Pullover, Arc’teryx Alpha SL Soft-shell Rain, Hat
Footwear
Asics GT-2000
First Aid
Medical Tape; Small bottle of iodine; Assorted Elastoplast 10x; Medium adhesive dressing; large non-adhesive dressings 2x; Gauze Bandage 2x.
Hygiene and Care
99% DEET Lotion; Ibuprofen Capsules, 400Mg, lots; Toothbrush; Toothpaste; Dental Sticks; Sunblock;

The steripen broke, the water sensor started malfunctioning and I couldn’t depend on it.  After crater lake I found I wasn’t carrying water, but would drink about 1-2 liters at a time every few miles, so i went back to just Aqua-Mira which works really well in that situation.

The weather in Washington is notoriously wet, so I decided a full tent would be better, the Bivi proved itself in short storms that lasted one or two days.  After 3 days of using a bivi things start to get damp through perspiration.  In severe storms tents have enough room to cook and sit up.  This proved to be a great move in the end as the last two weeks were seriously stormy compared to the rest of the trip.

PCT Gear List – The Sierras

By mile 702, I’d managed to whittle my pack down a little. My philosophy was to remove anything I hadn’t used within the last week. There were some exceptions to this, mainly first aid kit items. The sierra also required some additional gear, some for the conditions, and others to meet the legal requirements.  I also changed up my cooking and water purification system to better suit what I was doing.

Backpack
Osprey Aether 65
Sleeping Bag
Marmot Sawtooth 15F Bag
Sleeping Mat
Thermarest Self Inflating Sleeping Pad
Thermarest NeoAir Lite
Shelter
Rab Survival Zone Bivi, Rain Poncho
Stove
MSR XGK-II, 1Litre Fuel Bottle
JetBoil Sol with larger pot
Cookware
GSI cookpan, Titanium Utensils, Foldable Camping Knife, Small sponge for wiping clean
Water Treatment
Katadyn Water bottle Filter
AquaMira and Steripen Freedom
Hydration
3L Camelbak Bladder, additional collapsible bladders in desert areas
Navigation
Halfmiles PCT maps, PCT App and PDFs on iPad Mini
Entertainment
IPad Mini with Kindle App
iPhone
Clothing
Icebreaker underpants 2x, Medium Thickness Woolen Socks 2x, North Face Hiking Pants/Shorts, treated with Permethrin, Icebreaker Merino T-Shirt, Rab Thermals, Patagonia Fleece Pullover, Arc’teryx Alpha SL Soft-shell Rain, Waterproof over-trousers, Hat
Footwear
Merrel MOABs
Asics GT-2000
First Aid
Medical Tape; Small bottle of iodine; Assorted Elastoplast 10x; Medium adhesive dressing; large non-adhesive dressings 2x; Gauze Bandage 2x.
Hygiene and Care
99% DEET Lotion; Ibuprofen Capsules, 400Mg, lots; Biodegradable, non-perfumed detergent; Microfibre Cloth; Scissors; Toothbrush; Toothpaste; Dental Sticks; 2nd Skin; Moleskin; Sunblock;

The therm-a-rest had to be replaced a few hundred miles into the desert as it didn’t react too well to cactus thorns, after patching it about 10 times, I thought it was sorted out, but the pockets started to fail internally which caused it to bulge, so I replaced it.  Otherwise it was a great pad.

I replaced the stove mainly because after seeing the convenience of the jet-boil i figured i would cook more, and as it was obvious I could use the jet boil on the rest of the trip (through latin america and beyond) it was a perfect upgrade.  Overall its a bit lighter, but the main advantage is being able to start cooking in about 10 seconds rather than having to set it up and prime the stove etc.  It’s also much less bulky which was nice.

I ditched the filter for Aqua-Mira in Idlewild, this was purely due to the amount of effort required to purify 4 liters of water.  It’s great when you are sipping constantly, but for me I really wanted to chug, and Aqua-Mira enables me to purify 4 liters of water and get hiking again in a few seconds.

In the sierra my water needs changed again, rather than purifying lots of water to last most of the day, I was purifying half a liter of water every few minutes so i switched to a Steripen which is perfect for this as i can just reach down grab a cupful, and 48 seconds later i’m able to drink which meant i never really carried any water.  This meant I could also ditch the bladders and additional bottles.

Before the trip I put a crack in the iPad, and by the time I got to the sierras the digitizer was malfunctioning so I swapped it out for the iPhone, the latter wasn’t quite as good for reading, but otherwise worked perfectly and would have been a better choice overall.

The moabs where comfortable but my feet grew and i found the Asics to be just a bit wider and softer on my feet.  I lost my overtrousers and didn’t replace them, and I found tape worked better than second skin and other blister treatments.

 

PCT Gear List

Gear is an important choice for the Pacific Crest Trail, and one that has been discussed to death by many. My preference is towards the ultralight philosophy, I have a fairly high tolerance for discomfort, and the simplicity of carrying just enough and no more appeals to me. This of course brings other advantages, the reduced weight to carry means I can go farther in one day, which means I need to carry less food between resupplies.

Backpack
Osprey Aether 70
Sleeping Bag
Marmot Sawtooth 15F Bag
Sleeping Mat
Thermarest Self Inflating Sleeping Pad
Shelter
Rab Survival Zone Bivi, Rain Poncho
Stove
MSR XGK-II, 1Litre Fuel Bottle
Cookware
GSI cookpan, Titanium Utensils, Foldable Camping Knife, Small sponge for wiping clean
Water Treatment
Katadyn Water bottle Filter
Hydration
3L Camelbak Bladder, additional collapsible bladders in desert areas
Navigation
Halfmiles PCT maps, PCT App and PDFs on iPad Mini
Entertainment
IPad Mini with Kindle App
Clothing
Icebreaker underpants 2x, Medium Thickness Woolen Socks 2x, North Face Hiking Pants/Shorts, treated with Permethrin, Icebreaker Merino T-Shirt, Rab Thermals, Patagonia Fleece Pullover, Arc’teryx Alpha SL Soft-shell Rain, Waterproof over-trousers, Hat
Footwear
Merrel MOABs
First Aid
Medical Tape; Small bottle of iodine; Assorted Elastoplast 10x; Medium adhesive dressing; large non-adhesive dressings 2x; Gauze Bandage 2x.
Hygiene and Care
99% DEET Lotion; Ibuprofen Capsules, 400Mg, lots; Biodegradable, non-perfumed detergent; Microfibre Cloth; Scissors; Toothbrush; Toothpaste; Dental Sticks; 2nd Skin; Moleskin; Sunblock;

Much of the gear I already had which dictated many of the choices, I’ve had my backpack since 2005, and whilst its larger than I require, it more than meets the needs for the PCT, ideally a smaller, lighter pack could be used. The same goes for the sleeping bag, the sawtooth has been a great bag, and whilst its on the heavy side, I’ll stick with it. I’ve had it for 4 years, and I suspect this will be the last big trip for it.

I’ve been using the Bivi as an emergency shelter for a couple of years, and it’s proved to add a good few degrees to the bag and keep out the elements. The rain poncho will be used both during the day in wet weather where it will keep me and my pack dry, and at night where combined with my hiking poles it will function as a tarp tent.

The XGK is a great stove for mountaineering, but perhaps not a great choice for backpacking, with the larger fuel bottle it can simmer fairly well, however it is heavy compared to a canister or alcohol stove. I decided to bring this mainly because it is indestructible, and its very easy to see exactly how much fuel is left. As it can burn just about anything, this should enable me to reduce the amount of fuel I need to carry once I get a feel for how much I need. I’ll be starting out with about half a liter in the bottle.

Overall my base weight comes to 14lbs – about 6.5kg which feels pretty good on my back. This does not include water, food, or fuel for the stove however, which will not be insignificant.