Our summer holiday trip was intended to be also a sort of testing trip for the gear. Wanted to test the equipment and of course wear the shoes in so I won’t have problems at Kili. Second reason was to test physically if I can do hikes multiple days in a row. Also never walked with poles so there were a few things I wanted to check before the actual climb.
Back bag alias day bag
I’ve been working on computer the whole day for the past 20 years so stiff neck is a common problem. Quite often I get sore neck if anything heavier touches my shoulders and I need to constantly do massage with foam rollers to keep upper body in shape. I needed to test if I can carry the day bag with about 5-6 kilograms of weight (not really even sure how much it will weigh, but thought three liters of water and food/snacks would be a good start).
Tips and Notes
Noticed fairly quickly that the tighter you put it on your hips, the less it feels on your shoulders. Also if it moves too much sideways, it’s not good either so you need to find the balance between hip support and tightness for the shoulder straps enough for it not to wobble too much. Waterproof cover is a must as the weather can change very quickly and at least you can keep your stuff dry (camera, phone…)
I also bought these separate small and big waterproof bags to go inside the back bag which were a winner to keep everything organized and dry so highly recommend those!
I bought Osprey Talon 33 liters back bag with proper weight support on the hips. I had absolutely no issues even when it was full of water, coffee, food, spare clothes and even poles hanging on the sides so thumbs up for the day bag. It is sorted and I am not worried if I can carry it or not. I still have no idea about all the strings and loops though and their function!
Primarily the idea was to wear in the hiking boots and test if I can actually walk multiple consequent days with them. As mentioned earlier I have pretty bad bunions on both feet unfortunately which I have had for as long as I can remember. They don’t bother me in normal life and I can run perfectly well for hours for example, but with bad shoes they might hurt. Also I know that hiking/walking is completely different kind of movement so even though I can run long distances, it does not mean I could walk.
Tips and Notes
First hike to Pallas and back was about 8 kilometers and fairly easy up and down. I put the laces quite tight at start but noticed that they do loosen up on the way.
So on all hikes you notice you need to adjust the boots a bit depending on if it’s a steep ascent or descent. For ascents it’s better (for me anyway) that there is more ankle support, but coming down it’s better that you loosen up the ankles quite a lot, as it allows more movement sideways and forward. This way you can get down quicker when the boots “give in” from the ankle a bit more. I have done a lot of trail running so I am used to my ankle bending to all directions and have learned that style of going down so don’t know if it really good or bad, but worked for me.
It did not rain too much so my feet were dry all the time, but after a longer hike you did notice that when you take the boots off you still kind of feel like they are on and of course on hot days your socks and feet are sweaty.
First hike I felt a bit of pain on my feet, but it went away fairly quickly with some stretching. Next day I didn’t really feel anything anymore, but of course after the longest 22 kilometers my feet were killing me and aching, but not just feet but legs and body everywhere. All in all the boots were amazing, fitted like a glove and were easily adjustable and surprisingly breathable. No pain on the bunions either, a bit of aching yes after first days, but this was due to new shoes/new movement I think as it went away and never came back. Very happy with the purchase and certain I can do Kili with these boots!
I wasn’t really sure how you should use the poles or when, but heard they help to take off some of the weight if needed. On our first hike to Pallas I totally forgot about them, but luckily remembered them for the second one to the of Saana as there were clearly steeper inclines.
Tips and Notes
Must admit I was a bit suspicious about them, but turned out they were actually helpful in both going up and coming down on even and steep terrain. Without too many rocks or branches they were easy to place and find a good steady support. Coming down they were even more helpful and one pole actually better than two. It helped to lean on one pole a bit rather than two when it was really steep.
Then again on the more demanding terrain going up or down they were more on the way than helping if the path was really narrow, rocky and there was steep inclines.
I learned that you should take them with you always as you never know where the trails might lead you. I put them away hanging on the back bag on one of the loops when I did not need them and took them out on longer steeper inclines. They did help and I would assume that when you are even more tired they will help more. They are not too heavy either to carry with you. Oh, and remember to take the plastic covers off. They tend to hold better that way…
This was a tricky one as the weather changed along the way at times. Up in Lapland it was cooler not even 20 degrees so at night it dropped closer to 0 the first few nights. Then the heatwave hit Northern Europe also and it got a bit warmer.
Tips and Notes
I have this really thin windproof jacket with pockets and a hoodie which turned out to be the best cover for warmer hikes. (See what kind in for example Queen’s route post). For colder hikes the jacket I have on in the feature picture of this post which was both water repellent and windproof plus a bit warmer was the way to go. It had also hoodie and pockets. Both a necessity to keep phone, camera, sunglasses and tissues at hand. You don’t want to be getting them all the time from the back bag.
Best pants turned out to be really thin water repellent, windproof but breathable pants (see almost all images I had them on). Even though it was hot they covered from bugs and if it rained they dried up really quick.
We had sunscreen and mosquito repellent at hand on the side pockets of the back bag which was really good as there were a few of them in Lapland and it was quite sunny then again in Norway.
Shirts; I had a sleeveless sports shirt on all the time and just changed the top. Either the thin windproof jacket and sometimes extra long sleeved sport shirt (breathable, quick dry sort). I tend to get hot easily so I would rather have windproof and thin layers than thick and warm. As long as you just keep going all the time you don’t really get cold anyway.
Hat; my trusted I ❤ NZ cap was good protection from sun and during rain it helps so you can see forward better when the rain does not drip into your eyes (and naturally do not forget your sunnies! (sunglasses).
At the top the wind tends to blow more when there is no vegetation so a head band was good even with warmer weather as my ears are really sensitive to draft and cold. In Lapland naturally you needed to have a hat and gloves on colder days.
Get thin, breathable quickly drying materials was a good tip and I can agree with that. Layers is another good tip. Dry shirts, jacket to back bag in a waterproof bag and you are fine. I should have had one of those microfiber small towels with me that I bought but forgot those home so used tissues instead to wipe sweat and boy there was a lot of sweat on those hot days!!
Generally I think I learned what works for me so now know how to prepare and pack better. What surprised me was how exposed you are to the weather out there. After that certain point where the vegetation changes, get more low grown and finally basically disappears from around, it’s just you, rocks, moss, a few low growing plants with the sun, wind and rain. Oh, and of course amazing breathtaking scenery!!
Sleeping in a tent
Haven’t slept in a tent for a few years so always good to remind oneself what it’s all about. For my husband it has been even longer time and I could see that he was not too enthusiastic about it, but we ended up laughing our heads off with the pictures we took.
The first night was a bit hilarious and comic with all the seagulls making noise and us being so tired after our little “evening stroll” to the top of Veggen.
Tips and Notes
Best to always go to the camping site early in the morning, make a reservation, put the tent up to a good spot and then go hiking. Many campsites in Lofoten tended to be pretty full by the evening, but then again you could, like we did, just camp somewhere close to water with a great view. We put our tiny tent up on the beach, but the small tent was a bit too claustrophobic for two fairly tall persons, so next nights we put up the bigger proper tent.
Other than that campsite facilities also vary a lot. Not all have a fridge and if they have a fridge, they may not have a freezer. Kitchens utilities vary also a lot. If you have enough space in the car, bring your own. For example coffee machine or an electric kettle were not standard equipment at all.
There is a lot of mist coming from the sea so be prepared that your tent is pretty wet from outside and inside in the morning. We did not have good quality tents and did not buy a tent for this purpose, but used the old ones we had. There probably are better quality tents too that don’t get that wet or at least dry up quicker.
Camping is fun! A bit different, not that comfortable as your own bed, but I didn’t mind. As long as you can get your feet straight somewhere it’s fine. The mattress (self inflatable) was a bit hard especially when sleeping on your side, but switching sides helped. Besides I was so knackered anyway most of the evenings I would have slept on grass if needed!
Snacks and drinks
On this trip I learned to eat whatever I can get my hands on pretty much. Food is just a compulsory stuff you need to get to be able to keep going. Consumption definitely did not match with the amount of calories we burnt and hence the feeling was that you are all the time hungry.
Tips and Notes
Almost always we had too little to eat for the longer hikes. Calorie consumption was around 700-1400 all the time per day so for me for example 700 extra calories is half of my daily calories. Meaning I would need to eat 700 + normal 1400 to compensate for the “loss”. Naturally we did not even calculate calories, but the above example math is probably the reason why we felt hungry all the time.
We had apples, bananas, berries, nuts, pouches of dry soup/pasta and boiled water in thermos plus bread most of the days with us. We took always two liters of water and that was generally enough as there was always water in the car when you get back anyway. Oh and we had of course coffee in another thermos too.
In hindsight we should have taken some protein drinks or snack bars to add more carbohydrates. When it’s too hot, it just is too hot and you can’t really bring along anything that will spoil and we did not have anything to keep the food cold either so maybe in the future a small cooler with a cold pack would be good. Then again there was no fridge or freezer on the campsites sometimes meaning we could not keep the food cold anyway.
Amount of water was fine. On the 22 kilometers I think we actually had 3 liters of water, but it was enough. You can drink from the streams too as long as the water is flowing we were told and hubby did give it a try without getting any problems a few times.
This holiday trip definitely helped me to know what it is like to hike for days physically and also what you need to have, to prepare for the weather. I have no way to test the altitude sickness so that will need to wait until Kilimanjaro, but otherwise I feel much more confident, and not as worried anymore as I was earlier about everything.
Now I think I can concentrate more on my fitness, fundraising for Unicef UK (please donate, I am still quite far from my goal even though I have a few ides and challenges that I am thinking of doing in the next few months), purchase the remaining stuff on the kit list and get ready for the three peak challenge that we will have October 2019 which is only 53 day away. Exiting!! More about that later!