Monday, 14 July 2008

He ain't heavy, he's my brother (and tarp)

For several weekends, due to different social obligations, me and my brother have been prevented from getting 'outdoors' together as time runs out before I leave for Norway with my girlfriend. Finally we got to get out for a night over the weekend. Unfortunately time is still in short supply so we decided to head to a spot where I've often been summer camping, down at some old sea caves on the SWCP. The difference this time was that we planned to go fairly lightweight and not be dragged down by the usual 'cave camping' paraphernalia which often includes 20lb of firewood (each!), boxes of wine, party kegs of beer, 100 tealights ("to make the cave look pretty") and a three man 3.5kg tent 'for the girls'. The usual friendly get-togethers at this spot are only done when the weather is guaranteed to be 'Mediterranean' but this time my brother and I would whisk down there whatever the weather and I think that deep down inside we fancied a bit of 'weather' just to make it interesting. We went with 35L packs, a tarp just in case, a hip flask of whisky and, a new product for us, a Duraflame log. We left B-town under a dark cloud and got to the carpark half an hour later. The 40 minute stomp to the caves seemed a lot easier than usual, no doubt due to hardly carrying anything! We ducked through the 'technical' route into the cave area and found we had the place to ourselves. My brother got straight onto the task of putting the tarp up in the grassy area near the caves and I fired up a brew on my AGG. We spent the rest of the evening building a 'hearth' for our Duraflame log, a windscreen for the stove and a small wall to keep the prevailing wind from lifting the tarp. As darkness descended we fired up the Duraflame and after a bit of coaxing we had a perfectly decent fire that provided warmth, light and a 'focus' for the next four hours. The Duraflame weighs in at 2.2kg which is a chunk to carry but the benefits are unquantifiable. It was still burning after we called it a night and sank into our sleeping bags. In the morning we were greeted with a spot of rain. The tarp kept the worse off and the bivvy bags were just enough to keep the sleeping bags dry where our legs were sticking out from under the one-man tarp. After a hearty breakfast of coffee, flapjack and muesli we packed up inside 20 minutes and removed all trace of our stay before heading back up the steep path that leads straight out of the cave area. Somehow I managed not to puke up my breakfast when we got to the top.

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