Tuesday, 19 May 2009

It's an ill wind that blows no good

It was a really warm Friday afternoon in the city, it was the kind of radiant warmth cold blooded animals must enjoy when they're charging up their batteries in the morning, faces lifted to the sun. It made me sluggish and I almost didn't set off for my planned night at the summit of Hauggjelsvarden but the sunsets in the preceding week had been stunning and I relished the chance to see one from a different perspective than our balcony.

As I left the tarmac and climbed through the trees I could hear the wind building in the branches, shaking them violently and as I topped out above the trees the wind cut through me. I realised that pitching my tent on the summit would be an exercise in futility, especially with 2g titanium pegs. After 2 hours of climbing I reached the top. I hung around the summit cairn for a few minutes, considering my options, and was rewarded with a glimpse of an eagle rising on turbulent updrafts. He/she got one glimpse of me and wheeled away sharply, leaving me with the task of finding somewhere just off the summit that would afford me a campsite with a good chance of the Laser Comp staying on the same mountain as me.

Reluctantly I found a spot in a small valley about 25m below the summit, without the superb view I had planned to experience on this trip and also without the perfectly flat, soft pitch I had scouted out on a previous visit. I found the flattest piece of ground I could and promptly put my tent up the wrong way round. Good start. Eventually I got myself sorted out and settled down to some yummy Real Turmat dinner followed by a locally made chocolate brownie who's richness defeated me before I could finish it. A can of Swedish cider washed it all down and I sat waiting for the sun to set. Unfortunately my sunset watching was spoilt not only by my sheltered spot but also by the fact that after a busy week at work I turned in before it really had a chance to set at 22.25...

Six hours later and the sun was up again. We haven't even got to the shortest day yet. Light streamed into my billowing tent and I snoozed intermittently for a couple of hours, my bones not used to my summer sleeping pad after a winter on the luxurious but heavy Exped Synmat. The wind hadn't let up all night but thankfully I carry the lightest modification you can make to the notoriously chattery Laser Comp, a pair of foam earplugs. With a full day planned by The Boss it was time for me to head home. I had just enough time to rustle up a fresh (if a little lopsided) steam baked chocolate muffin and a mug of coffee to fuel my descent back to the city.

5 comments:

Martin Rye said...

Looks a fine spot to me. Shame you missed the top. I like the muffin. Real nice that. You should do some recipes.

Nielsen Brown said...

Sounds like a great walk and camping on tops of hills is my favourite past time. I have tried the muffins in a pot recipe on a bushbuddy, they were okay, but definitely need more practice. Yours looks great. Well done.

Hendrik M said...

Mmmmm, Muffins and brownies! I am hungry now, thanks! Its great that you just can walk out of the door up a hill to camp, I reckon that's not possible everywhere - I could go to an island to escape civilization, its just a few hundred meters to swim...

Holdfast said...

Martin - choice of campsite was ok but I'd scoped out a perfect spot at the top that would have given picture postcard views of the mountains out the tent door. Nevermind, there'll be other opportunities. No secret to the muffin recipe, it's a packet mix!

Nielsen - I followed the Mike Clelland steam baked muffin instructions over at BPL http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/quick_healthy_meals_with_an_ultralight_cook_kit.html
and practised a bit at home first. Thick batter and patience are the key ingredients. My muffin kit only weighs 27g.

Hendrik - trying to live without a car means I use our 'backyard' hills a lot. Next month I plan to take a bus out of town and walk home over a couple of day/nights. Escaping to an island? Sounds like you could do with a packraft!

Hendrik M said...

Thanks for the cooking article, my productivity just declined yet again. A packraft is no option at the moment, though its seriously just a 300m swim to the island, so I could consider it when the water is slightly warmer.