Day 28 – The Nature Of Endurance

I’m no expert, and the words below are likely the result of dehydration, malnutrition and a distinct lack of sleep.

I rambled about this in an earlier post but yesterday, feeling oddly ill and making my way (at a slower than slow pace) to Bellingham I seemed to have had a moment.

The nature of endurance and the drive to move forwards is somehqta schizophrenic.  I’m not making light of the condition in anyway however.

When those difficult moments hit, there is a part of a persons mind that says “Stop! You don’t have to go any further”

This is true of my situation as I have everything needed to stop at any moment and be comfortable for a day or so.  But here’s the paradoxical bit.  I don’t seem to stop.  There’s another part that seems to reply “I know.  Still gonna keep going till I reach….”

The two different personalities jostle for dominance and really, it seems that at the core of it, endurance is an unwillingness to listen to the part of the mind that says “stop”.

Today, many people will endure lots of hardships and they will do it because it is in our nature as humans, but only if we allow it and encourage its flurishing in the young people we interact with.

Day 22 & 23 – Thoughts Whilst Crossing The Moor

We all have that dark part of us that we hide and in doing so we hide from it.  We teeter on its edges, occasionally moving just beyond its horizons, but we avoid it at all costs.  We stare into the abyss and nothing but dread stares back.

Yet, at some point I made the conscious decision to go in.  It is easier to be in a dark place and stare up at the light than it is to stand out of reach of the dark and wander what demons lurk within.

Gradually, this dark place began to fill with light.  Where once there were undefined shapes of forbidding, there now stands figures of encouraging challenge.  The way out is easy to find, no longer a distant star, but more a beaming beacon.  The euphoria of reaching a stop point was simply the realisation that it is possible to sink lower than you imagined and then rise out.  I am no longer ashamed or fearful of this dark place. 

It is easier to crawl out of the pit of despair than it is to avoid falling in.  

Pasta meal curtosy of Bob from The Outdoor Station.

Introducing The Equipment – Part 2 – The Vaude Lizard GUL

I have to start by saying that this tent was provided free of charge by Backpackinglight, as part of a support package for the LeJog on the 26th of July, this year.  The other important point is that I would consider the tent if having researched it briefly it didn’t seem suitable.  I don’t see the point of accepting something that I wish I wasn’t using or accepting an offer of support if it wasn’t suitable either.  Luckily for me, Bob at Backpackinglight really knows his stuff.  I was offered the tent first, researched it and then took them up on the offer, and Im glad I did.  The tent is the Vaude Lizard GUL 1 person, 3 season tent and at first glance it seemed to be a beauty, but I was dubious of the 2/3 length pole!

I’ve gave it a few tests, one night in torrential rain, gales and a thunderstorm and a week on the Isle of Arran, with several hours of heavy rain and windy conditions and I have to say the following…

Despite the unique 2/3 tent pole (the single tent support pole only spans 2/3 of the total tent width) it’s an amazing little tent!  Why?

Well, here are the reasons:

  • Easy to put up – I had no instructions for it, watched a youtube clip and then had a go at setting the tent up and it was straight forward.  Peg out the tent (you can leave the internal compartment permanently attached to the outer) insert the main pole and the smaller end poles, peg and adjust the guy lines and the tent is ready.  I managed to get it up and ready to use in about 5-7 minutes.
  • Extremely stable – It got the baptism of fire when I tested it with 40 mile gusts on top of an exposed hill, but it stayed stable, didn’t flap around and was quite enough for me to get a good nights sleep (that was until the thunder and torrential rain kicked in)
  • Extremely waterproof – I’ve had tents that claim to be really waterproof, but eventually they give up and begin to leak.  This tent gave me a waterproof sleeping area after a days worth of solid rain.
  • Lightweight – The tent comes with carbon fibre poles, super light internal and external materials and some lightweight pegs.  The entire tent can be packed down to a cylinder that is around 3-4′ in diameter and 7-8′ long.  In fact, I’m carrying it in the side elasticated pocket of my Ultimate Direction Fastpack 20 when I take it out.  The only thing I have done is replaced the pegs with some Terra Nova titanium pegs which have saved me around 30g.
  • Great ventilation – There is ventilation windows at either end of the tent, which are protected enough so that rain does splash in and there is also also one on the door flap.  I didn’t have any problems with condensation on the inside and never felt that the internals of the tent had become stuffy.  The ventilation window on the for flap can be closed if you want to close it.  One amusing thing is that the internal compartment develops a nice wave motion if wind is blowing along the length of the tent.
  • Just about enough space – if your traveling light, there’s enough space in there to get your gear out of the wet and the porch area could be used to cook, but only if you’re careful.  You can use an extra pole, or stick along with a guy line to keep the door flap open as a shelter which could provide a safe place to cook in poor weather.  

There’s one point that I think would be good to improve on the tent and that is providing the ability to tighten the internal walls so they aren’t so flappy.  This is me being picky really, since it doesn’t really effect the tent working, but would make the internals neater.  You can set it up with just the outer, which makes the whole tent even lighter, something I would consider, but only if the areas I’m travelling to are likely to be midge, horsefly or mosquito free.

So, if you are after a light tent that would cope with almost all weather conditions then this is a corker of a tent.  It’s opened up a whole load of new adventure options for me, which would mean I can carry the minimal equipment, with the minimal weight, but not start having to deal with the usual problems of using a bivvy bag.

For the slightly geekier individuals among you (like myself) the technical specs can be found here –> Vaude Lizard GUL

Links to related videos on youtube below:

Demo

Setup

The Beautiful Art Of Moving Slowly

Over the last few days I’ve come to one scary realisation…

I need to relearn how to walk when barefooted.  It’s a completely different movement to walking with shoes.  Even the most minimal of shoes like the vivobarefoot shoes, which I use at work, change your “natural” movement.

What is this shod movement I’m on about

Wel… 

The heels comes down, makes ground contact and you roll on to your foot before pushing off on to the other foot.

This doesn’t work on harsh surfaces or over any given distance.  Your heel will start to feel sore and if you don’t change your movement pattern, the mother of all blisters is going to erupt, like a volcano, at the base of your heel. I’ve been experiencing it, but sensibly stopping before a blister forms trying to work out if it’s how hard I stroke the floor, the position if my foot in relation to my knee or pelvis, or just how I place my foot down. 

So, I now need to incorporate some serious retraining of something I’ve been doing all my life.  It’s inevitable that I will walk a fair chunk of the route from Land’s End to John O’Groats, so if I don’t address this need for change, I can see lots of pain in the near future.

The way of walking that seems to work is to place your forefoot down first and let the foot squash down as you move forwards, adding a certain salsaesc swing to the hips!  It’s lots quieter, feels smoother and seems to be faster than moving with the same cadence (number of steps per minute) as heel striking.

It’s kind of interesting since the general consensus is to land forefoot first when running too. 

So, if you see someone wandering around, looking like they should be holding castanets as they walk, it might just be that they’ve mastered this barefoot skill.  Who knows, if they’re not wearing shoes and it’s summer, it might even be me 😉