Rest Day, Kinlochewe: DAY 100
A Heavy Post...
Well, a chap can get it wrong. I am back in the Kinlochewe Hotel and I have to say, their system works. The food is excellent, the staff friendly and the meals arrive on time. Before they introduced their rather strict system it had been chaotic in the kitchen but now everything is smooth running and the quality excellent. (I am on the Schiehallion and Fraoch this evening with Tomato Soup and a rare fillet on its way.)
But enough of the gourmandising!
Today I have been a slug; wandering between the Post office cum shop cum tea room and the pub and generally doing not a lot apart from the smalls and the boots and reading TGO - which had a rather brief article by Cameron on the Cape Wrath Trail - a walk that really should merit three times the space he allocated to it.
There was a good piece (strangely heavily slanted towards TGO's involvement) on the Backpacker's AGM at Bellingham that I missed by being there two days too early. It did bang on a bit about all the lightweight stuff. This seems to be the current evangelical push over at TGO HQ.
Why can't there be a bit on comfortable backpacking? (eg Exped Down Matresses)
Seriously though, on a long trip it is absolutely essential that you get a decent night's sleep; the consequences of night after night of troubled sleep on skinny mattresses could be horrendous in remote countryside - a tired walker slipping because of tiredness, or making poor decisions near the end of a long day really should be examined.
Hopelessly skinny sleeping bags, American tarps and plimpsoles are being held up to be close to Nirvana in the mag lately. Can the average reader of TGO seriously be expected to take one of these inadequate bags, wind shelters and soggy plimpsoles on a long trek through the bogs of the Highlands?
It is time that a balanced viewpoint was put forward in what is OUR magazine (the readers) rather than the Gear Manufacturers' and lightweight zealots'.
With the advent of the internet it seems that those who shout longest and loudest are the ones who seem to be getting their points of view across Currently, that platform is dominated by the 'lightweight' boys.
I am not suggesting that all the lightweight stuff is inappropriate. Indeed, if you examine the contents of my pack on this trip you will find an obscene amount of titanium and tiny electrical odds & sods (this computer for example).
I just feel that a lot of fairly young, inexperienced walkers are being duped into buying stuff that could actually be harmful to their well-being on a longish walk in difficult weather & terrain.
Each bit of kit on its own does not make a huge difference to someone's safety. However, if you combine it all together and add it into the mix of a relatively inexperienced walker, or worse still, team of walkers, then you have a potentially lethal cocktail.
So, Cameron, LW Bob, Chris T and other lightweight zealots - if you read this - take a long hard look at who your audience is, and then think hard before advocating the complete lightweight solution. The important thing I am stressing here is the audience; the readership. Not all are as experienced as Cameron and Chris and they should take care when blindly following TGO's latest direction in kit selection.
As I see it, it is far more important to be fit, slim and expereienced in the hills than it is to carry the latest lightweight tarp. TGO should be ramming this message across rather than their current lightweight gear fetish month after month.
I am about to head off into the North West Highlands for five days without resupply. I consider myself reasonably experienced yet there is no way I would be doing it following TGO's current direction of gear selection.