Thursday 1st September: Countdown Begins.

Tomorrow   I’m   off:   5.30am   from   Shrewsbury   by   train   via   Crewe,   Leeds  and Garsdale, then a bus to Hawes to pick up the trail where I left off. There’s 151 miles of the Pennine way remaining. I just hope that my head settles down a bit because I’ve been clumsy and forgetful all week.

A  few  weeks  ago  I  was  quite  flat  (not  depressed  but  withdrawn  I’d  say)  which has been  replaced  with  this  fly-in-a-bottle  craziness.  One  of  my  ‘special  thoughts’ was  brewing  and  maybe  it  was that getting  me  down.  It  isn’t  the  kind  of  thinking you can talk about, but maybe I can write it out: it’s about mortality again, but with more  a  feeling  of  puzzlement  rather  than  panic,  sadness  or  anything  else.  I’ve grown  to  feel  more  and  more  connected  with  nature,  and  so  it’s  hard  to  imagine myself being ‘kicked out’ at some point. It’s not so much existential anxiety as existential confusion. It makes me think that I need this walk for spiritual reasons, and if the  last walk  was  anything  to  go by  the  mortality  question  will  get  into  my  head again out there.

I’ve been juggling lists all week and I think I’m pretty much set with the kit. Yesterday,  though,  there  was  a  bit  of  a  last  minute  change  of  plan  on  the  sauerkraut. Such  a  shame.  I  opened  up  the  pot  and  the  smell  was  really  odd:  not  the  normal tangy pungency but sweeter and a bit ‘off’. There was a white film over the top and no  bubbles of  gas  coming  through.  It  looked  quite  dead  really.  From  what  I  can gather  it  was probably  a  yeasty  growth.  Like  many  of  the  moulds  it’s  safe  to  just skim  it  off  the top,  but  the  yeasty  taste  and  smell  is  off-putting.  I  took  a  small  bite and  Andy  took  a  spoonful  and  we  waited.  By  the  end  of  the  day  we  were  both queasy  (ed: I wouldn’t say queasy, more farty)so  that  was  that.  With  it  being  a  third  of  my  diet  it  might  not be  a  good thing to rely on it. I thought it was too late to replace it but my sister’s managed to get some unpasteurised sauerkraut (being delivered today). I’ve made my pemmican and decided to take some semi-dried fruit that I’ve pulverised with a rolling pin to get it into a beaker.

My bivi bag was in a state because the seam tape was all falling off so I bought some iron-on tape to re-do it. Turned-out, though, that the old tape stuck back down with the hot iron, so I haven’t needed the new roll. I’m taking two poles in case of hip failure, but rather than buy a new one I’m taking a chance on two that I’ve made (one from Hazel, and the other from Ash). The ash stick is quite exotic, with a curvy fork at the top (trident!). To protect them from wear-and-tear Ive covered the ends in rawhide. No more tap-tapping! After packing it all during my lunch break today it weighed-in at 15 kilos, which is two kilos lighter than the pack on the previous leg of the expedition.

Food Ration:
Pemmican: 1kg lean beef, cut thinly and dried then crumbed and bound in 400g of fat.
Sauerkraut: 1kg
Dried fruit: 500g
1 lemon
Drinks: coffee, tea, mint tea, hot chocolate.

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