|Happy chappy on Kinder Edge
I should have known better. The weather forecast for the next fortnight had looked reasonable when I had suggested a wild camp to Geoff. Despite him being known for having a modicum of common sense he agreed. Weather forecasts always gradually get worse when I plan to be in the hills, and being an observant sort of chap I couldn't help but notice, a week or so later, as I drove along the M67 near Manchester, that the outside lane was closed because it was full of snow and that my windscreen wipers were working overtime to keep the sleet off the windscreen. If I had been planning to go out on my own I could have turned round and headed home to the log burner. But Geoff was waiting for me, desperate for my company. I'd show him. I'm no wimp. Well I could at least try to fool him.
So after the Crowther's had kindly provided me with lunch, and Pebbles the Boxer had tried to kill me with love, Geoff and I set out for a shortish afternoon walk, heading in the direction of Kinder Downfall. The walking was pleasant, if you ignored the slippery, oozy mud that we were sliding through. Every step left me feeling I was about to go A over T. But I didn't.
We arrived at the spot where Geoff had planned to camp, and pretty pleasant it was too, with excellent views of the Downfall, through the gloom and mist. More snow was clearly imminent, and I raced to pitch Daphne, the Z Packs Duplex, behind a large lump of gritstone. Geoff was putting up his tent a few yards away, with no fuss and achieving a lovely taught pitch. Whilst he was busy my mind went walkabout. I had earlier jumped at his suggestion of me taking the spot behind the boulder, without realising it was one of those places that seemed almost horizontal at the time it was chosen, but one which would gradually tip towards the vertical, and would leave me and my sleeping mat in a heap at one end of the tent every few minutes throughout the night. But that was for later.
Daphne was almost up when I realised that the position of the boulder would stop me getting in a couple of key guy lines. Which is pretty incompetent. I should have taken the poor girl down and started again from scratch, but Geoff might have seen. A man has his reputation to consider. Couldn't have sniggering coming from the next tent, could I? So I fiddled around with the two trekking poles, both of which are needed to support Daphne. I released the flicklock on one of the poles so I could jiggle it into a new position, and a couple of pegs and guys were also moved. I then re-tensioned the pole. But I couldn't understand why Daphne looked so forlorn when she was up, and why the doors (no zips to save weight) did not overlap as they were so cunningly designed to do. It was only the following morning that I realised that after that particular bit of faffing with guys and poles I had set one trekking pole 10 cm lower than the other. Her normal graceful lines were missing. She looked a sorry mess.
|Daphne the Z Packs Duplex looking almost as if she had been pitched correctly
|You'd never guess from this picture that she was pitched on a 45 degree slope. Or so it felt at 2.00am
Waterproof but not windproof note. As you will be aware, matches blow out when it's windy. After much "fiddlesticking", and about half an hour later, I had a cup of hot soup. Now for the dehydrated meal. Filter some more water. No chance. Nothing was getting through the Sawyer, no matter how hard I squeezed. I'd backwashed it and tested it before setting out. And now it was next to useless. "Fiddlesticks", said I, yet again. I had about 600ml of tap water from home with me. I could go and ask Geoff for use of his super doopa, very posh MSR filter. A filter that works. But no, I thought, I can survive such a minor calamity for one night. I would make up the dehydrated meal with the tap water, and it would leave just enough for a brew in the morning. I could forgo the Bird's Instant Custard I had planned for pudding, and could also miss the breakfast porridge. I had chocolate and cereal bars instead.
I gave the Torjet a good talking to and it came back to life. Just. As I applied its feeble flame to the meths burner I knocked the pan of precious water over and lost half of it. I had another bout of saying fiddlesticks. Mountain House food can be awful at the best of times. I forced it down, only partially re-hydrated through not adding enough water. I took a slug of scotch from the hip flask. I thought of putting my boots on and taking some whisky over to Geoff. Then I thought "sod that, it's cold and horrid out there" and had another slug to cheer myself. It failed. I got out the Kindle. I'm currently reading Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. All I can say is that, as I lay there reading, I was thinking that those poverty stricken Les Miserables had it cushy compared to spending a night on a hillside with a knackered Sawyer water filter and two useless lighters.
|The morning after: Geoff and Islay on Kinder Edge
|Geoff on Kinder Edge
I'm not that resilient these days, and can let small mishaps get me down, but as dawn dawned it dawned on me that the meths and the Torjets would light better if they were warm, so I put them into my sleeping bag and managed to brew up twice with the remaining water. And amazingly, as so often is the case, all became well with the world. Geoff came over to inspect Daphne. He was polite enough not to laugh, and almost seemed to believe me when I sang her praises and explained that she was simply having an off day and did not always look like that.
|Out of the clag at Edale Cross looking back towards Kinder