the voice inside my head won’t listen to me
I’m kinda sorry that this took so long, but I managed to delete part of the post at some point and got a bit demotivated after that.
The last part of Via Alpina Red Trail began from Champex-Lac in Switzerland and ended in Monaco 22 days later. According to my calculations it was almost 700km, but the ascent/descent sums are too messed up on the guidebook so by my best estimation it’s around 40k up and about the same down. Average distance for a day was 31,5km and speed 3,5 km/h. It took 207 hours of walking. Several passes over 2000m highest of those over 2700m and many still covered in snow.
Every year AFTER the hike I think that I should have counted all the marmots, packets of pasta, bars of chocolate, but I still never do next year. But I guess it was about 100+ marmots and about 40 bars this year.
Weather was superb – it rained only on two days, but occasionally it was a bit too hot for walking. That happens. A thunderstorm or two I safely watched under the tarp. Of other nights 5 were spent indoors and some just in bivibag.
Everything else was just about the same – paths and waymarkings ranges from poor to excellent, food from pasta to tagliatelle with mussels. Paths were scarce of people, because of the early season. And cities were a nuisance.
To make it a longer post I will go briefly over the gear I used.
Mostly it was the same as two years ago. But the biggest change was the tarp, because I misplaced the SilPonco somewhere in Sweden and therefore had a new one made. Took the layout from Ray Jardine’s book Beyond Backpacking and oversized it so I had a rectangle of 3×2,2m. I also added a guyline loop in the middle of the rigdeline and a midway loop on the longer side so i had three loops on the longer side. It didn’t come out very light compared to the SilPonco, but I consider it to be a two person tarp. I used 50g/smq silnyl from extremtextil.de and some webbing. I still have to get some proper guylines and find a way to pack the so I don’t have to work on the mess of lines every time I unpack it. I didn’t seamseal it before the trip and after going through some heavy rain on few occasions I noticed only few drops of water leaking through the ridgeline mid-loop. Should I bother with sealing at all? But I think I will do it anyway. I used it in several setups, but the raised A-frame was mostly used. I think that in some pictures you can see that it seems to have small catenary curve in the ridgeline, but that is not intentional. All the credits for sewing go to my mother 🙂 It’s nice to have seamstress in the house. Performance was great – what else can you expect from a simple piece of fabric and some guylines. The only bad thing is that when it get wet – it’s very wet until you have the chance to lay it out in the sun and then it easily dries out in 15 minutes. But I think I could treat it with something to make it more water-repellent.
I think I said that I would change from using Salomon XA3D Ultra trailrunners after the Sweden trip, but I still had to bring them this year, ’cause they were still serviceable and I couldn’t justify buying another pair. To this date the current pair has over 800km and it shows. I don’t remember not watching my step, but I still managed to rip the mesh outer and on closer examination it’s obvious that the mesh will tear in other places too. Insoles came apart quite fast, but that was anticipated and doesn’t ’cause much trouble when you are careful putting the shoes on. Some ductape is useful to make the insole a bit more stiffer. Had some blisters because at some days feet got very wet and skin turned tender. My own fault also – not enough walking this year to condition the soles of my feet.
While hiking I wore exclusively the Halti long-sleeved technical shirt. Unfortunately it didn’t prove to me as good as the previous from Hannah. A seam got loose on one arm and I had to make some field repairs. Other than that I like the stretch and fit. Often I walked with the sleeves pulled up to get some tan on my arms, but in the mornigs it great to have even that thin layer of fabric covering. I also had long underwear pants from Halti for sleeping, but those weren’t very suitable. I got a mild sunburn on the first days and it is not very good to have some tight fitting clothing against your skin when your legs feel like they are radiating the heat from the day when you are trying to sleep. Last year I wore more loose fitting Craft pants, which were great, but their best before had passed a long time ago.
At some point I started walking without underwear and found that to be very comfortable. As I use mostly running shorts , which have somewhat of a mesh underwear like fabric inside then it really doesn’t seem to have a point. Also I’m considering gettign the sortest and lightest running shorts for next year. Shorter is better, because that way I can get rid of my bikers tan. And when being on the move you can easily go through the chilly mornings and even some +10C days with shorts. Warning! – when in bug country you’d have to move really fast to pull that off.
The GoLite RS1+ quilt is inadequate for greater altitudes and therefore I always made sure that I camped low even if that made my days long and late. But I like how small and light it is. And going to mountains, even in the summer is pushing it with this quilt. So I have ordered a new one and it should be a very good Christmas this year.
After few years of use and some minor repairs the GoLite Pinnacle is still holding on and I have no reason to get a new bag anytime soon. Capacity is enough for a week of unsupported hiking. For shorter trips it might be a bit too big, but fortunately you can compress it.
I had no serious malfunctions gearwise although I broke one of the Fizan Compact trekking poles and had to replace it with a bamboo stick found on a ski slope.
Here is the varustus – via alpina 3 eng