I went walking this weekend. The original plan was to test new equipment for a much longer walk and the secondary goal was to get from Kunda to Aegviidu in about 2,5 days. LAst part didn’t work out so good though.
Leaving home on Saturday morning I felt light and it sure was lighter than ever. I carried almost all the gear planned for Alps and the backpack was still about 6kg with two days food , but no water. So after two buses I was in Kunda, looking at the Finnish gulf and my watch which showed 0900am. And the mosquitoes began their everlasting attack.
Going was fairly easy – mostly on trails, occasionally gravel and some stretches of tarmac. And even some quite interesting off-road moments and river crossings. Some of which I forgot to take photos as I just discovered.
Although I had to alter my course a bit due to private property and cover more tarmac, I was in my first rest place on the old airfield near Rutja. Distance covered: about 17km in 4 hours. Had a quick snack and evaluated the damage to my feet done by too small trailrunners. The damage was worring with left heel having a open blister. So I only took one photo and then I was back on the road.
Some more landscape to keep me interested and plenty of stinging nettle. River and stream crossings were quite constant through the day, but I was lucky enough to find natural bridges so no swimming. In the mud of some small ditch I found tracks of a bear. And later on some bear shit and moose bones. The latter was probably not a bear kill, ’cause the skeleton was too intact. I figure that a bear rips the carcass apart pretty good. Again no picture, but I can show the locations on a map, so you can get off your chair and do something good for yourself.
After following some more bear tracks I reached the sea again and pressed on towards west. Feet were not very good at all. Mustjõe camping spot proved as pointless as you’d imagine a closed clearing to be with river very close by so death inflicted by blood drainage would have been a very unsurprising discovery in the morning. And I wasn’t done also. Some more bush-whacking and nettles led me finally to a trail again.
From that point on it purely going for the sake of getting there. I have travelled the path between Oandu and Võsu about two times before although in different direction so I was extremely glad when it ended in another much windier camping place and I could take off the trailrunners. It wasn’t pretty and it felt accordingly. You don’t want pictures – really. Time was 1915pm. With one longer pause of 20 minutes I had been walking for about 10 hours straight and it felt accordingly. I considered the distance to be about 30km, which left me wondering how was I so slow. fortunately when measuring the distance later I found that it was actually 44km, making the speed 4,4km/h. And that’s quite good pace considering the occasional off-trail sections and so on. When I timed my self on good surface I was going nearly at a 6km/h speed. You wouldn’t do that with a 20kg pack.
About some key gear elements. GoLite Pinnacle backpack needs some careful packing to be really one with your bosy. As its a frameless pack it doesn’t hold it’s shape. At first I just had the stuff inside the pack and I didn’t have all the space filled out the bottom of the pack was full and top was empty. Tha made the part with hip belt hold nicely to my back, but the rest of it curved away leaving a space between the pack and my back you could throw a javelin through. The other solution I tried and which worked much better was to but my sleepingpad inside the pack for a cylindrical shape and thenput all the things into the space created. that aactually takes a lof of space away. Using a Therm-a-Rest Z-lite could work better.
GoLite RS 1+ quit. I’m not sure what the exact temperature was that night, but I doubt it was under +5 C. I used the Multimat Adventure under it and the BPL Vapr bivy around all this. Although the sky looked suspicios in the evening there was no rain, but somewhat strong gusts of wind. The main problem reported when using quilts is that it’s a hassle to get it nice and tight so the cold wind doesn’t get in. I really didnt bother with it and occasionally I woke and had to adjust the quilt. Bivy kept most of the wind away anyway. When I checked the inside of the bivy at night thee was some condensation, but none at the morning. When I did set the quilt correctly around the pad it was really good. just have to practice it more. I have the longer version of the quilt and although I’m 188 I can close the top drawstring and have all my body inside the bag.It would probably get more stuffy than I like though.
BPL Vapr bivy. As said there was some condensationduring the night. What I like the most was that you can rise the headspace to get the mosquito net away from you face and have breathing room.
Trailrunners New Balance 461. Cant say anything good about them, ’cause urrently I have two huge blisters on my feet. Just a size too small and that’s totally my fault. And I did hit my toe on few occasions, when I didn’t watch the ground carefully enough. buthtey are still suitable for biking.
3 more days to go before my flight
Went for a spin on Sunday to get out, get some air, check how much snow there is in the forest and also to try out my new tarp/poncho I recently got. The cycling round ended up being 65km in 3hours with a longer brake in the middle. Weather was fine although headwinds and sidewinds still ain’t my favourites. When I got off the tarmac the going was different. There’s still plenty of rotten snow lying around in places where the sun isn’t warming enough and also ice. Both not very comfortable to ride on without spikes or wider tyres. Those occasional spots that get more sun are almost dry. Open spaces facing south are excellent. The water is quite high and also hiding under snow so I got my feet quite wet. Fortunately the sneakers dry up pretty fast. So I had to portage my bike through some water and managed to get knee-deep. It was cold, but as said dried quickly.When I reached the Loobu river and saw the high water it got me thinking about the possibility of a packraft again. That thing would be so great considering the amount of water we have had for some years. Unfortunately they cost nearly 10k in old money. Still that would be about a year’s worth of beer money 😀 Back on tarmac it was easy again although getting tired and with very little to drink. Gotta get the other bottle holder quickly.
Like said the other goal was to test the tarp. More reason for that because I bought a pair of trekking poles the previous day.
The tarp/ponco is SilPoncho by Integral Designs and weighs 280gr without the guylines. With those it would be something over 300gr, but still a lot lighter than the army version (680gr). 300gr itself might not be much, but I have reduced the weight of an item by HALF. The Silponcho also doubles as a raincoat, exactly like the army one does, but it’s longer and possibly wider also. The pro for a poncho is also that it protects your bag also, so you don’t need a pack cover.
The trekking poles are Fizan Compact, weighing 316gr/pair, which is almost as light as you can go. They seem sturdy enough, but have jet to prove themselves.
Also there are tent pegs, which I currently have 7 but need at least one more for the tarp. And possibly4-6 for the bivy bag. Made of aluminium, weighing 15gr each.
Final item in my shelter system is the BPL Vapr bivy bag. I had to replace my old one, ’cause it had kilometers of seams and the y all leaked. Also a huge zipper that counts for a door even when it’s closed. I had a very wet night last year and decided to trash it. Weight 204 gr. It has amesh opening so you won’t completely bag yourself and it also provides protection from bugs. Waterproof floor and breathable topside. I tried it once last week when temperatures went down to zero gerees and had some moisture frozen between the bivy and sleepingbag in the feet area. Still have to test how it keeps out the water coming from the outside.
Last summer I used the poncho for about 2 nights, but really needed for one. As it goes the night I really could have needed the protection from rain I just covered myself with it and spent few miserable hours until my sleepingbag could keep me warm anymore.But for walking in the rain I used the poncho quite a lot. I wouldn’t be surprised if the case is similar this summer.
So about erecting this thing. Didn’t went as smoothly, ’cause I haven’t practiced it much. And won’t be using anything between myself and the sky if the weather permits. Wind doesn’t bother me and for privacy I just find the suitable spot. What most tarp users love about using one is that a tarp is as versatile as your imagination goes. There are so many ways you can set it up and so many places you can use it. Pitch it high or low, between trees on on open field; one side opened or one corner rised. It doesn’t need even ground like tents, ventilates like hell and so on. Also it doubles up as raingear as mentioned before. Here I have only two dofferent setups – somewhat high and very low. Although the low one is a hassle to get into it still has enough room for me for sleeping and my backpack. When it rains with no wind I can use a different pitch and still be dry.
Of course there are cons when using the tarp. When a hurricane comes then it probably won’t hold. Bugs could be a problem. Rain and strong winds. Rabbits and rattlesnakes invading you boots and female elves sneaking into your sleepingbag.
But I think that this system will keep my satisfied for the month I plan to use it as my primary accomodation WHEN it rains. ‘Cause which hiker or anyone at all in their right mind would climb into a tent when the sky is clear and temepratures are above freezing.