Sunday, June 22, 2008

TGO 2008 Stats Time

I was pretty lazy about gathering data this time. I paid a lot more attention to items that were related to travel time and distance. I paid a lot less attention to overall weight. My rationale for this is pretty simple I have a pretty good idea of the gear I like to carry for certain conditions so building a detailed gear list with everything itemized to the last item just isn't that important to me anymore. This does mean that I can't provide a super precise, down to the gram, statement of exactly how much weight I was carrying and in what areas it was the greatest but I don't really care (and with this statement I bet I lose any standing I have in the gram weenie club). In broad details I can tell you that my total pack weight likely never exceeded 23.4 pounds and that would have been with about 5 days of food, an average of one liter of water, and stove fuel. I had a lot of paper with me on this trip in the form of maps and notes plus an Ortlieb XL Map Case. When you add that all up it nudges the 1,000 gram mark. That's what happens when you carry 7 1 to 50,000 scale OS maps plus your own notes and other stuff. Toss in a whole bunch of extra batteries to power the Sanyo Xacti HD1000 camera (about 11 ounces with battery and memory card, 312 grams), Samson Zoom H2 audio recorder (about 5.3 ounces all told, 150 grams), Garmin Colorado GPS (7.5 ounces, 214 grams), and an Apple iPhone (4.76 ounces, 135 grams) and the miscellaneous, some might say frivolous, weight really begins to ramp up. However, the lion's share of the weight still remains in the "big three." I definitely went heavy here in part because I was lazy and in part because it is what I like.

The laziness factor appears with the backpack. I couldn't find my 50 liter dry bag and never bothered to remove the stays from the Backpacking Light Arctic Dry Pack. That's about a 160 gram penalty right there, but I didn't care. Sure it's a nice amount of single malt or a couple candy bars but given the nature of this trip it just didn't bother me. I decided to sleep on my comfortable, but heavy, Pacific Outdoor Equipment InsulMat which weighs in at 406 grams. Very comfortable but the heaviest 3-season pad I currently own. I could have shed weight here with an item like a TorsoLite saving over 100 grams, but again I wanted the extra comfort and given the nature of this trip I felt this was a fair trade. My Arc Alpinist can keep me warm down into the teens (fahrenheit degrees) and that is definitely more than enough for Scotland in May. Will I use the Arc again next year? Probably unless I have something that is nearly as good and lighter.

The long and short of it is this. Even when you factor in the large amount of maps, carrying cases, extra batteries and such I still had a base pack weight around 14.75 pounds (6.7 kilograms). When you remember that my camera bag alone accounted for somewhere around 950 grams of that and all those maps and such nearly a kilogram more you see that the weight for the camping gear is actually pretty good. I wasn't carrying the lightest load but I was nowhere near the heaviest. And in the future I can either change some items out or even add some items (like a tripod and second decent still camera) and not really mind the 2 to 3 pounds (1.0 to 1.5 kilograms) weight increase because even at the absolute worst I'll know that the carried load is still less than 27 pounds (12.26 kilograms).

As I said above I paid more attention to the distances I was traveling and you can see that is reflected in the maps I have shared with you. However, summaries of information are nice and so the table below provides one for you. I actually stayed pretty well on my planned route except when I really blew it. I had troubles on my trek into Fort Augustus but my worst day was clearly the hike between Gelder Shiel and Spittal of Glenmuick. I also took the long way around out of Braemar and a different path through the forest by Invercould Bridge but those didn't add much distance and, more important, stress compared to what came later. After all is said and done I am sure I added at least 10 kilometers to my planned route with my micro- and macro detours. But I doubt I added too much more than that.

The Great Outdoors Challenge, 2008 Distances Summary
DayDistance (km)Approximate Elevation Change (m)
Dornie to Canban Bothy123.32700200
Canban Bothy to Cougie22.102500500
Cougie to Fort Augustus31.00700700
Fort Augustus to Melgarve Bothy320.70800460
Melgarve Bothy to Monadhliath Hotel12.65250250
Monadhliath Hotel to Kingussie17.50250250
Kingussie to Ruigh-aiteachain Bothy15.70260100
Ruigh-aiteachain Bothy to Mar Lodge429.75820870
Mar Lodge to Braemar05.75100100
Braemar to Spittal Glenmuick527.90700700
Spittal of Glenmuick to Tarfside24.90600680
Tarfside to Water of Dye Camp (N O 656 863)627.00470450
Water of Dye Camp (N O 656 863) to Mergie21.30400400
Mergie to Dunnottar Castle13.80100250
Totals (14 Days)293.37 kilometers
(182.29 miles)
6,650 meters
(21,818 feet)
5,910 meters
(19,390 feet)


1. My initial plan had me going to the Alltbeithe Youth Hostel but I decided that this was far enough. Adding 3.5 kilometers to the next day wasn't a big hit.

2. I actually probably walked a bit more than what is stated since I wandered around looking for the footpath a modest bit including some back tracking, but that's life.

3. The crossing of the Corryairack pass to Kinguusie can certainly be done as an overnight, but I decided to add a day thus making the stretch between Melgarve Bothy and Kingussie two short days.

4. Russ Manion had talked up Mar Lodge and I am very glad I lengthened my day to go there. It is true my feet were dog tired by the end of the day but this is a place I would return too. I'd even try to have some decent food waiting for me.

5. My worst day from a navigation point of view. It's true my northernly route did not add too much distance but my trials with the Gelder Shiel footpath and then muck up by the holiday homes really made this a much longer day.

6. Getting through the Blackcraigs region took a lot longer than I think it should have. I have no doubt people with normal vision flew through here. But then that is hardly a new thing for me and it would be repeated going through Heatheryhaugh the next day.

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