Virtual Walking Trips
A virtual walking trip is one you do when you can’t actually get out of the house. Over the last few years I have been very restricted due to caring for my husband – only managed one week a year – so I have spent a lot more time planning and thinking about my walks than doing them.
You’d think with all that forethought, each trip would be foolproof! No such luck. But every year gives me new problems to iron out, and every year I invest in a new piece of equipment. (Also every year I get a year older.)
Here’s what you do on a VWT (and there are probably plenty of enthusiasts out there who just do these things between trips anyway).
** Browse outdoor websites, read reviews and add outrageously expensive items to wishlists (feel quite guilty about that sometimes, imagining the owner to be working round the clock to build up his business, having set it up in order to stay connected with the outdoors after falling off a mountain while saving his friend in a climbing accident, now down to his last tin of dog food and thinks he’s finally found a mega-rich customer who will be his salvation. Sorry, it’s just window shopping. Windows shopping?)
** Chat on forums with people who are doing real walking and offer advice on, for example, ‘best one man tent’, as if I ever had more than one one-man tent (actually, I’ve had two, so at least that qualifies me to advise on ‘better’ one-man tent. The guys on walkingforum.co.uk are very friendly, not too techie for a fraud like me
** Experiment with camping food and utensils. I actually keep a spreadsheet which lists the weight of every single item in my pack, including sachets of porridge and cup soup! Latest interesting discovery is the use of a 10ml plastic scoop (the sort they gave away with baby food tins, but I’m going back 25 years now). For example, what does a sachet of Oats-so-Simple porridge weigh and how many scoops of water and dried milk powder would I need to make it up in my Trekmates cook flask? Such musings keep me occupied for hours. Or should I stick to the instant porridge where you just add hot water (did that last year, by taking six portions of instant porridge out of their pots and putting it all in a plastic bag which burst. Bottom of my rucksack looked like it belonged to a failed cocaine smuggler.
** Research places on route where I might be able to stock up on the heat packs for the flask (only downside of that system – they weigh over 20g each and if you’re cooking breakfast, supper and a late night hot chocolate, you need about four a day).
** Play with my maps
** Polish my boots (sometimes I can catch a whiff of sheep muck from last year)
** Practise that knot you do on guy ropes, which I can only retain in my memory for about five days, (Tautline hitch. I’ve just relearned it.)
The funny thing is, when the time comes and I am finally tramping over a sodden moor in relentless rain, I wonder what all the fuss was about!