Strategies for longer trips ?

Discussion in 'Hiking Chat' started by Ally, Feb 3, 2019.

  1. Ally

    Ally Ultralighter

    So after a bit of a disappointing end to a recent 3 day Cairngorms trip to cover 7 munros, basically bailed due to underestimating the time it would take, the weather and overestimating my fitness.

    After some reflection on the way home in the car about what could I have done differently.

    Bar the obvious carry less weight and be fitter / stronger...kits not ultra light but suitable for the occasion, fitness is ok but could always be better.

    Weather is out with my control...but I'm comfortable in a winter environment.

    I was thinking along the lines of better route choice ?

    Food drops buried that can be picked up though the trip ?

    Don't go solo to help with moral ?

    Any one Have any thoughts ?
  2. cathyjc

    cathyjc Thru Hiker

    It would help if we knew what the route was (and weather) that you had to bail on. Maybe your plan was just too ambitious ?
    Ally likes this.
  3. Ally

    Ally Ultralighter

    So basically -

    Day 1 - from Linn of Dee car park, along the lairig ghru, the Devils Point , Cairn Toul, Camp below north east ridge
    Weather as fine the first day

    Day 2 - Braeriach down in to the Lairig Ghru again up to along to Cair Lochan over to Ben Macdui camp at Loch Avon
    High winds ery cold

    Day 3 Cairngorm, Derry Cairngorm and back down to derry lodge and out.
    Woke up to a blizzard and bailed at this point.

    All kit performed well, nav was fine for the most part , think i just overestimated the journey, I've done all the hills before and most of the route just not in one go. Was more mentally strugling mentally.
  4. Ally

    Ally Ultralighter

    Should probably add i had plenty of escape routes planned and bothys marked just in case.
  5. Whiteburn

    Whiteburn Thru Hiker

    I’m fortunate enough to have the ‘gorms on the doorstep so get in lots of short (3 or 4 day) trips, sometimes in good weather & sometimes iffy. My perception is that some peoples’ dissatisfaction boils down to having definitive plans for a specific date, sometimes months in advance, which are in all probability doomed to fail. I regard getting out into the hills for a few days as a success in itself; I may have a ‘plan’ but I’m pretty relaxed about changing it due to weather or just on a whim.

    Strategies for long trips; have a plan B, C & D; forget food parcels etc & learn how to resupply for a week out of the small ‘corner’ shop.
    jack4allfriends, paul, FOX160 and 8 others like this.
  6. cathyjc

    cathyjc Thru Hiker

    I agree about the food parcels re. @Whiteburn .
    Where would they be ?? If at a hostel, PO, etc - you'll be within reach of a shop.
    If you are suggesting hiding them in the 'wilderness' - don't. Burying them sufficiently deep to deter animals (mice, rats, foxes etc.) will be well nigh impossible and leave a horrible mess. If hung from a tree someone will spot it ……..
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2019
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  7. Ally

    Ally Ultralighter

    That's a great point, I can be bad for this.

    Partially due to having real life restrictions, having to book time off in advance from work, wife, kids, dogs and so on....same as most people I imagine. So I have to make the most of that time slot. Partially as I don't want the planning and research done for the tip going to waste.
  8. cathyjc

    cathyjc Thru Hiker

    Sticking to a pre-made plan in the Scottish mountains, when the weather indicates otherwise, is probably one of the main reasons (after injury) for MRT call outs.
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  9. Whiteburn

    Whiteburn Thru Hiker

    My perception is that being overly driven to follow the plan, bag that hill etc, is probably the primary initiating (poor) decision along the road to an incident. This in itself it will not lead directly to a call-out but add to that poor navigation skills, inadequate clothing, lack of fitness, minor injury, etc & the probability increases dramatically.
    CEves, tom and cathyjc like this.
  10. Craig

    Craig Summit Camper

    Completed a 4 day bothy trip week before last, Glen Feshie over the plateau, couple of Munro's down into Lairig Ghru and stopped at Corrour with intention of heading over Derry Cairngorm to Hutchinson Hut. Diverted to Rob Scot Bothy with weather forecast deteriorating & then out to Braemar. I was pretty lucky with the weather, but soft snow, heavy pack (14 kg starting) made for a testing 8 hour day over the top. I decided a few years back I could not maintain fitness for multi day remoter winter tent trips. The injury risk must be higher in snow with a heavy pack and associated tiredness. I can't mitigate that risk much, but do carry a PLB.
    edh likes this.
  11. Ally

    Ally Ultralighter

    I would have thought the opposite.....having no plan, no preparation or research, lack of kit, poor nav skills and a lack of experience would have would be the main reasons ?....it certainly seems to be when these things hit the news.
  12. Ally

    Ally Ultralighter

    I think i'm getting to that stage. I have 2 big-ish planned trips a year which i train and work up to but approaching being mid 40's and having a busy life things get in the way.
  13. cathyjc

    cathyjc Thru Hiker

    @Whiteburn - expresses my meaning more fully -

  14. gixer

    gixer Thru Hiker

    Speaking as someone that used to really enjoy planning down to the smallest detail, i think this is now the joy killer

    Problem is that when you start with pretty tight expectations it's pretty easy for weather, fitness or moral to destroy those expectations.
    For my personality type, not reaching a specific spot was a real moral killer

    I still HAVE to have some sort of plan, but as i hike 100% for fun and enjoyment i make a point of only have a very rough plan
    In your case in that area it's also a safety concern to have a planned route

    For me it's a case of dialling in mentally the balance between expected goals at the planned route and just saying "sod it" to the goals and enjoying it

    I usually add in a hotel night and a really easy day into the schedule
    Again the only reason i hike is for enjoyment and fun, if it's not fun i'd sooner do other stuff


    As a 50 year old fat bloke with 1 working lung, fitness plays a massive part in my enjoyment as well
    Head down grinding up another hill with shaking, dead legs and driving wind and rain isn't fun

    So i've worked a lot on my fitness, the fitter i am the better the moral i have
    tom, Nick, Charles42 and 3 others like this.
  15. Stuart

    Stuart Section Hiker

    I'm in the midst of planning a 12 day trip and after giving it some thought (this is the longest trip I've done) and reading and listening to others I've come to some conclusions:

    - I'm going for enjoyment, it's a holiday. So I will not setting myself the goal of reaching a particular point, climbing certain peaks and so on. My goal is to have fun.
    - I don't expect to suddenly exceed my fitness level. So I'm pencilling in a rest day after 4-5 days
    - options are good. I know where I'm starting and then I've identified an area I'm interested in and am researching lots of different route possibilities within that. I'll make it up as I go.
    - I need to eat and to get home so I've also identified several resupply and exit points.

    I'm hoping this approach will work for me. I imagine it may not for someone who is more goal-driven who would get more satisfaction out of setting a clear route and completing it. If this is you then having realistic expectations is key but you might want to explore a more flexible approach. After all, the best laid plans can quickly go out of the window and if you're purely goal driven then things are going to go downhill.

    A friend of mine who loves walking still recalls the misery of a doing the coast to coast where their planning required them to walk a couple of 25 miles days in order to finish by a certain day. Was this the best use of a week off to go walking??
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  16. edh

    edh Thru Hiker

    I plan to the nth degree...then blow it all up :D
    cathyjc likes this.
  17. cathyjc

    cathyjc Thru Hiker

    Some trips go to my (vague) plan some don't.
    My biggest worries are finding a vaguely suitable camp spot. (and sometimes enough water).

    There is no shame in bailing - because weather/terrain/mood weren't "up to scratch".
  18. Davy

    Davy Thru Hiker

    My trips pretty much never go to plan A...

    Plans B, C G and W are generally enough fun to get me planning A again once I'm home.

    My view is the hills are not going anywhere fast.


    Unless an active volcano..
  19. craige

    craige Thru Hiker

    As has been said, UK high level trips rarely go as planned.

    I bailed early from a 6 day 'gorms trip in September. Crappy 2nd day weather saw me having a semi - rest day at corrour then had an easyish 3rd and 4th day as I met a really nice Canadian guy who was keen to walk with me but didn't want big miles. Got to Braemar for a wash and forecast for next day was 90mph winds on the plateau. Bailed from the gorms and scrounge a lift to Blairgowrie and did roughly half the Cateran trail, it was pretty rubbish (imo) so I bailed the next morning and went home a day early.

    There's no shame in adjusting your plans and if you're solo it's harder to keep moral up so bailing always has to be an option, in my opinion anyway.
    Arne L. likes this.
  20. Mountain Mackem

    Mountain Mackem Trail Blazer

    I'm not sure there was much wrong with your actual route, sounds as if you simply underestimated how long it would take. It is difficult to estimate times in winter as a lot depends on snow conditions, which can slow you down and sap your energy. I did a similar route to your day 1 but we went to Garbh Coire Bothy. It took all day. (This was a few years ago).

    You had escape routes planned and that worked out for you. So don't be too hard on yourself. Sometimes it all goes to plan and sometimes it doesn't. Walking alone can be challenging, psychologically and otherwise, and you need to recognise when that doubt kicks in and have a strategy for dealing with it.

    Hope the next one is a belter ;)
    Clare likes this.
  21. Patrick

    Patrick Ultralighter

    Sounds entirely appropriate, doesn't it?

    I used to get pretty fixated on "the plan" and feel we were wimping out if we didn't press on to complete it. While a little bit of determination is obviously helpful, I've come to recognise that flexibility is actually just as important. I now pride myself on having a lot of plans, and being able to switch between them as conditions demand. Both pre-trip (picking the general area based on the forecast weather) and during-trip (altering the route as required). Making those multiple plans and variants of plans is a pleasure in itself, so it seems a win-win strategy!
  22. dovidola

    dovidola Thru Hiker

    As has been pointed out, flexibility is the key, and brings considerable safety benefit. An unintended consequence of the well-intentioned advice "Leave details of your route with someone back home" can be to suppress flexibility. Some time ago (long before PLB availability) I was on a preplanned route in Scotland when the weather turned, and I didn't feel too good either. However, because I'd notified the route to my landlady in accordance with prevailing wisdom, I felt duty bound to stick to the plan and expose myself to more risk that I was comfortable with, which wasn't the best idea. I realise you can include escape routes and other variations in a route plan, but it's still not quite the same as what you might want to do in real time. As a result of that experience, I stopped notifying my routes, figuring that the risks of not notifying were outweighed by the dangers of sacrificing flexibility. Subsequently I was persuaded to reconsider, and I now make my notifications deliberately 'sparse', just giving the general area and outline plan.
  23. Ally

    Ally Ultralighter

    Many thanks for the feedback folks, good food for thought for future trip.....which will hopefully be a snow hole somewhere end of the month.
  24. maddogs

    maddogs Ultralighter

    Interesting. I'd have to say "woke up to a blizzard and bailed" sounds eminently sensible to me. I look forward to the trip report :D
    Mentally struggling is harder to work out what can change. For me, weather plays a large part in this too: no views = not so much fun. Also find if I'm cold all day (and night) this saps a lot of energy and is less fun. Sometimes getting back after being battered by the weather feels like an achievement; sometimes just a relief. The hardest part in bailing for me is the duration of the walk out when I'm constantly re-questioning whether I made the right decision...always wondering if I should have pushed on a bit more. But getting out alive is always the right decision.
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  25. cathyjc

    cathyjc Thru Hiker

    Reasons I have arrived home earlier than planned/bailed (that I can remember :rolleyes:) :-
    - too windy (ridge)
    - 2 x summer thunder storms
    - biting off more than I could chew :oops:
    - impending bad weather
    - starting out too late :facepalm:
    - 2 x finishing route a day earlier :angelic: …….. does that count as bailing ??

    Interesting to see why others have bailed ??
    Diddi and tom like this.

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