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Author Topic: You win some, you lose some - An abandoned wild camp  (Read 815 times)

Heggs

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I had been planning a wild camp for the 10th of Feb and checking the weather reports constantly leading up to the day. The forecast had predicted a bit of rain, wind and snow with temperatures around -3.

When the morning of the camp finally came, I geared up and set off.
 
I wanted to camp on a summit and planned to bed down around Slieve Loughshannagh. With winds predicted to blow from the North West during the night I was hoping the Mourne wall would provide a bit of shelter.

I arrived at Meelmore lodge around 2pm to take benefit of the free parking provided, and headed for Meelmore itself to start things off.




It was fairly warm on the way up with the temperature starting to drop a bit when I approached the col between Bearnagh and Meelmore




The views of Bearnagh were nice on the climb




When I arrived at the top of Meelmore, there was quite a bit of snow built up around the stone shelter and I decided it would be a good time for a coffee, I even used some snow to save on water.





As I was boiling my water, the rain started and I donned my waterproofs. I drank up and set off towards Meelbeg. (With hind sight, I should have made camp here. The wall would've provided the shelter I needed and I was bone dry at this point)

The descent of Meelmore was fine but the ascent of Meelbeg was a bit tough as the snow was slippy at one side and the grass was even worse on the other. I just took it easy and used my hiking poles as support (I'm assuming crampons would've been a good option here) the rain was steadily coming down but I was still relatively dry.



I was now looking up at Slieve Loughshannagh. The rain hadn't let up and I discovered that my waterproof trousers had started letting in water around the front where the seams had started to fail. I was a bit tired at this point which is unusual as I'm normally fine with this amount of hiking. I put it down to the conditions and the weight of my pack and clothes 'helpfully' collecting water for me!



The ascent of Slieve Loughshannagh was a right pain even though it's a normally straightforward climb. The conditions made it really tough on the calves. The rain was heavy with a bit of sleet mixed in at times.

Once at the top, I scouted around for an area to pitch. I got my tent up relatively quickly and unclipped half of the inner to keep separate areas for wet and dry gear.  I decided to have a rest, get something to eat and weigh up my options.

Excuse the mess in this pic, I didn't really care about housekeeping then




I was warm in my tent and it was coping very well with the conditions outside as expected. I stuck on some noodles and proceeded to check the weather again to see if anything had changed since I set off. The conditions expected was for snow, lighter wind than I had planned and a temperature of -4 (-11 wind chill).
I had brought a down sleeping bag with me as I expected the cold, windy weather. I was caught out by the sheer amount of rain and the fact that some of my gear let me down (which happens sometimes). My sleeping bag was in a dry bag so was perfectly fine but I decided that that was the way I wanted to keep it and that I wasn't going to risk damaging my bag for one night in wet conditions.

With that decided, the next thing to do was to plan my route back to the car. I knew the conditions were going to be fairly bad and it was dark now so instead of heading back the way I came or skirting around the bottom of the mountains back to the Trassey track, I planned to head straight down to the col between Slieve Loughshannagh and Meelbeg then head further down following the river to Fofanny reservoir. Once there, I could walk on the main road back to the car. It was a similar distance but in my opinion, a lot less risky.

Fed, watered, rested and toasty warm, I packed up inside the tent and waited for a break in the weather. At 8pm, I made my way down. It started off ok but the rain had changed to hail. Once at the col, it started snowing. I took a left and followed the river to the main road. I was soaked through but my spirits were high



Once on the main road, I started walking the long, boring, uneventful but safe route back to the car



When I reached the car I stripped down and sat for about 20 minutes before starting the hours drive home.




Thinking back, there are a few things I would've done differently although hindsight is a wonderful thing. If I knew the rain was going to be so persistent, I would've pitched on Meelmore. I also would've brought my synthetic sleeping bag because I could just throw it in the wash the next day.

Just a few pointers: I have a good deal of experience in night time hiking. I know my skill set and most of my equipment was more than capable (obviously from reading above, my waterproof trousers failed). I also knew that if things did get hairy then to hell with looking after my sleeping bag, it would've been used if needed. I had plenty of equipment and supplies, my wife was informed any time the plan had changed and I was absolutely in control the whole time.

Here's a pic of my tent drying out the next day. Hopefully I'll get to spend the night in it very soon!



Heggs





« Last Edit: February 12, 2018 by Heggs »
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seanbranagh

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Re: You win some, you lose some - An abandoned wild camp
« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2018 »

It doesn't matter how much experience we have. Anyone can get caught out. It is your experience that told you to call it a day and got you down safely.
It happened me the first time I camped on Donard summit. A significant change in wind direction forced me to pack up and hike down at 5am (in winter).

Regarding the down sleeping bag, I have washed mine a few times now and (apart from taking about a week to fully dry) it's still as good as new.
It's Mountain Warehouse and I only paid about £130 for it which is why I don't mind washing it.
I have used it below -10 in the Himalayas and below freezing in the Mournes loads of times too. It does the job perfectly.
However, I have a North Face Summit Series 800 down hooded jacket that I am afraid to wash because it feels so fragile. 

What is the story with down? Can you get it wet or not? I have heard different people say different things.
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Heggs

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Re: You win some, you lose some - An abandoned wild camp
« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2018 »

You're right Sean, it's the experience that tells you when you're done for the day.
I keep reading about the low insulating properties of down when it's wet and one things for sure, I'm not going to put that to the test!  ;D
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torp

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Re: You win some, you lose some - An abandoned wild camp
« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2018 »

Bit of a journey there me old son lol as you said ( you were confident of your skills and knowing your limitations) and that's what counts, being aware of your abilities and not trying to over stretch them or take risks.  Looks like you had some pretty awful weather Stephen, I would have quit once I had gotten me hair wet.  Fairs dues mate for getting out in them conditions and having the sense to do what you thought was right for you at the time, Well done mate 8)

Heard the same regarding the down bags that's why I was looking at the Snugpak softie elite 2/3 bag that and the fact it has the expansion system for fat bar-stewards ;D ;D ;)

ps greats pics and write up mate keep em coming ;D
« Last Edit: February 12, 2018 by torp »
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Heggs

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Re: You win some, you lose some - An abandoned wild camp
« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2018 »

Cheers Torp, I actually enjoyed it and mark it down as another lesson in the great outdoors. If it wasn't for them few hours of rain I'd have been telling a different story!
Thanks for the comments, I'm gonna try and do a wee piece each time I go out so watch this space 😁
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torp

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Re: You win some, you lose some - An abandoned wild camp
« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2018 »

 ;) ;) ;D
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Glenn B

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Re: You win some, you lose some - An abandoned wild camp
« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2018 »

Great write and pics there mate  ;D ;D sure at least you made the effort and got yourself out, karma dude...
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Rugged Track

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Re: You win some, you lose some - An abandoned wild camp
« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2018 »

Thanks for sharing that Heggs.  No shame in knowing the limits, assessing risk and there is no point in enduring rather than enjoying it.  Experience means you know better, you know your gear and read the conditions and how weather changes.  You were also solo with no one there to help out.  People get in trouble when they don't know their limits and conditions and won't turn back.  Great pictures and still a great adventure.  I have learned from your experience also.  Thanks for sharing.
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whoRya

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Re: You win some, you lose some - An abandoned wild camp
« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2018 »

Enjoyed reading that account Heggs.  All the decisions you made were correct, you were the only one there and you acted to protect yourself first and foremost.  There are other correct decisions you could have made and that is the reflection process you have after a night like that.  But that is all they are other decisions, the important thing is that you made your call. 

There is a real vulnerability that you feel when alone.  That's a good thing and is what keeps you alert.  I've crawled on hands and knees across the top of Binnian before when alone and in strong wind.  When it is late in the day and you know that there won't be another person to come by for the next 12 hours, you have to be cautious.  If I was with someone else perhaps I'd have battled to stay on my feet.

Looks like a fairly sturdy tent, have you had a night in it yet?   
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Heggs

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Re: You win some, you lose some - An abandoned wild camp
« Reply #9 on: February 14, 2018 »

Thanks guys for all the positive comments. I'm glad that people see the write up for what it was as I was considering not even posting it. I was thinking that some people might have said that I shouldn't even be out and putting other people at risk if something went wrong etc. etc. But then you remember it's not Facebook here, we're all like minded people. It's what we love doing and there's a bit of a risk in most things we do! I also want to show some people that might not have much experience that it's ok to turn back and also to make sure you are able to change plans as and when needed.

WhoRya: That was my first outing in the tent, I was soooo looking forward to it  ;D It handled the wind and rain really well and has a small pack size too. It has good headroom so you can sit up and it's really easy to unclip bits of the inner to create more room when needed for cooking etc. I might post about it when I get out in it again.

Cheers
Stephen
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torp

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Re: You win some, you lose some - An abandoned wild camp
« Reply #10 on: February 15, 2018 »

That was a well thought out reply mate which I totally agree with ;) ;)

ps what is the tent and where did you get it mate?


pps

just packed my bergen for my next out

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Heggs

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Re: You win some, you lose some - An abandoned wild camp
« Reply #11 on: February 15, 2018 »

 ;D ;D ;D ;D class
Cheers Torp

It's a Litetreck 1 by Salewa and I got it from:
https://www.tiso.com/tiso-sale-1135160/salewa-litetrek-i-light-grey-gr-tiso-sale-1135160
« Last Edit: February 15, 2018 by Heggs »
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torp

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Re: You win some, you lose some - An abandoned wild camp
« Reply #12 on: February 15, 2018 »

Thanks bud will wait to you give a review on it tho  ;)
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NIPupper

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Re: You win some, you lose some - An abandoned wild camp
« Reply #13 on: February 15, 2018 »

nice one, i wasn't far away, got to trassey car park around 4pm, by the time i got packed up rain was around, decided to go another day, due to my waterproof coat not really being waterproof. nice route track on your map there, did you really swim across Fofanny reservoir in the dark!! haha

as for the down, got my sleeping bag soaking wet last winter when i was without my bivy bag, cheers puppers. insulation is not good, about the same as it would be if you removed all the down from the bag and soaked the outer material., bag was completely flat, zero loft.. mainly helped to keep any wind off. it's never been the same since, i've heard that tumble drying it with tennis balls helps to break up knots in the down after it gets wet, going to try that.

great photos, going camping this weekend, hope some snow is still about.
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Heggs

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Re: You win some, you lose some - An abandoned wild camp
« Reply #14 on: February 16, 2018 »

You're bang on about the rain - right around 4pm and didn't stop for ages! I was on Meelmore at that time though so motored on.
Haha, I thought walking in the dark and snow wasn't hardcore enough so went for a swim ;D nah, seriously though it was whatever came up on my google maps so it must've lost me at that point.
Thanks for the comments and hope you get the weather I was looking for last weekend!
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