This is a very quick update about progress etc. My wife and I are moving in 10 days time, the house is in turmoil as we pack everything away and there's a list of stuff to do that does not seem to be going down, so blog updates are a luxury!
We recently celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary and this has resulted in an influx of gear and outdoory stuff. My wife bought me "Mountaineering - The Freedom of the Hills" which is an excellent and truly comprehensive volume, it reminds me of an even thicker "Mountaincraft and Leadership". It's very nice.
I also received a Katadyn My Bottle water purifying whatsit, which is probably not coming to the Cairngorms in May (as I understand that Cairngormian water is plenty good enough to drink au naturel) but will be useful on a Wye-based canoeing trip in August, and could be handy for the lowland sections of TGOC2012. A small LED lantern also arrived which hopefully will make the Trailstar a cozy little home from home.
My mum, dad and sis wanted to add to my burgeoning pile of gear but they weren't sure what I wanted/needed. So they supplied the readies to go towards a GoLite Pinnacle and a POE Peak Elite AC. I went for the Pinnacle as it just seemed to be the very best combination of weight to capacity to price that I could find, and when it arrived from Backpackinglight.co.uk I was definitely impressed. I think it's probably lighter than the 8 litre capacity Camelbak that I use when cycling, but holds 9 times as much gear! It also came with a small bag of Skittles, which didn't last long...
I chose a Peak Elite over the Neoair on much the same criteria as the Pinnacle; when you compare weight - price - spec, it really is hard to beat them. Sadly they were out of stock when I ordered, and looked like they wouldn't be in until the end of the month at the earliest. However, a supply turned up sooner than expected and Rose at BPL soon had one winging it's way to me (with more Skittles, which met the fate of their predecessors). Again, initial impressions were really positive. A very small packed size and low weight compared to my Thermarests had me oohing and aahing. Some huffing and puffing soon had it inflated and tested. Soooo comfortable, even for a side sleeper. No hip bone digging in to the ground through the mat. When I rolled off however, it was half deflated. Thinking I hadn't tightened the valve correctly I reinflated and the same thing happened. A quick dunk in the bath showed a stream of bubbles pouring out of the "seam" at the foot end. Humpf. As it was Friday evening I figured Bob and Rose would have shut up shop for the weekend, so I just dropped a quick email to them detailing the problem, and mentioned that I could pop by to pick up a replacement on Monday, to save any postal-based hassle. Well, I got an email from Rose first thing Monday, and by 11:30 I had a new mat in my mitts. Truly excellent service form a small company, they get Ken's coveted "Two Thumbs Up" virtual badge.
So there we have it, pretty much fully geared up for our Cairngorms foray next month, I just need to seam seal the Trailstar, but that's going to be much easier once we move, as we'll actually have a decent sized garden (with a lawn! and a garage!) for me to set it up in. If you're doing the TGO this year, we are aiming to be in Braemar on the Saturday night (having been at Derry Lodge on Thursday night, and then somewhere in Glen Avon on Friday night). If you see us, say "Hi!"