Liebster

So apparently, there's this thing called the Liebster Award.  I'd never heard of it, but it's a way of getting to know outdoor blogs that others enjoy, via some interesting questions. Keith got in touch with some if his own, here's my answers.

1) Is it the freedom, the scenery, the solitude, the inspiration, the adventure? What is it about being in the outdoors that you are passionate about? I value the economy and simplicity of walking and camping in remote and untamed places most highly, I think. Secondarily, views are good, being challenged is good, and some head space, although that doesn't have to be solitary - I like to hang out with others on trips as well. I don't prioritise walking over camping or vice versa - I value the 24hour experience, even when it gets a bit 'trying'.

2) What part of the world do you live in and where is the local place that you always go back to? At the moment, Edinburgh. My local bolt hole is Aberlady Bay, about 40mins away by car. I adore it and would walk there every day if I could.

3) Where and what would be your dream hiking trip and why? So many, but if I had to choose one at the moment, probably the Great Himalayan Trail, Why? Out of the comfort zone means into an accelerated learning curve. I've walked a little in India but only in the foothills of the Himalaya... so a long, immersive trip higher, traversing through those really distinctive hill cultures, challenging terrain and logistics has a huge draw. I also have a list with Norway, Sweden, the Carpathians, New Zealand, the Rockies and the Sierra on it, not in that order.

4) Assuming you expect good weather on a mid-summer trip, would you prefer boots or trail shoes? Trail shoes

5) Name the one night you camped that sticks out in your mind as being the best. Ach, too hard! So many. But I'm harking back to last year's packraft trip to Isle Maree for Halloween with my good friend David Hine. It rained hard, we got a huge blaze going, we dried out, got tipsy on whisky and goofed around in the graveyard. Good times!

6) . . . and the worst? There have been one or two pretty horrible experiences. The most 'extreme' was getting benighted on a mountain called Palas, on the Haute Route Pyrenees, at about 2,700ms. After being lost, separated then reunited, the cloud cleared and whilst it was freezing and we had to doze sitting up, it was a transformative experience for all three of us. The outright most rubbish was a night in the Breacon Beacons. My belle and I were still fairly green at backpacking and a storm blew in. We should have abandoned the pitch but we sat it out. You could hear the wind whistling round the cirque and gathering momentum until it crashed against the shelter. We found out afterward the SAS that were training that weekend were pulled off their exercises that night. It's not a brag if it's total ignorance, and it definitely was in our case.

7) Would you be capable of finding your way, without a map, on a circular route around the town where you live? Probably not the whole of Edinburgh, unless I cheated and followed the ring road. But I could probably rattle around the inner city fairly well without getting too lost.

8) What is the best bit of advice you have ever been given in relation to hiking, and who gave it to you? Hiking is just walking the way we still know how, if only we'd stop listening to advice. Over to Cactus Ed 'There are some good things to be said about walking. Not many, but some. Walking takes longer, for example, than any other known form of locomotion except crawling. Thus it stretches time and prolongs life. Life is already too short to waste on speed. I have a friend who’s always in a hurry; he never gets anywhere. Walking makes the world much bigger and thus more interesting. You have time to observe the details'.  On the other hand, I've learnt alot from other outdoor folk, some of whom are listed below...

9) You’re on a remote stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail in the High Sierra and you get lost. You manage to get reception to make a call to search and rescue but it could be up to 6 days before they find you. What would be your first plan of action? My first reaction was to wonder if I'd call S&R for being lost, initially. Check gps backup (viewranger) first, since the phone is on. Maybe camp, eat a half ration, hydrate, rest, get my head together and look afresh the following day. Try not to be bear food.

10) When are you next due to go hiking and where will it be?
Later this week, an overnighter in the Skye Cuillin before a scrambling course with the MCofS. After that a 3 day solo packraft trip in the Northwest north of Glen Shiel. A new baby at home means fewer trips away, so I'm looking forward to a high camp in the rocky perfection that is Skye.

11) What would be your perfect evening meal on trail?
Best manna outdoors is salmon and sweetcorn on a driftwood fire, good company and a glass of vino... but I'm usually eating dehydrated rubbish in the hills.

Part of the deal with this Leibster thing is to ask another 11 bloggers a different 11 questions.  Naturally this is voluntary, but the bloggers below are all people whose adventures I love to read about - so hopefully they view this, as I did, as a friendly invitation and not as internet chain mail!

I am asking:

Chris Townsend, Nick Bramhall, Michael Thompson, James Boulter, Fraser MacAlister, Mark Roberts, Ben Dolphin, David Hine, Pete Edwards, William Vandoorne, Joe Newton, Steve Behaeghel

1 Favourite island, why and when did you last visit?

2 Best book about the outdoors and why?

3. Why blog?

4. Solo or with others?

5. Have you ever had an encounter (not necessarily 'close') with a big predator outdoors and if so tell us about it.

6. How many knots do you know and which ones?

7. When were you last scared outdoors and why?

8. On trail or off trail?

9. What is elegant route planning to you?

10. How many tents do you own and how many should you own?

11. What was your earliest/youngest significant outdoor experience?