Monday, June 06, 2016
Some things I've learnt from my Yading trek preparations
It absolutely poured down this weekend in Sydney (and the rest of the Australian east coast). Something like 300mm of rain. While most people stayed home and watched the TV reports of the floods, I was out giving my gear the ultimate waterproofing test. I was glad I did because I found that my usual MacPac rainjacket was not very breathable and hence I ended up really wet anyway from sweat. This might be because it has lost its built in waterproofing (DWR according to the jargon). I tried to fix this with some NikWax spray, but it didn't seem to make much difference when I tried it the next day. So I will instead opt for my more daggy REI jacket, which seem to be more breathable - maybe due to the eVent fabric.
Having said that, even the REI jacket was still damp inside after a couple of hours plodding round in the rain. I made the classic rookie mistake of wearing cotton as my base layer (a usually comfortable T-shirt) - it got wet and stayed sopping wet. After a bit of reading I learned that a merino or polypro base layer was the way to go - so I picked one up at Mountain Designs and what a difference it made! I was able to stroll around in the rain, slightly damp from the rainjacket but still feeling warm and comfortable.
The rain also taught me that I needed to get some new boots. My trusty old Kathmandu ones soaked up water like sponges and I was squelching around feeling very miserable. My previous treks over the Dokerla and to Yading etc had all been in mostly dry conditions, so I hadn't noticed how porous my footwear was after prolonged rain. Anyhow, those wet and soggy feet sent me down to Paddy Pallin where I picked up some Scarpa Deltas, which proved to be most waterproof in the rain.
To build up my knees in preparation for the trek I have been hiking up and down the steep street that I live on - this has also taught me how to adjust the straps & belt of my Macpac Cascade pack. I have also learned that I need to have a hat with some ventilation - the usual closed hat gets too sweaty.
So I am now pretty much prepared - one last minute purchase may be a pair of softshell pants so that I don't have to take a spare pair of overtrousers.
For food, I'm planning to survive on muesli/milk powder/coffee for brekkie; VitaWheat and salami/cheese for lunch; dehydrated meals plus some mash spuds and bagel toast for dinner. Snacks will be mostly Snickers bars (though I still call them Marathons, betraying my 1970s British upbringing.)
The only other essential piece of kit is a bottle of Diamox. I only realised at the last minute that I will be flying in to the highest airport in the world this weekend - Daocheng-Yading airport is billed as being at 4400m! Must be on the plateau, because Daocheng town is listed as being 3750m. Hence the Diamox for high altitude.
The only blot on the planning front has been the loss of my film supplies through the incompetence of Australia Post. I'd bought 10 rolls of 120 film for my Rolleiflex via eBay - but the delivery never arrived. Well it did, according to Australia Post but they must have left it on the step because I never saw it. I am now weighing up whether to take the Rolleiflex with just 9 rolls of 12-exposure colour transparency film - or to take my 35mm backup camera, a battered Bessa R2 (with Leica Summicron 35mm lens), for which I have 12 rolls of 36 exposure film.