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.


3 comments:

Peter Zhang said...

I'm in the same boat with deciding on gear in anticipation of heavy rains. Also bought some nikwax spray but haven't used it on a cheap-ish gore-tex shell that I have. If it doesn't do the trick for improving the DWR, I might buy a Marmot PreCip light weight jacket. Seems to get a lot of good reviews, it's got the pit zips and is quite cheap. Already bought a nice pair of Marmot rain pants too- lightweight and kept me completely dry when I rode my bike in the rain testing them out the other day. What did you decide on for a stove? I bought the tiny esbit type 'pocket stove' with solid fuel tabs. Takes a while to boil water but should suffice for really basic cooking and coffee..hopefully no issues with those in checked baggage.

Michael Woodhead said...

For a stove I'm taking my micro MSR in the hope of finding a gas canister, but I'm also bringing some hexy fuel tablets just in case (same fingers crossed with check in - they're shrink wrapped and look like sweets). At a stretch I can find wood for a fire in most places, I reckon.
After my weekend big wet experience I went out and bought some Patagonia lightweight soft shell pants (Simul Alpine), which are supposed to be water and wind resistant (but not waterproof). I reckon they're a good compromise, rather than taking a hard shell rainpants, which I found got quite damp from condensation anyway after an hour. My only conumdrum now is whether to take an back up camera to add to my Rolleiflex.

Andrew Peterson said...

Hi Michael,

Thanks so much for your blog which has been a wonderful resource that my wife and I discovered after first discovering the Nujiang a few years ago.

We have been exploring some of the areas that you cover in your blog over the last few years. I travel with a rolleiflex and/or a leica M2 so I really enjoy the photos on your blog. We've been in the Nujiang twice, into the Dulong where we went downstream a mile or so into Burma and we did half of the Kawa Karpo last year before getting kicked out of tibet at the newly installed police check point in Abing. In a few weeks we are heading to Sichuan and have planned to head for Ge'nyen although we have not fixed those plans.

I wonder if we could pick your brains off line. if so, you can contact me: andpete at gmail dot com

Looks from your twitter feed as though may have just returned to Australia?