Monday, 14 January 2013

First Wild Camp of 2013

With a couple of days off work last week I finally had the chance to get out for my first wild camp of the new year. I decided to head to the Western Fells of the Lake District and had initially planned on a two night trip, unfortunately I needed to get some life admin done on my first day off so the trip turned in to an overnighter, but what a couple of days!

It felt cold as I left the house on Thursday morning and as I climbed in to the car the temperature gauge read -3ºC. Thankfully the roads were fairly quiet and 2.5 hours later I found myself in the Lake District, surrounded by thick fog and the temperature gauge in the car still showing -3ºC.

As I got out of the car and was getting my stuff together I noticed somebody else nearby and went over to say hello, we chatted for a short while, due to the fog the other chap wasn't sure whether or not he was going to head out or just cut his losses and head home. I have to admit that on the drive over a similar thought had crossed my mind but I was determined to carry on so off I set. 

The going was pretty slow initially, partly due to the ice covered rocks but probably more to do with my over indulgence at Christmas, but I was in no rush and plodded on through the fog. Around 15 minutes or so after leaving the car the cloud started to thin and things started to look a little brighter. In the days before this trip I'd studied the forecasts and seen photo's others had posted so had been quietly hoping that I might get an inversion, as I made my way up Grey Knotts things started to look very promising.
Trying to not get too excited I carried on upwards and things continued to clear, It wasn't too much longer before I was above the cloud level and surrounded by stunning views.
As I continued the views only got better and my pace slowed even more as I took my time taking the views in and stopped every few minutes to take photographs. It was great to be out again and I really couldn't have asked for better weather. 

I made it to the top of Green Gable by about midday and decided to stop there for my lunch, the breeze was pretty much none existent but threw my shell on to keep warm whilst I sat and ate my sandwiches. I was soon joined by a couple of guys from Cheshire who also stopped for lunch, It was great sitting in the sun chatting with them as we ate, surrounded by probably the best inversion I've ever seen.
After lunch the three of us made our way up Great Gable together where I ran in to the chap I'd seen as I was leaving the car who was on his way down from the summit, he commented that if it hadn't been for me wandering off into the fog he would have just headed home and missed out on the best day he'd ever had up on the Gables. 

The memorial on Great Gable
The views from the top of Great Gable were probably the best of the day and the three of us stopped there for a while before parting ways, they headed off towards Wasdale Head and I started towards Sty Head. Just before I started the descent I turned and took a photograph of them as they paused to take in the views.

Lunch companions
From Styhead I made my way down to the Tarn and then doubled back and headed up to Sprinkling Tarn, then finally up to where I was planning to spend the night. It felt like it was starting to cool down a bit and I'm not sure what the actual temperature was but it must have been pretty cold as the Tarn on the way to where I was planning to camp was frozen. 

Frozen Tarn
As I stopped to make camp the crappy thermometer I had with me read -2ºC but it felt colder. The Trailstar was pitched in no time and I quickly got a brew on. As a Christmas present I was lucky enough to receive a Jetboil which I'd wanted for quite a while, other than the 'essential' test boil I was allowed to do in the kitchen before it was wrapped and put under the tree I hadn't yet had chance to use it. After using it on this trip I have to say I'm really impressed with it, super sturdy and brings water to the boil in no time at all, very pleased.

Jetboil at work
The view from camp
The Trailstar was pitched facing the above view and once I crawled in to bed it was great to be looking down to the inversion, as it got dark the clouds were lit from underneath which was quite impressive. Unfortunately I didn't take a tripod with me so I didn't take any night time shots this time. 

I didn't have the best nights sleep, mainly due to my sleeping mat slipping out from under me a couple of times, but each time I woke the inversion was still present lower down in the valley, I think the last time I saw it was around 0130. The next time I woke it wasn't caused by my sleeping mat but by freezing rain hitting the Trailstar, it was a cold night and the Trailstar was frozen, as was all the water I had with me but I was nice and warm tucked up in my sleeping bag. I next woke around 0630 and leaned over and fired up the Jetboil for a morning cuppa and sat back and enjoyed the below view from bed.

The morning view from bed :-)

Once I'd had a cuppa and some muesli I spent a little time taking some photographs around camp before packing up and heading off.

Trailstar in the morning

As I was packing up I was surrounded by the clouds which took the visibility down to around 10-15m, the forecast for the Friday hadn't been quite as good for Thursday so I wasn't sure if I was just below the cloud line of another inversion or if it was just going to be a wet foggy day. I set off back past the Frozen Tarn (which was no longer frozen) and made my way to Sprinkling Tarn, due to the weather there wasn't really much to look at and this remained the case as I continued down to Styhead Tarn. At the end of the Tarn I took a left and started my way up Aaron Slack, as on the first day the cloud soon started to thin out again and I was soon above the level of the clouds.

The view back down Aaron Slack
I took a similar route back to the car as on the first day, again pausing frequently to take some photographs and to just enjoy the views. 

All in all it was a fantastic couple of days, I didn't cover much ground particularly but that's not what it's always about for me, It was great just to be out again.

Hope you've enjoyed reading.



Green Gable Shelter
Checking in
Self portrait on top of Green Gable

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