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Fjällräven Abisko 75 Review

By Phil 2014.07.28 in Product Review

Following my Fjällräven Friluft 45 Review back in May, I thought I would do a review of the Fjällräven Abisko 75, now that I have used it for a number of long distance hikes as part of my training for the upcoming 110km multi-day Fjällräven Classic.

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On my past two long distance hikes doing the Cathar Way in the French Pyrenees and the Tour du Mont Blanc, I had used the Berghaus Jalan Luxe 70+20 and the Berghaus Bioflex Light 65 respectively. Both of which served their purpose well at the time, with the Jalan Luxe also doubling up as a holdall by being able to zip the rucksack straps away and use a single shoulder strap, but this meant the rucksack was heavier than most for its size. The Bioflex Light 65 was a smart and lightweight rucksack, but it tended to lean to one side no matter how you packed it, which I think was due to the minimal support structure which allowed it to be so light for a 65 litre rucksack and which often lead to aching on one shoulder and having to constantly re-adjust it.

Now back to the Abisko 75. In April I was lucky enough to be one of 20 Fjällräven Polar 2014 participants, where we were given the Fjällräven Abisko 75 litre rucksack to carry all our clothing and personal equipment during our Polar adventure. As the Fjällräven Polar was a dog sled adventure, we didn’t really need to carry the rucksack for long periods as this was transported on our dog sleds. After a number of recent practice hikes and camping trips, I can now share my experiences.

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I will explain the features I like and how I use them in detail below:

  • Like most rucksacks nowadays, the rucksack lid has both internal and external zipped pockets. These are both very big in size, with the mesh pocked under the lid being the biggest. Both lid pockets can be used for the usual things you would want quick access to without having to open the main part of your rucksack. For items such as gloves, hat, sunglasses/goggles, snack food etc. On top of the lid there is also an elasticated cord which can be used to stuff a light waterproof or fleece should you need quick access to it.
  • The front of the backpack has a large zipped pocket which can be used for things like a sit mat, maps, waterproofs, food and even micro walking poles which I use it for. Micro walking poles fold to the perfect size for this large zipped pocket.
  • The side pockets are also a very good size and I use these for storing things like my camera tripod and water bottles.
  • The rucksack has a pre-shaped reinforced bottom for stability when placing rucksack on the ground to allow it to stand up straight.
  • Inside the backpack a back wall zipper safety pocket and a multi-function pocket which I use for the hydration pouch. The hole for the reservoir tube is neatly hidden at the top of the backpack and is elasticated, which makes it easy enough to feed the mouth piece of the reservoir tube through.
  • The back of the backpack has a handle at the top which is really useful when moving backpack in transit.
  • The shoulder straps have one stretch strap near the top which can be used to hook carabiner clips onto for carrying things such as GPS or a compass. And one metal ring on one strap which can also be used to hook things on to.
  • There is one hip pocket on the right hand side on the waist belt.
  • The rucksack can be top loaded or laid on its back and unzip the whole front of the rucksack to give a much easier access to the inside of rucksack for packing. Something I found most useful.
  • The rucksack lid can be extended quite a bit to allow enough room to store things like a sleeping mat or even a tent and then use the compression straps to tighten.
  • My favourite feature of the Abisko rucksack is the compression straps. These are removable and attach to slots in a webbing strap so they can be moved to different positions and fastened across the front of the pack to go round bulky items of gear or used as normal to compress the rucksack if not fully loaded. Being able to adjust the height position you can adjust to suit what you might be carrying in the side pockets. For example I like to secure my tripod which I carry in one of the side pockets during my hikes.
  • The adjustable chest strap also includes an emergency whistle.
  • A large adjustable rain cover is also included.

Verdict:
Overall I think the Fjällräven Abisko 75 is an excellent rucksack for long distance hikes or a camping trip. It has everything I need and more, with some features that I haven’t seen on other rucksacks. During my recent practice hikes carrying 18.2kg, I found it to be very comfortable on my back and around the hips, with no discomfort at all. I’m so impressed with it, that I’m even considering buying the Abisko 55 for when I don’t need to carry as much as required for long distance hiking, for example, where you don’t need to carry tent or cooking equipment if staying in accommodation during a hike. I have now sold my two Berghaus rucksacks on eBay and would recommend the Fjällräven Abisko 75 to anyone and really looking forward to using it during the Fjällräven Classic in 10 days time.

Classic Countdown

By Phil 2014.07.25 in Fjällräven Classic

Well it’s two weeks today before I head back to Sweden to take part in the Fjällräven Classic, a 110km trek along the classic hiking trail Kungsleden (The King’s Trail) from the village of Nikkaluokta in the south to Abisko in the north. I can’t wait!

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Kebnekaise, the highest mountain in Sweden

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The Fjällräven Classic route

I’m really looking forward to this trek and meeting up again with 6 (and Utu, Tuija’s dog) of my Fjällräven Polar 2014 team mates. It will be good to catch up again and share what I’m sure will be another amazing experience. In the last few months we have been sharing various training tips, packing lists and many other things as we prepare for the Classic. The majority of us will be arriving on Friday the 8th, with Greg arriving on the 7th and charged with the task of finding us a good camping pitch, before our 9:00am start on Saturday the 9th of August.

My fellow Fjällräven Polar Homies team consist of: Alex (US), Hana (Sweden), Manon (Netherlands), Tuija and her dog Utu (Finland), Greg (US) and Johan (Sweden).

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Alex Hana
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Manon Tuija
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Greg Johan
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Utu Myself

This will be my first multi-day trek where I will carrying my Fjällräven Abisko 2 tent, Fjällräven Sarek Three Season sleeping bag and cooking equipment, so I have had to be very strict with my pack list but doing the usual weighing of each individual item and limiting the number of luxury items I would usually take with me, so no silk pyjamas, dressing gown and slippers this time. ;) I’m also not sure how I will cope without my fellow UK Polar team mate Phil Parkes, as I got used to him cooking all my meals during the Polar, even if we did have things like Chilli Con Carne and Pasta dishes for breakfast, rather than the porridge our fellow Polarists were eating. I also haven’t done as much training as I would have liked prior to the Classic, but I hope to squeeze in a couple of hikes over the next two weeks.

Since the Polar in April I have already managed to meet up with 2 of my fellow Fjällräven Polar 2014 winners, when Manon from the Netherlands came to visit me in the Lakes in May and most recently Jostein from Norway, when I went to visit him 2 weeks ago and hiked up Trolltunga, so looking forward to crossing another 5 off the Polar list of 20, as well as meeting up with our friends and organisers from Fjällräven. Just wish the rest of our Polar team mates could have joined us.

I do plan to write a daily blog of the Fjällräven Classic, though will be posted after the event. So watch out for future updates…

It Takes Two To Trolltunga

By Phil 2014.07.15 in General

This weekend I visited my Fjällräven Polar mate Jostein, who lives in Stavanger in Norway and who I have kept in regular contact with since the Polar. We had talked about meeting up, but this was a very much a spur of the moment meeting before he goes back into the Norwegian army in a few weeks’ time.

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We got on so well while on the Polar as Team UK were teamed up with Team Norway for the trek. As Jostein had picked up my Mackem accent so well during the Polar, I thought it was only appropriate to take him some gifts from my home city and gave him a Mackem Legends t-shirt and a gourmet tin of Peas Pudding for him to eat when he next makes a ham sandwich, as well as a box of doughnuts which he had specifically asked me to smuggle into Norway for him. He really is now an official adopted Mackem. Whay aye!

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The plan for the weekend was to wild camp and hike Trolltunga, which is a few hours’ drive north of Stavanger. I had previously seen photos of the stunning Trolltunga (the Trolls Tongue) rock, but never thought I would get this opportunity to hike it. I also saw this as perfect chance for further practice for the Fjällräven Classic in August, which I’m doing with 6 of my other Polar team mates, so I packed my rucksack as I would if hiking the Classic. This included sleeping bag, tent and all others things required for overnight hiking and weighing about 18kg.

We left Stavanger early Friday morning like the famous expedition duo of Shackleton and Amundsen and headed to Odda where we would start the hike up to Trolltunga. With Jostein’s military background and vast knowledge of the outdoors, what could possibly go wrong…

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The weather was perfect, very hot and clear blue skies, so Jostein decided we wouldn’t need my tent I was carrying as we would camp out in the open like we did on last night of the Polar, but without the snow and freezing temperatures. I decide to carry the tent anyway just in case and to also give me practice carrying the extra weight, though I soon wish I hadn’t.

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We should have took note of the sign above! But instead we followed this route

We left the car at 14:45 and headed up the steep marked path up towards Trolltunga. Within minutes of starting the hike I was really struggling. Not sure if it was due to lack of sleep and energy, the heat, extra rucksack weight or combo of all of those, but it was tough. The sweat was pouring out of me and I was constantly drinking water from my rucksack water bladder. Jostein then reminded me about what Johan Skullman taught us on the Fjällräven Polar about the importance of maintaining the correct body temperature, though this time I needed to be a lot cooler than when we were on the Polar, so we took a break before taking our tops off and carried on topless for the rest of the steep ascent. This did help to some degree, but I still found it hard going and needing to stop for rests. Jostein again used his skills and helped me mentally by setting the pace and focussing on hiking for a set time before having a short rest and drink of water and increasing the time after every stop. This really helped as it gives you something to aim for and drive you on and helps to forget about how hard you are struggling. It also showed me how much I have lost my fitness since returning from the Polar in April and how much I need to get back into training ready for the Classic in August.

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We finally made it to the first of our summits before taking a food break while sunbathing and refilling our water bottles from the constant streams of water coming from the melting snow from the mountains around us. It was stunning. It was a combination of large grassy crags from the Lake District, snow covered mountains like the Munro’s of Scotland and the Alps all rolled into one, with a small scatting of beautiful Norwegian cabins.

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I was also surprised at the lack of people walking around us on such a popular hike, but there was a reason for that. We headed on over the large crags through many streams before we reached a large lake. It was then we realised that we were probably not on the official Trolltunga path anymore and probably the reason for lack of other hikers around us. Yes you guessed it, we were lost. Well kind of. We had obviously missed the red T way mark turning point we should have taken and instead had walked a good few kilometres further north. It was now 19:00 and there was no way we could make it to Trolltunga before dark while carrying our full rucksacks, as we knew we had to head over 2 or 3 large summits before picking up the path again rather than walking back to where we should have turned off. So we decided to abandon our rucksacks and hide them behind some rocks and cover with Jostein’s camouflage sleeping bag. We took our head torches, extra layer of clothing, a water bottle and some emergency food rations and headed off towards Trolltunga. Despite us being lost and having to walk over some very steep summits; it was an amazing hike with some stunning views as we walked across large deep snow patches, around frozen lakes and the occasional scrambling up rocks.

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We finally arrived at Trolltunga at around 22:00 and luckily it was still fairly light, as we watched the sun set across the Fjord, before taking the usual iconic tourist photos of Trolltunga. It was stunning! As it was very late in the day, there were no large crowds of people, just the odd few who obviously wanted to see the sun set also and a small few who had obviously planned on camping nearby.

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Standing on Trolltunga was a really strange feeling. It was great to see the views across the Fjords from the rock, though I wasn’t daring enough as Jostein who decided to sit on the edge of Trolltunga with his feet dangling below. It made my stomach turn just watching him. Even now as I’m writing this I can still feel that feeling in my stomach. Despite him telling me: “It’s just like sitting on a chair. How many times have you fallen off a chair? Go on, give it a go!” I decided to not chance sitting on “the chair” and was happy to keep a little distance from the edge.

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As we arrived late and had a 3 hour hike back to our rucksacks and planned camp for the night, we decided to head back along the tourist path before turning off to where we thought we needed to. We thought staying on the path for as long as possible would be the safest option at that time of night.

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After an hour of walking, I started to get slight blurred vision. I wasn’t sure if it was tiredness, dehydration or combination of both, so we stopped for a short break and more water before putting on my head torch, which seemed to help a little bit. At about midnight we had to make a decision if now was the time to go over the top of the summit or stay on the path for a little longer. We could see in the distance the summit was slightly lower and maybe that was best time to head over, so we continued towards it. Then out of nowhere appeared a little hut. I looked at Jostein and asked if he thought it was a refuge hut. He wasn’t sure so I went and had a closer look. Sure enough it was. The door was open and inside was a bunk bed and a stove. We had struck gold! This gave us the option of spending the night there before heading back to our rucksacks in the morning. Even though it wasn’t particularly cold outside, it was certainly the best and safest option we had at that time of night.

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Despite the luxury of a hut and mattress for the night, it certainly wasn’t a great night sleep, but a couple of hours were better than nothing. We quickly finished off what little food we had left before heading back over the top towards our rucksacks. It was another beautiful sunny day as we headed over more snow topped mountains and lakes. We had quite a laugh about our previous days exploits as he recited scenes from Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit with references to Mackemshire and Lakeshire which he believes how I live back home here in England. It certainly kept our spirits up.

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It Carlsberg made refuge huts, this would probably be the best refuge hut in the world!

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Two hours later we finally arrived back at our stashed rucksacks. We had left two banana skins as markers on a large rock close to where we had left rucksacks, which was a good job, as you really couldn’t see them hidden under his camouflaged sleeping bag. We decided to chill for a bit around the lake before heading back to the car. I decide to put my fire making skills to the test by making a small fire with just my knife and fire stick which we had learned while on the Polar, while Jostein decided to soak and sunbathe by the small lake.

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Jostein was delighted to find his camouflaged sleeping bag covering our rucksacks. Can you see it??

As we headed back to the car we came across two elderly Norwegian men heading towards the lake where had left our rucksacks. Jostein told them that we had been to Trolltunga and which route we had taken. They were both impressed and said we had done it via the best route possible, away from the crowds on the tourist route and a much more scenic route. Though he did leave out the details that we hadn’t intended on doing that route and that it was only due to us getting slightly lost.

As we head back towards the car, we could see the path going up the side of one of the mountains which was very busy with people heading towards Trolltunga. I’m glad we got lost and took the path we did, as we made our own route and got to see some amazing scenery that others wouldn’t have seen. I’m also used to getting lost and love experiencing the unknown and not knowing what’s around the corner. It’s what makes it an adventure.

The final 2km steep descent back to the car were not pleasant at all for me, as my now common problem with my feet and boots were starting to kick in. My feet and toes were in agony. I really thought after 4 pairs of hiking boots I had found the right pair, but maybe not, as every step was met with sheer pain. Despite my moaning and whining, I got little sympathy from Jostein. “I need to stop mate and need water.” To which Jostein replied. “You want water, you don’t need water. Now howay man, come on. Not far to go now. ”Which is just what I needed. I needed to be pushed or else I would have taken the easy option of many stops on the way down. We finally arrived back at the car at exactly 14:45. It had been 24 hours exactly since we had left to do Trolltunga.

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My face of fatigue! Feet in agony!

Despite my struggles at the start and the end, getting lost, walking in the dark, blurred vision, and sleeping in a refuge hut, it was an amazing hike/adventure. I learned a lot of things during those 24 hours, especially how to mentally deal with certain scenarios and how you cope with unexpected things put in front of you in certain conditions. It was without doubt the best single hike I have ever been on and one I will never ever forget. Cheers Jostein mate for making it possible. Though next time we take a map yeah?

After a quick change at the car and a few celebratory high fives, we drove to Odda and booked ourselves into a hotel for a well-deserved rest, wash and proper food! Ironically the bar in the hotel was call the Trolltunga bar. I thought we had left that thing behind us hours ago.

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After a good night’s sleep in the hotel, we had early breakfast before heading back to Stavanger. As if the hike up Trolltunga wasn’t enough, Jostein had a surprise planned for me later that day before my flight home. He told me we were heading to the airport to meet two of his friends for my surprise. This worried me, as he is a keen Skydiver and had been trying to get me to bungee jump and push myself out of my comfort zone all weekend, as if Trolltunga wasn’t enough. Luckily for me, he wasn’t planning on pushing me out of an aeroplane with a parachute strapped to my back; instead it was a leisurely flight over Stavanger and up the coast.

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Two magnificent men and their flying machine, they went up tiddly up up, they came down tiddly down down…

We met his pilot friend Victoria at the hanger of the 4 seater Piper Cherokee Arrow R200 plane which we would be flying in. I couldn’t believe he had arranged such a thing for my visit. I had never been in a plane so small before, but I wasn’t nervous at all, until Victoria, Melissa and Jostein started talking in Norwegian to each other and laughing and mentioning the words “rollercoaster” and “loop”, until I realise they were winding me up.

After our very short briefing from Victoria we were up in the air. They let me sit in the front next to Victoria as she flew us over Stavanger and towards Preikestolen, which is another famous tourist attraction, a steep cliff above Lysefjorden. It was a stunning sight as we flew around it a few times looking at the crowds on people standing on it. After our final lap of the Preikestolen, Victoria gave me control of the plane! She talked me though how to control the plane and told me to head to the coast. I couldn’t believe what was happening. It was an unbelievable experience. There I was in full control of this little plane flying over the coast of Stavanger. It was a perfect way to end the weekend.

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Cockpit selfie of me, Melissa, Jostein and Victoria

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Flying past the tourist on Preikestolen rock

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Flying past the tourist on Preikestolen rock

I had an unforgettable long weekend visiting Jostein in Norway. I knew we would have such a great time, but never expected it to be such an epic and fun adventure as it turned out to be. We had such a laugh from start to finish as well as experiencing an unbelievable hike to Trolltunga and learning a lot of things along the way. As if that wasn’t enough, he topped it off by arranging our own personal flight with his pilot friend Victoria and a chance for me to fly a plane! Unbelievable.

I always say that spur of the moment adventures and experiencing the unknown are the best and this surely was one of those! Cheers Jostein mate for making it possible and inviting me “Great times!!!”. Can’t wait for our next one.

My Carryology Interview on Fjällräven Polar 2014

By Phil 2014.07.15 in Fjällräven Polar

Interview with Phil Raisbeck :: Fjällräven Polar 2014 participant

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For part two of our Fjällräven Polar series we went direct to the source – 2014 participant Phil Raisbeck who kindly agreed to share his first-hand experience of this amazing and exhilarating event…

Click link below for full interview:
http://www.carryology.com/insights/insights-1/interview-phil-raisbeck-fjallraven-polar-2014-participant/

Scrambled Legs

By Phil 2014.06.30 in Fjällräven Classic

This weekend me and Jason P headed over to the Western side of the Lakes to Wasdale to meet our work mate Anthony H and his 5 mates, Anthony Q, Karl, Crofty, Sean and Jason B from Lancashire for a weekend of camping and hiking next to the Wasdale Head Inn.

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I had been looking forward to this weekend as it was another chance to try my Fjällräven Abisko 2 tent and Sarek 3 season sleeping bag in preparation for the Fjällräven Classic in August.

The campsite was a very small field just opposite the Wasdale Head Inn pub surrounded by the stunning hills of Kirk Fell, Great Gable, Pillar, Lingmell and Yewbarrow, with only the facilities of the pub/hotel and the Barn Shop close by.

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With it being a very small campsite and neighbouring tents very close by, you hear everything from your fellow outdoor neighbours. This meant a very early unplanned wakeup call at around 6:30am on Saturday morning as you hear the sound of campsite stoves burning away, cooking breakfasts, before everyone heads off one their planned hikes for the day.

I decided to try some more freeze dried breakfasts which I had brought along, while Jason P tucked into his bowl of Alpen procured from the Barn Shop. I have to say I was very impressed with the Adventure Food freeze dried Kunsa Museli I had. After our own breakfasts we headed over to see how Anthony H and his mates were getting on. You would think they were the official Campsite Café with the amount of stoves they had burning away. Serving up bacon, sausages, eggs and black pudding with a choice of tea or cafetiere coffee. Talk about glamping!

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As we waited for the Brookes brothers of Sean and Jason to arrive, Anthony H talked us through our planned hike for the day of Lingmell, Scafell Pike, Mickledore, Lords Rake then on to Sca Fell and back to Wasdale Head. He had mapped it out all by himself on his little computer. It was calculated at only 12.5km in distance but was a very challenging route with very steep ascent and descents and a couple of very tricky scrambles up Lords Rake.

The Brookes brothers arrived as schedule at 9:13am and pitched their tents (with Sean having a tent big enough for all 8 of us rather just himself!), before Sgt. Harrison gathered us all together to head off on our hike at precisely 10:04 as he had planned.

The hike started with a very steep ascent as we headed towards the summit of Lingmell. I must admit, I was struggling like never before and was wishing I hadn’t carbo-loaded on Peroni the night before. I had to enforce a couple of unsanctioned drinks breaks and it wasn’t long before I had to take drastic action and hit the trusted Dioralyte to settle my stomach. The Dioralyte soon started to do the trick as I managed to make our first summit of Lingmell.

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After a brief stop we headed on to our next summit and the highest in England, Scafell Pike at 978m. As it was a Saturday, Scafell Pike was its usual busy self, as the hordes of tourists, fell runners and 3 peak challengers head to the summit. It’s a pity Anthony H’s campsite café wasn’t portable, as he could have made a fortune had he been able to carry it to the top and start selling hot drinks and snacks.

After the usual summit photos at the Scafell Pike cairn, we decided 12:40 was a good time to stop and have our lunch, even if it was a little ahead of Sgt. Harrison’s planned 12:53 lunch stop. Crofty pulled out his dog eared copy of Wainwright to inform us that Wainwright thought the “horrors” of Lords Rake were not too bad. At this point a bank of cloud drifted in to cover said route that lay before us.

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As the rest of the lads tucked into their various lunches, I decided to give another of the Beyond the Beaten Track Ready to Eat Hot or Cold meals a try and decided on the Lamb Casserole. I have to say I wasn’t impressed at all. It was nowhere near as good as their Chicken Tikka Curry, Pasta and Meatballs or Chilli Con Carne I had tried previously. As I had done with the previous meals, I ate this cold; though I very much doubt heating it up would have made any difference. I’m not usually a lamb eater anyway, so I don’t even know why I decided to try it, but I won’t be doing so again.

After lunch it was time to head to Lords Rake via Mickledore but not before I had noticed Sgt. Harrison had placed a very large heavy rock in my rucksack while I wasn’t looking. As if I don’t carry enough clothing, equipment and gadgets with me.

I’d heard about Lords Rake and about the very tricky steep scramble on the loose scree and was really looking forward to it, as having a scramble on a hike gives you a bit of variety and chance to get on your hands and knees and a break from walking.

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At the top of the first big scramble up Lords Rake there is a rather large rock leaning over to one side against a large rock face. It makes the scramble look even more impressive or dangerous depending on how you want to look at it. We were all looking forward to it until Sgt. Harrison told us that people have predicted that the rock will fall at some point, but nobody can predict when. I think that bit of information could have waited until after the scramble up. Despite Anthony’s revelation, we headed off in a single line, with enough gaps between us to give us time to move from any falling rocks caused by the person in front of you. Despite the threat of the large falling rock and the constant loose scree rolling down past you, we all made it to the top in one piece.
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Next we headed to our final summit of Scafell, which is slight smaller than Scafell Pike at 960m, before we descended back to our campsite in time for the Brazil v Chile match on TV in the Wasdale Head Inn.

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The descent back to Wasdale from Sca Fell was very steep and actually harder than the scramble we had at Lords Rake. The first 400m of the descent was particularly tricky as we had to carefully cross more loose rocks and scree before getting to the steep grassy bank all the way back down to the valley.

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We arrived back at the Wasdale Head Inn beer garden at 17:14 (11 minutes behind Sgt. Harrison’s schedule) where we grabbed front row seats in front of the TV and settled there for the night drinking beers while watching the match.

Despite my early struggles on this hike, it was a great challenging route with stunning views and great laughs along the way. The plan was to do another hike the next day, but I don’t think anybody’s legs were up for it after Saturday’s hike. I know my legs certainly weren’t. It’s now Sunday evening as I write this and the burn on my thighs is really kicking in now. The last time my legs felt like this was after a drunken night of Ska dancing to Madness at someone’s birthday or wedding disco. My legs really do feel scrambled.

Hike profile: Click here to view full hike details
hike profile

The Emperor’s New Boots

By Phil 2014.06.17 in Fjällräven Classic

With just over 50 days to go before the Fjällräven Classic in August, I thought it was time to start practicing doing some long hikes with my full sized rucksack loaded with a similar weight I will be carrying during the Classic.

So on Sunday I loaded my Fjällräven Abisko 75 litre rucksack with a weight of 16kg and headed to Haydon Bridge to do the Hadrian’s Wall circular walk with my mate Jason.

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This was also the first chance for me to try my new Scarpa R-Evo GTX hiking boots which I bought from my friends at LD Mountain Centre two weeks ago. These boots are my 4th pair of boots since I started my outdoor addiction in the summer of 2012. It has now become a bit of a joke about how many pairs of boots I have gone through, but following LD’s manager Neil’s recommendation and great reviews I had read, I was confident these would be the right choice. I also own a pair of Scarpa Mantra Pro GTX winter boots, which have been really good so far, so I thought switching from my Salomon’s to Scarpa could be the way to go.

Hadrian’s Wall (Latin: Vallum Aelium) was a defensive fortification in Roman Britain, begun in AD 122 during the rule of Emperor Hadrian (a.k.a. Publius Aelius Hadrianus to his friends). In addition to its military role, gates through the wall served as customs posts.

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It was quite a warm start to the walk despite it being slightly cloudy. The walk also started with a steep climb out of Haydon Bridge before with hit the fields and headed towards Housesteads Roman Fort.

After 2 hours of walking we reached Hadrian’s Wall just north of Houseteads, just in time for a spot of lunch. This gave me the opportunity to try another of the ready to eat outdoor meals I have been trying recently. After eating the Real Turmat meals during the Fjällräven Polar in April, I have been trying to find similar quality outdoor meals here in the UK. Today was the turn of Beyond The Beaten Track’s Chilli Con Carne with Rice (ready to eat hot or cold). This was the 3rd meal of theirs I have tried, and I have to say I was once again well impressed. I chose to eat this one cold, despite me carrying 16kg in my rucksack, I hadn’t brought my stove to heat it up. It was actually tastier than some Chilli Con Carne’s I have eaten in pubs over the years, so will certainly be buying again. My only complaint is that there wasn’t more.

After lunch we visited the remains of Housesteads Roman Fort as seen in some of the photos below:

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Following our brief step back into time, we then started to head back to our starting point at Hayden Bridge. On the way back we had to cross a very large field with a large warning sign telling us how boggy and wet the field was that we were about to cross. They weren’t wrong. It was unbelievable and have never walked across anything like it before. You could quite easily go over on your ankle and do yourself a serious injury. Luckily my new boots were up to the job and received a pretty good christening on their first outing. I guess there was no taking them back to LD Mountain Centre now. God knows how the Roman’s crossed such fields in their sandals all those years ago.

With about 1 mile to go to the end of our circular walk, we came across two dogs wandering towards us with their owner following them in the distance. The dogs seemed friendly enough as they walked towards us wagging their tails, once passed us, one of them decided he wasn’t so keen on my new hiking boots as I was, as he tried to bite my ankle, before his owner told him to stop.

We finally arrived back at our cars feeling quite wrecked after our 22km hike. This was the first time I have hiked with this kind of rucksack weight since doing the Tour du Mont Blanc last summer and I could certainly feel the difference carrying the extra weight from my usual daysack weight, but was glad I had this first one under my belt. I was also very pleased with my new Scarpa R-Evo GTX boots and just hope these are “the ones” and that I won’t be buying another pair in 12 months’ time. I bet Emperor Hadrian wished Scarpa had been around in his day to make similar boots, rather than the footwear he had to wear back then and maybe Hans Christian Andersen would have wrote the story “The Emperor’s New Boots”, rather than “The Emperor’s New Clothes”.

See if you can spot the difference below, between my new boots and the footwear worn by Emperor Hadrian in his day:
Scarpa-R-Evo-GTX-SS14

clavata

I will be doing many more practice walks over the coming weeks as the countdown towards the Fjällräven Classic in August continues.

Welcome

Welcome to my blog about hiking, trekking, Fjällräven Polar 2014, in fact anything where you require boots and the outdoors.

My name is Phil, and following my outdoor epiphany which started in the summer of 2012 I’m now hooked on everything outdoors. So far my biggest treks have included the 250km Cathar Way, the 170km Tour du Mont Blanc and best of all, winning 1st place to take part in the Fjällräven Polar in April 2014.

I plan to use this blog to write about all my adventures, which will include my personal goal of becoming a Munroist (completing all 282 Scottish Munro mountains), summer treks, weekends in the Lakes and many more.

I like to try and make my blog posts humorous so I hope you enjoy reading and that I can put a smile on people’s faces while showing you some amazing places.

If you have any questions about the blog or the places I'm writing about, don't hesitate to contact me on: phil@philyourboots.com

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Tuija Pellikka (Finland)

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