Glove thing

I have a thing about gloves. Not a weird thing that will get me locked up or on some kind of register, or that would make you look twice at me before making an excuse to move several yards away. But I like a good pair of gloves. On the hills in winter, it’s important to have a decent pair of gloves, and a spare pair in case you lose one.

Lose one, you laugh, thinking back to your childhood when to stop that very thing from happening, string was attached to your gloves and fed through your coat so that even if the gloves wriggled off your hands, they dangled from your sleeve! Lose one, you giggle, knowing your gloves are always in your pocket if they’re not on your hands!

I have another thing about gloves. I often manage to lose one. The first time it happened, I was heading up Ben Lawers in a howling wind and in freezing conditions. Struggling with walking poles, doing my jacket up and keeping my hat firmly on my head, I managed to drop a glove on the path and despite several minutes of searching, I never found it. I kept my left hand in my pocket and managed to get to the top of my second Munro (and nearly got blown off the top, only stopping by hanging on to the trig point, but that’s a non-glove related story).

To satisfy my glove thing, I am often to be seen in outdoor clothing shops checking out the glove aisle. Friends laugh but they don’t understand the frequency with which I mislay these vital items of apparel. On all my treks, I have had at least three pairs of gloves (and this doesn’t include the liner gloves for the really, really cold days).

And the point of this blog entry? This morning, somewhere between Mynydd y Gwair and Brynllefrith, I lost a glove. And it was one of the decent ones I have, waterproof and lined but not too bulky. It had been to Everest Base Camp and to the top of Kilimanjaro.  I am not particularly sentimental, but this was a comfy glove that I’d had for a few years, and which I used as a yardstick for new gloves. Now it’s lying lost and alone in the mud on the hills above Swansea.

Tomorrow, I must head back to the outdoor shops to get another pair.

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Lost Again

Last year, Rufus and I climbed Garreg Lwyd in the mist. Mist doesn’t normally bother me other than when I lose Rufus in it. But he knows where I am and while I’d be straining to spot him, he is usually sneaking up behind me. I can hear the metal rings on his collar clinking together sometimes, which helps. This particular time, Rufus and I kept close together and we walked from Garreg Lwyd to Foel Fraith and back. But on the short descent from Garreg Lwyd back to the car we got lost. When I checked the GPS track later, it was amazing to see how I’d strayed almost in a ‘U’turn back towards Foel Fraith.

This morning, we headed back to Garreg Lwyd and, typically, it was under a heavy blanket of cloud again. This time I was careful to make sure that the GPS track was working from the start so I had a reference point should I get lost again. It was hard to say how much visibility there was as there are very few landmarks to judge by on this mountain. The climb up, not too strenuous, reminded me of the terrain on my first Munro – Maol Chearnn Deag. There were lots of limestone boulders making picking a route hard,. I was conscious of Rufus’ small paws and I didn’t want him to struggle, but he was picking his own way over the rocks far more confidently that I was. His four paw drive made light work of the slippery surfaces.

Just before we reached the cairns, a figure loomed in front of us. A fellow walker, faint in the mist, passed close by and I guessed that the limit of visibility was about 20 yards. I don’t think he saw us. Shortly afterwards, I reached a line of rocks and I knew that by heading left (north) I would hit the cairns. Sure enough, in a couple of minutes, the large main cairn rose from the mist and in front of it was the trig point. This one seemed to be made of local stone and nearby was an older, collapsed trig point pillar.

We didn’t linger at the cairn and instead made our way a little further to the East. It was hard to notice the downward incline without reference points but as soon as I recognised it, we turned to head back to the cairns. Rufus was doing a fine job of spotting the easier paths, and he was also keeping within visual distance of me. Heading back in what I thought was the same route towards the cairns, we eventually passed them on the left – they should have been on the right. Even within 100 yards or so, I was becoming disorientated.

I checked the tracker and, keeping an eye on the path, we set off back towards the car. We were off track and we ended up passing through a wide boulder field. Even Rufus paused to check his footing but had no trouble crossing it. I tried to guide him along easier routes, but he kept heading back to the rocks as if he enjoyed the challenge. Our path ran parallel to the one we took coming up and that was fine for me. I knew we wouldn’t emerge on some precipice this way. As we descended, the mist thinned until eventually, I could see the main road and then the car park.

The point of today was to test my knee on longer ascents and descents. so instead of jumping in the car, we decided to explore the quarry. Herbert’s Quarry provide limestone for building and farming up until the 1930s. I’ve been here a number of times and I’m always taken by the exposure of the quarry to the elements. I can’t imagine what it must have been like to work here – walking here for pleasure is tough enough in the winter!

We walked over the workings, along little paths and up the sides of spoil heaps. We left the quarry behind and walked along a sheep track towards Foel Fraith for a while until we started encountering the hill fog again. After a brief rest stop, we turned back for the car. But we were distracted on the way back by little outcrops of rock and the views north, where the hill fog ended and the sun was shining. Well, I was, Rufus was interested in the myriad scents blowing on the wind.

Back home, there was much sleeping. And my knee seemed to have survived the ordeal. The route we took can be seen here.

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Techno-gaaaaaaargh!

All gone.

Every single mp3 file on my external hard drive has been scrambled into gigabits. 44Gb of white noise, with maybe a hint of pink thrown in. And who is to blame? Virus? One of the major computer manufacturers? Geothermal energy production?

No, it was me. My fault. I clicked on an ‘Ok’ button when I should have paused and taken a moment to reflect. My punishment? Well, this blog post for one – I expose my self to all of my follower as a fool who should have read the warning. But like a typical Activist/Aries/Bloke I just went ahead and clicked. The other punishment? Re-ripping all my CDs.

Fortunately, I’m relatively old fashioned in that I like to have a CD rather than a collection of ‘0’s and ‘1’s. So at least I know that 90% of my music collection is intact. But there are soooo many CDs!

It’s not the first time I’ve lost data. I am missing two years worth of digital image files as a result of corrupt DVDs (my back up media of choice in the 90’s). My photos are now backed up three times, on separate hard drives and the PC.

And it makes me think that all this stuff about cloud computing is only as good as your internet link and the reliability of the storage technology.

Funnily enough, I still have photographic prints on silver halide paper from 1983.

 

 

Get lost

Off to the hills this afternoon with my walking buddy Rufus. We headed on up to Garreg Lwyd, a gentle hill I usually use as a nice introduction back to hillwalking after a break. It’s an easy slope but the potential is there to go on and on and make a full day. I’ve mentioned before that one day I’m going to walk from there across to Fan Brecheiniog, which can be seen in the distance.

Today, it was misty and windy but not particularly cold. We set off in the clear but quickly climbed into the cloud level. There were the occasional moments of drizzle but it was mainly dry. Very soon, we were on the top of the mountain, as signified by the huge double cairn and the tiny trig point. But the path onwards to Foel Fraith was invisible in the murk. Nevertheless, we headed off in the general direction and after a sweep around in the general direction I knew the path to be in, we picked it up. Shortly afterwards, the mist cleared and we had a good walk up to the second mountain. On the top, we were once again in mist but it was dry and we sat and ate our respective snacks.

On the way back, I followed the path all the way to the top of Garreg Lwyd, once again in the mist. But for some reason, I headed off towards the north rather than west. I followed what I thought was the correct way and it only goes to show that you should never trust your senses when you have no reference points. I felt I knew where I was going and it was only when the mist lifted for a moment that I noticed the workings of the limestone quarry on the north face of Garreg Lwyd on my left (it shouldn’t have been visible, and should have been to my right) that I realised something was wrong. Even then, although I turned back in the right direction, I veered once again in the mist and ended up on the summit of the quarry. Although I realised that there were sheer drops ahead, and had Rufus on the lead, it was still a shock that I hadn’t managed to correct the route deviation.

I checked the route on the phone (I was running an app to track my route) and used that to get back on track and soon after we were descending back to the car park again. Rufus was happy that he’d had a long run out. I was happy to see the car.

Rufus was less happy when he found himself having a shower when we got home, But shortly afterwards, he was flat out on my lap and he didn’t move for two hours.

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