The training is going well, for our forthcoming trek along the Singalila Ridge in Sikkim. Lindsey has walked up Arthurs Seat three times this past week, and in addition we’ve twice walked in the Pentlands. Each day I run along the prom or further, and later walk to Lidl in Musselburgh, load the rucksack with food and other messages, and walk back. So what with that and the recent skiing, we’re relatively fit. My sister, who is booked on the trip, is away skiing, so she’ll also be fit.
I thought I’d check out how Fat Mac’s training program was going (he’s also coming on the trek), and in addition he wanted my opinion on kit to take, so I invited him down to Porty the other afternoon. I was a bit distracted, as the T20 cricket was on at the same time.
Mac has recently been in detox for seven weeks, on an island retreat with no pubs. Of course, being Mac, since he left the island he’s been drinking buckets of collapso every evening.
He was barely in the door when he had a coughing fit. Firstly his face went red, then scarlet. Snot bubbles came out of his nose and disappeared again, as he wheezed uncontrollably. When his face went bright purple I was about to phone the emergency services, but then he managed to cough up an enormous lump of green phlegm.
“How long have you had that cough?” I asked, when he’d settled down a bit.
“Since yesterday, when I started smoking again.”
Mac claimed to have lost all the paperwork for the Sikkim holiday, and was surprised to discover that the trip involved six days of walking at high altitude.
“Ah hinnae walked anywhere fer eight weeks. It was a sma’ island I wiz oan. Ah’ve also got spungified feet, as well. Maybe I kin hire a horse. Is it nae jez auld wrinklies goin oan this holiday anyways?”
I said that it would probably be mostly wrinklies, but that our experience in St Christoph showed that the wrinklies who go on such trips were often extremely fit.
It did at least turn out that he’d been doing some skipping and shadow boxing whilst away, and because of the lack of beer on the island, he’d taken off about five kilos.
Because he’d lost the paperwork, he hadn’t read the check list provided by Exodus of kit to take, so I went through each item, one by one.
“What trousers will you take?” I asked.
“They wans” he said, pointing down at his denim jeans. I pointed out that denim jeans can keep you warm, and it will be cold at night on the Singalila, but they’re not so good when it gets hot, as it may be during the day and certainly when we’re in Delhi before the start and Kolkata at the end, and they are not good if it rains, which it may do.
“This wan” he replied, pointing to his head where the hat his gran knitted him in 1978 perched.
“This wan” this time pointing to a check, woolly shirt that I reckon he’d bought in the Army Navy stores a few decades ago.
“Several pairs of socks.”
“Ah need new soaks. They wans is mingin an hingin’ aff.”
“How about a fleece?”
“Maybe get wan o’ them.”
“Hand washing gel?”
“Stuff for disinfecting your hands before you eat, where there’s no wash-basin.”
“Never heard of it.”
“2 litre water bottle.”
“Ah kin buy water in ra shoaps.”
“Erm…I don’t think there will be shops where we’re going. It’s a national park, in the mountains.”
“There’s aye shoaps.”
“Ah hae wan o’ they.”
“Is that the foam bed you used when you went camping with JD and me to Glencoe in ’79?”
“You didn’t use it! You slept in the car.”
Anyway, it turned out that Mac’s kit was more or less all wool based, apart from the foam sleeping mattress, and designed, if not also acquired, in the 1970s. As a result, his kit is very bulky. I’m not sure if it will all fit into the Exodus kit bag which the company sent us. I sincerely hope he has space left for some spare undies on the 16 day trip, but thank goodness he’s paid the single supplement and no-one will have to share a room/tent with him.
A foam bed takes up much more space than my Multimat sleeping mat (on the right).
I took Mac to the outdoor ‘shoap’ to get some ‘soaks’ and insisted that he also bought a water bottle. He picked up a nice waterproof ‘jayket’, two cheap micro-fleeces and some water purification tablets. I noticed that his inclination was always to head for the most old-fashioned looking items.
As he can’t work his printer, I also printed out a spare copy of the itinerary. I’d previously vowed that I’d leave such things to Mac, but he’s completely helpless without micro-management assistance.