In September I’ll be walking the Alpine Pass Route over 2 and a half weeks. This will be the longest I’ve hiked for, and as someone who enjoys planning trips almost as much as doing them, I’ve been getting quite excited. Here’s what I’ve been doing to get ready:
- Booked travel
I like trains. The quickest and cheapest option would be to fly to Zurich, but after my trip to Croatia by train, long-distance travel by train can be so much nicer than flying. It’s better for the environment, and there’s no faff with check-ins and luggage. I used https://loco2.com/ as you can book multiple trains at once. And it turned out to be similar in price when I realised I’d need to add checked luggage to flights.
- Sorted insurance
I’m a member of BMC and they do the best coverage for hiking, climbing, mountaineering etc. As mountain rescue isn’t exactly cheap, better safe than sorry.
- Emergency communication
Speaking of safe, my parents got a little anxious about me being alone in the mountains, so are renting a DeLorme InReach SE Satellite Tracker for the trip. The SPOT was cheaper, but after reading quite a few reviews about messages not sending, I went with the InReach as it has 2-way communications and verified sending. It also has a tracking feature, so will see if I can set that up.
- Final kit check
I went for a weekend in the Lake District at the end of July, and spent most of a day in cloud and rain. As we descended to the dry and shed waterproofs, the inside of my jacket was pretty wet. This had happened before but to a lesser extent, and I put it down to me sweating a lot. But comparing it to my friends’ it definitely wasn’t working. So, after deciding it would be more cost effective to buy a decent (expensive) jacket that would last, and doing some online research, a trip to the sale in Ellis Brigham saw me pick up this amazingly bright Mountain Equipment Manasulu jacket.
I also was yet to find perfect hiking socks. Ones I tried previously had either irritated my ankles so badly I thought I’d burned them, been too tight around the calves, too thick, or not enough cushioning. Then I tried some Smartwool socks and fell a little bit in love. They’re nice and stretchy so don’t dig in, no weird skin reactions, supportive enough but not overheating, and don’t stink at the end of the day!
I discovered a friend from the cycling club had hiked the Alpine Pass Route a few years before, and happened to still have all the maps. I’d been dithering about maps – to have them at a scale really usable in the mountains meant half my backpack would be filled with maps and they’re not exactly cheap. But it felt wrong to not take any. So James kindly lent me his stack – 6 Wanderkarte maps at 1:60,000. I tried laying them all out and following the route, but my flat isn’t big enough…
As most of the places I’m staying don’t take payment in advance, I either need to take a stack of CHF or get stung by oversees bank charges. As my banks charge for oversees transactions, I’ve set up a Supercard (not quite as exciting as it sounds) which is linked to your normal account but doesn’t charge for foreign transactions. It still charges for ATM withdrawals, but not as much as my normal banks.
And with that, I think I’m getting there! I’m doing a scrambling course with Plas-Y-Brenin next weekend which I’m very excited about, and hopefully won’t have to test out my new jacket too much…
5th-15th August is BMC’s #WomenOutdoors week – see what’s going on here and get outside!