It’s a good thing I made a minutely detailed packing list a few weeks back, because I have been feeling drained and enervated today in the face of packing and preparation. I wouldn’t have had the mental resources to make any decisions about what to take and what to leave behind. As it was I could simply gather clothes and equipment from around the house on robotic autopilot, ticking things off the very long list to orient myself. I am about to dump everything onto the floor in an unseemly pile, and tomorrow, after what I hope will be a good night’s sleep, I will re-pack and weigh my rucksack.
I have, however, managed to achieve one truly impressive feat, sine qua this walk cannot happen: I have pitched and packed away my new one-woman tent, all by myself. I did it twice, in fact. The first time, rather gingerly. It took me 16 minutes 30 seconds. The tent is a Terra Nova Southern Cross 1, and (if I might indulge in a little light product placement here) it’s the business. We walked the End to End route with its 2-person elder sibling and this one is lighter and better designed. The main draw for me (look away if you are not into tent porn) is the fly sheet which pitches independently, meaning that in the rain that is forecast for next week (let me say that again with more emphasis: the rain that is forecast for next week) I can create a waterproof shelter under which I can fit the footprint (that’s the groundsheet for you 20th century campers) and hang the inner compartment in the dry. The inner has a deep waterproof ‘tub’ bottom to it which means that you can pitch it without the footprint to save weight. It’s also possible to pitch fly sheet and inner already clipped together, although if packing the tent wet it’s probably better to keep the inner in a separate drybag. All goes cunningly into a waterproof compartment designed for the purpose in the bottom of my rucksack. I’m delighted with it! I’m not intending to camp in winter conditions … but the tent is ready for all that four seasons can hurl at it.
After I’d pitched the tent once I repacked it – then watched a video of how to do it properly. Second time around I pitched it in 9 minutes. Improving.
Then I sat for about half an hour, having exhausted myself, looking at the tent. I felt a debilitating inertia, as though I were performing being a walking and camping person – something of an out of body experience. I am slightly running out of time: I haven’t sorted out how to do Relive videos yet. My major fear is that I am setting off on my incompetent own onto a coastal path in a deteriorating weather system. All my camping to date has been together with my extremely practically-minded husband who, with his decades of hardy expeditionary experience, has just given me instructions. But I suppose he didn’t simply spring from the head of Zeus fully formed. He had to start somewhere. After all, I did manage almost to halve the time in which I put up the tent today, with a little practice.
I guess this is where I start to transform myself from acting a camping person into being one.