Test Hike for My Wales Vacation

Even though I’m quite a slacker with anything fitness related at the moment  (my MPC workout regime is so inconsistent that it doesn’t deserve the term “regime” at all!), I plan to do some hiking in Wales in August. I have a thing for British mountains I think. I don’t hike all that often here at home, even though my parents used to be avid hikers and took us on hiking vacation and such. Maybe that’s exactly why I haven’t considered it a worthy outdoor activity for so long. I plan to “conquer” at least two mountains in Wales. Pen y Fan in the Brecon Beacons in the South and of course Snowdon in the North. Maybe only for the irrational reason to “have done” it. It was something similar with Ben Lomond last year, even though back then I at least had set that as “My Peak Challenge”. Literally. I didn’t set myself any challenges this year, which goes along right with the slacking with workouts and stuff in general. 

Anyway, that’s the plan for Wales, always hoping the weather permits it on the days I’ve penciled that in on my itinerary. As I’m a bit of a slacker at the moment (see above) and with remembering how strenuous “bagging” Ben Lomond last year turned out to be, I decided I should at least train a little bit for it. Or if not train as much as at least give my feet some time to get used to the new hiking boots. Give my hip and knee joints a reminder of what it means to walk uphill for ~ 3 hours and downhill for ~ 3 hours.  

With all that and some practical testing in mind I yesterday set out to hike up “Kahler Asten”, the 3rd highest (841 m) mountain in my state. It’s about 90 minutes drive away, but the only location I could actually think of for a lengthy hike up + lengthy hike down. I’ve got smaller mountains / hills around here where I live, but a 4-5 hour hike around here basically means up and down and up and down or walking on the same elevation for a long time. On my drive to the village where I started (~ 550m) I felt reminded of my drives on small and bendy country roads in Scotland. It’s a region of my state I usually don’t travel to that very often even though it’s not that far away. I had forgotten how much of a “back country” there actually is around my corner. 

Thanks to GPX tracks and a newly installed Open Street Map App on my phone it was very easy to walk the trail and not get lost. There also were a lot of signs as well, but I checked my GPS dot on the offline map on my phone quite regular regardless. A bit OCD maybe… The app was one thing I tested, but another test was also if my small backpack actually is big enough for water, food, rain gear / additional layers. Which is would be, especially as I realized it’s a stupid idea to lug my good big camera up with me. I obviously did that on Lomond and I did take quite a few photos. But yesterday I couldn’t be bothered to put down the backpack, get the camera out of the padding (a towel) and put it all back in again. I updated my compact camera a few months ago and when I got home yesterday checked if that fits into the thigh pocket of my hiking pants. And it does, so I guess I’ll be travelling to Wales with two cameras *headdesk*. The joys of 21st century technology, right? 

Another test was if I’d like to pack my light hiking sandals as well, which I might, even if just for the car. I hate driving with heavy hiking boots and it’s no big deal to switch shoes in a parking lot before setting off. It actually felt really nice to get off the boots and socks and let my feet breath a bit in sandals after the hike. I also realized that I need to wear a different set of socks. They fit very well in my boots (no blisters or anything) but were too tight around my calves, which actually is the only part of my body that feels sore or bothers me a bit today. I’ve also confirmed my assumption that I will definitely need to have a fresh shirt in my car to change into after a hike. Especially when I have to drive back to my accommodation for more than just a few minutes.

So all in all, it has been a successful outing. The hiking up and down went all right, I wasn’t too sore or tired today and I’ve got a good idea of some practical things to consider on my Wales trip. Less than two weeks to go…! 

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