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Lessons from my first solo wild camp

Here's a bit about my first solo wild camp, including my kit list.

If you follow me on social media you’ll know I live a pretty solo life and love doing stuff on my own, but I don’t know why the thought of doing a solo wild camp on the mountains felt a little daunting.

Doing these things, the things that feel daunting, these are the things that make you grow. It’s so easy to put things off in life because you think you can’t do something, because that’s the story you’ve told yourself and believe. It’s about training your mind to believe in yourself to help you step out of your comfort zone.

That’s my Ted Talk over with for today. Back to the reason I’m writing this.

After updating my log book (DLOG) for my Mountain Leader qualification I realised I was a few wild camps short of the requirements, I need 8 and have done 6, so need to get 2 more done before I can go for assessment. So what better way to make me go and do them but that!

As I sit here typing this, the maps are out and I’m having a f**k it moment if to drive to Wales and go and do my last one, but I also have an assessment to finish for my counselling qualification due in tomorrow. Here’s procrastination at its best!

Who knows, by the time I’ve written this, I may have got so excited and talked myself into it my bags may be packed!

So, let’s start with the things that went wrong, because not everything always goes to plan… thankfully they are only small things that are easy to learn from.

  1. I forgot to fill my hydration pack fully, especially for the weather conditions. I was carrying water for the night for obviously me and JB. I just about scraped through but I had to ration my drinking overnight (JB takes priority over me) and I needed enough for my morning Yorkshire Tea as well as cooking dinner.

  2. I wish I’d practiced putting up my tent. It had been about a year since I last stayed in my tent, and although the MSR is pretty easy to put up but I definitely had a moment of how to these poles work? They’re so flexible that I always worry I’m going to snap them.

  3. Breakfast - I forgot to pack my favourite meal of the day! Luckily I had a banana and it was only about an hours walk off but I was starving by the time I got back to the van. I was looking forward to my porridge too, but thankfully I wouldn’t have had enough water for that either!

After scouring the maps, I had a few camp pitches in mind. I wanted somewhere that wasn't too much of a walk in in case anything went wrong with, but also wanted amazing views. This was my second option as I saw there were 2 big races on that weekend in the mountains so realised everywhere was going to be super busy.

As I left Shrewsbury about 4pm on the Friday, I arrived and started walking up about 7pm. I knew it was going to take me about an hour so perfect time to set up camp especially in the summer evenings.

Y Garn (Nantlle) is always a pretty quiet spot, I never understand why as it is such a stunning side of Eryri (Snowdonia) and you can definitely stay away from the crowds. The Nantlle Ridge walk itself is also pretty cool if you’re looking for an intro into scrambling with a small amount of exposure, that can be avoided, compared to somewhere like Crib Goch or Tryfan.

It’s a short sharp slog up to the summit, about a mile, especially when carrying an extra 11kg and holding a JB, it made for pretty tough work! I definitely questioned my life’s choices once or twice and wondered why I wasn’t fitter!

But the views are incredible and well worth it. I’ve not been up here since 2021 where I saw the most amazing cloud inversions.

Just as I had pitched my tent and settling down to eat two guys came over for a chat, they were out placing race markers for the UTMB race. They said I may hear a few runners coming off the ridge at 4am, but I wasn’t worried as I knew the chances were I’d be up anyway.

I don’t particularly like expedition foods and a trick I learnt on my ML training was fresh tortellini is a great go too. So I cooked some chicken and pesto sauce at home so all I had to do was cook the pasta on the summit and voila a meal for one. JB had to share some with me because he wouldn’t eat his dinner. I’m guessing he was too excited by the adventure!

It was a beautiful night to be out, my phone had no signal, and the sunset was perfect setting over the sea.

I then headed off to bed (that was a late night for me, I'm usually in bed by 9pm at the latest) to watch a bit of Firefly Lane and read my book. Just dropping off to sleep about 11.30pm and JB went nuts as two runners ran past. I have no idea if they were the lead runners for the UTMB or just out enjoying the evening but they shouted goodnight as they ran by. We never heard another peep again.

I’m an early bird and curiosity got the better of me at around 4am when I peaked out and saw the dawn colours. That was it, JB was ready to get out of the tent, so I just sat there in my sleeping bag enjoying the moment and feeling pretty proud of myself!

There's something to be said about the solitude of the mountains in the early hours of the morning.

We then ventured out of the tent to the summit where JB literally ran in to another couples tent, luckily they saw the funny side, so we ended up sharing the sunrise with them and spent an hour talking about rescue dogs and what breed they should get.

A quick brew, pack and up and leave no trace, we headed off the mountain back to the van.

Kit… I have updated and upgraded this so much over the years.

  1. My bag is an Osprey 65L bag

  2. MSR Elixir 2 man. This gives me and JB both plenty of room. There are lighter, smaller tents on the market, but it definitely does what I need it to do. I did start with the OEX Phoxx but JB just wouldn't settle in and and I felt so claustrophobic in it, it was definitely too low head height wise for me.

  3. Sleeping bag. I have an OEX Leviathan 900. This is a great four seasons bag. There are probably lighter more expensive bags on the market, but for what I need, it's great.

  4. Alpkit Numo sleep mat. This was a present and an upgrade to my last sleep mat. And man it was so comfy! It was a really good thickness (8cm) and stayed up all night (unlike my last sleep mat).

  5. MSR pocket rocket, gas and pot. Personally I prefer this over the Jetboil (which is also great) but this is so much lighter and it as it takes up less room even with the water pot, it’s literally tiny. The only difference compared to a Jetboil is you need a lighter to ignite it.

  6. Alpkit TiMigos cutlery. This is great, its titanium and so light.

  7. Patagonia waterproof and Nano Puff. Also packed were my Alpkit waterproof trousers.

  8. Two head torches and spare batteries - you just never know!

  9. Battery charge pack and cables - again you just never know!

  10. Clothes / layers to sleep in, bobble hat and gloves. Even in August it can get cold on the summit. The forecast said it could be as low as 4 degrees on the tops.

  11. Dog blanket, bowl and Dicky Bag (if you have a dog great for storing the used poo bags). Don’t read this sentence if it makes you squirm, but just keeping it real, but even human too if you don’t want to carry a small shovel.

  12. Camelbak

  13. Sit mat - never underestimate the £2 sit mat.

  14. Map and compass

  15. Toiletries were packed also.

  16. Dog blanket.

I pack everything down into colour coordinated dry bags. You may laugh, but it’s great when you need something and means you don’t have to unpack your whole bag to find it, just look for the right colour bag.

Blue = food, black = waterproof/warm kit, orange = clothing and red = emergency kit. Also a great way to keep everything extra dry if out in the rain.

Who thought all that would fit comfortably into a 65L bag, and weighed about10.3kg in the end.

As I finish this blog, I always wonder if it’s boring sharing this stuff and will anyone actually be interested.

I hope so, and I hope you find it a little bit inspiring to go and try your own journey. It doesn’t have to be wild camping or climbing mountains, but whatever you want to try to step out of your comfort zone.

So I’ve got to the end of this blog, it’s 4.30pm, I’ve not packed my bag to go to Wales so looks like I’ve night at home for me. I've got my next camp spot planned, just need to find a date to fit it in with a busy month coming up!

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