Martin's Blog

from a Slovenian living in Bromyard

Brecon beacons: Cribyn – Pen-y-fan – Corn Du

Modified the usual hike that goes straight up from the Cwm Gwdi carpark. Elevation gain 914 m.

Mt. Viševnik, 2,050m

An old favourite. Have been up it only twice before as far as I can remember. The last time it was a scorching hot summers day and this is also when I learned about dogs and how peculiar they can be be.

I took our family dog with me and to make sure we were both hydrated I took a bottle of water for her and a bottle of flavoured water for me. I think mine had a hint of grapefruit in it, all natural, zero calories, sterile and all that. Any way, turns out the dog, her name is Neža, felt quite thirsty. It was very warm on that day and the side of the hill you have to climb is south facing so had the full force of the sun. I think I ran out of the dog’s water water even before we reached the top and of course I offered her some of my lovely flavoured water. The mountain dew, filtered a gazillion times though lime rock or so I remember. Anyway, she declined it. Completely. Even when I saw she was really thirsty she would not touch the stuff. Made me think how good WAS this water. I mean, she has been known to eat dead animals and dog poo but she would not have the purest water available to man or beats far around – of course, with a hint of grapefruit – which is probably why she declined it.

Anyway, we did manage to find some suitably dirty muddy puddles at the the bottom of the hill that satisfied her need for food indiscretion.

Today she didn’t come with me. Bless her she is getting on a bit and a hike up this mountain could just about finish her off. The day was almost as bad as the last time – at first. Very warm but with some clouds at the top which did not worry me. There was a forecast for some showers but not until later that day. I pressed on, of course.

I reached about half way up the incline and started to see some dark clouds but they quickly passed over and we were back to sunshine so happy days. On I wen, but not for long. The next cloud looked much more ominous. And then it started to thunder which got be shit worried. You don’t want to be up a mountain, especially on exposed parts when lightning could strike any minute. I waited. Then as it looked like nothing more was going to happened I carried on until it started to rain. And then with more thunder. It seems the thunder was much closer than before so I hid next to a large rock formation and tried to wait it out. Good idea as the rain got worse and then it changed to hale. Then back to rain and then it eased off. I had to make a decision whether to press on or turn around. I knew I was sort of close to the summit but not exactly sure where. I almost stubbornly decided to carry on but knowing the risk I was really shittting myself. And guess what, I actually met some people coming the other way, a german couple as it turns out. They took shelter from the lightning just under the peak but I was very surprised to see anyone still above the level I was at.

As my suspicions were correct the top of Viševnik was not far away, only about 10 min hike from where I was taking shelter earlier. And just as I got there the rain eased off ad there was a gorgeous view of the surrounding peaks, I took out my phone and took this photo.

View of Triglav, 2,863m, from the top of Viševnik

I think I must have been on the top of Viševnik for about 30 seconds before the heavens opened up again, this time it went straight to hale. – I must have ran down that hill as I not only caught up with the two Germans, I overtook them and to my surprise saw another group of three german-speaking hikers going up!!?? WTF!

Came down to Rudno Polje where I had parked my car completely drenched but felt great. A day up a mountain is almost always a winner.

Mt. Krim 1,107m

Perhaps not as prominent of a mountain as the other ones you could climb in the alps but a good training ground. Funny enough quite comparable to the Snowdon hike. Krim is 1,107 metres tall and you start the hike from Iški Vintgar at 420m so a height climb of about 750m. The climb from Pen-y-pass (559 m) to Snowdon (1,085 m) is about 526 metres or 817 metres if you start from Llyn Gwynant.

Mt. Debela Peč, 1,014m

A great hike up a stunning mountain. The drive to the small carpark in the middle of nowhere is an experience in itself. Then you set off up a disused track and end up in a large open area called Klek plateau.
This is where the tricky part comes in, the most difficult part of the trip is the navigation. Trying to find the exit point to the path continuing towards the peaks of Debela Pec and Lipanca.
So if you are wandering it is exactly here: 46°23’41.5″N 13°57’33.8″E. Photo below is from that point.

Then you continue after a lovely forest trail going up and down and a bit around. Stunning scenery.

As you get higher the trees get less dense and you are met with views of the valleys below and the adjacent mountain peaks.

Puncture prevented further training

I had a bit of an eventful day today. Set of to hike up Pen y fan, had to find a way out of town as there were was a road closure and ended up going a way I don’t usually use. Somewhere on that trip I must have ridden over something sharp. By the time I got to Leominster about 20 minutes away I felt the bike being unstable. Turns out I had a rear tyre puncture.

Didn’t dare to ride it back home, so called the roadside assistance. While I waited the tyre must have slowly deflated even more and this made the bike quite unstable but I noticed that to late as it ended up falling over without me even being on it at the time!

Managed to collect quite a few scuffs on the fairings, smashed the hand guard and broke off the brake lever about mid shaft. Luckily the engine started fine and the brake lever was still usable. The AA guy managed to patch the puncture really well, he then followed me for an hour as we drove to Gloucester to the main Honda dealer. I could have gone somewhere else but these guys do the service on my bike and they actually had a tyre in stock so it could be fixed the same day.

The puncture location after being patched by the AA guy

Anyway, not only did the get the tyre sorted, they had a spare brake lever in stock so replaced that as well. The hand guards are on order but I might have to change them myself. Just all this cost me about £260. Got home about 6 hours later.

Time for new boots

I had to bite the bullet and try finding some good boots that will last me for the training I have to do plus be suitable for the Kilimanjaro trip, so hot savannah and ice cold Uhuru peak.

Martin McDowell, Kilimanjaro 2019

I knew I was going to need some help and I was dreading having to go to one of the big corps and one of their outlets. I needed some proper help. I found a little store in Hereford called Trekitt. This isn’t just another corporate. Quite the opposite. Quite refreshingly it is a single store run by the family business.

After some thorough measurements of my feet and a discussion with the assistant I decided to go for these babies:

Meindl Meran GTX

Meindl Meran GTX with Gore-Tex lining. Made by a german company and seems to be a much better fit than the Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX I currently use.

Tried the new boots out this week, just walking round the house but that is just a mini test, you need to get out on the trails to properly check them out.

Just a pretty flower that seems to be in bloom all over the Malverns

The full Malverns, up and down

I finally made it. Hiked all the way up the Malverns and then back again. A total of about 30 km in 6 hours, 45 minutes. Doing these distances does help build up the stamina for the uphill parts of the Kilimanjaro route. However should not neglect the final day when we will descend the mountain where we will do about 20 km which should take us 5-6 hours.

However am taking quite a beating on my feet, something not completely right with my old hiking boots, a pair of Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX. Keep getting nasty shooting pain in toes and foot. I’ll be seeing a shop in Hereford that should help me out as I think I might have to get a new pair of hiking boots for the rest of my training and the Kilimanjaro.

Another training day

A glorious sunny Saturday on the May Bank holiday weekend.
This time I started at the southern end at Chase End and worked my way north. Was able to reach Upper Wyche. Still have not reached the goal of doing the whole Malvern Hills up and down (or the other way for that matter). 

The hills especially round the southern part of the Malverns were covered in violet, all down to the abundance of bluebells. At one point as I was walking on a path near Hollybush the whole one side of the path was covered with white from wild garlic and the other violet from bluebells.

A hike up Pen-y-fan

A training hike up Pen-y-fan on a Easter weekend.

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro – The start of the adventure

Image by Greg Montani from Pixabay

In this case with booking. I heard of a friend using the company Intrepid Travel several years ago when she went on a fabulous trip to south America.
Have been itching to do something myself and a few weeks ago saw in idea about climbing Mt Kilimanjaro. At 5,895 metres its not an easy endeavour, certainly the highest and the longest I have ever hiked. It shouldn’t be to technically difficult but it is gruesome. And then there is the altitude. Haven’t been that high skydiving.

I have also decided to fundraise but not to stuff it down your throats and make you feel awful for not opening your wallet but more like… You don’t have to, but if you want to, you can donate to one of the charities I have chosen:

I lost a very good friend to pancreatic cancer years ago and I have been donating to them little by little every month.

Vetlife is a great charity that supports welfare of veterinary surgeons and gives them support by phone and email. As a vet myself I am very much aware of the mental health issues in our profession and am supporting Vetlife to further the understanding the stresses in a vet’s life.

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