Thursday, June 24, 2010


Anybody that has read previous blogs will know that I am a brave and fearless person, well, apart from storms and lions…. and the wife, and heights and my own homicidal tendencies towards politicians and sport and journalists and….. .
Well, anyway, the homicidal tendencies I can deal with, heights too, lions are easily dealt with as they are an irrational fear as there aren’t that many about these days (though when walking alone in the mountains I have often been stalked by them; they never show themselves but I know they’re there). Which leaves the wife and storms both of which leave me cowering in abject and unsightly terror, usually under things. The wife I cannot run from but storms, usually, yes.
Last night in the tent there was one of those terrific storms that you only get in the mountains or maybe in Transylvania or Australia or something - coincident lightning and thunder with accelerated rain. Dracula’s castle type stuff. I don’t usually get the fight or flight mechanism with storms, I just get the flight bit. But last night fight and flight were in total conflict for 90 minutes and the fight one. Yay!! I stayed put. One in the eye for the timorous part of me. Massimo of course was not in the least bit bothered.
But I hate the things. Last year whilst camping, all my hair, including beard stood instantly on end and though nothing happened (I’ve never run so fast over rough terrain) it shortened my life by a good few hours and ensured that never again would I need to eat prunes.
Give me predictables and tangibles any day. Give me any amount of rain, snow, wind, blizzards, avalanches, cold, anything you like. I can handle that. A three day blizzard in a snow hole on the side of a mountain? Phua! Child’s play. Having to hide in a deer carcass to survive the night like Bear Grylls has (hahahahahaha!)? Do it in my sleep. Tied naked to a monolith in a Finnish summer? mere Sunday morning stuff. But storms just give me the willies.
I’m usually pretty envious when reading others’ wild camping stories set in the wilds of Scotland because lightening never seems to be a problem. Weather you can plan for but you can’t do much practical stuff in a storm. You are helpless and exquisitely vulnerable and not in charge at all which is a feeling I absolutely hate and late-afternoon alpine heat storms can be amazing. Via ferrata anyone? (on the subject of via ferrata, I’ve always though that the via ferrata organizers must be Italian nationalists. I mean, what better way to get rid of a whole load of foreign tourists in one go than by getting them to pay you to hang off miles of metal cable high up in the alps in the summer? Now that is class!)
But, anyway, the storm, well I weathered it with nowt but the minutest of whimpers (pats self on back and offers self healthy glass of whisky which self accepts with good cheer) and though not an act of particular heroism is actually a good pace forward in making alpine camping life a little less fraught.
This storm has also made be look again at my much despised tent. The rain was so fierce and heavy that the poles were jigging about slightly under the weight of it and at a certain point there were equally fierce squally winds which snapped the fly like a pistol and bounced it all over the place but not a drop of rain got in. I slept with the door open and found that the terrible condensation problems of before weren’t a problem. This could be rectified definitively by sewing a mesh panel on the inner door (just shows you how much though quechua puts into its products). The fact that I put a ground sheet that extended to cover the porch may also have helped. Either way as a summer tent it might just serve a purpose. It’s still a crappy colour though.


Martin Rye said...

lightening struck I think four people four times in a day recently in the Lakes. I thought the high mountains of Europe was the place to be careful in summer storms yet that Lakes events reminds me of the risk any time in the hills. The tent sounds bomber for the weather and storms like that sound scary.

Vix said...

My Great Grandmother's brother was killed by lightning in Italy whilst herding goats or summat, anyhoo there was a fear passed down the family, my Granny's sister would hide under the bed during storms!
Me? I love them, could watch them forever, not had a good one here in ages...
Hope you're well & happy Woozle!

Woozle said...

VIX!!!! you're still around. I'm glad. You are not a prolific blogger :-)). Well and happy here thanks. Hope you are too.
I'm not too far off hiding under the bed myself. Not so much in this house which is big, but in my old house... scareeeeey! Dangerous business herding goats.