Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Scouting out the woods

Greetings. I am writing for the first time from what will soon be my new home high in the mountains. I made and admittedly hopeful search for a network connection here but found none so I will be sending this from my “base camp” as I have enthusiastically re-named my apartment. Now that I am here I find myself filled with a new confidence in my ability to succeed in this challenge and I’m beginning to think it might actually be quite fun. Do feel free to quote me on this come February dear reader as it is not without possibility that this view might be somewhat rash. It is possible that my new found confidence might stem from the fact that it is so absolutely beautiful here right now. It truly is stunning, I have never seen such an array of wild flowers, nor so many of them. As I write I am basking in the sun yet being kept cool by the ambient temperature of the surrounding woodland, the sky is blue and the only sounds to hear are the songs of birds and the gentle melody of cow bells in a distant pasture. It would be disingenuous of me to describe the place solely in terms of idyllic pleasures, I did manage to pitch myself into a patch of nettles by leaping on to a log I had mistakenly thought was firmly anchored to the ground and there is what appears to be a horse fly buzzing about in a threatening manner. On balance though it is very very nice, the butterflies outnumber the slugs by a ratio of three to one and that is all good in my books.

Of course it would be easy to be lulled into a false sense of security by the sheer beauty of nature in the summer and thus not make proper allowance for the harshness of winter, I should know, it was just such a mistake that led to me living out in the woods in the UK for a year. So what I have been doing is looking at the geography and natural resources of this spot on the side of the mountain and assessing it for suitability. I really think that with a bit of effort before the snow comes, a few choice pieces of modern equipment and a good sense of humour I should be able to pass the winter without any major dramas. Of course there are plenty of hurdles to face and there is plenty that could go wrong. This is of course one of the reasons for starting the mission in the middle of summer, it is far better to resolve as many of the difficulties as possible before having the added difficulties of operating in sub zero temperatures and waste deep snow.
There are plenty of strong straight lengths of wood here from which to build a frame for my roof here, just hanging a basha (tarp) between some by bungee cord as would happen in the UK would not be enough to deal with the winter. 50+ cm of snow falling overnight would collapse a normal basha construction so I am at the very least going to build a lean-too out of strong load bearing wood and cover it with branches. Then I can attach the basha to the underside of it when I need to keep it waterproof i.e. when I’m not at work or out on the hill. The rest of the shelter can be built from snow thus keeping the worst of the wind out there, will probably be a large gap where some of the roof should be but if I can keep the wind out it should be quite nice.

Blah blah blah, waffling now must stop.

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