Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Holiday


Sorry about the dull blogging at the moment, I haven't quite hit my stride yet. A combination of being busy and not sleeping very much has left me a little brain dead and short of time. I'm sure this is only a temporary state of affairs, I go on holiday on Thursday so soon I'll be back to being brain dead with plenty of time.
It seems that what I thought were wolves howling in the night was in fact huskies, this is a commonly held belief of sniggering people WHO WERE NOT THERE and therefore don't know. The fact that there are huskies living roughly where I heard the howling coming from proves nothing.
In August the woods are thick with hunters and it is strongly advisable not to go walking in them for fear of being shot. Might have to re-think my sleeping arrangements in August then. Either that or walk about the place wearing a fluorescent orange bib and frankly there are limits to what one is prepared to do to raise money for charity.

Holiday involves vineyards and collecting as many tea bags as I can from the UK.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

banging on about being uncomfortable again. Get a grip dude.

Note big rock to left offering protection from weather assuming weather comes from the left.

I spent the first portion of last night sitting by a fire and having a very nice evening. Then I went to bed and spent the rest of the night ruing my decision not to make a bed, eventually I gave up on trying to sleep where I was and opted for a nearby flat but exposed piece of ground. Do you remember when you were small, one of the first things that had to be done upon being placed in a sleeping bag was to hop about the place as if taking part in a sack race. Well I'm not sure I can recommend doing so in the woods, in the dark, whilst very tired, I suppose if it had not been dark and I had not been so tired I might have given more thought to the fact that I was in the woods. As it was I had no little difficulty in ascending the near vertical slope covered in fallen trees and and the big pile of wood I have collected to make the roof with. However, I'm not bruised and I did eventually reach somewhere that was flat enough to sleep on. It is of course tempting to build a shelter on the flat ground but it is very exposed and offers precious little in protection from falling trees.

conclusion

tired, very tired, probably not speaking much sense.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

cold


Home sweet home
A. Pile of twigs hopefully placed to prevent sleeper rolling into abyss.
B. Wolf dissuasion system
C.Thin end of fallen tree, other tree not shown
D. Tree feature, prevents sleeper rolling into abyss, suggest using in conjunction with twigs
E. Rock feature / seat. Based on an original design by Easy Jet

It snowed the night before last, not on me but higher up, last night was cold but there were no signs of snow. Having no work to do permitted me to stay in bed until midday, this was only partly to do with being tired and more to do with it being too cold to get up, I think I'm going to have to get used to this getting up in the cold thing.

The main issue at the moment is getting enough sleep. I have found that filling one of the gaps in the floor with twigs makes me more comfortable and also helps me avoid rolling off the very narrow area of flat ground and onto the 45 degree slope covered in rocks. Of course I still have to jam by knees into the tree to stop me rolling down the hill but I'm not quite so reliant on this now. It has been suggested that I level the ground with a shovel, a fine theory but one that sadly does not account for the outcrop from the rock that shelters me and stands clear of the ground by a good five feet. I suppose the rock could be chiseled through and the roots, some of which are as thick as my arm could be sawed through but not only would chopping through roots kind of defeat the purpose of the exercise it would, more importantly, weaken the tree small tree it is attached too to the extent that it would probably fall, on me. The level of top soil here is so thin that the forest is littered with fallen trees, there roots having been spread across the rocky ground rather than going deep offer little protection. Today I followed a trail of five fallen trees, one having been toppled by being hit by another and so on. So the rock that I live by not only protects me from the wind on one side and provides me with an amusingly bumpy bed it also offers some protection from falling trees. The fact that there are already two trees that have fallen on it gives me some comfort in as much as there can't be that many more to hit it. Then again, as the saying goes "whoever said lightening never strikes the same place twice doesn't know very much about lightening.

So the order of the day today was to construct some form of flat sleeping surface, I had a design in mind and even a name, a bed. This "bed" would be made by hacking some bits of wood into various lengths with an axe, hammering a few sharpened bit of wood into the ground to hold it in place and covering the lot with soft looking things from the surrounding area. Simple. Once I had got up, forrgotten about spending the night shivering and had a couple of cups of tea I decided it would be more sensible to build a roof instead. The roof is going to have to hold the weight of a lot of snow that will become compacted and turn to ice as more snow falls on top, that's going to be a lot of weight so it's best to get that built properly I think.

In other news, a wolf or wolves killed 22 sheep in Chablais which is not very far from here. However, further research on the wolf question has revealed that there are only eight, possibly nine, wolves in the country and although most of them live around here I think I am unlikely to be lucky enough to see one.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Busy

My sleeping position is something like this, only with more foxes

So the last few days have been very busy, I've hardly had a moment to myself so haven't had time to write. I have a couple of days off coming up so I'll have time to write a little and spend some decent time in the mountains rather than just sleeping there. I have developed a technique of sleeping with my knees jammed up against a tree trunk to stop me sliding down the hill. into the rocks, it has even become comfortable. When I have my time off I intend to build a floor / bed out of wood but in the meantime it's just a matter of making do.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Fox





Saw a couple of foxes on my way to work this evening, will post some more photos of them later but this one is my favourite.
Here is a video I shot, it was only with my phone so the quality is poor.

video

Friday, 3 July 2009

Wolves?

It was dark by the time I gave up teaching my self to climb by dangling off a cliff on the end of a bit of rope in the hope I had tied the knots properly. So having misplaced my head torch I had to light the fire, make tea and cook half a chicken by the light of the moon. Sitting there for a while gave me the opportuntiy to contemplate life, the woods, everything. I don't think I reached any particularls insightfull conclusion other than that I am getting fit, discomfort is mererly relative and I need to stop dropping the chicken into the fire as it is doing it no good whatsoever. Nevertheless a healthy coating of hot sauce ensure the chicken tasted good, anything tastes good sitting by a fire after a day of intense exertion. I had contemplated eating some broccoli as well but my inner caveman had rejected this idea, it had also rejected the idea of making a bed in favour of going climbing. Having thrown the bones into the bushes in the hope of attracting the fox back I settled back on the 40 degree slope I was sitting on to watch the fire die out and the occasional cloud to pass the stars.

"That howling doesn't sound a lot like dogs" I thought to myself. "It sounds more like wolves, ha ha". After a while the howling came again and again it didn't sound like dogs howling at the moon. Only one thing for it, I googled "wolves Switzerland" on my phone and discovered that the Swiss have laid on Wolves for the benefit of lone campers and that they are mostly found in the area of Switzerland I live in. "why did I throw the chicken bones in the bushes?" I'm not particularly bothered by the idea of them now, the forests are full of various four legged dinners and the pastures have many a sheep to keep the wolves occupied. In the winter though, when they are hungry it could be a different story. I have seen a hungry wild dog stalk a child so a pack of wolves could conceivably have a pop at a sleeping man. I reckon I could win a fight with one wolf, but a bunch of them would be another story.

Must do some research, for now though I'm getting into the habbit of using my axe as a pillow and keeping my knife in my sleeping bag at night.

So I have done a bit more research, have not had time to look into it properly as I have been quite busy today. What I did learn is that wolves rarely attack people and "attacks from non rabid wolves are rarely fatal". Wolves are now available in rabid are they? Fantastic. Time to buy an axe with a longer reach I think.



Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Ich Bein Ine Ditchmonkey

Somehow I ended up in Frankfurt the other day. I had to take a hire car back. By the time I got there it was too late to take a train back so I ended up staying over in a hotel, it seems that whilst I may not have become fully accustomed to living in the woods yet I have managed in the space of just over a week to become fairly unaccustomed to the indoors. It was far too hot and stuffy, the bed was too soft and the pillows whilst looking luxurious were far too impractical to use as each one was the size of a small horse. Having discovered that sleep was not an option, at least not in the short term, so I went out. With the sharpened senses of an ally cat I surveyed my surroundings, kebab shops jostled with all you can eat buffets, neon signs indicated that in the clubs on the street dancing was a spectator sport rather than participatory event one is accustomed too in discotheques. Outside one such a club a girl wearing little more than tatooes smoked a cigarette and handed out fliers to a group of drunk lads. Hmmmmmm? I think I'm staying in the red light district, I phoned the girlfriend to share the good news but was disapointed to find her less taken with my situation than I.

I am pleased to report though that, despite having taken many a lecture on the superior standard of German public transport, my first train was ten minutes late and as a result of this I missed my second train and had to wait an hour for the next one. It took nine hours to get back to Verbier. I had been away for two days and one night and the entire journey had been bathed in glorious sunshine, so despite being fatigued from a poor night's sleep and much travelling I was looking forward to heading up the mountain, lighting a fire and cooking some decent food. Not having any food I popped into the shop ten minutes before it shut, bumped into Nat who was very pleased at just having met Lance Armstrong, grabbed some key ingredients and headed back out into an enormous rain storm. Fortunately I had left the basha up in a spot I wanted to check out for suitability so at least I would have somewhere dry to sleep. Somewhere dry and extremely uncomfortable as it turned out.