James an I met at early o’ clock at Queen Street station. He had managed to pack about 48 litres of gear into a 35 litre rucksack. Myself, I had packed using the “play dirty, stay dirty” method.
That meant my Osprey Stratos 26 litre rucksack contained enough clothes for all weathers, but wardrobe changes would be off the schedule for me.
I could accommodate a towel, lots of jelly babies, snickers bars, thermos flask, tea, water bottle, first aid kit, maps, a full tube of toothpaste, and soap to shower with.
Any shower would be cancelled out by having to put on the some sweaty clothes after. But hey, it was to be a weekend of mountain biking and hiking – sweat was guaranteed. So an easy compromise.
What footwear to bring was less so.
I had just enough room to squeeze a light pair of running shoes in my rucksack, but my Osprey would not accept my Northface Verbera Lightpackers boots. After much deliberation, I decided to wear my hiking boots for the hiking AND biking.
So there I was, at Queen Street train station, in my boots and shorts for the whole weekend (cause my legs really don’t need trousers unless they are well inside the Arctic circle), with a rucksack on my back that looked for all the world like a badly-packed kebab.
Normally, a heavy and over-stuffed rucksack gets me down. But on this cold Saturday morning, I was projecting it above my shoulders. It was my jet pack to the outdoors and I was ready for lift off.
The train was on time. We used the time on it to talk about what we’d packed, about our routes and reservations, and about how we should approach the next two days.
Before we knew it we were at Stirling station and ready to meet the third member of our team – Jim.
Jim had defied the maximum tolerance on the fabric of his rucksack, and possibly also the laws of physics.
At first we thought his wife had thrown him out, via the bathroom window. It looked certain that he was carrying his worldly possessions on his back, plus a surprising amount of toiletries.
As it turned out, his marriage was safe. He had simply packed for every eventuality.
In just a few hours, we’d find out if he was right…
Trains, strains and no automobiles – part two continues tomorrow night. Or Wednesday morning, for those of you partial to an early night!