Tuesday, 13 January 2015

A New Type Of Dry.

If the geography class was a story of climbing high to escape heat, then the notes taken from a physics lesson on evaporation will need to be checked over again. There's probably a clever formula involving ambient temperature, relative humidity and sums that can calculate how quickly I can reduce a bottle of tap water, wrapped in a wet towel, to a quenchable quality. Or a cap dipped in an irrigation channel, then cycled for a few momments, to soothe a broiled brain. We're back in the dry.

Too often technical garments have a greater design influence aimed at the catwalk than the hilltop. Rucsacs that have embraced the school run, or the breathable jacket more at home on Princes Street. We've played around with fancy wicking gear before. It works, but only if there's the backup of a daily laundry service. Leave it unattended for a day, festering in a pannier, and it will climb back out unaided. Natural fibres work best. So it's been interesting to try out a new buff-cum-headband that comes with a hype of claims. Basic to which is the instruction to soak garment, drape around neck and feel the temperature drop. "Will reduce body temperature by 40 degrees". Slightly worrying is the addition that states that the garment will also work using sweat. All of which makes me wonder if I missed the class on cryogenics and how good is my hypothermic first aid? Really there's nothing new about draped damp rag around a neck, J. Wayne did it all his cinematic life. The difference is that it will also work right through the night. Which leads to a dilemma: to soak buff or to drink its equivalent in water. And the question; can you get neck rot?

Flies, sticky flies. We must be the only moist thing for miles around. Irritating rather than annoying. Non-biters that have the ability to creep into the nether recesses of shirt and shoe. It's hard to understand how they survive, as we've had no standing water for over three hundred kilometres, yet they're here in their thousands. We're being desiccated until our old e-mail address becomes prophetic, baked prunes without that moisturising cold tea. Why were dried plums prepared in tea? Is it a West of Scotland peculiarity, or just my maternal grandmother?

So dry that our tent has shrunk, to the extent that I've had to cut a piece off the pole ends. With well over one thousand days usage, we've never had this happen to us before. The relative humidity must be heading into the impossibility of a negative figure. Nylon does shrink, alumina can expand, the result is bad words, tent peg levers ably assisted by those thousand buzzy flies.