Preparing a trek with a TrekDoc

Before I leave on a nature trek, I like to document the specifics in a TrekDoc and share it on Google Docs with the trek participants and the people who stay at home. The document includes the goal of the trek, participants’ contact info, the route we’re planning to take, transport, gear & food to bring, estimated costs and the expected weather conditions. The TrekDoc serves multiple purposes:

  1. It’s a preparation checklist so I won’t forget anything
  2. It simplifies communication between the participants
  3. It’s a convenient information source for the people staying at home

At the end of the trek, I usually add some extra info to the document: some travel statistics (time, distance, height ascended and descended for each day), a link to our final route, links to shared pictures and some lessons learned. That way I end up with a complete log of my trek which can be a useful guide for future trips.

Below you’ll find an example of one of my TrekDocs. Feel free to use it as a template for preparing one of your own outdoor adventures.


TrekDoc Scotland June 2015

Activity
Goal
Date
Location
Trekking route
Participants
Program
Online info
Transport
Food & drinks
Sleeping
Costs
Navigation
Gear
Weather
Other
Results

Activity

Hiking and wild camping.

Goal

Have fun, pretty intense hikes (about 5 hours/day with a backpack over rough terrain), learning some outdoor skills (e.g. navigation)

Date

Mon 15 June 2015 (about 6:00) – Sun 21 June  2015 (about 21:00). This is 7 days including 2 days traveling and 5 days in the mountains.

Location

The Cairngorms. This is the largest and highest national park in the UK. It’s located in the East of the Scottish Highlands, about 45 km South-East of Inverness (Scotland).

Trekking Route

See our planned main and alternative trekking routes on Google Maps (incl. distances, times, elevations and campsites). The main route is partly the hiking route described in Jolanda Linschooten’s Dutch Hiking Guide “Bergtochten in Schotland, Wales en Engeland”. In bad weather we might hike the alternative route.

Participants

ParticipantContact in case of emergency
Marc Smeehuijzen
Maasstraat 190-3
1079 BL Amsterdam
The Netherlands
Mobile: +31 6 24 525 136
E-mail: marc@onlinecaveman.com
Date of birth: 27 Nov. 1972
Marcy Smeehuijzen
Main Street 123
3000 AB Utrecht
The Netherlands
Mobile: +31 6 11 222 333
Pete Jones
High Street 44
1111 XY Amsterdam
The Netherlands
Mobile: +31 6 44 555 666
E-mail: pete.jones@hotmail.com
Date of birth: 2 Aug. 1980
Pam Jones
Freedom Ave 6
1222 PJ Haarlem
The Netherlands
Mobile: +31 6 77 888 999

Program

Every day hiking and wild camping except the last night when we stay in a hostel in Aviemore. (Typical day: 8:00 get up, 9:30 leave camp and hike, 12:00 lunch, 13:00 hike, 16:00 make camp, 18:00 dinner, 20:00 explore camp area).

Online info

Transport

  1. Bus/train from home to Amsterdam Schiphol airport (NL)
  2. Flight from Amsterdam airport to Glasgow airport (Scotland)
  3. Bus from from Glasgow airport to Glasgow train station
  4. Train from Glasgow train station to Aviemore
Flight schedule
Date15 June 201521 June 2015
RouteA’dam-Glasg.Glasg. – A’dam
Flight no.KL 1471KL 1478
Time07:55 ­- 08:3016:55 – 19:30

Source: https://www.klm.com/home/nl/nl

Meeting time and loc.Mon 15 June 2015, 06:30, meeting point Amsterdam Schiphol airport (= big red-white checkered cube in the hall with all the escalators down to the train tracks).
Travel distance10 km (train/bus) + 700 km (plane) + 15 km (bus) + 220 km (train) = 950 km. (Straight line: 800 km).
Travel time (excl. waiting)0.5hr bus/train + 1.5hr flight + 0.5hr bus + 2.5hr train = 5 hr
Public transport schedule
Date15 June 201521 June 2015
RouteGlasg. air. – Glasg. station – Aviemore (about 250 km)Aviemore – Perth – Glasg. station – Glasg. air (about 250 km)
TransportBus – TrainTrain – Train – Bus
Time9:40 – 10:10 – 12:45 (3 hr 5 min)11:25 – 13:05 – 14:27 – 14:51 (3 hr 26 min)

Source: http://www.travelinescotland.com

Food & drinks

We bring food for the 5.5 days that we are in the mountains.

WaterSource: local lakes and streams (there are many). Purification: UV light (Steripen), filtering (Sawyer filter) or cooking (Primus camp stove). If there is enough wood around, we can also cook on a campfire.
5 x breakfastCruesli/porridge with milk powder and water
5 x lunchHartkeks (= crackers from the outdoor store) with toppings
5 x dinnerFreeze dried expedition meals. For sale in outdoor stores. Preparation: just add boiling water and wait 10 min. A typical 2-person meal is 1200 kcal, needs about 800 ml of boiling water and costs about €10. (This trip each person eats 2-persons meals!)
SnacksChocolate, muesli-bars, dried fruit, nuts, crisps
Estimate calories needed/day3000 kcal

Carry all food in a large stuff sack. Everybody brings their own food but Marc brings these items for general use: some tea bags and some chocolate powder.

Sleeping

ShelterWaterproof, wind resistant and lightweight tent (1 per person).
Sleeping bag ratingAt least until 0C
Toilet & showerNot available so we do everything in nature. Bury excrement at least 30 m from water sources. Use moss as toilet paper or bring toilet paper and burn it after use.

Last night (20 June 2015): Aviemore Bunkhouse, Dalfaber Road (no number), Aviemore, phone: +44 1479 811181
http://www.aviemore-bunkhouse.com/index.html

Costs

ItemEstimated costs/person
Flight€ 150
Food€ 100
Bus/Train€ 100
Hostel (1 night Aviem.)€ 50
Total€ 400
  • Excluding costs own outdoor gear!
  • Make sure you have travel insurance that covers off-trail hiking and wild camping in the mountains

Navigation

Maps

NameScaleLast updateGPS position formatGPS map date
Aviemore & Central Cairngorms (AA Walker’s maps 28)1:25.0002012British GridOrd Srvy GB
Cairngorms & Lochnagar (BMC Harvey Mountain Map)1:40.0002011British GridOrd Srvy GB

Gear

*= Optional
M’s pick= Marc’s pick (brand and type)
W (g)= Weight (grams)
P (€)= Price (Euro’s)

Per person

ItemCommentsM’s pickW (g)P (€)
BACKPACK & CLOTHING
BackpackAbout 50L with hip beltHyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 Windrider830290
Backpack liner/rain coverWaterproofMountain Laurel Design liner362
Hiking shoesWaterproof & breathableLa Sportiva Eco 4.0 GTX1230170
Gaiters* Outdoor Designs Alpine AS-G1024030
1 pair wool hiking socks Perry Sport8215
1 pair wool hiking socks Perry Sport8215
1 pair undersocks*Against blistersCoolmax (Synthetic)3110
1 pair undersocks*Against blistersCoolmax (Synthetic)3110
Boxershort Icebreaker Boxershort Anatomica5535
Boxershort Icebreaker Boxershort Anatomica5535
T-shirt Icebreaker Quattro Short Sleeve Polo16090
T-shirt Icebreaker Tech Lite Short Sleeve12570
Long pantsQuick drying so no jeansFjällraven Forrester510100
Belt* Eagle Creek AT Money Belt (money compartment removed)6010
Long sleeve shirt/sweaterMosquito-proofNorth Face Men 100 Glacier Fleece23355
Puffy jacket/warm fleece jacketA puffy jacket is a warm and compressible down/synthetic jacketPHD Ultra Down Jacket: K Series Performance250410
Rain jacket Mammut Albaron440280
Rain pants Rab Bergen340110
Cap Patagonia Unisex Beanie6550
Gloves Ziener Idea WS7030
Buff* OutdoorDesigns4515
Hat Fjällraven G-10006736
Headnet Sea to Summit HeadNet309
Little towel/dishcloth* Bijenkorf1005
     
SLEEPING
TentWind resistant and lightweightMountain Laurel Designs Duomid (2 person cuben fiber tarptent)460390
Tent stakes 12 Easton Nano Nail Stakes17027
Sleeping bagRated until at least 0CPHD Minim 400 Down610380
Sleeping pad Therm-A-rest NeoAir Xlite23090
Bivy bag*Preferably with integrated mosquito nettingExped eVENT/PU (with integrated mosquito netting)585229
     
FOOD, DRINKS, COOKING
Water bottle/bagVolume at least 1L, for purifying with Steripen it needs a wide openingNalgene cantene PE folding bottle6010
Bowl to eat and drink from Trangia819
SpoonPreferably long one so you can eat directly from freeze dried food bagsSea to Summit Alpha Long Spoon128
Pocket knife Bear Grylls (Gerber) Compact II3330
Lighter Bic Mini121
Matches Flix veiligheidslucifers61
     
OTHER
Hiking poles* Leki Makalu Classic (also for supporting tent)51060
Headlamp Fenix LD02 (clip on cap)2433
Spare batteries* Albert Heijn Alkaline AAA battery101
Compass Silva Field 72816
Mobile phoneWith phone no. trek participants and emergency no.Apple iPhone6127654
Whistle Fox40 micro78
Sunglasses* Julbo Reflex/Instinct30100
Watch*For navigation, e.g. dead reckoningSee GPS under Gear for general use  
ToiletriesToothbrush, toothpaste, lip balmLactona compact toothbrush, Elmex travel-size toothpaste, Lypsyl lip balm381
Notebook & pencil* Schrijfblok A7 + IKEA pencil501
Travel papersPassport, tickets, insurance, money, cards   
Stuff sackTo organize everything in your backpackGranite Gear Air ZippSack 5L2520
Stuff sackFor carrying foodGranite Gear Air ZippSack 16L4530
     
TOTAL  83203981

For general use

ItemCommentsM’s pickW (g)P (€)
MARC BRINGS
Camp stove Primus OmniLite TI (for all types of fuel)341230
Windscreen Primus6515
FuelGood for boiling about 23L water. (Not allowed on plane so buy in Scotland)Primus large 975ml canister (450g gas) + medium 460ml canister (230g gas)102515
Camp stove Selfmade alcohol stove (Andrew Skurka design)61
Windscreen Selfmade alum. foil windscreen (Andrew Skurka design)41
Fuel bottle Nalgene 0.5L542
FuelGood for boiling about 5L water. (Not allowed on plane so buy in Scotland)500 ml denatured alcohol4101
UV water purifier Steripen Adventurer Opti11080
Spare batteriesFor UV water purifierCR123 3V Panasonic Lithium Power155
Waterfilter Sawyer mini filter6040
Waterfilter cleaning plungerTo backflush the Sawyer waterfilterComes with the Sawyer mini filter330
Water bagNeeded for Sawyer filterPlatypus 1L2410
Water purification tabletsBackup water purification methodKatadyn Micropur Forte MF 1T119
Cooking potVolume depends on group sizeEvernew ECA-252R Titanium Ultralight Pot 0.9L10569
Cooking potVolume depends on group sizePrimus AluTech Trek Kettle 1.0L20018
Cooking pot gripFor gripping cooking pots/bowlsMSR4510
Hiking mapSee Navigation for more detailsAviemore & Central Cairngorms (AA Walker’s maps 28)9615
Hiking mapSee Navigation for more detailsCairngorms & Lochnagar (BMC Harvey Mountain Map)8315
Map caseWaterproofOrtlieb 27 x 276020
GPS Suunto Ambit3 Peak GPS watch (no built in map)89500
First aid kitContents depends on trip and group sizeBandages, plasters, compeed (anti-blister), sports tape, scissors, tweezers, safety pins, tick remover, pain killers14030
Repair items Sowing set, duct tape, air mattress repair kit, Seamgrip glue5010
Sunscreen Aloe Gator SPF 40+ total sunblock gel waterproof UVA-UVB protect323
Bio-degradable soap Bever Zwerfzeep404
Toilet paperBackupFrom supermarket (only little bit)151
Small plastic shovelFor burying excrementPatrick Plastics505
Camera Sony Cybershot DSC-WX220122200
Camera spare battery Jupio Li-ion Model CSO00251320
StickpickTo mount camera on hiking poleBackpackingLight1020
Monocular Bushnell Bear Grylls14065
KindlingFor fire lighting in wet conditionsRoll of birch bark in plastic bag100
Fixed-blade knifeFor splitting woodMora Training Knife Model 78011023
Extra rope 2m paracord6010
watersocksFor river crossingsVincere Grip/Boat Socks8823
Wind & temp. meter Kestrel 200095140
     
TOTAL  38011620
     
PETE BRINGS
Camera GoPro Hero + headstrap111140
PowerbankFor charging electronic devicesAnker 16000 mAh30830
     
TOTAL  419170

Weather

General

The Scottish Highlands are wet, gray and cool. The highest mountain tops are often in fog and hard wind (can be up to hurricane force!)

Temperature, precipitation and wind in Cairngorms in June
Average. temp.Max. 12 C, min. 5 C
Average precipitation98 mm
Av. no of days with precipitat.19
Av. wind speed3-4 Bft
Dominant wind directionSouth-West

Source: https://www.meteoblue.com/en/weather/forecast/modelclimate/cairngorms-national-park_united-kingdom_10104113

Keep in mind: temperature drops about 0.8C every 100m of elevation (= lapse rate), and wind generally increases.

Sun
 15 June 201521 June 2015
Rise04:1904:19
Set22:1222:14
Moon
 15 June 201521 June 2015
Set20:35
Rise04:0810:05
Illumination2%22%

Source: http://www.heavens-above.com/

Scottish Mountain Weather Reports (look under “Cairngorms National Park, Monadhliath”):
http://www.mcofs.org.uk/weather-reports.asp

Webcams (e.g. to check snowlines):
http://www.winterhighland.info/cams/cairngorm-mountain/

Other

  • Keep your stuff light! Preferably max. weight: 17 kg.

E.g.:

Max. weights
In backpackGear10 kg
Food4 kg
1 liter water1 kg
On your personClothing & Gear2 kg
Total 17 kg
  • Airplane luggage: max. allowed weight (KLM): 12 kg (carry on) + 23 kg (in hull) = 35 kg.
  • Packing tip: pack your bag at least 2 days in advance.
  • Fitness: make sure you are fit enough to walk 5 hours with a backpack over rough terrain.
  • Wild camping: in Scotland you are allowed to wild camp under the following conditions: in a small group, with lightweight tents, max. 3 nights in one place and out of sight of paths, roads, houses, etc. (Land Reform Scotland Act 2003).
  • Currency in Scotland: their own version of British Pounds (same exchange rate). £ 1 = about € 1,4. One pound is subdivided into 100 pence (singular: penny).
  • Time difference: in Scotland it is 1 hour earlier than in The Netherlands.
  • Power plugs: if you want to charge electronic devices in Scotland, you need different power plugs than in the Netherlands.
  • Mosquitos, midges and horse flies can be real plague in the Summer in Scotland so sometimes you need to wear long sleeve shirts, gloves and a headnet. Prime midge-time: 15 Jun. – 15 Sep.
  • Ticks: every day check your body for ticks (some carry Lyme Disease). If you remove them within 24 hours after a bite, normally you are fine.
  • Flora and fauna to expect: red deer, sheep, roe deer, scottish highland cattle, reindeer, rabbit, hare, fox, red squirrel, adder, all kinds of birds, pine, spruce, larch, common juniper, birch, rowan, gorse, bracken, all kinds of moss, grasses and heather plants.
  • Hunting: the stag (deer) stalking season is from 1 July to 20 Oct. 2015 so we should not have problems with hunting during our trek. (The Heading for the Scottish Hills website has some [limited] information about where and when hunting is going on).
  • Peaks: the Cairngorms are home to five of the six highest mountains in Scotland: Ben Macdhui (1309 m), Braeriach (1296 m), Cairn Toul (1293 m), Sgor an Lochain Uaine (1258 m) and Cairn Gorm (1245 m) and features 18 Munros (mountains over 3000 feet or 914 m) in total.
  • Tree line elevation in Scotland is about 500 m.
  • Scottish mountain words that might come in handy:
AlltStream
BeinnBen = Mountain
BothySmall mountain hut
BurnStream
CairnMound of stones
CoireCorrie = Curved-hollow
FordRiver crossing
GlenValley
LochLake
  • Other people: the Scottish Highlands are often very quiet so we probably won’t see many other people.
  • Connection: Assume that you have no (or very little) connection with your mobile phone in the area (no calling signal and no internet).
  • Alpine distress signal: 6 signals (e.g. whistle blasts) per minute, 1 min. break, repeat. Reply: 3 signals (e.g. whistle blasts) per min., 1 min. break, repeat.
  • Emergency plan: If Marcy (Marc’s sister) has not heard that we have returned to civilization on Monday morning 22 June 2015, she will contact Scottish Mountain rescue.
  • Emergency phone number in Scotland is +44 999 or +44 112 (ask for police and then mountain rescue).

< The section below is added after the trek >

Results

 Dist. (km)Asc. (m)Desc. (m)Peak (m)Time (u:m)Break (u:m)
15 jun.7.07002801:300:00
16 jun.17.02001003504:300:45
17 jun.22.05303306157:001:20
18 jun.15.02302008004:001:00
19 jun.15.03506008254:300:40
20 jun.16.0801803303:300:45
TOT.92.014601410320025:004:30
Avrg / day15.32432355334:100:45

Final trekking route (on Google Maps)

Photos (on Online Caveman blog)
Film (on YouTube)

Lessons learned

  • Incorporating the latest mountain weather forecast (wind, snow, temperature, rain) is crucial for planning our hiking route on the Cairngorms plateau.
  • Snow was still an obstacle on the higher routes on the plateau (even in the second half of June 2015).
  • The midges were a real nuisance under the tree line. Good head nets (+ anti-mosquito stuff) were needed.
  • Andrew Skurka’s selfmade alcohol stove + aluminum wind screen both work well but need some fiddling and care (need flat & stable surface, good wind protection, takes about 15 min. to boil 600ml water).
  • The 1 : 40.000 BMC map was more accurate in some ways than the 1 : 25.000 AA map.
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