My boss approved my 2 months vacation, so now it is official : I am doing the The Great Outdoor Challenge 2020 (TGO), AND I am hiking The Arizona Trail.

What is The Great Outdoor Challenge (TGO)?

The Great Outdoor Challenge, or TGO Challenge as it is also called is an event that takes place each year in early May.

Participants will have 14 days to hike across Scotland from a few designated starting points (there are actually 14 places to start from!) on the west coast of Scotland and will have to end on the East coast where there will be a large celebratory meal in a town called Montrose.
The idea is that You have to plot your own route across Scotland whichever way You feel makes the most sense to You.

Afterwards you will submit it for review, and if the route is accepted You are good to go, otherwise the reviewers will make suggestions and help you with optional routes etc.

You also make a backup route, as most hikers of course want to get up in the mountains, but if the weather is really bad It might not be such a good idea 🙂 so therefore they want you to have another option ready. Just in case.

Planning The Great Outdoor Challenge (TGO) 2020

As I am already planning my Arizona Trail hike I was having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that I would need to plan this hike as well.

Luckily I will be hiking The Great Outdoor Challenge (TGO) with my friend Bollocks, whom you might remember from my PCT Thru-hike in 2018 and I was also hiking with him last year in 2019 on Kungsleden.
Bollocks has taken the job of planning the route we will be taking so all I basically have to do it meet up with him and start the hike! That was a huge load off my shoulders so a HUGE thanks to Bollocks for doing that!

Of course I would have been able to do it myself, but I honestly think it would have put my planning skills to the test 🙂

I will meet up with Bollocks in Glasgow on the 6th, where we will resupply for the first stretch of the route, and the next day we take the bus up to our starting point on the west coast, and on the 8th of May we start our hike across Scotland.

We are starting in Ratagan which is a small hamlet on the southwestern shore of the sea loch, Loch Duich in Lochalsh, Scottish Highlands. So about right in the middel of nowhere 🙂

We then hike across Scotland towards our end goal which is Stonehaven on the eastern coast. While in Stonehaven I want to go see Dunnottar Castle, which is an awesome castle ruin dating back to about 15th and 16th century. Selfie time! 🙂

The whole route is about 179mi (288km) so not too bad 🙂 although coming from the warmth of Arizona (or at least I hope is it) to the wet, and probably cold UK might be the hardest part of the adventure. But crossing fingers that it will be nice and sunny in Scotland! (pretty please!)

So far this is the route we are hiking:

The Gear that I will bring

As I am flying straight from the Arizona Trail to Glasgow (well not directly, I will get a plane from Los Angeles ;)) I will be using the exact same gear (makes sense right) 😉

And I have already gathered an amazing amount of gear from my Pacific Crest Trail thru-hike in 2018 and my hike of the Kungsleden (King’s Way) in 2019, I didn’t really need any new gear.

BUT I can’t help myself, so I treated myself to a new Quilt (yes I know, blasphemy considering my outbursts on the PCT about quilts).
Before heading out on Kungsleden (King’s Way)  I bought a quilt from Western MountaineeringThe AstraLite and it is actually amazing! and extremely lightweight (17.5oz / 496g).

But I am “worried” that a 26°F bag (-3°C) isn’t going to keep me warm in Arizona and Scotland (yes yes I will do another post about the TGO Challenge) so I opted for another, warmer quilt – UGQ XL-Bandit 10°F (-12°C). Hopefully it will arrive in time for me to bring it on the trip, otherwise I will have to use my Western Mountaineering AlpinLite (20°F / -6°C) which served me pretty well on my  Pacific Crest Trail thru-hike.

I also have to get new shoes again – the shoes I used on my Kungsleden (King’s Way) are about to be done for, so I am just using them for my training hikes.
The shoes I chose, again, are the Altra Lone Peak 4.0, they were good to me on my Pacific Crest Trail thru-hike and on Kungsleden (King’s Way) so I don’t want to risk anything by trying new shoes.
But if I need to buy a new pair near the end of the Arizona Trail, I will probably go for the Altra Lone Peak 4.5 instead.

I am also bringing a Garmin Inreach Mini instead of my Spot device. A HUGE part of Oregon there was no signal on the Spot device (and yes I had it turned on) so I will not trust that anymore (and the Garmin Inreach Mini just looks cooler anyways 😉 )

edit: I have decided that I will not be bringing a GPS for these trips – hopefully I will not regret it 🙂

I also got a new watch, the Garmin Fenix 6X Pro Solar. Reason for that is not that I am not happy with my Suunto Core, I really just wanted a watch with a step counter(pedometer), Altitude, Barometer and Compas, and looking at smartwatches I realised that battery life is still really bad – I do not want to have to charge my watch every night, when I already have my camera and my phone to “worry” about.

The Garmin Fenix 6X Pro Solar, can hold battery in “smartwatch” mode for about 21 days, which means that if I remember to charge it when I am in a town, I will probably never run out of battery.

Videos and pictures

Just like on the Arizona Trail, I will probably just be posting pictures on my Instagram account, and when I get home I will make some videos about the whole adventure.

As I learned on my Pacific Crest Trail thru-hike doing videos and taking pictures for Instagram is a pain and extremely time consuming, so I WILL be shooting video and taking a ton of pictures, but the video will be edited when I get back home as it is just SO much work and it really disrupts my adventure when I constantly have to find time to edit video on the trail or on my zero days.

Pictures will be posted on my Instagram as often as possible, I really don’t know how the cell service is on the trail, but whenever possible I will post pictures!

And when the video is ready it will of course be posted on my Youtube channel.

If I have any readers that has done the The Great Outdoor Challenge (TGO), I would love to hear some tips!

 I am doing the The Great Outdoor Challenge 2020 (TGO) YEAH!

/Boss