Archive for category Fitness Challenges
Picked up just after 4am with very little sleep we were now off on this crazy mission with a 4hr drive up north to the start point of this epic hike! Nervously excited, tired but determined in my mind that I’d accomplish the task ahead. I had read the reports, downloaded the route, printed off a map, all that remained now was the endurance of this testing estimated average 11hr walk, braving & scrambling some slightly exposed ridges and getting the 9K back along the road to the van at the start point!
The weather was changeable on the drive up but began to clear more as we got closer to our destination and just as we arrived the hills were framed by a gorgeous rainbow, always a good sight to me, there’s just something mystical and awesome about them and in my mind a sign that the day was going to turn out well.
Rucksacks on the backs packed with the needs and necessities we headed off to hit the first Munro, meeting one other couple along the way who were going an “off piste” route up the mountain, we chose to stick to the path more trodden. It was quite a climb to the first summit as we traversed back and forth winding up the rocky grassy path. From there the next summit was not far and without too much descent in between, so we carried on to Munro No.2. before we stopped for a short re-fuelling break.
Somewhere after this was where I had to scramble over a reasonably short exposed ridge section. I’m not totally afraid of heights, however, from previous experiences of looking down from these kinda heights at pretty scary looking drops and that sinking fearsome feeling I get in my belly, I have found the best solution for me is to only focus on where my feet/hands are going, put my blinkers on and keep going! Lol!
I made it, phew, now more trudging as we continued along to the next peaks and troughs, the last 3 had quite large incline/declines in between and there was another ridge section, which I again employed the same “don’t look down” strategy and got happily down the other side of that where we met another 3 walkers and stopped for a bit of hill banter before continuing on this mission.
We reached Munro 6 and for a moment thought that it was 7, so the map confirmation that we still had one more to go was a bit of a blow to the mind more than the body as now it had to be re-calibrated to factor in further endurance than was thought for just a moment.
After that we kicked up the pace a bit pushing just to get to the last one, which was a hugely welcomed sight I’ll tell you! But, the walk was far from over, the decent back to the road was quite looking like quite a trek still on ViewRanger, and in order to get on that route there was a quite vertical few meter looking scramble ahead first much to my dismay!
At this same junction there was, what appeared to be, another kind of path and possible route back down the valley that looked like a somewhat tempting option from where we were standing and it looked to cut off some walking time. So we made the decision to head down it! Very rubbly and not very pleasant walking at all, as well as pretty steep at first, it still seemed do-able though, but then as I was looking ahead at the terrain and where we were aiming for something was telling me this was not going to end well. It was getting later, now early evening and the sun was going down, we were tired, I was getting edgy and so said to my hiking companion that I felt we should try to head back up the mountain and over to try and find a way back to the official route off. He felt we could still make it but my gut feeling was that, although more ascent was far from ideal at this stage in the walk, it was going to be the best option!
So we crossed up and over and could finally see the actual path in the distance near the stream, still quite a way to go though. At this stage in the walk it was really all about just plodding on and getting off the mountain with a slight urgency as light would be fading faster soon, a bit gruelling now but the mind was just on getting back to the van! Which was still parked another 9K along the road once we were back at the gate! Ooooft!
Battling through boggy grassy midge filled sections and a couple of streams crossings, the second of which I did a lovely little slip and dip into as I attempted to step across the awkward stones. I laughed, wet but just really really happy to be off the mountain by this point, still not home and dry yet though by any means!
Once through the gate onto the road we passed a campervan parked and began trudging along the road back to where the van was parked, trying to thumb a lift from passing cars but to no avail until finally that same campervan we saw just as we came off the mountain came along the road and stopped for us!
Oh the sheer relief and joy, Simon and his van were like angels to me by this point, saving the last 5K of the walk, which very soon would have been in the dark! All Gods at this point were thanked in earnest, especially as we drove along the road and saw how much distance we still had to go! Ahhh…at last, the van, dry socks, trainers, warmth, a seat…but still a 4hr drive home and it was now 11pm!
Even though I was not driving and could have nodded off for a rest I felt a duty to my driver and hiking buddy to stay awake just as he had to complete this mission. Anything else would be a cop out, plus I wanted to try keep talking to break up the monotony of the long dark drive through the winding country roads, especially with deer often on or around the roadside to watch out for too.
3am and we were back in town, 24 hours since I’d got up to prepare for this epic expedition, and that it sure had been. A huge test of endurance of body and mind, the faith to keep going, thankful for the instinct that guided me to call to head back to the path on that last section on hindsight especially now after chatting to other hikers and reading reports of how folks got into dodgy troublesome descents by continuing to follow the valley route back. Phew!
That’s 7 Munro’s bagged bringing my total to 23 and that little bundle is not one I’m in any rush to repeat and do again any time soon! Still, goal set and goal met, no cuts or bruises and a great sense of accomplishment along with no feeling of great urgency to see another mountain for a while! Lol!
It was 2012 when I took on and met my first full marathon challenge, 5 years ago, one of those “things to do before you’re 40” bucket list kinda things I suppose, plus I’d already been managing half marathons previously for a few years and wanted to push up the challenge.
A lot had happened since that last event in my life, amongst them the agony of a Mortons Neuroma in my left foot, which made even walking painful for over a year until FINALLY after doctors, podiatrists etc. sent me back and forth then eventually for the scan that confirmed I did in fact have the MN that I had guessed I had through googling and observation of my symptoms. This meant I could be referred for a cortisone shot in 2015 that reduced the pain I’d been suffering so long. I could not understand why they could not have just sent me for the scan at the start and saved me so much stress & discomfort!
In addition to this I had been on a hike/walk over in Millport, a small island off the West Coast of Scotland, where, after taking a wrong walking route, ended up in a field where I was bitten by something on my leg. To this day I do not know what it was, all I know is I had 2 bites that flared up every few months and a heap of Lyme disease or Autoimmune type symptoms that caused me to feel awful most of the time in one way or another, it was like my body was under attack and I didn’t even know what the enemy was. Again the doctors, only at my request, tested me for Lyme, late stage, as this was now a good couple of years that these bites kept reappearing as if I’d just been freshly bitten then subsided but never went away completely, it was very odd, stressful and incredibly tiring. Not only that the doctors made me feel like I was silly to suggest the bites were the same ones that kept flaring up, and the Lyme test came back -ve, but they tried a course of anti-biotics which again still left me having to just try to manage to get through suffering. A friend on FB suggested a course of Oregano Oil and very kindly sent up some for me to try. I dosed myself with a few drops every day in ginger/lemon/honey tea and low and behold a few weeks later I felt just a bit better, certainly the edge of symptoms seemed to be taken off but I was still in a land of health limbo totally unsure if or how I would be able to feel “normal” again. It was depressing, debilitating, lonely, tiring and a chapter I am very glad to glance back on now in a far healthier state and be far removed from, but it took a battle, discipline with food, reducing inflammation in my system and sheer determination to get well again.
Then as if dealing with all that wasn’t bad enough I opened myself up into the first close personal relationship I’d had in years and that turned out to be yet another battle I had to face as it did not end well to say the very least, this left me in another health mess of CPTSD and struggles that almost broke me, again, receiving assistance and the right support seemed hard to get, so I just had to read, study, self help through online resources, in my cocoon of safety until I felt I could peek out, maybe even stretch my wings and then attempt to fly again, or maybe even truly for the first time! At least I had music to keep me going through these trials.
2017, all of that drama behind me, mentally stronger than ever, physically almost back to my old self, already running good distances, and the email reminder for the Edinburgh Marathon hit my inbox around Xmas/New Year. Something pulled my gut towards signing up for this challenge and I decided I was going to go for it! My “come back” run, a 26.2 mile stamp of my feet to everything that had tried to break me and show it all that I was stronger, that all that stuff didn’t win, that I was the winner!
Towards the tail end of 2016 I had begun hillwalking, still with some residual foot pain from the MN, but bearable, what was less bearable was being grounded and not getting to enjoy outdoor adventures and exercise in life the way I wanted to. It’s amazing how grateful you can be for a relatively pain free walk when you’ve had to endure months where every second step was in some way painful. I was determined to heal this thing, I’d read it was possible. The support of hillwalking boots and insoles seemed to help over time, and it wasn’t long before I got roped into climbing my first Munro!
2nd January we hit Ben Lomond and I had a couple of slips on the ice, just enough to cause my right knee to have issues for a while, so that was me out of commission for a bit and somehow I overdid it that day and it brought on a bout of CFS and generally feeling pretty awful again which was pretty horrid, not only that I was now wondering if I’d be able to keep training for the marathon.
Managed by end of January to get out for a run again and began building my strength back, it felt so good to be able to run again, a few aches and pains here and there but nothing compared to the pain of not running, for mind, body and soul, it had for years become the injection I needed.
By March I even braved a few more MUNRO climbing missions and I was upping my distances, it was looking good! The marathon gig was on! Whilst injury free and not wanting to temp fate I cut out on the MUNRO missions to focus on just running, getting my distances up and doing my utmost best to stay injury free!
It was all going pretty well, hadn’t quite pushed up my distances up as far as I’d hoped by tapering time but 19 miles was going to have to be close enough. The next 3/4 weeks was just spent enjoying shorter 10 mile runs in different locations, even back to the island I got bitten on. I ran round it on a lovely sunny day, just for a change of scenery, briefly remembering the episode of weird symptoms that began there years before and was just so glad it was over!
The final week, Monday, I was all set for the run the following Sunday, a slightly unwelcome disruption that I could have done without, my flat was having new windows fitted, so I had to move stuff to allow for the works, get my cat to my friend for the day and have my day turned upside down. I helped my neighbour move a chair for the same reason and thought nothing of it till I woke that Monday morning with a ridiculous hamstring/glute pain which seemed to have come out of nowhere, the only thing it could have been was the chair lifting! Ahhhhh….PANIC!!! Of all the things to happen!
By Tuesday it wasn’t much better, I was having to have a chat with myself about the possibility that I may very well just have to cancel the run altogether but I had a few days to do everything possible to get this mystery pain to go. Resting, compression, massaging, hot baths, cold compresses, the works…and by Friday it had eased enough for me to try a short slow paced 2 mile jog with support bandage, which I did and nothing tore or left me in agony, so I decided I was going to AT LEAST try to run the marathon but be sensible to chuck it if it got too painful.
Saturday prepared, kit all layed out, food shopping done and housework done so I didn’t need to do much after I returned from the event in whatever state that may be! Lol! Saturday night got crazy indigestion and couldn’t sleep so was awake till about 3am and was up at 6am to get breakfast and be in time for the train to Edinburgh that would get me to the start line in time.
Tired I got on the train, nervously excited, the buzz of all the other runners around, about to descend upon the streets to undertake this mission of endurance, all likely similar to myself with some focus or reason in their mind for doing it! Met an interesting lady from New Zealand on the train, a fellow spiritually conscious empath as serendipity would have it, and we hardly stopped chatting the whole way, from deep intellectual tangent topic to tangent and before I knew it we were there!
A short walk now to dump my bag on the truck that would take it to meet me at the finish line and then to the start point at Regents Road! This was it, I was here, and determined to beat the odds and do this thing! The sun was shining, it was gonna be a hot one but I wasn’t going to be pushing it too hard for speed PB’s I’d decided, today it was just about making it through the finish line! I ran the first 10miles or so at a pretty decent pace but my foot and knee began nagging a bit and with the heat on top of that the next 8 miles or so was the most gruelling! Took a couple of paracetamol and extra carb sachets around 17 miles and found a second wind! The last 8 miles was actually pretty good and unlike the first time I was running the last mile struggling, this time I was happily running to that finish line, so thankful that the wee legs had held up, that the mind had not given up when it argued with me to stop, that the music on my playlist in my ears had helped me focus away from the pains of endurance.
It was lovely to have the crowds shouting your name read from the number tags we had pinned on our tops! Go on Susan they shouted, well done, you’re almost there! And then that was it…I was through the finish line, it was like a blur, time becomes almost non-descript when you’re running for that long, it’s almost like a parallel universe place that is entered, perhaps that’s why I love it so much!
A slow dazed wander now to retrieve my bag from the lorry, collecting my medal and goodie bag on the way, and stopped some chaps to ask if they’d kindly take a finish picture for me with my medal on. Turned out they were from Washington DC, maybe some connection to the recent visit from Obama, always nice to meet interesting people!
I glugged down the banana protein shake, chatted briefly with a girl from London next to me and ate a banana whilst basking in the heat sitting on the grass with hundreds of other tired but happy people. Next headed to get the bus back to the city centre to catch the train home where I met a guy from Aberdeen and one from East London who had travelled up to do the race with his fiancé. Lovely to encounter such a diverse mix of lovely positive folks during my day out.
A wander through town from the station to get home with the goodie bag in hand and medal rattling round my neck, nods and smiles of acknowledgement to the other occasional entrant passed on the way also making their journey home from the day.
It was over, mission accomplished after all these months of discipline, pushing myself to train, testing times, injuries, faith and focus. Like a weight had been lifted, a new sense of lightness and freedom tied with gladness that I had successfully met my goal, in my own mind I had won, and more than just a medal.
Woke up the next morning feeling like someone had beat me up my legs in my sleep! Lol! I could hardly get up out of bed and laughed as I struggled with the DOMS onset, by day two and after an Epsom salts bath the pains began to ease a bit and I was now looking forwards to the summer ahead with that feat of endurance behind me!
A gorgeous clear morning and forecast for the whole day, probably one of the nicest sunny days of 2017 so far and luckily we were able to “carpe diem” and head to the hills for another Munro bagging expedition, this time in the Arrocher Alps region near Loch Lomond.
A lovely drive and we were parked and ready to go, this time with much less need for such heavy extra layers, gloves and earwarmers and more in need of sunglasses and even a touch of sunscreen! This was a new Munro bagging experience for me! I had started my first MUNRO bagging in December when the wintery cold weather was just setting in, but one great thing about the cold is the dissappearance of certain undesireable insects, the midges and ticks!
So off we went up the track path for a small section and then cut up to follow the route. Since the weather was warming, there was a melt going on and the stoney path was resembling a small stream in places. Quite a steep section this first bit, and not long till we were all pretty warm in this spring sunshine.
As you will see if you view the VLOG in the link above, the views were incredible at every turn, simply breathtaking! Most of the start to this hike was fairly straight forwards, but as we ascended it got more rugged and steep in sections which was a little more challenging and required focus on the footholds. I had not done much “scrambling” the official word for rock clambering, except in my youth as kid by the beaches on the west coast. The scrambling began to become a lot more serious once we approached the part called the Spearhead. At this section we had to use hands to grip rocks and pull ourselves up certain sections, and it was a long way down if any mistakes were made. I looked down a couple of time but that just made my knees and tummy go weak and I could feel the fear inside me ready to take hold, so with the old pop song by Go West – “Don’t Look Down Girl” in my head, I did just that and persevered onwards and upwards. Behind me were my two hiking buddies, Jim highly experienced with close to 200 Munro’s under his belt so any terrain was not really a chore to him! Grace on the other hand, pardon the pun, literally in some ways due to her wrist injury recovery was struggling a bit with less mobility and that confidence of two strong grabbing working hands to grip the rocks with. Hats off to her for even attempting to do this climb but there did come a couple of points where she was engulfed with the fear and became imovable on sections. Looking back now we can both laugh at the moments when she was suggesting we call mountain rescue and she was not going to budge and further! But as they say, we get by with a little help from our friends and with me up ahead making footholds in the snow for her and coaxing her verbally to keep going and Jim with his sturdy patience at her rear we all made it!
Quite definately the next level of climbing that hill was and I was very glad to be off and over that section, as was Grace most definately! Thank goodness the worst bit was over! Phew…and we did it! A stop for food and it was off to Beinn Ime.
It didn’t look like it was going to take too long to get to that other summit, but boy the hill was a bit deceiving and I was certainly feeling my energy levels dropping a bit and that feeling of “when are we gonna get there” arising as the actual summit was hidden by false appearances. Finally we got there, and again some more snacks and sugary treats to boost the slightly flagging energy levels, then it was back down and past the base of “The Cobbler” another landmark rocky scramble in the same vicinity. One day I will get to that too!
The final hour of walking to get back to the car park was quite tiring, not sure now of out exact timing for this trip but it had been a good 10 hours or more we had been going so we were flagging a bit, well I sure was! Longest day on the hills yet I think…the sunniest and the best views, new skills challenged with the scrambling sections and another two Munro’s bagged, making my grand total now of 9!
Another team escapade to the hills, snow melting, slightly milder weather and a long drive headed by our kind transporter for these Munro Missions, Jim. We arrived at a nice opening in the middle of the mountains with a cafe and toilets! Oooooh the luxury of such a great thing both before and after long walks is a blessing! It is often the case that we are caught short in the middle of nowhere and just have to go back to nature!
Beginning this hike through forest paths and then into the beautiful sight of the Corrie Fee, and immense view of the whole panorama of hills from the edge of the forest. No rain thankfully and not too cold, certainly not icy cold anyway, and as soon as the walking begins it is not long before we all get to hot and layers have to be opened or removed as required to be comfortable.
Nothing too hazardous on this walk UNTIL we got to the top part of the waterfall next to the huge gorge and a very slim and icy section that had to be crossed to follow the route up the mountain. At this point I felt the fear, one glance looking down my stomach went, quickly turning away focusing on anything that was not scary and taking a few breaths while I tried to get my guts together! Jim was over the other side looking dependable encouraging and directing me the safe steps to take, I couldn’t chicken out and go home, although for a split second this was something that came to mind! LOL! So, I focused and went for the move, yes, I made it to the other side and my friend Grace, I think, equally crapping herself soon followed! Phew, that had to be the most scary section on the hills I had come across yet! A great feeling of brave accomplishment along with relief to be over that bit and we were off on the rest of the climb up these mountains.
The rest of the walk to Mayar was fairly straightforward, weather was coming and going a bit around us, but visibility was thankfully still reasonable so when we got to the summit we were able to enjoy views for miles around. There was a group of highly experienced looking walkers at the top looking like they had stopped there for a long lunch and a good old natter, many of them most definitely in retiree age, which is most inspiring to see! They soon headed off and disappeared very quickly into the distance as they headed for next summit.
We had our lunch refuel snacks and soon followed the same direction but by the time we got anywhere near the summit they were long gone! The old skools must have been setting quite a pace! Anyway, still reasonable clear weather, a few clouds threatening to put a dampener on the day but thankfully we made it to the next bag still dry and that was numbers 6 & 7 now covered!
The decent, due to there still being snow on the path was a little nervy for us girls, as my friend was still nursing her wrist injury recovery and I was just scared of doing any more unplanned Torvel and Dean impressions like I had done on Ben Lomond! Not only that, this path was on the gradient of the hill and on the right there was a steep drop in sections that was best just not to look at I found, just again focusing on the footsteps and path in front of me, as I got that vertigo feeling in my tummy if I looked down!
Boy was I glad to see the end of that path, I had my mini spikes on but that kind of walking is more tiring because it requires much more concentration, or at least I preferred as a learner hiker to take it slow and steady to do my best to avoid injury. It has been said to me by many that most accidents happen on the decent on a hill, when legs are more tired, mind too and often over confidence on the way down or going faster to get home quicker.
And so it was the end of another great day of adventure way up in the mountains of Scotland, places I had never been before, new heights and sights all around. I had well and truly got the bagging bug back again, this hill-walking thing, the fresh air, the natural energy around and generated by the exercise was very moreish.
There would be more that is for sure…where to next???
Having been a bit out of commission most of January due to injury and illness for any further Munro missions, then subsequently experiencing fears of slipping on ice or any greater injuries with a pending marathon challenge in May, I had ducked out of the bagging for a couple of months for some safer and more low impact exercising to coincide with my training as I repaired and rebuilt my strength. I was battling with the fears in my mind of falling in wintry conditions, unforeseen weather conditions and the desire to tackle another Summit challenge!
My friend and I were both recovering from different injuries and fears of slipping so we took an easy confidence building climb up the Meikle Bin, a lovely local hill walk and not so daunting! Once we hit that, we were both busting for something a bit more challenging so made the decision that we were going to tackle Scheihallion.Our other hill-walking friend Jim thankfully decided to join us last minute and offered to drive, so then there were three in the team for the day!
A snowy cold early morning start and a drive that took us on a bit of a detour high into the hills where the snow was still fresh and thicker on the roads, so on this small single track road we had taken was a bit hairy but our solid driver and his van got us there as always, in one piece and safe!
Bit of a foggy start but the snow on the hills looked lovely and there was a clear path to follow on the ascent for most of the way till we got closer to the summit and where the boulder fields of this hill would usually be found as reported by many other hill-walkers but at this time of year snow had filled in most of the ground around the boulders so there were just some of the tops poking through and this actually made it easier to climb!
All in all this was a pretty straight forward hill, so it was fun and not too treacherous, especially with snow to bound through. We occasionally got cloud clearing and views appearing on the ascent but sadly by the time we got to the summit it was pretty thick and not much could be seen. We stopped there and sheltered among the boulders along with other baggers that were, like us, refueling and hoping at some point the mists would clear and reveal what lay beneath, but alas, only short glimpses and to no great avail, so we packed up and made our decent.
No injuries and plenty of giggles that seemed to be brought on at higher altitudes and with the intake of Jelly Babies that Grace had brought along with her! A great walk, a nice Munro to do in the snow and a great feel good factor from the day, as well as more confidence built again. With each Munro mission, new learning and more experience under the belt. Peanut butter and blackcurrant jam wholemeal rolls seem to have now become the summit snack of choice, along with a tepid (usually) cup of tea to wash them down, seems to hit the spot perfectly for me!
Exercise wise, this Munro bagging is a great all rounder, calorie burning, leg working in many ways and also with the pole use an upper body workout, all in all a bit like using a cross-trainer for 4/5 hours! LOL!
So, No.5. under the belt and over the hurdle that got me stuck after No.4…more to follow…
A cool but clear day on 2nd January 2017, the new year had begun and it was time to continue as I’d left off in the previous year, climbing big huge hills to get to the top and climb back down again.
At least with a goal like this I can usually see the summit, at least a destination of exactly where I am headed, not like the path of being a self producing hopeful artist where no defined finish points, maps or presumed journey times were to be found, just travelling in blind faith on some crazy self created test of endurance, striving to progress, find some notable success, job or a way into the life and/or love you always dreamed you’d find in your happy ending, which was often the only thing that drove your passion to keep going, to keep trying and not to give up! It sure wasn’t the pay check, that’s for sure! Lol!
Mountains though, and being part of a small team, just putting one foot in front of the other, usually with a route already travelled or mapped out and led by a more experienced member of the group, now, this was to some extent an easier or even more pleasurable task at hand right now, everything else just seemed so up in the air in a whole different way than the summits were.
I was getting used to packing my kit now the night before and preparing for the early morning pick ups by one of my kind drivers from the team that would get me and my wee legs to the start point. This time it was just two of us on this lovely fresh winters day.
The drive to Loch Lomond was surrounded by the sun rising in a clear sky and it was looking like just the perfect day to do it. We arrived at the start point and got on our way pronto, no messing about walking with this one, this guy was a lean mean hillwalking machine, the kind that ate mountain summits for breakfast and was ready for another mountain by lunchtime! Lol! His pace challenged me to keep up as we ascended the steep and quite rocky path, a couple of times I did have to call on a breather or stop to take the odd pictures recording the day for my videolog.
Quite a relentless climb this one, requiring extra care and focus on icy patches hidden sometimes, just one small slip on the way up, enough to cause me to feel just that little bit more nervous of the footholds under me, after all, it hadn’t been that long since other injuries had prevented me from enjoying much exercise, so the last thing I wanted to do now was fall and hurt myself.
It was getting colder as we got higher as is usual on these climbs, quite a busy tourist summit route this one, we certainly were not alone on our quest to bag this Munro that day, which for the most part had been providing us with clear views over the Loch and surrounding landscape. However as we were approaching the last leg a large thick cloud began to come down to greet us and by the time we got to the criag at the top all we could see was cloud and it was pretty darn cold, windy and a fine blizzard of snow was also now adding itself into the windchill factor.
No hanging about at the top except for the standard summit picture and we began quite a speedy decent to make our way out these higher level conditions rather than stopping for lunch. Out the worst of it we stopped for a quick, much needed refuel and then headed back down the rest of the way. I found myself on the verges of grassy mounds rather than the stony path as I felt my feet were far more confident stepping there avoiding potential unseen ice patches, but still I found one and proceeded to do a short Torvell & Dean move before stopping on one knee! Another friendly gentleman climber was on his way down just behind me and offered his arm out to give me a welcomed hand up as I joked about my lack of ice dancing skills! That would thankfully be my 2nd and last slip for the day and the rest of the journey down was made unscathed!
About 5 hours later we were back where we started and that was the end of another adventurous day on the hills. We definitely took the high road on the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond that day! Another memory created and another Munro bagged…great start to 2017…let’s see how many are under the belt by next New Year eh! 🙂
Just 4 of us today 27/12/16, 2 guys and 2 gals, a drive off up into the mountains with an early start at 8am to make sure we caught as much daylight as possible on this cold but clear winters day. A great way to lift the spirits (literally) during the festive period, which can be an awkward time of year for some, certainly for me, so I was very glad for this healthy distraction.
As we pulled up at the car park we were not alone in our decision to tackle this summit today, another couple of lads were just leaving and likely laughing or wondering what crazy folks we were as we begun our day dancing in the car park to the Eagles, which J had pumping out of his van…nothing like a bit of joviality to start the day!
Hiking kit on and we were off, snow covered mountains all around and looking forwards to this expedition with my newly found comrades. It’s amazing how fast a bond can be formed with like minded souls on such a trip. New friends, new challenges to conquer and new skills to learn.
This was a comparitively straight forward ascent for the most part, following a well established path that wound back and forth higher and higher into the mountains exposing amazing views of snow caps.
The higher we got the more ice and snow covered the path and the colder the winds got too, so hoods and zips up time. Once we got so far the footsteps we’d been following in the snow on the path went off piste and hence so did we, walking through a more potentially marshy hillside section now but it was snow covered so care had to be taken if you didn’t want to put your foot into a bog! This is where the hiking poles come in very handy.
We were getting nearer the summit now, it, along with another few bodies walking in the distance was now in sight. The next section we crossed over was frozen snow and pretty slippy, luckily I’d put on a cheap pair of grips on my boots, they helped a little but later kept slipping off my boots and becoming more of a hindrance, something to upgrade for future winter excursions!
Along a wide exposed section of mountain now and we were there, a small whiskey swig taken by all as we toasted our next accomplishment!
Time for some food and re-adjustments to clothing i.e. waterproof trousers on top, to keep the sub zero windchill that was now hitting me at bay. This proved to be quite a challenge as my fingers had decided to go numb and I had to get my boots/gaiters/grips off before I could get the trousers on! Learning curve as I watched D with her ones with a flap that opened at the bottom with studs so she didn’t have to go through such shenanigans! Lol!
Our lovely gentlemen friends were quite the chivalrous and proceeded to pack snow into the small stone made shelter at the summit so we could all sit out the wind to re-fuel and sort ourselves out for the decent!
It was bloomin’ freezin’, I couldn’t remember the last time I had been in such cold, but the views were amazing, my companions were fun to be around and those things combined seemed to negate any effects I might usually feel encountering that status.
Some food eaten with totally numb fingers and toes beginning to join them in that feeling, it was time to get moving and get my circulation pumping some warmer blood into those areas. D & J had already headed off as I was trying to get my grips back on my shoes, to no avail, so just abandoned that idea and managed without them. Part of the mountain here was clear of snow and I decided to jog for a bit to catch up with the others and attempt to defrost my fingers & toes, it worked, but then turned round and my buddy had vanished! Turned out he had just headed over to take some pics and came back into view but there was just a moment of concern and subsequent relief as he came back into view.
The decent now was through snow and marshy hillside off piste and not trodden on. We took the non-tourist route back down “to make it more fun” the guys said! Lol! And yes, I guess it did turn out to be fun as we bounded about in the deep snow and even did a bit of ice axe stop practice, but it wasn’t so much fun when first my right foot managed to find itself in a hidden stream that was running down the mountain, and just after getting one waterlogged foot out proceeding to then plunge my other foot in also! Lol! Two wet cold feet, yuk, but after a while they warmed up and I hardly noticed the conditions they were now walking in!
Wasn’t long before we got back on the path for the last leg back down, passing the snow Angel that D had made on the way up, our stamp on the landscape for that day!
Another Munro bagged, my no.3 and another great day out with my fellow mountain people, my new found tribe…