originally part of training/fundraising for the Hepatitis C Trust's Nepal trek. Now, sporadic musings...

Saturday, July 15, 2006

SKIDDAW TREK






This is what I've been just itching to put on my blog all week... Frome Festival week, so two gigs to fit in - and back to work; I always pay for time off with stacks of catching up... training to organise, and the pathway launch to cater for... Not to mention the - er, 'hiccups' - which beleager my work at the moment...

from my journal, 8th July 2006:

'Today, I climbed Skiddaw.
The feeling of elation at the top was wonderful, leaning into the gale as we headed back down...
Done it, done it, done it!'

I've never scaled a big hill before.

I lived at the foot of the Pentlands for 15 years - and never went to the top of one. I rambled around the slopes, but never actually scaled the summit... (to be fair, as a tiny child, I couldn't, really - well not without an adult, and as an adolescent, I wasn't that intrepid). I worked in Yetholm for a couple of years, and never once went hill walking. I listened to numerous tales from triumphant walkers in the Black Swan in Kirk Yetholm, at the Scottish end of the Pennine Way, and wished there was somebody I could try to walk it with... (who would carry the tent...)
But at that time, I traversed the Cheviots on horseback. I might walk the 5 or so (largely flat) miles to the pub and back - but steep uphill stuff? Hadn't the 'oomph'...
Then, I wouldn't have considered walking by myself. A different thing, roaming round the foothills of the Pentlands with my dog. But to tackle hills in my late teens, I'd have wanted company... Probably a good thing - I'd no doubt have got hopelessly lost on my own! Or twisted my ankle or something...

So the sense of achievement on getting to the top of Skiddaw... I didn't even attempt to describe it fully in my journal. (Not like me to be understated!)

'It's lovely walking with a group. You can push yourself more than you'd dare on your own... The VIEWS! Across the Solway Firth to Scotland, across to the Pennines, over toy-town Keswick and Derwent Water beside it. Hills as far as the eye can see...
Space. So much SPACE!
Going down, I look back.'

A steeply winding trail that makes me think of the hell of the fire and brimstone crew - a Sisyphean task; the higher you get, the more there is to climb. If I'd been faced with that as an ascent, my heart would have quailed... As we joked with Jeff, it could have been 'you can keep Nepal! - sod this for a lark!'

'Back at the Blencathra Centre, I'm full of sugar and caffeine and endorphins and achievement - I feel like Tigger...'

I want to bounce off the walls with excitement.
But of course, I don't.

'A shower proves nearly as good as a soak to sluice away the aches...
Hauling myself up on the poles, I get into the zone in the wake of Sergio and Jeff, walking solo between the clots of walkers toiling upwards - safe but solitary. Lovely. Just how I need to be for concentrating on the ascent.'

Another metaphor for my life... The above excerpts were taken from my scribbles on our return. I did manage to write more before going to sleep - which I may have a chance to return to...

As a writer, I can't fully express how hard this time constraint business is. The longer you leave writing about events, the 'colder' they get - and besides, MORE writing stacks up as time marches inexorably on...
I wanted to document the quiz night... setting the questions for the music round with Crysse, 'helping' Jill's team on the night... Brendan's brilliant Retro Cafe night - I was so thrilled at all the effort he'd been to, and profoundly touched by the beautiful poem Alan dedicated to me... the weekend in Totnes - Sam and Sally's unique wedding celebrations, our glorious river boat trip, the Russian ship moored at the mouth of the River Dart, later watching the herons through my newly acquired binoculars (thank you, Mike!) ...

All those things that I listed in my catch-up post have been languishing sadly, awaiting reflection and processing... which hasn't happened; life whirls on and slips through my fingers as through they're coated with lard...
There are about 40 emails in my inbox, and a pile of mail to wade through... Catching up seems impossible, let alone preparing for the next few hectic weeks...

And there's the issue of training. Having climbed Skiddaw, I have a far better idea of what to expect - and how much more time I need to devote to training if I'm to avoid a great deal of pain while trekking in the Himalayas.

The writer in me is hugely frustrated and marginalised - neither wonder I'm more than a bit crazed right now and uncontrollably weepy sometimes...

On a positive note, there's something indefinable about all this walking that clears the mind and helps the process of prioritising. It generates energy and positivity.

If the lesson I learn from all this is how to junk the unnecessary, that's a precious gift.

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About Me

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I began blogging during training for a trek in the Himalayas... several lifetimes ago. Currently working on my novel - in the tiny spaces left by a 50 hour plus working week...