Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Scrambling and the Almost Summit

They say that opposites attract and in Jonathan and I’s case, that’s true in many ways. I married an adrenaline junky whereas Jonathan married a scaredy cat. Name a common phobia, and I’ve got it. Water, heights, spiders, the works. I always end up feeling guilty when we go on vacation and Jonathan has to traipse off by himself to do whatever terrifying excursion he has his heart set on.

So when we were researching different Lake District hikes, and Jonathan asked me if I could scramble, I hesitated before stating yes. Now, at that point in time I wasn’t all that confident in what I’d actually agreed to, but I knew that whatever it was, I’d probably be more comfortable scrambling than I ever would be scuba diving. So if there is a high adrenaline activity that we can do together, hiking is about as close as I am going to come.

Up until now, most of our ‘hiking’ adventures have been rather leisurely, but in the name of love, I decided to step it up a notch and commit to a summit hike. Or as I like to call it, a Big Girl Hike. We choose a 'moderate' hike to Bleaberry Summit, mostly because the title made me think there might be tons of blueberrys awaiting us at the top.

The first step was of course buying a cute hiking outfit. Kewsick was full of outdoor shops so we had no trouble finding new gear. What I did apparently have trouble with was color coordination. It wasn’t until I was getting dressed for the hike that I realized I had purchased brown trousers and a black top. My logic was that it just made me look more authentic because serious hikers don’t have time to worry about matching.
The next step was writing down clear and concise directions for the path up Bleaberry Peak. As I was dictating the directions from the walking Britain website, it was easy to foresee that we’d get lost at some point. I just didn’t realize we’d get lost right out of the gate.

When we got to the bottom of the mountain, we skipped a step that said ‘follow a fence up to the main path’ and instead read where I had written ‘walk willy nilly up the mountain in a north-easterly direction’…or something like that. We thought we were so hip with our compass leading us straight up a mountain side.

I personally was quite humbled when we came across our first ‘scramble’ (which is apparently low grade rock climbing), especially when halfway through I put my left foot out, and all I saw was the lake a thousand feet below me. I literally froze up and insisted that I could not scramble after all. Jonathan was very patient and scooted back down the rock wall to walk me through it. After about 5 minutes of a full blown panic attack, I conceded that going backwards down the rock wall was even scarier than proceeding, and managed to scramble my way up to safety.
Don't look down.
I had just enough time to calm down before our next scramble was upon us. Since this one wasn’t actually on a cliff wall, I managed to do it without any pep talks from Jonathan. I was very proud of myself until a bit further up the walk I saw a 6 six year old child. And then an 80 year old woman. And then a jack Russell terrier. And then a woman with a baby in her backpack. That’s when I started getting the feeling that there was an easier way to get up this mountain.

Sure enough, when we flipped back through the directions, we saw that there was a nice wide and grassy pedestrian path all the way up, and the north-east uphill walk was just to get from one mountain peak to another, not to climb the entire mountain. All that scrambling was for nothing!
Can you spot the main path?
However, I couldn't be too upset because once you got past the initial ascent, the steep mountains curved off and became very gentle hills that honestly looked like an illustration from a Dr. Seuss book.
Oh the places you'll go...
With the heavenly landscape and the breathtaking views of Derent Water and Keswick down below us, I could have stayed at Bleaberry summit all day.
Except that we weren’t at Bleaberry summit.  Apparently our initial wrong turn lead us up the completely wrong side of the mountain. Instead, we hiked right up to Walla Crag summit where we could spot Bleaberry Peak looming about 100 meters above and a good 2 miles away from us.

In order to re-ascend, we would have to go back the way we came and start from scratch. And we had really good intentions of doing so, I promise.  But once we got back to the starting point, and started climbing at a 75% incline for 8 minutes, we knew it was a lost cause. Here’s a picture of me with the peak straight ahead.
See that tired look in my eyes? That’s what 8 miles of hiking in the wrong direction will do to you. After admitting our frustration over the lost summit, Jonathan and I agreed to salvage what was left of the perfect hiking conditions and took a leisurely stroll through some farm land.
In the UK, trespassing is allowed, as long as you don’t harass the animals. If you do, the owner has a right to shoot you, so I’d advise you to steer clear of cow tipping while visiting the British Isles. During our hike we photographed all sorts of farm animals to add to my collection. A sheep even came right up to me and nudged my knee! Jonathan wasn’t quick enough to get any photographic proof, and by the time he got the camera out, the sheep had already figured out I had no food and lost interest.
But we still managed to get some great shots of very friendly goats, sheep, roosters, and cows. For instance, how many farm animals can you spot in this photo?

No comments:

Post a Comment