Thinking things through has never been a forte of mine, I don’t look before I leap, and often speak without considering the implication.
It is because of my idiotic gene that I have spent a considerable amount of time running and training for marathons, wallowing through mud and clambering over obstacles, and my most recent mistake was signing up to climb the Atlas Mountains in Morrocco.
I’d love to blame an overambitious friend, someone who cajoles me along.
But sadly no; it is always me, I suggest it, book it, and then crap myself when it starts to be time to train for it.
The next silly thing
Lets talk about the mountain….
Training so far has involved pressing the buy button repeatedly on Amazon, as it would seem that walking involves a ridiculous amount of kit. Silly old me thought all I needed was a pair of gloves and some decent boots…
So far I own an expensive pair of boots, that cost more than my favourite heels. A coat, a coat to go on top of my coat, trekking trousers, trousers to wear over my trekking trousers, thermals to wear under my trekking trousers. A hat, some gloves (again, expensive), a head torch, poles, a bag, a rucksack, a bigger rucksack, insect repellent, sleeping bag, socks and a 3 litre rehydration kit (a bag to keep water in, for us normal speaking folk.)
When I log on, Amazon welcomes me by name and offers me a coffee as I settle down to shop….
The actual training
I have also been on a couple of strolls, which were, quite frankly, a piece of cake.
Yesterday involved me packing all the above gear, driving to Wales with two other equally idiotic folk and hiking up a big bloody hill. Well, it was a hill when I began, it was a Mountain when I finished…
Turns out this walking m’larkey can be quite tricky.
The car journey itself was an adventure, time was against us and the designated driver was energetic in his approach to the M4. To cope with the bouncing of the automobile it seemed fitting to quaff Processco in the rear of the vehicle. Always great prep for walking up a mountain.
We finally arrived close to our destination around 11.30pm, to discover an accident was going to prevent us driving the last 4 miles to our hostel. Not to be deterred, or terrified by the deserted Welsh winding lanes, and terrifying brooding trees, and Blair Witch style woods, we embarked on a two-hour detour which finally took us to what would be our bed for the next five whole hours.
Then it was time to walk.
My teammate, Squatting Sara, was suffering before we started. A fellow Crossfitter, she had decided to spend most of the day before, bending up and down with heavy weights lingering on her chest. I think she may have been suffering some leg pain as we started to stroll, but she barely mentioned it……
Our guide for the day was the lovely Andrew from Get More Adventure, who led us to the bottom of Pen-Y-fan with an enthusiastic beam, failing to spot that behind him, my heart and smile were drooping.
The ‘hill’ looked enormous, but I already knew it was only a fraction of the size of the one we are clambering up in Morrocco.
I was suddenly a wee bit terrified. Heights are not my thing, and walking up vertical hills doesn’t really turn me on.
Turns out, hill walking is challenging…
We set off in sun, walking towards the clouds. Heat soon overcame us and we started to strip layers. A steep, jagged path appeared under my feet and I struggled upwards, draining my hydration kit (water bag) and panting like an overweight Rhino who was being chased by a Lion. As we scaled to the halfway point, the wind picked up, the clothes came back on, the hood waspulled over my face and I started to stray from the path to be further away from the edge.
Vertigo is a beast when you are up high.
Squatting Sara continued on, barely mentioning her sore buttocks and legs….
We went higher, and higher. The team stopped for a moment to admire the view, I stopped to catch my breath and close my eyes.
Suddenly we were walking in cloud, with a wicked wind screaming around us, and snow crunching under foot. My nose started to leak like a broken tap, my cheek smeared with snot like a toddler. I tried to make myself respectable but eventually gave up as placing one foot in front of the other became more of a concern.
Bloody hell it was high.
Like really high….
(But still less than 25% of the height I am due to cruise up in less than ten weeks).
We reached the summit. Had I not been so terrified I would have jumped and fist pumped the air. Instead I sank to the floor and hugged my knees. Then noted people on the top wearing jeans, trainers, smoking a fag and passing out the Carlings.
None of those items were on my kit list….
I felt like I had climbed a mountain and there were people up the top who were simply on a jolly. I reckon there was a lift somewhere just bringing people to the top.
And the downhill climb?
I liked that, I liked that a lot….
Beautiful views surrounded us, the clouds rolled away, and the wind slowed to a quite whisper. Suddenly I understood what the fuss was about. I was immersed in beauty, surrounded by the outstanding power of Mother Nature.
Then I wanted to walk more, go higher, find more Mountains.
I think I am going to like this climb…. (when we are on the way down.)
You can still sponsor me, I am walking up the Atlas Mountains to raise money for Diabetes UK, who support families like mine who live with Type 1 Diabetes day in and day out. I am doing this for my daughter Molly, who has lived with Diabetes since she was six. I would like to see a cure in her lifetime.
My sponsorship page is here: https://www.justgiving.com/Jane-Blackmore2
In addition, huge thanks to Andrew for getting me safely up the mountain. If you have a taste for adventure, enjoy trekking, paddle boarding, marathon running, check out his amazing site Get More Adventure, and generate some excitement of your own.