Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Step by Step 2009 ~ Part 8 Hike Highlights

Hi everyone,

Once again I apologize for the gap between my posts. Please be assured that all is well and training for this year's challenge is continuing on schedule. I'll be posting my training notes from the last couple weeks late tomorrow afternoon, after the latest session.

In today's look back at the 2009 challenge I'm sharing the highlights post that I wrote on my return from the hike on January 3, 2010, before typing up the handwritten entries I'd written during the hike itself...

Monday (12/28) - Day 1
We were up at 5:30 am GMT (CST +6 hours). An issue with the train from Preston to Carlisle meant we didn't get into Carlisle until around 9:30 am GMT. We then arrived at Bowness-on-Solway at 10:30 to begin the 84 mile hike. The weather was very cold and icy (3 inches deep in places). Conditions under foot were VERY dangerous. Although I wasn't the first to fall, I was the first to draw blood (my left palm); typical that one of the qualified first aiders was first to need attention! I fell again at least a half dozen times, which meant my confidence pretty much disappeared.

The afternoon was better and I regained my confidence. We hiked into the night, arriving at the camp site just after 5:00 pm GMT. Having set up the tents and had supper, cooked by Seb's dad Terry, we were all in "bed" by 9:00 pm GMT. We did 12 miles on day one.

Tuesday (12/29) - Day 2
We were up at 7:00 am GMT. I helped Terry cook breakfast (bacon, eggs, sausages and baked beans) and then we packed up the campsite, what goes up must come down. The day dawned as the last had been, very cold and icy. We set off again around 10:30 am after taking this group pic (I'm second from left on front row)... 

Almost immediately we faced our first icy hazard, a stairway covered in ice. This also proved to be one of the highlights of the hike, as we all did some freestyle sledding, without sledges, down the slope. It was a complete adrenaline rush!

Around lunch time, the weather changed and it started to sleet, then rain heavily. Later that afternoon, still having little confidence on the ice, I did more freestyle sledding. The only problem was, the ice wasn't as thick this time, and that's where I aggravated my existing spinal injury.

As we arrived at camp, the rain was now torrential. After helping set up the tents, I sat in the support vehicle for 2 hours trying to warm up. Although we didn't see the Wall itself today, we did walk along a two meter wide ridge in a field that covered the Wall; the ground sloping away on either side of the ridge. We completed 17 miles.

Wednesday (12/30) - Day 3
Terry didn't wake us until gone 8:00 am as the rain had turned to snow further down the route. I had gotten less than half an hour's sleep overnight as the rain storm intensified. By morning, not only was my back agony, but I was very tired and verging on hypothermic. I knew as soon as I woke that I wouldn't be able to go out that day. This upset me greatly, as the charity means so much to me and I broke down in tears when telling Seb and Terry.

Instead, I helped one of the other girls, CJ, who also missed the day, get everyone's kit dry in the cottage Terry was staying in. I also got a longed for shower, the HOT water really helped my back, as did the pain medication.

That night, the guys came back around 8:00 pm. It was the first day they had seen the Wall and I was really disappointed I'd missed it. We stayed that night in a heated "camping barn" which was in fact a 12 bed dormitory, so no need for tents. I made up my mind to go out on day 4 tonight, not only for me and the HEROES, but also for my eldest son Matty; who's six years old tomorrow. The guys did around 14 miles.

Thursday (12/31) - Day 4
After an all too quick 7 hours sleep, which we all needed, Terry woke us with the news of a 5 inch snowfall overnight. I dosed up again on pain meds and made my way out with the others around 10:00 am. The snow showers would continue for the remaining days of the hike.

After missing a day, I was slightly stiff, but took my time and I was okay. The snow was thigh deep as we began. Terry joined us after a few miles, his only time on the route itself; as we climbed the sheer face of the wall. Still being a little unsure of my footing, I intended to send my rucksack down a sleep snow covered slope, before handing my camera to Terry....

Except it didn't happen that way. I lost my footing, slipped onto my backside, then proceeded to tumble downwards. I did two full head over heels somersaults and managed a half twist too. I landed head down the hill on my back. It was over in seconds and I'm thankful I've seen quite a few skiers fall, so I kept as small as possible.

Terry's immediate reaction after I indicated I was okay, was "I wish I'd filmed that". Seb, on the other hand, had seen exactly how close I'd come to disaster. Six inches to my left part way up was a huge boulder, which if I'd have landed differently, could well have had dire consequences for me. I was VERY lucky, as you'll see when I get the pics on here.

Lunch was eaten in the midst of a blizzard. That evening, we again stayed in the camping barn and had a New Years Eve party. I composed another verse, with the story of the day, and read all four just after midnight. We eventually got to bed at 1:00 am.

Friday (1/1) - Day 5
Terry woke us just after 7:00 am. I made breakfast for everyone while he had to go out again. Terry then drove us to the start point and we began around 11:00 am. Today was flatter than the last few days. Despite this, another old injury, to my left knee, flared due to the effort of hiking through thigh deep snow once again.

Having completed 16 miles, we waited for Terry in a bar, where the locals welcomed us with open arms. They couldn't believe that anyone was crazy enough to go out onto the wall in the midst of the worst period of continuous snow the area has seen in more than 20 years.

We got back to the camping barn, for our last night on the actual hike, at around 8:45 pm GMT. I was really tired and in bed asleep by 11:15 pm.

Saturday (1/2) - Day 6
Although we faced what we thought was 18 miles, we were in no rush to get out there. We were up by 7:30 am GMT and packed up everything after breakfast. Terry drove us to the start point for the day and we began around 11:00 am. We predicted a finish of around 9:30 pm.

The day itself was a lot harder, both mentally and physically, than I ever thought it would be. Each and every step took so much more effort than it had before. I suffered mentally as we passed close to Newcastle city center, knowing that we still had around half distance to go. Also because we would be returning to the city having completed in Wallsend.

My spirits lifted considerably when we saw the 6 miles to go marker. We completed earlier than expected, at just after 8:00 pm GMT. Though it wasn't clear we had finished and we carried on another quarter mile or so LOL.

Even though I missed a day, I still managed to complete 70 of the 84 miles. I'm really proud of what I've done, not only for the charity, but because I've proved to myself that even though I went through hell on more than one occasion, that I could do it. I DID do it.

Thanks again for all your support. You guys ROCK! ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

God bless,

No comments:

Post a Comment