It had been just a few days in the hills but already time was becoming something governed by the sun, and the weather just the stuff that determined the clothes that you wore. After a while outdoors, watches and weather forecasts become irrelevancies; you take what comes and adapt where necessary. You’ll always get there eventually; there’s no point rushing around to a schedule.
Saturday morning was gorgeous. The larks were going at it full throttle and the shelters’ icy sheens had melted away to leave crispy dry flysheets. It was a leisurely start, rehydrating with hot orange, hot chocolate and coffee with the last of the cheese, bacon and tomato rolls I had lugged around the circuit.
Today we had all managed to pack up at about the same time, but Denis was still struggling with his back, which is a bit worrying as it put him out of the Challenge a couple of years ago.
We set off and called a halt almost straight away for the final 2013 PreWalkDaunder team photo:
[AGAIN, PICTURES WILL GET BIGGER IF YOU CLICK ON THEM]
We had next to clamber over the ridge you see behind us, and surprisingly, I didn’t feel too bad, which must mean the EPO and intravenous iron must be kicking in at last to boost the blood count. I just felt “normally” knackered, as I’m from the flatlands and not used to struggling up boggy hills. I recalled, somewhat grimly, the previous year’s Daunder, when I realised that something was definitely wrong with the engine. It had transpired that my blood count at the time was about half what it should have been for a chap of my age.
I can see why Lance Armstrong likes EPO.
The route this morning was simply to hop over the ridge by Green Crag and slide down the other side to Grassguards and then to the stepping stones over the River Duddon. I’ll let the pictures tell the story.
Gerry, of course, clambered over the top of Green Crag. You just can’t curb some people’s enthusiasm.
Have you ever seen such a huge rucksack? When I sold it to the lad it was just 46 litres. I think he’s been feeding it steroids. We should demand a drug test.
Throughout the walk, we had all firmly stuffed our Ordnance Survey maps in our pockets. This was because Phil had let it slip that he was carrying a Harvey’s 1:25k map of the area. What a wonderful thing it was too. So Phil was elected map reader by default ~ everyone else having taken two steps backwards. Harveys are miles ahead in the mapping game compared to the O.S. Their maps are packed with really useful detail. And so it was that Phil was once again at the head of our procession heading down to Grassguards.
The walk down to the River Duddon is quite gloopy and so our shoes were all plastered in the stuff. The stepping stones through the splash were quite useful for washing them clean.
And so it was a relaxed crew that had lunch in the Newfield Inn. We had come through with just a couple of casualties; Wanda’s rear pole having sheared and Denis’s back having given him quite a bit of trouble. Hopefully there’s time for Denis to sort out his back and I have decided to take Wanda along on the Challenge in two weeks time with the pole spliced using a Hilleberg pole sleeve. I would still prefer to take an injured Wanda than risk it with a new tent. It will probably be the old girl’s last Challenge as there are other signs of terminal wear & tear as well. We’ll get through this Challenge together. I owe her that.