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Sunday, 1 May 2016

TGO Challenge 2016 - Pre-Walk-Daunder - Part III or "We few, we happy few, we band of brothers!"

There's something odd in the water in Maize Beck. My water bag's first draught had a mosquito flying about inside and a tadpole swimming widths. Phil very kindly scooped me a fresh bag. Since then I've been having very strange dreams. 

MILES & MILES OF IRON COLD STRETCHING TO INFINITY AND BEYOND

The previous evening we very nearly witnessed a schism. The alcoholics fit young things in our party were on the point of mutiny and making a dash for the pub in Dufton. It was only their weak minds and a total lack of leadership that held them back. So they chose to remain, and suffer the rigours of hypothermia, frostbite and slide into a welcomed death with their companions. I would prefer to believe that their forge-hardened decency and ingrained moral code held them back, to remain true to the team. And this is what I shall record in the expedition diary.

I'll let the pictures tell their own ghastly story for a while. 
  
ICE COLD IN ALEX

SIR ANTONY GORMLEY, IN ANOTHER PLACE

THE HERBS AND SHREDS OF PLASTIC AT THE BOTTOM OF THE FREEZER DRAWER

WITH FUEL EXHAUSTED, LORD ELPUS CHUCKED IN SOME YORKSHIRE TEA AND CHEWED THE ICE CUBES.

Leaving the the break-away faction to fill in their shallow grave, the slower set set out for the final push to the last of the supply dumps. Rescue was out of the question and it was with Courage and True British Grit that we headed out off for the edge of the ice shelf.

IT WAS THE CLOSEST I COULD GET TO PUTTING THEM BEHIND BARS.

Pressure was taking its toll. Grown men, explorers of the highest calibre, were cracking under the strain.

ANDY WEEPS WITH FRUSTRATION. PHIL, CORRECTLY, AVOIDS EYE CONTACT.

Imperceptibly, the roar grew louder. And yet louder still. We could sense a mighty drop ahead of us, hidden in the mist and spray. Could it be? Dare we believe it? But more importantly, will it go?

OUR FIRST SIGHTING OF THE MIGHTY NIAGARA. 

ANDY & JAYME ARGUE OVER WHO HAS FIRST GO IN THE BARREL

There is a short and unseemly tussle over who should have first go in the barrel. The Pieman, experienced in such matters, settled the issue by kicking it, empty, over the edge of the yawning abyss. 

CRUELLY, LAS VEGAS HAS STOLEN ALL THE WATER AND THE 'MAID OF THE MIST' IS AGROUND ON THE ROCKS BELOW

In the years since my last visit it transpires that Las Vegas has siphoned off the water that used to leap majestically into wild freefall, for its pulchritudinous vice dens hundreds of miles away on the far side of the vast Gobi Desert. Today Niagara is but a sad trickle, dripping down onto the beached, bleached bones of the broken 'Maid of the Mist' far, far below.

THE AFTERMATH OF EATING YOUR DOWN PILLOW AND FARTING. IT'S NO LAUGHING MATTER

"Last night, I dreamed I ate a ten pound marshmallow. I woke up, and my pillow was gone."

THE CLOUDS OF DOWN SLOWLY CLEAR TO REVEAL YET MORE BLEAKNESS

With the bit firmly between their teeth, the Splitters hurtled down the long icy slope to civilisation and the tea shop at the Stromness Whaling Station. The more measured of our ranks strolled with dignity down the hill, now certain of the team's safety, and revelling in the satisfaction of a mission accomplished with fortitude, against startling odds. I made a note to mention Gerry in dispatches, for his unflinching attention to duty, logging the expedition's progress through thick and thin. Special mention should also be made of Lucky the Dog, whose boundless enthusiasm saw us all home safely. Lucky made it home, replete with all four legs.   

HOLE IN THE WALL PASS, JOHNSON COUNTY, WYOMING

Infamous landmarks came and went as we descended, down and down to the scattered huts, battered by year-round Antarctic blasts that made up the whaling station. The Norwegians were surprised to see us, the world having given us up for dead,  but set-to and provided fried breakfasts fit for kings.

DECORATED REMNANTS OF THE BERLIN WALL. 

Eventually we all made it back home to our loved ones. However, sadly, the story does not end here. The call of duty is strong, and The Challenge is calling once again. In less than a fortnight, we few, we happy few, we band of brothers, will be setting off once again. 

I will leave you with Lord Elpus's rousing speech in the carpark in Dufton.





And for Mr Williams' delight, here's Lord Elpus's rousing encore!

35 comments:

  1. High Cup Nick never fails to impress - that first sighting fair takes your breath away.

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  2. Oh dear! Here I am at breakfast and not been on the hill for three days.

    I feel so guilty.

    Just a wimp.

    In Henry Williamson’s Dandelion Days the main character, Willie Maddison, is upbraided by his headmaster - from memory - not exact words:

    "You're a pauper spirit boy! Just like the natives lying under the trees letting the ripe bananas fall into their mouths - A PAUPER SPIRIT"

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    1. Ooh. I quite fancy the idea of being a pauper spirit. Letting food drop into my mouth has its attractions - a life of ease and little stress.

      Don't feel guilty, Conrad; mt walking amounts to the Binge Variety - far too infrequently and far too much all at once.

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  3. Does all this mean there was no real schism? I thought that they were essential for a Pre-Walk Daunder to be counted a success. But well done to you all for getting out alive. The Challenge will be a piece of piss in comparison.

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    1. I agree Sir; 'Twas but a minor rumbling of rebellion, not a full blooded roar. Their shallow pit concerned Lord Elpus as he was that day's whipping boy.

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  4. Post script. I much prefered (sp?) Larrie's version of the St Crispin's Day speech

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    1. And for your delight and delectation I have appended Larry's wonderful effort.

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  5. Actually...sounds too hard for me. Glad I stayed home and drank Tattinger 😁

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    1. Apparently, our supplies were being held at Camp II. I never did find Camp II. The others sampled the delights in the interest of science.

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  6. Ooohhhhh, err, such mighty deeds where lesser mortals tremble. Wish you well on the sojourn to the wilds of the far north where haggis roam free and the life giving usquebaugh is feely imbibed.

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    1. Tell me that's an anagram, Dawn! Dear God, I've no wish to drink anything I can't pronounce.

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  7. .. those Englishmen (including any Dutch, Scottish and Geordies) now abed will think themselves accursed they were not here. Either that or they'll be a bit smug.

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    1. And a raddled, drunken old Scouser won't give a shit.

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  8. The very basic core of a man's living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.” ( McCandlass.)
    Have a fun packed crossing.

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    1. Blimey, Al
      I don't think I want to take the advice of a guy who ended up dead in an abandoned bus in the middle of sod-all!
      ;-)
      Let's hope the Weather Gods are kind to us all - and for your own Scottish adventure as well Sir!

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    2. Cheers Al. At the end of his day he did what he wanted to do, but i think his words have great meaning.
      The sun Gods are visiting Scotland this month.

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  9. Usquebaugh, the Scottish water of life. Traditionally single malt. Downed with the toast Slainte, (health)

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  10. That very freezing night I made two visits from my tent to the outdoors.
    None of this peeing into a bag in your tent.
    On the4 1st, the skies were majestic and clear and worthy almost of a hypothermic photograph had I been willing to get my camera.
    The second was near the dawn chorus of Pieman's distant nasal renditions.
    Oh deep joy.
    Then the fun of packing away a damp tent with freezing hands.
    WTF am I going to repeat it again for 2 weeks in 12 days time.
    What schism? I heard no unrest.
    OK, a bit of moaning and longing for a pint.
    I do believe on that final decent to civilisation and warm bacon rolls, that it was M' Lord Elpus himself that galloped off down the hill at an almost race like pace...
    And for me, well, that café had a proper toilet.
    3 days is all I'm sayin.......:-O

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    1. I believe Lord Elpus was making haste in order to telegraph home the news of our triumphant success. The Times were eager to run with the news!

      Three days. Another unexploded bomb. You might have warned your companions...

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  11. Thank you so much for the clip of dear Larrie, Alan. However, I was taken aback by the misplaced apostrophe in your addition of my name in the post. Such an error is most unlike you. I do hope that the cold weather on the Daunder did not destroy some of your very many brain cells.

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    1. Aaaaaagh!
      Where's that blasted copy editor gone?
      There's not much of the grey matter left these days...
      I shall correct it after the printer has finished printing my Challenge maps Sir.
      None of the illiterate congregation will have spotted it...

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  12. Alan you write like shackleton and scott of the antartic in that it,s truely great but hell your geography is way way way off line :-) i can,t wait for part 4 i expect you,ll have gone via the moon any day now .

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    1. Hi Chris
      The moon? Ha! If you take a look at the first picture you will see that we go to infinity and beyond!

      Delete
  13. Packing frozen gear ... the flayed skin on my fingers should be healed just in time for the upcoming Caledonian experience.

    And as for that pernickity Williams fella commenting on your generous deployment of the plural apostrophe, words fail me. You employ the subtleties of English grammar to treat him like royalty and all you get is abuse.

    Tsk!

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    1. Freezing hands, Andy? Flayed skin?

      After the first few days of a Challenge and reaching civilisation, reunited with Clutches of Challengers, I am often reminded of Wilfred Owen's first few lines...

      Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
      Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
      Till on Phil's haunting flares we turned our backs
      And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
      Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
      But limped on, blood-shod...


      They're the real Challengers!

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    2. Andy????? Andy????????????????????? Ha! as Miss W might say. Well, now I know where your affections lie.

      :-(

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    3. Scroll up a little. Good Sir. 'twas Andy who had the freezing hands. You had the flayed the skin. I made the mistake of thinking that my companion would realise this...
      I then offered you my own thoughts of the 'upcoming Caledonian experience'...
      Pearls before Swine Sir...
      :-(

      :-)

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  14. But I had freezing hands too ... oh dear, this could confuse a stupid person.

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    1. We all had freezing hands. It was jolly cold.
      Speaking of stupid people... I have at last finished printing my maps out. Food parcels next and then the choice of footwear...

      Delete
  15. Thats what you call rough weather Alan, must have been hard going in those conditions!

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    1. Hard going!
      Ha!
      Lord Elpus had harder cross country runs in his gym knickers at school...

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    2. Hard going!
      Ha!
      Lord Elpus had harder cross country runs in his gym knickers at school...

      Delete
  16. Amusing tales as ever. Despite walking the UK hills for 30 years I've never been to High Cup Nick. Brave souls indeed to backpack in that weather

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    1. We are British, Sir, and proud of it! The privations were nothing compared to those suffered by Lord Elpus as a school boy.

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