Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Lakes Mis-Adventuring.

My previous blog on Fetch was entitled Adventuring, so it is fitting to call this one Mis-Adventuring.  Whilst no-one was seriously injured or harmed in any way during the formation of this blog some lovely  people were put under a bit of stress.  More of that later.

At some point way in the dim and distant past while trawling through things to get my teeth into, things that would involve me getting away into the Lake District for a weekend I came across The Great Lakeland Three Day Event.  I read the information and saw that it was also open to walkers as the cut-offs were generous enough to accommodate them too.  So credit card in hand I duly signed up.  Now I didn't take this lightly I knew I had to learn to navigate so booked one course and then another with Nav4.  I also spent countless hours pouring over my maps, I downloaded old mountain marathon courses from the net and plotted the checkpoints, I got myself out and about with map and compass practising.  I felt I could cope with the terrain and manage at least two days.   So after my Oz trip I purchased the necessary equipment, tent, inflatable mat, dry bag  new sleeping bag, and gathered together everything else I would need.

Friday - spent the day getting ready for the off, dry bag packed and unpacked a dozen times until I was sure it weighed the correct amount.  Decided to travel down during the early hours as it was extremely wet and I wanted to start fresh and not bedraggled from packing up a wet camp.  Arrived at 0600hrs and the event centre was already buzzing, booked in, got my dibber thing and deposited my baggage for transport.  I explained that if I felt I couldn't do it I would withdraw.  Must admit to being scared at this point, everyone looked expert except me but I was determined to give it a go.  

Saturday - spent some time marking the checkpoints and figuring the possible routes for me, I understood that I didn't need to visit all the checkpoints I would do what I could.  Set off up the hill, it was soaking wet, my feet were wet within seconds, I trudged upwards for what seemed ages being passed by loads of people, nothing unusual there at the top of the rise came the first real direction decision which I made and was obviously correct.  The weather wasn't too good but it could have been worse, visibility wasn't great and it's a;ways worse for someone who wears glasses.
Carried on through a right misty part and came out looking down towards Glenridding. I decided at this point to press on for Helvellyn, missing out the first checkpoint, so I headed up to Red Tarn and then up towards Striding Edge (HUGE MISTAKE).
I got right on to the start of the Edge and couldn't do it.  I just couldn't go forward, all I could see was me crashing downwards and being killed on an event, how would I ever live that one down.  So I headed straight down and up over Swirral Edge instead, I looked at it and thought what the hell have I let myself in for, but there was no going back this time, one failure is quite enough thank you.  So I gritted my teeth and went for it.  A lady stopped me just before the top and said "it's so worth it you know" and she was right in just a few seconds I'd topped and the view was magnificent so unfortunately was the wind.  Tried to find the checkpoint dibbery thing, even had a couple of chaps helping me but somehow managed to miss it completely.  Time to press on I knew I was way behind time now so my only thought was to get to the checkpoint at Mill Bridge and bib so they knew I was still moving.  Dropped down and dipped and gave the event centre a phone to say as I was behind time I would miss out Helm Crag and head up the Coast to Coast route which leads straight to Stonethwaite.  This was absolutely beautiful and brilliant walk, I will be going back.   I was making not too bad time, late but Stonethwaite was doable by about 1830 in my estimation, so at the top of valley I tried to phone the event centre again, no luck, no connection. so I pressed on.  Unfortunately this is where the wheels came off big time, I took a wrong turn and headed down the wrong way, I've tried to decided exactly where and I rather think I was headed back towards Thirlmere, I was following a quite wide stream downwards and it was obvious I shouldn't be. Anyway I just had a feeling it wasn't right, so I turned back the way I'd come and found the right route.  Thank goodness I thought, then I realised that I had quite a distance still to travel.  I was in a panic - not actually for me - more for the organisers who I knew would be pressing all sorts of alarm bells by now.  I knew I was OK but they didn't.  So all the way down I kept trying to phone no luck.    As the light started to really fade I saw the and heard the campsites at Stonethwaite and before I knew it I was in the village. A very nice lady asked her husband where the check point was and stayed with me when I phone the organisers from the phone box, she then showed me the checkpoint.  The very lovely marshals came and collected me, I was expecting a bollocking really but they were so nice to me, made me eat pasta and two of the chaps even erected my tent.

Shane the Director had phoned my family so he got them on the phone so I could re-assure them I was OK, which I was.  I've since seen the vid, that Shane made on the second day where he mentions the stressful situation and I am truly apologetic for causing him that stress.

Obviously I pulled out of the event, although I was told I could go on and do a much shortened course. but there was no way I would do that to them again, I couldn't take the chance. So next morning I packed up and headed into Keswick where I booked into a B & B.  Spent most of the day watching the Half Marathon finishers and then went for a lovely meal in The Oddfellows.

Monday - had originally organised with one of the marshals Caroline for her to pick me up in Keswick but she had to go to Wilfs in Stavely for supplies, so I caught a bus to Troutbeck and started walking back to Dowthwaitehead Farm for my car.  Was picked up by Andrew from Inov8 who brought me up to speed with the rest of the event.  I don't think I was the only late one, looking at the results a couple on Sunday were also late and it looks like quite a few people didn't finish either.  In fact Andrew said they shortened the course quite a lot for Monday.   Spent a short time at the event centre catching up and apologising. Spoke to Stuart the Navigation instructor, I hope he wasn't too embarrassed by my failure, because when all's said and done it wasn't really the navigation that was the problem it was my judgement in thinking I could do Striding Edge in the first place.   (I will someday).

So in conclusion - I did have a great weekend, I've met some truly lovely people and I've learnt such a lot about navigation, judgement and self reliance.  I also realise that entering in the first place was perhaps over ambitious, but I also know that if I hadn't lost so much time at Striding Edge I should have finished around the cut off time and given the next day a go. I never felt in any danger at any point, even when I took the wrong turn I was fine, it just added ages onto my time as I had to climb back up again.  So what would I do differently, well for a start I wouldn't try for a three day event, perhaps a two and I would definitely have better contingency plans made.  I need to hone the navigation skills, Jean (sort of chief marshal) suggested that I try some orienteering events which I will probably look into.

Look they even gave me this, I personally didn't think I deserved it but they insisted so what's a girl to do.

I don't regret entering but what I do regret is causing Shane and his team any problems because they really are top people who ran a brilliant event which I would recommend, but not for me next year.  Just don't tell them this but who knows what the future will bring

So it's a case of filing what I've gained from the experience and trying not to be too embarrassed it my failure.    Just to end on a comical note, Kona would not have anything to do with me when I came home, she hid in her cage and turned her face every time I spoke to her and when I brought my back pack in she snorted at it and walked away.  It took several hours and many biscuits before she would come near me.

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