13 January 2013

Here we are now entertain us


Indulge me, I'm going to write about a days walking because it was great and because it was memorable and its ages since I climbed a "mountain". If that's of no interest to you, look away now.

If your still here thank you. We were off by 7, at Brotherswater with the tent up by 10.30. High thin cloud and great viz , looking good, excitement mounting could be grand.

Me and Mrs Time ticks doing the winter walking thing again, after maybe five years of doing other things. I want to go up Fairfield not the best or the hardest lump in the Lakes but for one reason or another I haven't been, despite lots of tries. Rachael just wants to go up something so were both happy. We set off up the stream in Dovedale. Its cold but still, eerily calm. As we climb I'm sweating through my clothes.

The route steepens as we pass the huge black mass of Dove crag and we get above the freezing line. For 200 metres its really steep, icy makeshift steps, picking your way, don't stumble a sprained ankle will mean three really cold hours today.

Then we hit the ridge crest and see the sun. Its been a while, but I recognise the yellow glow and the way the light is shining through frozen grass and turning things a warm yellow.
Rachael who's hill climbing technique more often than not involves swearing and scowling is happy smiley and keeping up a killer pace. We are on top of Hart Crag at over 800 metres in just over an hour not bad for a couple of rank amateurs.

We amble along the ridge to Fairfield summit the sun hot now, its almost T-shirt and shorts weather its so still, a group of fell runners jog by in little more.
Fairfield's summit plateau means lunch, a nosey Raven eyes our sarnies I want to give him some but I'm worried his mean looking beak will take a finger end too.

The views are so sun bleached they are monochrome, a stream shines like the Mississippi delta in Paul Simon's Graceland. Then the sun goes in and we change from Mediterranean to Arctic in five easy seconds.

Suddenly it must be minus 10 the clouds are filling in  and we are cold. Time for a cool sharp exit.
We cram the last food into our mouths and set off down at a fair old rate. The path East off Hart Crag is hard to find. When Rachael has found it we find 200m of broken craggy ground with lots of ice on it. Concentrate, Concentrate and then we on a good track, good job its now snowing a bit.
The sun puts in a finale appearance then its back behind the ridge "see you eleven tomorrow if I can be arsed" it rudely mutters before it goes.

The final descent ridge lasts for 19  unrelenting, joyless weeks in my head and 1 hour 17 minutes in reality. Tired now, want to be down, but the valley seems a way off.

We find a crap looking path which seems to head off down vertical grass, why not? Down we go shuffling like umpa lumpas walking the plank. I sweat-up with the energy needed to avoid a slither. 

Then we are at the lake. Oddly the last 2k seems to last for all of my adult life and be uphill despite being a lakeside track. Then we are done just as it drops full dark back to the tent, light the fire. Wine and the warm smell of wood smoke, with reindeer skin rugs on which to sprawl, best day for ages. Middle age nirvana. Keep your teen's spirits.
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