The Enemy Within

10 July 2012

As you will see, today is about conquering the Enemy Within. These are my notes, I’m going to make another post soon that fleshes out the actual day. So my notes from the 10th are all on my phone, as I did not want to carry my tablet up the great mucking hill I climbed. That turned out to be a wise choice. Anyway, here are the transcriptions…

Well, I’m looking over a valley. It’s about an hour after I left the Old Rectory. And as you can tell, I’m breathing hard because boy it’s been generally uphill and when it was downhill it was the wrong kind of downhill, either really steep or along the side of the hill where one foot is higher than the other. But, I have to say the shoes that I bought have done well. I have yet to experience shin splints, which given that I’m about 24-25 miles of walking in the last 4 days with probably another 10 to go today, I really cannot complain.

As I said, I’m leaning on a fence over this valley. Another little victory to get here. This wasn’t the longest or hardest climb I’ve had yet so far. Earlier today I had a climb that was about 40 meters, 40 meters up according to my guidebook. Yeah, that was kinda fun, it took me about 4 rests to catch my breath going up that, doing that in about 60 meters lengthwise. And what you didn’t see was that once you got to the top of what you could see you had to continue on to another rise.

That was not fun, but I have to get used to it, because here in about an hour I suspect I’m going to climb about 450 meters. I think I have a half mile to do it in, but I may not have that much. When I do it, I’ll be on top of one of the ridges of the Black Mountains that’s supposed to be stunning. Hopefully I’ll make it up there, be able to have lunch up there, walk along the ridge for 4 miles or so, which is supposed to be fairly smooth and easy. And then, uh, the descent which could be interesting in Longtown tonight, well, actually Olchon. So, hopefully this recorded, and hopefully this recorded because I really didn’t want to carry the tablet up 450 meters.

10 July 2012

Well, I’m to try it. I’m not sure how wise this is, but I’m going to go up. From where I’m at it’s something like 350 meters up. So far, the walk’s been good today. Not really muddy. But I’m really nervous this, not just the climb, but if I’m seeing what I think I’m seeing, which is the path, the path is going to be terrifying for me, given my joy and love of heights.

Well, we’ll see how I do. If I get to a point where I’m so freaked out that I have to come down, so be it. I can get to where I need to get to by coming back down and taking a cab. That would kind of suck.

Hopefully I can make it the next 5 miles. I’ve made 3 in the past hour and a half, so that’s not too shabby. If I can make the next 5, actually 7 is what I’ve got left to do today, if I can make that, it will involve a lot of height. Some spectacular scenery, but here’s hoping. The locals think nothing of it, and it’s a standard trail, so they can’t have people falling off of it every day, can they? Can they? Well, we’ll find out.

10 July 2012

So it’s about 12:30pm local time. I am at about 260 meters I would guess, leaving me only about 200 meters of elevation to go. I have gotten to a stile that has a couple of levels to it which conveniently enough provides a seat, and I’m taking advantage of that seat.

A stile, for those of you who don’t know like I did not before this trip is a, basically a couple of wooden steps where you can step up high and then swing your leg over a fence to the steps on the other side. Sometimes it’s nice because you can avoid mud puddles, but sometimes your leg are tired and don’t want to go over the top, so sometimes that’s challenging.

I’m sitting here looking back over the valley I just did cross this morning. I’ve been walking for about 2 and a half, maybe 2:45, and I’ve gotten about 4 miles I would guess, which is about 40% of my trip. I’ve got about 6 miles to go, and of course those 200 meters I’ve been talking about.

Once I get up to the top, I’m told that it’s a nice smooth walk that is graveled and really easy going and so on and so forth. Yeah, I’m hoping, but I’m still really nervous about it because at some point I’m going to get up to 488 meters which is by far the most I have ever walked up. There’s a little side trail that will get me up to 535 if I want and tomorrow if I so decide that I’m enjoying walking up this ridge that much, I can walk up to 700plus meters. Um, I don’t know. At this point I would say I’m walking around the hill to get to Hay-on-Wye. We’ll see.

Right now, I’m tired, but not overly so. My feet are pretty good, got a little of what may turn into a blister on the back of my heel that I will probably have to do something about when I get to Olchon Cottage but there’s not much I can do about it right now.

Now I just have to face my fear of heights, because what I’ve seen of this of this path, what I think of this path is that I’m walking up is that something like 4 feet away is a dropoff, a rolling dropoff down all of these meters, and that’s kind of terrifying

So, I’m think I’m OK once I get past this 200 meter upward stretch, which I’m guessing is about a quarter mile. I’m not positive, but if I can make it past this quarter mile, half mile, whatever, and get to the top of the ridge, I think it’s smooth sailing. For now, I’m going to check out.

There’s supposed to be a old Iron Age hillfort so I may check in again there.

10 July 2012

Well I am now finishing up my lunch. I guess I’m at about 440 meters. I have made it most of the way up. I can actually see the crest of the path, I can see the stone that marks it about 100 yards up. I’ve stopped where I’m at because it’s a little depression in the path that has raised berms that I can sit on.

So far, the path has been better than I expected. When you see it from the base of the mountain, it looks like the path is right next to a huge steep dropoff, and it’s fairly close, but the path is 2 yards wide generally speaking. I suppose you get a car up here if you really wanted to… and were crazy.

The surface is pretty good, it’s not particularly muddy. Muddy in some places, but not bad, and those are usually the level places. It’s a slow walk. I’m not positive off the top of my head what time it is, I’m sure the time stamp will tell me, when I finish this recording.

But, it’s been since about 11:30, so about 2 hours to make what I’m guessing maybe over a little over a mile of walking distance. I say it’s hard to tell as I can see a lot of my walking here from where I’m at, including as you’ll see, a very specific series of cow photos (chuckling). It’s, uh, been an interesting walk. It’s too bad Kate is not up here because some of the photos she’d get from this vantage point would be stuuuuupendous.

But again we’d worry about her camera in the weather because it looks like I may get some rain, before long. So far, I’ve just gotten a few sprinkles. Hopefully it doesn’t rain too much on the downward part. That’s the part I’m really nervous about.

I figure I got about 5 miles to go, 3 miles on the ridge, then 2 miles down to Longtown and Olchon where I’m staying.

So, hopefully the next 3 miles which is fairly even from what I’m told and is like what I’ve been on, which when it’s smooth is fairly nice to walk on. Hopefully it’s mostly like that and I can traverse it fairly quickly so that I’m not after 6:30pm when they’re expecting me. Fortunately, I think I have signal up here and can call if need be.

With that, I think I’m going to get these old bones vertical and try and get these last 100 yards of ascent. Then the long, mostly even stretch of the ridge and hopefully not miss the Longtown cross path so I don’t have to go up to 700 meters.

I will say that right now I’ve made the executive decision that tomorrow I’m walking around the crest because I do not want to walk straight up 700 meters. I just don’t think I could do it. Tomorrow I’ll be walking around this mountain.

But I have done pretty good with what I’ve done. Getting up to this point is not a little victory, it’s a pretty big one. Every 10 steps has been a little victory and there were a lot of 10 steps, a lot of 10 meter stretches.

And the occasional weird song, like Due South, really? I’m going north, really. But some others have been very fitting.

So, Hand Over Fist, paper around the stone, I’m starting back up the ridge with every muscle tensed to fence the Enemy Within.

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