Sunday, November 22, 2009

At least I had on the right pants!

I often exaggerate for the hell of it.  Stories are made for exaggeration and I love to tell a good story.  But on my hike yesterday in Wales with Mike, Alex, and Vicky no amount of exaggeration can compare to the actual events that unfolded in my first attempt to hike a small mountain in Southern Wales.

Mike and I are newbies to this whole hiking culture.  I told myself that once I moved to Bristol I wanted to begin to hike. The region is known for its walking and hiking trails, and the landscape leaves you coming back for more with its breathtaking rolling fields of green and jagged rock formations.  Our first walk was a gentle 2 1/2 hour country stroll in the posh Cotswold area with another couple we know.  One small hill was about as intense as we got that day, so Mike and I were looking for more of an adventure.   Well, we got what we asked for when we met Alex and Vic.  Meeting initially at a couchsurfing party in town we got together with them last Wednesday.  Mike and Alex had some "man time" rock climbing at the local center and Vic and I met at the pub to talk about me playing on a local netball team (very British game that I don't know a hell of alot of about but I'll give a go as the Brits would say).  Vic and I got to talking and found out that we both liked hiking, so we decided to go on a hike Saturday in Wales.

I realized before we went that I needed some kind of hiking pants.  Rain and wind are common in these parts and I know my baggy sweatpants weren't going to cut it.  So Mike and I went to a local outdoor shop in town and I got myself a pair - Mike decided that he didn't want to make the investment so opted to wear jeans.  This would be prove to be a dumbass mistake - but we will get to that later.

The day of the hike we meet up with Vic and Alex at their house.  As we put our stuff into their car Mike and I notice they both have their own day packs, walking sticks, base layer clothing, and GPS devices.  All we had was a small day pack from Mike's backpack, some sandwiches, a camera, and raincoats - but I at least had on the right pants.  But, what the hell, it wouldn't be that bad right?

We arrive after an hour and a half drive, during which we made 2 pee stops, went searching for a Geo-cache on the side of the road (will explain in a later post), and I attempted not to throw up in the back seat due to car sickness on the small ass Welsh winding roads.  Coming up to the start to the start of the climb Alex comments that the clouds are a bit low, and visibility is only about 15 meters, but he has blankets, food, a first aid kit, and GPS so if we get stuck we can make shelter. I am thinking - "What the fuck (excuse the language for some) is he talking about?"  But I smile and say cool.  Then we begin and I tell you I was shitting myself on the ascent up.  The first 25, not 5 or 10, but 25 minutes was a straight uphill walk.  As my thighs began to burn from the unusual movement over rocky uneven ground I began to think to myself - "I am really doing this!"  Vic stayed back with me and we played name the US states and UK counties.  Needless to say she knew a hell of alot more States then I did counties, but it made the initial climb up easier.

Reaching the ridge we kept walking.  The flat ground felt a lot better, but the wind and rain kept coming.  By this time Mike's pants are soaked so Alex decides to make him some hillbilly trousers (video footage to come later).  Taking bin liners Alex wrapped them around Mike's legs and duck taped them up.  Lasting a total of 5 minutes, the liners decided to quit as the rain and wind kept coming.  All I can say is that I told him so, but really mother nature did a better job of showing him to respect the elements.

But, after the wind picked up more, to the point we were all walking on slant with the wind howling at us as pelts of rain are stinging our faces, we decided that we needed to turn back so that we could make it down to the car.  Walking back we had to cross over a small deep puddle and then a small waterfall.  Now, being the newbie I mistook light dirt for a rock.  So I stepped out on this imaginary rock and ended up with half my leg in water and mud.  Mike pulled me out as I am shouting "goddammit I thought it was rock!"

Ah, but at least I had on the right pants.  Through high winds, constant rains, and a leg in a muddy wet ditch my lower half remained relatively dry throughout the walk.  Mike on the other hand, with jeans on and hillbilly over-trousers did not fare so well.  Soaked through completely, once we reached the car they had to come off.  Now, this would not be so bad if we were going home but wet, cold, and hungry a pub with a good fire was in order.  So, with a blue beach towel around his waist Mike walked into the local pub with his American kilt on and warmed himself by the fire with a Jameson on the rocks in hand.

Overall, it was an amazing day.  I learned that gear is essential, along with a change of clothes.  I learned that walking sticks are the best thing ever invented - ok well not the best but they come in handy going down steep inclines in the rain.  But, I also learned that I can conquer my fears.  I always dreamed of climbing mountains and trekking through barren lands, but I was always afraid of actually going through with it.  Doubt is more crippling than any disease as it makes you complacent in your everyday.  For me, my everyday was not fulfilling.  Yesterday, in the wind and rain on the side of that ridge with good people I felt alive.  Truly alive.  That is a feeling I never want to give up.  Although we had to turn back, I know I am getting closer to my goal of conquering my fears and climbing a mountain on my 30th bday in South America.  So I learned yesterday that with a little determination, a few laughs, and a good set a pants I can make it.


Alicia said...

haha! Loved reading about your adventure, chica! That hike sounds quite difficult, but it's awesome you went for it! Where in South America will you be hiking??

Celeste said...

Ugh. I just love reading your blog. You have a seriously attention-holding style, I love this!

"Doubt is more crippling than any disease as it makes you complacent in your everyday." Yes.

I just have to say. You surprise, impress and enliven me every time we talk or I read what you write here. Ever as always I'm proud to watch your life turn and unfold and do random things.

And there's a reason why everyone had walking sticks in every frikin story ever written. :) Now I know what to get you for your birthday next summer.

Nicole said...

Not sure yet. Ally and I have the same bday so we picked S. America. She mentioned I think Peru, but there is also Patagonia. Either way I have a little less than 2 years to train cause I know it will be hard. But if you are still in Colombia then yu should join!

Angela said...

You are going to be a kickass author Nicole! Keep 'em coming! Miss you!