Let’s not beat around the bush here, when I go out hiking in the country side I’m putting myself and whoever I’m with in danger. I’ve said to people ‘I’m not out for a stroll’. It’s physically and mentally very challenging because until I find a safe place to rest I have to give it 100 percent and I just can’t switch off. I may have mentioned I’m trying to get out as much as I can before I take on Scafell Pike. If Scafell was last September when I was out every other weekend, I would have had no issues getting up it, but this year is different. I’ve not had the time to go and climb anything above 2000ft until last week.
I’m not like the average person I can’t just rock up in the Lake District with no training and get up a peak. Mentally I’d be fine but physically I’m just not sure my body would allow it. Every time I go hiking I learn or think of something new about the mind. Today I’ve been pondering on this: when does ego take over? And when should you and shouldn’t you listen to it? I’m one for checking the weather before I go out probably checking up to a week before I think it’s because I try to prepare mentally what I’m going to be in for. Today I went up great Whernside (not the one in the Yorkshire 3 peaks challenge) but another 2000+ ft in the Yorkshire dales. I knew it had given rain, fog and strong winds. There was a little bit of excitement and nerves when my alarm went off at 4am and as I’m driving down the country roads with the windscreen wipers going at full speed and thinking to myself “what the hell am I doing?”
As we arrived in Kettlewell the weather seemed to have settled down a bit and it felt quite refreshing thinking we were going to be on hill before some people are even out of bed. I love that. We made good time but then from nowhere the weather took a turn. The rain got heavier, the wind got stronger and mist set in making visibility pretty poor and somehow we managed to lose the path we were taking. Before we knew it we were off the beaten track. Now we aren’t lost because we have a map and campus but we are heading the wrong way a bit. This can happen in bad conditions and like I said before, it can be dangerous.
We managed to get some shelter behind a wall to give us a rest from the wind. Because we were off the beaten track I was having to lift my legs high to get me over the rough ground so it was far from easy going and at points I start asking myslef if I should just turn back. Is this a daft idea? All this to touch a trig point on top of a mountain!
Now is this male ego or just ego. I managed to control my thoughts and work out how to get there and whether that was silly or not. But what would a couple of women do in the same situation? This isn’t a men v’s women discussion, I’m just curious to know what makes us different or would you have gone for the trig? Anyway our ego took over and eventually we made it. I was getting blown all over the place by the wind. While putting my water proofs on I’d not covered my back properly so I was walking for miles in wet boxer shorts. (TMI?). But touching the top of the mountain I felt unbelievable for about 30 seconds…..then the realisation that I have to get down, and in all honestly I want to get down fast! We found shelter between two rocks at the top to view the map and work our route down. Parts where there was a normal path, (paths are so underrated)! I was hoping this would be all the way down. It wasn’t and before I knew it we was scrambling down a tricky rock face. On the way down we past a man who had cancer and was told he had 3 years to live. This was 6 years ago. He is trying to climb all the big peaks in the Yorkshire dales. He’d already done one that morning before passing us twice. Absolute amazing achievement and if he reads this (I was telling him about #everish) I wish all the luck and safety on completing your challenge.
We then came to a cross roads a easier but longer path down or a shorter but harder path down. By this time my legs had gone. I’ve already done an amazing sliding tackle down a mud bank where I’d lost my footing. Back in my footballing days I’d have been proud of it. So I wanted to get to my car and get out of those clothes fast. But my ego this time said “let’s take the longer path”. We had been hit by everything today and I just want to get back safely now. It was probably an extra mile but just as we was about a mile away from Kettlewell the sun came out. Can you believe it! It’s made me really intrigued on the decisions we make…..oh and the fact I need to put my water proofs on properly nobody likes wet pants from the rain!! My ego comes from what I see as instant success. When I sit back and think about it now, just walking Is a massive success, but when I’m hiking that just isn’t enough for me.
I know if I’d have turned back I’d have been disheartened and really annoyed with myself for giving up and not pushing on. Having suffered from mental health issues in the past, I now pride myself on how just how strong I feel mentally and the fact I want to push the boundaries both physically and mentally. In these conditions, it was certainly going to do that, so success in this instance is touching that trig point and getting back safely…..no matter how wet.
But I think the key for me is learning how to control the ego to be realistic and acknowledge when a situation is either dangerous or just deeply unpleasant. At that point I might say to myself; “no come on, this is daft now.”
Maybe we need someone there with us to give us a nudge in the right direction. A sounding board for listening to our own thoughts. That’s why I love counselling people. Being able to be their sounding board and allow them to make their own choices and understand their own behaviour.
Sometimes it’s all about choosing the path you want to take…..and understanding why you’re doing it.