Last weekend I went walking with the family to the Peak District. We decided to do an easy walk from Edale up to Kinder Scout and back. This is not a high mountain and was made more interesting by the bouts of horizontal snow driving into our faces at about 30 mph.
We were equipped – we were each carrying a map, compass, spare clothes, emergency food, whistle, bivvy bags, and first aid kit.
We scrambled to the plateau having clambered over rocks and were met with a sharp reminder of the cold winds hit you as you come out from shelter.
We started walking across the plateau and were all taken aback by the next thing that we saw. A couple, probably in their 20s, were walking across the plateau. They were both wearing trainers, the lady in jeans and the man in summer shorts. They were wearing trainer socks, and were not wearing what I would consider to be a substantive waterproof for the environment. Neither were wearing hats. At this time, it was just wind across the top but we had already trudged through a blizzard on the way up.
I had to challenge them. I re-reemphasized that what I saw was not really sensible in these conditions. That when it snowed, and it would, that the temperature would drop significantly and they would be in trouble. They reassured me that they were carrying warm clothes and that they would be ok.
I can picture a cartoon – a man with full mountaineering gear talking to somebody on the beach. Certainly as a counter, the mountaineer would feel out of place dressed as they are on the beach so why not the counter.
They carried on walking. As we passed more people coming towards us, the topic of conversation was about the beach outfits that people were wearing. It started to snow, not just downwards but horizontal at 30 + mph into our faces. It was cold. We used a piece of clothing called a buff and pulled this over our noses to reduce the snow impact. It gave some respite although not total.
The ground changed. Previously we were walking along a nice stone path but this had now changed into a peat path. One step would be fine, the next would take you to the knee in peat bog. I was pleased that I was wearing a walking boot as a training shoe would easily have been lost.
I do not know what happened to the couple. I did check on mountain rescue but there were no reports. All indicators therefore suggest that this did not end in tragedy – I hope.
However, some things are sure – the couple certainly took themselves beyond their comfort zone. I am sure that they had lots of mixed emotions as they battled the cold, and I am sure that they will remember the experience for years to come.
It raised several questions for me :-
- When does stupidity kick in when operating outside of comfort zone?
- When does dillusion start impacting what and who we are?
- What indicators do we look for and listen to that could indicate that we are approaching or have gone over the ‘edge’?
We are resilient and adaptable creatures, we construct situations to help us play out the endings that we want to play out. We protect our status by not appearing to be weak, but at what cost.
The walk was lovely for us. Walking in the snow is always enjoyable – the crisp soft compressing sound as the snow gives way under your feet, and the dulling of other sound around you.
This is what attracts me to this ‘home from homes’. This arena is not outside my comfort zone. I have learnt to respect this environment by preparing myself for whatever this can throw at me.
Big learn today on many levels for many people!