Just think of the Vole. (EBC – 31 weeks to go )

Sunday 31st March 2013


There I was on Tuesday, the high point of Ilkley Moor. Sunny when I set off, as I approached the summit the weather took a severe change for the worse. Heavy cloud followed by wind and then a blizzard, complete white out. Should I turn back or go on? No I know the route and the path does lead to a clear point of safety if the weather gets worse, the safety hut. The climb down will be dangerous in the snow and drifts. One hundred yards later as I approach the turn off I’m thinking I’d not seen anyone since I climbed up the crag on to the Moor. Then through the snow and wind I see them, they’ve already seen me… two massive Alsatian dogs with their very cheery owner in full Austrian winter gear! I stand routed to the spot, contemplating my life, he walks the twenty yards between us holding them by the collar. Snow, wind and cloud. Suddenly there it is, in the most horrid weather for years and my nemesis approaching, a little vole skipping across the deep, frozen snow not leaving a mark in his/her passing. I could not believe my eyes! It skipped about going I know not where, was it cold, frightened, hungry…then it disappeared as quickly as it came, down a little hole so small I had to rub my eyes to check it hadn’t vanished because I was struck with some snow illusion type thing! Then a voice said ‘Mind how you go, take care not to get lost. It’s easily done!’ His mates pranced past smiling and then they were gone, the vole was gone. On the Moor. Was I dreaming? One hundred yards later I’ve passed the cairn and turned. The cloud has lifted, the snow has stopped and the sun is out. All I could think about was the vole. How was it alive and what was it doing out? I had the strangest feeling the vole was thinking the same thing about me!

It  has been that kind of week, twenty foot high snow drifts, frozen waterfalls and deep ravines filled with snow. On another walk I had to turn back because a ravine blocked my way off the Moor and there was no way round it that didn’t involve me possibly disappearing down a deep hole  of snow. As I was relating this and other tales of the week someone remarked ‘ Ah well it will be good training for your trek in November!’ Lord help us if it’s like this. I haven’t the space and you haven’t the time to read about the man and woman wading chest deep through snow, sliding down crag sides, breaking a second Mallory in ten days and the glorious joy of hiking through snow along ridges and mountains. It takes some beating. Lessons for me this week. One, in winter conditions only go out with the correct equipment. Two have the courage and sense to turn back (I did it twice this week). Three, if you are having a bad time what’s it like for the vole?

So to the stats of the week. Weight lost two pounds, I really do feel lighter!! Runs none, cancelled due to weather. Yoga classes one, with a focus on the core. My core work is improving I am getting the idea but it still seems a serious challenge to all my facilities in the space of ninety minutes. Four ‘walks.’ Total time 11 hours 58 minutes,  26:5 miles, 6681 feet climbed. A record. But, I have a sore left foot cum ankle/lower leg tendon. Am consulting self appointed physio this very day for advice.

So to close with this, did you know Macmillan provide high quality, up-to-date cancer information for cancer patients, their families and carers. All of their information is written and reviewed by specialists.

Please pass the blog address,www.charleseverestbasecamp.wordpress.com,on to your friends, they might read it, they might want to support Macmillan.They could do this by visiting http://www.justgiving.com/Charles-Appleyard

I hope you all enjoy a Happy Easter Day. Until next week. Goodbye.

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