Who had the stupid idea of climbing that damn mountain twice anyway?!
I actually woke up feeling pretty ok much to my surprise. I was in the top bunk (Thanks Richards) and I felt really conscious of how noisy it was each time I moved but according to my Fitbit I had a not bad 7 hours sleep which is about 5.5 hours more than I normally get so no wonder I was buzzing. As I was getting dressed I heard someone outside the door mumble "Beth You’re an idiot." It seems Mountain Men aren’t quite so much fun of a morning wink emoticon
Once we were all packed, heat lotioned up, plastered up and had eaten our "full" english breakfasts it was that time again. I think we were all a little better prepared for the 1st part today which for me felt a whole lot better despite my calves screaming at me!! We managed to get up to the lovely flat part a whole lot faster and again spirit’s seemed pretty high, it was another lovely day and we were ready to do it!! We stopped for drinks and snacks, messed around making videos and Emma was doing Clubbercise moves to Britney lol and then this is where the group kind of broke off in to two, purely because at this point it was obvious that we had different paces. It’s hard to walk at a pace that is too slow or too fast for you so we just agreed that this was the best thing to do and we knew we would see each other at the Summit or at some point on the way up or down. So Sam, Katie, Sarah and I took a gentler pace, although I’m not gonna lie it was bloody tough!! Sam had developed an injury that was giving her some real problems and at one point I was worried she might say she needed to turn back, which we would obviously have never let her do alone. But she was an absolute solider and carried on even though we could see the pain on her face. She mentioned earlier today that I said something that spurred her on. I remember the moment very clearly but because it was snowing and windy and freezing and nobody really said anything back I just assumed nobody had really heard. I had said that even though it felt tough, it was nothing compared to how hard Charlie has to work every day just to be with us! And that’s true, we just take for granted how easy it is to be social, to have friends. For Charlie it’s hard, really hard and yet he tries his absolute best every day. For us this 2nd climb felt like torture at times, but we knew it was just for this moment, it wasn’t going to be forever and we don’t want Charlie to struggle forever either, we want to make that struggle a little bit easier each and every day. I was glad my words helped because that was what I was telling myself with each painful step.
Just as we had stopped for our lunch (about an hour away from the summit) one of Katie’s friends sent her a message of encouragement that literally must have come at the exact right time because as she read it aloud to us her lip quivered and she started to cry. We all jumped up and had a massive group hug as the snow started to fall, again it was another beautiful moment that I will never forget. Just pure friendship and solidarity!! And to top it off Katie had never really even met any of these people before as I know Katie through a different group of people, and yet she slotted in perfectly, as if she has always been with us!
After refuelling we knew we just had that last, hard, straight path to the summit. So again we just got our heads down and went for it, running in to the others about halfway up as they were on their way down. We knew then we were close so we gritted our teeth and we got up there. And this was our photo atop the summit – you can’t see a damn thing!! At one point we had just been sat in a cloud, it was so bizarre and then just like that it was gone. It just felt totally surreal.
The 2nd summit felt different, still not bad because obviously it had been harder to get up there, but we didn’t hang about, we were just ready for it to be done with. And so ten minutes later we were on our way back down. In fact we practically skipped down the 1st couple of miles, because the ice and slush was so much less than yesterday it felt a whole lot easier, despite us nearly slipping whilst taking a short cut (following a boy) and getting impaled on an iron pole. Sarah and I kept slipping and shrieking and then laughing our heads off at each other!
As we started the steeper and rockier descent Sam’s IT band issue really came in to play. Having had the same injury just a few weeks ago I know how painful it is and I knew the going down was going to feel a whole lot worse than the going up. But again she was an absolute fighter and just got on with it. You only had to look at her face to know how much it was hurting but she knew there was only one option – to get down. Even with Sam’s knee and my shin pain we still stopped a lot less than the day before and we were actually pretty quick getting back down to the straight path, I remember seeing it in the distance and just thinking – "Get there" knowing that mine and Sam’s pain would ease up. But sadly that didn’t happen and on the straight path things seemed to get worse. As Sam was sat on the floor a bunch of cyclists appeared and offered to help, one even offered her his bike which I thought was lovely. See there are gentleman on the mounatin Jon lol. The cutest one offered Sam a bandage for her knee and being the 1st aider, girl guide, duke of edinburgh kinda girl that she is she wrapped it up like a right pro and instantly felt a difference. So we left the biker boys to it and sauntered back off down the path knowing we were only an hour away from the safety of the minibus.
Remember that horrible steep incline from the beginning? Well that today became a horrible, steep decline for Sam. Katie and I went on ahead so if only to let the minibus know we were coming and that Sarah and Sam weren’t far behind. I remember just wanting to run because all I wanted to do was take my boots off!! It seemed to go so much quicker than yesterday and as we were halfway down we heard a bellowing "Come on Guys!!" from Jon who we spotted just behind the hostel. We were literally counting the gates and zig zags going "only one left after this" and as we walked down the last little hill towards the road I just wanted to cry and air punch at the same time. We were greeted by hugs from everyone else and we filled them in on what had been happening (I’ve shortened the stories for the purpose of Facebook but there was a lost dog called Sandy, an invite to a picnic and a campsite by some attractive but very young men, photobombs, petting and bellyrubs – I could go on and on) Just a few minutes later Sam and Sarah were down and I couldn’t have been prouder in that moment because all nine of us had made it up and down twice – two with IT band issues (Emma also sidestepped her way down the mountain thanks to hers) with all of us having aches and pains and being knackered from the 1st day. It takes a special kind of person to do that, and I’m lucky enough to know eight of them.
And so we were down and on our way home, safe in the knowledge that our efforts had raised a staggering £2000 with donations still coming in. As we sat on the bus it was kind of like the aftermath of planning a marriage or a big event, we had loved it but we were all a little sad it was over, despite wanting to go home to our families. Again we shared stories, made fun of Jon for his little mountain man snippets and did what we do best, laughed!!
It seriously was one of the best weekends I have ever had. And already the hard parts have started to fall away from my memory and I’m left with just the sense of acheivement, the laughter and the feeling of just being totally loved and supported. A couple of years ago I really did feel like being an Autism parent might well be the loneliest thing in the world, but I was so wrong!! I have been rescued today by so many people (This bunch being one set) and there is something so warming and powerful about knowing that you are never alone!! So again – Thank-you to everyone who sponsored us and continues to do so, to everyone who follows this project and likes or shares posts, to everyone who has supported or "rescued" me in the past and to these 8 people who walked this very rocky road with me, twice!! I will always feel One Step Closer!!!