Climbing into the Clouds
When the phone rang I was surprised to hear Suzie, we’d last seen each other when the café was demolished. Tomorrw she and Mel, the cook at the old shop, were headed to Cumbria and a hike up Hardknott Pass. Was I interested in joining them for the hike? The crew that sailed with me into Whitehaven left for home after our dinner, leaving me with only my bicycle and a 30′ sloop. So I answered with a resounding, “Yes, I’d like to go!” I hadn’t seen much of the country side and I needed some dry-land adventure. Suzie assured me this would be an easy hike. Little did I know how out of shape I’d become.
The met office said the weather would be good along the coast, but I missed the part about lowering clouds inland. Wearing a light jacket I met Suzie and Mel at the bridge in Eskdale the next morning. She and Mel dressed a bit warmer. Luckily I’d thrown an extra sweater into my rucksack at the last minutet.
We began the climb in sun but the closer to the summit we got, the colder and damper the air became. As the temperature fell the humidity rose and soon we were hiking in total fog. We had climbed into the clouds.
Most of our hike was on rough trails with occasional times when we took to the road. Now this isn’t much of a road, but only one narrow lane with switchbacks and a precipitous drop off on one side. Later I was told that this road over the pass is “the steepest road” in England. It’s one of the favorite rides for motorcycles and bicycling as well has hikers. Once at the top we took a few photos, though mostly they showed how foggy this place is.
The road was lined in places with stone walls constructed in the time of Hadrian, or a mix of grasses and weeds. Some of the time we hiked amongst sheep or with hikers heading in the other direction, the returning hikers all had tired smiles, satisfied from a day of exertion.
Once we descended to a warmer and drier climate we took our weary bones to the closest pub for a few pints. Yes, and some fish and chips, which we ate with gusto. The next morning my muscles reminded me that I wasn’t in my 20’s any more and that I shouldn’t try making that climb again. In a few days I’ll forget the warning and try a few more climbs like that one.
for Sunday Photo Fiction October 4th 2015