A personal PhotoChallenge matching a story to a photo every day for 30 days with short tales of travel, mountaineering, Nepal, art, and a few personal ones too!
12. Hawaii Five O Re-enactment
This is the story of our participation in The Great Lakeland Challenge, a triathlon-style event for teams of 3 raising money for The Wooden Spoon Society helping disadvantaged children in Britain.
“Wooden Spoon is a charity that changes children’s lives through the power of rugby. Each year we fund around 70 projects, from community programmes and specialist playgrounds to medical treatment centres and sensory rooms. Since 1983, we’ve distributed over £26 million to more than 700 projects, helping more than a million children.”
The event has 3 stages; first canoe the 10 miles length of Lake Windermere, next mount your bikes and cycle 26 miles over Wrynose Pass, Hardknott Pass, through Eskdale and along the length of Wasdale to Wasdale Head, and finally if your legs haven’t turned to rubber, hike the 8 miles over England’s highest mountain, Scafell Pike, and down to the finish in Langdale.
Our team consisted of my daughter Sharon, her husband Michael, and myself, plus Keith who was our backup vehicle driver. Keith’s role was to be waiting at each stage changeover point with the correct clothing and gear for the stage as well as various nutrition stuff to keep us going. Speaking of which, I was 60 years old at the time but superbly fit for all the mountaineering in the Alps and Himalaya I was doing.
The day of the event was horrendous, strong winds and driving rain plus low cloud covering the mountain tops. The organisers almost called it off, but delayed the start by a couple of hours before deciding to proceed. The first stage was tough, Michael had qualified as an outdoor instructor with one of his specialities being …. canoeing, which helped us to keep going in a straight line instead of zig zagging our way up the lake. At times it looked like “Hawaii 5 O” as various teams lost control and actually crossed our path heading East-West instead of North South! We landed just 14 mins behind the first team, not bad considering they were three men who all looked like military types.
The second stage was the cycling, and on reflection we made a mistake by choosing to use our hybrid bikes instead of road bikes; slightly heavier but with lower gears for the massive hills, but definitely slower overall. By now the rain was almost horizontal though the wind had dropped considerably, but drafting over such narrow and twisting roads was impossible. We could see lots of teams both behind and ahead of us ascending and descending the mountain passes, everyone was on road bikes! Then, speeding down the last part of Hardknott…. disaster, a puncture on my rear tyre which took around 12 minutes to change in the freezing rain. We lost lots of ground due to this and arrived at Wasdale Head with only 3 teams behind us, but discovered that several teams had dropped out. Now it was the long hike over Scafell Pike, a mountain I virtually grew up on. I had lost count of how many times I had been up it, the last time only a week earlier as part of my own training when it took me only an hour and 10 mins to the summit! This is the stage where we wanted the weather to be at its worst with all three of us being experienced mountaineers and knowing virtually every trail and rock over the mountain. But fate was against us, the clouds had disappeared so no compass work was required, and the wind had dropped totally. Shit!
We couldn’t catch any of the other teams but none overtook us, we were elated to have finished but in all honesty …. totally knackered. The achievement? We completed in just over 10 hours, raised £4000 for disadvantaged kids and ……. came 1st in the mixed team category!