Having navigated the first mountain in a time beyond my wildest expectations I was keen to call Leanne and tell her the good news. She was very encouraging but in her typically honest fashion, after I moaned about the pain in my feet and legs, she responded with “You’ve got two mountains to go. Honey, you don’t know what pain is yet.”
Five hours to the next mountain is a long time, but would it be enough to recover enough to tackle a second mountain, never mind a third.
I knocked down a couple of ibuprofen. I’d intended to save them for when I was desperate but, given my schedule, I figured I could take two after every mountain and there would always be at least six hours between doses. Pain-killers helped my recovery significantly and were a good decision.
I also changed my socks and massaged Arnica Gel into my feet, ankles, calves and thighs. I’ve always been a bit cynical of homeopathic remedies but now I was glad my Mum had given me some to take along. The gel was cooling and after 5-10 minutes of massaging it into my aching muscles I started to feel a little more comfortable.
Aside from a rising nausea.
It started the moment I got into the car and was gradually getting worse. I don’t know if was the fatigue, the pain, or a combination of the two but I felt uncomfortably queasy. Not enough for me to fear that I might vomit, but enough that I had absolutely no appetite.
This was a serious problem.
My goal was to consume somewhere between 5000-6000 calories during the challenge and this is absolutely necessary to reduce the risk of cramp, as well as other minor problems such as passing out from exhaustion half-way up a mountain.
I didn’t want to eat on the mountain because it slows the walking and adds extra weight to carry; I had intended to do all my eating during the journeys in between mountains.
After the ibuprofen kicked in, the nausea subsided a bit but I still had little interest in eating and I couldn’t bear the thought of tucking into one of the four large portions of rice I had prepared. I remembered I had some cheese-flavoured oat cakes and I managed to eat 4-5 without any ill-effects.
Oat cakes are awesome. They’re like instant porridge and they come in a variety of sweet and savoury flavours (and, yes, there are gluten-free versions available). Easy to digest, packed with energy, gentle on the stomach, my only regret is that I didn’t purchase more.
I also managed a bag of beef jerky. Expensive but a good way to get some protein and they don’t require refrigeration.
I’m gutted that I completely forgot I’d packed a large carton of rice milk. This would have been an excellent way to get some more calories and would have been much easier to consume and digest than cold rice.
Aware that I hadn’t really eaten enough but not caring enough to try and force more down, I settled down to try and sleep.
But without much success.
I’d assumed that exhaustion would make it easy to sleep in between mountains but adrenaline and discomfort were making it very difficult to doze off.
I eventually managed to fall asleep around 11:30 and slept fitfully until we stopped at the Asda in Carlisle to refuel around an hour later.
I woke up feeling much as you do when you get woken in the early hours of the morning. I felt groggy, tired and a little ill. With less than two hours to go before we reached Scafell Pike, thoughts of the exertions that awaited were not encouraging.
The good news was that the pain in my feet and legs had mostly subsided. I had no way of knowing how my body would react once I got started again but I was going to give it a really good go.
I tried to doze a bit more but knowing how close we were to the second mountain was too distracting.
At 1am my thoughts turned to food. I needed to eat more but, although the nausea had gone, my stomach still felt delicate and I still couldn’t bear the thought of digging into the rice. I managed another packet of oat cakes, a banana and a large energy drink.
The energy drink manufacturer, “Monster”, do a tea and lemonade-flavoured drink which tastes nicer than it sounds and has the virtue of being still, rather than fizzy. This makes it much easier to stomach in the early hours of the morning.
Still not really enough calories but it was all I could manage for now.
By 2am we were close to Scafell Pike and adrenaline had me wide awake. I packed my bag, refilled my hydration bladder, and put on my boots. I also decided to stick to the same philosophy of dressing lightly, with a warmer top, hat and gloves in my bag for when it got colder.
As with Ben Nevis there are two possible start points, one is at the National Park entrance, the other is further down the road in the main car park where some toilets have been recently added. During my test run I used the latter on the way up and came back down via the former. I’d decided there and then that I wouldn’t be using the main car park path again – it’s a very rough trail and actually takes you higher up a hillside before coming back down slightly to join the other path.
The distances are about the same, but the National Park entrance path is much easier on the feet and more graduated. I was happy with this choice.
We pulled up at the Scafell Pike entrance at 2:13am and I jumped out to perform some stretches. I was pleasantly surprised by how good my legs felt. A little bit of fatigue, naturally, but there was no pain and they felt strong and ready to go.
I strapped a headlamp to my forehead, held another torch firmly in my right hand and, at 2:16am, I set off into the darkness.
Category: Three Peaks Challenge
About the AuthorDavid Congreave began working online in 2001. He is now an SEO and Internet marketing consultant, a writer, and an editor. He lives and works in Leeds, UK with his wife, Leanne.
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