Bowery Mural

Why does a man (or woman) climb mountains?....

Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Hello all
I have been trying for months now to figure out the feelings I get when I am walking, climbing, hiking and dragging myself up hillsides and mountains, across rugged terrains, scrambling over huge boulders the size of Ryan!!
I think I might have realised what it may be... no promises but here's the only way I know how to describe it just now...

It's the feeling of 'why oh why am I doing this?'; it's the self doubt about the prospect of one of the hardest things I will have achieved in my life - the trek; it's the dread at the beginning of a walk with other more experienced folks of 'I hope they don't rush away from me'; it's the self satisfaction of when I am going at a steady pace and they say 'slow down!'; it's the niggling pain in my left knee when I'm nearly at a summit and the burning pain that it turns into on a descent; it's the great feeling you get when you are climbing your first munro and realise you've been taken up one of the biggest in the country and you HAVE done it (it was hard but you've done it!!); it's the magnificent views that unfold before your very eyes or the ones that don't on a claggy day on the hills; it's the banter that you partake in up to a certain point and the banter that you love listening to but must never be repeated!; it's the 50 mph winds atop an open summit with nothing but a few rocks to try to get shelter from; it's the sight of the two or three false summits that seem to appear like some black teasing mounds on every munro - why are they made like this?!!; it's the fantastic feeling of a great photo that you've taken on your first winter route and you're so proud you've entered it into a photo comp at a film festival!; it's the ice cold water your glad of on a steep ascent; it's the nice warm shower you have after an exhilarating day on the hills; it's the stinging red face after a windy but exhilarating day on the hills; it's the emotion that took my breath away on Stob Coire Sgreamhach; it's the solitude and silence of the Lost Valley; it's the anticipation of waiting on the article you're featured in coming out and the nervousness of not even reading it yet as you're too embarrassed (the pictures are great though!); it's the advice you've sought from many a wise man or even the advice from the not so wise one!; it's the sense of belonging where you never thought you would; it's the wishing you could be doing much much more but the dodgy knee is holding you back; it's the hope that it all goes as planned and the realisation that it's coming around very very quickly; it's the flutter in your tummy when you catch a glimpse of Everest on TV; it's the weight on your shoulder to deliver the money shot; it's the excitement of those final few steps to the money shot!; it's the months of ramblings on a blog that you're not even sure that anyone reads! and realising that you write way too long entries because English isn't really your strongest point - but hey, we can't be good at everything!; it's the being too shy to have one of your hero's stand right in front of you and you not even saying anything but wishing you had and then replaying the conversation you never had over and over in your head; it's just you being you but wishing you could be a bit braver; it's feeling like you're a burden when people take you out walking but you're really not and in fact you're actually quite good at it and it's them that go too fast - way too fast; it's discovering hidden talents you never knew you had; it's discovering hidden places that you never knew existed; it's discovering a whole new life you are kinda liking better; it's the things that keep you going when you don't really want to; it's being cosy warm in your new down jacket; it's being freezing cold and soaking wet on the side of a hill when you feel sick cos someone gave you a JellyBean with extra glucose that is meant to be a pick me up - Sharon!!; it's your very first blister after a walk up Dumyat; it's the stories you hear from various sources of climbing and walking and seeing and doing; it's the amazing people you meet along the way and hopefully many more to come; it's the lingo you don't understand but you nod all the same; it's the sheepish way you acknowledge your challenge when you tell someone else; it's the friends old and new who have helped you to believe; it's the Olympic Gold medallist that wished you good luck and told you of his hopes to be an Everest base camp doctor one day; it's the guy who inspires you with tales of two broken ankles and six (and counting) Everest summits; it's the assurance that you get from deep down within; it's the new yellow kit bag that's getting you there; it's the cosy fleeces and tech tops that you layer and layer; it's the shiver down your spine when you watch Sir Chris Hoy win his third Gold medal; it's the tear in your eye when Lance Armstrong wins his seventh Tour De France; it's the sitting eating lunch on a summit top with the views that go on for ever and could be another planet; it's the drive back home with the sense of achievement and the photo's you can't wait to load to the laptop; it's the questions from people of 'when do you fly out?'; it's the watching on with awe at this person climbing up the side of a rock like Spiderman and wondering how he gets a grip; it's the sudden feeling of realisation that it's not that far off; it's the laughing til you cry on the day in Drumochter/Pitlochry, the ptarmigan spotting and the fabulous mountain talk; it's the enthusiasm someone had for the trek into Base Camp when they've actually climbed Everest! - made my day; it's the finding an affinity with people around you; it's just something that cannot easily be described; it's the great outdoors.........

I'm not sure if you got the feelings from that but ... well it's the best i can do. I'll leave you with another few lines I heard recently on tv on Wainwright Walks. He talks about the English Lake District but i think it can be used to describe everyone that walks/climbs/hikes/treks and all the rest. I liked it as soon as i heard it:
Why does a man climb mountains?, why has he forced his tired and sweating body up here when he might instead have been sitting at ease in a deck chair at the seaside. It is a question every man must answer for himself. Alfred Wainwright.

Can you answer his question?......

Happy New Year!
much love,
Ange xx

13 weeks & 4 days......

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Hey all

Hope you have all survived the festive season so far! It's been really busy once again and thankfully it's been quiet today. Santa has been good to me again this year. He left me a Rab down jacket; Kings of Leon cd; a Munro book and map so that I can log things (I'm not a munro-bagger mind!); the usual perfume, jammies, slippers, etc; The Dark Knight & Mamma Mia dvd's and Prison Break season 3 dvd set which is fanstastic. I'm half-way through it already and it's just as good as I remember it to be, if not better!! If you haven't seen it check it out - great! I also got a Moleskine diary to record my year, this will be in addition to the Moleskine notebook i got myself to record my trip. I'm hoping to get people, friends, family to write in it before I go away. Think that will be comforting when the pain hits me! haha.

Anyway I also got some vouchers for an outdoors shop that I get a quite nice 15% discount at so I treated myself to a Suunto Core watch that's meant to be all singing all dancing with altimeter, compass etc on it. Sounds great but when I switched it on it was all in German and had to turn on the laptop and bring up MSN translator to help me out a bit! Managed to get it working now and it's fab. Still to figure out the compass settings and altimeter but plenty of time for that. If anyone knows, drop me a line?

So I'm going now but I'll leave you with a few pictures from Christmas day at the Higgins/Anderson/Preston/McEwan household..... yes there were really 14 of us for both Christmas and Boxing Days! Don't know how we do it but that's the way it should be isn't it??

bye for now, take care

Ange xx

1st pic: Brian, Ryan and Kelly Anne playing the DS
2nd pic: Ryan with his new tool box and JCB digger!
3rd pic: Ryan and his new bike, Granda sorting the peddles
4th pic: Ryan after Boxing Day dinner with his drum sticks!!

Twas the night before Christmas...

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

... and now less than 100 days till I set off on my travels. It really is going too quickly now and before I know it I'll be on that plane heading to pastures new. Oh it's very exciting.....

Hey all

Well Christmas has gone and sneaked up on us again and i'm just finished making 'Angie's special fudge'. It's well tasty and hopefully will be well received after dinner tomorrow. I watched my favourite Christmas film today - Santa Clause The Movie. I got it on video when i was a wee girl and I just love it. It's nice but Ryan did not appreciate it today! I don't think he gets the whole Santa thing yet, he's actually pretty scared of him I think and wouldn't go to the Grotto in Stirling to have his picture taken with Santa - 'No Angie, no like it' were his words. I think next year when he's 3 he'll understand it more. Or maybe when he gets his brand spanking new mountain bike tomorrow morning he'll get it!!!!

I think Santa is bringing me some kit for Christmas (I seen the Tiso bags laying around, lol), hhhmmmm i wonder how he knew? ... and what will it be??

Now it is time to announce that i have reached 92% of my target and I am on course to beat the target of £3250!!! this is great news and a big relief before Christmas as there have been times when I've thought that it would never happen.

On that note I will bid farewell and hope you all have a very Merry Christmas!!!!
take care,
Ange xx

One word... Coldplay...

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Hey all
I nearly forgot to write about what a great weekend I had! - (including the prize bingo of course).

Went to Glasgow on Saturday night with my sister to see Coldplay - one of my favourite-est bands in the whole wide world ... ever!! FACT. It was a fantastic gig but I couldn't help thinking I should have been in the section at front of the stage with the passes......hhhmmm I wonder how you get in there?

They played a great mix of new and old songs including one of my old favourites, Green Eyes from the Rush of Blood to the Head album. The warm up band were ok, Eugene Frances Jr and the Juniors. A couple of songs were quite catchy. Then on came a guy with what looked like a laptop and a giant screen displaying these subliminal cartoon type characters that just kept getting repeated for nearly 40 minutes!! All very bizarre. It was a like a poor man's Moby without the stand-out recognisable tunes.

Coldplay didn't actually appear until about 9.15pm but it was well worth the wait. The new album is really good and I dare anyone to listen to Strawberry Swing whenthe sun is aout to rise or to set and not feel a flutter of hope in our heart. That is such a cheesy line. Oh well i just think it's a good feel-good song. They played a few dancey versions of Talk and God Put a Smile On your Face - pretty good, maybe they should release them? then they done a little acoustic set away on the far corner of the venue - Green Eyes and another little ditty song that Will sung. Then it was back on stage for Lovers in Japan, Death and All his Friends and a few others. Brilliant. That was my third time at a Coldplay gig but yet my favourite one was at the Palau St Jordi in Barcelona, November 2005. That was ace. Great gig, great city, great view just brilliant. They were on fire that night.

I've seen a few live bands in recent months and they rank amongst the top. Loved the Snow Patrol gig the other week in Edinburgh as I was so close and it was a really intimate venue. Going to see them live again in February at the SECC so I'm looking forward to that too. Gary Loghtbody's goofy style and banter set the heart all of a flutter...... aaahhhh.....

Whilst at the SECC there was a scrolling screen thing that was showing who were playing and what was sold out. There's still some tickets left for Daniel O'Donnell by the way! ha ha. The Killers is sold out which is a real shame as I think they would be an amazing live act. Kings of Leon were playing on Sunday night and of course that was sold out. I quite like them too. The X Factor Live tickets are on sale - I might give that one a miss....

This all got me thinking, what is my favourite song in the whole world? Who are my favourite band? What would the line-up be at my make-believe music festival? If you can answer these questions let me know, I'm curious. Oh also, give me some recommendations for songs for my trekking play list...... what would they be..... something inspirational, something cheesy, something easy listening, rocking out?????? questions, questions. Ok I've an idea, you each have to name me 3 songs to include on my Official Trekking Playlist-volume 1.

To finish i'll leave you with some nice lyrics from 2 fab songs....
I was just guessing at numbers and figures,
Pulling your puzzles apart.
Questions of science, science and progress,
Do not speak as loud as my heart.

What have I done it's too late for that?
What have I become? Truth is nothing yet.
A simple mistake starts the hardest time.
I promise i'll do anything you ask...this time.

Bye for now, take care

Ange xx

Another day, another target reached!...

Monday, 8 December 2008

Hello people, hope this finds you all well and raring to go for Christmas!?

Well it is with great pleasure that I announce that I have reached my first fundraising target of £2600 - 80% of my overall target of £3250. This has come about and was reached when my Auntie Norah held a prize bingo in her house on Friday night. It was a good wee night and a huge thanks also to all the ladies of Dunblane for coming and making it a great success. The total raised at it was £225 which is fab just for being in the house. The next one will be held in February - come along, who secretly doesn't love a game of BINGO??!! ha ha.

It was also here that I met a lady who is currently undergoing treatment for cancer. She gave me a few words of encouragement and told me that it was because of people like me raising funds for such a worthy cause that makes her life a bit more easier with the help she and others receives from charities such as Marie Curie Cancer Care. I was so touched and moved but managed to hold myself together and not to cry in her face. I mean after all, she is the one going through it. I would never have guessed to look at her either. A really nice lady... she won about 3 prizes and claimed this was beginners bingo luck!! Good luck to her.

Anyway this is another opportunity for me to say THANK YOU to each and everyone who has sponsored me, contributed home-baking to cake sales, sold raffle tickes, donated prizes for raffles, wished me luck, took me walking, gave me inspiration and finally encouraged me on every step on my journey so far. You are all great! (Jeez, that was such a lame thing to say eh!).

So yeah, cheers everyone

take care,
Ange xxx

First meet with the OMC! (munro number 7)...

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Hi everyone

Well the week has only just got quiet for me between work, play and cake baking! so i thought it was time for the story of the first meet with the OMC and my 7th, yes, my 7th munro!! up at Roy Bridge - which is about halfway between Dalwhinnie and Fort William.

We set off from Stirling at about 5.45pm last Friday night and made good time up the A9 reaching Pitlochry at about 6.45pm. Just after Pitlochry the snow came on and so it was a long slow drive into Roy Bridge eventually reaching the Roy Bridge Hotel at about 8.30pm. Here we sampled the local 'cuisine' and Friday night highlight that was a game of pool. The cuisine came and was a brick hard cheeseburger, grey fish and a black hair in your peas!! Lovely.... Needless to say we'd arrived here at 8.30pm, had eaten some of the food and left by 9pm. What a laugh.

It was time to head to the bunkhouse - Aite Cruinnichidh - just outside Roybridge. We got there, settled in our bunk-bed room with the two Jean's and met a few new people then decided what we'd be doing the next day. It was decided we'd do Beinn Teallach with a few other group members. Job done. We had a wee chat with folk and headed off to bed.

Next morning i was woken by the rustling of Jean number 1 leaving at about 6.30am to go and climb 3 munros!! Cool. We got up, had breakfast and then all 9 of us headed off to the roadside parking place near Tulloch. It was all snowy and lovely and the bonus was that the sun was out and the sky was the bluest I've seen for a while! We headed off up a nice woodland track that was covered in snow. It was like a winter wonderland. Gorgeous. Crossed an icy cold river that snaked almost black along the field of whiteness (snow). After successfully crossing the river without getting my feet wet it was on up a gentle climb to the edge of a forest and then to start the steeper section. The views were amazing! and the higher we rose the more the landscape changed and to me it became almost lunar, i think..... All i could think was why hadn't i done this long before now. I also find that i tend to stop talking and like listening to the hill banter that gets randomer and randomer as the day goes on.

Sometimes I'm also thinking why am I doing this? If I'm honest I suppose I do tend to get a bit .....well, for want of a better word - miserable when walking. I couldn't understand it at first. For instance when I climbed Bidean nam Bian in Glencoe I totally hit a brick wall mentally twice and wanted to be just picked up and lifted back to the car. Which is funny thinking back now cos it was never gonna happen was it? ha ha. Then when I was up Ben Vorlich recently I found myself thinking the same. The strange thing is it never happened when I climbed Bynack More for Trail magazine article!! I'm not sure at which point of the climb that it starts to set in but I think I have the reason for my general miserableness on the hills all figured out now. It dawned on me that i hadn't realised that hill-walking was a competitive extreme non-team sport!!!! Silly me. It seems the rule is that the more experienced people race away ahead and leave the less experienced (e.g. ME) at the back and that's the point the general miserableness settles in....silly me....for not realising this munro-bagging wasn't an enjoyable outdoor activity but a very serious and dare i say it self-centred activity. Now I'm not saying every one's like that but that has been my experience of some of my SEVEN munros.

I'm not actually that bothered about ticking munros from a list or a map, yeah I'll tick them when I've done them but that is not my ultimate goal. I much prefer to be out and about walking up any hills really. None of this competitive edge to it. I have asked several very experienced people the question do they ever get like that sometimes? and the answer has been mostly that yes everyone feels like that when the climb gets steeper and when it's freezing and raining and you just feel generally down but the glow after you reach the summit seems to be worth it - doesn't it? I've also been told that if you can't talk and walk at the same time then you're going too fast. I wish someone would tell the folk at the front that. It's not teamwork at all. Then, as if you're not feeling bad enough, somehow they always seem to get the conversations going about a person that was going too slow etc etc and that makes you feel sooo bad. I think they forget that they started somewhere too and so do I have to. I mean I wasn't the slowest in the group by any means and actually i think I'm pretty hill-fit now but i don't want to rush on cos i know that on the way back down my knees will ache so much! I don't think people realise how sore the pain is..... Anyway that is my rant about 'competitive munro-bagging' over....

So yeah munro number seven was completed and a group set of for the second one of the day and me, Sharon and Jackie headed back down. We were the sensible ones as the day got colder and the sun was setting at around 4pm we were back at the car. 6 hours - not a bad time at all with the snowy conditions. I got some really great photos and they can be seen at the link below but here's a couple of my favourites from that day...

Back at the bunkhouse we made dinner of pasta, bacon and my mum's spcial recipe cheese sauce. The banter was good and i found it really interesting finding out about what different people had been up to that day. Soem went climbing, some did 3 munros, some had done 4!! and we had done 1 ha ha. It was good. Then to the talk of what to do the next day started and i decided that my knees were too sore to be doing another one so the plan was that Jackie would bring me home and Sharon would go on with some others to do some more munros.

All in all it was a good weekend and i realise what i've missing out on all of this time and i kinda think i'd like to give ice climbing a go but have not a clue about how to begin. I figure if you're doing that then it's slow and steady and people have to work together more as part of a team. I'm sure I'll find out about it all at the OMC but that will be the focus for after the trek. Speaking of which...

...I got my flight details through and it's all becoming so real - eek! Gulf Air flight: London Heathrow to Kathmandu via Bahrain on Thursdy 2nd Aril 2009. The countdown is on....

Well i'm heading off now and i'll leave you with my song of the week:

Greatest Day by Take That - yes people it is a good song!!

take care, be safe,
Ange xx