*** UPDATE ***
So I travelled to Glasgow and met a group of strangers in a train station!
We started to get to know each other on a coach to Fort William, up winding roads at fast enough speed that at least 50% of us felt sick, and myself and a lad had the pleasure of being the ones who actually vomited! I don't recommend it but it's good way to get to know people - everyone asks you if you feel ok afterwards!!
We checked into a marquee at Fort William and spent a couple of hours preparing for the night ahead. We're each given a number and a white glow stick to attach to our bags, some emergency phone numbers and told that there will be a few assistants with us, always one at the front, always one at the back and a few in between. Also, clear instructions that where you see glow sticks on the terrain, keep close to the greens and AVOID THE REDS!
Now this sounds like you'll always see lights or people - what a misconception! Yes, we started out together and stayed in a close group for about 20mins but of course this naturally spreads out. Different abilities led different paces, and you'd change positions regularly as you pause for a layer change or pit stop. By about an hour there were large gaps between us. You could just see torch lights in the distance either above or below you, masked by the fog. After a couple of hours those lights are far away, sometimes you couldn't see or hear anyone, and many of us had times that we climbed COMPLETELY ALONE! Sometimes this was scary and unnerving, but also pleasant that it was completely at your own pace, you could hum, swear or pray as you liked, with no one to judge you, and no conversations to drain your breath!
The camaraderie amongst a group of strangers was inspiring! Everyone
is on their own challenge of different sorts but you're instantly part of a team! I found myself with different groups as my pace changed; you could walk together without ever speaking before but you're instantly looking out for one another! That is an incredible feeling.
Although I sort of wanted to see the views, not being a fan of heights, the darkness was somehow comforting, just look down and keep walking! Turning the head torch off and looking up you realise you're above the cloud, an image I found impossible to capture on film but one I'll always remember. The sound of natural running water in the dark was beautiful, it varies in strength and direction as you climb, you often cross a gully and occasionally walk over small waterfalls. The terrain was extremely varied. I knew it was going to be rough at times but I definitely underestimated just how tough it would be - it was arduous and relentless! And once you conquer the climb, it's not over! You're conscious the whole way up that coming down deserves just as much respect, perhaps even more so for your knees! I felt very sick and dizzy by the top and so was kindly assigned a medic to climb down with me, we picked up a couple of others who had similar concerns and reached "base camp" at 5.30am. Still far from being over, the relief and sense of achievement was delightful. Some people were already back, with others still returning beyond 8am. We regathered ourselves in the marquee and took the coach back to the airport. The long wait there
was tough, but it helped being with a few challenge buddies! I couldn't wait to get home and am so thankful to my hubby for his thoughtful preparations, a "well done / welcome home pack" and a hot bath and a curry!
I underestimated the extent of the effects this challenge would have on my body, I still feel overtired and almost in shock but...
I wanted a Challenge - TICK!
I wanted a memorable experience for a good cause - TICK!
And it was also humbling in more ways than I can describe -
I won't underestimate this sort of challenge - the task itself, and the effect it can have both physically and mentally!
I've been so surprised (mostly pleasantly you'll be pleased to know) by how people will support you!
And although only away for 36hrs, that first hug with my husband before I collapsed on the floor was the best feeling in the world!
HOME - ONE OF THE MOST AMAZING THINGS!
So I will say one final, MASSIVE, THANK YOU to every one of you who embraced this crazy birthday challenge and I'll SHUT UP about it!
Lots of love!
*****END OF UPDATE*****
Tattoo? Bungee Jump? The usual ideas come rolling out when you hit a milestone. I wanted to celebrate a little differently, do something memorable and unique, and better still, support a good cause at the same time!
After watching BBCs Inside Out showing Skin Needling to release the tension of soldiers' scar tissue (Skin of course being my passion!!) I felt drawn towards getting involved. Who better to give back to than servicemen and women who have already given so much!? A glimpse of the Help for Heroes website and it all fell into place...
A NIGHT TIME TREK OF BEN NEVIS!
I am climbing Ben Nevis, the highest peak in Scotland (and the British Isles!) overnight on Saturday 18th August, raising support for the Help for Heroes Charity.
Don't panic! I'm with an organised group! We'll be setting off from Fort William after sunset to reach the summit in time for sunrise – illuminated only by the light of our torches, and of the moon and the stars.
I don't know anyone else on the climb yet - there's fundraisers like myself from across the country, and veterans and service personnel who have suffered a permanently life-changing or career ending injury or illness. I think it is a truly inspiring event.
Now... I'm a busy person, but we're talking performing skin treatments, admin, school runs and housework - this event will be a challenge for me. And to match that, I've set myself an ambitious donation target too.
I hope you embrace my challenge, and I am grateful for and touched by your donations. Thank you to those that contributed towards my costs for this event, that page has now closed.
And of course if you're inspired by the event and want to challenge yourself for an amazing cause, come and join me! I'd love someone to carry my bag!! (That is a joke!!)
Thank you again for your support.