An account of my Yorkshire 3 Peaks experience. I haven't written for a while. Im not so sure why. Sometimes life just happens. You get lulled into a state of comfort where everything seems to be going ok. There isn't any material that appeals or inspires. I would start and end after a few lines. I guess i was looking for inspiration. One i got in bucket loads when i undertook the Yorkshire 3 peaks. It was GRUESOME inspiration, but i learned that my body can take me far beyond what i thought it ever could. I hadn't done or undertaken anything of this magnitude in my life, and the last time i felt this kind of exhaustion was probably during childbirth, so allow me to wallow in this new found love and the shock of climbing mountains and everything that comes with it.
Those mountains gave me so much more then a physical experience. It gave me life lessons, renewed vigour and strength.
Since turning 30, life has had a funny way of showing me what really matters, and how I should be placing my energy to things that serve me and those i love, well. Almost 5 years since turning 30 and the unlearning, unpacking and relearning continues. I am deeply aware at this point in my life, that our journeys truly vary and perhaps a lot of misunderstanding in life and disagreements stems from an inability to understand our differences. Yorkshire 3 peaks was, in a weird way a culmination of so many lessons. It was almost like this past 5 years of growth brought on another new set of perspectives. Its a new level, a new mindset and a shedding of some more things that needed to go.
I am not your average fitness guru, nor would i ever use the word, fit or fast, to describe myself. Yet, there i was. 29th of August, 2020. Probably the day i truly lived. Lol! I tend to get philosophical about every experience so bear with my Socrates moments please.
I started the walking thing two weeks before the Yorkshire 3 peaks, through an invitation from an old friend and someone ive also come to consider my sister. It was something she wanted to do before she turned a year older a couple of days later. So, i jumped on this opportunity through my sheer love for the outdoors and my obsession with sweeping views of the Yorkshire landscape. The place I've come to cherish as home away from home. I had always heard of the Yorkshire 3 peaks but it was one of those things that i never in a million years, thought i would experience. It was always something for the "fit gang".
A couple of 6 milers and a 12 mile under my sleeve, still i knew there was no way i was ready for these 3 peaks. And i was so right!
The alarm went off at 3.45. By 4.30 am we were on our way. The winding roads to the Dales plus a Shumacher-esque driver, coupled with sleep deprivation makes for the perfect prep for a 25 miles hike.
A prayer at 6am and we were off. If i had truly grasped the task at hand, i would have said 27 more prayers. One for every mile and for every descent where i thought i would lose my ankles.
So there we were, 3 Fijian women, wives, working mothers. All together for a love of walking and the outdoors and the realisation that nature truly is the best medicine. And what a medicine it was. So painful and frustrating at times but so rewarding and so fulfilling.
I cried tears of joy when we summited Pen-y-ghent. I never thought it would be such an emotional sense of achievement. I also never realised that summitting Pen-y-ghent is actually the easiest of the three. I would have saved my tears if i knew that trying to summit Whernside would be an absolutely hard job or that the descent would be so treacherous, and a deep fear of almost falling to my death would accompany that descent and that of Ingelboroughs.
How people run those hills in just a few hours absolutely blows my mind. If you're like me, and you're not the fittest, I will not sugarcoat it and say you will breeze through it. IT IS HARD! However, i got the perfect response from a friend when i told her about it a few days later. She so rightfully said "But did you die?"
We summitted Ingleborough around sunset. Every moment of this walk is made so worthwhile by the incredible views. The magnificence of the landscape brought Psalm 8:3-4 to mind. 3. "When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars,which you have set in place, 4. what is mankind that you are mindful of them,human beings that you care for them? The way the sun slowly rises, slowly illuminating the land. The sheeps bleating and staring as we made our way past stone walls, almost as if to warn us of the tremendous task at hand. The way rabbits dodged between goats perched on those stone hills. The spots of white(sheep) dotting the landscape, like cotton balls so carefully placed amongst the green hills. The gratitude you feel is immense. The grandeur and beauty of the Dales is humbling and also a gentle reminder to just how i am but one person in this vast and great world. It reminded me of my smallness and just how numbered my days are.
There was almost a wish that my eyes could act like a camera and record every step so i could share it. However, even pictures could never do justice to the tranquility of nature. I feel so drawn to taking pictures of nature because it just is. Nature is so unapologetic. All bended, broken and so imperfect but altogether absolute perfection all at the same time. I sometimes wish i didn't care so much to look a certain way in pictures. We've been so conditioned to fit a certain beauty standard that we forget just how beautiful we truly are naturally, while laughing and while deep in conversation. We have casually termed them as "ugly laughing" or "ugly crying", but these are the moments where we're truly our most beautiful. The moments where we just are. Im learning slowly to not worry so much about looking a certain way and just be, like the trees, like the rivers and like the mountains.
There were some amazing lessons on this challenge. 1. Slow progress is definitely still progress. We finished it in way more than 12 hours, which is the time everyone tries to finish it. BUT we finished, eventhough trying navigate the descent from Ingleborough back to Horton in Ribblesdale in the dark is something only the skilled can do. (Vinaka to our sat navs Phy and Mili). 2. Treasure people who encourage you and motivate you. You'll get only a handful in life and its detrimental that you're able to identity them and keep them close. 3. Have immense gratitude for your body. If i could give my legs and feet an award, i would. They carried me when the rest of my body was just saying NO. I had to be carried downstairs the next day. Thats what 25 miles of mountain climbing can do to the beginners or the untrained body. 4. There's a very great lesson in mountain climbing which i fully understand now about people who love to do it. The journey up is hard, but the reward is amazing. It's also akin to life, so many times times, the end looks unreachable and bleak because the journey is arduous and draining, but if we persevere, we get there in the end. 5. Exercise doesn't always have to look like going to the gym, or something so hardcore. Sometimes its just taking a walk in the woods and noticing things you wouldn't usually notice. Sometimes it's just being present. My exercise lately has been more for my mental health, the physical aligns when i take care of my mind first. Im ending this today with a heart of gratitude. I am by nature quite emotional and am extremely deep thinker, something that's only evident when I write. So you can imagine what an experience like this did for me. The experience was one of thanksgiving, love and reconnection. An experience i will always cherish and hope to do again one day, of course this time, with proper training.
To my two awesome sisters, Mili and Phy. Vinaka Mili for showing us what Vanua Levu strength is. No ounce of fear or worry i ever noticed, just good old strong Fijian woman, who "when the going gets tough, the tough gets going". Im still laughing at the moments she managed to make us all laugh when the climb seemed so scary. Calling out to the sheeps, "IO DOU BULA! Kerekere, dou mai dreke mada neitou bag". Vinaka Phy for the opportunity to join you on one of your adventures. For the encouragement and the motivation, and the thousand times you called out "Suli, are you ok?", and me lagging behind wondering why the car park lights kept escaping my view at every turn. Thank you for the uplifting conversations and just overall, an amazing day.
Here's hoping, I'll be sharing another adventure with you soon.
With love. Suli