Peak Rambler’s Ramblings; life brings its realities close to home!

I’ll open with a moment’s thought for those in Cumbria, Lancashire, Yorkshire, Wales, Scotland and many other places; who have been hit hard with Storm Desmond and later storms, which has left so many lives and families devastated.

It’s not just the upheaval and loss, the fact that many will most likely not be spending Christmas in their own homes, but those personal artefacts, heirlooms and irreplaceable family photos, that really take its toll on top of everything else. 

Finally home
after being in hospital
for 10 weeks!
Those of you, who regularly follow me on Twitter and through my blog, will be aware that back in February 2015, I was knocked down while legitimately using a pelican crossing, by a speeding motorist, who would have had to go through a red light against him!
 
The fateful day, Thursday 19th February, I was walking in to work after parking my car in the works car park, following my usual route at around 06:00 in the morning, the ground conditions were good, it was dry, I had nothing to worry about, my son was eighteen that very day, I had a preloaded text “happy birthday” ready to send, the weekend was promising, a table was booked to enjoy a small family meal and for my son, to buy me a drink.

The thought that I could so easily have been a body bag job that day, still sends shivers down my spine!

Driving wasn’t an issue, my in-laws were providing the transport, so all was good, and we had everything to look forward to.

My whole life changed in an instant, the torment has started, I can’t walk or do many of the normal tasks an able bodied person can do.

Not just mine, but my family as well….

Before I go any further, this is not a request for sympathy. Sympathy is not progressive, merely comforting a situation. Progression will be me making strides to get on my feet again, which I am doing, albeit a very slow process, with the support of the hospital, family and those around me, and trust me;
I intend to make the mark.

Originally it was hoped this process will take at least 18 – 24 months, but it seems it will now take longer, 24 – 36 depending how the healing process goes.

But don’t forget, my lower right leg has been practically rebuilt!

The wonders of medical science today, have me in awe of how things have progressed.

I want to stress here and now, there are folk far worse off than me, the young lads and lasses that have been fighting for our freedom in Afghanistan and Iraq, among many other conflicts going back over the years and those that will inevitably follow in time to come!

A sad sign of human nature I’m sorry to say.

I’ll not enter in to any political, religious or any other arguments, for this is not about that. This is a look back over the year 2015 from Peak Rambler’s perspective of walking and life in general.

Let us not forget the poor lass who lost a leg in the Alton Towers incident, only seventeen and enjoying a care free day out with her boyfriend, not even at the point of considering starting a family, to mention just another.

For me, at least I’ve been there for my son, ran around the park with him, and kicked a ball along with all the other things a father should enjoy with his children.

You can read a little more detail about the accident in my blog; Unplanned walking interlude, which I briefly cover in my resume of 2015 later on.

I’m a positive guy, I will walk, and hopefully back to the hills and moors, unless, at this stage, things can still go seriously wrong and the inevitable could happen.
 
However, the bitter pill which I'm struggling to swallow is: the driver received a six month driving ban, plus a fine, court costs and community service. 

My ban, for using a pelican crossing legitimately, is far longer, and not just me, my family who have to support me and help me get dressed, so it's double at least in my book! 
 
There are two a morals here;
·         Make the best of each moment you can
·         For every negative, there’s a positive

Just sometimes, you have to go out and find that positive to redress the balance. I did find the positives and thankfully so.

So, a BIG THANK YOU to all of you out there, for your support, no matter how big or small, it has and still means a tremendous amount to me and I really have enjoyed seeing those photos and videos. They do brighten up the blackest of my days, which I’ve had a few.

Probably for me, the hardest part of it all was the day it happened was my son’s eighteenth birthday! Not just for me, but my son and wife.

I’ve made a point at being there for all the key stages of my son’s childhood and early adult life, but this time, someone through their thoughtless and careless actions put paid to that one.

As far as getting back to walking again is concerned, if I fail, there’ll be too many folk to disappoint, including me. So the grit determination is there, I want to get back to the hills and moors.

If for circumstances beyond my control I cannot return to walking as I have enjoyed, Peak Rambler’s Ramblings will continue, but I’ll be writing about my walks as I always have, as I complete them, whatever the events are, routes, trials and tribulations and any other aspects that happen.

My son who had only passed his driving test August 2014 had his first accident early one Saturday morning while I was in hospital, and once again, I wasn’t there for him.

However, all that I had taught him kicked in, he phoned the police to report the accident and sensibly so, he hadn’t been drinking alcohol, or speeding, if he was, the airbag would have been activated.


It was hard work trying to get in to a car, but I finally did it!
Christmas Day
Just when I thought I was coming to terms with things, especially in light of the latest bombshell with the bone grafts and the extended time the frame will be on my leg, Christmas Day was quite emotional.

My in-laws had put on their usual wonderful spread, and were the perfect hosts that they always have been.

I couldn’t get to the table, the frame on my leg made it difficult, so I was quite content to sit in a chair, so I could see and communicate with everyone, and had my dinner sitting in and arm chair, with my leg rest to keep my leg elevated and a lap tray for a table.

However, I could see an empty space, just in case I was able to get to the table, which sent quite a shiver down my spine, to think that I could so easily have been looking down and not across to the table!

Instantly a song came to my mind Empty Chairs at Empty Tables from the story Les Miserable.

Fortunately, I managed to get three walks in before this unfortunate event took place, the last one, ten days before this event, was a damned good winter walk up Kinder.

Towards the end of 2014 I bought a pair of Scarpa Manta B2 boots for winter use, mainly because I wanted to get better crampons rather than struggle with my trusty Scarpa SL’s, now eleven years old and still a good boot, with C1 crampons.

Oh, and four days before that dreaded day, I bought some new Grivel G12 C2 crampons to compliment those new Scarpa Manta boots. The crampons incidentally, are still in the box, waiting to be used!


Hands off, they're new and not for sale.....


Oi! Hands Off !!!!

Yes, forget it; they’re not up for sale, not even as condition new and unused!

They’re mine and I want to break those crampons in!

That’s my goal, to get out there and use them with my Scarpa Manta boots.

Anyway, I didn’t expect that we’d have much more snow for the winter 2014/15 and from what little I recall, I don’t think we did.

For those who don’t understand fully the classification of walking boots and crampons, please read The BMC article Feet first posted by Stuart Ingram.

I’ve also posted in more detail the boot and crampon categories at the very end of this blog.

However, I will NOT be held responsible for any accidents or injuries from the following information, so please, check for any changes, please visit The BMC website for up to date information.

In my last annual review; “Peak Rambler’s Ramblings; another year ends and time to reflect”, I had a look at a scenario that many of come across, inexperienced walkers, inadequately equipped walkers and things that surround that scenario, one that winds many of us up when we read the news reports or even mountain rescue teams reports, about poorly equipped walkers. I also recalled how I too was once in that category, naïve, not fully clued up, but more interestingly, clothing and gear wasn’t anywhere near as technical, or light, as it is today!


Kinder Downfall, an awesome sight, mentioned in
Peak Rambler’s Ramblings; another year ends and time to reflect
Also, while I’m thinking about it, I mentioned in my look back over 2014 about Social Media and trying to make a few changes. I have to confess, Google+ is still taking very much a back seat and so at the moment is Facebook.

Also the Peak Rambler YouTube channel taking a back seat, but that is with good reason, which I’m sure you’ll more than appreciate and understand. I did however manage to put a very brief festive clip up just before Christmas Day, Rockin' Santa a gimmicky solar powered dancing Santa from a family friend who we visit in Scotland.

However, Peak Rambler Flickr Photo Album has been active around the garden, in that I’ve been using my cameras as part of my physio therapy, trying to keep the camera steady, and also giving me something to take my mind off my circumstances.

The GoPro? Yes, still on L Plates!

It’s unlikely I’ll be posting much to the blog before the end of 2015, though if I do, I’ll update this with the appropriate links.

So, what of 2015?

Well, a bit short changed I’m sorry to say. Though I did get three walks in, and the last of those three walks, was probably one of the best to date, and if ever I have to bow out on a walk that would be the one.

Goyts Moss, a short walk across open moorland
This was a walk to cover ground that had been on my tick list for a good while.

But, it was a last minute decision to venture there, the weather forecast hadn’t been good leading up to it, though I decided to take a chance, which entailed a late departure from home, restricting the available walking time.



Grouse Butt on Goyts Moss

Sadly, even though it was my kind of terrain, wild open moorland, it didn’t tick many boxes. It appeared to be heavily managed land, which is the case with all our open countryside, but this just seemed more so, which took away the pleasure that such a walk would normally give.

I feel that this is a walk I need to return to one day, no matter what season, but definitely with more time spare, for it was a last minute decision, and definitely make changes to the route.

Mam Tor and the Great Ridge, an old classic
This was my second walk of the year and one guaranteed to tick all the boxes. I’ve walked this area many times before; the views are superb and quietly calming even though it is a popular area.


Looking along the Great Ridge from Mam Tor
This is a walk and an area I can happily return to time and time again, and still find something different and still enjoy it. But then that is the case with all my walks, and yes, I would return to Goyts Moss mentioned earlier.

Looking back along the Great Ridge to Mam Tor
The prime reason for this walk was to test my new Scarpa Manta boots, which I’m pleased to say, they passed.

Kinder Low and Kinder Downfall, a Winter Wonderland
This was my third and final walk of 2015, though hopefully not my final walk ever.
This definitely ticked all the boxes,
  • Snow
  • Clear skies
  • Sun
  • Inversions,
  • Winter clothing,
  • Ice axe,
  • Crampons
This day was just packed full with awesome sights!
Kinder Reservoir covered in an inversion

It was an impressive walk, from Bowden Bridge, near Hayfield, walking up through spectacular countryside (but dangerous in adverse conditions, which kinder and a lot of the Dark Peak is subjected to), enjoying superb views across the Dark Peak, inversions filling the valleys below, blue skies, snow and ice, the famous weather beaten gritstone rock formations.

The perfect winter walk for me.
Kinder Low, draped in it's winter robes

What more could you ask from a winter walk?

Unplanned walking interlude
This blog really is to let you good people out there that hadn’t heard why I had gone so quiet and give some detail in to what had happened to me.

Apologies for the poor quality, this is an edit of a library photo
a close-up of my frame not long after coming home

This was a very hard one to write, firstly because I had to do all the editing from a Samsung Galaxy Tablet, a totally new scenario to me and challenging, along with the trauma of not being mobile, in pain and it did have limitations which the desktop computer didn’t.

Modern technology vs. traditional methods!
I was feeling a little restless one day and started this blog, which took quite a long time, weeks actually, to complete.

I’m far from being a technophobe, quite the reverse, even though I’m a devout map and compass navigator. I do like my gadgets and I do use a mobile device, and other battery powered devices while out and about, one of which, the Kestrel 2000 mini weather device, gets mentioned, which I explain in this write-up.

I like my gadgets, the Kestrel 2000

It started after reading a story about some people who had to be rescued after their mobile device battery failed. So I thought I would share some thoughts with you, and please, feel free to share these thoughts, with those who think that their mobile devices are bomb proof.

They may be around the normal urban environment, but out on the hills and moors, the challenges for these mobile devices start to become heavy and they don’t perform quite as well as you might expect.

However, I do think one day, some are resilient, but at a cost, though they will become more resilient eventually, but that day is still a good way off yet.

Winter walking 2016/17 is only a dream!
This was written again to keep my followers up to date with the latest routine hospital visit, which had bombshell results. The bones in my leg had stopped growing!

That means my initial dream of full walking again during 2016 is just that, a dream, for the healing process is to take a lot longer. I’m hoping and I’ll be working on it, to get walking again sometime in 2017.

Before I close, I would like to just share the following thought with you;

“Make the best of each moment you can,
you just never know what’s around the corner.
I did and thankfully so.”

Once again, a BIG THANK YOU to all of you out there, for your support, no matter how big or small, it has and still means a tremendous amount to me and I really have enjoyed seeing those photos and videos. They do brighten up the blackest of my days, which I’ve had a few.”

Finally, happy rambling and thank you for reading,

Peak Rambler

Twitter           @PeakRambler
Photo Album Peak Rambler Flickr Photo Album
YouTube       Peak Rambler on YouTube

Links to some of the items I’ve mentioned and written about here:
Storm Desmond
Peak Rambler Flickr Photo Album
Peak Rambler YouTube channel
Lap tray
Empty Chairs at Empty Tables
Les Miserable
Rockin' Santa
Peak Rambler’s Ramblings; another year ends and time to reflect
Peak District - Kinder Scout - Hayfield Route
Goyts Moss, a short walk across open moorland
Mam Tor and the Great Ridge, an old classic
Kinder Low and Kinder Downfall, a Winter Wonderland
Unplanned walking interlude
Modern technology vs. traditional methods!
Winter walking 2016/17 is only a dream!
Samsung Galaxy Tablet
GoPro
Scarpa Manta B2 Boot
Grivel G12 C2 Crampon
The BMC
Feet first
 

BOOTS and CRAMPONS
NOTE; THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION WAS CORRECT AT THE TIME OF PUBLICATION.
The author will NOT be held responsible for any accidents or injuries from the following information, so please, check for any changes, please visit The BMC website for up to date information.

BOOTS
· B0 Unsuitable for crampons. Most walking boots are designed to flex for comfort and do not have sufficient lateral and longitudinal rigidity in their midsole. Additionally the upper is often made of soft calf leather or a combination of suede/fabric which compresses easily under crampon straps causing discomfort and cold feet.
· B1 Suitable for the easiest snow and ice conditions found when hill walking, using crampons more for emergency or for crossing a short patch of snow or ice, rather than setting initially fitted for a full day's walk. They have a reasonably stiff flexing sole and the uppers provide enough ankle and foot support for traversing relatively steep slopes.
· B2 A stiff flex boot with the equivalent of a three quarter or full shank midsole and a supportive upper made from high quality leather (probably over 3mm thick). These boots designed for four season mountaineering, can be used all day with crampons, whilst easy alpine terrain and easy Scottish snow and ice climbs can also be covered.
·  B3 A technical boot regarded as “rigid” both in midsole and upper. Used for mountaineering and ice climbing.

CRAMPONS
·  C1 A flexible walking crampon attached with straps, with or without front points.
·  C2 Articulated multi-purpose crampons with front points. Attached with straps all round or straps at the front (ideally with a French ring system) and clip-on heel.
·  C3 Articulated climbing or fully rigid technical crampon attached by full clip-on system of toe bar and heel clip.
 
Boots in the B3 category are ideal for C3 crampons and will also take C2 and C1.
 
At the other end of the spectrum a B1 boot could only be recommended with a C1 crampon.
 
It should be stressed that this is only a guide and should be used as a supplement for good advice from experienced shop staff, experienced mountaineers or mountain guides.
 
NOTE; THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION WAS CORRECT AT THE TIME OF PUBLICATION.
 
To check for any changes, please visit The BMC website for up to date information.

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