Well not following the theme, but on Monday I followed the dream. For 18 Months now I have been a member of a virtual family of walkers online, I signed up to walk 1000 miles in 2017, and signed up again this year. What a brilliant group it has proved to be, this week a group of about 60 of us were meeting in North Wales to support one of the members who wanted to climb Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales and the place where Edmund Hilary trained to climb Everest. I already felt that I would not be able to do the climb this year, as I am suffering badly from hayfever, as every year lately and the impact on my sinuses leaves me feeling very dizzy and not as steady as I felt I would need to be to do the climb. I am really phobic about causing any kind of fuss or drawing attention to myself and did not want to spoil the experience for others, so I had decided to do a flat walk while the others were up there reaching their goal, but I must say I had the most amazing day walking the lake, and I was not alone.
This was my very first chance to meet so many of the others in the family who I have been friends with all this time, we live all over the country, and the world, and the opportunity for us to meet and spend time with our virtual family was just so precious.
Peggy, our little sister, a few years younger than some of us, came from Oklahoma, USA, with her lovely husband Bobby who was so brave and did the climb despite suffering from Parkinsons, Stevie and her husband Claude, came from Montreal in Canada, and our virtual Mother Hen, Susan and her husband Dennis, came from Wigan as well as many many others, and just as in the virtual realm, it was a wonderful experience to meet up with some of the best people I have ever met.
The age range was as broad as the dynamics of the group in so many ways, some of us are in our 60s and 70s, and some are in their 20s and 30s, Poppy the dog was a real star and did the full climb and came back still panting for more bless her. Our superstars from our online group were all there, Jay Mistry is our resident Mountain Goat, and his herd that walk with him whenever they can came too Helen Smith, is Miss Soggy Bottom, who has walked so many mountains with Jay and usually ends up sat in the nearest puddle at some point on her climbs and has been given the nickname, but is a heroine to all of us stuffy old things, David Guenot, is another serious mountaineer and proved to be a most important member of the group, willing to help take care of those who were struggling on their first ever climb, and the lady who started all of this back last year, Helen Emma Powderham, who has been on the most phenominal journey in the last 18 months, from having a damaged knee and beginning her journey on crutches, Helen has worked so hard, and her knee is now strong enough for her to return to her career caring for children in Nursery, and she has walked intensely day after day to chase her dream of climbing Snowdon after she learned about it last year on a holiday in North Wales, she asked for support online to make it to do this and for some company for the journey, she got that support and it became the biggest of what we call a Badger Meet Up, we all have small metal badges from Country Walking Magazine, that shows we are on the 1000 mile challenge and if two members meet up it is the Badge which starts the conversation. Someone coined the phrase of these meetings being a Badger Meet and they are fantastic, and to be honest I feel so fortunate to have taken part in this one, meeting so many of the fabulous members of the online group and putting faces to the names was amazing.
I had the pleasure of doing a flat walk around the lake with Helen Jayne Taylor who has suffered illness for over a year following the discovery of a broken bone in her neck which needed surgery at Christmas, and is now on a slow journey to recovery, but she turned up and took care of organising registration and monitoring and joins the ranks of our heroes. It was a wonderful chance to meet friends found through the group like Shelagh from Dundee, Heather Peel, and many others from the Chicken Squad, that help Susan Miller collect people's mileage each month to add to her Spreadsheet that tracks our journey through the year.
So from me, not able to do the climb, to the guys who did it a few times in the two days we were there, and those who spent their time trying to get there from all over the world like Viking Pete who made it in time to greet the main pack as they came down, and kept us all smiling as we waited in the scorching heat for our friends to come back safely. (Pete made it himself a day late, but kept us all smiling to meet another of our stars.) We all had such a wonderful two days enjoying the amazing little town pf Llanberis, and the attractions it brings to the table in the shadow of Snowdon.
I would never have believed that at 65 I would be having such fun going to meet over 60 total strangers on such an event, and enjoying a beautiful part of our countryside, finding no strangers but family all in love with walking for health, well-being, weight loss and positivity. Getting ready to do it myself by next year, and it looks like it could be an annual Event. Yay !
Arrived at the station to travel home and found the latest Country Walking Magazine to enjoy on my journey, and all thanks to Guy Proctor who started this challenge along with his staff at the magazine, it started with wondering if I could manage to walk 2.74 miles a day, and ended with the best event I have ever attended and the chance to meet friends from the USA, Canada, Scotland, England, Ireland and of Course Wales.
Where to next I ask?