Anyway last week I went for a holiday with some friends in the Lake District in the North of England. We spent the week climbing mountains and swimming in the lakes and enjoying open fires and great company. One day we decided to climb Scaffell Pike, the highest mountain in England. The way up was tough, it’s a long way up and the route we took included near enough vertical climbs and several times when we thought we could see the top only to get there and see we still had several hundred vertical metres to cover.
Anyway eventually we got to the top as you can see in the picture at the top. The mountain was covered in mist and it looked pretty crazy but I was enjoying being at the top, that meant we didn’t have to go up any further and was one of the few places in the lake district you can get a phone signal.
Well us being us we decided that it would be best to take an ‘interesting’ route down which meant not the obvious, easy, tourist path. We took our bearing and started following it and eventually found the path we thought we were meant to be on. We pressed on for a couple of hours going down scree slopes, passing mountain rescue points and eventually coming down towards a valley. For anyone who doesn’t know, a scree slope is generally a steep slope covered in large amount of small stones, often made entirely of that, which fall away without much encouragement. By this point I’d given up climbing down the scree and was going down the nice steep wet grass at which point I slipped, slid down several metres and dislocated my shoulder. It wasn’t long after this that a few of us started expressing doubts about if we were on the right path as the direction we were headed wasn’t quite where we were expecting to be according to the route marked on the map. We pressed on anyway assuming we were on the right path and just either not as far along or further along than we thought, this seemed like a good approach until the patch seemed to come to an end and we were presented with a near vertical drop to the bottom of the mountain covering probably about 30 or 40 feet. It was at this point we knew for certain we weren’t on the right path.
Now map reading is something that I’m normally fairly good at, and can always find myself on a map with a compass on places like Dartmoor where there are some clear landmarks around. Here however we had Scafell pike and a valley. After about ten minutes we found the most likely valley we were looking at and were trying to find where along it we might be, at this point we spotted someone walking along at the bottom, we managed to get from them that we were somewhere in Eskdale. Turns out Eskdale is big, about 6 miles away from where we were meant to be and there was a mountain in between us an there. We were faced with a few options.
1. Find a way down to the bottom and walk around the mountain in what looked like a bog and with no roads in sight.
2. Climb back up the mountain and try to find the path we were meant to have turned off onto.
3. Climb back up the mountain and go down the way we came up.
4. Call mountain rescue.
5. Sleep on the side of a mountain.
Some of these options were more appealing than others for example walking along flat ground looked nice. However with no idea of how far it was likely to be or what the terrain was like wasn’t a good choice. Sleeping on the side of a mountain would have been OK not desirable or nice bearing in mind we had no water and no food left at this point. Calling mountain rescue would have been embarrassing so not an option. In the end we refilled our water bottles up from a stream, prayed that God would give us speed getting back up the mountain, and started climbing. Less than an hour later we had gone up what had taken 2 hours to come down and found the right path (that previously had been hidden by mist and looked nothing like a path – picture a very steep scree slope) and were well on our way home.
When we got our first glimpse of the pub we had parked at, that was probably one of the best views I’ve seen in a long time and I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to get to a pub or cared less about which drink I had.
Some questions to think about:
1. Do you find it easy to stay on the right path? When everything seems to be getting in the way?
2. How about admitting you’re wrong and being willing to turn back on something?
3. How many times have you had the miracles you’ve prayed for and forgotten to thank God? (I know it took me a while to remember)