When you are walking up a steep hill or mountain you do tend to just keep looking down towards your feet. The main reasons for this are the fact that depending on the incline the ground might not be too far away from your face add to that you really need to look where you are stepping so you don't end up on your face, but mostly when you start to get tired you get into "The zone" just to keep moving forwards.
The biggest problem with this is you have to keep reminding yourself to look up and appreciate the view. Standing now as we were looking out across the landscape that included clear blue skies a swell as astounding mountain ranges I figured that we would be seeing a damned sight more of this as we descended.
The hard bit was done and now it was time for a gentle stroll back down to the car which would whisk us off to our bed and breakfast for a long cleansing shower before a good meal. Easy eh. Nope, it didn't quite work out like that.
The particular pathway we were using had recently been resurfaced with a crushed stone affair that was a tad loose underfoot. I thought the sticks we had bought before we started the climb upwards were a God send before to help me achieve my goal but going back down they were proving invaluable digging into the stony ground in front of us so e had a little more grounding as we started downhill. As mush as our muscles had hurt on the way up it was now time for a completely different set of muscles to take the strain on the way back down again, for me it was my knees that seemed to take the brunt.
The scenery was fantastic though even with having to glance down to see where we were putting our feet each time that was over you were rewarded with that never ending vista of greens and browns. It is almost barren up there of anything but a scrub type grass. There are no trees or bushes really but this does come with it's own type of simplistic beauty, with barely anything else to break up the rolling land but rocky outcrops jutting from different places at unexpected angles.
I stood at one point wondering how many millions of years it has taken to make such a place, what glaciers passed through carving out this landscape at ridiculously slow speeds leaving us stood here forever and a day later taking in this creation. It still leaves me in awe of the world that sort of thing.
About a quarter of the way down we came across a group of folks surrounding a chap who had slipped on the rough strewn surface promptly breaking his leg in the process. That gave me leave to carry on descending with the ridiculous caution I was using without feeling a bit like a girl! I wondered how this fella was going to get down the rest of the mountain with that rather nasty injury when I heard the familiar whumph whumph of helicopter rota blades that any ten year old bot would recognise and I knew his taxi down had arrived. The sea king helicopter did not have a level place to land but this wasn't a problem for the pilot as he tentatively bounced the front wheel off of a slope checking to see if the ground would hold it's weight then when he realised it would he set down a side wheel on one side (uphill) leaving a mere six foot jump for the mountain rescue crew to jump down out of the helicopter in. The whole exercise was performed with his winch man hanging out of the open side door upside down relaying instructions...the skill of such things just amazes me!
I managed to catch the whole thing on camera, which in itself a rarity for me but I noticed that the battery was getting rather low so being on a mountainside and all that I shut down the phone in case I needed it later.
With the excitement over we set back on our downward trek leaning heavily on the poles trying to ignore the fact that our knees were starting to ask if this was such a good idea as we had done enough already today.
As we were very steadily making our way down the giants stairway there was a rather sudden temperature drop. We first looked skywards noticing only a few clouds building up in the sky but when we turned around to look upon the mountain top we were really surprised to see at least the top quarter covered in cloud. Where only a few minutes before there had been clear views for as far as the eye could see, the poor folks that were still climbing to reach the summit would now have only a very limited view of the fog around them.
I also wondered about how cool the people would be that we had seen climbing in nothing but shorts and a t-shirt carrying only a single water bottle. Had it been tough carrying the rucksack up and down with the extra clothing/kit, yes it had but if we had started an hour later than we did we would have happily been rummaging around in it to get the extra dry/warm clothing to put on.
Although we felt for the people still up there we were also thankful for the temperature drop as we carried on downwards passing the "Halfway house" again. The numbers of people coming up the hill had now dwindled to next to nothing as they would have run out of daylight before they made it back down again and I am pretty damned sure you would not want to try and navigate this walk in the darkness unable to see where you were placing your footing.
We were genuinely getting really tired now stopping more an more often using the "That's a nice view"excuse more and more often to take the opportunity to catch a breather.
There was still a good walk to go yet though...