Tuesday 3 September 2013

Well, I tried. I really did try. The flow of the post seemed to be forming well in my mind as I descended Lingmell into Wasdale Head on Saturday. But sat in front of my laptop, in my flat in Aylesbury, the room lit by only the blank, white screen, I just wasn’t in the mood. I couldn’t find it within myself to write about a glorious weekend on the north western Carneddau, my first wild camping trip of 2012.

To those who had been waiting for me to publish it, after my self-proclaiming tweets a few days earlier, I’m sorry to disappoint.

I then thought for a while about writing this, a small piece of autobiographical text, and whether or not I should share it with the wider world. Perhaps this is not the right place to share such personal thoughts, such personal happenings.

Yet, each time I go walking, I share some of that. The mood I’m in and how my body feels are intrinsic parts of whether or not a walk is enjoyed. I’ve tweeted about those feelings, just as much as the views I may or may not be enjoying, the joys of seeing wonderful sunrises or sunsets and that sense of freedom and isolation when pitching my tent somewhere distant from even the faintest vestiges of the rest of civilisation.

It’s fair to say that the last six or seven months has been some of the toughest I’ve experienced in my, still relatively short, life. Whilst I’d rather not share the detail, a close relative being diagnosed with cancer, followed by the death of another relative whilst experiencing an increasing amount of stress at work and having to deal with some material mishaps all within quick succession could have only one outcome.

Make no mistake, there have been some great times too. The TGO Challenge was a highlight, and I’ve enjoyed some great walks with some good people, and the banter that went alongside. Walking and wild camping was my release from the stressful work environment and the pain that accompanied family life for a period.

Then, at a point when I needed another release, a chance to relax my mind, I ended up losing friends, the very same people I had relied on for that banter, the banter I had come to cherish.

I suppose trying to carry on, to persevere as if things weren’t that bad throughout the last six months was, for me, the wrong thing to. Losing friends was the final straw. I ended up in pieces, not literally, but the pressure relief valve opened, suddenly and quickly.

I shall skip over some of the detail here, as I don’t feel it appropriate to share. What I will say is that August hasn’t been a wholly bad month, just that the walks haven’t been the same. Each one felt more enjoyable than the one before, but they still felt slightly empty and, as for the trips to the Lake District, I had an over-riding feeling of not being welcome.

So, 2013 hasn’t quite gone to plan. By now, I’d have been expecting to be looking forward to winter trips. But, beyond the end of September, the diary is empty. No winter routes have been planned, no thoughts shared, ideas exchanged or details agreed.

As for the blog, and more importantly the trip reports that some folk have been looking forward to, I’m not sure when they will appear. I’ll still put my routes on Social Hiking and, from time to time, upload some photos to flickr.

What I do know is that it will take me much longer than I had ever thought for me to return to top form, to return to that seemingly happy-go-lucky chap who enjoyed the hills and mountains so much, almost on a whim, from one week to another. I think that the trip report may have to wait until then.

Please bear with me.


  • chrissiedixie

    Hi Rich, sorry to hear you’ve been having a rough time. What I will share with you, is that I lost both my parents relatively close together, only a few years ago, so have some inkling of rough times too. One of the best pieces of advice a friend gave me was to ‘be kind to yourself’, and it is also true that with the passage of time things do improve. Hang in there.

    • http://www.mountainmusings.co.uk/ Richard Flint

      Thanks Chrissie. You are right, things do improve with the passage of time. It’s probably true that I was far too harsh on myself and tried to keep on top of things for too long. I feel much better now than they did during August and early September. There’s still a way to go, but at least I’m smiling more than I was.

  • Rucksack Rose

    I just wanted to echo what Chrissie just said really, having found this post. I lost my mum about 3 years ago after a long battle with emphysema and I am now acting as carer for my dad who may have the beginnings of dementia. During all those hellish times, I found the Twitter community and my trail hiking and used both to escape from the day to day awfulness. Kindness starts with yourself and you will find a way through it.

    • http://www.mountainmusings.co.uk/ Richard Flint

      Hiking is my escape, but I think it had got to a point that it was my only escape, and that’s not healthy. It’s true that family and the vast majority of friends and Twitter folk have been fantastic. I’m just a little disappointed that a few people, who were very close to me over the past six months, didn’t say something much sooner, when they first noticed I didn’t seem my normal self.

      • Rucksack Rose

        People don’t always judge situations like that well unless they know what is behind them and sometimes they are just immature. Do what it takes to keep positive x