Climb Every Mountain

 In General

“Is there anything we could all do together to raise money for your charity?”

My phone pinged with a text message in September 2018. I replied to my friend saying that “I would love to, but I don’t know what… mostly because I hate running, I am a scaredy cat so wouldn’t sky dive or anything like that…”. Eight minutes and 21 messages later the idea for The Bear Hunt was formed. We would complete 5 sponsored walks linked to the 5 different terrains of the classic children’s book “We’re Going On A Bear Hunt”. We would cover 21 miles over the 5 walks and our biggest challenge would be to climb the 3,560 foot of Mount Snowdon as the ‘snow’ part of the story.

Our Daughter, Isobel, had been in hospital for nearly 3 months in the run up to Snowdon and was discharged 3 days before the climb. My training had not gone well and on the day of the climb as we approached the hills surrounding the mountain, it became clear that the I may have bitten off more than I could chew… the scenery in front of us was beautiful but intimidating. There was a silence in the car as we took it in… could we do this?

The climb started on a road, simple enough… right? This was a steep road… I was out of puff by the top of that first slight incline. My Sister in Law has asthma and was chugging away on her inhaler within minutes. I offered her an out…”If you can’t do this, no one will think anything less of you”. She grasped her inhaler, took a big gulp on it and shook her head. She was doing this!!
As we walked on we saw a large hill in front of us, “Is that the summit?” I naively asked one of our group. He half smiled and shook his head. “I don’t think we have seen it yet.” He was right. An hour in and already feeling very much like we had climbed a mountain we didn’t see the summit… that’s right we couldn’t see it because the clouds were covering it. But we knew it was there and we could definitely see the steep incline preceding the top.
The ascent was tough, it rained and it was bloody hard work. We all seemed to develop our own strategies – Some of the group would march on ahead. Their strategy was to get it over with as soon as possible. My strategy was slow but steady. I could literally only take five steps at a time and then I would have to rest. During that time I was thinking that I would reach the top of the mountain but in my own time… and I was thinking of Isobel who will also reach her mountain tops but in her own time. I was thinking how hard the last couple of months had been, how much Izzy had been through and how easy the climb was in comparison.
My favourite time was when we were within 20 minutes of the summit. It was so windy, we were literally inside clouds so the visibility was really reduced… but it was exhilarating. It felt like a true adventure. It felt so alien from the confines of the hospital that it was truly wonderful. At one point I could look out above the clouds!! As a wise man once said ‘Above us only sky…’ What a feeling!
Coming back down was far more challenging than going up. I worried the whole way down about falling.
And then we were at the bottom. We had done it!! In EIGHT HOURS!! The sense of achievement was truly brilliant. My body ached in places I did not know existed but we had raised £2,100 for Wouldn’t Change A Thing!
This year we have set ourselves another challenge… we will walk for 21 hours straight. The money we raise will be split between WCAT and Making Chromosomes Count. We have started our training already and we know it is going to be tough but it will be absolutely worth it to raise positive awareness about Down Syndrome and to support both organisations in changing negative outdated perceptions!

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