251 Mountains – the Zen post.

You wait for a post then two come along at the same time. So much has happened since I last wrote that I didnโ€™t know where to start or what to write about to update this highly neglected blog site so I decided here to put down some ‘keeping it real’ thoughts after yesterday passing the 250 mountain mark and 25% completion of the Running the Summits challenge. If this post sounds a bit too touchy feely and you prefer your yang to your yin check out the alternativeย 251 Mountains – The Wahoo post ๐Ÿ‘Š

Right now, the Brecon Beacons are just outside the window. I canโ€™t see them, lost as they are to the clouds, curtains of rain drifting across my view of only the very lowest of the lower slopes. Even the sheep are huddled close into a tree sheltered corner. Itโ€™s the third consecutive day of unfathomably and distinctly eclectic weather – one of deep snow and teeth chattering wind chill, one of warmth and clear sunny skies and today, one of wet, claggy cloud and sheets of rain. I was well overdue in taking some time out to get caught up on those real life chores – refilling water supplies, doing laundry, scraping all the farmland muck off the campervan and responding to weeks of emails. Yet, still, early this morning I peeled on my slightly damp, offensively smelly running gear, eager to be out, hauling my (as yet still not athletically-toned) bum up a mountain or two. I think it has become a mantra.

It is said about the Camino de Santiago – a favourite long distance escape of mine – that there are three stages to the endeavour. Firstly the physical, as our body aches and suffers at the sudden increased demands put upon it until it miraculously adapts and grows stronger.

Free from the physical distractions the second stage is the emotional as our minds gradually move from doubt, fear and questioning to perspective and acceptance. Finally, the third stage is that of the spiritual where, only because we have passed through the first two stages and shed the unnecessary can we now fully experience a total awareness, immersion and gained sense of freedom. While specifically aimed at the experience of the Camino I strongly believe that any adventure, large or small can be a great metaphor for life with many lessons to be learned.

Zen and the Art of Adventurous Living?

Now, I still think my body has some considerable ongoing work at Stage one (as mentioned, I had been expecting to, at least slightly, resemble the streamlined physique of an athlete by this point) and trying to run uphill just doesnโ€™t seem to be getting any easier. To be fair both of these issues could be explained by cake.


Possibly the reason I do NOT look like a finely honed machine!?

But even with a lingering toe or two in stage one I do feel I have made some small progress to the great blue orb of enlightenment. I have indeed discovered that this, as all adventures in life, can best be described using that oft spouted clichรฉd saying ‘It’s been a journeyโ€™ (and is going to continue to be a journey for some considerable time as I still have 749 summits to run). But as well as dipping my toes, usually unintentionally, into bog, rivers, bog and more bog I also feel I have been dipping them into stages 2 and 3 and learning a thing or two. (just not how to avoid bog!). As in life, we do not move cleanly from one stage to the next but there is a blurring of the edges and knock backs when new challenges fall out of a cupboard and smack us in the head (also metaphorical – if I have grasped the correct use of the concept!?)


Patch – The Enlightened One

Super-enthused adventurer Anna McNuff wrote a wonderful poem (1) along a similar vein telling of a journey that begins doing battle with nature – setting out to conquer, before becoming beaten down by nature’s far superior and ambivalent….well, nature! Eventually, this traveller no longer passes through or against but travels with and in this natural environment. This is the journey I have been really hoping and expecting to make and I am already becoming familiar with the elements (literal and metaphorical).

On the 251st Mountain summit, I sat for a long while (as long as was possible before extremities started to go numb) fully absorbing the views, the solitude, the peace, the simplicity and vastness of the landscape around me, calm and happy to be right where I was, unencumbered by concerns or stresses. As the terrain and climatic challenges grow greater it is liberating to gradually become confident and at ease in your surroundings as you learn and use new found skills and understanding. There is still an awful lot to learn but hopefully I am becoming willing and humble enough to listen and appreciate all that the mountains have yet to teach.

On a literal note I am throwing in a reminder that my Mountain Joggist Extravaganza is also in hopes of raising a few well needed squidlies for the amazing volunteers of Mountain Rescue England & Wales, Mountain Rescue Search Dogs(the doggy rescuers formally known as Search and Rescue Dog Association England!) and Fix the Fells.

Please spare a pound to chuck in the bucket if you can HERE๐Ÿ˜ Thank You

It’s also really easy to donate by text too…. just text TOPS50 followed by an amount to 70070 . Thank Youโค

(1) PS. Anna McNuff’s poem is featured in the book Waymaking – an anthology of prose, poetry and artwork by women who are inspired by wild places, adventure and landscape.

Happy trails ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ‘ฃ๐Ÿพ

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Mountain, Camping or Expedition Meals sorted with TentMeals!

 

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Jess and the amazing team at TentMeals are now supporting me during my Running the Summits mountainous challenge and I am hugely grateful because not only are they a fantastic small team who really care about their customers, their products and the environment they also make super scrummy camping meals!

credit Will Goodall Copestake. 800kcal Almond Jalfrezi

In their own words they are…

…wholeheartedly dedicated to making the best expedition food – meals that are delicious, natural, high energy, lightweight and easy to prepare.

Meal selection. Credit @coachmacca

Each packet is nutritionally packed with the good stuff ( no nasty additives or preservatives) and are suitable for vegan diets. What really amazed me though was how truly tiny the packs are! They looked very small on the website but when they arrived I was amazed – absolutely perfect for squeezing into stuffed backpacks and keeping things fast and light! Conversely, when prepared ( which was also even more quick and simple than I could have imagined) the meals bloomed into very satisfying portions. I am a pretty big eater and thought I would have no troubles wolfing down the large ( its all relative) 800kcal packs but even I had some laters leftovers. On an energetic day on the hill these would make the perfect recharge dinner.

Cooking up a Blueberry Burst breakfast. Credit @pcolledge

The meals also require much less cooking than I expected which also means they are very quick, easy and light on fuel usage, all of which is great at the end of a long days’ running (or hiking, climbing, trekking, kayaking, ski touring, SUP’ing, canoeing or long distance space hopper’ing!) Basically you just add boiling water to the pack contents and leave for the required time….though in practise I did prefer to bring the meal back to the boil before eating. You can even prepare them with cold water so if your fuel runs out, your stove is playing hard to get or your stormproof matches are losing a battle with gale force winds you can still have a tasty and nutrient rich meal at the end of the day.

credit Will Goodall Copestake. 800kcal Blueberry Burst Breakfast.jpg

I am particularly impressed with just how easy the meals are to prepare – there IS basically no preparation! This is going to be such a joy at the end of long running days during this challenge – I can set up camp by which timeย dinner will have virtually made itself! Finding, carrying and preparing ingredients became quite a chore during my #3PeAksRun and I often missed out on healthy well balanced meals because of it.

Almond Jalfrezi curry. Credit TentMeals

The Tent Meals facebook page is also full of quick and easy recipe idea posts that maximise energy or protein intake for when you can pick up fresh ingredients on your adventures.

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Tent Meals also supply trail mix packs and some base dried ingredients, especially useful if you like to throw an extra handful of veggies into your meal as I do. This makes them a one stop shop for your outdoor adventures nutrition whether you are planning an overnight wild camp or an arctic expedition. No need for any more end of day squashed sandwiches!

credit Will Goodall Copestake. Almond Jalfrezi

 

But don’t just take my word for it –ย  check them out for yourself at TentMeals.co.uk or bring a spoon and catch up with me at dinner time on one of my 1000 summits! (would love it if someone actually did that!๐Ÿ˜)

Happy trails ๐Ÿ‘ฃ