The Day George’s Legs Turned To Jelly

It’s finally time to tell you all about our big adventure over the peaks of the Lake District. To those of you who have been kind enough to follow our camping trip, a big thank you for your patience. This is the last installment so, after today, you’ll hear about the Lakes no more … At least, until next year…

After starting the week with a few gentle walks (as warm-up) and a rest day (to catch our breath), on our last day we set out for the higher peaks. Brianna wanted a victory photo on top of Heron Pike and Great Rigg, so we set out from our camp site to the picturesque village of Grasmere, where we left the car.

The route we took started with a gentle 20 minute walk through the forest…

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…but started to climb, quite steeply soon after that:

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Half-way up that path, a group of fell runners caught up with us and we decided to stop and let them pass us. This way we got to have a rest, got out of the way and had the chance to admire an impressive display of human will and determination. As all the 152 runners went past us (no I didn’t count them, but I read the numbers on their vests), I felt not only inspired, but almost tearful at their effort to run up the steep mountain slope. I could hear their heavy breath, I could see their red, swollen muscles and the sweat dripping off their faces. But I could also see the determination in their eyes. Some were young, some were middle-aged and a few were quite old. None of them wanted to give up. It was not about coming first, it was about doing it and crossing the finish line. I would have loved to take a picture, but then I didn’t want to disturb them. I didn’t think they needed a nosy camera stuck up their faces, so I chose to take a mental shot instead. I am glad Brianna was there to witness their efforts…She was impressed and we used this experience to lecture her about always doing your best, not giving up when things are hard and pushing yourself to the limit in order to achieve your goals…Hopefully, this will pay off one day.

With renewed energy and motivation, we set on the path again. It turned out that George ‘the mountain goat’ loves a good climb and prefers to be in the lead.

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When the steep climb ended, we walked from one peak to another, following what felt like a nice, manageable ascending slope. The view got better and better as we got higher and higher.

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Unfortunately, the higher we got the more unstable the weather became, and we eventually ended up in a cloud.

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We struggled ahead through the rain until we reached Heron Pike…

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As the rocks were becoming dangerously slippery (even for our rambling boots) and the rain was getting heavier, our common sense and sense of responsibility as parents prevailed over our sense of adventure and we decided to turned back before we reached our final target. But we are not defeated…We’ll go back to conquer Great Rigg another time.

On the way back, we had the most surreal experience ever. We heard barking on the peak ahead of us, and then we saw 4 dogs running towards us at the speed of light. We froze. My first thought was that they were shepherd dogs coming to attack us in an attempt to protect the dozen of sheep grazing peacefully around us. I had had a similar experience before, and it hadn’t been pleasant. On that occasion, we had to sit down whilst the dogs surrounded us and wait for them to determine that we were harmless and then go away. Which they did. Since we couldn’t think of any other solution, we did the same this time, trying to hide George behind us so that they couldn’t see him (as if that could fool a dog’s nose!).

As the 4 dogs got closer, we realised that they weren’t shepherd dogs. Then about ten other dogs appeared from over the peak, in pursue of the first ones. Seconds later, it became clear to us that we were witnessing some sort of dog race. The dogs had numbers painted on their chests and took past us in a blink, without even looking at us. They were muscular and skinny looking dogs, almost whippety in shape, but with big floppy ears. My guess is that they were some sort of gun dogs in pursue of a scent, but I couldn’t be sure. Their running at full speed and shrilly barks got George very excited, and he started to pull on his harness. Although not a ‘tracking’ dog himself, his chase instinct must have been aroused by the sight of the other dogs. He seemed so keen and up for it, that he most likely would have gone after them if we had let him off the lead. So we grabbed him tighter than before and waited for the runners to disappear from sight and for George to calm down.

Again, I would have loved to take a picture. But we were first too surprised and worried, and then too fascinated by this frantic race to think about the camera. I hope my description is enough to help you envisage this encounter to some extent.

The rest of our walk down and back to the quiet village was pretty uneventful, although more difficult than the ascent. The rocks were slippery and we were tired, so we had to stop for water and energy snacks. But the weather was getting better and we felt good. Apart from George, who started to struggle. Remember when I said that George loved the climb? Well, he hated the descent. I don’t know if it’s because his muscles were aching or the rocks were hurting his pads, but he was getting slower and slower and seemed to appreciate the little breaks we took more and more.

We eventually returned to our car, seven hours after setting out for the peaks. George jumped in and fell asleep instantly, whilst Brianna seemed to be buzzing with energy. When we got back to the tent, George managed to jump off the car seat and get in the tent, but then he didn’t move until the next morning. What a baby…Maybe he needs more training?

The end.

I hope you enjoyed reading about our trip in the beautiful Lake District. Thank you for staying with us until the end. Have a fabulous weekend!

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24 Comments

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24 responses to “The Day George’s Legs Turned To Jelly

  1. What an interesting day it turned out to be. I’m glad the pack of dogs turned out to be harmless. That sounded scary and I’m glad George was secured. I can imagine how a scene like that one could charge up a whippet. I love how the runners were so inspirational. I have a feeling that’s an experience Brianna will carry with her for a long time!

    • Thanks, Kristin. It was scary to meet those dogs like that, we felt so exposed. Luckily, they weren’t interested in us…All in all, I think we’ll all remember that day for a long time…

  2. Wow, what an adventure! It all sounds very tiring though, 7 hours on the go is a long time. No wonder George was tired. Amazing that Brianna still had plenty of go in her.

    It would be interesting to find out what all the dogs were after or competing in. That would have been spooky meeting them up in the clouds.

    • I guess that was a long walk, but it was worth the effort. It’s amazing how children are always more resilient that the adults…They’re like the Duracell bunnies, never seem to run out of energy.
      We’d like to find out about the dogs, too. I have a friend who lives in the Lakes….Maybe she knows the answer, it might be something that they do up there. If I find out, I’ll let you know 🙂

  3. Oh darn, I got so carried away with your story that I forgot to say that I’m passing on the 7 link challenge to you:) Details are on my latest post. Have fun with it!

    • Gosh, Sue, why did you do that to me? Now I’ve got to find the time to search through my posts and write about it!!! Just joking…I’m grateful you chose us to be on your list. I’ll aim to write a post and pass on the challenge sometime in the next week or so. Thank you 🙂

  4. Hi Didi. I loved reading about your climb. What incredible adventures you saw with the people and dogs racing by you. Your descriptions were perfect to give the image of what you saw. I could absolutely relate to George’s jelly legs on the way down. We live very near a 3800′ high mountain and I was in the area for many years before having the courage to go up. As we went up, I thought to myself: “Why did I wait so long, this isn’t too bad.” But on the way down, I thought very differently! My legs were total jello and I couldn’t believe how much harder it was to descend. A lot of it was probably because I was already tired, but I was using different muscles and found it very tricky. It sounded similar in that there were lots of rocks and it felt like we were mountain-climbing instead of hiking — but it was so much fun and I had a tremendous sense of accomplishment afterwards. But like George, I didn’t move much and then slept a lot to recover! Next year maybe you can get pictures of the dogs racing towards you — glad they weren’t prepared to attack you!

    • Thanks, Robin. You’re right, it’s always harder to go up than it is to climb down. A descent involves a completely different group of muscles, as well as a lot of balance, and puts a lot of strain on the joints…Tiredness didn’t help either… But you know what they say, ‘no pain, no gain’. I envy you for living so close to a ‘real’ mountain and I’m glad to hear that you’re taking advantage of it. I’d definitely be up and down that mountain whenever I got the chance. If you take Grace up it, please don’t forget to take so photos 😉

      I’m glad that the dogs didn’t care about us, too…I don’t know what we would have done if they did.

      • Dogs aren’t allowed on this mountain which is probably a good thing because there are really steep rocks; it’s more like rock-climbing than hiking and I think we’d be carrying Grace most of the way! I can hardly get myself up there. 🙂

      • Wow, I’ve never heard of dogs not being allowed on a mountain, it must be very dangerous indeed. Here in the UK we have a lot of beaches where dogs aren’t allowed (mainly in the South – we don’t go to those), but I don’t know of any mountains. But then, our mountains are not really that high … I can picture Grace enjoying the lift up the rocks 😉

      • Yes, you are very right, Grace would love the lift up the rocks! This particular park is managed by the state park system and some allow dogs and some don’t. Same with us about the beaches in the states — there are some that allow dogs and some don’t; others have certain times (early morning, late afternoon) where you can bring a dog. Grace wouldn’t want to in a place with a lot of people anyhow, so I guess it works out for us!

      • Yep, we avoid busy places, too, for the same reasons. That’s why we always go North or East, rather than South…The South is too posh and touristy (hence busy) for our liking…

  5. Sounds like a great adventure – dear George = descents are hard

  6. Beautiful pictures and a great account of your adventures. “George of the mountains” can adapt to just about any role, can’t he?

  7. The non-athelete in me thinks that you guys were on the right track by takng a nice leisurely hike while enjoying the splendid views. Best to save the knees for the downhill segment 😉

    Your description of the encounter with a pack of dogs gave me a fright! I would have gone into a panic mode, but you certainly knew how to react in safe and appropriate fashion. Hope George wasn’t too startled by the experience.

    • I don’t know if we reacted the right way, but it was the only thing we could think of at the time…I’m just grateful that they didn’t bother with us…George is fine, I don’t think he perceived the situation the same way as us…We were worried, he was excited…Silly boy!

  8. all three of us enjoy your adventure 🙂

    I can imagine clearly what had happened, you’re a good story teller, Didi 🙂

    One thing I don’t understand, what is tracking dogs?

    • Hi, Novroz, I’m glad you enjoyed the story and thanks for the compliment. 🙂
      Tracking dogs are dogs (of various breeds) that are trained to find objects, people, etc. by following their scent, sometimes over large distances. My guess is that those dogs were chasing a scent that someone (maybe the fell runners) left on the peaks earlier in the day. But I can’t be sure, I’m still investigating.

  9. lifewith4cats

    This story is very interesting. Your up on a mountain in the mist and the rain, and from out of nowhere comes gangs of running dogs?!! I would have enjoyed seeing that. It almost sounds like a bugs bunny cartoon. But then I don’t suppose your runners were baying.

    a 7 hour mountain hike. I bet you rested very well that night.

    • I’m sure you would have! I think I would have liked to see it on TV, but it was pretty scary at the start (until we knew we weren’t going to be eaten). Bugs Bunny 😀 😀 I loved those when I was a child.
      Yep, I guess we got a bit carried away with the walk….But time passes at a different speed when you’re having fun…We did sleep very well indeed 😉

  10. Totally loved this story. I just didn’t see the running dogs aspect of the story coming. If that were me, I would have totally freaked out Corran and Sia would have gone crazy.

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