I’m posting a story written by my friend M, about an adventure we had while I was staying in the UK. I always find it interesting how others describe me or share things I have also experienced.
Matt would like to share a story about one of our most “interesting” adventures:
A couple of years ago, B and myself went for a walk starting off from a different part of the local forest than we normally tend to set off from. After walking a while, I spotted a steep hill with a ridge on top. It looked interesting and for some reason, it drew me to consider scaling it. Half joking, I suggested climbing the hill to B as there looked like a mini trail leading up to it. We’d done some long forestal walks up to that point on previous days, including at times, minor hills and it seemed no less doable. There was even a narrow channel surrounded by roots and hardy little shrubs leaning in with plenty of places to grab something if necessary. It didn’t look too bad a climb, not really. Ten minutes of effort, if that. A bit of a mistake. We got half way, and suddenly it loomed ahead much higher than it looked from the ground. Higher and steeper. You could say, it was almost vertical. I think I slipped a little in the loose earth and grabbed out at a root, and then B missed her footing and it all felt like a place that we shouldn’t be. That neat leading trail up the hill was more of a water gulley once you were inside it. Anyway, we somehow struggled to climb on, and by that time it would have been worse to slip down than continue on to the top. There was some panic in B’s eyes. Actually, there was terror in B’s eyes in the variety of “I’m going to die, and it’s your fault, Matt!”
We didn’t die. We struggled though and cursed and wished we’d not been so ridiculously naive and idiotic to attempt that particular climb, but die we didn’t. Sometimes, you just do these things because you can and because they happened to be there I thought to myself at the time, obviously having learnt nothing! It was less rational, more let’s do something we haven’t done since being a kid. We made it, half stumbling, half on our knees, clawing to the safety of the softer heather at the top. This hill was easy, I then went on the tell B as she was too tired to answer back. She rolled her eyes, it was all she could do while getting her breath back in large gulps. I then went on to reassure her that if she did die up here, then it was definitely a good final resting place, although the ground was too hard to dig. It would have to be an off the cuff funeral pyre. It wasn’t of course, easy that is, never again.
When we got to the top, and then to safety, and beyond, and a few steps further (just to be certain), B collapsed as if she’d just scaled mount Everest and done it without equipment or oxygen. It was quite exhausting, but a beautiful contrast once on the plateau with the soft heathers all around gently swaying in the breeze. After the climb it all seemed like an oasis as we gathered back our strength and had a drink of water, taking in the surrounding views by sitting and then finally, laying on our backs and looking up at the sky. So, we did do some resting, finally.
A little further on, after we had recovered and the air began to taste sweet again instead of a life necessity, we saw some deer in the distance, down a hill in a valley, and took some photos with the zoom lens. We didn’t want to get too close as they are easily spooked. They were quite a way away. Some were sitting in the foliage, apparently enjoying the day. The deer then moved off, and we continued on to where they had been to look for traces of them, chatting as we did so, recounting our experiences of “The Hill” and “What the damn frick were we thinking of?” and so on. We turned a corner past some trees and came face-to-face with the same pack of deer. Literally less than six feet away. Nose to nose to our noses. Their deep brown eyes wide as they realised we were human. They were as surprised to see us as we them!
They obviously hadn’t heard us as we walked down to where they had been, and were grazing. It was all the more strange because we hadn’t been quiet in the walk towards them, we must have been downwind or something and the trees masking our sounds. Deer around here are very shy and elusive, you can go for years and never see any. After they had loped off and scattered, we looked at each other and half smiled, half laughed at the little treasure we’d been given. It’s one of those walks I’ll never forget. It’s these sort of accidental experiences that always draw me back.