On the one hand, it’s been perfect weather to be outdoors – honestly! Loads of people have talked about the rubbish weather this summer, but wherever I’ve been (since around the end of May) it’s been sunny and warm with only the odd day of cooler wet conditions. I’ve also been lucky enough to spend 6 weeks of the summer in Scotland and a week in the Lakes, surrounded by beautiful scenery.
However, on the other hand, I’ve had to deal with some unexpected after effects from having a mountain bike accident in early June. I fully expected the physical symptoms, I even expected to be a bit cautious when I finally got back on my bike. What blind sided me was when I realised a few weeks after that accident that I had very little interest in going walking, biking or even camping (and absolutely none in being out on my own).
This might not seem like anything strange, but it was for me. I’ve spent the better part of my free time over the last 20 odd years doing various outdoor pursuits and whilst I love being with other people, sometimes it’s also important for me to be out on my own. To go from being somebody who only last December solo wild camped on the moors with a bivvy bag and tarp and loves nothing better than being in the mountains, seeing the summit views, haring down tracks on my bike or sleeping under canvas, it was tough being this new hesitant person who was happier curled up on the sofa with a book.
Being in the countryside was always something which grounded me, which gave me joy, which made me smile and which gave me the adrenaline rush I so loved. So, 7 weeks after the accident, when much of the physical injuries were healing over nicely but I still had no interest in going into the hills, I started to question who I was and whether I needed to abandon working as an outdoor writer.
The only explanation I could find was that the outdoor environment had always been my retreat from the world, the one place where I disappeared to when modern life became too much – and finally it had bitten me on the backside. I’d had minor accidents and injuries over the years, but nothing quite so dramatic as being carted off in an ambulance and having a CT scan. The accident also happened when I was on my own and my first thought after “ouch” was a brief moment of panic about how I was going to get myself out of the situation in which I found myself.
However, if you’ve read my previous post about the accident, you’ll know that so many people stopped to help – and they have my lifelong thanks for doing so.
As I write this post, it’s now around 11 weeks since the accident and I’m happy to report that I’m finally starting to feel more like myself again. The big break through was a 3 night camping trip with my husband to the ‘Ard Rock mountain bike festival in early August. The lack of facilities had me making do and relying on myself again – just simple things like boiling water at the tent to wash my face or hair, but oddly I realised that I was enjoying the lack of home comforts. That and chatting with like minded adrenaline junkies on their bikes, hearing about how other people came back after bad accidents (there were so many of them) and finally in the midst of some cautious bike riding around Swaledale, finding a moment of flow which gave me a brief reminder of the old adrenaline rush.
Since then, we’ve been away on another camping trip – this time to the Lakes for a few days of walking and biking in glorious conditions with incredible summit views. It gave me a new thirst for adventures in the hills and I spent a lovely hour basking in the sun with a cuppa and cake writing down the goals which were coming through thick and fast. I have to say I might have to amend this old post about not being a summit bagger.
In hindsight, I think the wise words of a good friend who told me to give myself a break and wait until 12 weeks after the accident before I started to worry about a major personality change were absolutely right. On the surface, the physical injuries I sustained could have been much worse – 13 stitches to my face, severe bruising/grazing around my body, chipped/numb teeth and vertigo from the concussion was getting off lightly (ie. nothing was broken). However, I can still close my eyes and feel how hard my face (the first point of impact) hit the ground and maybe my body just needed a few weeks of rest to fully recover.
Whatever the reasons, I’m just glad to be craving adventure and the hills again.
So, if you’ve been wondering why things have been quiet on here for a few weeks – well, I figured that words and pictures of me curled up on a sofa with my blanket and kindle were probably not what people visiting this site were interested in seeing 😉