Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Coast to Coast Day 8 – Kirkby Stephen to Keld

June 2, 2015

Miles: 14.3
Time: 8:23 - 2:57
Elevation gain: 2,173 feet

Year to date miles: 296.6

Hike description: 
After a hearty breakfast we left Kirkby Stephen taking a shortcut. This time we studied the map ahead of time so we knew where we were going. 
We met one of the Packhorse owners while we were hiking out. Nice guy.

We hiked by a quarry and then had to make a decision on which route to take. There are two high routes which go to Nine Standards and then a low route which doesn't. Each route is assigned a month range when walkers should walk it, however the low route can always be used in bad weather. We could see the Nine Standards from a distance so we decided to hike up to them on the red route. The trail started getting very peat boggy.

When we arrived at the nine cairns, the freezing rain started. We stood behind a cairn and put on our rain pants. There were 4 others up there too - our 2 Tasmanian friends, and 2 Australians - Wayne and Gerald. As we were changing, the fog rolled in. Soon we couldn't see very far in front of us. And I believe the continuation of the trail could be faint and boggy. We had heard it was easy to get lost up there. We didn't want to be another mountain rescue statistic, so we returned back the way we came, where the trail was easy to follow. When we reached that decision making spot again, we took the green trail, which is the low route. The other 4 made the same decision as we did.

The freezing rain and wind continued, and we still had fog, but navigation was straightforward. We stopped inside a stone hut and ate our lunch there, standing up. We met 3 more Australians (whose names I can't remember) inside the hut.

We saw a few dead bunnies and dead lambs. Some were probably road kill,but we wondered if some died from exposure.

We ended up finishing our hike by doing a straightforward road walk all the way to Keld. It's hard on your feet, but given how cold and wet it was, it seemed a reasonable choice. At times it felt like we might be blown off our feet.

The waterproof gloves I bought yesterday are now feeling too small. And whenever I take the gloves off and put them on again, the insides get wet. I ended up just balling up my hands inside the main part of the glove to keep them warm.  Now I want Seal Skinz mittens. I think I have 1 pair of hand warmers. I need to keep those in a pocket instead of buried in my backpack. We'll be in a big town again in a couple of days, so I'm going to hit the outdoors shops again. I think the westher forecast will be improving soon. Today wasn't physically challenging, but was a mental challenge to stay positive due to the weather (we succeeded). The locals said today's weather was very unusual for this time of year. It was the worst weather we had on the trip.

We are now sitting in the lounge at the Keld Lodge, having a beer in the lounge, discussing everyone's adventures of the day. Happy to be inside and dry, and not have to go outside for dinner.

I spent the evening talking to a Brit who was hiking the Pennine Way. He was doing his best to appear bad ass. Ha!

Night: Keld Lodge

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