Mind altering substances

Back to the late 60’s today – experimenting with new drugs! But wait, you say, Dave is an innocent. He wouldn’t do that! Read on…

The plan to day was to walk for between 5 and 6 hours on the hills, including as much ascent as I could fit in. But I’m also recovering from Housemid’s Knee so it wasn’t as clear cut as it first seemed. And to add to the adventure, I’d got my anti-malaria tablets and the stuff I’ll be taking to try and prevent altitude sickness (diamox). What better opportunity to try them out for side effects? (I should add that both were prescribed by my GP, who is an expedition medic with two Kilimanjaro summits to his credit, and they were both private prescriptions so the NHS didn’t pay).

So I popped the pills (as they would have said back in the day) and waited half an hour to see if the answer to the question of life, the universe and everything popped into my head in swirls of prurple haze. It didn’t, so I set off for Fan Llia instead.

I was trying to get my pace down to around 3km/h, which is the upper end of the pace we’ll be expected to keep on the trek itself. The route in my head was one I’d done before but at a faster pace. I left the car just before 8am and was climbing steadily towards the cairn that marks the top of Fan Llia. The weather was almost perfect; some sun, a breeze to keep me cool and clear views all around. In the distance to the north I could see dark ran clouds but they were passing by with no risk of soaking me.

From the top of Fan Llia I made my way northwards along the ridge over Fan Dringarth and across Cefn Perfedd. From there, I headed back south with the intention of climbing Fan Fawr. I’ve done this one a couple of times with Rufus from the east, where the climb is short but steep. Today’s route was longer but the slope was more gentle. At the cairn on Fan Fawr, a large group of walkers were gathered. I don’t like huge groups of people – part of the enjoyment of hill walking for me is being alone or with one or two good friends who will share the personal experience. So I avoided the group and let then leave first.

The plan was to head down to Ystradfellte reservoir, which I’d seen so many times from Fan Llia but which I’d never visited. it was a long stretch of open moorland with a moderate downward slope and I used the waking pole to take the strain off my knee. The walking group drew further ahead and as I dropped closer to the water, I saw them start up the other side. It looked steep and they strung out very quickly into a snaking line of colourful walking jackets. My plan was to skirt the reservoir and use the access road as an easy final km or so to the car. But seeing the walkers climbing Fan Llia, I thought I’d give it a go. I was feeling pretty good.

The climb was steep and I set a slow pace to try and do it in one go without taking a break. In fact, I did it with one short stop to take photos. At the top by the cairn, the group were having a rest and for the 30 minutes or so that I was plodding up the hill, I felt they were watching me. I avoided them again, missing the cairn and turning south to head along and then down the ridge back to the car park.

I got back to the car some 6 hours after I’d left – on target for me. Various bits of me were aching, some more than others. But nothing had fallen off. More importantly, I hadn’t disappeared into a puff of purple clouds as a result of my experimentation with my new medication. The only side effect of the diamox was the extra pee stops. It’s meant to do this as part of it’s action against altitude sickness.

This is today’s route.

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Thunderbirds are go!

Just got the all clear from the doc to say I can go on the trek.

Because I suffer from asthma brought on by allergies (ironically, I’m allergic to Rufus but he’s very good and tries not to make me sneeze too much) I have to tick the box on the medical questionnaire that says ‘asthma’. And that instantly requires the autograph of a friendly doctor. My doctor is well aware of my adventures and so he understands.

I saw him this afternoon and during the consultation, he had to take a phone call from another doctor. When he’d finished, he said that the doc he’d been talking to had done Kilimanjaro too. After he’d signed the form, we talked about diamox – the medicine that can help with acclimatisation. He said they were using viagra as an aid to acclimatisation now. I mentioned that on my first trek to Everest Base Camp,. I’d taken part in drug trials and I found out later that viagra was being tested (I don’t know what I took and I didn’t have any outstanding problems afterwards!) and I happened to mention the name of the doctor. My doc laughed and said the phone call was from the same doctor! It’s a small world.

So I’m off. All I have to worry about now is the small matter of training. Watch this space for the adventures of Rufus and Dave on as many hills as possible.