There was a question on the American reflector recently “Who should my wife call if I don’t return home?” basically asking which of the diverse law agencies someone should call in the US. Of course that is reliant on your wife knowing where you are and when you will be back.
Roll on Sunday, I’d told my wife where I was going and she’d looked at the map and said “that’s a long way” and I’d pointed out it was mainly on forest tracks and roads so smooth you could get an F1 over them without it grounding. I arrived at Invercauld Estate near Braemar and parked up. On the drive up I’d had a bit of twinge in my back when changing gear but as I put on boots in the fabulous sunny morning I felt fine. I’ve done most of this walk before on the way to Culardoch GM/ES-015 and my target Carn Liath GM/ES-020 is not so far up the road.
I had no problems walking on the level tracks and made good progress climbing through the woods. However, my back twinged again when I started climbing the very short cropped heather slopes. Just the odd twinge but nothing much. That stopped when I got to the summit of Craig a’Chat. You drop down about 50m then climb up again. Except I couldn’t go down. Well I could but it hurt rather a lot. Oh heck! I was about 6km from the car and having difficulty walking.
1st thing is not too panic. There are lots of very big boulders in the area and one made an excellent seat. I rested up for 5 mins and tried again. I could descend but slow. Now it would be the most stupid thing in the world to press on and I did actually think about it as the summit was only about 35mins away. Then a few seconds later decided what a wonderful “Darwin Award” thing it would be to go on. So out with the phone and I managed to change my alert to say it was cancelled and why. I tried to spot myself that I was aborting due to injury and the phone lost data connectivity. I rang my XYL but she was out. So next I rang G4ZRP who I knew would be chasing. I told him were I was and the plan and we agreed I’d ring him when I got back to the car. At that point he’d know I was off the hill. No call and he’d alert the emergency services.
As it was it took about longer to get down that to get up and my back was fairly sore by then. Lifting my bag into the car and changing boots was accompanied by much swearing. Finally in the car it was heated seat to max and aircon to max. The drive home needs what feels like a million clutch operations so I was glad to get back and was able to get out of the car. A hot shower helped as did an evening of assorted painkillers. I now have a stiff back and walk like Igor out of Young Frankenstein. A few days rest and I’ll be fine.
The important point was that I was able to alert someone as to the possible predicament. Now that isn’t always possible. I live a tiny country with a big population and mobile coverage, even in the wilds, is quite good. So it is essential you let people know where you will be going, not just the target but the approximate route too and how long you’ll be. We all get complacent at this kind of thing because accidents happen to other people not ourselves.