Electronic Design
What’s All This Solo Hiking Stuff, Anyhow? (Part 3)

What’s All This Solo Hiking Stuff, Anyhow? (Part 3)

When we hiked across all of England in 1992 on the Wainwright Track, we hiked every mile in a row except from Grasmere to Patterdale. We had come off Grasmere Common in a heavy rain, too slow and too late to turn up to Tongue Gill and Grisedale Forest to get to Patterdale, so we rode with the van, up and around to Patterdale. The weather actually cleared a little, so when the hikers came down to Patterdale the weather was decent. The next day, we hiked on from there.

After we got to Robin Hood’s Bay, we celebrated with a pint, and accepted our certificates, that we had done it all. Then we prepared to go back and finish off those approximately 7 miles to honestly complete the journey.

After the trek’s van dropped us off at Newcastle Station, I walked up to a car-hire place and picked up a car. Nancy and I promptly drove up to Patterdale and booked a room in the Patterdale Hotel. The next morning, after breakfast, we started out up the hill and shortly came up to the Pass at Grisedale Forest. It was a very nice hike. We then descended to Grasmere and hired a cab to take us back to Patterdale.

When we got there we jumped in our car and drove a few miles up the road to a good restaurant. We both ordered a dinner of roast lamb, which was delicious, beautifully cooked. As we agreed, we had seen a lot of lambs on the track, but “This lamb was one we didn’t know....” So we devoured it in triumph. We had hiked all the 192 miles across England, from the Irish Sea to the North Sea.

Hitting The Books And the Trail

A few years later, I took my map books and decided to explore the hiking options around Patterdale. There were three nominal routes from the Pass down to Patterdale. One was down the valley, and I’d already gone there. But there were two other, alternate routes.

Starting from Patterdale, I could go up over St. Sunday Crag to get to the Pass. Then, stepping over the main path, I could ascend on north to a big hill, Helvellyn, and descend to Patterdale via Striding Edge. It seemed like a good challenge for a day hike.

I’d tried previously to find the route up St. Sunday Crag, but I’d misfired. This time, using a better map, I had no trouble striking right up the hill above the hotel. I followed the ridge northwest for an hour, and finally it was time to descend to the Pass at Grisedale Forest. Then it was a good hard pull up to Helvellyn. So far, I’d seen no hikers all day.

When I got to the top of Helvellyn, there were more than 50 hikers standing around, looking off at the countryside. They said, “This is the first good weekend weather we’ve had in 10 weeks!” and “What a nice warm day!” I replied that on a really warm day, I’d have to turn over my hat every five minutes to air off the heat and sweat, and I hadn’t turned it over yet!

A couple hundred feet below the rounded summit was Striding Edge, a fine little rocky edge. There were 50-odd people swarming up and down it! It was plain to see it as a wilderness “jungle gym.”

I shortly descended the fairly steep south side of Helvellyn, down to the Edge. The Edge was not really that steep or scary. I think only a few people were climbing with a rope. Mostly they climbed free. I went down and up and down and then around. Would Nancy have minded climbing up those steep rocks? No, but she wouldn’t have liked climbing down.

After all the interesting stuff, I descended on the main trail for about 4 miles on a long slant, back to Patterdale. Long and hard work. I grabbed my car and went up near Keswick for supper and a well-earned rest. A very pretty day. I’d recommend this loop. Basically, it was 98% solo hiking. Except for the top of Helvellyn, there were no other hikers.

Pease’s Teenage Treks

In the winter of 1956 when I was at Mt. Hermon School in Massachusetts, I decided I knew how to run a winter trip up to Crag Cabin, a closed camp at 4200 ft on Mt. Adams in New Hampshire. So I talked to Malcolm Peck and Dick Frohne (’57). We had been there the year before with Fred Torrey and Jack Williams, who ran the school’s Outing Club and Explorer Post hikes. We were reasonably strong, smart young kids.

We borrowed the equipment, engineered the food, and got a ride from Boston to Randolph, N.H., with Malcolm’s grandmother. Off we went! We spent a lot of time cooking and gathering firewood. We also brought crampons and were able to stride lazily over ice and snow slopes. It was nice and fun. We descended to Randolph and got our scheduled ride home.

When I planned all this, I was 15 and a half years old! I knew a little bit about camping and cooking and keeping warm. I knew that Crag was a fairly safe and benign place. But how did I convince my parents, and Malcolm’s, and Dick’s, that this was a rational trip? I guess they must have talked on the phone to Mr. Torrey and Mr. Williams, who probably said, “If Pease says he can do it, and shows us his planning and his equipment list, he can probably do it.” So we did, and we did.

Since then, I have been on many winter hiking and climbing and camping trips. Sometimes in a tent, a shelter, or even a bivouac, or a yak pasture, though rarely higher than 18,000 ft.

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