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Saturday, 7 June 2014

The 2014 Challenge, day 10: Feshie - Geldie again (4)

I left the ladies to their wanderings, and soon I was once again making my way through the beautiful Feshie woodlands. Only ... I was evidently pushing myself too hard, and after a while I began to feel the familiar symptoms of respiratory distress which I dreaded so much. Not a full-blown asthma attack; but the "stale air" in the bottom of my lungs which I could not turn over or displace.

Alone in the woods, with no way to summon assistance unless I could get a mobile signal (which I somehow doubted) I dropped my pack and sat against a tree. Deep breaths did nothing to displace the stale air, and I began to feel decidedly light-headed. Yawning desperately, I began to fear that my ninth TGO Challenge was about to come to an end in upper Glen Feshie. But then, as suddenly as it had come on, it went. I was able to displace the stale air and fill my lungs with delicious, fresh, restorative air. I gratefully gulped in a few more big lungfuls, and then sat a while until I felt able to continue walking. I had some water and something to eat, and reflected upon my situation.

This was, I think, the worst experience of these symptoms I had ever had, short of the full-blown asthma attack I had on my ML assessment. Certainly it was worse than the attack I had had on my way to Spittal of Glenmuick in 2012. I could carry on for now ... but what if I had a further attack? What then? Ideally I needed to be walking with somebody, just in case. But who? Not the four ladies, that was for sure. I had established this morning that Alan and Lucy Wormald were Challengers, but they had left the bothy before me, and for all I knew they were walking faster than me. Certainly, I had not seen any sign of them since setting out (apart, perhaps, from the occasional boot-print which might have been theirs). And the one thing I definitely could not afford to do was to push myself harder in an effort to try to catch them up. That would almost certainly trigger another attack.

In the end, I decided that the only thing I really could do, short of turning back to Ruigh-aiteachain and retiring from the Challenge (which might, actually, have been the prudent thing to do; but I was in no mood for doing it) was to keep going, but slow my pace down. If I found anyone to walk with, well and good. If anyone caught up with me, then I'd ask them if they could slow their pace to mine, and explain my situation. I somehow doubted that would happen, though. Most Challengers who were coming this way would already have passed by; there might be a non-Challenger or two, of course; but I wasn't going to hold out too much hope for that.

And so I shouldered my pack, and slowed my pace right down, and reflected on how much worse my situation might have been had I gone high today.

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