Thursday, May 29, 2008

I May Be Some Time: Extracts from a tattered diary found on Blencathra

Can it really be much further?? The last photo taken of the fated expedition of 1908.

Wednesday 27th May, 1908

A foreboding mist swept off the fells as our expedition to reach the uncharted lands of the Trans-Blencathran Mountains began. Several minutes of preparation had gone into this, although it was clear we were not alone in our quest. The expedition of Robin G. Amundsen had arrived before us.

We left the motorized huskies and continued on foot into the barren lands beyond Mungrisdale. It was a shame that Fortescue Marshall had become lame, as his superior writing skills would be sadly missed as we trudged into uncharted territory.

A fierce blizzard blew up and this struck a mortal blow to our team, un-used as they were to the rigours of the high Blencathran Mountains. The strain was beginning to show on Captain Wacker’s face.

‘I may be some time’ he intoned solemnly as he turned back down the track. He was soon lost in the blizzard, and this was the last we would ever see of Titus Wacker...and the two ladies accompanying him. It was a noble act in such desperate circumstances.

We had been beaten to the peak by Robin G. Amundsen, whose husky pulling power had won out over our sturdy pit ponies. The disappointment was almost too much to bear, but somehow we soldiered on and on into the mist.

It was then that Kevin Peary Whitemore announced that he had lost his air glockenspiel some time back, and would it be alright if we retraced our footsteps in order to find it. This was a blow to our morale, but if we were to make it back alive, some sacrifices had to be made. I made the decision to carry on.

Our rations were running rather low as we were a long way from the Mill Inn depot. Stephanie was expiring with the lack of food, as with the impetuousness of youth she had been running up all of the hills. Gillian Shackleton-Dean produced a small bag of yoghurt-coated pemmican that she had been saving for emergencies, and if it weren't for her act of generosity, we would have surely perished.

We were now slowing down so much that Ernest Shackleton-Sharples began to complain that the distances we were covering were too short. There was nothing we could do as we were all succumbing to the pain of running on these inhospitable hills, and besides, my whalebone orthotics were killing me. Even Julia Godspeed-King, whose ability to be chipper in the most trying of circumstances seemed to be flagging.

It was with solemnity that I wrote a letter to Lady Penelope, letting her know that it was indeed both navigational error and misfortune that had lead to the failure of the expedition, and that I was therefore unable to join her on the Trans-Cairngorm Expedition planned for a fortnight's time.

I fear that I can write no more....

The end of the page is torn. We may never know the end of the story...


Alan M said...

Unbelievably (or perhaps not) there is already a 4-page thread on the FRA (fellrunners) forum discussing the veracity of this account, and the relative merit/demerit of whalebone orthotics, and where to obtain them from. Many wonder if they'll fit in their Walsh 'Predatur' shoes, while others think shoes, in themselves, are an unnecessary hindrance while fellrunning.

Meanwhile, in the 'Sales and Wants' section, someone is auctioning an antique Air Glockenspiel, supposedly once played by Joe Walsh (Eagle and sometime fellshoe manufacturer) on the reunion live album 'Hell Freezes Over'.

Strange times are these.....

Rhiannon said...

Strange and dark days, indeed.
It's good to know our little expedition wasn't in vain though...

Hmm, I might have to hang up my writing sombrero and admit that cliches are no substitute for subtlety and originality...