Monday 15 June 2015

On Scafell Pike

At the weekend I went up Scafell Pike with Mike (my son) and Dylan (one of my nephews). We had a great walk, despite cloud cover at the summit.
I know the mountain quite well, and had decided that we would return to Seathwaite by a different rout (Esk Hause, if you know it) to the one we had come up by (the Corridor Route).

Map source

So we headed off the summit, went over Broad Crag, and bore North East to avoid climbing Great End and head for the hause. (A hause is a pass, by the way. Don't worry about the geography, if you don't know the mountain: the point I am trying to make will soon become clear, anyway).

However, it seemed to be taking far longer than I remembered to get to Esk Hause, and also the path seemed to be veering too far to the right (ie South). 

So eventually, I decided we should strike off to the North and see what we could see from the top of the ridge.

What happened next was baffling. The landscape looked all wrong. I was expecting to see the path we wanted to join and then cross with Sprinkling Tarn up to our left. But instead, a beautiful valley opened up, heading North West  - which didn't correspond to anything on my map.

Mike and Dylan both recognised it at once, but what they said didn't seem to make any sense to me. So I descended to the path and accosted some other walkers and (swallowing my pride) asked where we were, on their map.  They pointed to the Corridor Route, which made no sense at all - I realised that they were as lost and disoriented as I was. We could not possibly be there, having gone North from the east side of Great End.

However, they were right. The reason that Mike and Dylan had recognised the valley is that we had admired it on our way up. Somehow, I had managed a serious mis-navigation, and was clearly nowhere near where I had thought we were. (I still don't know how that happened, but that's not the point).

What fascinated me, once I had accepted the truth proclaimed by the other walkers, by Mike and Dylan, and (eventually) by map and compass (now I was looking at the right place) was how hard my brain had found it to adjust from what I KNEW to be true, to what was really true. For example, I completely failed to recognise the valley we had admired on the way up, as I KNEW it could not be the same one, as we were somewhere completely different. I KNEW the other walkers were mistaken when they first showed me where we were, and I completely failed to understand the very clear words of Mike and Dylan about the valley they recognised.

It was a very powerful and salutary lesson for me, as someone who coaches others to relinquish 'known truths' in search of more accurate understandings of reality; and is clearly a lesson I am keen to hang on to and continue to reflect on.  And it ties in very well with the fascinating book I am studying at present: Neuropsychology for Coaches, about which I may write more once I have finished it.

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