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Remember to get lost

Written by George Fisher

Image for article Remember to get lost

Some might say getting lost is a bad thing, and a smooth easily navigated walk is the ideal situation to have. This is why there has been such a rise in the sales of GPS over the last few years and why navigation apps on phones are such a great seller.

Am I here to hark back to a time of old when a map and compass was the only way to do it and anything else just isn`t manly enough? No I want to suggest that being temporally mislaid is not always a bad thing and here`s why-

I have been walking the hills of the UK for over a quarter of a century and when I meet up with walking/climbing partners of old and discussions of long past forays into the hills come up, what do we reminisce about? Yes that’s right, all the mistakes!

Now we all have them, the stories where that hard walk became much harder because of the slightly too brief look at the map? Or have you made the map fit the surroundings all day because of a wrong turn when leaving the car park? Long fraught days make memories and many are because of those errors that will get talked over in the pub afterwards and for years more.

Now I’m not suggesting going out to unknown hills without a map or GPS, although I once did in Scotland as I`d left the map in the youth hostel and spent the day trying to navigate from memory.

As we all know a straight forward route can become challenging and intimidating once the cloud comes down, but is that sense of slight unsureness not part of the outdoor experience?

Recently I passed a group who had overtaken us earlier on the corridor route but had taken a false path down towards Wasdale. As we passed they were re-joining the main path. They were now late to get back to the cars where people were waiting for them but for a while they stuck to us like glue until the path down became very obvious. That exuberance curtailed for a while until their confidence returned, but that aspect will probably be the most well remembered part of the walk that day and over future years, also somebody will be blamed for the error and never be allowed to forget it.

Once many years ago I led a group to the top of Red Pike in Buttermere 3 times in a row. Bad weather and lack of concentration meant I will never live that one down, but will also be the reason I won`t forget that otherwise dank day.

I used to take great pride in my Zen navigation ability especially in white outs, but when the situation became serious I did always fall back on skills mixed with nerves to keep me safe.

Likewise when rock climbing, the most memorable days were those that didn`t always go to plan, reading the guidebook wrong or finishing in the dark without a head torch etc.

The outdoors is about experience and creating memories. Those we share with others are often the most powerful and multiplied because of any adversity shared. Does the removing of the need for skills and the inherent simplicity that creates reduce the experience?

We tend to remember the things that differ from the norm or expectations and drama and adrenaline multiply that memory.

So be it and then, the only course of action is to get lost more to remember more!