Whereupon we climbed high mountains, exhausted our daylight, froze nearly to death, lost our maps, and rescued a fair maiden
I hereby offer my testimony of our harrowing expedition. The account is truthful to the best of my abilities. My companion’s account is here, though I fear the cold has caused him permanent harm as his details are askew.
Having heard the tales of several previous failed expeditions to cross Running Gap the Pass of Caradhras, and the camp sites treasures that lie there waiting for those with a free weekend brave enough to attempt it, Bone and I set upon the task of conquering the foul summit.
Just after noon on the 5th day of November, in the year 2011, we departed upon Velocipedes into the rugged foothills of the Nittany Mountains, leaving behind all traces of civilization and any hope of rescue should we fail in our quest. For hours we slogged through muddy tracks and over impossibly steep hills, encountering no other living thing except the trees. Upon the crest of one hill we did discover the half-eaten corpses of two deer, no doubt caught and slain by the hideous Nittany lion. We agreed to proceed as quietly as possible from this point.
We did eventually find our way to the foot of the Nittany Mountain and proceeded upwards. It was so steep and rugged that we were forced to push our machines. Our hopes of finding a suitable camp site before dusk were shattered by the sheer palisade on one side and a precipitous drop on the other. As onward and upward we pushed the wind grew to ferocious gusts, colder and colder, and the sky darkened. Just before the sun set we met two hunters grizzled rangers descending the mountain. They had seen no deer and wondered if we had spotted any attempted to cross the pass, but were out of time defeated. They joked that we should be riding our bikes instead of walking. Their speech was incomprehensible and the look of fear in their eyes was unmistakable. We could barely understand their gibberish. They implored us to turn back, but we refused and continued on our way.
We did reach the summit that night, but found no shelter from the freezing gale and decided to go down the other side. The descent was exhilarating, fast and smooth fraught with rock slides covering the track and slick mud between them. What a ride! We nearly toppled into the ravine more than once. Some time after midnight we stumbled into a small clearing. What dead wood we could find was waterlogged and would not burn. After a filling dinner of beans and rice and Pad Thai we shot the shit a bit and decided that not bringing some whiskey was a stupid thing to do. We discovered, much to our horror, that most of our provisions had shaken loose and were undoubtedly lost on the pass.
The night passed slowly and the temperature continued to fall until just before sunrise. The sun was a welcome sight as I had lost all feeling in my fingers and toes. Bone fared no better. Our map showed a stream nearby so we filled our bottles, but what we found was a dry creek bed. The only water to be had was brackish and we reluctantly did without. After breaking camp, we rolled out on a road that descended farther into the valley. It was smooth and fast and should have taken us closer to home and recognizable landmarks. We believed at the time that we had conquered the pass with little loss. Some time later Bone looked down to check our speed on his GPS, but it had fallen off its mount we noticed that the landmarks were unfamiliar, so we stopped to check the map again. Alas! Though we thought the road smooth, the map had come loose and we were lost. We were forced to proceed by guesswork alone.
We called Bone’s sister and her husband to come get us. Near mid-day we came across a young lass who’s husband had been slain by the Nittany Lion. She had fled on foot through the forest to get away and was now more lost than we. She needed our help and we could not refuse. We attempted to locate her husband’s body, but the terrible beast kept us from it. They dropped us off at the car and went to look for the GPS. Fearing for our own lives, we said a prayer for the departed and moved on.
They found the GPS in short order and met us before we went to Ard’s for lunch. Eventually, we came across an inn wherein we ate our first meal since crossing the pass. The lady in our charge kissed us both and thanked us, and offered a small sum to a passing priest if he would bless our Velocipedes for the trip home. The innkeeper showed us his map and told us which way to go and then we were home, the blessing having worked, before dusk.