No mountain high enough for Tina and Mark
A local couple are still more than $14,400 short of their goal to buy a new therapy pony for WindReach Recreational Village.
Mark and Tina Nash are asking the public for help reaching their goal of $27,500 before their Peaks for Ponies fundraiser closes on Monday.
The new pony, Mosaic, will join Windreach’s therapeutic riding programme offering riding lessons to people with special needs to help build physical strength, balance and self esteem.
“I am competitive,” Ms Nash said. “And it hurts my pride that we have not met our goal yet. I just really want to do right by Windreach.”
She is Windreach’s executive director, but organised Peaks for Ponies as a personal project.
As part of the fundraiser, Ms Nash and her husband spent 12 days last month in England, tackling some of the Lake District’s toughest mountain peaks. The goal was to climb more than 30,000ft; they did 31,425ft.
“We surpassed our goal, which was great,” Ms Nash said.
During their first three days, England experienced record high temperatures, hitting 88F in the Lake District.
Ms Nash said the heat was compounded by a lack of air conditioning, ice cubes and window screens.
“One day the heat made us change the route we were going to take,” she said. “It was still challenging, but not as lengthy in distance. There was still a lot of climbing.”
One of their most difficult hikes came on their last day when they took on Helvellyn, the third highest peak in England at 3,117ft.
“That was by far the scariest challenge,” Ms Nash said.
On Helvellyn, they crossed Striding Edge, a 2,831ft narrow ridge of rock separating two steeply-sided valleys.
“Striding Edge is intimidating because you are very exposed,” she said. “A fall is fatal. There are no ropes. There was one point on Striding Edge where I felt a gust of wind. I said hold on. I went down a little bit and then came back up.”
No special mountain gear is needed to cross Striding Edge. Families often do it with young children.
But some people get part of the way across and freeze in fear. The locals call this ‘crag-fast’.
“Sometimes it is what is in your head that you have to overcome,” Ms Nash said. “When we were up there, we heard shouting, and we came across this man who was just completely cramping up. He had done the hike before, but was still finding it difficult.”
They stopped and offered him a blend of nuts and raisins, known as GORP, to help with his electrolytes. They also found his family further ahead on the path, and alerted them that he was having difficulties.
Meeting the man made Ms Nash more determined to get on with things.
It took the couple an hour to get across Striding Edge.
“We were both really emotional when we got to the top of Striding Edge, because we did it,” she said. “We did it for a pony. We did it together. When you go through those flashbulb moments, it does bring you together as a couple.
“You have something you can share where you both were there at the same time, accomplishing something really great.”
But that day’s challenge was far from over. They still had to get off Helvellyn.
“Once you get down from Striding Edge, there is a 45ft scramble down what they call ‘The Chimney’,” she said. “That was intense and exciting, but when you get to the bottom part you have to go up a scramble to get to the top of the mountain.
“You are picking your own route, and it is very crumbly. You just take your time and be safe and make sure you have three points on the ground at all times.”
They also took on Jack’s Rake, a narrow track that winds steeply upwards on the Pavey Ark crag in the Langdale Valley, and also Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England.
And they did it with minimal pain or personal injury, beyond the odd blister.
“After doing Jack’s Rake on the second day, my upper body and shoulders were sore from pulling myself up,” she said. “But Mark and I keep ourselves pretty fit.
“Even at the end of the day we were still going out exploring the village. When we came back home, we took a day or two off.“
Ms Nash said it is important to do your research. Wear sturdy footwear and go with warm clothing to put on. It can get windy and cold at the top of these peaks.
“On one occasion they reached a summit only to be blasted by 50 to 60 knot winds.
“We saw one guy coming down the mountain in shorts and a T-shirt,” she said. “His lips were turning blue. At the top of some of these peaks it can be in the 40s and 50s in the summer.”
The couple walk on a daily basis in Bermuda, often traversing Billy Goat Hill [the southern third of Tribe Road #1] in Warwick, over and over again, to train.
Looking back, Ms Nash felt proud of what they had accomplished.
They have hiked together in many parts of the world, but Ms Nash said this was their favourite vacation, so far. “We had a really great time,” she said.
Although Ms Nash is not a horse person, she expected to feel a special bond with Mosaic the therapy pony, after all the fundraising work she has done to help purchase him.
Mosaic is a specially trained, 12-year-old palomino quarter horse. He is originally from Florida.
Windreach’s therapeutic riding specialist Sam Hillier spent months scouring stables across the US and Canada to find just the right horses to double Windreach’s herd.
To make a donation to Peak’s for Ponies see runsignup.com/Race/CMA/LakeDistrictUK/TinaNashLakeDistrictChallenge.
After the fundraising page closes on Monday, people can still make donations to the therapeutic programme directly to Windreach.
“Just write ‘P for P’ or ‘Peaks for Ponies’ in the notation, so we know where the funds should be allocated,” Ms Nash said.
See www.windreachbermuda.org, call 238-2469 or e-mail email@example.com.