3 Peak National Challenge

Over the last few years I have climbed Snowdon a number of times. However, I have never had the chance to attempt Scafell Pike or Ben Nevis. I knew at some point I wanted to complete the national three peak challenge. ‘My Mammoth Year’ seemed the perfect excuse.

Although its popular to complete the challenge in 24 hrs, Owen and I decided to attempt the climbs over three days. Logistically it made things easier, and it was nice to have a bit more time to enjoy the scenery.

I selected Easter weekend for the challenge as it worked well for our schedules. What I didn’t really consider was how busy the roads/mountains might be. I worried that this fact would delay us, however I should have not been concerned. We successfully climbed the three peaks within the planned time frame window. We also got really lucky with the weather. Beautiful sunshine across the entire three days.

We climbed Snowdon first. We chose a route that we were both familiar with and flew up and down the peak within four hours. We started our climb fairly late in the day. Owen was worried we might miss the carpark closing time and pretty much ran down the mountain to get back to his car in time. He made it…just. He definitely channelled his inner mountain goat that evening.

First peak complete

Next was Scafell Pike. We drove to the mountain on the Saturday morning, setting off fairly early. The drive was pretty smooth. I was unprepared for the gorgeous scenery we were to encounter. Lake Windermere a personal highlight! Scafell Pike was mega busy with lots of people choosing to make the ascent on Bank holiday weekend. It meant there was no chance of getting lost as we could just follow the crowds to the summit. One less thing to worry about. We were not too sore from the day before and got up and down in good time. We then made the drive up to Glasgow, where we stayed with my parents.

Lake Windermere

Ben Nevis was our final climb. My Dad decided to join us despite his so called dodgy leg. Owen and I still felt relatively ok. It was the most challenging climb and took us around seven hours to complete. I can understand why most people who attempt the challenge start with Ben Nevis. Get the hardest out the way first, smart. For the other two mountains we remained in shorts and t-shirt for the duration. However for the Ben, we needed to don our cold weather kit. It was touch and go whether we would even make it to the summit as snow was making our final ascent tricky. We pushed through. What an amazing feeling it was to get to the top! After completing our final peak, fatigue certainly set in. I could barely keep my eyes open during the journey home. Surprisingly, after a good night sleep, we were not suffering too badly. My dad, on the other hand, didn’t get off so lightly. I think it took him a week or so to recover…apologies Dad.

At the top of Ben Nevis

I really enjoyed this challenge and loved that I could share it with some of my nearest and dearest. It also helped that the weather was fantastic which I am certain helped keep morale high.

Here’s to ticking another one off the list!

If you would like to donate please follow the link:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/mymammothyear

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March of the Vegan!

Since 2018 I have been attempting to eat more of a plant based diet. Why you ask? Like many who decide to go vegetarian or vegan my health, the environment and animal welfare have been the main driving forces behind my decision. I have kept it fairly simple so far by only reducing my weekly meat intake. However it seemed about time that I went ‘cold turkey’, pardon my choice of phrase, and give veganism a go. March of the Vegan was born.

Taking meat completely out of my diet was the easy part. My boyfriend Owen is pescatarian and since moving in with him in July 2018 I have only been eating fish in the house. Owen decided to support me during this challenge and go vegan too which made cooking at home that bit easier. It also helped minimise any temptation.

Vegan care package from my sister

One of my worries before this month was the food shop, however I shouldn’t have been concerned. I envisioned traipsing round the stores having to check every packet. I was impressed by the vegan options available at supermarkets and how well labelled they are. We already bought a lot of meat-free products, luckily most of which are vegan. Our shopping list therefore didn’t have to change dramatically. We tried a number of the dairy free options and found some delicious alternatives to our regular treats.

The tastier cheese alternatives

Owen and I ate out a number of times during the month. We were surprised at how well catered for vegans are. Before being a zookeeper I worked in hospitality and catering. Back then vegetarian/vegan were considered dirty words. As vegans there was more choice then we expected. One restaurant even had a vegan drinks menu which helped make our decisions. Until taking part in this challenge I didn’t realise that a great deal of alcoholic beverages are not vegan friendly.

I loved trying new things and making new recipes. Jackfruit, its delicious by the way. I also felt the health benefits of eating more fruit and veg.

Recipes to try

Eggs and cheese were the things I missed most. I don’t think I realised how much eggs we ate before the month. I am a big lover of cheese and the vegan options are just not as delicious as the real deal.

To mark the end of my challenge I decided to host a vegan bake sale at work. It gave me another opportunity to raise funds for the Never Forget Campaign and a chance to attempt some vegan baking. The cakes proved to be very popular. I sold out and the sale raised £115.70 for My Mammoth Year.

Bake sale stall

After completing my vegan challenge I have realised that I am not yet ready to go vegan fulltime. Its a big commitment and you really must want it. For now I will continue to make small changes towards leading more of a plant based lifestyle.

Crochet anyone?

I have never been much of a crafter. I’m not entirely sure I have the patience for it. Sitting for hours making something by hand doesn’t naturally appeal to me. I’m much more of a get up and go kinda girl. That being said I do admire those that are skilled at it and the wonderful things they create. Therefore for my next challenge I thought it was about time I gave a craft a go. It can’t be that hard… right?

During February I have decided to learn how to crochet. My challenge is by the end of the month to have made at least one of these adorable little elephants. Pattern courtesy of Repeat Crafter Me: http://repeatcrafterm.wpengine.com/2014/10/e-is-for-elephant-crochet-elephant.html

How Cute!
http://repeatcrafterm.wpengine.com/2014/10/e-is-for-elephant-crochet-elephant.html

In reality I hope to be able to crochet lots of these eles over the year and make them into key-rings. My plan is then, towards the end of the year, to sell them with all profits going to the Never Forget campaign https://www.chesterzoo.org/support-us/eehv.

First ever attempt at crochet.

This week I had a short lesson from my colleague Emma. It’s safe to say I am definitely not a natural. Crochet is difficult. And here’s me thinking the Ironman is going to be my hardest challenge! I am hoping with more practice it will become easier. Fingers crossed.

Would you like to help? Following my first attempt I think I need all the assistance I can get. Whether your a keen crocheter already or a complete novice like me I would love for you to get involved. Follow the pattern (see link above), make the elephant and send it to the zoo. Simple right! The more elephants we make, the more keyrings we will have to sell and the more funding we can generate.

If you would like to contribute please send your crochet elephants to the following address: Fundraising Team, Chester Zoo, Cedar House, Caughall Road, Upton, Chester, CH2 1LH

If crochet is not for you but you would still like to donate please visit my JustGiving Page. Every penny is greatly appreciated.

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/mymammothyear

Happy crocheting everyone 🙂

And so the adventure begins!

Welcome to my blog, the first post of many! Today I will explain what I have set out to do during ‘My Mammoth Year’ and why I have decided to do it. I promise I’m not mad, maybe just a little crazy! Happy reading 🙂

Hi! I’m Katie, an elephant keeper at Chester Zoo. I have decided to dedicate 2019 to supporting the zoo’s Never Forget Campaign, a cause very close to my heart. The campaign aims to raise vital funding to support research into the elephant endotheliotropic herpes virus (EEHV). The virus typically strikes young Asian elephants and is often fatal. Unfortunately Chester zoo has lost a total of seven calves to EEHV. Lots is still unknown about the virus and how to treat it so more research is vitally important. If you would like more information about the campaign: http://www.chesterzoo.org/support-us/eehv. I will write a future blog post to explain what we do know about EEHV, in a little more detail.

Due to the previous losses, EEHV is never far from the Chester Zoo Elephant team’s thoughts, especially having 2 young calves currently within our herd. 2018 was the first time I have encountered EEHV, when we sadly lost Nandita and Aayu. It was truly devastating, and although we did everything we could it was hard not to feel helpless. This feeling is what has driven me to want to do more and raise as much funding as I possibly can. Wisdom is power as they say. I wanted to go big, MAMMOTH in fact. I also wanted to tick some things off my bucket list. The result, ‘My Mammoth Year’.

‘My Mammoth Year’ will see me complete a different challenge each month. Some challenges will last the month while others will be one off events. The challenges are listed below:

January: Photo challenge

February: Crochet challenge

March: Go vegan

April: The 3 Peaks (over 3 days)

May: Cycle Wales (250 miles over 5 days)

June: Rough Runner

July: Swim Run

August: Prudential Ride London

September: Half Ironman

October: Tatton Park 10K dressed as an elephant

November: Dance challenge

December: Go Sober

Further details about each challenge will follow in future posts. My photo challenge has already begun and involves me taking a daily photo and sharing it on social media. The photo must show me doing some sort of activity, something different each day. It must also include an elephant. The same elephant cannot appear in more than one photo.

I am excited, nervous, and scared for the year. Some challenges may appear easier than others but all will push me outside my comfort zone in some way. ‘My Mammoth Year’ may seem ambitious but I am totally game for what lies ahead.

Please support the cause. Every penny counts: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/mymammothyear

To keep up to date with my adventures follow me on Instagram and like my page on facebook.

http://www.instagram.com/mymammothyear

https://www.facebook.com/mymammothyear/

Thanks for reading! Till next time…