The YOMP Mountain Challenge offered a chance to get out in the northern Yorkshire Dales, and see my own backyard, as it were. I had driven through the Dales but hadn’t had the chance to hike in them yet. It was a bit of a drive to go around them to the northern end, and as I came down the last hill into the starting town, a thick fog covered the clear blue skies. I was trying out a new backpack built for this fell running obsession, and spent some time at the start trying to get comfortable. The fog never lifted the entire day, making the route damp and soundless and isolated. I was glad I had brought arm-warmers, and was soaked in cool sweat the whole way. I had the required map and kit, but was amazed to see that the course was marked, not with signs, arrows or other normal items, but with bamboo poles and streamers. Driven into the moors about every 100 meters, one would come into view in the fog just after passing the last one. There must have been hundreds of poles, which kept me from finally having to dig out my compass, as I had no sense of direction in the fog. I spent most of the hike quiet and alone, and the poles became lifesavers in the featureless, trackless moor. The route wasn’t quite as nice as the markers, though, as it seemed to go up hills higher than I believed existed in the Dales. I could never see the top and the climbs seemed to be endless…I don’t think there were any flat parts of the whole course. Every descent followed a new ascent on the next peak, and at times the mist cleared just enough to give daring views of steep cliffs dropping off into the valleys.