by Will Perry
For the next five and a half hours I would not see a single person on the trail. At this point in the walk, the Moors were depressingly flat and desolate—no trees, no shelter. The tallest thing I would see were the ankle-high heather bushes. The wind and the rain intensified as I trudged on. My layers were soaked through and because I had forwarded my heavy pack to The Lion Inn, I had no spare layers. With no cellphone coverage, there was no turning back. It became obvious to me that if I stopped walking, my body would be in trouble. Hours earlier I had found a slight ditch, laying my body flat in an effort to block the wind and allow for my body to rest. Thirty seconds later, my body started to shake and I began to feel a chill spread across my body. The warm sweat underneath my jacket became cold and my core body temperature began to drop rapidly. Seriously doubting my reasons for undertaking this walk in the first place, I forced myself to think about baseball and drier, sunnier, happier summer days. I pushed on, keeping my mind strong–remembering the kids in Brazil that would soon be playing baseball with the equipment I helped send to them.
Walking across the Moors was easily becoming the most difficult physical challenge I had ever experienced. It was a solo fight against exhaustion, dehydration, wind and rain. I lost my footing on a few occasions, nearly collapsing out of the increasing dizziness and exhaustion. Augmenting my food and water intake seemed to do nothing to improve my health. I resigned to desperate measures so as to keep myself going. I played the alphabet game in my head—naming out-loud the names of different animals that started with each letter of the alphabet. I tried singing out-loud any song to which I knew the words. I couldn’t help but glance at my watch after every 100 yards or so. After the alphabet game and my attempts to sing became a nuisance, I tried writing my Master’s dissertation in my head as I walked. Luckily, the subject of my dissertation was about the role of baseball in building peace among nations and communities in conflict. My mind was carried away in baseball thoughts until I turned a corner and finally saw, as described, the isolated pub in the middle of nowhere.
The Inn appeared to me as an oasis in the middle of a desert; a figment of my imagination too good to be true. It would take me 45 minutes to reach Lion Inn after first sight. Even with the inn in plain sight, those approaching minutes seemed slower than any of the past 10 hours. The walk had dragged on and on. Because of the less than pleasant circumstances, the landscape of the fabled “Yorkshire Moors” became as upsetting as how my stomach felt. My spirits were lifted once I finally arrived at the inn, hobbling my way inside.