Up to the top, then down again

Nothing to see here…

Well, Pete & I made our epic journey to north Wales to climb a mountain, and by gad we did it! Through fog, gale, hail and lashing rain we made it to the top of Snowdon, and it was a bit odd. Certainly a feeling of achievement, as we stood there and had our photo taken by a fellow hiker, but a bit of a let-down at the same time: we were deep in cloud, and visibility was less than 10 metres in places – so no spectacular panorama for me!

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I started at sparrow’s fart on Saturday morning, getting myself sorted and biking over at licence-threatening speeds to Ealing, and Pete’s place. A quick cup of tea, and we were on the road to Llanberis. Stopping briefly at the B&B we were staying at, we dumped our bags and headed for the starting point of the trek.

Here, we stopped for a quick cuppa and a bite before starting to climb – Pete with his sensible turkey-on-wholemeal sandwich, me with my buttered scone(!). The words “idiot” and “loon” spring to mind, on hindsight. So off we set, storming up the slopes, observing the train that chugs its way to the top laden with sensible people, greeting the hordes of people who were pouring down off the mountain as we ascended – including several mountain bikers, and one chap who was running – RUNNING! Should’ve got the point there, methinks.

About halfway up, there’s a resting point, where a large bunch of hikers were gathered on their way down. We asked people roughly how far we still had to go, and one middle-aged chap, bundled up in his waterproof gear, said “you won’t see much, it’s very cloudy” – we said that’s OK. “The cafe will be closed, and the last train will be on its way down by now” – that’s alright, we’re walking down anyway, and we’ll manage with our water. “It’s very cold up there!” – no problem, we’ve got layers. If we only knew…

Further up, the ‘path’ began to deteriorate, until it became a steep slog on shale and slate – by now the rain was lashing down, we’d hit cloud level about two-thirds of the way up and visibility was pretty grim. My waterproof mac was doing OK on the top half (when the hood wasn’t being blown off my head by the wind), but my trousers and boots were *soaked* through. A repeat of the BIGFoot scenario, when the water was frothing through the toes of the boots with every step… And then we got to the summit – or so I thought. Looking to my left, I saw a raised platform with steps going up to it, and muttered expletives at it before climbing to the top.

Pete & I shared the platform with two other intrepid souls, and we took turns photographing each other before clambering off – the wind was gusting something scary up there, and with nothing but cloud around us it looked like something from a bad fantasy movie! And then, all we had to do was go all the way down again. By this time, my old knee injury had resurfaced, courtesy of the fact that I’d forgotten to bring my knee support from the B&B – what a plonker! But we made it down, and in daylight too – which we were not expecting. Stopping at a tea shop near the bottom gave us a chance to rest up before heading back to hot showers and hitting the mean streets of Llanberis for a bite to eat.

[to be continued…]