Hiking Snowdonia in Wales

Hiking Snowdonia in Wales

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Originally published November 2005

 

Today was the day in which I went “walking” in Snowdonia with the “walking club.”

Turns out, “walking” is a euphemism for serious hiking. Wish I’d known that beforehand…

Stayed up way later on last night than I should have. Didn’t go to bed until 4:45. Pretty bad considering I had to get up at 5:30. I figured that I would sleep on the 3.5 hour drive up there, but I didn’t. I met Rachel in the kitchen at 5:50 and we fixed our sandwiches and went off to meet the guys. There ended up being several of us: Tim, Shawn, Darren, David, Rachel, and me. It was a good group. Tim drove, and Rachel and I sat in the front. It didn’t get daylight until 7:30 and it felt weird driving when it was still that dark. My body was really confused.

The park was absolutely amazing. I have never seen anything like it. I know it’s not Everest or K2 or Kilimanjaro, but it is the biggest mountain in Wales and England. And the biggest one I’ve ever hiked.

Snowdonia

We hired a guide, Cathy, to take us to the top and she brought along her fiancé, Nick, who was also a guide. Tim wanted to do the really difficult route but nobody else really could (mostly because we didn’t have the right shoes) so Nick went with him and Cathy took the rest of us.

Because of my physical limitations, I was a lot slower than everyone else and Cathy stayed back with me for the most part. I was embarrassed, but it turned out okay.  Even though it meant I didn’t stay with the rest of the group, and didn’t get the chance to bond, I could go at a slower pace.

Cathy, our guide
Snowdonia
Snowdonia

It was a very difficult climb to the top, took about three hours, and there was a lot of scrambling over rocks and stuff. I had no idea that the path was going to be so steep and physical. When I heard “walking”, I assumed we’d be walking-not climbing and actually hiking. It wasn’t all about following a nice dirt path. Nearer to the top it got pretty hairy a couple of times due to the ice. I was slipping around a little bit. It was very hard on my legs, too. In addition to my health problems, since I’m really short it took more effort for me to get up on the rocks.

The view from the top was amazing, however. You could see Anglesey, where my Morgan ancestors are from, and a little bit of the Isle of Man. We had fantastic weather, so the visibility was good. We had all dressed in layers because we were expecting the worst and I had to strip a few of them off because I got so hot.

So strange to be in tree-less mountains. The geography here is so smooth, so barren. I’m used to the Appalachian Mountains back home-full of trees and kudzu and shrubs and flowers. These look like someone took shellac to them. This difference in landscape is one of the things that I love most about Wales: I don’t feel like I’m at home.

resting

Maybe because I was with her for most of the day, but I think I really bonded with Cathy. She was a very nice lady and very encouraging. I think she knew that because of some of my medical problems I couldn’t do as much as the others, but she didn’t seem put off by the fact that I was a slow mover and that I had to stop and rest a lot.

Bonding with someone like that reminds me of the movie “Made in Heaven” from the 1980’s. In it, the main guy dies and goes to Heaven where he meets a woman who was born and raised there. They fall in love, but they can’t be together because that’s not allowed. So they ask to be reincarnated. The deal is, they have 30 years to find one another on earth. If they do, they can stay together. If they don’t, they can’t. Well, after the dude is sent back he is about 25 and hitchhiking across the U.S. This elderly couple stops and picks him up and he feels really good about them. What he doesn’t know is that they were his parents in his other life. They take to him because he reminds them of the son they lost. They don’t know it’s him. And he can’t recall his other life. They all just feel a connection to each other and don’t know why. The scene doesn’t last more than a few minutes but it’s really nice. I kind of felt that way about this couple.

It got dark on us on the way back down and Cathy and I ended up almost an hour behind everyone else. We decided to meet them at a café called Pete’s Eats. (Yes, we all thought that was funny, too. The other guys knew Pete. Didn’t know that until I was showing them pictures on my digital camera and they recognized him. They knew Nick, too.) It took about 2.5 hours to get down and I didn’t think it would ever end. My knees were shaking, my ankles were shaking, I had blisters…it was not pleasant. But I was very proud of myself for getting that far.

I thought I would sleep on the way back, but I didn’t. I stretched out in the back and rested my legs. The boys all went to sleep. Rachel sat up in the front with Tim and entertained him so that he would stay awake. He played some southern rock on the tape deck and I was kind of glad to hear CCR and AC/DC. I had forgotten how much I really like that kind of music.I wish I’d brought more music with me. Music reminds me of home. It’s the only time I get homesick.

Rachael and me

I was really sore when I got back. I took a bath and felt drugged afterwards. Everyone else stayed up in the kitchen and had wine and talked but I couldn’t even get out of bed. I crashed. Did get to watch the last episode of “Lost” though. I think Ana Lucia is definitely growing on me.

Summit view from Mt Snowdon
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