Since living in Wales, my eyes are open to the vast extent of its natural beauty. In April I trekked over Mount Snowdon, for the first time, in a feet or more of snow. I didn’t need an excuse to go back again, and this time I wouldn’t be alone. I had the pleasure of seeing the same look I had back in April, on a good friend of mine.
I have been on several Microadventures with friends over the years and Harry has featured in many of them. I’m not sure which one of us is responsible for it, but we always manage to bring an element of surprise adventure along with us. In Dartmoor it was the rain, tent issues and the choice of luggage one of the guys brought with them.
It seems that this element hasn’t escaped us yet, and I hope it never does, as this weekend was full of added adventure. After hours of congestion on the roads, we edged closer to the dwarfed village of Llanberis. Moments away, and high on winding hill top roads, we were engulfed with a blanket of fog. Visibility was reduced to no more than three metres.
We celebrated our late evening arrival with a few beers and hours of pool, in a local pub. With the start of the Miners Track four miles outside of the village, we set off the next morning a little slower in our footsteps than usual.
Only, I was unaware we had signed up for a 26 mile run around the local area, as we were swarmed with runners, event organisers, TV Crews, locals and families, all en-route to the start of the Snowdon Marathon. I must have left my invitation at home, along with my running shorts, trainers and fitness ability.
The road out of the village and single route to the start of the Miners Track, was closed for the next two hours. The five-minute bus ride to the start was now replaced with a two-hour hike.
Slowly we decided to join the pilgrimage to the start of the race, where we hoped we might hitch a ride with a vehicle, also oblivious to today’s events, and which was now forced to move in the opposite direction.
After shouting “GO” and running under the start banner with a crowd of dazed and confused looks, we noticed a car pulling up. Cheekily we approached and the two occupants were more than happy to spend ten of the forty minutes’ wait, driving us to our start point. They were generous and kind people, and we chatted over the very short journey about their jobs and where they were from, in a comfortable way as if we had known them for years.
We arrived and began walking. Just as I had done in April, Harry allowed himself to be fooled by the start of the climb, into thinking that it would continue in the same gentle manner. It wasn’t long, or far up the mountain when he confided that he had underestimated the challenged from our calm introduction.
The Miners Track is awesome in so many ways. It snakes along two lakes, small cracks and waterfalls and breath taking views. But hands down, one of my favourite features is the scrambling. Out of nowhere the path disappears drastically up the rock face, and with your eyes trained hard at the ground to find the hidden path, your hands follow quickly to grapple each groove and hold. It’s exciting and makes you feel like a true adventurer.
At the summit we stand and take in the view. The cloud is beneath us now and we stand above the heavens, on an equal footing with the sun. It’s a surreal moment, and one the pictures just don’t do justice. It makes the entire trek worth it, and adds this extra sense of accomplishment.
A short while down it occurs to me that we are following the wrong track and heading away from Llanberis village. Llanberis Path is above us with the tracks for the Snowdon train In between. The climb back to the correct path is steep and we are faced with two simple options. Climb back up or follow the track.
In the winter with freshly laid snow, I had followed the train tracks, but the train wasn’t running and so there was no issue. Today was a different story. We were confident however that we would hear the train, and that is plodding speed would give us enough time to get out of the way. No sooner had we said this, when yesterday’s fog returned for a second visit. There was a small risk, but neither one of us wanted the extra walk, and both of us were slightly excited by the challenge. We made the halfway station after a short walk and laughed at our extra adventure. A real off the beaten track, experience.
The trek wasn’t complete without a full circle reunion with the generous couple who taxied us to the start point that morning. They were now walking up the Llanberis path themselves to the summit.
We crawled into town and shared our exhausted look with hundreds of runners as they crossed the line. I couldn’t help but feel a little stupid, as I stood tired in the presence of the 26 miles each and every one of those runners had behind them. Still I was entitled to be tired, we had just crossed a mountain.
After a pit stop at the local fish and chip shop, we sat down to a burning fire that evening. We drank a little, lay there still and let a stew slowly bubble away. We even saw a few shooting stars. I thought about the moment and how much in enjoyed being here. I then thought forward to my cycle and how I will have endless evenings like this to come.
Setting off early we got onto the road and stole back the hill view we had been deprived off in the darkness and fog, nights before.We stopped off at Rhug Estate for an inquisitive look for Bison Harry had supposedly seen on our drive in. We pulled into a field car park and a short stroll revealed and entrance to a Farm. We parted with a small donation and entered the fields. After a walk around the farm we arrived, to be standing, for the first time, feet away from American Bison.
Who would have thought, American Bison in Wales?