3 Peaks Paul

Snowdon (Wales), Scafell Pike (England), Ben Nevis (Scotland).... 24 hours. Eek!

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Another trip up Snowdon

Well, I mentioned yesterday I would walking up Snowdon again. I did this, but things didn't go quite to plan! The idea was we'd park up at Pen y Pass, a car park close to Snowdon, and pick up the Pyg trail or Miners track. My parents came along with their dogs, to do the easy part of the Miners track, and give the dogs a swim in the lakes.

When we got to Pen y Pass, at about 8:40, it was already full and we got turned away. They said there was a bus that ran every 30 minutes or so from other nearby carparks, but we couldn't take the dogs on. So a fat lot of good that was. I considered some logistical magic, park their car, all pile into mine, and I take everyone back to Pen y Pass, then go back and catch the park and ride service, but it all seemed like too much faffing around.

we drove down to Llanberis, the parents went off to do their own thing, and Mysti and I went off to walk up Snowdon, using the Llanberis track. This was the way I came down the previous time I went up Snowdon. It's a lot longer than the Miners track or the Pyg trail, but technically a lot easier, no scrambling, few cliffs, etc. So I parked up and started walking.

The first part of the walk was reasonably steep, enough to make me a little out of breath, this takes you up some roads, then pick up the Llanberis trail. Hoards of other people were doing the walk too. One group had already stopped for lunch (breakfast??) before they were barely 5 minutes into the walk. A group of 3 guys in front of me had been setting a comfortable pace, and I was happy to follow them, a 100 meters or so behind. The track weaves in up and down the face of the hills for the first mile or so, through various gates.

The quality of the track is good, all lined with rocks, this has the unfortunately effect of being very hard on the feet, even with strong walking boots, they were making every muscle in my feet work hard to keep my upright. Again, Mysti had no such problems!

After a little while, the track breaks out of the valley, and start getting some decent views. I was shocked to see a group of teens wearing trainers, jeans, miniskirts, and small bottle of water between them. I could totally see why the mountain rescue get annoyed! I expect one of those would later be stretchered off the mountain, or preferably thrown over the side.

I was still keeping pace with the guys ahead of me, the steepness of the track reduced to a very slight incline, which would have been a gentle walk apart from the harsh rocks underfoot. After a while, we came up to the Half way house, the group of guys I was staying behind had stopped for a drink and refreshments, I wanted to carry on so I marched past them. Another few hundreds meters beyond the half way house, the path took a turn to the left, and became reasonably steep, then leveled out a little for the station. Beyond that, was the main climb onto the top, which actually looked quite steep and forbidding. The cloud had started to come down, and the top of that was well out of view. I made the first climb up to the station, I think I must have done this too quickly I had to stop for 30 or 40 seconds to let my legs recover a little bit.

Coming to the top of that incline, the station was visible, and I considered stopping for some lunch, but instead I decided to wait until I was at the top instead. A guy was there taking photos, and we got chatting briefly. The track swung around to the right, away from the station (still shocked they run trains up this thing). It was actually uncomfortably steep, and I needed to be careful to keep my pace slow enough so I didn't burn myself out half way up, despite this, I had to take a few 20 second stops. After a while, I went into cloud, and got hit by a biting cold wind. Had to think about that group of teens, had a look behind me and they were nowhere to be seen, perhaps they reflected on how stupid they are and went back?

I stopped for a moment to get my jacket out of my backpack, instantly I couldn't feel the wind anymore. I'm so pleased I invested in a good quality jacket, put my hood down, and I was actually quite cosy, except for my hands, which we bright red with the wind bite. I remember from the last time I went up there that I shouldve taken gloves, I wish I had, but I completely forgot (this won't be a suprise to anyone who actually knows me!). So I put my hands inside the sleeves, and they did a pretty good job of warming them up.

Looking back down, a train had pulled up into the station. A stack of people got off the train and started walking up! I couldn't believe it!! Laz, cheating buggers. Again, a ridiculous number were completely unprepared, and I expected they would get either very cold, or be sitting at the station for the next however long before their return train, very cold and very bored. Some people amaze me.

At the top of the steep incline, it leveled off, but the visibility was awful. I had a picture of a couple coming the other way, no more than about 10 meters in front, and I can barely make them out. Just silhouttes (someone correct me if I spelt that wrong, I can't be bothered to look up the spelling!) in the cloud.

I just carried on walking and within about another 15 minutes, I could see the big marker stone for the Pyg trail and the zig zags that I came up my previous journey. I looked down but there was so much cloud I couldn't see if there was snow on the approach. I was interested because that's the route I really wanted to walk, but all the hoo har getting parked meant I didn't. Carried the track for the final walk to the top.

My body was really punishing me by this point for not having eaten anything, I was completely out of energy, and the last 5 minutes were an absolute mission, although I still felt quite cosy in my jacket, now with a scalf wrapped over my face. I eventually made it to the top, having willed my legs to carry on even though I just had no energy left, but it was time for some food anyway, I wasn't too worried. I stopped just short of the main cairn, and got my nodding churchill dog out of my pack, I took it up to the cairn, placed it on top, and took a couple of photos. Just for a laugh really, a few of the others up there had a bit of a chuckle, but of course there was one very moody girl up there who just thought it was daft! Fair one, but hey, I carried it up there.

The visibility up there was even worse than last time, and the wind was just howling. I went to the other side of the cairn to get out of the wind, and people were already spread out across the face munching on their lunch. Some clever sods brought up flasks of coffee. I'm so going to do that next time, that was a great idea. I found an empty spot, and got the dog bowl out of my pack. I only had a bit of water left, so I started pouring it into the bowl for Mysti, she was already into it even as I was pouring. She was so thirsty! I felt quite bad. She ended up drinking all the water we had left, but to be honest, I figured if we needed more I could buy some on the way down from the half way house. Last time I went up there, I took too much water, this time I clearly took too little, that and the pouch I had with a tube to drink it from didn't seal well, so I think I was dripping itall the way up. Next time I'll take more. We had lunch, although Mysti was more interested in my sandwiches than her dog food, so she helped me out eating them. With some food down me, as well as some Kendal mint cake to get my energy up again, I felt raring to get back. So we left and started to walk down.

The way down as pretty uneventful, but by the time I got to the bottom, my feet were agony. I think where they sweated (sorry ladies, attractive, I know!) they were causing blisters, so my big toes we just on fire. Next time I'll take extra socks so I can change them when they start to get too bad. Alternatively, I'll take a spare set of feet.... anyone know where I can buy some?

Eventually got to my car, and just drove home. Was quite tempted with having another pint, but managaed to resist this time!!

I didn't take so many pictures this time round, but I'll post what I have tomorrow.

So, until next time...!


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