Thursday, April 22, 2010

Tales of Bangor #20 (rhif dau deg) - Trampling on well-trodden tracks and scrambling over scree

Sol continues to smile on North Wales and with all the snow gone (except for a few resistant patches on the mountains) I laced up my hiking boots again. Twice.

Last weekend the train brought the last visitors for the moment: Vicky, Sean and Gin - Herm acquaintances from last summer - found their way to remote, rural Bangor. They came for one reason only - well, no, 2 reasons to be precise:
1. to have a little reunion before Gin and Sean go back to Malaysia
2. to climb Snowdon (1085m)

Elzelien joined us as well and we set out early Saturday morning - having slept about 4 hours each. At 11 o'clock it was so hot that I felt the need to zip off the legs of my hiking pants. I did so and in the same second cursed myself: I had completely forgotten to change my shoes after meeting Sean and Gin at the train station and was still wearing my trainers. (Oh, never again will I make fun of people hiking in trainers!) But it should not matter: Snowdon is very amateur-friendly and trainers are still better than the Converse-sneakers I had seen other people wear.

Having been up Snowdon twice already, the thought of ambling up the same broad touristy path again was not really appealing to me, especially on a hot and sunny Saturday, so I chose a different track this time: the PYG track, a very scenic path that is slightly more challenging than the "high-way" most people take up from Llanberis.

Steep stone steps are a main feature

...looking down on lakes - water glistening in the sunshine...

Shortly after noon I felt the weight of my backpack heavy on my shoulders and decided to solve the problem by announcing lunchbreak and handing out self-made cheese and cucumber sandwiches, apples and delicious chocolate-coated Hobnobs.

Sean, Gin, Vicky and Elzelien

With my burden lessened and the hunger postponed till evening, we faced the last bit: a steep climb to Snowdon's summit.

The peak on the right is our destination.

We took the last few (icy) steps and reached the plateau that gradually rose to the peak. As I lifted my head above the ledge I could hardly believe my eyes:

Snowdon was absolutely littered with people! Many tried to squeeze onto the small platform right on top, others were losely spread on the grass and rocks around and below, enjoying the sun and the amazing views, chewing on Sandwiches, sipping beers. Horrible!

We weren't better, of course. After snapping a pic on top we found a nice stretch of coarse yet soft mountain grass and let our gazes rest on mountains and lakes, admiring the seagulls (or mountaingulls) that were soaring and floating in the wind, ready to dive down and feast on discarded sandwiches and biscuit crumbs.

After a while we descended again and what remained with me from this marvellous day are pleasant memories, beautiful pictures and an awfully painful sunburn. Ouch!


The second hike was more spectacular: A new day, a new mountain, a new challenge: Tryfan (915m). (If you go back to Tale #12 you will find a beautiful pictu
re of this particular mountain, taken in February.) Ever since I had seen it and since my flatmate Tom had talked to me about it I've been wanting to get up there. We (finally!) found a day where both of us were free AND the weather forecast - unreliable as it may often be - promised sunshine: I could hardly have been happier!
Buses to Tryfan are scarce, so we just persuaded my other flatmate Sam to come with us. Conveniently, Sam owns a car and we did not depend on the lousy bus connection.
We got up early this Thursday morning and off we went. This time I was well prepared: wearing proper hiking boots and smelling of sun lotion.

The hike was absolutely AWESOME!! As it was the middle of the week we met hardly any people. The weather was just perfect: We climbed up in the shade and enjoyed the sun at the top and on our way down. I can safely say that I haven't had that much fun getting up a mountain in a long time!
...of course all the other hikes were nice as well, but finally I got the challenge I had been longing for all these months: rocks, scree, sun, hiking with two strong guys who move my speed or faster. Swiftly, we climbed, scrambled, slid and jumped from rock to rock. Nature's just a big playground after all!

The path is not always clearly visible - but we always found a way

Steep drops everywhere afford even more spectacular views

Tryfan is crowned with two large standing stones, the Adam and Eve rocks. Custom demands that hikers who made it to the top jump from one to the other. And customs must, of course, be followed...


As soon as we had sat down to have a snack we heard the distinctive cry of seagulls and soon two of the scavenging birds where perched on nearby rocks, eyeing us curiously, waiting tor us to "accidentally" drop some food. Sam felt generous and chucked half his sandwich at them; it was greedily devoured by the fatter of the two birds. I felt sorry for the other...

After an hour of relaxing in the sun we decided to make our way down again - a task much harder than getting up, as my knee kindly reminded me after one of several awkward leaps. Thankfully it shut up after a while and down we got - somehow...

... for example by sliding down a scree slope

Who needs comfy chairs when you can have soft grass, sunshine and a nice view?

The whole mountain experience was completed by the appereance
of a little mountain goat kid that looked like a fluffy little cotton ball on legs. It bleated in quest for it's mother who promptly answered, hopped over a stone wall, trotted across the road and happily joined the young one: A perfect finish for a perfect morning!


dAnath-alÁvye said...

Mein Sonnenbrand fühlt mit dir ;)

Aber die Bilder sind klasse! Die Aussicht! Die Steine!

Julián said...

Sehr feine Berge, ahhhh...hab hier auch welche, aber hat sich noch nicht ergeben, wirklich einen zu erklimmen. Hätt auch nicht die Schuh dafür…:) … your english's good to read and sounds quite british, or "looks" as I should say :)