Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Chester Part 2...

And a good evening to you from across the Pond after another GREAT DAY in the Mother Country. Okay, we're still cranking through the Chester recap, so let's get down to business. We'll just cover Sunday today, and then tomorrow I'll give you a catch-up blog for the week.
Sunday: 2 out of 3 in the books – the “Girls” take on Snowden

So Sunday appeared a bit earlier than we’d hoped, and by that I mean TEAM TAYLOR WAS EXHAUSTED. Granted, we’d done (I think) a great job of pacing ourselves, but the fact remained that we’d been at it ALL DAY on Saturday and bagged less than 7 hours of sleep before heading off to tackle THE SECOND HIGHEST MOUNTAIN IN THE UK. Rough and tumble, baby – that’s all I’m sayin’…

And then, at 9:45 AM, Alison “The Biology Bullet” wheels up to the house, complete with Lady Catherine in tow. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, the Dollywaggon crew was together again! Granted, we were 3 shy this time, but we definitely had enough of a quorum to make an assault on the summit. 10 minutes later, gear was stowed and we were en route to Snowdonia National Park and the 2nd of the 3 peaks for Team Taylor: Mt. Snowden.

The drive over was SIMPLY GORGEOUS. Honestly, all we EVER hear from folks is how Snowden, Skafell Pike, and Ben Nevis are ALWAYS covered in fog and being lashed by rain. However, thanks to a minor miracle from God, we’ve had AMAZING weather at both of the peaks we’ve attacked. You just wouldn’t have believed the clear skies and sun shine on the drive into Wales and to the park.

As we turned into the park, however, the skies got noticeably darker. Feeling something ominous (as this place really did look like something out of Lord of the Rings – I think I said “Cirith Ungol” about 470 times), we rolled toward the trailhead, at which point Alison says, “So normally you can’t get into the parking lot, but there is a pull out near by that’s never failed me.” Hmmmm….

True to form, the parking lot was PACKED. What Alison DIDN’T say, however, was that her pull out (or “lay by” as she called it) was OVER A MILE AWAY STRAIGHT DOWN THE SIDE OF A MOUNTAIN WITH NO PATH OR SIDEWALK. Translation, we drove down a 13% gradient for a mile, parked the car, loaded the gear, and turned around, conscious that we’d officially added 2 miles to the walk.

By itself, that was no big deal. The bigger issue was when Catharine said, “Has anyone seen my shoes?” SILENCE. And upon further review, we realized that Cath’s shoes were sitting side-by-side by Alison’s table at home. That’s right – she was gonna have to go up in quasi-sandals. Good times…

The walk up was the “Minor’s trail,” which took us past many GORGEOUS lakes and an abandoned mine (shocking, huh). I must confess, it was one of the MOST BEAUTIFUL hikes I’ve ever done (Dad – picture “beauty beyond” and multiple it by 10) – every step took you around a new corner and new view, and the scenery was just breathtaking. Plus, given that it’s a fairly worn path (there’s a train to the top), you could walk without having to watch your steps.

And it was in a moment of reflection like this that we rounded a corner and heard Lailey say, “That’s it – Snowden.” MAN – it was SOMETHING OUT OF A MOVIE. Shiny green patches set against hard, black stone, with a sharp pinnacle at the top cloaked in a thin veil of cloud. I was pretty sure I could see Gandalf on the summit – he must have just pitched the Balrog into the water before me.

And whilst this was an AWESOME image, it also revealed an important fact – we were at the ABSOLUTE BOTTOM of the mountain, and there were no switchbacks in sight. What does our trail leader, Miss Lailey say? “Yes, so at this point it gets a bit short and sharp.” Truer words were NEVER spoken.

The next mile was steeper than an Afghani goat trail, which wasn’t too disheartening until a little 5 year old boy WHIPPED past me like he was on a slip-n-slide. I mean, did I EVER have that kind of energy (Mom – don’t answer that. It was the all the cokes that Nanny gave me! Insert picture of me running up and down the hallway at Nan’s house here – always gotta touch the white door)?

All the same, that trail led us to a ridge with SPECTACULAR views, and then just another 10 minutes saw us to the summit – which was COVERED IN CLOUD. That’s right – the entire walk had been WIDE open, but the last 50 meters was a bloody WHITE OUT. However, that didn’t stop 2/3’s of the population of the UK from gathering on the summit stone for a picture. It was like a druid convention desperate to kiss Stonehenge (minus the torches and gray robes, of course).

We spent some time at the top (there’s a cafĂ© there), sipping hot chocolate, resting, and taking in the SPECTACULAR views (you could see the ocean from there – it was awesome). After about 40 minutes, however, it was time to make the ascent back down.

We took the Pyg Pass down, which was every bit as AMAZING and completed a 7.5 mile circuit that I will ALWAYS remember as one of the best hikes of my entire life. As always, we took a beating on the way down, but MAN was it spectacular, with unbelievable vistas around every corner.

After that, it was the journey back to the car and then the 1.5 hour drive back to Chester, finally arriving back in town at 8:30. And how did the summit team celebrate their achievement? They way you celebrate ANY summit, of course – INDIAN, BABY!!!! And not just any Indian – buffet at Asian Fusion (Fizzy – it’s the one RIGHT beside that classy joint known as….Revolution). We sat down and tucked right in, KILLING some grub. And best of all – they had BENGLA ON DRAFT! Finally!

We said by to the girls about 10 PM and then rolled into our B & B for the night, furnished by Lord’s good friends Pal and Hillary. However, the day wasn’t over ,as well rolled well into the night chatting with them about everything (and I do mean EVERYTHING). From religion to gun control to language training to travel in the states to GREAT new music, we hit it all (check out Mumford and Sons or Ra Ra Riot if you’re lookin’ for some great new tunes – QUALITY music). Finally, around 1 AM, I called it a night. After all, Monday was a callin’…
Okay, that's all the news that's fit to print. Chat tomorrow!


Sam and Jenny

No comments:

Post a Comment