Mount Snowdon – The journey back down

Something has changed. In the time we stopped to rest at the top my legs seem to have gone. I don’t quite understand it but our trek down the mountain is so much harder than it was going up. I accept it as the norm and carry on. There’s nothing I can do but take my time and get to the bottom. My legs though. They’re like jelly. What is going on? After a while I ask my wife how she’s doing and she’s fine. She’s using walking poles. Maybe they’re helping her take the pressure off her legs on the downward hike? Am I putting all my weight onto my leg muscles? I don’t know enough about these things so I just carry on. There’s nothing to be done but carry on.

The landscape is alien like photos from Mars. Strange colours in the sky. Shards of rock grow from the ground. Now the sun is coming up we do seem to have trekked to another world. It’s fascinating to look at.

We start to emerge from the cloud after about 1/4 of the way back down. After another half hour the cloud in the distance starts to break and we get a view. To the left of us I catch a glimpse of Godzilla moving through the mountains. Out in front is Llanberis and the rest of Wales. It’s quite a view. A shame it didn’t happen during sunrise for the cloud in the clouds but it is still quite a view and we’ve got it all the way down. We’re a little slower coming down but not massively slower than going up. Maybe an extra 10 minutes per mile. We can just take our time and enjoy the view. Pete’s Eats doesn’t open for hours so we’ve got time.

Godzilla in the clouds

The sun breaks through the clouds and is like a spotlight on the mountain ridges around us. It’s really stunning.

More and more people are coming up now it is lighter. Someone is running up. There’s always one. Still, I’d rather like to be able to do that. Actual mountain bikers pass us by. They must be going down another route. It’s starting to become way too busy for people on this route let alone mountain bikers. The number of people makes me glad that I did my first hike up Snowdon at night when it was quieter. I’d hate to be in a queue of people all looking to get their Instagram content from the top. It felt that way when we walked up Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh. Get to the top and there’s people standing around with Starbuck’s coffee cups doing it for the ‘gram. Why be in that queue when you can do something way more interesting like this, a night hike? If I ever go back I’m not going up during the day. I’m going back at night for sunrise at the top or maybe via an alternate route.

We’re close enough now that we can actually see the blue of Pete’s Eats in the distance. Our pace is just about right and we’ll arrive just before they open. I think about how surreal this night has been. At no point did anyone stop us. If you want to walk up a mountain at night you can. Is it simply because no-one owns the mountain and therefore can’t be sued so they don’t have to restrict access? It just seems nuts there was no-one going “Careful now.”

7:15am. We reach the point where we got slightly lost. The adventure tour greets us and we have to point out we’re not part of their tour. This is just our normal Friday morning. ahem We pose for a group photo by the sign and start the seriously steep walk back down into Llanberis and to Pete’s Eats. Once you finish the Llanberis Path surely there should be a toboggan ride back into town? Weeee!

Llanberis

7:50am. Pete’s Eats is open early and we’re ticket number 8. For a place that opens at 8am it’s already had 8 customers. There’s a nice mix of what I presume to be local people from Llanberis, the day trippers coming down from the equinox hike and the young spiritual types driving their VW vans around. There’s a portrait project there me thinks. But not now. Now I eat. Pete eats.

8:30am. I can’t walk. I really cannot walk. I’m glad that I didn’t drive us here as I couldn’t drive us back. Wow! Am I that unfit? I thought I was fit? The swimming staff suggested I take up the triathlon classes. I’ve ran a marathon and would like to do another. I’m over weight for sure but unfit? No-one else on the team is seemingly as tired as me. Oh well. My motto is “Just need to do it more.” Tired after a swim? Do it more. Get fitter.

Llanberis

We spend the day resting. Some others go on another walk. My legs are useless so I rest and google the issue. I read about mountain bikers who have the same problem when coming down a mountain and cannot work out why because they are seemingly in good shape. I read that using walking poles helps better distribute your weight when coming down. I didn’t use any so there’s that. Most simply it shows there are muscles that running and swimming aren’t working out. I should incorporate hill runs into my routine perhaps.

The next day we rest at the beach. I fall off a paddle board. 2 days later and I can’t sleep. Turns out that fall I thought nothing of actually sprained my big toe. I lose 2 months of running. To think I made it up and down a mountain without too much trouble and it’s relaxing at the beach that breaks me.

So. First mountain hike. I really enjoyed it. I’d like to do more but I would chose routes or times when it is quiet. The journey is as much a part of the trip as the destination is. I didn’t go to Snowdon to queue for 3 hours just for the view at the top and I imagine most people would be annoyed by our conditions but not me. We were prepared for the trip. We coped. We had our adventure and our story to tell. I loved it.

Landscapes, Wales