This is the view that greeted us when we clambered up the last steep incline onto the summit of Mount Snowdon. In the distance low clouds moved ominously towards us and in a few short minutes they would obscure this view completely. We found ourselves asking, as the sun faded and the world turned a cold grey, was it worth it?
Our journey to the top of Snowdon started below the summit on the shore of Llyn Gwynant in a small 3 man tent. We started our day, sipping on warm tea made with yesterday’s milk and chewing on a breakfast bar with a handful of Jelly Babies for a pick me up. Ahead of us lay a 4 mile hike to Pen-Y-Pas and then another 4 mile hike up the Pyg Track to the top of the mountain. Sat at the start, it seemed like a lot for two slightly overweight young men to achieve but we’d been waiting for our window of good weather and finally it had arrived.
I wouldn’t say we jumped at the opportunity. It was with great reluctance that we abandoned our blue and red camping chairs overlooking the lake but leave we did. I won’t say that the first stage of our walk, from the tent to the start of the Pyg track, was easy. It wasn’t. The ground was soft as the constant rain that had plagued us for days had caused the local streams and rivers to swell. Squelching along through knee high grass on slippery ground we hoped our whole trip would not be so difficult. Whilst we were looking down, we didn’t get much time to look around us but when we did, the view of the valley was stunning. It was especially pleasant to see our little tent down by the lake getting smaller with every step.
After an hour or two, we reached the start of the Pyg track. Ahead of us lay, another 4 miles of walking and over 760 metres of elevation. Taking the last opportunity to use the facilities we steeled our already tired legs and started off again. Our footpath rapidly changed into a series of steps and we dragged ourselves from rest stop to rest stop. Doubts began to form in my friend’s mind, he didn’t think he was fit enough to make it. I pushed him onward, reluctant to let him give up on one of the easiest routes. Luckily we ran into a group of Irish scouts and we chased them all the way up to the top. Their positive attitude and crazy antics (including some very interesting leaning off ledges) cheered us up. The sun finally made its appearance around lunch time and we stopped a hundred metres below the summit for a sandwich or six.
One last trudge up what seemed like a near vertical slope brought us to the top of the mountain and seemingly the top of the world. As our vision cleared the top and we could gaze far over Wales we took a moment to watch the shadow of far distant clouds travelling ponderously over the hills and valleys. It was a view I shall not forget in a hurry. It made the hours of stumbling, sweating and struggling worth it. All too soon, the clouds began to blow in and we were left unable to see our hands in front of our faces. The temperature dropped by several degrees as we turned our back on the summit and started another long walk back to our tent, back to unfinished mugs of overly strong tea.