Quest to Snowdon Mountain - part II

Trip Start May 31, 2006
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Trip End Ongoing


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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Most people think that going down is easier than coming up since you don't have to make that big of an effort. Wrong. Going down is a more physically straining feat than going up because of gravity. Climbing down means you have to fight against the force that naturally wants to pull you down....fast.

It all went wrong with one of Ed's bright ideas. The following is a re-enactment:

Ed: "Let's not go down the same way we came up. Let's go down another path"

Lu: "Oh god, which path?!?"

Ed: "That one" (he points to a path right on top of a high ridge)

Lu: "No way, it looks too dangerous and longer than the one we're SUPPOSED to take which is that one!" (I point to the path from whence we came, where everyone who didn't have an acute psychosis were heading)

Ed: "Oh come on, it'll be fun and I'll help you along the way. I know what I'm doing. Besides, we can cut across and finish this in no time."

Lu: "Great, another one of your shortcuts?"

Ed: "Just trust me ok? Where's your sense of adventure?"

Lu: "It vanished into thin air when I almost fell down the damn mountain!!! Fine, let's do it your way. Let's go."

And so it began. It wasn't too bad at first. We walked on grassy ledges and looked down below as we would on a balcony. It was amazing how high up we were as the large lake looked only like a small puddle now. We enjoyed the pinkish glow of the afternoon sun as it was going down accompanying our descent.

But that feeling of tranquillity was soon over when the grassy patches disappeared and we entered rocky ground. Rocky, steep steep ground. As before, the smooth flattened rock formations crumbled beneath our feet and it was hard not to slide downwards. Ed started going down as if he were riding a snowboard. I, on the other hand, scrupulously analyzed every movement I made and concentrated very hard on not falling or slipping. Ed eventually came back to help me down the difficult rocks.

By this point I was not enjoying myself. Every muscle in my body was aching and my fear was rising per second. But it only got worse; the other path was still so far away that the people walking on it looked like tiny black dots. We had ventured so far off any of the trails that no one would ever see or hear us if anything happened. We spotted a wild ram observing us closely from a not-too-far-away rock but lost interest when he realized we were neither food nor threat. I immediately thought my mom would murder me if she saw what I was doing.

Just when I thought things couldn't get any worse, we reached a cliff. The slope below was so steep we couldn't see where it ended. It was like a 300 meter drop of jagged rock. I panicked and started to cry in fear at the intimidating height and drop. Ed saw my crying and grew immediately concerned. Now he knew that my previous complaining wasn't just pretend, it was true fear.

From that moment on he held my hand tight, and encouraged me to go on. He climbed down in front of me and held his arm back for me to grab for support. I was still scared out of my wits but I felt safe Ed was guiding me down. Every now and again we would look up and look in disbelief at what we had just climbed down. The sun had disappeared and the left over light was enough to keep us going for about one more hour before we would be trapped by twilight.

Finally, after what seemed like endless slipping and sliding, examining every edge, crevice and ridge of rock and gravel, we reached the grass. Grass was good because it meant that we were close to the bottom. By this point every joint in our bodies ached, especially wrists and ankles from holding our body weight up. But most of all, our feet were practically numb from the pain. Our lips were dry and crackled from the strong cold winds and we were covered in rocky dust.

I was immediately reminded of a quote from Henry Thoreau I have always liked: "Take long walks in stormy weather or through deep snows though fields and woods if you would keep your spirits up. Deal with brute Nature; be cold hungry and weary"

The most difficult task was over, and sparks of relief replaced the fear that had hindered my smooth descent from Snowdon. Ed and I hugged and kissed at the bottom of the mountain, just as we tiptoed across the rocks over a thin stretch the lake. It hurt to even breathe, but we had to reach the car park which was at least another 40 minute walk away. On the way back I told Ed that if he ever pulled a reckless stunt like that, I would not follow him. After all, he was experienced and I was the scardey cat.

That night we checked into our lovely alpine B&B where we took a nice hot bath to relax the muscles and skin. We ordered a home made pizza from the nearby deli and ate on our comfy bed while we watched a bit of TV to unwind. That night for some reason I had trouble sleeping, even though I was exhausted. I was thinking about the mountain. Even though I wanted to hate her for the stressful time she had made me go through, I couldn't. I couldn't help remembering how she always had a nook or a shelf for us to place our hands or feet. There was never any dead end or fall too dangerous to handle, although still daunting. It was as if she had calmly guided us along, like the tide which brings a lost vessel to the shore. And even when we felt like we were swimming in honey, she always showed us an alternative path, stone, rock or patch.

One thing was certain, climbing down the mountain had brought Ed and I closer together. Perhaps we needed this challenge to liven things up a bit again. Not that we were struggling in our relationship, but a little oomph doesn't hurt. I know the things that I've recounted here may not fully capture what Ed and I went through in that mountain; I guess you had to be there to understand what we did and how. We had done this together and we would probably remember it strongly for a long time.

I rested my head on my favourite nook in Ed's nape and fell into a deep sleep...
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