Sunday, October 7, 2012

When all you want is a cup of Tea..

Patience is a virtue. I can't remember the exact moment when I yelled at the other half , completely frustrated with the weather. It was capitulation. Maybe even worse. We had come to climb this mountain and we were being thwarted even before the journey began. Through rain and ice I sit glum, as songs stream in through the radio, the FM as crackly and temperamental as the weather. I have become the tempestuous child, resorting to monosyllables as a protest against authority. Somewhere the person holding the wheel and the monstrous white weather have all morphed into one. Talk about shooting the messenger of bad news.

When we get to Bets-y-coed, it is a sheet of white. We talk a few walks around the gorgeous village and my mood eases up, the determination hold fort though. I tell myself, we shall do Snowdon this time or the next, but we will do it.

We wait and watch and decide to give it a go the second day. The rain has come down in sheets and it is cold. We drive down to the base of Showdon, leave our car parked at the quaint little rail station, haul up our backpacks, we are off..

Under a shy tentative sun, the ground beneath our feet melts from white to green. It is term time and we don't seem to be the only ones here. In fact the numbers climbing surprises me given the bad weather.
We start off with a large group climbing for charity, all dressed as sunflowers. We exchange pleasentaries and as we pass I wonder how uncomfortable it would be to climb in a suit as hot as that.

Snowdon, at 1065m (3560ft) is the highest mountain in Wales. Small in terms of some of the others I have climbed like the Himalayas where we got to 5029m (16500ft). But as with most mountains, it defies comparisons. The arresting white and the contrasts of brown greet us as we do the first mile upward. In total we would climb 15kms that day, no easy task in the snow. I regret not having worn boots, preferring lighter footwear for long climbs.

The railway line that ferrys passengers to the top is not operational. We pass the little bridge and walk along the tracks.  I love railways tracks, I love the neat lines, the symmetry of the pair of them in the jagged landscape, the purpose with which they run away into a distance and disappear at the point where the eye can no longer see.

Midway, we stop for a little break at what is supposed to be a tea room. Today its doors are not open and we huddle in a corner and shield ourselves against the howling wind. I give myself a pat on the back for the foresight in bringing along peanut butter and jam sandwiches. We split one.  By now we have established the need for rationing water and supplies. We might not get anything to eat of drink when until we climb down. I could kill for a cup of tea. But putting those thoughts aside we start walking.

The railway line going all the way up to the top of Snowdon..

There are more people walking now and the snow turns slushy under their boots and shoes. 15 kms is a hard climb, but I am amazed at the number of children climbing. What a fantastic way to spend a vacation, their parents must be proud of how well these little ones cope.
The sun is shining down now. It is hard to keep walking when the surroundings are so beautiful. I want to stop every few moments, just to look back at the scenes unfolding, to take it all in, to imprint it in memory.

The dogs make for a cheerful sight. They are so much quicker than their owners and they keep making their way back when they think they have gone far too ahead. I love the sight of the black lab just ahead frolicking in the snow. He dives in and gets some ice on his nose. His shiny skin is a perfect foil to the radiant snow. I bet he has done the double the distance his owner has by all that jumping around.

Looking back..
Somewhere midway, we spy the little toy train chugging up. They don't let it go all the way. It stops at the half way point. I look at the train and hope for that elusive cup of tea. Maybe just maybe, we would get some right on top.
Almost there..
The snow is beginning to harden into ice. We watch our steps. When we finally get there, we are surrounded by white. There are distant lakes. In some strange way it all looks like that vision of the Earth that Neil Amstrong first saw standing on the moon. We are starving. We share another sandwich, the last one we have. It is cold. The minute we stop walking we feel the cold, like a stalker who follows silently, waiting for the right moment to pounce.
View from the top..
The climb down is tricky, the hardening ice slippery. We watch our steps.  There are more people on the slopes now. It slows us down considerably. My shoes feel wet and uncomfortable.
When we get to the half way point, the tea room is open. I smile a big smile. We sit down with our cuppas and savour the taste. How accustomed are we to the small pleasures of life.
We were not too far form the car park. Recharged form the welcome break we ended our little adventure on a high.

Some days later, we got chatting with a couple at a restaurant. Between the where and hows of the conversation between travelers, we told them about Snowdon. There are many we were told who are not so luck in their first attempt. Some times it's the weather, some times it is something else. They said they had managed to climb it on their second attempt.
Snowdon crossed off, we felt a sense of achievement. Well I would put it all down to that elusive cup of hot steaming tea. Nothing tasted better in the middle of a cold mountain


  1. Nice write up and great clicks.

  2. Meena, this is so beautifully written!!

  3. Looks like an interesting hike and the snow covered view from the top is beautiful! agree, hard to compare one mountain to the other, but they still lure you so!



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