Last Saturday it was my Birthday and in the morning I received a wonderful surprise inside a lovely card presented by the family. Inside it programmed that we would be leaving at 10am to climb Snowdon, ‘So get ready’, an ambition that I had professed a few weeks back as I could not make the annual Khalsa Aid walk. The plan was to drive to a hotel on the Saturday and on Sunday attempt the ascent.
The hotel was amazing, a mini-castle with views across a valley just inside the famous Snowdonia National Park and within 20miles of the mountain. It was also situated 15 minutes walk from to a spectacular waterfall – a mini and practice hike! We were also situated 10miles from Barnmouth, a sea-side with a wide and long sandy beach. The weather was dull but lightened later with daylight lasting way past 10.20pm. Just before then, a second surprise was waiting for me at the Promenade cafe.
We drove through the small town of Barnmouth that routed through to a mile long boardwalk along the coast. The views were spectacular with an estuary running parallel to the coastal road. As we got closer to the coastal town we could see a railway line that connected two land masses. The backdrop to the beach was a glorious church with a hill and embedded houses. Sadly two of the churches in the town itself had reincarnated. One had been converted to an emporium/cafe with an interesting collection of grey stone Buddha’s on each step leading to both the front door and side entrances. The other church appeared to have its stained glass window, once bringing light in from the shore removed and replaced with an image of a giant dragon. I wondered if it had always been christened the Dragon House theatre or recently converted. That evening’s special presentation was with a visiting medium…
We drove down the long boardwalk and past a solo cafe just towards the dead-end turn. In the window I noticed a gentleman in the window wearing a turban. He looked familiar, I suggested that we visit the cafe just to see what was on offer and say Hi! Back in 2011 I worked on a contract at Sky, leading a number of teams. In marketing worked Kulraj, a really committed and nice guy. Yes, you’ve guessed it, it was Kulraj. I pointed my finger in a knowing manner as I walked into the cafe. I also married my action with the famous but modified phrase from Humphrey Bogart’s & Katherine Hepburn’s classic, Casablanca – ‘Of all the cafes in the all the world, I meet you here’! Kulraj and his fellow cyclist were both riding as part of his (Kulraj’s) sister’s charity ride. They had ridden 40miles in the rain and were awaiting a welcome hot tea and dinner before heading to a hotel for an overnight recovery before their next leg.
After a nice breakfast we were set for the climb. The hotel manager who appeared to have 6+ jobs (porter, receptionist, cook, accountant, tour guide & Meteorologist) printed off the weather forecast for Snowdon. It would be rough!
There was also a slight hiccup / warning flare before our attempt. In hindsight we should have researched the choice of routes but decided to stick with our choice of the Snowdon Ranger route, starting from a Youth Hostel. The hiccup was that a few kilometres before the latter route we stopped at what we thought as its start point. Especially as there was a large car park. We got talking to an experienced hiker who suggested that we go for a walk and turn back. Fair enough as we didn’t have full mountain gear and rightfully suggesting that mountains are unpredictable. We decided to drive back to an adjacent town, just 3 miles back and visit the mountain gear shop we had passed. We thought we could use the shop visit to qualify any concerns expressed by Mr Experienced (I mean that in a nice way). The lady in the shop was reassuring & suggested it was fine to climb and we should stick to the Snowdon Ranger trail. We purchased a better routing map and although trainers are not recommended, we stuck with them.
Eventually, we found the entrance of the Snowdon Ranger trail. It would be 3 hours up and forecasted the same time down. We amazingly did the round trip in 4.5 hours, 3 hours up and 1.5 hours down. The first half was pleasant with flowing green fields that would not go amiss in the land of Tele-tubbies. Let us rephrase this, green fields that no painter can capture as the fusion of a deep lake, rolling hills and teasing clouds revealing the tops of other surrounding mountains was pure eye candy.
However, the second half and final leg was hard going. The weather was relentless. It felt like we had time warped back to winter. With winds of 40+mph, fog, condensation build-up on our clothes, an accompanying seagull that appeared to take pleasure in showing how cool it was by suspending itself in mid air during the last 30 minutes of the hike and let us not forget poor visibility as it rained on and off. We preserved and the feeling of reaching the summit was slightly dampened by the closing of the summit cafe due to bad weather. Apparently, train line customers are more important than poor climbers!
My summit experience was shared with a dog that climbed up on the podium located at the top of some slippery stepping stones. I still cannot fathom how I took a picture of the dog and his owners with almost no sensation in my hands?! My family enjoyed the accomplishment and the thought and relief that it would take a few more hours to return to some normality. Fuelled up on crackers, fruit and water we headed back (someone had left the pasta in the back of the card over a 1089 metres below).
On both the ascent and decent I was Thankful to God for his care. In my head I recited Waheguru, wonderful lord. I also remembered from Japji Sahib (The Sikh’s morning prayer).
jay ha-o jaanaa aakhaa naahee kahnaa kathan na jaa-ee.
Even knowing God, I cannot describe Him; He cannot be described in words.
God’s creation is something that none of us can fathom/comprehend. We appear lead our lives as a race and forget about the potential calm we can gain from inside. Businesses can be as ruthless as they like, but we need to stay confident and true to our purpose. We end up living for ourselves rather than each other.
I learnt a few things on this climb. A mountain is a bit like life. We attempt to get to the top in all we do, yet we do not see what is around us. We need to take others with us but often we don’t. We also forget our guide through distractions. I also remember that old adage, ‘Failing to prepare is preparing to fail’.
The more we can do to think about the journey ahead doesn’t mean we will definitely succeed but at least we should take the advice of our guide (Guru) and hope for the best for all.
My Thanks to my family for this opportunity..