And it most certainly was snow.
Rufus and I made our way to the Cerrig Duon valley and the start of the route up to Llyn y Fan Fawr and Fan Brechieniog. I could see the snow on the tops of the mountains around while we were driving up but the roads and fields were clear. No sooner had we turned off onto the narrow lane that winds along the valley, that the snow appeared on the road, trees, bushes and everywhere snow can get. It wasn’t a problem as the temperature was still above zero and the car carried on. Then, in the distance I spotted another car stopped in the middle of the road. I could see it was stuck on a small hill section, and I stopped behind it, allowing enough room for it to back up if necessary. I spoke to the two guys in it, who were on their way to meet up with others for a walk in the hills. They didn’t know the area and I advised them not to go on if they were getting stuck on such a small hill. I suggested they back up to the layby where I was, which they did, and their colleagues appeared in cars behind me so I felt okay to leave them and carry on.
We parked up off road and headed down to the river. Everywhere was white. Powdery snow lay up to 6″ in depth but it wasn’t particularly cold so I wasn’t too worried about Rufus, with his short haircut. He was happy, bounding along in the snow and finding new smells all the time. We were the first to have made our way along the route so all the smells were fresh. I could see small tracks in the fresh snow which looked as if they were made by little rodents. Rufus was almost overwhelmed by the choice of aromas.
As we climbed towards the lake, so the visibility dropped as we entered a layer of mist. The temperature dropped too, and the depth of snow increased. Once again, I had that sense of being lost while still knowing where I was (in my mind). I was wary of the last time I thought I knew where I was but I had GPS tracking on and after checking to make sure it was working, we carried on.
The lake loomed as a slightly darker strip above the snow and to the right, a huge shape faded into view. Some one had made a large snowman, more akin to the giant statues on Easter Island. It was roughly human shaped and the snow that made it was criss crossed with grass. By now, Rufus was sinking up to his belly at times and although my original plan was to quickly get to the top of Fan Brecheiniog, it was looking less sensible to try and do so. The path leading up was completely hidden by snow and even though I knew where it should have been, the mist and snow were disorientating. Added to that, there was a cold wind blowing and Rufus was pretty much swimming on the snow it parts. My right knee has been playing up a little and coming down would be no fun with that and all the other hazards. So the decision to turn around was easy.
I’ve never been afraid to turn back, despite being goal driven on the mountains. I would rather get to the top of something, or reach a certain distance, as it gives me incentive and makes me feel good. But I am aware of when to turn back and the goal doesn’t get in the way of that. It’s a very useful bit of safety kit that is worth more than an extra fleece.
Rufus was happy to turn back and he bounced off back down the hill. We followed our own footprints until we left the mist. I threw snowballs for him to chase, which was well appreciated if the barking was anything to go by. Then we headed onto the slopes of Moel Feity to get a little more exercise out of the day. I’d added 2kg to the back pack today, so I was walking with the same weight as on the Everest Base Camp trek, 7kg (about 15lbs). It felt good. Over the next few weeks I’ll add more – my aim is to be carrying about 10kg regularly, and 15kg on flat long distances.
We were both tired from the hard going through the deep snow, which seemed to hide dips and tufts of grass, so getting back to the car was welcome. Back home, Rufus fell asleep on my lap and there was much snoring and dreaming for the next 90 minutes or so.