So with the whole, health declining issue, Mike and I have been talking about Mt Snowdon. I’ve always wanted to conquer it – like a challenge as opposed to a bucket list item. I’m about to start full chemo again. A week and a half ago I had chemo, but only avastin. This week coming I get the full complement of drugs, and from that first big dose I will be in no condition to be attempting the mountain until probably December, when only insane and experienced people go up. My next opportunity will be next summer (at least that’s our guess) and who knows what will have happened between then and now. So this weekend was really the last time I’d get to attempt it.
We lucked out. It’s mid-September, and somehow the weather was with us. Hardly a gust of wind to the air, just enough cloud cover so we didn’t get frazzled from a day of sun, no rain, and dry trails. Couldn’t have asked for better. We left home an hour later than intended and got to the trail base at noon. Found one of the last spaces in the overspill car park that actually consisted of dumping the car on the grass outside the car park, and got a taxi to the base. And off we went.
I’d love to say I found it a breeze and got up the mountain effortlessly. I didn’t. I had many, many breaks. Usually every five – fifteen minutes I’d sit for a minute just to catch my breath. We’d chosen the Pyg trail, it’s a moderate trail. Mainly because we wanted to be able to say we’d gone up a decently challenging trail. About three-quarters of the way up I was moaning at Mike saying, “Whose stupid idea was it to climb this mountain, anyway?” (It was mine.) Then I started asking why people in general had this dumb urge to climb mountains. Our dog had no trouble and we decided that on top of being Collie crossed with German Spitz, there was also some billy goat in there. Any bit of rock there was to be had he was up with a couple of springy steps. I was very jealous.
Funnily enough, Rolo (the dog) took great pleasure at stopping at all the cliff edges. We were worried he’d take a leap and strangle himself on the lead, but then we realised he was taking in the view. He did this the whole way up and all the way down. Who would have thought a dog would even understand breath-taking scenery?
Towards the top my stops became more frequent and although I never even entertained the thought of going back down, the whole idea of walking up a mountain with stage four cancer having had only six weeks since my last chemo began to seem like a silly idea. But I made it, and the elation I felt at the top was enormous. I took a quiet moment and spoke to whoever it is who looks down upon us, figuring I was closer and therefore he might hear me better, and asked for a few things.
The map said it took an average of three and a half hours to get up the Pyg trail. We managed it in four. By the time we had a hot drink the time was five, and Mike was worried about getting down before dark. Several people we passed said they thought it was harder going down than up, and we were a little anxious.
Well, that was silly, maybe they were having us on, but going down was a doddle. We decided to see how the dog did without a lead on, mainly because with Rolo pulling ahead whoever was holding the lead was likely to get pulled down face first onto the rocky mountain path. Well, he resisted the built-in Collie urges to round up sheep and behaved impeccably. Other than rolling in some sheep poo, eating some sheep poo, and ten minutes later almost throwing up the sheep poo, I had no complaints.
The last mile of the trail was the worst. We were tired, Mike had a giant blister on one toe, our feet hurt, our calves hurt, our thighs hurt, and I had a headache. I’d long ago sweated the stickiness off the dressings that keep my picc line in place, and had to keep a bandage wrapped around my arm to stop it from falling off completely. Every curve of the path gave us more brilliant scenery, but not the buildings at the trail’s base that we were now hoping for. Two hours and forty-five minutes after leaving the summit we were done. Rolo was still bouncing, Mike gave me a paracetamol with codeine, and we gave up on the idea of eating at a local pub and made for home. The codeine and general exhaustion floored me within ten minutes of being in the car, and poor Mike had to drive for an hour and a half with me and the dog out like lights.
Funny things along the way: A mum and dad pass by with two young children. She says in a very serious tone, “No, I disagree. Elliot has got a good point about pee.” I kept hearing what sounded like one of those novelty pigs that do a strange ‘oink’ when squeezed. It was when we got to the summit that I realised it was a crow making the sound. Now I’m wondering if some kid ascended the mountain squeezing a novelty pig the whole way and the crow thought, “Wow, that’s a cool sound. I’m going to make that noise instead!” And on the subject of crows, there were a number of them circling around. More as we got higher. As couple of young lads passed by one said, “Yeah, they’re looking for the people who didn’t make it.”
Yesterday we climbed 7.2 miles in distance and 800m of ascent. I can now say I’ve climbed a mountain! Oh and for those who are better than me at finding things on the internet, there was a young man running up and down the mountain for Macmillan. He was seeing how many times he could run it in 24 hours. On the way up we passed him as he came down from his second one and on the way down we passed him as he was going up for the third time. We missed seeing him come down as we crossed from the Pyg trail to the Miners trail on the way down. If anyone can figure out who he is, please let me know, I’d love to donate a little for his efforts!
Last words: I’m walking like I very old person today. Legs are hurting, feet actually aren’t too bad, and my bum is aching! Walking to the bathroom for a hot bath has been pretty much my biggest exertion today. :)