It’s been over a month since I returned from India. In order to soothe my travel addiction, something new had to be put in the diary. Of course, money doesn’t grow on trees and annual leave isn’t an eternal force, BUT, there are ways around this my friend; there is always a way.
Long Easter weekend: ideal.
Go somewhere new in the UK: easy on the ol’bank account
Go camping: even easier on the ol’bank account (plus, more fun).
I suggested going with ‘me old man.’ He has been guilt-tripping me for weeks about not getting an India-adventure invite. Of course, I’m not going with him out of sympathy. I want to go to Snowdonia with my Dad, because, if you’ve ever met my Dad, you’ll know that he’s a bit of a legend.
A blooming irritating legend, but a legend nevertheless.
Turning 68 this year (although he thought he was in his 70’s because, you know, memory issues)… he may not be able to run a sub 2.40 marathon anymore, or survive for weeks on end in a tent with temperatures dropping to -40, but in my Pappy’s little mind (and mine too) – once a Paratrooper, always a Paratrooper. But actually, if we’re being accurate, after eight years, he transferred to the Army Physical Training Corps.
I sent him a text earlier in the week, telling him about the really bad weather (rain and storms) that was approaching the Easter weekend in Snowdonia. To which he replied:
“Skin is waterproof. We’ll be fine.”
Looks like we’re going then.
He was a bit grumpy on the drive there, but certainly perked up when we started to hike up Mount. Tryfan. That guy can shift! I’m pretty confident in my fitness levels but even I was huffing and puffing a bit trying to keep up with his military pacing. To say we went off-piste is an understatement. Paths are dull and boring apparently and so our search for Heather Terrace had me scrambling through what felt like miles and miles of shrubs and ugly rocks. I think I annoyed him by being constantly indecisive as to whether I was taking my jacket off or leaving it on. It was extremely cold and I was wearing thermals, long sleeve, jumper, thin jacket, thick jacket, hat and gloves, two trousers, two socks.
Dad never has much sympathy and so there’s no point complaining, as you’ll probably get one of three responses:
“Oh shut your face.”
“Stop being a wimp.”
“Pain is just a weakness leaving the body.”
As you can imagine, my childhood was really quite something.
As you can also imagine, the thought of bringing a guy home to meet my Dad – well, you just wouldn’t, would you?
Anyway, we reached the summit in good spirits. We sheltered behind a rock for a bit and had some snacks and coffee from the flask to re-fuel for the way down. A couple of other guys were on the summit too. One of them took out a bottle of water and a sausage roll from his back-pack, then, before our eyes, a seagull swooped down and snatched the packaged savoury pastry from him. Gone.
“F***’in seagull has taken me sausage roll! Still had the wrapper on! What an f***’in’ joke! Did you see that!?”
We all burst out laughing.
The summit of Tryfan is famous for the twin monoliths of Adam and Eve, a pair of rocks some three metres high and separated by 1.2 metres. Dad, wanting to prove that age is just a number, jumped from one to the other with great ease.
We took our time on our way down and enjoyed the views. They were cloudy views, but views nevertheless. There’s something about hiking – even though it can be exhausting at the time, there’s something so therapeutic about it and I never really want it to end. It’s blissful not to have to think about day-to-day life, no diary, no problems, no anxiety, just climb, and keep climbing, and see beautiful things.
It’s not all glamorous though. You become dirty and stinky and this time, the cold, damp conditions had made my chilblains flare up. Ouch!!!
Dad told me about a guy he once knew who described hiking like so:
“It’s like banging your head against a brick wall… It’s lovely when you stop.”
After filling our stomachs with tinned food, we continued to wear all our clothing (including jackets and hats), got into our sleeping bags and tried to go to sleep.
Didn’t sleep. Swear I was lying on a rock. And Dad’s snoring, don’t even get me started…
But when you get back to the comforts of the everyday – the heating, the clean fluffy socks, the bubble bath, when you get back to all of that, no matter how gross the situations were when you were ‘roughing it’ whilst travelling… I sure do miss it.
When back at home and flicking through some of the photos that were taken, this one of me (below) makes Dad laugh.
“You look like a page out of that book, ‘Where’s Frank?’
“You mean, Where’s Wally?”
“Yeah, that’s the one.”