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We were very well versed now at getting enough clobber together for the ascent of a mountain (this one being Snowdon) and we were set to go in no time. We managed to leave the car at about 2:00pm in blazing sunshine without a cloud in the sky, should we not have been so exhausted and in such a hurry it would have been a really pleasant saunter up to the top. An executive decision was made to head south and take the Miners Path (there are two routes, the Miners Path and the Pyg Track) as it was generally flatter and more meandering than the Pyg track - until they meet about 2/3rds of the way up Snowdon. This turned out to be a one of my all time backfires. Whilst I was walking on the flat or almost flat my heel rubbed on the back of my shoe and it was tender feeling as though someone had packed my shoe with broken glass.
I was trailing the pack by some distance, the time was against us badly but the pain really prevented me making any quicker progress, hopefully I could make it back on the uphill. The walk itself is stunning though passing by various lakes as you go. Llyn Teryn is the first you pass, from here you can see a pretty ugly water pipe that bisects the landscape as it climbs straight up the mountain. This pipe carries water to the Hydroelectric works below in Cwn Dyli. By the waters edge you can see the remains of the miners weekday barracks.
As you continue up the path, there is no real ascent being made at this point and it was pretty punishing, you arrive at the very blue Llyn Llydaw. Blue because of the copper content of the lake which is as a result of all the copper that has been thrown in to the lake by the miners. This naturally means that there are zero fish in here. It's good to know this in advance as it does look pretty welcoming when you're actually there. You head over the causeway that goes over the lake and you pass on the right hand side the remains of the copper crushing buildings. These are reputed to have never made any money, so much so that there is a letter from a Victorian lady who describes "we have a new hobby in Wales, we dig holes in the ground and pour money into them!" great investment - sounds like some of our banks!
You get an awesome view of the summit of Snowdon from here along with the walkers hiking along the ridge line. With it being such a great day - there were hoards. The road-like path continues up to the next lake, Glaslyn, which is smaller than the last. From here the path ascends to meet with the Pyg Track (named after the Pen y Gwryd, the name of the hotel at the bottom of the pass much used by the earlier mountain walkers). This is really where the climb begins and my pain subsided. I'd caught up with the other guys here and I was starting to get concerned about the diminishing hours we had. This was slightly compounded due to the volume of people heading up the mountain which slows you down as you end up going at their pace rather than yours. Everyone stayed positive though and we were striding out where we could in order to ensure that not only did we get to the top but that we get to the bottom by 6:45pm.
Some of the guys exchanged pleasantries with what I assumed was someone they had already met on another hillside before this one. As she left them I overheard her say to her walking companion "They are in totally the wrong place to complete it in time!" My heart sank and so much ran through my particularly mushy and slow brain (it was even slower than normal). I voiced my concerns to the blokes. Some where positive, some were down. We stopped and exchanged views on chances of success, we had three hours to get to the top and back down again. From over our shoulders we heard "You'll easily get to the top in three hours!" from a helpful stranger. I asked him if we'll get down again in that time, the look on his face confirmed our concern. "Yeah, hmmm, if you run."
We'd come all this way, had such nightmares and run into problem after problem. If we hadn't got caught in traffic in Glasgow, if we hadn't got lost in the Lake District, if we had bought an Atlas when we had the chance, if we had brought an Atlas with us in the first place, if we had brought a TomTom, if we'd done any of these things we'd have done it but noooooooooo. That said something took over and the sensation of what we'd already done dawned on us, we were 21 hours in and we have to give it some to do it but it wasn't out of the question yet so with grit and determination we forged our way for the summit, foaming at the mouth as a result of the volume of dextrose tablets I was troughing. Best to go for it then repeat what we'd already done at a later stage.
We managed to get to summit by 4:30pm. We saw Michelle and Nicky and they were full of encouragement which was a top boost - they'd been up here an age so were pretty ready to head down fortunately. There was no time for anything, no cup of tea, as was originally planned, no ice cream no nothing - apart from the photos to prove we'd been there. The Pyg Track is shorter but steeper so we decided to get down this one, jogging on all but the flat bits (jogging on the flat was exhausting and agony). The pad in the back of my shoe was pushing my foot forward and I could feel my toe getting bruised, no time to worry about it. This is exactly where accidents happen if you're not careful but it was dry the light was great and I wasn't feeling the urge to redo this whole 3 peaks challenge in order to complete it in the 24 hours to speed was my best friend.
We made great progress on the descent and when we rounded the corner that revealed the finish like with time to spare we could rejoice, we had about done it, we were there we surely couldn't fail at this point. We waited for all the guys so that we all crossed the line together, which we duly did, with an enormous sense of satistaction and joy and in need of a pint. We got down off Snowdon and into the car park by 6:15pm and the Saturday, completing the national 3 peaks challenge and the mountains of Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon, along with the four hundred and some miles in between in 23 hours 30 minutes. And we were thirsty, really thirsty, so we quenched it. Oh joy.