Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Brecon Beacons

Today, I went to Brecon Beacons to test myself on the highest point in South Wales. I only decided last night that today was the day for it. I left home just after 6am and made the 3 hour drive to Cwmgwdi, which is just outside of Brecon. After parking my car I hit the trail. It was already hot at 9.15 am, I knew that today was going to be a real test for me. The combination of the hard trail and the weather would be a challenge.

I set off for the ridge, I appeared to be the only person on the trail. It was a steady climb over pretty good terrain. I had learnt from my recent Ben Nevis experience about the importance of taking rests. So a couple of times I stopped just to gather myself and take on some water.
 My rucksack today was fully loaded. I had my hydration pack in my rucksack, filled with 2 litres of water. The hydration pack is a clever device. Simply put its a big bag which you fill with water and place in your rucksack. There is a tube attached to the bag which you draw water from. It saves you having to reach for water bottles. I did have two one litre bottles full with water as well. Also in my rucksack were my trusty waterproof trousers and jacket..(just in case) a pack lunch and sun block completed the pack.
As I pushed on and reached the ridge I was really impressed. The views were amazing. I could see for miles.
I began to search for my target..Pen y Fan. The summit of Pen y Fan is 886 meters. It is the highest peak in the Brecon Beacons and in fact, the highest point in South Wales. It did not take me long to find it, towering in the distance. I kept a good pace over the ridge heading towards it and began my ascent.
I was feeling really motivated to get to the top, failure just was not an option. As I got to the last part it was incredibly steep. I refused to be intimidated by it though. I took a rest break at the foot of the last part of it. I took my rucksack off, dropped my walking poles on the ground and just tried to relax and concentrate on what I wanted to do. After about five minutes I got myself prepared to go for it. I watched as a small group made their way up ahead of me. I waited to give them space, so that we would not be in each others way, and then I started moving.
The terrain under foot was rock, it was not bad and gave me good grip. As I got further up, and closer to the top I realised my walking poles would not help. I would have to use my hands to help me scramble to the top. In the heat it was a difficult task. It was energy sapping, but I was so determined to reach the top, and too scared to look back and retrace my steps I think. Finally..I scrambled up to the peak.
I was ecstatic to reach the top. I threw my rucksack down and punched the air. I took a moment to look down at where I had come from and I enjoyed the same feeling that I experienced at Ben Nevis, pride and elation.
I took a well earned rest and had something to eat, then I scanned the horizon..I wasn't finished yet. Soon I saw what I was looking for,over to my right. Corn Du is Pen y Fan's slightly shorter neighbour standing at 873 meters. Within 10 minutes I was celebrating a double summit and looking up at Pen y Fan from the top of Corn Du.
After I had enjoyed the success and the spectacular views I began my descent back down the ridge to my car. It was scorching hot now, I was glad to be going down not up. I passed a few people making their ascent and wished them luck. Eventually I reached the foot of the ridge and finished my lunch sat next to my car. It had taken me just over 5 hours to do the 7 and a half mile route.
I made my way home, thankfully missing any big traffic jams and arrived home around 5.30pm. It had been a long day, but one that I was very pleased with. It's just over 6 weeks until I go to Kilimanjaro, the excitement is building inside me, but now so is the momentum.

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