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Hiking/Climbing Crib Goch and Snowdon

Friday, July 26, 2013 @ 05:22 pm from Wales Wales
Day 30

What a day. When I left the hostel in the morning it was absolutely pouring down rain. I waited a few minutes for it to calm down and then made my way down to the bus stop. The plan was to catch the Snowdon Sherpa bus over to Pen-Y-Pass where I'd catch the Pyg Track trail. The Pyg Track would take me over Crig Goch and onto Snowdon.

I got into town (still in the rain) and picked up a sandwich and some fruit for lunch. I wasn't really sure what to do so I said "screw it" and hopped on the bus. I figured I'd head over to the trialhead and at least see if the weather would clear up.

Fortunately I made the right choice. By the time I got there the skies were clearing and I could actually see some peaks in the distance. When I was talking to the employee at the outdoor shop last night he mentioned taking the alternate track up the Crib Goch for some better views and a more intense hike. I didn't know quite what he meant until about 45 minutes into my hike.

The trail I was on basically ended and expected you to climb a few hundred feet up what were essentially vertical cliff faces. Flashbacks of climbing at the gym were flooding back. Make sure your feet are well planted. Lift with your feet. Balance with your hands. The only difference is I hadn't ever had to do that on wet rocks, with a backpack and without rope.

There was a group a few hundred feet ahead of me so I knew it could be done. I chugged along and finally made it to the peak! The next challenge? Hiking a long an extremely narrow ridge with several hundred foot dropoffs on either side. And when I say hiking a long the ridge, I'm using that term loosely. It was more of a straddle/climb/scramble over the ridge for a good mile.

Edmund Hillary used Snowdon as his training ground when preparing for his ascent of Everest. I kinda laughed at that fact yesterday when I read it but after hiking along the crazy ridges and scree fields, it seems like a very good place to do some intense training.

I got to one point where I lost the trail and rather than risk continuing along this relentless ridge I bushwhacked my way down a mile long scree/boulder/creek/sheep shit filled obstacle course until I caught back up with the original Pyg Track. When I started my abandonment of the ridge in favor of living a long life, there were two guys ahead of me that carried on along the ridge (more on that later).

Having my feet planted on solid ground and on an actual trail again, I made good time hiking up to the top. This trail is actually pretty busy and Snowdon is one of the most trafficked mountains in the UK with over 500,000 visitors a year. The views along the hike were absolutely incredible. Unfortunately the peak of Snowdon was in a giant cloudbank when I got there and I couldn't admire any of the views. On a clear day you're supposed to be able to see over 140 miles from the peak including several countries. I got to see fog.

I ate lunch near the summit and the clouds broke a few times so I could take some photos. For my descent I took a path directly back into the town I was staying in. It's a very steady and uneventful path with views that are good, but nothing like the ones from the Pyg Track. I made pretty fast time back into town and decided that my adventures for the day would be better with a few pints. I went to a pub and had a couple and relaxed on the patio for an hour or so.

I came back to the hostel, showered and started uploading photos. I'm going to have some more ravioli for dinner and probably pass out early. I'm also going to check and see if the hostel has availability for tomorrow night as well. I'd like to do a few of the other hikes around here since the scenery is so amazing.
Teaser photo
Crib Goch from the Pyg trail
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Climbing Crib Goch
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I'm supposed to hike along that?
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Amazing views

Getting to Snowdonia National Park

Thursday, July 25, 2013 @ 07:30 pm from Wales Wales
Day 29

Today was a pretty easy day of waiting around for public transportation. Llanberis, where I'm staying now, isn't very far from Llandudno and only required two local buses (totaling less than 2 hours of in-the-bus time). I took my time getting ready this morning, packed up and went on search of some sunscreen.

I only brought a tiny travel sized tube of sunscreen not expecting Ireland and the UK to be going through one of the biggest heat waves they've had in 7 years. I had about two squirts left so I set out trying to find some more. Unfortunately since Wales only gets a few weeks of sun a year, no where has sunscreen it seems. I went through several stores and struck out. I eventually decided I'd just find some later and hopped on the bus to Bangor.

On the bus to Bangor (the large city I needed to catch my connection to Llanberis) I saw that I couldn't check into my hostel until 5pm. It wasn't even 11am when I got into Bangor so I thought, what the heck, and walked around town for a bit. I went into a pharmacy and found some inexpensive SPF 50 sunscreen that should last me for quite some time. I had a quick bite to eat then walked down to the harbor area. I thought it would have been more situated for relaxing by the water but that wasn't the case. It was a ghost town there.

Since there wasn't really anywhere to hang out, I headed back to the city center and ran across an Aldi on my way. I knew I'd have access to a kitchen at this hostel so I bought some pesto filled ravioli, pasta sauce and some snacks for the hike tomorrow. I waited around a little longer but got bored and figured I'd just head to Llanberis on the next bus and find something to do there.

The 85 bus runs from Bangor to Llanberis every hour on the 45 minute mark and costs 3.10 pounds. The trip only takes 45 minutes which is nice. Once I got into town I hopped off and walked to a big lake to relax. Unfortunately some dark clouds were rolling in and I didn't want to get rained on so I went back into town. The clouds died out a bit so I went into some of the shops. I had been meaning to buy a hat since I didn't bring my own so I went into an outdoor shop and picked one up. It has a detachable flap on the back to cover your ears and neck which I thought was pretty neat. The guy working at the store was telling me about the Snowdon Sherpa bus service that takes you to some ascents up Snowdon than the ones from town. I'm going to do that tomorrow to get a much more scenic climb than if I left from the hostel.

I still had about 2.5 hours to kill so I went to a grocery and picked up some bread to go with dinner and a cider. I went back to the lake and found a secluded spot to enjoy my cider and an apple. I skipped a few rocks and sat around for a bit until it was time to head to the hostel and check in.

I walked the half mile up to the hostel and ended up waiting outside for about 15 minutes with a huge group of kids that looked like they'd just spent a few days backpacking in the forest. They finally opened up for checking in and I got my room. Instead of trying to shower right away with that big group in front of me, I went and cooked up my dinner (which tasted great) then got some of my gear situated for tomorrow.

The Sherpa bus leaves from town at 8:30am tomorrow morning and I want to make sure I eat breakfast and have a chance to run to the grocery to pick up a few more snacks for the hike. In order to do all that, I'll have to get up a little earlier than I have been, but it'll totally be worth it.
Teaser photo
Snowdonia National Park from Llanberis
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Snowdonia from view near hostel

Where I've been:

Good Evening… Planet Earth
All the countries I visited on this trip (in yellow).

What's this about?

Traveling is something I've loved doing for as long as I can remember. I've been lucky enough to travel out of the US a few times but never longer than 2 weeks at a time. I decided that I should go see the world and experience all it has to offer. I booked a one-way ticket to Dublin, Ireland to depart on June 26, 2013. After I get to Europe I'll let serendipity take hold and see where I end up. No schedules and no itinerary… just go with the flow. That's as close to a plan as I'm making.

Who am I?

My name's Brandon O'Brien and I'm a travelholic. Before this journey I've been to 11 countries and put over 17,500 miles on various motorcycle trips through the USA and Canada. I'm a self-employed web developer so I'm fortunate enough to be able to work anywhere there's an internet connection. That's what truly made this experience possible.


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