However, let that positive paragraph not fool you into a feeling that all is good in my walking world. I'm in a mood.
It all just seems like a lot of hard work, this walking every single day. Not only have I chosen to attempt to walk 3000 miles in a continuous journey around Wales - I've chosen to put a route that takes me over all the highest points of the country right in the middle of it. No sooner am I over one mountain than I have to walk towards another one and head straight up it! This is really bloody difficult; it's not walking any more, it's scrambling, using my hands to haul myself and rucksack carefully to the top of a steep steep peak. What is my reward? To look at the view for five minutes and then spend a couple of hours picking my way down, lowering myself ungainly over rocks and boulders, my knees hurting with every single step.
Ugh, it's just so much effort! Why am I doing this? Why?
I have to think of the positives - the toughest mountains are over with, the Rhinogs and I am so glad I had the company of a friend while crossing them. Good old Stu, chirpy and amenable, he was a brilliant person to go out walking with, especially as we were crossing the hardest, most dangerous peaks of the whole route, of my whole walk really. High high climbs, big scrambles and boulders, all in some of the wildest most remote landscape I've come across in Wales so far.
I skipped ahead to walk the Rhinogs, to make sure I could do them when Stu was available and then hitched back in a stumbling, tired journey towards the missing section, Cnicht and the Moelwyns. I lost my mapcase and guidebook that morning, leaving me stranded, in a way, I don't use the guidebook a lot but it helps to know which line the author wants you to take from peak to peak. Without it I'm walking blind, in a way. I know that next I will cross Cader Idris and head towards Dinas Maddwy before passing through Dylife and across Plynlimon but I've no idea of what route to take, I'll have to work it out myself which is more tiring.
Another thing I can moan about is the weight of my rucksack - it's far far too heavy and that is unecessarily exhausting. I've just added in a tent, weighing a couple of kilos.
What do I do? I'm carrying a pair of waterproof trousers, a handwarmer, a tin of lighter fluid, a tent. All preparation in case of rain and cold weather but right now, day to day, I don't need them and they're just dead weight. It's hard to carry them now and it's hard to look ahead and know that for all these winter months to come that I will have to carry them.
Yeah, Winter. I said it.
I think the thought of all these months still to come is getting a bit much. I've been walking for six months and I'm not even halfway through my chosen distance. All the effort I spend each day grinding out a few miles and it barely makes a dent in the huge total I've set myself. It's pretty wearing to think about all the effort yet to come.
A wholy unexpected aspect of the hard work that this journey involves is not the carrying of these objects, it's the brain power needed to constantly adapt to new situations - every time I'm tired it's because I'm low in energy and I need to solve the problem myself, eat something, put more clothes on, navigate myself off the side of a mountain, find a place to sleep, decide what really needs to be in my rucksack, plan ahead, communicate with people, wash, take care of myself.
These may seem like simple, easy decisions but when your brain and body are exhausted from the 10 hours you've just spent outside, being battered by the wind and clambering over rocks or through bracken, all in the effort to keep putting one foot in front of the other, everything becomes very difficult. The brain decends into a fog where sitting very still and staring into space seems to be the immediate answer to any given problem.
Half the time I wild camp because I can't face putting up any kind of shelter or even having anything proper to eat; I just want to eat some sugar, take my socks off, get into a sleeping bag and lie down.
I'm struggling, but of course I'm going to struggle. There's a reason that hardly anyone undertakes a 3000 mile journey - because it's really fucking difficult. Especially without a support team.
Think of the positives
- I am about to climb Cader Idris, one of my favourite mountains.
- The worst mountains are done, nothing will be as hard as the Rhinogs.
- I have just picked out anouther few hundred grams of stuff I don't seem to need right now that I can post ahead.
- It's not raining. (Yet)