I’m really getting into this now. Late January is off to a flying start!
On the 16th I headed to Brecon Beacons solo to hike the horseshoe with an expedition backpack. I didn’t leave super early, so it was a fairly “relaxed” day. Hit the trail at noon and once again headed up the gazillion steps to reach the ridgeline that I followed for most of the hike.
The weather wasn’t bad exactly (given what Welsh weather can throw at an unwary hiker), but it certainly wasn’t nice. Immediately into the fog with REALLY low visibility. Was hard to believe I wasn’t alone up there because the vis was so poor.
Suddenly all hell broke loose and the fog was streaming past really quickly when the wind picked up. It was bizarre to be able to clearly see the wind. It was HORRIBLE. I couldn’t find my buff and because I wasn’t far from that half way mark I actually turned back for a while, thinking that it might be a good idea just to go back the way I came and make the most of the exercise of heading down the gazillion steps. But I couldn’t actually bring myself to go back so I stopped again and looked for my buff, put on my waterproof trousers and cracked on again. I pushed through the nasty weather, headed past Corn Du, and on to Pen y Fan.
Then onwards to Cribin, somewhat dropping out of the mist. I stuck to the high route from Cribin rather than dropping straight back down into the valley and then I rejoined the main path and followed it through the valley back to the car park. 15km in under 3:30 which I’m happy with.
And then… drove back to Bristol and in the evening I swam a double session with Lance again and we managed to chip another 10% off his channel swim challenge in one fell swoop!! 136 lengths.
Definitely needed to keep my legs moving over the following days to make sure I a) didn’t seize up and b) get used to pushing on with tired legs!
Monday I got caught up with work and only managed to walk to and from the office, so no real exercise.
Tuesday, work was even tougher and I didn’t get a chance to walk during daylight, however I did get a chance to meet the expedition team on a zoom call!! That was great. Really looking forward to meeting them in person, everyone seems lovely. And then at about 9pm I headed out for a one hour, 5km hike with my heavy backpack full of water bottles and tinned food (scales ran out of battery so not sure of the weight!).
Wednesday was another double swim sesh and we smashed out 136 lengths with no issues. The only thing holding us back is the traffic in the lane now!
The next major exercise was a really nice hike at Cheddar Gorge with Chris from work. There were some really steep and muddy sections and with my well-loved hiking boots being pretty slick, I was sliding all over the place with my 15kg backpack. Great views and lovely weather. Loads of goats but they kept their distance!
Sunday involved a trip back to the Storey Arms in the Brecon Beacons and I headed on a solo trip up a really well laid out path to Corn Du and back. It was another perfect training hike in terms of the terrain – hilly but not slippery. The weather wasn’t particularly ideal – too warm to try out my cold weather gear but still damp. The trail heads up quite steeply, then down to a small river crossing before heading up again, even more steeply, right up to the summit of Corn Du, with it’s cool natural staircase.
There was some stunning hoar frost near the top and it was also nice to get above the inversion to see clear skies above the clouds.
I drove back to Bristol in time for a nice carvery before heading to the pool for another double swim session. We achieved another 140 lengths, chipping off more than 10% of the total distance target for January.
I had a day’s rest and then saw Gemma on Tuesday for a physio massage where she loosened up my leg muscles. I can definitely feel that they are stronger now!
Work was busy so I didn’t get a proper mid week hike and the Wednesday swimming session was pretty disappointing because the pool closed some lanes without warning and so we “only” managed to swim 104 lengths rather than 136. Not a huge problem but it puts out final big swim on Friday under a little more pressure.
So for our final big Friday swim we had a 108 length target and we managed it pretty nearly, though hilariously, this was the session when Lance forgot his trunks and had to buy an emergency pair at the pool! We’ve got a celebratory lunch on Sunday for Lance and so we left 8 lengths to swim at a public swimming session on Sunday.
On Saturday I had another solo hike. The weather in the Beacons looked pretty rough so I decided to head back to Cheddar Gorge. I haven’t broken in my B2 mountain boots yet so I decided to hike with them. I think I had too much weight in my backpack. The uphill rocky sections were reasonably tough in those boots, but the downhills were really hard going. And it was so muddy. Initially I was having a pretty good time and then when I was close to the highest point, extremely strong winds started whipping up the valley and it was difficult to stand up, let alone walk. I slipped pretty badly on the way down the back of that hill and I didn’t realise that I had really jarred my back (my backpack held everything in and the pressure limited how much I could feel), and towards the end of the hike, it was a real struggle. Feeling pretty nervous now.
At the end of January, Lance and I finished the last 8 lengths in the pool, supported by a group of friends and then we celebrated with a Sunday lunch at a great pub nearby.
It was lovely to celebrate the achievement, but I’m certainly feeling conscious that it’s going to be a rougher journey to get used to the boots than I initially predicted.
Either way, the final countdown is on!!! Flights are booked, I’ve managed to buy almost all of the stuff I need. I fully adapted my usual packing list (twice already because of a fault with Google Drive!!).
It has barely snowed in the Cairngorms so far this season, and so we are genuinely not sure whether we will be able to drag the sleds. The weather is still really cold and windy. It looks pretty grim to be honest.