An art which we are slowly losing (perhaps) in our impatient, always-on, easy credit society. So many now expect their wants and desires to be satisfied NOW, not even in 5 minutes time. I am no more immune to this process than the next man (or, probably, woman) – though whenever I am waiting impatiently by a printer I do try and remember the days when dot-matrix was the height of technology and the printing of a 10 page document was a major undertaking (rather than a 60 second wait). Nevertheless, delaying one’s gratification can add significant savour to its eventual delivery.
A couple of weeks back, I was in West Wales aiming once again to ascend the greatest, if not actually the highest, of Welsh peaks: Cader Idris. I last accomplished this feat (unaccompanied and without the use of oxygen – other than that supplied by nature) in 1983: I know this as I used some of the photos I took at the time in my AO-level Geography Project. I’d hoped to repeat the ascent (by the pony path) when I visited the area in 2010 and 2011 – but the weather had not played ball, with the peak shrouded by cloud, even on otherwise sunny days. This year, I was determined – and the weather forecast positive – and so began the ascent despite the clouds once again hiding my objective from view. Before attempting such a daring feat, I had (of course) fortified myself with cake from T H Roberts – the finest cake supplier in Dolgellau (and, for my money, the realm) – something I had missed these past three years (and all the sweeter for it).
As the ascent continued, blue sky began to appear on the horizon – but Cader itself remained stubbornly occulted. As I reached the Saddle, I too was engulfed in the clouds – but there were occasional breaks through which the sun-lit view was briefly revealed. On reaching the summit, these shafts of clear view grew more common and broader and the stunning scenery of Wales was revealed in ever larger chunks and longer glimpses. This produced a truly magical effect, and made me (at least) appreciate the views all the more. As the descent began, the clouds lifted and all was revealed. Often the descent can be an anti-climax as you’ve already seen everything and reached the top – but on this hike, the views going down were all new which added to the whole experience. I can truly say that the mountain did not disappoint, and it was well worth the 31 year wait!
I must admit that I was not alone on the mountain that day, though it was hardly crowded – well, unless you count the skylarks and meadow pipits who were out in force (serenading me, I like to think). Some hardy souls were already coming down as I began my ascent – these foolish folk who had seen nothing but cloud should have enjoyed a little leisurely cake before their day began. In this case, gratifying one desire to delay another paid dividends. Never underestimate the power of good cake to make your day a better one!
I like to think that my gymnastic training was helpful on the hike – all that balancing on one leg was really handy – but it was by no means essential as I dragged both of my parents (who, in the traditional manner, when lacking access to a TARDIS, are a tad older than me and who had not indulged in similar training) up there with me. Lest you feel I am overly cruel, I didn’t force them with the aid of a rawhide whip – though they hadn’t intended to make the whole ascent – it just happened and we kept thinking the summit was closer than was actually the case as (a) it was hidden and (b) it was more than 30 years since any of us had last made this climb.
To silence the doubters among the readership, here is a picture of me lolling insouciantly against the trig point at the summit (with one parent – the other was holding the camera).
I should also point out that like the heroes of those Republic Serials of the 1940s (think King of the Rocket Men), my hat did not leave my head at any point on the climb – however, energetic I was (though no frenzied fist-fights broke out in my case). It is never a mistake to be stylish!