Our Snowdon Story!
On Saturday, 28th August 2017 The Bichon Buddies Crew set off tackle Snowdon to raise money for Many Tears Animal Rescue. After a gruelling 8-hours, we all made it back in One piece (just!) raising a total of £274.00 in sponsorships. We are still collecting donations and hope to increase that figure in coming days. If you would like to contribute towards this amount, please pay donations via paypal: email@example.com and put Snowdon in the comments. Thank you for helping us to help Many Tears Animal Rescue.
Jo’s Snowdon Story – Featuring Ian, Andrea and Maria
Tick, Tock, Tick, Tock ….Isnt it always the way when you have to be somewhere the next day, that you find it almost impossible to sleep? I guess getting in at 3am didn’t help the cause too much either?! BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP ….4am, time to get up! Oh well, there is plenty of time to rest when I am dead!
Its 4am on the 28th May 2017. The sun hadn’t even begun to break through the clouds and I found myself heading towards the coffee machine. Thankfully my bag was already packed with the primary essentials, a change of clothes and my wash bag, wine(!), dog food and snacks, 4-dog coats, leads, bowls and harnesses; Poo bags, dog blankets, dog treats, dog brush, antihistamines (for the dogs!) and lastly a towel – yes you guessed it, also for the dogs! …Well I am a Bichon owner after all!
As I opened the blinds in the kitchen, I caught one of the dogs giving ‘the look’ as if to say ‘it is 4am, are you mad?!’ …right before yawning, stretching, turning over on the couch and lying on his back with his legs spread – no, I didn’t teach him that!
I adorned my walking boots and put on many layers – a tip I previously had learned the hard way! I grabbed my make-up, phone and purse and threw them into my hand bag and proceeded for the front door. I let all Four of my pooches out for a quick toilet break whilst I waited for Maria to arrive. As there were quite a few of us going, we had decided to car share and because I had planned a night out with friends prior, Maria offered to do the driving. I put Evie and Theo back in the house. Neither of them were well enough to complete the journey ahead so on this occasion, it was just me, Milo, Aitch and the other 20-odd Bichons that were joining us.
I threw all my belongings in the boot when Maria arrived and jumped in the car with the dogs and before I knew it, it was 5am and we were off to Snowdonia!
I text Andrea to confirm that she was collecting Ian and that we would meet in Pen-y-pass car park at the base of the mountain. Although I had planned to sleep for the majority of the journey, a combination of sunlight, excitement and fabulous company kept me awake so the only ones to get any sleep were the dogs! We made great time and arrived at 7.30am, almost an hour earlier than expected which gave us some time to relax a little before the crowds arrived. As we sat and chatted, the carpark filled up quickly and before we knew it, they were turning people away. I looked at my phone and it had gone 8.30am, we were setting off at 9am and there was no sign of anyone! Worse still, I had no signal on my phone and neither did Maria! I decided to take a walk around the carpark to see if I could spot anyone. “OI where the hell have you been? We have been sitting here for an hour looking for you!” Wales, lock up your sheep, the scousers had arrived! Ian and Andrea hadn’t been able to get into the carpark as it was full and so sat on the edge off the drop off point waiting to see if they could find us. After a very curt conversation with the warden who refused to hold the car space and was in fact rather rude; we arranged for Maria to follow them back to the other carpark down the road and then bring them back to the meeting point whilst I waited for the others to arrive. As I sat on the hill, two cars drove past with Bichon heads hanging out the back of the windows, one of them beeped as they spotted me. It was a good 30-mins before Andrea, Ian and Maria returned and I knew that there would be more to follow. We used the facilities and prepared ourselves for the journey ahead. We said our goodbyes to Maria who agreed to take the train and meet us at the top. I asked her if she had pre-booked her ticket and she hadn’t but reassured me that should would be fine getting the train. I knew what the train bookings were like on snowdon and I was a little concerned that she wouldnt get a seat but she explained that she would be happy enough sitting having a nice coffee, enjoying lunch and reading her book. I was a little disappointed as I wanted her to have a picture with us all at the summit so we kept our fingers crossed that she would make it to the top for midday. It was now 9.30am and given that I estimated it would take us at least 3-hours to get up and another 2-3 hours coming down with a good hour for lunch in between, we made the decision to start the climb without the others and hoped to meet them at the top.
As we arrived at the gate to the Minors Track, we stopped for the obligatory selfies – if only to prove that we had at least attempted it (plus owing to experience, I knew that they would be the only decent pictures of everyone for the entire trip – not that I was going to tell them that!). 3 Cheesey smiles later and off we went. The first part of the journey was a delight. The weather was cracking the flags and the gradual incline helped the guy’s customise and prepare themselves for the journey ahead. Ian was more than equipped with his 2-bottles of water and 28 chocolate bars! The terrain was mostly flat with intermittent hills, with a random mix between cobbled rocks and gravel. The only ones struggling at this leg of the journey were the dogs. There was little water to hand and the groups concern (when I say group I am referring to Andrea(!)) was focused primarily on the dogs paws. I reassured them that the last stretch of the first leg landed us slap bang in the centre of a valley with a beautiful free flowing spring lake where they could cool off and rest; I just left out the part that there was an almighty climb prior to this – well there was no point in disheartening them so early on! I glanced around and noticed Ian chomping on his 7th or so chocolate bar – he was storing the calories for the climb!
“Jo if I don’t lose 10-stone after this walk then I am going to kill you. I have a wedding suit to fit into”
“Haha listen lad, if you get through all those chocolate bars you won’t fit in the car on the way home, never mind the wedding suit!”
“It’s ok guys, we are camping over, we can always come back again tomorrow and do it again if you feel it’s not been challenging enough! I am game and I know Aitch is up to the challenge – although looking at Milo, I am thinking he may need to sit the next one out!”
“Aw Jo he is really struggling you know, let’s stop for a break and I will give them more water”
As we approached the bend we all agreed to take a five minute break – although we hadn’t been going long, is was really hot which made the hills seem all the more torturous. We had been walking for approximately an hour but the last leg of the first stage was tough and I knew that this was going to push them. We rested, Ian started on the twix’s(!) whilst Andrea used her entire supply of drinking water cooling the dogs down! This was turning out like a comedy sketch! We set off again and as we assented the bend, I could see the physical strain slowly evolve into mental anguish on the face of the now, somewhat unwilling participants, as self-doubt started to set in.
“I’m dying. I think I am actually going to die Jo. I am getting married, Marks going to be a widow before he even says his vows! Are you trying to kill me?!”
“Don’t make me laugh Ian, I will end up peeing myself, eat your 28 chocolate bars, you will be fine!”
“EAT?! You have to be able to breath to eat!! I can’t even see. I think I am having a heart attack”
“It’s not far guys I promise, just a little longer to go and we will be at the lake”
“JO! You said that half an hour ago!”
“Yes I know …and we sat down for 20 minutes of that!! Come on you will have buns of steel at the end of this! Keep going you will be fine. It’s worse if you keep stopping”
“I can’t do it, I am going home. It’s too hard. I can’t do it Jo. Who’s F****** idea was this? JO! Why are we even friends?! I am NEVER doing this again. It horrible”
I managed to hold back the giggles; that was until three walkers, clearly experienced and showing very little physical strain, strolled past us! Ian instantly stood up tall with a huge beaming smile to greet them and even picked up speed to chat to them about Millie.
“Hiya, these two are mine, Millie has just had pups 8-weeks ago, doesn’t she look fab?!”
No sooner had they walked on ahead and out of sight, Ian slowed right down and came to a halt.
“Did you see them? Did you? They were not even sweating! Right that’s it I am going home. I can’t do this I have bad knees”
That was it, he set us both off! Myself and Andrea could not breathe for laughing! I am not sure if it was the complaining or the instant change from totally annoyed to instant smiles but regardless we were both now bent over in a heap at the edge of the mountain!
“OI It’s not funny! I’m in pain here and you two are laughing at me. Oh F*** ye both I am not sharing me chocolate with you now, you can both get lost”
That set us off again! My stomach hurt that much from laughing that I couldn’t physically stand up! Worst still, they hadn’t actually got round the bend and visualised the climb ahead yet – oh dear, this was going to be fun! I knew at this point that my initial 3-hour estimation was going to be way off the mark so I attempted to call Maria to let her know that we would be up much later than planned. DAMN. No signal. Of course I had no signal, I was climbing a mountain! This was the 15th time I had been up Snowdon and yet every single time I always seemed to forget that communication was non-existent.
At last we reached the lake. As always, the precipitation was high and the mist physically fell as we sat at the edge of the water eating our sandwiches. The dogs paddled and cooled off their paws and I pulled out Aitch and Milos new 4paws fleece, well if ever I was going to test the new coats, then now was that time!
“Why are you putting fleeces on them Jo? It’s boiling.”
Oh if only they knew!
“So where now? How do we get out of here?”
“Look at what? You mean right up there? Where those people are? You are kidding right? You want us to go up there??? F*** OFF! I will never make it! No way am I doing that! I am going home. I can’t do that!”
“Come on Ian, you will be fine, we will do it together”
“Andrea, I can’t do that”
“Yes you can, come on”
“Guys, we can work at your own pace – you will be fine I promise. It’s much worse than it looks”
….And on that final note, we were off.
The first part of the second leg was tough. The steps were steep and the cobbles slippy. Andrea lost her footing a few times and Ian complained that his feet were burning. Conversation dropped somewhat as the assent became much more vigorous. We were stopping every 5-minutes or so to allow the guys to catch their breath. The dogs required assistance up the high rocks however Ian’s Bleu was definitely a mountain goat in her former life! She took to the rocks like a duck to water, in fact, she probably did twice the distance we did as she ran ahead then came back to make sure her human hadn’t trailed too far behind. Conscious of the time, I tried to set the pace and remained in front and when they dropped too far back, I sat and waited and admired the stunning scenery as they caught up. It gave me a great opportunity to take lots of pictures and film the guys unawares!
Although a little distance behind, I could hear Ian chatting to a few walkers who crossed his path. I only caught one side of the conversation, can you guess who’s?!
“Yea she has just had pups you know. Isn’t she brilliant! I know I am made up. Wish I could lose weight that quick. No that one’s Bleu. Love them”
We continued the climb for a good 30-minutes, Ian began to struggle – I could see this as for the first time, he was quiet! The only time he talked now was when he stopped. Andrea was struggling to, she fell further behind.
“How far Jo, I am knackered. How far do we have to go? Are we near the top yet?”
“Do you want the honest answer?! We are about 1/3rd of the way but if you keep going, there is a rest point coming up soon”
We stopped to allow Andrea time to catch up. I was so proud of Andrea, althought she was finding it hard, her spirits always remained high and without complaint, she encouraged Ian to keep going.
“Soon? I am sitting down. I can’t walk anymore. My knees are killing me. Listen I don’t think I can do this. I think I need to leave you two to do it. It’s too hard”
“Have a little rest, you will be fine lad. You are with me and we are doing it together”
“Guys, you will be ok I promise you. If I can climb this pregnant then you can climb it with bad knees! Please keep going, when we get past this next point we can all rest.”
Walkers were building up both in front of us and behind. The weather had completely changed. The sun was nowhere to be seen. The spray from the mist dampened everyone’s hair and the dog’s coats were wet. My two were completely dry thus far, with their new coats keeping the water away from their skin. Not a bad investment I thought! Visibility became difficult and we could only see a few meters ahead. We set off again only now we had reached he first scramble. Hands and feet had to be used to get us across the tight ridges and up onto the verge. The dogs however found it to be a peice of cake! Andrea was concerned about the dogs feet, completely disregarding the pain in her own – typical Andrea! We pushed on, primarily because stopping on a ridge was not an option! Finally, we got to the rest point. We sat down, caught our breath, stretched our legs and ate.
The dogs had lunch and rested a while however the temperature started to drop and the mist became much thicker. Although we were warm, we found ourselves putting layers back on as a combination of the damp and sweat made our skin cold to the touch and we decided to get moving as time was dragging on and we were conscious of catching maria at the top of the mountain and moreover, keeping the dogs body temperature up.
We were on the third part of the leg – this was the longest of all. I started to feel the burning in my thighs as we continued the asscent. It wasnt so much the fitness that got to me, but the horrible dreary weather. The water was dripping off my eyelashes and I was soaked through. I hate being wet! We carried on regardless as the people we encountered along the way were probably complaining more than us at this point! It made everyone feel better, especially Ian who seemed to get a second wind. I think it was more determination to get it over and done with as he began to veer ahead, dogs in tow. We passed a group of women that had previously passed us and that gave us a little confidence. We stopped to take a picture of them at the ‘penny point’ and they offered us the same curtesy – at least noone could argue that we had hiked up!
Fatigue, both mental and physical set in. Everyone wanted to give up now, event the dogs had had enough! It seemed Aitch was the only one enjoying himself! We found ourselves at the cages – a stretch of secured rock that walkers used as a resting place. We sat for 10-minutes but unable to keep out of the wind and rain, we plodded on. The thought of Maria already att he top of the mountain waiting our arrival gave us the motivation we needed to keep going.
“Poor Maria will be wondering where we have gotten to”
“I know Andrea, I am just hoping that she managed to get on the train otherwise she will have been in her car the entire time and based on our pace, we wont get back until gone 5pm”
“5pm? F*** that, come on you two I want to get home and put my feet up”
“Ian, we only have a short stretch left now, its a lot less steep and more of a path walk”
“Jo I dont believe a word you say, youhave been saying its half an hour away since we started!”
“Its good to know you havent lost your sence of humour!”
The last part of the trek was of course, as suggested; less steep but the weather conditions as we approached the top were far worse than we had encountered thus far. The wind was picking up and the mist was thick, visability was minimal and we could only see approximatley a meter infront of ourselves. The pace had slowed dramatically and no amount of encouragement was building up the speed. I looked down and panic struck in.
“OMG I am missing a dog”
“What, who? Oh god yes Milo has gone missing”
“You guys carry on, I will meet you at the top”
I must have backtracked at least a mile asking every walker along the way if they had seen a bichon – with 3 others in tow I think they thought I was mad! Eventually I found Milo at the cross point wagging his tail and getting an abundance of cuddles off a group of walkers. I dont know whether it was relief or annoyance I felt but right at that point I was just happy to have him back safe. His poor little tail wagged like it was christmas when he saw me. Bless! I defy anyone who can stay mad at a Bichon!! I doubled back at lightening pace and soon enough, I caught up with the gang who were now in suprisingly good spirits!
“I told Ian to run ahead and climb to the top so when you got back we could say ‘HAHA we beat you’!”
“You should have done Andrea! I could have written a whole Snowdon take on the tortoise and the hare for facebook!!”
“Come on guys we are actually approaching the Summit now, lets get a picture for the sponsors and get to the cafe – I am dying for a coffee”
As we approached the summit, there were queues as always. We waited tired and patienty to climb the final stairs of our journey for that all important summit snap. We had finally made it! Just the three of us and no other climbers to be seen. We didnt spot Maria either so we decided to do the pictures and if everyone else was in the cafe, come back for a group one later. We were drenched. I asked the gentleman behind us to take a snap of us all – dogs included. I never even stopped to check if it had taken, as soon as it was done I headed straight for the cafe.
Unfortunatley dogs are not allowed in the cafe in Snowdon – extremely diasppointing but a rule we had no option but to obey. Ian and Andrea sat with all of the dogs in the foyer and I went off to look for Maria. No joy. Maria and the others were nowhere to be seen. What was worse is that the queue for food and drink was out of the doorway! I walked over to the counter at the dismay and huffs from the people standing queing to ask the approxiuamte wait time for food and drinks. The girl told me 40-minutes MINIMUM! …and that was without queing time! It was already 2pm now! I worked out that it would take us 3-hours to get down meaning that we would not reach the base until gone 5pm if we set off straight away! Ian was in a bad way. His knees began to seize from the walking and sitting down on the cold floor was not helping. He struggled getting back up. We decided to walk down the LLanberris path which was the least steep and easiest of all, the catch being that it put us at the wrong side of the mountain. We had no way of contacting Maria to see where she was, if she was coming, where to meet her and so on. Then, out of the blue an airparamedic stopped us in our tracks.
“You must be the Bichon people with Maria? She has been up and had to go back down again owing to the train times. She said she will see you at the bottom of the mountain”
We thanked him and gave a donation to his charity bucket and decided to make our way back. Given that we had no way of contacting Maria and Ian was struggling walking, I decided to walk on ahead. I could build a quicker pace than the others and I could get down the mountain, call Maria and ask her to come to the otherside to collect me and we could drive up as far as possible to collect Ian and Andrea to reduce thier walk. I veered on ahead.
Althought the wind and rain was heavy and the path ahead slippy, I made good time. It took me just under 1.40 minutes to get to the bottom. I headed for the carpark and shops and proceeded to call Maria. It took me a good 30-minutes to get a signal on my phone, when I finally got through, it went through to voicemail. Of course it did – there was no signal where Maria was parked!! I left a voicemail on Marias phone telling her to come and get us. What now?! Do I sit and wait for Andrea and Ian to arrive or jump a taxi to Maria and risk missing them? Do I wait and hope Maria will drive around in her car or do I backtrack back up the mountain and risk missing Maria?! Oh Bugger! Whats worse, I had two phones on me, one had gone flat and the other had ZERO signal and was about to die also!! ARGH! After purchasing a portion of chips and a hot cup of coffee, I did what I always do in a crisis – I called my mum!!! I gave her Andrea, Ian and Marias number and asked her to keep trying them to explain the situation incase my phone died. I agreed to stay put and wait for them to get there. Eventually, my mum managed to get through to Ian who explained that he was in a pub with Andrea and they were having drinks and had ordered a Taxi and would pick me up on the way. It was now 6pm, the shops had shut and it was starting to get dark, the rain was heavy and no sign of anyone and both mobile phones had died a death! I thought to myself, I have no idea where the campsite is, I car shared with Maria so have no transport, looks like I am staying in Snowdonia tonight! Oh well, there are some lovely hotels in the area – surely I can find a dog friendly one! With that, Maria pulled up in her car with Ian and Andrea trailing behind in thier car. They did not look impressed! I thought oh hell, I am in the dog house yet again! I sheepishly made my way to Marias car and took one look at her and burst out laughing! What a disaster! It turns out poor Maria was only allowed to stay up the mountain for 30-minutes before returning on the train so had spend the best part of 8-hours sitting in her car on a stealth mission trying to spot us coming down the mountain! When it transpired that on the way down Andrea had almost wet herself and that Ian walked the majority of the rout backwards with the help of two other walkers who were holding him – one under each arm – I couldnt help but see the funny side!! To make matters more amusing (well in my eyes at least!) Maria played back a message that she had received from my mum
“Hello Maria this is Joannes mum” (in her usual telephone voice!)
“Joanne is waiting for you at the base of Llanberris, she is on her own. You will go and get her wont you? Can you go and get her now please? Thank you. She is by herself”
Thinking she had hung up the message carried on with dad in the background
“Where is she, I am going to get her”
“MALL WILL YOU SHUT UP, I AM SORTING IT OUT” (Minus the telephone voice!!!)
I cried! I actually cried! It was the funniest thing I had heard! God I love my mum! With that we made our way to the campsite and arrived at the Pod, I sheepishly got out of the car expecting a telling off from Andrea and Ian seeing as the humour and worn off, pain had set in and they were wet, tired and less than impressed. Everyone wanted food so myself and Maria went out to get supplies at the nearest take out.
A few Kebabs, some pizza, a glass or two of red and good old laugh later and everyone was snoring – even the dogs! I spent the majority of the night chatting away to Maria and we eventually fell asleep around 4am-ish. Apart from the odd grumble from Ian telling Aitch to get off him – well he likes to sleep on you as opposed to next to you(!) – everyone slept soundly.
The next morning I woke up to the smell of Fresh Bacon! I really could have kissed Maria! She really does make the best English breakfasts! We all sat around the site, eating, chatting and talking about our adventures whilst the dogs enjoyed the freedom. Then at around 9am we set off to make it back for the Crosby Walk – Yes we were still planning on walking the lake!
….Ok so we made it as far as the Bistro but the good intention was there!!
WANT TO JOIN US ON THE NEXT ONE – YES THERE WILL BE ANOTHER!! REGISTER FOR NEWS AND EVENTS VIA OUR WEBSITE. YOU CAN STILL DONATE TO THIS EVENT UP UNTIL JULY 1ST – ALL PROCEEDS ARE FOR MANY TEARS RESCUE