Day 1’s 21.2km route. This one involved 1052 mtrs ascent and a 249 mtrs descent. The prime goal of this day was to get to Ffynnon Caseg tarn.
Day 1’s primary aim was to get me to an out of the way tarn hidden deep in the hills called Ffynnon Caseg. It was planned so that part of the day’s route would be walked in the dark to provide an opportunity to test the new Petzl MYO RXP headlamp. As it happened, the lamp proved to be very capable and up to the job!
The weather for this walk had really caught me out. The previous few days in the Uk had been very rainy and very cold. The weather forecast for the region seemed quite variable too, dependent on where one looked. As a result I decided to play things safe and packed some additional cold weather kit like the Down Jacket. This extra kit, plus the additional food I was carrying took the rucksack weight up to 20 Kg for day 1.
The Osprey Exos 58 rucksack did a superb job of handling this load, despite not being designed for it.
It was nice to finally be back in the hills after so many delays had hit this particular walk.
The photo’s below are just a small selection from my Facebook photo journal. I’ll let them tell the story of day 1!
The walk starts with a pleasant stroll down the sea front from LLanfairfechan. I always find the initial hour or so of a hike to be a little weird, that is until I eventually settle into the walk. I’m pleased that the weather is good, but now I’m questioning why I brought along my Down Jacket!
During one of my mis-turns, I start spotting many of these huts. Curiosity killed the cat, so I popped into one to see what they were. Inside was an elder bird watcher who seemed a little surprised at my rather loud entry – so I made my apologies and left wiser for the experience.
The ascent into the hills has started. Thanks to some friendly locals, I get warned against using a route I was going to take and instead got pointed out to use this one. It’s a little longer on the map, but unlike my chosen route it is not overgrown with vegetation!
The view from Moel Wnion is gorgeous as I ascend it. That and the weather. The previous weeks in the Uk had been rainy and very cold, so this was a bit of a turn up for the books!
Down below I can see my route from the coast to the hills via the church that can be seen centre left. I still cannot believe how good the weather is!
Lunch! Thanks to advice from Robin at http://blogpackinglight.wordpress.com/, I have now started taking lunch. This is a complete departure from my normal routine. I’m hoping it will cure the lack of energy I had been experiencing toward the end of the day on the previous two walks. In the event it did actually work! My lunch consists of Oatcakes with salami or Prima Cheese. Not only does it top up the old carbs, but it forces me to take a good rest!
To get to the hills I have to first cross under some high powered electricity pylons. As I climbed up the cables were getting uncomfortably close!
At first from a distance I cannot make out what this is. But as I get nearer, it shows itself to be an old slate quarry.
This is the point where I start to leave civilisation and head into the wilderness! Just need to hang a left up ahead to go through the pass between Moel Faban and Llefn.
As I head cross country I spot the hill of Gyrn Wigau which I need to clear. I decide to head for the wall going up the hill on the right, then from there contour the hill around the other side.
When I first started hiking I used to have a lowly opinion of the sheep’s ability to climb. But this point of view has now changed. They seem to be superb climbers. I sometimes wonder how the farmers actually look after their flocks, given how dispersed and inaccessible most of them are!
When I get to the top of the wall on Gyrn Wigau I find an old sheep fold!
I’m now contouring Eastward up the Afon Caseg valley. Up ahead on the right one can see the hovel between the mountains where I’m hoping to find Ffynnon Caseg tarn.
It turns out that Afon Caseg is quite a major fast flowing stream. After much scouting I couldn’t really find an easy crossing point. Here I’m making my attempt to cross. Luckily for me I didn’t get wet! 🙂
The sun is now getting low in the sky. I have reached the end of the valley and start heading Southward up towards the hidden Tarn in the mountains.
The climb up to the tarn is deceptively long!
At this point I’m climbing up to the Tarn in the dark. The new Petzl Myo RXP works extremely well, it is much more powerful than my previous lamp. Up ahead I start becoming suspicious as to how close the ridge-line is appearing. A glance to my left with the powerful lamp reveals that I am actually well above the tarn! So I carefully pick my way down hill to the water’s edge.
In a first for me, I end up making camp in the dark. The hardest part was actually trying to find somewhere suitable to pitch the tent as most of the ground here was sodden.
Once the tent is up, the first thing I usually do is blow up the Thermarest and get the sleeping bag ready. It’s all quite surreal doing this in the dark!
Finally I get the food on. Tonight’s menu is Mountain House Chilli Con Carne with hot chocolate. This really hit the spot!
For this walk I took precautions by putting on a special anti-blister clear plaster on both heals as I know that traditionally this is where I get hot-spots. But today’s 21km walk seems to have shredded the specialist plasters resulting in them being stuck onto my hiking socks. These socks are effectively ruined – good job I carry a spare pair!
After I had eaten I spent a fair bit of time mesmerised by the moonlight slowly climbing down the ridge-line walls that surround the tarn on three sides.
It took me by surprise at first as all the ridge-lines were initially dark. But as the moon rose it started to shine its light onto the very tops of the peaks that surrounded me. The light seemed bright and illuminated the peaks in very high contrast blacks and whites – some of this light even reflected off of the tarn.
I tried to photograph it, but alas, it was too faint to register in the pictures.
It sounds like a simple thing, but the image of the the moonlight slowly moving down over the rugged peaks that surrounded me really impressed itself into my mind – a sight that I will never forget.