A few weeks ago I designed a dream board, detailing my goals for 2020/2021. I found committing my future plans to a board quite an emotional experience, as it signified how much life had changed during, and because of, the pandemic. One of my travel goals was a trip to North Wales for the mountains and scenery; this month I ticked it off of my list.
Climbing Mount Snowdon was a challenge I wanted to face for multiple reasons, but the driving force was to signify overcoming many difficulties this year, including reaching a mental health low, with something completely physical. The mountain was my mountain; the climb I’d faced from the bottom of the pit I’d found myself in March.
We arrived late to Pen Y Pass car park and found bollards over the entrance, stating it was full. Just as we were about to continue onwards, the warden waved us in; there was one car parking space available. This felt like fate, I was meant to climb Snowdon that day. We paid our £10 for parking and decided to follow the Pyg track up and the Miners track down.
Together with me that day were my husband, my eight year old son, my six year old daughter and my faithful labrador, Elsa. I wondered how the children would fare, particularly my young daughter, but she showed amazing strength and commitment to the challenge; I’m still in awe of them both.
The weather was against us and at times we could barely see the way ahead. The mist hung heavily over the mountain, but my son thought that we’d reached the clouds which made it somewhat magical. A hip condition meant that at times I had to crawl up the rocks, pulling myself awkwardly using my hands, where I would be encouraged with licks to the face from Elsa.
It was tough, it was painful, but I couldn’t stop. During the hardest times my inner voice reminded me of how far I had come, how I couldn’t turn back and it told me I could do it. I have never been a particularly spiritual person, but that day I felt tied to the mountain. The pinnacle of my recovery would be found at the top.
Three hours after setting off we made it to the summit. My knees shook as we climbed the last few steps to take our photograph, rosy cheeked and drenched from the rain. We sat and drank our celebratory thermos of hot chocolate, which we had saved for our victory. I don’t think it has ever tasted so good.
On our descent, as the mist cleared, we were rewarded with the views we had missed on our climb up. It was as though the mountain had saved them as a reward, to show us that persistence pays off, that the struggle was worth it. But if I am totally honest, it felt like more than that. The climb up, when I could barely see in front of me and when each step was agony, represented the days when I was just surviving.
Our climb down was still difficult in places and it was a long way back. But we had endured the worst, we knew we were heading home. Our step was lighter, there was more laughter, more time to stop and admire the beauty of our surroundings. That night, back at our little wooden AirBnB house, we all felt tired but content.
It’s a week after our climb and I feel liberated. My body hurt for days afterwards, but I have a new found respect for it. I deride myself for being overweight, but my limbs took me to the top of a mountain. Two days ago I was the only mother jumping off of a jetty into the sea with her children, before I wouldn’t have even swum. I’m no longer ashamed of my body.
I thought I needed to climb a physical mountain to signify climbing a mental mountain. I didn’t realise that I had to climb it to complete my recovery. I found peace at the top of Mount Snowdon.