Friday, December 09, 2011

First Snow

Mission accomplished. Traverse training has resumed. I repeat. Traverse training has resumed. And it felt great - if a little tiring.

I didn't get off to the earliest of starts - well, what's a day off for if you can't have a bit of a lie in. Now I've got my pocket sun it doesn't really matter if gets a little dark out there - I made sure I took my head torch just in case. Looking out across the sky from the warmth of home it looked like quite a nice day. Even so I checked the mountain forecast - and it showed promise but you can't take chances with the mountains so I made sure I packed a few extra layers. I even took my balaclava - but that was in just case I felt like a bit of bank robbery on the way home...

The drive over with Vera was good.. She handled the journey with aplomb and come 11 o'clock we pulled up in the Llanthony car park. It was great being able to climb through to the back to get changed and prepare. She kept the cold wind off my back as I got ready for the off - and believe you me, it was a cold wind. Soon ready, I set out on the Llanthony loop. A 28k loop starting and finishing at Llanthony Priory following a clockwise path over to Bal Mawr, up to Twmpa and back down Offa's Dyke.

Once up to Bal Mawr and onto the ridge the wind was biting and not to mention blowing a damn gale. All the way along I had to contend with icy patches and that damn wind pummelling me. It was so very energy sapping but I gave short shrift to even considering the escape route. No, today I was in it for the long haul and I just churned out mile after mile.

I always forget quite what a sh!t that ridge is. So boggy and now the temperatures have dropped, icy - the waterproof socks really help on that front. I'd not be without them these days. It was damn hard work but I wouldn't have missed it. About two thirds of the way up it actually started to snow! My first snow of the winter. Well, I say snow, it was more sort of very small hail but I'm calling it snow and that's that.

I was glad to get to Twmpa though, the running gets better from there. No more of the damn boggy peat for a start and the wind was on my back at last. The run in along the Dyke is always a bit mind numbing, as it was today. It's a case of more of the same for 10 kilometres but you can at least get some speed up on the firm going although the wind didn't seem to be on my back as much as I thought in would, more sideways and annoying - not too mention bloody cold.

By the time I started to drop down off the mountain the sun was sitting low in the sky, casting a glorious golden orange hue down the valley. It was an amazing light - but not warming in anyway. Finally I made it back to Vera. Started her up and got the heaters going full blast. Meanwhile I hopped in the back to change for the journey home. Oh, what a godsend being able to change in the dry and relative warmth.

Anyway, it's a nice feeling to have kicked off my traverse training with a descent run, all the more descent for the tough conditions - although I should get used to running in tough conditions as I have a feeling there's going to be plenty more to come...

Today's route (28k and 2,500 feet of ascent);