Harsh.......

......was how my wife described me, and how a friend described me, well his exact words were "you took your Mrs up Pen Y Fan?? Hahaha bit harsh!" That friend is 3 Para! I'm still trying to work out if he thought I was brave or stupid, on reflection it's probably a bit of both! I had to be in H at the weekend to sort a few things out, so knowing the weather was going to be decent at the Fan, I figured it would be an ideal opportunity to introduce myself to the route, but sometimes, bravado really should take a back seat, especially when you have precious cargo in tow! 

Friday evening was spent kitting Mrs Rushen out with new boots, new socks, new trousers, Helly Hansen base layers for top and bottom and furry white gloves, her preference to the ones I picked out, as opposed to the practical North Face ones. However the furry white ones were still North Face, so I figured, I would let her have her way. I then had to spend the next two hours watching that Twilight dross, on top of an hour and half shopping, it may have been practical shopping, but it was shopping all the same, it felt like I was paying my penance up front! 

Saturday morning was spent checking and packing kit, checking and packing spare kit and making sure all kit was squared away and that we had enough of everything in the eventuality of something not going to plan. We got to Hereford just after 1400, parked up and checked in as usual at the Starting Gate, and wandered into town for a coffee. Caz has this immortal fear of hills, well big hills, and the unknown, and the unknown unknowns! I'd spent a lot of the build up to the weekend trying to put her mind at ease and was still trying to do that Saturday, she likes going for walks, but she knows this isn't your average trek. She knows what the route is used for and she knows why it's important to me, so she knows it's going to be tough, but she's not sure how tough. She's probably not prepared mentally for how difficult it is, she's never faced anything like this before, and if truth be told, I know it's going to be tough, but I have an expectation of how tough I expect it to be, especially the route we are going up. 

We spend the evening getting a good dinner inside us and when we wake at 0700 Sunday morning, we get ourselves partially ready and carb load with a good brekkie. We set off for Brecon shortly after and about 7 miles from The Storey Arms car park on the A470, the peaks come into view in all their glory, and on this crisp beautiful sunny morning, it's a very beautiful scene, however Mrs Rushen isn't convinced! Apprehension still has a firm grip over her, and she lamely pleads for me to stand down and take on a less demanding trek, I think she knows the request is falling on deaf ears and leaves it alone. She knows what I'm like when I get an idea in my head, and the determination to see it through takes over, she knows I've made up my mind that's what we're doing today, and I won't be shaken from the prize. Which to be honest isn't much more than a sense of achievement, which I know Caroline will also feel, when we're standing at the summit of Pen Y Fan and taking pics to record the moment. We park up in what appears to be the only free spot left available, the Fan, it would appear is already quite heavy with traffic. I check my bergen once more to make sure I'm happy, and load up with a few more sand parcels to make sure I have plenty of weight in there, after all as much as I'm there to enjoy myself, I'm also there for a recce, to determine if I'm ready physically to take on 'The Fan Dance'. I take a small pack and put some other essential items in there and load it up with my camera and give it to Caz. We close the boot, lock the car and head over to the phone box at the start of the route, we're here now, and it feels like a long time coming. I'm excited and nervous, because I know if this was just me and a group of mates it would be fine, I'm just not sure that subjecting Caz to this is fair, but I figure she's fit enough, mentally she just needs to be able to tell herself that she can do this. 




The route is a climb straight away, gradual at first and then steepens quickly for what seems like an age, about three hundred metres in I look at Caz and enquire "you ok baby?", "I'm not talking to you!" Came the reply. Followed by "who has the car keys?" to which I reply, "you, but you're not going back yet Mrs!" I really do sense at this point I've done a bad thing, Caz really isn't enjoying herself, after all why would she? She's not used to this sort of activity, and I'm just hoping that come standing at the summit it's enough to make her believe the stress was worth it. About a mile in we take in the scenery a bit, well I do, and I take advantage of the break and get the camera out, it truly is a beautiful place when the sky is blue.


"I'm still not talking to you!"

Jacobs Ladder in the distance
I decide at this point we're going to skip under Corn Du to Cribyn, I figure subjecting her to Jacobs ladder really isn't fair, although to be fair I'm being a bit naughty and getting her to Cribyn believing she's at Pen Y Fan. It's my way of guaranteeing that we get to stand atop all three peaks before we make our way back to the car, cruel I know, and for which I undoubtedly deserve to be punished. We get to Cribyn, and she's about 300 metres in front of me as I've decided once more I need to capture the scenery with the benefit of my new camera. I finish snapping and chase her down up the incline to the plateau, and my legs feel good even with the pack on the back fully loaded, which was a far cry from the starting climb. I was questioning whether I was fit enough to cope with this at the start, but as we continue to make our way around the peaks and I get an opportunity to put some distance between us so that I can chase her down, it feels good to blast the legs properly. At the top of Cribyn I innocently tell her that I've made a boo boo, and this isn't Pen Y Fan and that we need to get across to the furthest peak in the distance, the smile turns to a grimace! I'm going to hell, of that I'm sure of.............

Oops.......


To Caz's credit as we approach Corn Du, she want's to ascend it via the direct path and that we do and as we're hauling ourselves up and are standing there once again admiring the majesty of it all, her mood changes. She's gone from grumpy to happy and I'm glad, because to be honest sharing this with her is what I wanted and knowing that I probably should have taken 'The Granny' route up was beginning to haunt me a bit. 

Caz on a mission.......

Pen Y Fan from Corn Du.....such an incredible view
Caz sets off on a mission whilst I'm still trying to capture the scene, and once more I chase her down, giving my legs the chance to have a good burn, and have a bit of fun. It's surprising the temperature difference at the Fan, it really is noticeable, for the first time the gloves and beanie come out, but we're there and it feels great. Caz is all smiles, and I look at her and utter "see I told you it would be worth it!" Photos done and Mars bar taken on and well watered, I take out the cards and pics I removed form Lloydys grave the day before. Under a new directive from the RSM and the War Graves Commission we have been instructed to remove all perishable and personal items from the grave, which really is a difficult thing to do, especially when those things that are laid are very personal, so I figured the best place to lay them again would be at the Fan, it seemed appropriate. I collected a pile of loose stones and placed them over and around the cards and pics hoping to conceal them completely, I guess at some stage they will be disturbed but I hope that whoever does, realises what they are and re-covers them, so that they are not lost completely. 



For Lloydy......
We set off and as we are getting off the plateau I confess to Caz that I'd lied about guiding her to the wrong peak, she wasn't impressed and gave me smack to the stomach, but she saw the funny side. As we get to the fork in the paths between Corn Du and Cribyn, I decide that we are going to go back the way we came, it's a lot tougher than 'The Granny' route which would be easy in comparison, but Caz is in agreement and happy to go back that way. No less than 100 yards down the path, I hear a thud and look behind me to see what I fear had happened. My wife on her arse, gleaming white gloves now brown and herself in a lot of pain and discomfort. She'd managed to lose her footing on a patch of ice and had gone down like a sack of spuds, and now I was feeling more guilty than ever. I picked her up and brushed her down, changed her gloves and lead her away form the ice back to the fork and 'The Granny' route. She's got a nasty sprained ankle and an hour and a half later we finally make it back to the car and make her as comfortable as we can. On reflection, 'harsh' would definitely be the word I would use to describe myself too...........

I learnt a couple of things from that little trek, firstly that my wife even though she now has my name, is just as accident prone as she was when she was an Emmins. But I take my hat off to her, that despite how much pain she was in, she didn't moan, and she didn't blame me! Well except for milking affect, but she has a lot more heart than she gives herself credit for. And secondly, those men, and of course I include my little brother chief among them, aren't just men, they are supermen. Now, that may be stating the bloody obvious, but you stick some boots on, throw at least 35lb on your back and have a go at the Fan starting at The Storey Arms. You will soon realise the Fan Dance is for giants only, the weak of mind need not apply, because fitness alone isn't enough to see you through. We in total, only covered about half the distance of the Fan Dance and at a pace that was slow in comparison to what would be required come the event. My brother was a giant among men and I will always look up to him and use his example as my inspiration. Therefore, if you do think it's a good idea to do this event, if you believe you're fit enough to see it through, if you feel you have the heart to drive on, when the burn begins to fry the brain, then go for it. But maybe in reserve you make sure you have a reason for doing it, make sure you have some inspiration, because believe me, you will need it, and that bit extra could mean the difference between success and failure. 

Good luck all..........


Comments

  1. Absolutely fantastic and inspirational.Gives me the encouragement to train and push myself harder.You to are a Giant amongst men.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

It's been emotional.........

Beyond the last blue mountain.....

30 days to go (no need to paniccccccccccccc)