Having never walked the Miners Track at Snowdon before, doing so at 4am, and on my own, probably isn’t up there with the most sensible things I’ve ever done. Yet there I was, in thick darkness with only my head torch to light the way. Venturing in to the unknown with Snowdon’s giant and deep black shadow looming over me felt mysterious, like I was heading in to the dragon’s lair.
The Road is Long
For the most part, this walk is long but easy as the clear and inviting footpath leads you up the mountain with a steady incline. But then you reach the base of the ‘Zig Zag’ and things start to get interesting. The route to the top was no longer obvious. That inviting footpath had been replaced by boulders of varying sizes. At this altitude in April, there was also the occasional small patch of ice.
As I placed my hand on the cold rock for the first time, my self-doubting chatter started to go in to over time. ‘you can’t do this’, ‘you’ll never make it’, ‘it’s too risky’ are just some of the things that went through my mind. Some more profound thoughts also crossed my mind, like relating this experience to the challenges we face every day. Whether it’s a task we’re trying to get done today, or a goal we’re working towards for retirement, the psychological battles we face are the same.
My aunt Cathy is a keen hiker and a creative. She sent me a passage of writing titled ‘Walking as a metaphor for life’ which perfectly sums up what I was thinking. It really struck a chord with me and included some excellent advice to live by. I liked it so much I asked Cathy if I could include it in a future blog post. She replied “Very happy for you to use it. Thanks for checking.”
Walking as a metaphor for life
Have a plan of the walk in mind – being as ambitious as you like – but be content to change route if the weather closes in or you don’t feel fit enough or something else catches your attention.
Only look and think far enough ahead to check that you are heading in the right direction and to be alert to obstacles immediately ahead. Otherwise do not wonder or worry if you will make it or can manage the difficult stretch ahead but focus on the immediate surroundings, look and listen and appreciate every point on the walk. And just enjoy the sensation of walking.
Go at your own pace, giving yourself time to find the right footing, with the whole body relaxed and never getting out of breath. If someone else is getting there quicker don’t let it distract you from your own enjoyment and steady pace.
When you hit obstacles or difficult patches continue as before ie relaxed, taking what time you need, never out of breath. If you can’t do it or find a way around the obstacle pause to rest. You may spot the answer and it will give time to consider other options. If you have to go back the same way or change route altogether then accept that and enjoy the altered route in the same way ie appreciating each step.
Expect nothing. Don’t expect to reach your goal, don’t expect not to reach your goal, don’t expect to find the way easy or to find it difficult. Set yourself as stretching a target as you wish. But then just take the route, and yourself, and others, as each comes. And wonder at and take pleasure from as many things along the way as possible.
I’m pleased to say I reached Snowdon’s summit that morning. It took me twice as long as anticipated but I didn’t care. I stood and drank in the view below me as the clouds swirled around in the 30mph+ winds. It was like nothing I’d ever experienced before and it felt incredible. As I stopped and gathered my thoughts, it wasn’t just the view from the top making me grin like a Cheshire Cat, it was the experience of the journey.
If you enjoyed this post, or would like to share a similar experience, please let me know using the comments box below. Thank you for reading.