09 August 2021

Small break between the two legs of the Slate Trail

 After doing most of the Slate Trail in only four days we were back at my house! And we were both completely knackered. We were so glad to be there. And we all now wanted several mutually exclusive things at the same time. Kate wanted to hang her legs in the river (she did that first), I wanted to cuddle the cat and tell her old folks she was okay and have a shower and have food and a beer and a log fire and put my phone in the charger and tell the neighbour we were back (he had been looking after the cat while we were away) and probably a few more things. After she was back from the river, and we had both had a shower, and put our walking clothes in the washing machine on the 15 minute cycle, Kate volunteered to go to the nearest takeaway to get pizza. There are two within hundred metres of the house! She even had to walk twice; the takeaway didn't accept cards, and she didn't have enough cash. I did. I also informed the neighbour we were back. He had looked after the cat marvellously! It's good to have good neighbours. 

I made sure the fire was on by the time Kate came back with the actual pizzas. And I had got two beers from the kitchen. We were ready to eat and drink and stare into the fire and cuddle the cat when she deemed us worthy of her presence. Things didn't go entirely to plan, though; even though I had walked 32 km will with a full pack I wasn't peculiarly hungry. I was also too tired to drink a lot of beer. I managed half the beer and a quarter of the pizza. And I managed to set off the fire alarm with the log fire. But at least we were sitting in comfortable chairs with our feet up and in clean clothes! 

On our last walking day we had discussed the strategy for the second half of our trip. We had established we had time for a day of rest! And I had really been looking forward to one of those. Kate is not keen on doing nothing, though, so she had suggested we might use it for doing the section between Bethesda and Porth Penrhyn. The complete route is not really a loop; it is a loop with an antenna that connects it to Bangor, which is on a main train route. The other railway stations you come across along the way are either heritage steam railways, or regional lines that don't have much traffic on them. So we could take a bus to Bangor and walk back, or walk out and find a bus back. We didn't want to do both directions! Then it would be much less of a day of rest. We discussed this some more.

I also drank some tea, because of course, but then I was ready for bed. So was Kate. So we went to our respective bedrooms where I think we both quite enjoyed an actual bed. Not that I had been uncomfortable in my sleeping bag; au contraire! But this was a nice change.

Having drank tea shortly before bedtime meant I had to get out during the night to go to the loo. This time, though, I only had one closed door between me and the cat, so as soon as I opened it she happily ran into my bedroom. After a while I had to boot her out again. I wanted to sleep! And we had refused to set alarms, but I still woke up at a fairly normal time. Kate wasn't up yet; that wasn't unexpected, as she tends to be awake in the middle of the night and therefore rather sleepy in the morning. So I just silently started doing things that needed doing. Some of that was just cuddling with the cat! But I also went through my luggage. I had hung out some damp items the night before, so I could put these away again. And I could do a bit of a cull. We would not sleep at any appreciable height in the second leg, so I could leave one layer of clothing at home.

When Kate appeared we were both keen to have breakfast. I had my usual Weetabix, with milk I had asked the Milkman to not deliver but he must have forgot to pause my order, and Kate was keen on cold pizza. And we had buckets of real coffee. And the cat was trundling around. Very nice!

While having breakfast, Kate checked out the weather forecast. And that changed the plans. She said the next day would still have fine weather, but the Thursday and Friday would be very wet. If we would use the best weather to have a resting day we would not be very strategic! And we both had recovered quite a bit from the previous day through a good night's sleep. And we wouldn't have to do a mammoth day the next day; it would be quite flat, and only some 18 km or so. And our bags would be lighter! So we decided: that is what we would do. We binned the resting day and decided to just plough on. So after breakfast we got ready. Only 12 hours earlier it would have been unthinkable to decide to go walking again. But that is life sometimes!

We had decided to have Kate's freeze-dried meals; they only require boiling water, so wouldn't need much in the way of pots and pans. And not much fuel either! And I brought a smaller container of instant coffee. I did stock up on breakfast and lunch though; I had eaten most. For the first lunch we packed some of the leftover pizza! And we decided we only needed one bottle of midge spray. And I ditched one flask, and I only now had to bring one map. And I ditched my binoculars, as the thought of having them was nice but I hadn't actually used them. So altogether our bags would be quite a bit lighter. I already took back the tent poles and pegs as I figured I should take some of Kate's weight now. She also left some things; there would undoubtedly be an opportunity for her to retrieve them.

I also had to make decisions about shoes. My other boots had led to ankle problems. If I wore different boots now, then maybe that would make a positive difference. And then I had two pairs to choose from. One quite comfortable pair but with a sole that is starting to come off. And my old comfortable boots that are nowhere near waterproof now. I decided that I could cope with one day of wet feet. I didn't anticipate much swamp that day, so I figured I didn't need waterproofness then, and the day after would be the last day. Things wouldn't matter that much anymore then! So I put these on, and packed an extra pair of socks.

Some last cuddling with the cat, and we were ready to go. Onwards! Two more days to go…

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