Firstly let me offer you my humblest apologies for my complete lack of input into my blog over the past few days and my excuse is, well I don’t really have a viable excuse apart from the fact that I’ve being doing the same old same old and I would like to have at least a little something of interest to write about for you all (hopefully more than one fellow blogger that is). So here goes another walking ramble (excuse the pun) for your (hopefully) enjoyment.
This morning was my first real opportunity on my in-between shift days to hit the trails with venom. Mine and the bog monsters previous walking this year has consisted of short circular walks over varying terrain building up both our fitness levels after last years disappointing last few months of inactivity. But this morning I’d decided to push the boundaries a little further and chose a route which would take us out a fair few miles further with more demanding slopes to contend with, this coupled with the recent fall of snow should push me too, and a little beyond the levels that I’d worked up. Mmm how profound that statement was to prove to be!
Firstly, knowing that I’d be pushing my present fitness level was to ensure that I was clothed and equipped competently enough to cope with what were probably going to be snow covered and devoid of human (hopefully) trails. With this in mind my full range of winter clothing was on display, consisting of several breathable layers, sun glasses, me best grippy three season boots, water, oat bars, collapsible dog bowl, camera, whistle, torch, knife (don’t tell the rozzers!), hat, gloves (inner and outer) and my new Jack Pyke jacket (yes I know maybe not a good time to try out new gear). Lucy? She brought herself and plenty of slobber! Loaded up and ready to go, messages of where and expected time back left, we piled into the fun cruiser and headed of to the familiar trails of Moel Famau.
The early part of the trail was hard packed ice and to say treacherous underfoot would have been the years thus far under statement. The weekends herd of would be winter Olympians looking for sledge runs had turned the lower trails into make shift cresta runs! The only way to negotiate these early sections was to walk in the shin deep snow to the side of the paths. Further up the trials they became more manageable with only a couple of tracks visible to tell of human activity. As I broke the tree line from the lower slopes my jaw really did drop at the vista which confronted me. I’d been aware from my earlier, short walks, that logging had been going on in the area from last November, after all the forest here is a managed pine forest, but the amount of felling that had taken place left me truly gob smacked with vast swaths of woodland cleared leaving a view which could only be described as baron. When I walked the same eight mile route last summer over 6/8 of the trail would have been through forest but now I would say that only 1/8 of the trail wound through tree lined paths. One thing that I did noticed as I picked my way through this now unfamiliar landscape was that the loggers had left any deciduous trees standing. This must have been on purpose as to drag some of the felled timber out would have been far easier with this few stands of trees removed, perhaps this is a move to allow more native species to gain a foothold in the area, and if so this would in the future allow wildlife a stronger foothold, time will tell. Speaking of wild life the only animals that made an appearance were the ever present Odin’s eyes, their raucous calls drifting on the bitingly cold easterly wind (wish some of them trees were still standing to shelter me red nose, looked like bleedin’ Rudolf!)
And then it happened, my second, but slightly more annoying, encounter of the morning. We’d just about entered the now scarce tree line when, rounding a tight bend in the trail, we came across Mr. Shell suit. Trevor had not been mistaken, this fellow was totally out of place in this environment, but knowing that the car park was no more than a mile away and that the fellow, although pale, looked as if he’d make it, I decided to keep my own council and just let the situation go, before now I’ve tried to offer advice to such people only to be confronted with blank faces or sneering “what do you know?” remarks. As I drew up along side (see boots are better) the idiot turned to me and snapped “you should have that bloody dog on a lead”. Now then I’m not an aggressive person (Clare’s told me not to be) but the exasperation felt at this idiot’s first words really bit deep. “Been far?” I asked jovially, hoping to forestall the anger that I felt swelling inside. “Would have gone a lot further if it wasn’t for your dog’s crap all over the foot paths”. It’s at this section of this particular posting that I’ll refrain from using the good old Anglo Saxon words that gushed forth from my mouth at this point in our delightful conversation, enough to say that I advised him upon the need for adequate clothing for such conditions so as not to trouble our voluntary (“it’s what they get paid for isn’t it? Came forth from the idiot) mountain rescue heroes, the ability to realise when your out of your depth, the advantages of when your alone in the woods of not annoying the few people that you may come across (especially ones accompanied with bog monsters) and the fact that my dog’s crap happened to be in this lightly scented bag that I was carrying but that your now wearing. Yes I know, I’ve been reading that well known book of ‘how to make friends and influence folk’ and once again it held me in good stead when dealing with such a nice (if now slightly smelly) chap. Fortunately my friendly idiot seemed to grasp the points that I was making and allowed me to continue in peace back to the fun cruiser.
A short, warm, journey home, a cup of coffee (laced with just a tad of brandy), Lucy fed and watered and then into the garage to play with me little boat, that nice warm but knackered feeling sweeping over me so once again all is well in my world. Well it would be if I’d organized a heater for the garage, 2 degrees C, you’re having a laugh….
Oh and the new jacket? – Bloody wonderful I must say...