It seems we at ICXCAC just can’t get enough of soggy weather, lack of central heating, and world-renowned banter. And so, on Friday 2nd November, 15 of London’s finest and rowdiest decided to travel to Imperial’s infamous St Mary’s Mountain Hut in Rhyd-Ddu, Northern Wales, the international hub for sheep-herding and trail running.
Setting off after lectures, labs, work or simply a Friday of grazing after core, the group hit the road at around 5:30 in the evening, hoping to reach their destination before midnight, scrapping the beloved Aldi pit stop from the planning to save time. After a quick stop on the motorway to grab dinner and logs, they arrived at the hut pretty much on time, delighted to find their refuge for the night, dry and surprisingly not too cold and went to bed, with high hopes for a wonderful weekend away from the city.
Came Saturday morning, and a few alarms later, each and every one got out of bed, had a quick breakfast of mainly carbs and peanut butter, and rode the minibus to the Electric Mountain car park, at the foot of Mount Snowdon. Surprised to see most businesses closed due to strong winds and heavy rain, the group of fearless runners didn’t look back and set off on the Llanberis path in direction of the summit. However, the winds quickly started blowing at an impressive 70mph on the steep and rocky path, so after the half-way mark, some of the runners decided to stay on the safe side and go back, while the most courageous/foolish opted to push through the wind, sometimes on all fours, to make it to the top. Despite the conditions being hostile to say the least, they made it to the top of the 1085m high giant and back, and the squad regrouped in a café in the village to enjoy a warm and dry moment to recover from their first adventure of the day.
Once back to the hut, a general atmosphere of recovery took over while most runners decided to get warm by the fire, have some more lunch, get in a change of warm, dry clothes and have a nice cup of tea. However, ex-trail captain Henry Hart and all-round legend Charlie McFadzean decided it was the perfect moment to go exploring again in the closer mountains as they set off for their second run of the day. An hour and a lot of rain later, the pair returned to the hut to shower as they called it a day and decided in turn to change into their warm clothes for the afternoon.
Later on, the genersl consensus was to go to the pub for a few rewarding drinks, so as most of the valiant girls, led by women’s captain Charlotte Barratt, ran there despite the terrible wind and hail, the rest of the group took the minibus for the 3km journey, separating them from the Cwellyn Arms, a fine establishment claiming to serve 9 real ales 9 days a week – you just can’t go wrong with that. After mulled wine, Snowdonia Ale, and whiskey and chips during Wales’ impressive win over Scotland in their match of the Rugby Autumn Internationals, the group headed home in the evening for dinner and more fun.
Going only upwards from the biscuit game, the ever-intellectually-stimulating games animal- then city-alphabet were brought to an end by trail captain Henry Maynard’s delicious Chili con carne, and rice con pesto for non-meat eaters. After dinner, a few beers, and once everyone had showered, the team then went on to play the mysterious game of the Mafiosi, featuring interesting playlists and narrating choices. As the night went on, most were quite tired so we all went to bed in our sleeping bags, looking forward to another day of trail running, with hopefully more convenient weather.
Just as the early bird catches the worm, the early runner makes the most of Wales’ wonderful trail paths. And so, with the wind having calmed down overnight, a 13-strong team headed to Llyn Cwellyn to go up Snowdonia once again, but this time up the steeper Ranger’s path. After reaching Llyn Ffynnon-y-gwas, the path became much rockier and steeper. With the previous day’s 1km vertical gain in their legs, most of the trail runners dropped the pace on the path that featured a gruelling 600m elevation gain over a less than 3km distance. With all that had set off making it to the summit, they then headed back to the minibus as the sky started to get clearer.
After making it back to the hut, the team had a quick lunch and showers, packed their gear and got ready to board the minibus to head back to London, tired but jolly after an all-round wonderful weekend in the land where sheep outnumber people.
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