Wales and Sheep and Ponies, Oh My!

My weekend in Wales finally arrived! Friday was mostly a travel day, so I’ll go through it pretty quickly. I had to force myself to get out of bed. I was feeling better than the night before, but I was still pretty tired. However, I was able to drag myself outside, meet up with Christianne, and then we took the Central line to the IFSA Butler office in Notting Hill where all the students were meeting. We were split up into four different buses. I don’t know how they decided which bus we were in, but each of the buses had a different Hogwarts house, and they put me in Hufflepuff. HUFFLEPUFF? No. I’m a Ravenclaw. This is an insult. But at least I was in the same bus as Christianne and Lauren. And they gave us a free IFSA hoody to keep us warm on the bus.

The bus ride was long. There were two movies shown. And I hated them. Get him to the Greek is not conducive to trying to get readings done at the same time….we did stop at a rest stop, but all the food was overpriced. I bought something just the same. I got a chicken caesar wrap, and chips. Because chips. Are. Amazing.

The outside of the Royal Victoria Hotel where we stayed.
The outside of the Royal Victoria Hotel where we stayed.

I was so grateful when we got to the hotel. I was ready to collapse. Christianne and I were luckily paired together in a hotel room. I went up, unpacked, and wanted to collapse, but it was dinner time. We headed down 10 minutes early because when there are 190 of us going for a buffet dinner, the line at 7pm is going to be ridiculous. So we went early, were some of the first to get our pasta, and I ate a little bit then ran up to bed. And it was glorious.

Getting ready to go on all our adventures!
Getting ready to go on all our adventures!
My fellow Mudder Cassie!
My fellow Mudder Cassie!

Saturday was the real showstopper. Truthfully this post is going to be mostly photos. We got to choose from a huge list of activities, since this was our “Adventure Weekend”. I chose the full day hike. I do technically have knee issues, but I miss the mountains and hiking so much that I was willing to re-injure myself. Yes, I know that’s really stupid. But whatever. We hiked to the peak of Mount Snowden, the tallest mountain in Wales.

Group photo time.
Group photo time.

There was a group of us that went on the hike, but I didn’t talk with anyone. I wanted to have some good quality time with the mountains and have some me time. Unfortunately they kept us all in a giant group so I wasn’t able to go ahead to have that me time. Whatever. There were a few portions of the hike that were really really steep. Oh my goodness. It was a bit scary.

The woods at the start of the hike.
The woods at the start of the hike.

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I was actually surprised that I handled the uphill portions so well. I mean yes my muscles hurt a little, but I wasn’t huffing or anything after them. It’s weird,

The first of many sheep.
The first of many sheep.

because I’m not going to the gym very often or anything, but it seems I still have some of my old stamina? Who knows. I’m just grateful I lasted. We saw a bunch of sheep the whole way up. There are a lot of sheep in Wales. A. Lot.

 

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Getting ready to cover some hills.
Getting ready to cover some hills.

_MG_8546The first part of the hike was about crossing large distances, but once we got to the halfway house (there’s a literal house there with booths inside so people can warm up) it was _MG_8571mostly upwards. There’s a train tourists can take to the top of Mount Snowden (lazy people) and it borders the trail for a bit, so it was fun seeing and hearing the train go up the mountain. We waved at everyone in the train. I _MG_8576was jealous of how warm they must have been. As the elevation increased, it actually got pretty cold.

Starting the hike the organizers were asking if I was going to be okay in my yoga pants, thinking I’d get too cold. I’m like, “Please, I’ll be fine”. I hiked to the top of a snow covered mountain in winter jeans, I can hike a 3000 foot shorter mountain in yoga pants in fall. I didn’t tell them that I was technically wearing a short sleeved workout shirt underneath my jacket. Teehee. I was perfectly fine on the hike. The only issue were my hands. I wish I had worn mittens the whole way. They got really frozen and for two hours I couldn’t feel them and they stung from the cold. That was worrisome.

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Apparantly there are two hiking paths up the mountain. One on either side of the mountain. That actually makes sense. Once we got to the ridge of the mountain, it got extremely windy. It was beautiful getting to see down either valley, but the wind kept beating you up. The clouds also kept rolling in. The peak was sometimes visible near the top, but other times hidden in the middle of a cloud. I didn’t expect to be able to see anything from the peak (from experience), and I was right.

The peak was unfortunately very touristy. You could barely stand on the peak; there were at least 20 people crowded there with a line back 20 feet for the next people waiting for their turn. Hikes should be about you and nature. The tourist aspect of this hike was very disappointing, like the integrity of the mountain was being compromised. There’s even a cafe at the top of the mountain. I really wanted to go inside to warm up my painful hands, but we didn’t get a chance to. We sat down for 10 minutes to eat lunch, then started the hike down.

I was completely terrified of hiking downhill, as downhill is what aggravates my knee condition the most. I was super careful and went really slow, but it was an anxiety provoking experience. Re-injuring my knees would mean painful hobbling for at least a month. I hated how often we paused to make sure we stayed as a group, because I didn’t want me knees to cool down. I spoke with the leaders about it, and told them I was just going to go ahead, at my snail’s pace, just so my knees could stay warmed up and hopefully safer that way.

Somehow the rest of the group didn’t really catch up with me as I was going down the mountain. What? I was going so slow, even with their breaks how could they not catch up with me? I saw them in the distance when I got almost all the way down the mountain, so I waited up for them since I borrowed hiking boots from the organizers and needed to give them back.

Forgot to mention we ran into a wild pony on the way down. It came up to us and some people petted it and all. It was adorable. And made me super happy. Okay, on with the story.

Long story short we got back from our full day event early, at 3:30, when we were scheduled to get back at 5 or 5:30. I was happy to collapse in my room. At first I thought, “Oh, I can explore downtown”. But when I saw the chair and bed in my room, my body said, “Oh, I can finally collapse!”

I went to dinner, where they made *spicy* mushroom stroganoff. Who makes spicy stroganoff? I was one of the first in line, so I got my food quickly, but since it was spicy I couldn’t eat it. I had to wait for 190 IFSA students to go through the line before I could get something to eat. So arriving early didn’t help me at all. 🙁 I finally got some lasagna, at about the time they started putting dessert out. So I grabbed some Key Lime Pie at the same time.

There was a big dance party in bar of the hotel that evening for the IFSA students, but I was too tired to go. So I stayed in my room, updated some blog stuff, and then went to bed early. Well, I started to go to bed early, then I stayed up late chatting with Christianne since we haven’t gotten a chance to hang out in a while due to school being school.

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