Friday evening was spent kitting Mrs Rushen out with new boots, new socks, new trousers, Helly Hansen base layers for top and bottom and furry white gloves, her preference to the ones I picked out, as opposed to the practical North Face ones. However the furry white ones were still North Face, so I figured, I would let her have her way. I then had to spend the next two hours watching that Twilight dross, on top of an hour and half shopping, it may have been practical shopping, but it was shopping all the same, it felt like I was paying my penance up front!
Saturday morning was spent checking and packing kit, checking and packing spare kit and making sure all kit was squared away and that we had enough of everything in the eventuality of something not going to plan. We got to Hereford just after 1400, parked up and checked in as usual at the Starting Gate, and wandered into town for a coffee. Caz has this immortal fear of hills, well big hills, and the unknown, and the unknown unknowns! I'd spent a lot of the build up to the weekend trying to put her mind at ease and was still trying to do that Saturday, she likes going for walks, but she knows this isn't your average trek. She knows what the route is used for and she knows why it's important to me, so she knows it's going to be tough, but she's not sure how tough. She's probably not prepared mentally for how difficult it is, she's never faced anything like this before, and if truth be told, I know it's going to be tough, but I have an expectation of how tough I expect it to be, especially the route we are going up.
We spend the evening getting a good dinner inside us and when we wake at 0700 Sunday morning, we get ourselves partially ready and carb load with a good brekkie. We set off for Brecon shortly after and about 7 miles from The Storey Arms car park on the A470, the peaks come into view in all their glory, and on this crisp beautiful sunny morning, it's a very beautiful scene, however Mrs Rushen isn't convinced! Apprehension still has a firm grip over her, and she lamely pleads for me to stand down and take on a less demanding trek, I think she knows the request is falling on deaf ears and leaves it alone. She knows what I'm like when I get an idea in my head, and the determination to see it through takes over, she knows I've made up my mind that's what we're doing today, and I won't be shaken from the prize. Which to be honest isn't much more than a sense of achievement, which I know Caroline will also feel, when we're standing at the summit of Pen Y Fan and taking pics to record the moment. We park up in what appears to be the only free spot left available, the Fan, it would appear is already quite heavy with traffic. I check my bergen once more to make sure I'm happy, and load up with a few more sand parcels to make sure I have plenty of weight in there, after all as much as I'm there to enjoy myself, I'm also there for a recce, to determine if I'm ready physically to take on 'The Fan Dance'. I take a small pack and put some other essential items in there and load it up with my camera and give it to Caz. We close the boot, lock the car and head over to the phone box at the start of the route, we're here now, and it feels like a long time coming. I'm excited and nervous, because I know if this was just me and a group of mates it would be fine, I'm just not sure that subjecting Caz to this is fair, but I figure she's fit enough, mentally she just needs to be able to tell herself that she can do this.
The route is a climb straight away, gradual at first and then steepens quickly for what seems like an age, about three hundred metres in I look at Caz and enquire "you ok baby?", "I'm not talking to you!" Came the reply. Followed by "who has the car keys?" to which I reply, "you, but you're not going back yet Mrs!" I really do sense at this point I've done a bad thing, Caz really isn't enjoying herself, after all why would she? She's not used to this sort of activity, and I'm just hoping that come standing at the summit it's enough to make her believe the stress was worth it. About a mile in we take in the scenery a bit, well I do, and I take advantage of the break and get the camera out, it truly is a beautiful place when the sky is blue.
|"I'm still not talking to you!"|
|Jacobs Ladder in the distance|
|Caz on a mission.......|
|Pen Y Fan from Corn Du.....such an incredible view|