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Blog

Wild Camping

Chris Roberts

The stillness was eerie as night fell over the tarn, only broken by the occasional baaaa of the mountain sheep. We had hiked up with all of our gear to a tarn in the Ogwen valley and found the perfect spot to pitch the tent on the waters edge. Well it was just off the waters edge to be precise, we had found a small island about the length and width of a double decker bus and had to navigate a few stepping stones to get out to it. Once there we quickly set up camp and got the single pot stove on the go for tea. We’d brought a inflatable canoe with us and the plan was at first light when the sun rose from behind the mountain opposite to hit the lake. So we decided after a few drams of an interesting single malt Swedish whiskey to hit the sack, ready for our early morning start.

It had just gone midnight when we both woke abruptly, the tent was flapping on our faces where we lay and the wind was whipping it in all directions. We quickly worked out the middle pole had snapped and the pegs where pinging out of the wet ground one by one. We had pitched the tent in an idyllic spot but we were totally exposed. A weather front had come in and it attacked us with full force, the rain was pelting the tent and the wind was ripping it from the ground underneath us. We knew we had to get out quickly because the direction we were being blown was towards the tarn and straight into the water. We quickly unzipped the tent and rammed a few pegs back into the ground to buy us some time to gathered what we could in our rucksacks. We had to get off the mountain and fast. Anything we couldn’t carry we stacked together and put under the weight of the inflatable canoe and pegged it down. The rain by this time was coming in sidewards and the gusts of wind were getting stronger. The stepping stones we’d hopped across to get to island earlier were soaked and dangerous, so with the mag-lights firmly pointed at our feet we waded back to the shore. Thankfully we had pitched not too far from a well trodden path and we knew the route pretty well. With a focused walk, lit only by our torches we headed back down the mountain, it was dark wet and windy and our eyes were squinting with the force of the rain but we made it back to the car, wet and tired but happy.

We headed back up the mountain at first light to collect the rest of our gear. The dark clouds were still rolling in over the top of the mountain but there was no rain and the wind had died down. It was a fairly pleasant stroll up, not a sole in sight and as we arrived at the bottom end of the lake we could thankfully see the illumines green of the canoe bag still protecting our gear. We collected the remaining things and turned around to head down, just as we did the sun made an appearance from behind the clouds, the wind died down and it looked like it was going to be a lovely day. It felt like the mountain didn’t want us there that night, the stillness of the assent the previous day was mirrored by the stillness of the decent as we left, it couldn’t have been any more different than the biblical weather that hit us in the middle of the night. I guess thats why they call it WILD camping!