Monday, 18 January 2010
Rocks in Tranquillity © Glyn Davies 2010
I woke up this morning, yet again to dismal, dreary skies and a dark atmosphere. I spent an hour talking to a colleague about some disturbing hypocrisy on a professional e-mail list and felt much better having discussed things human to human, not distorted and misinterpreted by written words lacking intonation and understanding.
It also made me realise that real one-to-one communication with my Mum & Dad was sadly lacking, even though they live just a few miles away. The weather was so poor for photography that I didn't feel guilty by doing something else, so I rang my Dad to see if he fancied a trip up to Capel Curig to sort a rucksack out for Carol with me. He was delighted to go and it became a Dad / Son afternoon which I love. We chatted away about all sorts of things, relatives, family, gallery and were fascinated by the thick hanging fog banks clinging to the hillsides and mountain tops up as we motored up the Nant Ffrancon. Having sorted the rucksack at Joe Brown's Climbing Shop we enjoyed the naughty delights of a hot breakfast at the Pinnacle Cafe and chatted about life, death and relationships and all the great things I love chatting with my Dad about ! :-) As we sat there in the window seat we became acutely aware that the sun was now blazing over the toboggan hillside opposite so I asked Dad if he was up to a short walk into the hills, just to get some air. I panic a little about my Dad these days because although fit from years and years of serious cycling, at 71 he's had lots of problems with chest infections in the recent past which has affected his breathing considerably. This has consequently reduced his fitness somewhat, and I didn't want to put him under any undue pressure . Anyway I was delighted to see how keen he was to have a go.
We parked up the van and geared up, even though we didn't really have the proper gear due to the spontaneous nature of our decision! (I'd even bought some new Asolo PW Matic 200GVs the day before but left them at home!) We set off up the hill and Dad kept stopping to talk every 10 feet or so which not only broke any rhythm but worried me about him needing to find an honourable way to catch his breath! At about half way up the slope however, he seemed to be getting into a constant pace and although his breathing seemed strained, he assured me he was doing OK. I stopped to take a shot of a thick fog-bank on the hillside opposite and Dad sensibly plodded on. By the time I'd fitted my new 1.4x converter to my new 70-200L IS and shot my first ever frames on the new kit, I turned to find Dad had disappeared over the top of the next bluff! I was hot sweaty and puffing like Ifor the Engine by the time I reached him! We negotiated some heavy snowdrifts as we got higher, which were stubbornly resisting the warmer recent temperatures, and not only was the snow crusty on top but soft as cream underneath, but the melt water had saturated the ground all around. My feet in my summer trail shoes were already soaked as were my Next jeans :-)
Dad had found his confidence and breath and we both reached the dark lake as the sun was almost ready to drop behind Tryfan and cloak us in dusk. I made use of this 15 minutes or so to literally run over bogs and snow patches to check out 2 or 3 compositions in the stunningly beautiful but deserted valley. The wind was ruffling the centre of the lake but the edges were calm and crystal clear, well until it dropped to pitch black anyway! The low gentle sunlight skimmed the snowy mountains but at some points I was able to shoot over the lake, benefiting from stunning reflections of sky in water. Dad had called that he was going to start off ahead of me which left me in absolute silence next to the dark waters.
As I picked up my tripod I first felt, then heard the most awesome sound, the ground vibrating clearly and a roar from behind me. I turned just in time to see an enormous rockfall from a buttress on Carnedd Llewelyn, the biggest rocks being perhaps 8-10ft wide and bouncing off the scree slopes below like ricocheting bullets. I have never seen such a huge rockfall before and although scary because of where we could have been, was also humbling in it's speed and power. We would simply not have known what had hit us if we were below it.
I caught up with Dad who had witnessed the whole thing from his vantage point and we excitedly compared observations. The sun had dropped behind Tryfan and rays of light were now penetrating the fog in front of Y Garn, and the rest of the landscape was now dark, moody and even looked cold. I shot this portrait of us both before we picked up our pace and strolled back to the car, enjoying each other's company, enjoying the mountains, the quiet, the solitude and that great sense of being in the great outdoors. I have always felt close to Dad but this afternoon was something else. That realisation that he's not really an old man yet, that I could enjoy other great days out on the hills with him, albeit at a gentle non rushed pace, and that as we both get older my love for my Dad is stronger than ever and that time is more precious.
Me and Dad (Gareth) before the descent © Glyn Davies 2010
I am already thinking about our next opportunity but then I will make sure we have flasks of hot coffee, sandwiches and wine gums so that we can spend longer in each other's company, sharing the beauty the North Wales landscape, (my Dad's homeland), has to offer us. My earliest memories of Snowdonia were with Dad, and now my latest - that's the way it should be. This was one of those special afternoons which will remain with me forever.
All words and images are strictly copyright © Glyn Davies 2009
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