Location - Snowdonia National Park
Height - Carnedd LLewelyn (3491 ft)
Time - 5 hrs approx
Distance - Approx 5 miles
Conditions - Rain, wind, mist, cold !
Walking with - DK
Sunday 27th June - Day 3 and our final day in the mountains for a few weeks at least. Today's task was simple, find Yr Elen. We'd previously trekked across the Carneddau taking in Pen Yr Ole Wen and Carnedd Dafydd and LLewelyn with the purpose of tagging Yr Elen on to the end but sadly on that occasion by the time we'd reached LLewelyn it was a total white out and we were knee deep in snow at some points, couldnt see 2 ft in front of us and had to navigate ourselves off the mountain. Yr Elen was well hidden and on that occasion we never even saw the mountain far less set foot on it.
So today was different. We'd tackle Carnedd LLewelyn (3491 ft) up the water board road and the zig zag path (our previous occasions descent) and once on the summit head over to Yr Elen. I was looking forward to this as 1. It would be another 3000 ticked off our list and 2. It was annoying having missed it the first time.
The weather was not being kind to us at all. We knew there would be some rain in the day but the sun was supposed to come out at some point. Choosing to park in the campsite car park ........ anyone for a meat pie???....... the water board road lay ahead of us.
We knew the route, retracing our steps on a previous walk and with some steely grit got out of the car, hoods up, gaiters on and started to make our way up the path. 4 km of path. We'd forgotten how long it actually was and the last time we were coming down not going up. It really did get the lactic acid flowing and seemed never ending in leading us to the base of the zig zag path up the side of the mountain. The one saving grace of that horrid path was that one look over your shoulder and the beautiful Tryfan was in your view. Did I mention that Tryfan is my favouritist of all favourite mountains.......hmmmmm!
The flanks of Pen y helgi du to our right we finally got off the tarmac and onto the grassy surface of the hill. The respite was short as we soon gained the rocky path and started our ascent which would take us to the impass between Pen y helgi du and Carnedd Llewelyn.
The path was tough. Like any mountain ascent its steep, rocky and in some places you had to step up some rather large rocks. With the mornings rain the rocks were slippy so extra caution had to be taken as one small slip could mean trouble.
Waiting for mountain legs to kick in we had a few stops to take pictures of the lake behind us emerging from the cloud and to take on some sugar that boosted energy levels. More zig zagging and climbing up through the rocks and we were at the gully where a right hand turn would take you up Pen y helgi du and left to Carnedd Llewelyn where we knew a nice bit of rocky scramble awaited us.
Scramble or no scramble the one thing that was noticiable was that the cloud wasnt moving and still hanging very low and for the first time today we actually wondered if after all this effort we'd get to Yr Elen. It was a little unthinkable that here, on our second attempt, we'd be thwarted again......surely not!
The rain was more persistant now and it was cold. Wooly hats and gloves on and hoods firmly up and tied against the rain and the wind and cameras firmly packed away. The scramble was as fun ascending as it had been on the previous descent and we then followed the clear path that would lead to the summit. Up and through the rocks there was still no visiability ahead however I did manage to emerge from the rocky section without my walking pole. Gutted!!! It must have come loose from my pack and fallen. Hopefully we can find it on the way back, fingers crossed! We met only 2 other walkers who emerged from the misty path on their way down from the summit and told us tales of a heavy hail storm that greeted them there. Zero visibility, hail, wind......och it would all clear by the time we got there, wouldnt it?
Onwards and upwards, the mountain walking motto. The path was longer than I remembered and although there was a flattish meadowy section the steep part soon was upon us. Rain, mist, wind, slippy rocks all meant that our wits had to be about us and concentrate on what we were doing. There was still time for a chuckle or two but we mostly just kept pushing for the summit trying to remember landmarks we'd seen previously.
It was madness, the weather preventing any chance of seeing Yr Elen which of course meant that we wouldnt be going there today and yet here we were still pushing forward to the summit. There were a few moments in that last 30 mins of steepness that I did think about abandoning all hope and turning back but it would have been wrong to do that so close to the summit.
At last the silly penguin on the rocks came into sight. The wind made it difficult to talk and we found some rocks for shelter quite quickly. I was starving and thirsty and needed to fix my socks in my boots and was glad to get out of the wind to do that. Feelings were a mixture of frustration at being here twice and still not being able to tackle Elen.........our Ghost Mountain as we now call it........Does it even exist? Who knows :).
Our visit to the summit was brief mainly due to the weather and the fact we were going no further. The descent was careful but brisk. The rain had lightened somewhat but the visibility was still bad. The lower we got the better it became and sure enough as we headed for the final rocky section that would take us back to the top of the zig zag path the cloud seemed to blow over in a moment and give us the views once again.
It really is a magical sight to have seen nothing but mist for hours in front of you and then in an instant valleys and mountains and lakes open up before your eyes. Another bit of magic was my walking pole, lying there between some rocks waiting to be collected. So all is not lost and it was fastened again to my pack.
Down the rocky scramble we went, choosing the left hand path this time which seemed easier but still as exciting. Further down the path and we were at the top of the zig zag path again. Last time we were here I was begging passing strangers for ibuprofen as my knee was just about done by this point. The zig zag path killed it and it took us several hours to navigate our way down the last time because I simply couldnt use my leg. It was so painful and remembering that time was sobering. This time however I had no pain. The physio work and excersises I've been doing must be working because I simply skipped down through the rocks and couldnt have been more elated. I did over do things a bit with the " Ask me how much pain I'm in" question which I probably asked about 50 times. I soon shut up when the answer was a grumble and didnt dare ask again hehe!
Before long we were at the bottom and back on the water board road which would take us back down to the main road and back to the car at the campsite. It was again the road that never ends and the main road never seemed to get any closer no matter how far or how fast we walked. Our attention was drawn to a noise that is unfortunately very familiar in the valley and that is the noise of the rescue helicopter hovering as ever over Tryfan which stood proudly ahead of us..........I might have mentioned before that Tryfan is my most favourite mountain ever (cue grumble grumble!) however it is a dangerous place to be and more often than not its to this mountain that the rescue teams are regularly called. Pictures taken of the event and we headed on finally down to the road.
A good day's walk, involving some adverse weather and hard and steep climbs however we still have not seen our now elusive mountain Yr Elen. Its a box that must be ticked if we're to conquer ALL of the 3000's but how long will it take us to "bag" it. I have visions of us years from now having trekked up Carnedd Llewelyn multiple times and still not having set eyes on the wee ghostie!