I started off 2011 at Sunset Beach Oauhu, Hawaii, and after all the great adventures that the year delivered, I thought it would be good to bookend the year by ending it (and kicking off 2012) by doing something different.
On the 30th of December, Hayley, Ziggy (Hayley’s useful no-nonsense dog) and I drove through the night up various motorways to arrive in Snowdonia National Park; we were to climb Snowdon on New Year’s Eve. The weather forecast was wild – rain, hill fog, fierce winds, and freezing conditions at the summit We were kitted up for it though (Ziggy with his double-density coat would have no problem) and as anyone living north of Morocco will tell you, nothing can make beer taste good like coming in from long, hard adventure in the cold.
My ‘technical’ snowboarding jacket was soon ringning wet (and my t-shirt underneath it) and Hayley’s snowboarding pants suffered a similar fate. Fortunately our feet were toasty warm as we discovered the only items we had up to the task were our boots. The dog meanwhile was loving life, scampering about and ‘herding up’ other hikers we saw on the way. As we neared the summit we harnessed his extra energy by instructing him to pull us up steep sections by his lead. I was surprised and impressed to see this work, so we passed the lead to a straggling hiker and Ziggy soon dragged her along to rejoin her mates further up.
Later that evening as we thawed out by a crackling fire and revived ourselves with some local pints, word of these hilltop heroics got round the pub and Ziggy was fussed over by strangers and repeatedly told how handy he was.
The contrast of sitting in the traditional low ceiling inn after battling it out on the hill for five hours in sub zero temperatures was something to savour, and so of course was the nourishing food and beer. With our muscle glycogen stores depleted, our energy drained and our boots drying out by the fire, I doubt even the best meal in Jamie Oliver’s 15 restaurant could match the way our pub grub tasted right then.
It might only have been five hours, but daily life doesn’t always gives us the chance for extended periods of good exercise. It’s nice to be able to look back after a mini-expedition and know that you are fitter now than on the morning you set off. It’s a little milestone, something to look back on and a marker point to set you up for what lies ahead.
I’ve not really formed any resolutions for 2012, I reckon clibming Snowdon set us off to a pretty good start and into a welcome beer deficit (the first two pints are null as they are strictly for hyrdation purposes, the next one as a muscle relaxant and so on), so maybe that could be it – for every hour of exercise, I shall reward myself with one pint of ale.
I’m (half) joking when I say that all of this is about off-setting beer though, because choosing to do something like this rather than the usual end of year blow-out is making a statement to yourself that your fitness and vitality will improve, your stomach will be flatter and firmer, your muscles stronger and more useful, your sinews tougher, your gait will be more purposefuland you will not decline in strength and surrender to a bloating waistline as the years roll on.
That’s my new year’s resolution: keep moving, keep sharp, exhaust the body and mind regularly through adventures in nature, recalibrate with good company in the pub afterwards and feel like you’ve earned it, much less not having to worry about it. (Told you I was half joking).