Wales: High winds and mountains

pixler tag

Oklahoma is rather infamous for its wind. It’s in our official theme song Oklahoma! from the play of the same name: “Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain”. When I first moved to Oklahoma four years ago, the wind was one of the first things I noticed because it was so different. The wind is like nothing else.

I have to say, Wales is giving Oklahoma a run for its money. It’s been windy here. I did not know this before I came to the United Kingdom, but the island gets the tailwinds of hurricanes. Which means a lot of wind, some rain, and large waves in Swansea and other coastal areas. We have experienced these ex-hurricanes three times thus far, including this weekend.

This weekend was fun and interesting time. Friends and I rented an Airbnb in the Snowdonia region of Wales for the weekend. Snowdonia is most famous for Snowdon, the tallest mountain in Wales, and our conquest to see in Snowdonia. At the same time, we came to Snowdonia, Storm Brian moved into Wales with winds at over 70mph.

I was on top of a hill, on a castle, when the worst of the storm hit. There’s nothing like standing on an 800-year old castle with 70mph winds and rain hitting you. It was a little majestic, a little terrifying, and a bit funny. My gloves were still dying out two days later. A friend’s shoes are still damp. The walk back down the hill, over to the Slate Museum, through the museum, and then back to our house was horrible. It never stopped raining. All said, I have beautiful photos from that day, which made my cough completely worth it.

The winds that night made our house creak. A friend cooked dinner for the fifteen of us (I chopped and stirred the extent of my talents) and we played games the rest of the night. It was the largest slumber party I’ve been to.

The next day, the wind and rain were milder. Most of my brave friends left to climb the mountain since the storm had lessened. Snowdon itself is famous for its changing weather. It can rain at a moment’s notice at the summit and the winds are usually three times stronger at the summit than the base. You can imagine what climbing the mountain would have been like—and climbing the mountain in ex-hurricane winds.

I climbed the mountain riding on a historic train.

It was more than an hour ride up a very steep grade built for Victorian tourists. The Mountain Railway uses diesel trains and steam trains. The “posh” way to climb a mountain. It was worth it. I was warm and dry and those of us who took the train got a succession of watery looks and waves from hikers as the train climbed its way up. The train had to beep and honk at sheep to get off the tracks, which was as idyllic and funny as it sounds.

We climbed higher over the Llanberis town, seeing some of the lakes and valleys that make up the Snowdonia Region. On clear days, you can see to the Irish Sea. The changing leaves dotted the green hillsides. Fall in Wales has been beautiful and I’m glad I’m spending my favorite season here. We passed our hiking friends as we neared the summit of Snowdon. They were soaked, but victorious.

The winds were gale-force at the summit and we all shakily climbed the peak. I was soaked within minutes and have great appreciation for the hikers for lasting a six-hour hike soaking wet. It was so foggy at the summit it was a white-out. Despite their might, the winds didn’t budge the fog or clouds the entire time.

I will say, I regret not climbing a mountain (the ultimate claim to fame!), but I have no regrets not climbing a mountain in an ex-hurricane. Most of my hiking friends wanted to take the train back down the mountain.

Every seat had been sold hours ago.

Most of us have coughs or sniffles now.