i haven't even told you about the tree

as part of our lifelong mission to seek out the world's most infamous trees, we visited the oldest tree in wales which, (perhaps more impressively) is also one of the world's oldest living organisms.

an estimated four to five thousand years old, this guy managed to be modest and magnificent at once.

an unassuming (yet sprawling!) yew tree in a darling little churchyard in a darling little village in north wales, i wondered who last sought out the ancient being assuming many had come before but feeling like the first.

we hung out with the tree, we gave it a hug, we collected its dead fall to bring home as a souvenir. i'm looking at its neatly tied bundle right now and thinking of the many ways we're literally and figuratively tied to one another.

it had little tiny buds, new growth on old. it also had much to teach but like all wise beings, chose to share them in silent, gracious ways.

holiday house

wales (a woodland walk)

we also did some plain flat hiking in wales which was neither plain nor flat but i'm speaking in comparison to mountains and it's all relative eh? beauty here beauty there? beauty everywhere.

so much rain means so much plant growth on everything. the stone walls were covered in every shade of green. mosses, ferns, small goobery creatures inching their way along the tumbled, worn surfaces.

the place where we stayed backed onto snowdonia national park, just a short amble down a gentle slope and we were out of the fields and into the woods.

it actually had a bit of a british columbia vibe to it, damp and green and thick with life.

there were winding rivers and little wooden bridges. stones covered in blankets of moss. small iron gates in the middle of the forest which otherwise looked, untouched.

we found this waterfall and felt like we'd won the lottery. nature lottery! find something cool and you win!

i took my boots off so i could properly feel the rocks on my feet. for the purpose, of course, of later remembering.

mountaineers part two (into the clouds)


this is going to be impossible to write about. how do you write about something like this? maybe you start by acknowledging the impossibility and give it a go anyways.

i'm giving it a go, anyways.

we climbed a mountain while we were in wales. and we loved it so much, we climbed another mountain two days later. the first mountain was a series of peaks, one of them being snowdon, the highest in wales. that isn't like saying 'blue mountain is the biggest mountain in ontario', the british isles have some seriously tall mountains and we set out to climb one of the tallest. go us.

we also thought (heck, why not) that we'd do the most challenging route. snowdon is a busy mountain that sees over 300,000 visitors per year and offers a choice of ascents, (including by train! not a bad option!). because we don't like crowds and because we were up for a challenge, we chose the snowdon horseshoe route, famed for its amazing, (if mildly terrifying) scramble across crib goch - a notable knife-edged ridge of rock.

around about this stage in the game, a few kilometres in and beginning the steep and steady climb to crib goch, i started to deal with some very real feelings of fear. a rolodex of all the frightening things i'd read about the ridge came flooding back to me. the people who have died, real mountain climbers, with actual mountain climbing experience. the steeper the ascent became, the less confident i felt in our ability to actually do it.

there isn't a clear 'path' once you're on your way to the summit and at many points, you can't see past your immediate next move. if jeremy went ahead a bit to see if the way we were choosing would work, i would lose sight of him. scary. i even got stuck at one point when it was too steep to climb back down and too intimidating to hoist myself up.

so i had a little cry, a moment of panic, pulled some courage out of my soul (ass) and dragged my self up and over to the first summit. a moment there just isn't words for.

we stopped and had a snack up there, which is something i never thought i'd be able to relax enough to do but once i'd surmounted that first fear hurdle i felt, honestly, invincible. bring on the m&m's at 3,000 feet!

jeremy was amazing. just the right amount of helpful while still giving me the space to feel like i was doin' it all on my own. we kept saying 'be careful, which means i love you' to each other. we kept kissing. i kept saying I AM IN LOVE WITH LIFE. because i was. because i am.

we hardly saw anyone which is just how we hoped it would be, save for a few seasoned snowdon veterans which made us feel proud and accomplished. we also felt very lucky with the weather and the winds, like the mountains conspired with the clouds to welcome us. 

every mountain we came across after that first one was met with our iron will, we could DO this. it was like we were in one of those bad motivational posters with scenes of mountains or canyons and words like LEADERSHIP and PASSION written across the top.

you could see forever.

the whole horseshoe route took us 9 hours, most of that using both our hands and feet across the rock ridges. we stopped if we were hungry to eat snacks, we drank plenty of water, and often we just stood, as the landscape demanded, and stared in some state of awe.

if you find yourself in wales, close to snowdonia, i highly recommend this route. it's challenging, to be sure, but absolutely achievable.

and absolutely worth pushing past your fear by kicking it directly in the nards.