Barmouth to Machynlleth – TREK
Forests and Quarry
Fortified like this we set off on the next stage a long trek over to Machynlleth. The weather at this time was mostly dry but very windy. The waves were crashing on the sea front and under the rail bridge as we crossed it in the dark in the company of a couple of other teams, it was about 10:30. We were sticking to our short-course option and missing out check points on Cader Idris so our route took a relatively straight line towards Machynlleth. The nav was especially tricky and at some point we began making mistakes, or rather taking too long to make the right decisions. Someone suggested sleep, and it wasn’t long before we all agreed a stop now rather than the planned long stop at Machynlleth Transition was probably the best option. Bivvi bags underneath a hedge back just inside a field gate and an alarm set for 2hrs, it was just seconds before we were all gone from this world.
It wasn’t the alarm that woke me, it was the cold and an incessant shivering the like of which I have never felt before. It was difficult to figure out how it was possible to vibrate so much and still stay in one piece. It wasn’t that the weather was that cold but combined with exhaustion the lack of sleeping bag it was inevitable. It seems my internal alarm was true to form and it was only a minute or two before Steve’s real alarm buzzed us all into a staggering form of action.
Then it’s on our way again, with clearer heads and a quick evaluation of where we were, forward motion was the best way to banish the cold.
The next section was one of the most difficult of the nav sections of the whole race. Somewhere in the forest there was a quarry, surrounded by a maze of tourist paths and forest firebreaks and roads. Here we met or rather stumbled into several other teams all lost and confused. To add to all our disorientation was the water, falling out of the sky and all around us, swollen fords, bog, just everywhere. It seems many teams had real difficulty here, see Rosemary’s analysis of Team Tentel’s trials – our own seemed at the time to be endless and a degree of frustration and stress leaked out of all us. It was quite easy to become despondent with no yardstick to measure your own team’s progress it’s easy to think that everyone else is doing way better than you. My own analysis of our track it seems now that we didn’t do too bad at all, although at the time it was quite the opposite.
Finally clearing the bog and the quarry wasn’t then end of the stage, there was more seemingly endless forest and track. Exiting the maze was eventually executed by just ploughing down the hillside through thick bramble and birch /willow and lots of ankle snapping brash. Frustration overcoming any safety concerns we may have had.
Eventually the forest track led onto a byway and steep hill down into Machynlleth and Jumpy James. It was good to be free of the Forest and to see a friendly smiling face. We chatted and hammed it up for the photos as we walked all the way to Transition on the other side of the town.