Watch your back!

Snowdon wild camp, Snowdonia National Park
I was hoping for views like this – dawn from a wild camp on Bwlch y Saethau I enjoyed with a friend in 2009

What a terrible couple of days, I’ve just experienced.

The plan was to spend a couple of days in Snowdonia with Dean from Peak Routes and my younger brother Alex to film one of Vango’s new 2013 tents. I can’t reveal any details about it for confidentiality reasons but it’s a full on geodesic shelter and one I hoped to capture with my two eager models with the backdrop of Snowdonia’s craggy peaks and cliffs.

Alas, it all went a bit ‘tits up’ in truth.

We were delayed on the journey there because of a traffic accident, and after a quick visit to a local shop in Betws-y-Coed under blue skies and sunshine, we made our way towards Snowdon and encountered thick fog and persistent heavy drizzle accompanied by a stiff breeze.

Now, I don’t mind a bit of mean and moody landscapes when out and about. But this was bloody awful. You couldn’t see much at all and when I did reluctantly get my video camera out after a hastily pitched camp, the lenses soon got splattered in rain drops and steamed up with condensation.

So, after a bit of relaxing in the tents I packed all my video gear away and figured the three of us ought as well relax over a few drinks while peering out into the mire.

Wild Camping
My brother filming on his camcorder to remember happy memories.

Even though we had an enjoyable time talking and laughing from the confines of Vango’s latest full geodesic shelter (bloody roomy too!) I explained to Alex and Dean about a dull lower back pain I’ve experienced over the past couple of weeks. It’s not been too dramatic. More a nuisance and one which has made me appear 40 years older than I am along with the odd curse and grunt for good measure.

Bearing this in mind, we woke the following morning to more of the same conditions outside on the hills and so I decided we should make our way back to the car and head off to the Carneddau figuring the conditions would be considerably better in lee of the westerly front which seemed to have clearly settled in our immediate area.

Snowdonia wild camping
As you can see, the weather conditions were less than ideal.

It was after packing up and setting about taking the shelters down in driving rain and wind that I had the shock of my life.

I clambered out the porch of the tent, bent over to zip the outer door shut when BAM! My lower back gave way and I collapsed like a sack of spuds on to the floor screaming in agony. Given the conditions we were in and the poor visibility I insisted the two other lads ignore me for a while and just “get the bloody tent down”.

I was struggling to stand and even walk such was the pain and numbness I was experiencing in my lower back and upper legs. My spine felt fine. The pain was purely muscular from what I could tell. Dean and Alex were bloody stars. And I’m grateful to have had them in my company as they offered to carry my gear and support me off the fell back to the car.

Each step down the step hill seemed to take an eternity for me as I puffed and wheezed through gritted teeth as I tirelessly wore out every swear word you can imagine in the English language!

I dismissed any other offers of help from Alex and Dean as I wanted to decipher how bad my injury actually was. Talk was made of heading off to the local Accident and Emergency of which I didn’t want to pay a visit. Not out of bravado or anything. More out of consideration to the others. You never know what you’re walking into with them places. I didn’t fancy sitting in a Welsh hospital for a few hours and then have to make the long journey home. I just didn’t want to inconvenience the others.

So once we reached the car and the lads helped me remove soaking clothing and what have you, we then decided to head on home where I would then seek medical advice.

Sods law, as we headed up the Conwy Valley, much of the Carneddau was clear of cloud and softly glowed under warm sunshine! But, it was not to be.

I’d like to thank Dean and my brother for the help and genuine concern for me. It was really appreciated and if I had been on my own, goodness knows how long it would’ve taken me to get off the fell and hit tarmac to seek help. Make no doubt, I would’ve required assistance but there was no chance of me ever calling the local MRT until I could have reached somewhere easier for them to reach me if I were solo.

And what have I done?

Well, I eventually sought medical advice and it transpires I’m suffering from “severe lumbar strain” in the lower back. Minimum of 48 hours rest and lots of pill popping is required upon which if things haven’t improved I’m supposed to seek further medical assistance.

Thankfully, I’m mobile now as opposed to being unable to stand and fool people into thinking I’m a drunk, foul-mouthed stand up comedian. I’m still in pain of course but the severity of it is becoming less and less.

I need to recover quickly too. As next week I’m planning on heading back to Snowdonia and pay the Lake District a visit for work. No such thing as sick pay for me. I hope to be at least 80% fit and I’ll adjust my gear and routes accordingly while popping pills to discourage any further inflammation and pain.

What a bloody week! Watch your back!


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