We drove through the night from the Lake District in northwestern England to Snowdownia in northern Wales. We were sweaty and sore from the two previous hikes, and I dearly wished to sleep. Alas, it was at best a night of fitful dozing.
At 4am we arrived at the base of Mount Snowdon, the last of our three peaks. We donned our headlamps and set out in a mad crush of other hikers.
I hated it so much. All the darkness and shoving and the light of the headlamp from the guy behind me making me feel all rushed.
But then the group began to thin out, and before long I was on my own on a pre-dawn mountainside.
Suddenly, it was gorgeous.
And for the rest of the ascent I kept stopping to take in the beauty and the colors of a newly revealed world.
At the summit we could look eastward over northern Wales and into England.
To the west was the rest of Wales, shadowed by the triangle silhouette of the peak on which we stood, and beyond that, the sea.
We went down the back way, which was a more gradual slope — mercy for our knees, which by this point were in an agony of stiffness.
And at the bottom of the mountain sat a cute little village, just barely waking up, with a cafe to welcome us back to civilization.
We instantly invaded and ordered the biggest breakfasts and warmest hot cocoas on the menu.
Then, once fed, we parked our chairs in the sun and waited for the van to pick us up and take us to the train station in Chester for the journey back to London.