High Moon is the second event in the Trident event for Fan Dance as hosted by Avalanche Endurance Events. As with any of the AEE events it is a challenge which should not be undertaken lightly. Especially the night events due to the extra factors that darkness brings.
All 3 of us started the even at 9:30 to give us most time to finish. Juergen was prepared with his own glow stick but AEE provide a glow stick to attach to your bag. Be careful as the attaching plastic rope is very thin and breaks easily. Make sure the stick is attached in such a way that it doesn’t detach when you open your bag during the event. It needs to be visible at all times. This comes in extremely handy when weather turns bad which it did in our case.
We all get going and start up the hill again. The light conditions are still good as it is dusk but the cloud cover has moved in during the early evening and this is an indicator what what was to come. As before the 2 “racing snakes” Simon and Jeurgen break away. We make good progress and pace up hill. We crest the hill and go down through the gate and stream then up the long hill to Corn Du. We skirt Corn Du. Its starting to get darker and more cloud about which is now low enough to classify as fog. We reach RV1 and check in. I get a pep talk from the DS as I was struggling a bit and make my way to Jacobs Ladder for descent. I meet Simon just as I start the descent.
Light is fading and I switch on my headlight. I take lead and we make our way down the mountain to the bottom. No running on the downhill tonight as feet are feeling it from the day event and my big toe on my right has taken a pounding due to not lacing my boots properly during the day event. We carefully make our way to bottom with fading light. We start our next section around the mountain base to the next MST. We keep a good pace with careful stepping to prevent falling. Any mistakes mean a fall or a stubbed toe and time is not our friend.
Simon and I get to the Roman road and go past MST. We strike up a fast pace on the open road. Granted the pace on this stretch was set by Simon and this helped keep our time faster than I expected. By the time we hit the next stream with the shale approach it is completely dark and the head torches come into their own. We get onto the wooded road which is rocky and uneven and still press on at the same pace. Unfortunately Simon has a misstep and falls over and bangs his shin. He rolls over on all fours to get up and we take a slower pace to get on better ground and for him to walk off the pain.
We get to the turning point where the road forks and get directed by the DS to RV2 near the reservoir pump station. We are instructed to switch off our head torches and check in with race number. Name, number, event. In both our cases Trident. We get forwarded on past the pump station across the bridge and up onto the reservoir bank heading towards the steep path up the hills to the top.
Although the hill section has better footing than Jacobs Ladder it’s no less brutal and just as steep. There was talk it was called “Granny’s Walk”. I have no idea which granny they were referring to but she had to be part goat to get up that path. It also doesn’t even out in the middle like Jacobs Ladder it’s twisting continuous climb all the way to the top. It makes it harder as it was fully dark and you could just see the head torches twisting up the hill. I found this made the climb harder as you couldn’t judge the distance and just had to deal with the climb and relentless incline.
Simon seemed to do better than I do but we stay close and and I push hard to get to the top with him. We finally reach the top and once again head torches off and follow check in procedures. We get our next route instructions with a tantalising distance statement of it’s only another 5k to go.
“Watch out for the cliff section and keep to the path and look out for the glow sticks.”
Needless to say that was the longest and most difficult part of the event. As soon as we set off our head torches light up the way and we pick out the glow sticks easily enough but the fog signals part of the conditions to come. We reach the first cliff area we were warned about and carefully make our way across to the next stage. My head torches provides more light than Simon’s so I give him some extra lighting at this tricky section.
I stay in the lead due to a better torch and progress is steady but the fog and wind makes finding glow sticks harder work. To add to the fun horizontal rain starts and stops soaking us as we carry on in the dark hunting for the next glow stick. All your focus is on grabbing a snack, sipping water and focusing on not falling and finding the next glow stick. The conditions are tough with rocky outcroppings slippery wet conditions and changing weather conditions literally at a moments notice.
A couple of times we veered to far to the right and had to get back to a more central path to find the glow sticks. Conditions become very wet and difficult. With us stopping regularly to regroup and then cracking on once a careful course has been decided. At one stage the fog and rain was so bad I realised why people get lost in these conditions. I will do another post on the value of your pack but for now its patient focus to get to the next glow stick.
I started feeling the cold and took out a windbreaker as the continual cold and wet conditions were taking its toll. As soon as I stopped moving I started shivering which was a huge wake up call for me as I felt no ill effects up to now. I got my bag on my back again and Simon and I got going again.
We got to what was one of the last difficult sections and we scanned around for the next glow stick.
We finally found one and carefully made our way through the rocky ground. We carried on walking for a short while and the DS appeared out of the fog and directed us down the hill for the final section of 1 mile.
That was the longest downhill walk I have done for a while. The conditions changed dramatically and the fog disappeared and it was dramatically easier to see. The path down was wide and easy to walk but just as steep as the return section down from Pen Y Fan to the stream.
Glow stick were hardly required as we could see the odd car on the road and the facilities of the registration area. We reached the wooden bridge the DS mentioned and crossed over.
3 of us finished at the same time and we got our high moon badgers from the DS sitting in a Range Rover. Ken was sitting in the back and we spoke about the challenge and I mentioned the brutal conditions.
I mentioned that I was in 2 minds about the last Fan Dance starting at 7. We finished at 2:30. Part of the concern was my hip had started to take strain and this was worrying as I didn’t want additional complication on top of my long term glute/hamstring injury.
We made our way to the village soaking wet and met up with Jeurgen happily sitting waiting for us. He advised us to grab a hot jacket potato that we get as a finishing meal (no hog roast at 2 am).
We both wolfed down the jackets and hobbled along the path back to the car park and all 3.crashed at Simon’s hotel till 6 am.
We rushed back to the Red phone box. Jumped out and hastily I packed my bag wolfed down some yoghurt and any other food I could. Chucked my bag on my bag and hurried up to meet Simon and Jeurgen where we were gathered to here the briefing and to get going for the final leg of the Trident.
I must admit the rest had done me good and some Ibuprofen helped the aching body. We got cracking and started back up the long hill we were on 10 hours before. This time bright sunshine made the process more welcoming but these hills.