21.3 miles. A politically correct term for today might be “challenging.” We knew it was going to be a long day; our guidebook listed the day’s walk at 18.5, and as we’d found no listings for lodging we were prepared to camp for the night and so were carrying more weight in food than we might have otherwise. The day started out well enough; though we were running a bit late the weather was sunny and breezy and it seemed we’d have a pleasant if long day of walking. But I was tired, my large muscles like glutes and quads just plain tired for the first time since we started this trek, and I couldn’t shake the weariness. So, we weren’t matching our normal morning pace, plus we stopped to visit the Bryntail Mine and oh, did I mention our guidebook has been off by about 15% on it’s mileage estimates, meaning our 18-mile day would likely be closer to 20 or even 21 miles? We finally made it sbout halfway – 10 miles – in early afternoon, around 1400, and had just started climbing through some fairly remote hills – probably with gorgeous views – when the rain began. No fresh breeze like we’d had earlier in the day. No broken clouds either. No, this rain just sat right over top of us, close and gray and motionless as the miles and hours crept by and the sun began to set. It wasn’t cold, or windy, it simply rained without stop. My feet were causing excruciating pain on the descents, making my already slow pace a crawl rather than a walk, and still the rain kept falling. Shari had long since tuned in to her ipod and tuned out the miserable afternoon, something I probably should’ve done to take my mind off my feet and the slippery path we were on.
Our gear was dry, but the constant rain had rendered a dry campsite for the night a veritable impossibility.
After 21 some odd miles, still not at the end of our “18-mile” walk but with it becoming too dark for us to safely continue, we stumbled upon a farm, with a barn and with someone in the house. We’d been dreading, without actually discussing, the idea of setting up camp in this rain and keeping anything even remotely dry, and this barn seemed a godsend. A knock on the front door, answered shortly by a man and his dog. Could we possibly sleep in your barn tonight? How could any proper Welshman refuse such a request from two sopping, muddy, bedraggled Yanks? And so, thanks to this unnamed man’s kindness, we did in fact have a warm and dry night, on a bed of hay in a barn somewhere near Nantyfydda.