I stopped at the edge of the water and looked across at the pathway snaking up the hill.
“I’m not up for it,” I said.
Jon was staring at something indiscriminate in the foreground while Simon lay across his pack, sunning his bare chest.
“I know everyone’s tired,” replied Rich, “but it was always going to be a long day.”
Only because you made it that way, I thought. What if we simply couldn’t carry on? We’d have to change the plan.
“When it gets like this,” Rich continued, “you just have to be in the moment. One foot infront of the other.”
A refute began to churn in my gutt, fuelled by my aching back and legs. Then, Simon got to his feet.
“If we’re going to do it then let’s get on with it,” he said, in a typically impatient manner. Rich nodded, looking satisfied and we set off round the lake.
The path soon reared up, great blocks rudely thrust in our way. I pushed up them, exhaling with every step and could barely contain my irritation when I heard Rich carrying a tune from the back.
“How can you whistle?” I said between breaths.
“Just trying to keep the mood up,” he replied.
Well it’s not working, I thought. Perhaps you should have considered that before you made us climb two mountains. Okay, so that wasn’t quite true, but it might as well have been. An ascent of Snowdon in the morning, followed by a 2-hour scramble across Crib Goch and then after we’d finally made it down to solid ground, another uphill climb over said ridge. All for an idyllic camping spot.
Midway up the path, my legs gave in and I collapsed against a mound of rocks. The others crumpled nearby.
“You’re not my friend anymore.”
I grinned at Rich, playing with a momentary half truth. He grinned too, but at the sky as he swallowed water. Suddenly, I was thrown back to our Australia trip, ten years earlier. Even then, our convictions butted heads. His steady and resolute. Mine, brooding and impulsive. Most of the time, his would win out, but only through a steadfast reasoning that was too exasperating to contend with.
We got back to our feet, keen not to let what little momentum we had fade away. After a quarter of an hour we finally surmounted the climb and soon found ourselves passing through green fields littered with the remains of abandoned slate mines. Our feet rolled down layers of spongy grass and bog, thighs barely taking the strain until we reached a level setting.
I threw my pack off and slumped to the ground while Rich was straight away busy with setting up the tents. The sound of water led me and Simon to a stream and we stripped off, dunking ourselves in a bath-like crater and instantly feeling rejuvenated.
By the time we got back to camp, sunset was casting its colours across the hillside. The first meal-in-a-bag was warming on the stove and Rich was cursing at a cloud of midges hovering around him. I smiled, my animosity washed away downriver. We were just old friends together again in the wilderness.