Our first winter in Harpers Ferry was extraordinarily mild.
So much so that this was the only hike I did under winter conditions!
If you think it’s beautiful in summer, you should see this place in winter. It’s magical.
This was our last hike of 2019.
We squeezed it in during that weird period between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
For Lexi and me, it was our second hike up Weverton Cliffs (route description). For the boys, it was their first real mountain climb.
Weverton Cliffs, Md. is the third mountain hike accessible from Harpers Ferry, after Maryland Heights and Loudon Heights. It’s a 9-mile out-and-back from Harpers Ferry — much too far for a 2yo and 4yo — so we opted to start from the car park at the base of the mountain.
The route is part of the Appalachian Trail. It’s a short and easy climb and rewards walkers with some of the best views of this area. It’s well worth doing but I’d avoid weekend afternoons.
December 10, 2019
I had a few hours free in Copenhagen, Denmark, after leading a Google Sheets training workshop for a client.
It was a chance to fit in an exploratory nighttime ramble through the heart of this pretty city.
This was my approximate route, starting from hotel Skt Petri where I was staying, and taking in the Lego shop (of course!), the Skaal craft brew house (for dinner and beer) and Starbucks (for a cup of tea).
European cities are beautiful at this time of year.
They’re pedestrian- and bike-friendly of course, which I love, and full of wonderful architecture and old buildings.
But they really shine (pun intended) at this time of year.
They deck the streets with lights, people walk around hand-in-hand past Christmas markets, and everyone has a glow, a warmth, about them. At this time of year, London is like this too.
Here are a few photos from my short foot journey:
One day I’ll have to return for a longer walk and include some of the parks and lakes.
15 October 2019
My brother and I headed out for a day of hiking in Snowdonia National Park, during our overlapping family trips to the UK.
That morning, a full moon presided over the mountains of Snowdonia, which bathed in a soft dawn light. The valley slept under a blanket of cloud.
It was a most auspicious start to our day.
As we blasted along the A5 towards Capel Curig and beyond to Llyn Ogwen, the landscape felt absolutely familiar and shockingly distant. It’s an area that I’ve spent a lot of time in, but that was all more than 10 years ago.
Tryfan looked every bit as magnificent as I remember it.
Here we were again. My brother and I preparing for a walk from that layby half-way along Llyn Ogwen.
We couldn’t help but smile at the adventure that lay ahead.
I was a little run down with a head cold, so we decided to attempt Tryfan and see how we felt before committing to anything else. If we (or rather I) felt terrible we’d call it a day. If not, we’d carry on.
It was a good long pull up to the summit of Tryfan. It was immensely satisfying to be walking over familiar terrain once again, chatting away with one of the most awesome people on planet Earth.
We both felt pretty good on the ascent and reached the summit without too much trouble.
Once there, we shared a cuppa and a digestive biscuit. We’d talked about this moment for months and here we were, living it. Or rather, eating it.
The swirling cloud made for some good pictures. Mountains, ridges and lakes drifted in and out of the cloud. Pete hopped on over to the shoulder of Tryfan for this great shot (his idea).
Back at the saddle between Tryfan and the rest of the Glyders, we rested briefly. We drank more tea and decided to continue traversing the range.
We were both happy as pigs in sh*t. There was no way we were turning back now.
As we ascended Glyder Fach, the clouds lifted away from Tryfan to leave a stunning image of the summit pyramid against a deep blue sky.
No doubt about it, Tryfan is a mighty mountain.
The walk over the top of Glyder Fach was in and out of cloud the whole way. We were given enough glimpses of our surroundings that we didn’t need to use the compass for navigation.
Mother Nature treated us to a nice surprise on the top of Glyder Fach: a brocken spectre!
It was amazing, by far the best I’ve ever seen (out of maybe two others, haha), and I think it was the first one that Pete has ever seen. What a treat!
The cloud thickened as we skirted Castell Y Gwynt and continued over Glyder Fawr. The path was easily followed so navigation didn’t present any real issues.
It was pretty cold though.
We’d visited the Costwolds shop the day before to buy these beanie hats as we’d both neglected to bring anything warm with us to the UK.
Good job too. We wore them for almost the whole day.
The mountains mellowed in the late afternoon light as we descended out of the mist of Glyder Fawr and made our way up Y Garn, our final mountain for the day.
Y Garn is a more mellow mountain than Tryfan and the two Glyders.
Where they are all rocky and imposing, Y Garn is round, grassy and welcoming. We enjoyed beautiful views from the summit.
As we descended off the summit of Y Garn, we passed a slow moving family — a dad, mum and two teenage kids.
The mum was having a torrid time, basically clinging on all fours and scared about the steep ridge.
As we passed, the dad turned to to Pete and me and said something like “One of us is not having a good time, and I’ll let you guess who that is” with a smirk on his face. What an asshole we thought. Very weird.
The route is stunning and spectacular every step of the way. This waterfall photo was taken a few hundred metres from the road.
My knees ached on this final descent, indicating that we’d bitten off just the right amount. Anymore and I’d have been in a bit of pain.
They’re still recovering from the over exuberance of my trail running earlier this summer.
We finished with a cup of tea and a delicious brownie from the Ogwen Snack Shop before a quick yomp along the A5 back to the car.
All in all, an absolutely magnificent day out.
One of the finest days of hillwalking I’ve enjoyed in Snowdonia.
The numbers on the map and elevation profile correspond to the following summits:
The dotted line shows the segment I missed on Strava because I forgot to start my watch when we left the car.
Although the distance was short, around 8 miles or so, it’s a lot of up and down over rough terrain, so it was a tiring day.
It’s an absolute corker of a route and we had just about perfect weather for it.
I love this part of the world so much. I spent many happy childhood days walking, climbing, camping and drinking tea in Snowdonia National Park. It will always hold a special place in my heart.
Until next time!
Part 2 of a series of “big hikes in big cities”. For Part 1, a walk around San Francisco, click here.
August 22nd, 2019
I was visiting New York City to give a presentation to the Google Sheets team (an amazing honor and experience!) and had a few hours on the Thursday morning before my train home.
Naturally, I decided to explore the city on foot. It’s something I try to do anytime I visit a big city.
I find walking the streets of big cities to be fascinating and great for thinking.
This time, I walked from my hotel in the Chelsea area to Battery Park and back, via Wall Street. It was a 9-mile hike that took me two and a half hours.
This hike covered some of the most iconic areas of New York so it was the obvious choice from my hotel, even though I’d seen some of this area before (years ago though).
I started right next to the Flatiron building, which is perhaps my favourite building in the whole city.
Route and photos from New York