It seems apt and well-timed to continue this blog in the week leading up the World Cup and our Tŷ Hafan dads’ Groups Welsh 3 Peaks challenge.
There will be eight of us dads who will be tackling 1,085 metres of ancient Ordovician topography that forms Snowdon, followed by 893 metres of mystical mountain terrain that makes up the energy sapping Cadair Idris, and rounded off by a trip further south to see an old reliable mate, 886 metres of him, called Pen y Fan.
All in the space of 15 heart-thumping, thigh-straining, calf-pulling, air-expelling, fatigue-inducing hours.
Why do I undertake this challenge? Probably for the same reasons that my fellow dads climb these mountains. For our special kids here and above who give us the motivation to undertake such an endurance that sometimes maybe inferior to challenges that we’ve faced as special dads. And we give back to a charity that does so much for our families. We will be joined this year by our ninth team member who will be climbing Pen y Fan in honour of his wee lad who passed away just over a week ago. How brave.
This will be my third year doing this. I love getting up there. In the thin air, surrounded by fog, concentrating on the goal of completing the challenge against the clock. I also love it because I always feel that little bit closer to Archie. Atop a peak with nothing but cloud above, I get that little chill and feeling that he’s there. In fact I have no doubt he’s with me all the way. Since I started walking and hiking in the mountains, when legs are tired and my eyes become two distinct waterfall pools for the sweat cascading down my brow, I look at my Archie wristband and say in my head ‘Archie Power, come on!’ and that’s my turbo injection.
I certainly will be turning to Archie Power this Saturday.
However, in line with the world cup, us Dads have become a team, an engine in unison that will work together to get us all to our goal (except our world cup will be a bottle of Tattinger!), but that’s no surprise if you know us Dads!
We’ve prepared as a team and I can’t wait for the banter, camaraderie, toilet humour all in the name of male bonding in the great outdoors. It’s strange but most of these guys, I’ve known only for a just over a year or less, but in a short space of time we, like a football team, have become united. Dads United.
The great thing about the dads group is the mutual respect we all have for one another. I am equally in awe of the dads I have met who have lost their special ones as I am of those with special ones. And I learn from them and we know that if we want to talk, we talk. If we don’t, we don’t. There’s no pressure and I have really benefited from meeting such an amazing group of guys in such a short space of time. It will be great if we can extend our network and get in contact with other Tŷ Hafan dads or fathers from other hospices. Laughter is the best medicine they say, and our dads group has plenty of it!
So on Saturday evening, after climbing and traveling since 4am, when we’re holding aloft our version of the Jules Rimet, with our children’s teddies in our rucksacks, with our kids photo printed t-shirts on, with comrades who have worked together for a common cause, we will be celebrating and howling like the wolf pack we are.
And I’ll be looking up and blowing Archie a kiss.