CREATIVE Nathan Llywelyn MundayNWR Issue 112
Seven Days: A Pyrenean Trek
Our destination was not a holy mountain. We knew that the car was the end of the journey as a whole. We would do a couple of peaks, meet incredible people but there was no particular goal. Hemingway was heading towards the Atlantic and I started to wonder whether the water had some kind of answer for him. The Catalans were heading towards Aneto, the highest mountain in the Pyrenees at 3,404m. They were determined travellers following in the footsteps of the great traveller, Louis Ramond de Carbonnières, who described Aneto as having ‘needles of ice’ in 1787.1 My father and I were simply passing through; we sojourners in this big church, where God was making himself felt.
The storm grew and the clouds adorned the dark blue like the beard of an angry old man. My father told me about the first storm he ever experienced in these mountains where he literally hid in the rock for forty-five minutes because the lightning was hitting the earth near him; he saw the bolts running down the hill like quicksilver. The grumbling noises developed into musketry. I looked back at my father. He wasn’t blinking at all. He had stopped talking for a while. All he said that after- noon was ‘Just get down, stop tawking’ in pure cockney. Eventually we were running. I kept looking behind at our grand pursuer. That’s what happens when you stray or stay too long on any path – time creeps up, and the finger of God, lightning-like, seeks you out for an encounter. If it can’t hit a rock, it’ll hit you.
The wild flowers faded and the grass became still, as the soil prepared itself for war. The mountain watched on, strong and sturdy, as the air began its assault on the ground. The boom, boom, was in the distance. The war drums were beginning and distant skirmishes were audible in the other valleys. The clouds looked like white-crested foam on the sea. The boom, boom, continued as the storm descended. There was no shel- ter and the rain was about to be released. Was this nature or was it the Lady of Aralar?
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Nathan Llywelyn Munday
is from a small village in Carmarthenshire but now lives near the Gabalfa Interchange in Cardiff. Having just started his PhD, he still tries to escape to the mountains whenever he can. In spring he won the M Wynn Thomas Prize (New Scholars category) for an essay based on his MA research. ‘Seven Days: A Pyrenean Trek’, from which this piece is excerpted, was placed second in the New Welsh Writing Awards 2016 University of South Wales Prize for Travel Writing, awarded this summer. Our ten-minute shortlist showcase video, featuring 'Seven Days', with author presentation and reading, can be viewed at Multimedia
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