At the end of the week long craft retreat we had set ourselves the challenge of visiting all three lakes of Cadair Idris mountain. Having rested a little at Llyn Gafn, the first lake, we all set off in anticipation of reaching our second mountain lake, Llyn Cadair. This mountain is called ‘Cadair Idris – the Seat of Idris’ due to a geographical saddle which provides the chair-like backdrop to this lake. The climb up to Llyn Cadair was a bit steeper than the first part of the walk. The sangha members traversed the route at varying paces and with differing amounts of stamina. This gave each of us the opportunity to travel with various members of the sangha at different times. It was like the interweaving of the warp and weft of a rich tapestry, with wonderful exchanges of conversation, humour, appreciation of the extraordinary landscape, and the exquisite companionship of empty silence.
As happens on all hill climbing, the second lake was misjudged to be ‘just over the next rim’ on more than one occasion. So when Llyn Cadair finally did come into view, it was a spectacular and pleasing sight. These mountain lakes formed by glacial action are captivatingly still. A group of us climbed down to a rocky outcrop above the lake to await the rest of the sangha. As we sat, a group of young people arrived on the far side of the lake. The lakes look so inviting after a hard walk on a hot day, but the water in these lakes is shockingly cold. Loud shouts, intakes of breath, and expressions of sheer joy accompanied their plunge into the lake. These sounds could clearly be heard in the still air of this sheltered lake, as the young people only managed a few short swims before needing to escape the coldness of the water. Despite this, one of the ordained members of our sangha could not resist the temptation of the water.
The whole of the sangha came to rest by the lake. Llyn Cadair is deeper and larger than Llyn Gafn, and the waters more still and silent. Opposite where we were sitting, we watched people sliding down a steep scree slope. Ngala Nor’dzin commented that this looked a little dangerous. The direction of the path was not immediately obvious from Llyn Cadair and there were discussions about which was the way forward. We set off thinking the path must be just round the corner of a bluff, but when we got there we found that there was no path. We observed some more people scrabbling and sliding down the steep scree slop, and started to realise that this loose, steeply ascending scree was the path we had to take if we wished to complete our intention of visiting all three lakes in a day.