Posts Tagged Hiking
Picked up just after 4am with very little sleep we were now off on this crazy mission with a 4hr drive up north to the start point of this epic hike! Nervously excited, tired but determined in my mind that I’d accomplish the task ahead. I had read the reports, downloaded the route, printed off a map, all that remained now was the endurance of this testing estimated average 11hr walk, braving & scrambling some slightly exposed ridges and getting the 9K back along the road to the van at the start point!
The weather was changeable on the drive up but began to clear more as we got closer to our destination and just as we arrived the hills were framed by a gorgeous rainbow, always a good sight to me, there’s just something mystical and awesome about them and in my mind a sign that the day was going to turn out well.
Rucksacks on the backs packed with the needs and necessities we headed off to hit the first Munro, meeting one other couple along the way who were going an “off piste” route up the mountain, we chose to stick to the path more trodden. It was quite a climb to the first summit as we traversed back and forth winding up the rocky grassy path. From there the next summit was not far and without too much descent in between, so we carried on to Munro No.2. before we stopped for a short re-fuelling break.
Somewhere after this was where I had to scramble over a reasonably short exposed ridge section. I’m not totally afraid of heights, however, from previous experiences of looking down from these kinda heights at pretty scary looking drops and that sinking fearsome feeling I get in my belly, I have found the best solution for me is to only focus on where my feet/hands are going, put my blinkers on and keep going! Lol!
I made it, phew, now more trudging as we continued along to the next peaks and troughs, the last 3 had quite large incline/declines in between and there was another ridge section, which I again employed the same “don’t look down” strategy and got happily down the other side of that where we met another 3 walkers and stopped for a bit of hill banter before continuing on this mission.
We reached Munro 6 and for a moment thought that it was 7, so the map confirmation that we still had one more to go was a bit of a blow to the mind more than the body as now it had to be re-calibrated to factor in further endurance than was thought for just a moment.
After that we kicked up the pace a bit pushing just to get to the last one, which was a hugely welcomed sight I’ll tell you! But, the walk was far from over, the decent back to the road was quite looking like quite a trek still on ViewRanger, and in order to get on that route there was a quite vertical few meter looking scramble ahead first much to my dismay!
At this same junction there was, what appeared to be, another kind of path and possible route back down the valley that looked like a somewhat tempting option from where we were standing and it looked to cut off some walking time. So we made the decision to head down it! Very rubbly and not very pleasant walking at all, as well as pretty steep at first, it still seemed do-able though, but then as I was looking ahead at the terrain and where we were aiming for something was telling me this was not going to end well. It was getting later, now early evening and the sun was going down, we were tired, I was getting edgy and so said to my hiking companion that I felt we should try to head back up the mountain and over to try and find a way back to the official route off. He felt we could still make it but my gut feeling was that, although more ascent was far from ideal at this stage in the walk, it was going to be the best option!
So we crossed up and over and could finally see the actual path in the distance near the stream, still quite a way to go though. At this stage in the walk it was really all about just plodding on and getting off the mountain with a slight urgency as light would be fading faster soon, a bit gruelling now but the mind was just on getting back to the van! Which was still parked another 9K along the road once we were back at the gate! Ooooft!
Battling through boggy grassy midge filled sections and a couple of streams crossings, the second of which I did a lovely little slip and dip into as I attempted to step across the awkward stones. I laughed, wet but just really really happy to be off the mountain by this point, still not home and dry yet though by any means!
Once through the gate onto the road we passed a campervan parked and began trudging along the road back to where the van was parked, trying to thumb a lift from passing cars but to no avail until finally that same campervan we saw just as we came off the mountain came along the road and stopped for us!
Oh the sheer relief and joy, Simon and his van were like angels to me by this point, saving the last 5K of the walk, which very soon would have been in the dark! All Gods at this point were thanked in earnest, especially as we drove along the road and saw how much distance we still had to go! Ahhh…at last, the van, dry socks, trainers, warmth, a seat…but still a 4hr drive home and it was now 11pm!
Even though I was not driving and could have nodded off for a rest I felt a duty to my driver and hiking buddy to stay awake just as he had to complete this mission. Anything else would be a cop out, plus I wanted to try keep talking to break up the monotony of the long dark drive through the winding country roads, especially with deer often on or around the roadside to watch out for too.
3am and we were back in town, 24 hours since I’d got up to prepare for this epic expedition, and that it sure had been. A huge test of endurance of body and mind, the faith to keep going, thankful for the instinct that guided me to call to head back to the path on that last section on hindsight especially now after chatting to other hikers and reading reports of how folks got into dodgy troublesome descents by continuing to follow the valley route back. Phew!
That’s 7 Munro’s bagged bringing my total to 23 and that little bundle is not one I’m in any rush to repeat and do again any time soon! Still, goal set and goal met, no cuts or bruises and a great sense of accomplishment along with no feeling of great urgency to see another mountain for a while! Lol!
A gorgeous clear morning and forecast for the whole day, probably one of the nicest sunny days of 2017 so far and luckily we were able to “carpe diem” and head to the hills for another Munro bagging expedition, this time in the Arrocher Alps region near Loch Lomond.
A lovely drive and we were parked and ready to go, this time with much less need for such heavy extra layers, gloves and earwarmers and more in need of sunglasses and even a touch of sunscreen! This was a new Munro bagging experience for me! I had started my first MUNRO bagging in December when the wintery cold weather was just setting in, but one great thing about the cold is the dissappearance of certain undesireable insects, the midges and ticks!
So off we went up the track path for a small section and then cut up to follow the route. Since the weather was warming, there was a melt going on and the stoney path was resembling a small stream in places. Quite a steep section this first bit, and not long till we were all pretty warm in this spring sunshine.
As you will see if you view the VLOG in the link above, the views were incredible at every turn, simply breathtaking! Most of the start to this hike was fairly straight forwards, but as we ascended it got more rugged and steep in sections which was a little more challenging and required focus on the footholds. I had not done much “scrambling” the official word for rock clambering, except in my youth as kid by the beaches on the west coast. The scrambling began to become a lot more serious once we approached the part called the Spearhead. At this section we had to use hands to grip rocks and pull ourselves up certain sections, and it was a long way down if any mistakes were made. I looked down a couple of time but that just made my knees and tummy go weak and I could feel the fear inside me ready to take hold, so with the old pop song by Go West – “Don’t Look Down Girl” in my head, I did just that and persevered onwards and upwards. Behind me were my two hiking buddies, Jim highly experienced with close to 200 Munro’s under his belt so any terrain was not really a chore to him! Grace on the other hand, pardon the pun, literally in some ways due to her wrist injury recovery was struggling a bit with less mobility and that confidence of two strong grabbing working hands to grip the rocks with. Hats off to her for even attempting to do this climb but there did come a couple of points where she was engulfed with the fear and became imovable on sections. Looking back now we can both laugh at the moments when she was suggesting we call mountain rescue and she was not going to budge and further! But as they say, we get by with a little help from our friends and with me up ahead making footholds in the snow for her and coaxing her verbally to keep going and Jim with his sturdy patience at her rear we all made it!
Quite definately the next level of climbing that hill was and I was very glad to be off and over that section, as was Grace most definately! Thank goodness the worst bit was over! Phew…and we did it! A stop for food and it was off to Beinn Ime.
It didn’t look like it was going to take too long to get to that other summit, but boy the hill was a bit deceiving and I was certainly feeling my energy levels dropping a bit and that feeling of “when are we gonna get there” arising as the actual summit was hidden by false appearances. Finally we got there, and again some more snacks and sugary treats to boost the slightly flagging energy levels, then it was back down and past the base of “The Cobbler” another landmark rocky scramble in the same vicinity. One day I will get to that too!
The final hour of walking to get back to the car park was quite tiring, not sure now of out exact timing for this trip but it had been a good 10 hours or more we had been going so we were flagging a bit, well I sure was! Longest day on the hills yet I think…the sunniest and the best views, new skills challenged with the scrambling sections and another two Munro’s bagged, making my grand total now of 9!