Friday, 16 April 2010

Stretching it a bit?

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Waking up on the couch at 05:00 with a hangover is generally not the best way to start a trip to the hills but I had plenty of time time to get my act together as we weren't planning on leaving until 16:00 hours. Eventually the fuzzy head wore off and I slung some gear into my pack and headed for the rendezvous near PTC's hoose picking Elaina up on the way. We rolled into the car park and and met Petesy and Phil. Amidst the greetings and banter, kit was transferred to the PTC mobile and we were off for an adventure.

It was mildly upsetting to be rolling straight past the RFC but we wanted to get to Fort Bill before it shut. A quick refuel in Mcdonalds and some supplies picked up in Morrison's saw us right. I felt slightly guilty about the Mcdonalds as it was my 3rd this week! Mind you, this was alleviated by the fact that most chronic Mcdonalds munchers don't go bezzing off up Munro's at every available opportunity.

The sun was dropping and bathing the hills in a soft and ever changing light as it faded into evening. Looking down Loch Garry at Gairich and pals had us all out scrambling around on the banks pointing camera's at the jaggy horizon.

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We crossed over the bridge on the North side of Loch Quoich and a wee spot presented itself nicely for the car right at the foot of the stalkers path we would take. There was a wee nip in the air as we all climbed out of the car so I pulled on my windshirt while checking my stove works ;o). It was a joy to shoulder my pack as I'd gone for my old favourite the Jirishanca as I had a lighter sleeping bag for a change and had grabbed the still unused Big Agnes 3 wire bivy to test. There's something to be said for low bulk as well as low weight.

Setting off up the track I immediately felt the dehydrating effect of the previous nights mild debauchery. There were offers to relieve the pressure in my head using the available tools to hand...ice axe, tent poles etc but I pushed on sipping water laced with Nuun all the more frequently.

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We all started with our night vision being enough to pick out the detail of the track under the clear evening sky. So clear in fact we could pick out shooting stars and trace the path of a satellite as it cut across the heavens. Gradually the cloud cover crept over and we could all feel the temperature rising then we met a friendly old chap coming down the other way. He'd been out on the tops and had planned to come down in the dark which is something you don't see much in my experience.

All too often there seems to be a sense of urgency to get off the hill before nightfall where certain death and probably the boogie man awaits. Not true. The best time to view the hills is in that golden hour at both the start and the end of the day where the shadows are long and the hills are given more definition and shape. The colours are deeper and the same shot taken at 5 minute intervals looks different and spectacular every time. Remove the sense of urgency and the phsycological effect is to make the hills a friendly and welcoming place.

After leaving the old fella to continue his descent we switched on our red beams as our night vision had been destroyed. It was enough to pick out the track detail and safely continue with trips or spills. I was enjoying being out with my pals and could feel the demons of the previous nights drink leaving my body. We crossed the shoulder of Bac nan Canaichean with the terrain switching between boulder field and patches of short grass big enough for some tents. We pushed on switching now to bright white beams now as we searched for the snowline and somewhere flat we could pitch up and watch the sunrise from.

At the foot of Sgurr Coire Nan Ericheallach we stopped and set up camp and the dark. The clouds had now completely obliterated the view of the stars which was disappointing to me as I had been looking forward to lying with the bivy open staring straight up at them. Cuppas were made and snow melted to replace that drunk on the way up. I had a sausage sandwich (uneaten breakfast) for supper and completely forgetting my hangover had a wee dram before turning in for night content and looking forward to the morrow.

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5 comments:

  1. How was the 3 wire Bivvy? Low weight and small bulk is always attractive but I'm wary.

    It would be good if you could review it, not so much a look at construction/weight etc but the method of operation, cooking while in the bivvy, ease of access/egress in the rain without getting everything soaked, set-up etc etc.

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  2. I'm going to stick up a review on here Mac E. In short it performed very well but as of yet it hasn't been used in foul weather.

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  3. Look forward to the review. I suspect it isn't the sort of thing you'd set out to use in really wet stormy weather but how you deal with unexpected bad weather is information that's extremely useful.

    Richard

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  4. Good lad, it's been nice reading you and Phil's write-ups. It's getting the trip all over again :o)

    We will have to do a trip with the three of us in the Three Wire's!

    Mac E, I've had two bad nights in it, one snow and one wind and rain. It does rattle around the untensioned lower section in the wind, but it's rock-solid as it's pegged. Cooking is a faff, make up a flask and keep it inside just in case!

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  5. Just to let you know, I'll be checking this version of events against PTC and Phil's reports for inconsistencies... ;-P

    Are they purple poles PTC is using???

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