The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Monday, 11 June 2012

Day 9 - Mile 590 to mile 611.25

Saturday 9 June (0440-1230; 1510-1725)
Distance: 21.25 miles
Number of lizards found sitting on my sock: 1 (but I wasn't wearing it at the time)
Number of other people seen: 0

For the first mile of today I pondered whether I had forgotten to pack my sleeping bag. My pack just seemed too light. The volume was right, so I had to put it down to having only 4 days' food, <2 litres of water and wearing so many of my clothes (cool morning again).

In the second mile my attention was drawn elsewhere, as I marvelled once again at the sunrise. Layers of hills going off into the distance, all backed by a red sky - gorgeous!

Once day had fully dawned, we came to notice that our surrounding had changed. No longer did we appear to be in the desert, but instead we were crossing grassy meadows (still on the steep side of a hill, but definitely meadow-esque). Some of the grass was even alive and green.

Then we entered a forest. Now, when I think of a forest I think of a British commercial plantation, with the trees crammed in in rows, making it inpenetrable except on the made tracks and paths. This was a whole different kettle of fish and was really attractive. The trees were very spaced out and every now and then there would be rocky bits (sometimes just random rocks that made me wonder 'how did that get there?). Then there were the lush green stream beds and hundreds of good-looking potential pitches. We were still walking on sand, mind.

A very lengthy aqua-faff was had at the first good spring we passed, but we only picked up enough to top up our drinking water as we knew there were other sources (albeit not as good) as the day went on.

We were sixteen miles through the day (and it was turning into a hot one) when we stopped for lunch at one of those sources, where it took quite a while to collect enough water from the dripping moss!

A good long break later, out we set for our final four miles of the day - or that was the plan. The plan went awry when we found that our intended stopping point was in a burn area. It's an old burn, and there were plenty of flat pitches, but the problem was that it was only 1700 and the lack of living trees meant there was a lack of shade. So, we had little option but to carry on.

With Mick having been lacking energy today, when we did finally find a flat, shady area we took it even though it's very close to a road (just a very small forest dirt road).

Like last night, it's not going to win any awards for the most attractive pitch, but we'll soon be asleep anyway, at which point it's pretty irrelevant what it looks like.

Having surveyed the water situation, we now have our fingers crossed that the cache in 5 miles time will have water. We just about have enough to get ourselves to the next natural water source, but it's 2 miles off route, down hill. We'd rather not have to make that detour.

Talking of water, first test of the superglued platty suggests that it will hold water again. Not sure how durable the repair will be, but there's not much further to go before water becomes plentiful.

(Geoff - we're liking the Double Rainbow! It's got plenty of room for the two of us plus bags, is easy to pitch, stands up to wind far better than I'd thought it would, and gives the option of tying both porch doors back on each side to give an airy bug protecting nest. For this climate, it's working well. I'm not sure it's really suited to UK conditions, though (mainly because it would be too drafty and there's a lack of room in the porch to cook).

Toadie - now you mention it, I see what you mean!

JP - having never done any walking like this before it all interesting - even the bits that other people are finding more mundane. Certainly a bit of a departure from the UK to look at a 10-day weather forecast and see a zero percent chance of rain for every day!

Martin - it's so easy, under these blue skies, to imagine that everyone's enjoying weather like this. Hope you get some dry spells for your Torridon trip.

Louise - at least you'll have plenty of time between Christmas and May to wear them in! I'll try to keep up the blogging, but the phone's not enjoying the dust and seems to be losing even more functionality. Fingers crossed that it limps on through to the finish.)

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

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