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 13 May 2019

TGO Challenge Day 2 - Loch Gaorsaic to Cougie

Saturday 10 May (0745-1630)
Distance: 16 miles (plus an extra mile for me)
Ascent: uncounted (plus an extra 150m for me)
Weather: just the edge of a couple of showers with some good sunny spells in between.

At 2030 last night it was raining heavily enough for me to need to turn the volume of my audio book up a couple of notches. The next I knew it was 2340 when, nipping out to use the en-suite, I found the stars to be twinkling above. Accordingly, the tent (and everything around) was already covered in a hard frost.

Chilly pitch! The frost free bit at the front of the flysheet is the result of having boiled water in the porch for tea and porridge.

The water had ice in it this morning and our shoes and socks had frozen solid. Particularly annoying in my case because I'd managed to keep my feet pretty dry until about ten minutes before we pitched last night, when I carelessly walked through a bog and soaked them. Obviously, if they hadn't been wet, they wouldn't have frozen.

Thus, this morning started with us fording the river just below the Loch (on which ice had formed overnight) then, on the other side, forcing our feet into frozen shoes. About half an hour later I stopped to tie the then-thawed laces that had earlier refused to move.

Mick mid-river

The feet soon warmed up as we made our way down to Glen Affric and by elevenses (which occurred at 10.15 today) we had arrived at Alltbeithe Youth Hostel. It was lovely and warm in there as we enjoyed tea and scones (I would have had soup except that Mick misheard my request).

Showers came on and off as we walked along the glen, but our ploy of waiting until we got properly wet before changing to waterproofs worked: we never did get properly wet and thus saved a few stops for waterproof faffs.

At around 12.15 we arrived at the nightstop as stated on our route sheet. We therefore proceeded with Plan D, as I outlined in my last post, and continued into tomorrow's route.

A mile before our new end point, just before the track started to descend to Cougie, I left Mick sitting at the side of the track* with both of our bags whilst I nipped up Creag Dhubh. It was only about an extra 150m of ascent and, as the crow flies, was only 0.5 mile each way, so it would have been silly to pass it by.

What did surprise me was that for the couple of preceeding miles along a track I had been feeling tired and was ready for the day to be over. Yet, without pausing for a break, I found myself full of energy and relishing the challenge as I made my way up the very rough terrain of this hill. I'm not sure whether it was the freedom of not having a pack on my back or the fun of the variety/effort of the terrain that did it.

Looking back over our morning's route

I was up, down and had my pack back on within three quarters of an hour and half an hour after that we were sitting being sociable and drinking tea at Cougie Lodge.

We're now pitched *very* cosily with half a dozen other tents in the flattest bit of land behind the lodge, looking forward to a shorter day tomorrow, as we're already 8 miles into it.

(*I did suggest he could continue on to Cougie and I would meet him there, but he opted to wait.)

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