I was still in Dumbarton at 1100. Joycee and I had a tasty breakfast in Morrison’s, picked up some shopping and then we did some banking as a customer had paid us. Should have taken a photo of that rare bird before it flew.
The last stop was Aulds in the High Street for a pastry, but not the pastry of desire, no, the fudge donut’s hadn’t come in that morning which did rattle me a little. However, the iced apple triangle affair looked tasty enough and some 12 hours later would prove to be the savior of the day. A crushed frozen pastry dipped in coffee is sometimes all you need to fire your enthusiasm enough to get back out of the tent and into the cold where, damn, you could have missed all this you fool…
It’s always a good idea to put all the roadworks up at the same time, it’s very helpful and the traffic flow and mood on the A82 was much improved by it and there was no consequent backing up, queueing and suicidal overtaking by dicks who don’t know the road <insert whatever smiley means sarcasm>.
I had to stop at Tyndrum for a cuppa, it was that or doing the same at the Ice Factor in Kinlochleven and all the extra distractions of that. I picked up a gas canister as well, Highlander gas it said on it, it smells of heather rather than the usual rank stinkiness. Maybe.
I was straight round to the road up to Mamore Lodge where a gate is now prominent and very unfriendly. Alcan don’t want us parking in the hotel carpark, or using their road, and as I was leaving the motor overnight I wasn’t risking any unpleasantness. I wonder what the future of the lodge is? Leaky roof, no repairs and demolition?
I walked up the old tarmac and as it turns out I couldn’t have got up the road anyway for the fire engines blocking the way. I’d seen smoke from the other side of the loch on the way, but assumed it was some sort of un-neighbourly action rather than the malicious firestarting the firefighters suspected it to be.
The flames were out by the time I was walking the West Highland Way track and the remaining overheated firemen was stumbling downhill. Steep and rough ground and an unnecessary fire, that’s something that could lead to loss of life. Bastards.
The West Highland Way is so familiar, everytime I set foot on it memories spring up and I have rapid-fire mix of emotions. I do need to go again, why this should be I don’t know, I’ve no real desire to do any other long distance paths, the Way just feels like a friendly local walk I suppose.
Whatever, I was only on the Way for a few hundred metres before I was climbing into a glen where I’d never been before. The sun had been beating down and I was hot, it was late in the afternoon, it had been late when I left, but the clear sky and windless air let the sunbeams straight through onto my head. the path turned into the shade and the temperature dropped. The sun was hidden by the ridgeline of Stob Coire na h-Eirghe which worried me, I was quite high, so the sun must be quite low. The top of Am Bodach was still catching some direct rays as were the tops to the south, but as I moved onto the snow from the rock and grass I was pretty sure I’d miss the sunset.
My phone rang which surprised me as I didn’t think I’d get a signal.
“Joycee, has the sun set?”
“You sound really out of breath”
“Aye, I’m climbing up half melted snow, has the sun set?”
“Maybe, it’s very nice out there…”
I couldn’t go any faster if I tried, I was panting as I watched the spots of bright light lift up and off the tops ahead of me as the white of the slopes around me dimmed to a steely blue.
I hadn’t even thought about what was ahead, I just had it in mind to get to the summit of Sgurr an Lubhair to camp and when I was dragging myself up the last wee bit to the ridge the view ahead nearly knocked me onto my arse.
The perfect place to be at the perfect time. It’s amazing how quickly the pain can go away.
It was getting darker, the snow glowed 1980′s pink and the added height gave me new views as I forced my out of shape legs up the last climb to the top. I kept stopping to take photies, I knew I was wasting time, but I didn’t care, the sun had gone, it was glorious anyway, what the hell?
Except the sun hadn’t quite gone. Timing is everything.
Dark and light, cold air but warm inside. My heart raced and my spirits soared as I hit the still hard frozen summit slopes with a grin as wide as the Mississippi. I just spell checked that and I got it right first time, it might seem like much in the grand scheme of things, but I’m pleased nonetheless.
I pulled off my pack and wandered around the top not wanting to miss a moment of this. The sun slipped away and the atmosphere changed along with the colours, a little colder and a little, I don’t know, lonelier maybe? I always feel at this time there’s a definite “you’re here for the night” message from the mountains. I still get a little tingle from it, and tonight more so, it’s been a while.
I’d brought my favourite tent and warm kit, I wasn’t taking any chances with discomfort or faffing and camp was built quick. It was cold and I really felt it as I slipped inside and boiled up for dinner. It was dark when I zipped the tent and snuggled into my sleeping bag, eyes closed and music on.
I had a phone signal and I enjoyed some Twitter chat which is unusual for me as I’m usually rubbish at comms. I felt warm, settled and I was tired, I’d really rushed the ascent. Maybe I was in for the night.
One last cuppa and my Aulds pastry before I turned in properly. It was warmer than it had been when I sat up, I munched and sipped and I didn’t feel so tired. I unzipped the tent and the moon was full and bright. I slipped off my down socks, pulled on my chilled boots with the laces just tucked inside and I crawled outside.
I reached back inside for my gloves and my camera, it was time to fanny around on the summit.