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Tuesday, 5 November 2013

The 2013 Challenge, day 1: A Rough Time in the Rough Bounds (7)

No picture for this post - my camera was still safely tucked up in my pack.

As I climbed up into the cloud, the path became more and more difficult to follow, until eventually it became non-existent; but still I climbed, because it was clear from the map that as long as I kept climbing in a broadly southerly direction I should be more or less on track. I figured I should be able to micro-navigate my way to my planned camping spot once I was over the watershed, despite the fact that visibility was down to about 50 metres in the thick cloud. All I had to do was aim off south-east until I hit the Beasdale Burn, and then handrail my way up to Loch a' Choire Riabhaich which, let's face it, is that big that it should be very difficult to miss.

After a while, however, I decided I had climbed far enough. If I headed off over the little hillocky thing to my left, i figured I should hit the Northern end of Lochan Fada; and then I could head down the hill to the little lochan at NM 713882. From here it should be easy enough to follow the outflow stream down, and then turn left for Loch a Choire Riabhaich. That was the plan, at any event!

What happened next is anybody's guess. I have tried, many times, to figure it out by reference to the map - but I simply cannot. Where I expected to find Loachan Fada, I found the end of a lochan. I could not see much of it through the swirling mists, but my compass confirmed that it was on the correct alignment and the surrounding landforms looked right. So I pressed on for the next little lochan. And I certainly found a little lochan; but when I walked around it the shape did not seem right. And the outflow stream was in altogether the wrong place, and flowing in the wrong direction. And so I concluded that I was not where I had thought ... and indeed, for the time being at least, I had no idea where I actually was.

Never mind, thought I! As long as I head East, I should pick up some identifiable navigation feature which will enable me to find my way to my Loch. So I headed East. But identifiable navigation features were there none! There were Lochans - but none of them made any sense. Likewise their outflow streams. There was even a lochan with the semblance of a path running past it; but the path seemed to be on the wrong alighnment, so I dismissed it as a deer path and did not attempt to follow it.

Eventually, at gone 5 o'clock, I decided that blundering about in the fog without a clue where I actually was might not be the best of ideas. I could locate myself accurately within a kilometre or so. I could not be more than a kilometre in any direction from grid intersection NM 7188. But that was not helping me. The rain was still falling steadily. My map case was covered with droplets of rain. My glasses were steamed up on the inside face and covered with droplets of rain on the outside face. And reading the map detail with the precision necessary to effect a micro-navigational solution was not going to be easy. I therefore decided just to look for an acceptable bit of ground to put my tent up, and worry about relocation in the morning when, hopefully, the cloud would have lifted and I'd be able to look around and make some sense of my surroundings.

After a little looking, I found a flattish patch of raised ground that was slightly less wet than everywhere else. So I pitched my tent, changed into some dry clothes, and crawled into my sleeping bag. It was only about 6 o'clock, but with the rain steadily pattering down on my tent and my shoulder hurting something terrible, I really did not feel like crawling back out of my tent to cook myself any supper. So I drank my can of gin & tonic, and drifted off to sleep.

1 comment:

  1. Gosh, only Day 1 and I'm already on edge. This story doesn't end with Mountain Rescue (again), does it?!