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Sunday, 1 June 2014

The 2014 Challenge, day 6: Kinlochleven to Strathossian (1)

Wednesday 14 May 2014 - the 46th birthday of Alison Elliot, a girl in my class at school. I don't know why that suddenly popped into my head, but it did! I doubt she'll ever read this blog, but if she does, happy birthday Alison!

I had smoked kippers for breakfast (are there any other kind??) - and very good they were, too. As I ate, I took stock of my situation. Five days in to the Challenge, and my feet were in good shape. No other physical issues besides a slight twinge in my left knee on descents; but I could live with that. I was in Kinlochleven, which meant I was keeping up with my planned schedule. However, I had only achieved one Munro so far, where my route card said I should have done nine! That was due to the snow on Stob Ban, of course; but it made a big dent in my plans for a High Level crossing. I could still achieve it: I had another ten Munros and four Corbetts on my planned route; but it wouldn't need very many days now when I was forced onto my Foul Weather Alternative to bring my total below the magical twelve. Well, so be it: I've always said that the Challenge is about the crossing, and the mountains are a bonus. I've never managed a High Level crossing yet. It would be nice to manage it this year, but not the end of the world if I didn't - particularly given the amount of high level snow to be seen lying about the place.

Then there was the question of my camera battery. The old one had been good for 250 pictures, plus a fair amount of reviewing and deleting. I would assume that the new one would be as good again. I had nine days to go. I needed to ration my photography. I decided to set myself a ration of 20 pictures a day, which would give me a reasonable amount of slack to exceed the ration in the event of any "Oh wow!" moments without jeopardizing my ability to keep taking pictures all the way across - provided there weren't too many "Oh wow!" moments.

I paid my bill and left the hotel just after 9 o'clock. The plan was to head up through the woods to the Blackwater Reservoir, take lunch at Loch Chiarain bothy (12 kilometres into the day's route), continue to Loch Treig then over Beinn na Lap (my second Munro of the crossing) and camp in Strathossian by the lower reaches of the Allt Feith Thuill. 29km and a Munro. A full day's walking by anybody's reckoning.

I started out by taking the road along the base of the "Kinlochmore D" to get to the path through the woods - although it quickly became apparent that I could have taken a nice track beside the river which is not shown on the map. The river was very photogenic, and ordinarily I might have spent ten minutes taking half a dozen or more photographs of it, before posting the best of them to this blog. However, I was on a ration, so I only took the one. It wasn't all that good.

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