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Sunday, 1 June 2014

The 2014 Challenge, day 6: Kinlochleven to Strathossian (16)

As I passed the lochan, a fresh triangular mound of high ground loomed out of the clouds ahead of me ... and it was definitely a little higher than the "highest point on the plateau" I had just left behind me. I pointed myself at it, and it had a cairn on top of it! So the cairn WAS a summit cairn after all ... and I had announced my arrival at the summit prematurely. Oh well. I was there now. And there was really no point in sending a corrective text.

I now began my descent, in poor visibility. It was really just a matter of following the ridge line down, and not straying too far to the right ... but it was clear that the cloud base was dropping rapidly because I was still in thick cloud when I was well below the altitude at which I had entered it. And then, ahead of me, looking like the sea shore in the thick cloud, I saw the upper edge of a snow field. And this was scary! It was scary because, in the limited visibility, I could not see any of its other extremities. I did not know where it ended - so I did not know how best to get around it. All I could do was take a GPS fix, look closely at the map, and make a best guess as to where it was likely to lie.

In all, I think, I had to deal with three snow fields looming up at me out of the mist on that north ridge of Beinn na Lap, the last of them considerably lower than I had expected to find it. But deal with them all I did. These were not the only worrying incidents on the descent, though: after I had emerged from the cloud, I also had a couple of slithering falls on the wet grass, one of which wrenched my left knee quite badly. Not so badly that I could not continue with the descent ... but it was a close thing, and somewhat worrying none the less.

Towards the end of the descent, I just happened to look down, and there at my feet was an impressive, 5-pointed stag antler. I picked it up, and carried it along with one of my poles, until I nearly stabbed my leg with one of the points. Then I stopped and found a way to attach it to my pack ... which felt the heavier for it and unsurprisingly so, as it weighs in at a hefty 655 grammes!

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