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Friday, 6 June 2014

The 2014 Challenge, day 7: Double, double toil and trouble (2)

Leaving Loch Ghuilbinn behind, I found it easy enough to cross the Allt Coire na Cosaig. I then contoured my way across the open hillside until I encountered the Allt Gualainn a' Charra Mhoir, which was an altogether difficult proposition. I followed it up for quite some considerable distance until I found a viable crossing point (pictured, having crossed) and even this was only just the good side of marginal. But hey ... I got across. I then continued contouring my way across the North West flank of Meall Nathrach; and as I did so I saw four walkers heading up towards me from the Allt Cam path. They had substantial expedition packs, and my immediate thought was "Challengers!". I had not seen another Challenger since parting with Bernie Clark on the West Highland Way (and he was the first I had seen since leaving Kilchoan); so I waved, then stopped and waited for them to reach my spot, enjoying a quick glug while they did so.

My impression that these were four Challengers was not entirely correct. This was Jerry Knights and Ruth Axson, from Stoke-on-Trent, looking way younger then their years (60 and 58 respectively) who had started at Lochailort. They were walking with a couple of friends for a couple of days, and they were aiming for the Sron an Fhuarain and the Aonach Beag ridge.

I considered briefly the option of tagging along, and going high with them. But I had seen their speed in ascent, and it was rather faster than mine. I would either slow them down, or get left behind, or run the risk of triggering an asthmatic episode by over-exerting myself. Neither of these alternatives attracted. Plus, the main reason I was staying low was my knee. That would not go away just because I was in company. The risk of another slithery fall would still be there. And I did not know how many more slithery falls such as the ones I had taken coming off Beinn na Lap I could withstand. Quite possibly it would only take one more to end my Challenge. So I decided to stick with my plan, and stay low. I wished them well, and waved them off (with a slight twinge of regret none the less, it has to be said, as the decision to stay low into Dalwhinnie looked like the end of my hopes for a High Level crossing). And then I continued on my way.

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