Saturday, 27 September 2014
I have just received an e-mail from Ali and Sue. They have received my entry ... and since I shall be a 10-timer next year (I really can't believe I am typing this!!) my acceptance is guaranteed. I have a route more or less ready to go. Just some finishing touches to add. All being well, I should have completed that and measured all distances, and counted all squiggles, by the time the route card arrive, so I can just fill one in and return it immediately. Now THAT'S what I call being organized.
For those uncharitable types who might be tempted to ask why Mrs B didn't accompany me for the entire expedition, I would point out that after she broke her ankle in 2006 the doctors said she would never walk without a stick again. It was a bad break. That she was able to walk from Coylumbridge well up into the Lairig Ghru, to a point less than 5km from Pools of Dee, and back in an afternoon is a very creditable achievement. Besides, if she'd come with me for the whole expedition, I wouldn't have got my cake, would I????
In any event, it turned out that my companion had been in Corrour Bothy last night, and would be heading back down there before walking back out to Linn of Dee, so we decided to stay in company until the bothy. Our paces were well matched, and the attraction for me was that as he had already come up the Coire Odhar path, he'd be able to point me the correct way in the event of any ambiguity as to the path (although, in fact, when it came t it there was none).
"This is Cairn Toul", I corrected him.
"No," he insisted, pointing to the unnamed hill 1213, "that's Cairn Toul 1291. This is Sgor an Lochan Uaine, 1258."
"It's not," I said. "I've already been over Sgor an Lochain Uaine today. This is Cairn Toul."
"Are you a geographer?" he asked, somewhat aggressively.
"No," I said, "I'm a navigator. But if you doubt it, we can always ask my yellow box of tricks" and so saying, I fetched out my GPS unit.
"Ah," he sneered. "When all else fails, turn to technology."
"All else hasn't failed," I countered, "and I am not in the least doubt where we are. But since you question it, I thought this the best way to prove it."
There were, in truth, no end of other ways in which I could have proved it. I could have suggested taking bearings (there is a near enough 90 degree deviation between the bearing from Sgor an Lochain Uaine to Cairn Toul and that from Cairn Toul to hill 1213). I could have invited him to contemplate the fact that the top he was calling Cairn Toul was clearly somewhat lower than the top on which we were discussing our location, whereas if we were on Sgor an Lochain Uaine and it was Cairn Toul, it would be visible higher. Or I could have asked him whether he had observed Lochan Uaine below him, and shown him my photograph to prove that I had. However, I was dealing with somebody whose map reading and navigation skills were such that he had completely failed to notice that there was a 1213 metre top to be ascended and descended before he got to Cairn Toul, and I suspect that any of these proofs would have been just a wee bit too sophisticated for him. So I used the GPS, and he did not argue with it when he saw the grid reference (which shows that he did, at least, know how to read a grid reference ... which is something I suppose).
We then went our separate ways, he to Sgor an Lochain Uaine (the real one ... I wonder what he would have called it when he got there if I had not corrected him on his location?) and I to Hill 1213 and then down to the top of Coire Odhar. Shortly before the bottom o fthis slope I came to a spring, and was able to refill my water bottles from the stream just a few metres below it. I drank my fill, and continued with three bottles of lovely fresh, clear spring water in my pack.
I had packed six assorted cereal bars (of the kind that I CAN eat) by way of breakfast, but I only felt like eating two of them. Then I packed, put my sodden tent back into its bag, and set off upstream. As I did so, the sun was just rising ...
Friday, 26 September 2014
On the North East flank of Carn Ban Mor, close to the Fuaran Diotach, I encountered this little sheltered lochan with an old stone shelter. This looked to me like a good wild pitch, and the place to head for if ever caught up on this part of the plateau in deteriorating weather. There is nothing on either the 1 : 50,000 or the 1 : 25 000 map to identify it, although the 1 : 25 000 map does show a little round feature at NN 901977 and I suspect that this may be it. I did not, however, have the 1 : 25 000 map with me at the time. What I did have with me was my GPS unit, however ... so I took a location reading, and copied the grid reference into a text message on my mobile phone. I had no signal to send it, but I didn't need to. I simply saved it to drafts, intending to take a note and mark it off on the map when I got home.
Before I could do this, however, I began encountering difficulties with the functioning of my mobile phone. Suspecting it may be because of the 600 or so old text messages still stored in its poor, overworked memory banks, I told it to delete everything ... and there went my note of the grid reference of this delightful location. Oops!
I'd brought all my expedition gear with me just in case the weather was fair, and as it was more than fair Mrs B sent me off into the Cairngorms by myself for a two day expedition to test my new trail shoes, while she set about enjoying the delights (such as they are) of Aviemore. I mentioned the cake shop which does gluten-free cakes, and advised her where to find it, in the hope that some cake might have found its way into the van by the time I returned, and then I set off. My plan was a simple one ... knock off Sgor Gaoith and Monadh Mor on day 1, camp by Loch nan Stuirteag, head up Sgor and Lochain Uaine, Cairn Toul and The Devil's Point on the morning of day 2, then head down to Corrour Bothy for lunch and return through the Lairig Ghru.
So off I went ... following the track into Gleann Eanaich. The Am Beanaidh (pictured) is a beautiful river, and I followed it as far as the Allt Ruigh na Sroine, where I had a good glug and refilled my water bottles, before back-tracking to the path junction and heading up the open hillside which is the Cadha Mor. This is a bit of a horrible heathery hillside; but it doesn't last for long, and soon I was on the ridge line and heading on up Greag Dhubh.