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Sunday, 4 October 2015

The 2015 Challenge, day 4: through Glen Urquhart to Drumnadrochit (4)

About half way through the woods I came upon another couple of Challengers, who were making slow progress. I paused to chat for a couple of minutes, but they did not seem intent on company so I wished them a good crossing and pressed on.

As I descended from the woods to the River Enrick, I saw another solo Challenger ahead of me, and I quickened my pace a little to catch up with him at the bridge over the Abhainn na Ruighe Duibhe (or perhaps, by then, it has become the River Enrick: the map is completely unspecific as to where the watercourse changes its name). The map shows it as a ford: but it is definitely a bridge! I hailed him, he turned, and we immediately recognized one another: it was Alan Wormald. Solo this year, of course, because Lucy was off doing her teacher training. He too was heading for Drumnadrochit by essentially the same route as me; and as we had discovered last year that our paces are well matched, and we each find the other's company congenial, we decided to walk together for the rest of the day.

When I mentioned the bothy ahead, Alan cursed! He had not know of its existence (I wonder why his route vetter hadn't mentioned it?? Mine did!) and he had just spent a none-too-comfortable night bivouacked in the woods. Had he known of the bothy, he would certainly have headed for it.

We paused a while at the bothy. Alan made a brew, I think, and I changed my socks. I also noted another problem. When selecting my gear for this crossing, I had decided that warmth was going to be a key consideration. I normally only bring two micro-fellces on Challenge, but this year I had also packed my big thick C25 fleece. And I decided to revert to an older, thicker Berghaus coat which I had retired from regular use several years ago. I was now reminded exactly WHY I had retired it: the sleeves were no longer terribly waterproof, and the sleeves of my walking fleece were now decidedly damp! Oh well ... nothing much I could do about it now. My arms would stay warm, at least, and I had hard shelter tonight. So I should be able to dry it overnight, and start off tomorrow with three dry fleeces. I then had three days to Aviemore, and with three fleeces, even if my walking fleece got soaked every day, I should never have to put on a cold, wet fleece in the morning. I could live with this, and if needs be I could always buy myself a new waterproof coat in Aviemore. It's what credit cards were invented for, after all ...

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