The long walk

Originally published at The Apochrypha. Please leave any comments there.

Friday

We set off a bit later that I thought we were going to but as I was last to be picked up it was sort of expected. We made good time up to Glen Coe and despite a mix up with where Willie thought Glen Etive was we headed up to Fort William to get a few supplies and stopped in Ballaculish (or was it Glen Coe?) on the way back down to pick up a couple of bags of fire wood. The weather was holding well despite not knowing wether it was wanting to rain or shine earlier in the day and we eventually made it down to the lochside for about 5pm. The glen was dead with about 3 tents the entire way down and we managed to get one of the better spots to pitch our tents. The midges were horrendous until the sun went down but meanwhile we managed to get the campsite organised and some wood for the fire.

We’d worked out that we’d need more wood to see us through the evening but as I didn’t buy the hatchet I was looking at in Fort William and I’d forgotten my saw which I was intent on bringing this time we struggled to find any wood bigger than kindling for teh fire. That was until willie found a tree that was still standing but could be chopped down with his knife. It took all four of us working at it but we got it down and surprisingly enough that tree along with the wood we had bought worked out almost perfectly for burn time. It was nice to be back down in Glen Etive and was good to see my thinking stone and not to actually use it. The old campfire seemed to have not moved from where I last used it and unless someone had used a similar rock in its place the huge rock that cracked on us last time was still there.

Saturday
Saturday morning we all got up relatively early to find out food had been raided during the night by what looked like a wee mouse or two. Most of it was untouched but we all lost a few rolls and they even had a go at Willie’s Mars Bars! I think between us we had brought a full pig to cook for breakfast so there were plenty of bacon rolls to go about. We broke camp and headed up to the campsite that we were going to be based in for the next day. I’d heard of it before but I’d never been to the Red Squirral Campsite and was pleasantly surprised. Willie had described it as very laid back but we werent expecting the stoned dutch guy that seemed to be running it!

After getting the tents up we got all our gear together for the climb and headed off to the hill. This is probably where the misunderstanding could have been ironed out but as we didn’t know this was the case we didnt. All the time we’d talked about this we’d said we’d go up the Pap of Glencoe and if the weather and time let us we’d go up the next mountain as well as its joined by a ridge. Willie had been up previously so his description of the accent didn’t seem that bad. As we understood it we’d walk up to the saddle with a few scrambles and then up onto the Pap before deciding what we were doing with regards to the other peak. What we actually did was go up Clachaig Gully which if you read up on it is generally thought of as a stupid way to get down off the ridge unless you really know what your doing and the conditions are right. I was expecting the hard walking but not the scrambling up rock faces. I was really stressed out by it all and had to breath out a panic attack once the wind and drizzle started to take its toll on us. The height was making me dizzy in places but it was only really because the paths were that narrow and it would have been more dangerous to go back down than it would have been to keep going. I was fine after that but my god it was tiring. You could see Mark was struggling with it before we got to the summit but it wasn’t until we stopped for our lunch at the top that you could see just how knackered he was.

The view from the summit was something else though and no it wasn’t because of what you could see its because of what you couldn’t. We had about 20′ of clear view until the mist/cloud swallowed everything up. All we could see was the summit, each other and everything else was grey. We could have been in the campsite car park for all we knew.

It was round about this time that we realised that we hadn’t actually went up the Pap but we had just been on the summit of Sgurr nam Fiannaidh. The weather was getting dodgy and after we started heading back down Willie stopped and confessed that the last time he was up there you could see loads of paths down and you just had to pick one. We could only find the one path so we stuck to that and in the end it turned out it took you to the same place as Willie went the last time anyway. The path down off the mountain was how I was expecting the path up to be but to be honest I think my body would have been done in alot more going up that way that the way we actually went up. On the way down though we came across two wee goth kids with their long blonde hair and black long sleeve teeshirts just waling straight up the hill. They weren’t even bothering about the path, they were just battering through the ferns and heather. Not quite sure what they were up to to be honest.

After we got back to the campsite we were ahead of schedule so Willie went off for a shower and we got ourselves sorted for going to the pub for dinner. I’d left my trainers in the car so I was stuck in my tent until then.
We made it to the pub and got our food order in barely ten minutes before they shut the kitchen I think. I had a venison burger which was about the cheapest thing on the menu but by god it was tasty. We had a few pints of Dark Island ale as well whilst we listened to the band and tried not to attract the attention of the hen night and the stag party that were living it up. All night it was pissing down outside and a phone signal was no existant almost so it seemed but I managed to get a few txts through to Vonnie and I got the pics she’d sent earlier of the kids which made me want to be in bed at home with them. We were shattered by about 10pm but Willie managed to keep Dave and myself out for another hour I think and Mark went up the road early as he needed as much rest as possible I think.

Sunday

I awoke to find my sleeping bag soaking and the tent ringing as the ground water was starting to get through and someone had removed the peg holding the back of the tent away from the inside so that was soaked through as well. Anyway we got up and despite attempting to make a midge free cup of tea for myself and Dave and failing we headed off early. Vonnie was coming up to meet me and I was dropped off at Tyndrum to wait for her. It was anice day and we drove back down to Luss for something to eat and to visit Vonnie’s father Eddie for a wee bit. Had a wee wander around Luss then drove back via Vonnie’s Nana’s and then was in bed for 8.30 I think.

All I can say is my muscles ache like hell and my midge bites itch like a very itchy thing. It was worth the climb though ':)'


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