Mostly, this is random stories from my various trips as I collect them, but I've a wee backlog to get through too and those will pop up occasionally.

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Monday, 3 February 2014

A wee cough (or three)


Bloody typical. I get the festive season out of the way after a couple of months upping my mileage on the bike and then I get one of those cold/flu type things. First the funny taste, then the painful sinuses, then the dribbly nose before getting into my lungs with those threads of thick green gunge. Thankfully, it arrived just as I was finishing up the job in Blacks and I had a brief delay between that and starting at Square Wheels. Of course, that gave me even more time to mope around the house, feeling sorry for myself, and looking at the mostly calm and settled weather through the windows. I've been in this position before and I know that it becomes a battle of will-power. On the one hand there's a desire to get out there and avoid cabin fever. On the other, not giving my body time to repair itself seems to make everything drag on even longer. One week, two weeks, three weeks and it's almost the end of the month. 

By this point, two things are beginning to worry me; First of all, my "training" for the Highland Trail Race is being impacted and I feel I'm further behind than I was at the start of December. That's two months effectively lost. Secondly, having achieved my "bivvy-a-month" target for 2013, I'm running out of days to get a start on 2014. 

So, with only a couple of days to go, I managed a short bike ride and then made plans for a high-level bivvy on Meall a'Bhuachaille. This turned out to be a bit of a disaster.  Rather than bike up, I packed up a rucksack and headed up from Glenmore. Despite not having walked with this sort of load for around a year, I was surprised at how quickly I was making progress up the path. There was plenty of snow cover in the Northern Corries but I didn't reach the snowline until I was at the shallow col. From here, I was plodding up through some soft snow, though with patches of grass and rock still around. So far, so good. However, the wind was gaining strength as I climbed and by the time I reached the summit it was both stronger and much, much colder than I'd anticipated. I ducked behind the cairn for a bit of respite and to consider my options. Bivvying up here was plainly out of the question. Even if I could have found a spot behind the cairn, the wind was whipping snow over and dumping it where I sat. Nowhere else on the broad ridge provided any better cover. I thought about an exit towards Ryvoan but was unsure as to how icy that route might be - a worry with no crampons. While I was cogitating, I was getting colder and colder, so in the end, I decided to bale out completely, head home and think about a plan for the following evening - the last of the month. 

As it happened, Mim had a couple of days off and was showing an interest in coming out with me. We therefore decided to head for a local bothy. She's never spent the night in a bothy before so a short walk in, in the dark, would be a wee bit of an adventure. We made sure we were well fed and stocked up with biscuits before heading in to Drakes Bothy from Dalnavert. It's an easy, straightforward walk with little chance of getting lost and I was experimenting with my LED Lenser H7 headtorch, comparing it to the little Zipka I've used in the past. Frankly, the amount of light this thing throws out is amazing, even on the lowest power setting and with the beam tuned in tight and power up high it was like wearing a wee laser beam. The weather was mild - remarkably so given my previous afternoons experience. 

The lower bunk was easier to get into!
Making myself at home
The bothy was unoccupied (though whoever had last been in had left the door unlocked) so we made ourselves comfy, got the tea and coffee on and settled down for the evening listening to Runrig from my phone. All in all, it's a pleasant wee spot and we soon warmed it up before turning in for the evening. 


We must have been cosy as we slept in a bit later than planned, so made a swift exit, making sure we tidied up after ourselves - to the extent of taking out some other folks rubbish (why do folk leave it - who do they think is coming to take it away?). By now, the weather had turned again and the puddles we'd been splashing through on the walk in had all turned solid. Passing a husky team out training, we were soon back at the van and home in a matter of minutes.

A cosy wee spot

So - 1/1 for 2014 now in the bag and already thinking about somewhere for February - and NOT leaving it to the last night this time!!!