Camping Out & Sgor Gaioth
by smirnie71 » Mon Feb 21, 2011 3:01 pm
Munros included on this walk: Sgor Gaoith
Date walked: 22/08/2010
Distance: 34 km
Ascent: 1376mRegister or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
9:30am - Complete 5k road race in aid of DeafBlind Scotland at Kirkintilloch. Try not to come last despite legions of skinny, Lycra clad racing snakes. 42 minutes and completely elated.
Go home, get changed, eat protein and pick up gear for several days wild camping.
Drive 120 miles to Aviemore, buy spork as have no cutlery, park up at Auchlean and get gear on.
Stumble towards Carn Ban Mor then over the plateau to Loch nan Cnapan to arrive just before sunset, all told just about eight and a half kilometers with what feels like 30 kilos on our backs. In fact it must be - the ground sheet weighs 5kg alone I swear!
Pitch tent in fading light, figure out how to set up and use stove, make hot chocolate, spill hot chocolate all over inside of tent.
Experience first ever outdoors bowel movement. (Spare the reader those details!)
Awkwardly climb into mummy style sleeping bag, try to zip it up to find I can only do so with one arm pointing out of the bag. Spend half the night trying to fasten straight jacket, get cold, get sore hips and eventually fall asleep in the wee hours of the morning.
Monday 23 August 2010
Though awake at 7am, we are shattered from broken or non-existent sleep and decided to take things easy on our first morning out in the wild. We sleep some more and I find it quite strange that I can sleep better after dawn. It starts to rain late morning so we have lunch and wait for the rain to let up a bit. It doesn't so we stuff a rucksack with sweeties, flapjacks and water and head off towards Sgor Gaoith.
Needless to say we pop by our old friend Carn Ban Mor on the way up. It may have been demoted as a munro but in my book it will always be our first bag.
The strange semicircle of stones that is the summit cairn look a lot bigger this time, indication of how deep the snow was when we were up in April. Given our complete and utter lack of winter walking experience and navigational skills combined with very poor visibility, this feels like more of a feat than I had appreciated at the time as I look out over the bleak summit.
This time I can see Sgor Gaoith, it has been within my field of vision since yesterday, alternately looming menacingly or cutting a sharp, proud outline against the sky. I can't wait to get there. Still another kilometer or so to go.
What does it feel like to bag your first munro? I don't know what I expected. I don't know that the fact it is a munro actually matters to me anymore. Yes there is a decidedly competitive side to me that wants to put ticks in boxes to say I have done this, I have achieved this and aren't I brilliant but really, nothing had prepared me for the breathtaking views. And with those views the sense of freedom, the swell of emotion inside and the jubilation of standing on what feels like the top of the world. My soul is wearing the biggest smile. I love it here, this is where I want to be, this feels like nothing on earth.
The cloud is hanging low and over Braeriach and starting to tumble in wisps down the buttresses towards Loch Einich. Sadly, it's time to go, one day I will get to linger at a summit. For now I drink in all the amazing sights, the clarity of the mountain air and try to contain this very special mountain feeling.
As we descend I look back and the cloud has all but obliterated the summit and the views I saw just minutes ago.
On the way back to our tent I am very glad we have both taken the time to teach ourselves how to take a compass bearing correctly as a slight directional error leads us off into the unknown. As it is we retrace our steps safely to Carn Ban Mor and then back to our home for the night.
It has been raining all afternoon, both sets of waterproof clothing are soaked and the little streams have become swollen and difficult to negotiate.
We make it safely back though and snuggle down for the night, wet but very happy.
During the course of the night the rain worsens, I can hear water flowing close to the tent. By 4am Fiona suggests breaking camp and going. We've had an uncomfortable and slightly scary night. In some ways I am very glad because we are experiencing what it's really like, not a sun kissed, balmy bliss. That would be nice though!
We hunker down for a few hours sleep and by 7.30am the wind has got up too, it really is time to go as a look at the sky shows it's not going to improve any time soon.
Tuesday 24 August 2010
We've somehow got the tent and sleeping bags into a rucksack, together with several litres of water so the packs feel even heavier than they did on the way in. My waterproofs are still soaked, once again the only dry part of me is my boots. There is potential for serious stroppiness as two menstrual women head off the Cairngorms.
Our first challenge is getting over the raging torrent that separates Loch nan Cnapan from the Landrover track which will take us to Moine Mhor, and Meal nan Sleac to Glenfeshie and eventually back to the road at Auchlean. We roar each other over, quite literally as we take a giant leap across the river. Little do we know at this stage that in comparison to what's to come this is just a streamlet!
Our 14k walk takes us up and over several plateaus, fords a number of rivers and streams and then starts a long, steep descent towards Glenfeshie. For most of the descent we are in cloud, it's raining and visibility is awful. So bad in fact that I don't even see the ridge dropping down to Coire Garbhlach until we nearly teeter over the edge. I wish we had visibility, I can sense that we are missing out on an amazing view.
Gradually as we get closer to the glen and out of the cloud the views clear up and all of a sudden I can see miles of undulating, purple heather clad hills and the Feshie River glinting in the glen. The clouds part, there's a suggestion of sunshine and the cold of the mountain is already a memory. The walk back to the car is a trudge as my legs are tired, I am tired and by the fourth or fifth river crossing when there really is nothing for it but to wade through, I am completely sodden.
Within the time it takes to change my top, all the midges I have successfully avoided up on the plateau have bitten me. I have 21 bites on my arms alone. Note to self, must write review of Smidge, brilliant stuff!
We drive off to Rothiemurchus for a restorative soup and hot chocolate in the visitor centre - absolute bliss!
I had never wild camped or indeed camped at all before. I had never bagged a munro before. I had never walked 33km over 3 days before. I was tired, my body hurt from effectively lying on the floor for two nights, my feet were very unhappy and I got very wet and rather cold. Sounds like an experience I won't be repeating? You'd be wrong! I can't wait to do it all over again!
I have learnt a lot from this experience. Some purely practical considerations like I will never figure out how to use the shewee or I need a sleeping bag I can do up through to packing a spare waterproof. I have learnt a lot, lot more about myself. How I respond to fear, pressure, discomfort and potential danger. How my brain responds to my physical discomfort, how to work through the walls of my mind and so much more.
It's the best thing I have ever done, not least because I never thought I would do something like this.
Evening Walk into Loch nan Cnapan
Day 1 - Sgor Gaioth via Carn Ban Mor
Day 2 - Return via Coire Garblach, Meall nan Sleac and Glen Feshie
by soulminer » Mon Feb 21, 2011 5:46 pm
That's the Scotland fur ye
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by skuk007 » Mon Feb 21, 2011 6:02 pm
Not bad for a first camping outing I'd say. And as you say lots of experience gained, you'll be a getting your "Wild-camping" leaders badge before long.
by dooterbang » Mon Feb 21, 2011 9:39 pm
Also well done on the 5k.
by rockhopper » Tue Feb 22, 2011 12:33 am
by smirnie71 » Tue Feb 22, 2011 10:06 am
soulminer wrote:Bloody good this adventure stuff Fine camping trip with all the necessary coldness,wetness and painful hips- is that not why we do it
That's the Scotland fur ye
Yes, have learnt several lessens and am particularly vested in not getting such sore hips anymore!
by smirnie71 » Tue Feb 22, 2011 10:11 am
skuk007 wrote:you'll be a getting your "Wild-camping" leaders badge before long.
I think that may be a way off but at least we know we loved it and it's now worth investing in some better and especially lighter kit!
by smirnie71 » Tue Feb 22, 2011 10:13 am
dooterbang wrote:Fab stuff - nice adventure.
Also well done on the 5k.
Thank you! Found the race and prep for it helped immeasurably with building a little more stamina for the hills so the plan is to get back to running again this spring.
by smirnie71 » Tue Feb 22, 2011 10:14 am
gagfax wrote:Invest in a good inflatable camping mat if you havent got one that should give you a better nights sleep. Well done the two of you
Believe me, that's item number 1 on the gear wish list! If only so we don't have to drag a ground sheet up the hills!
by smirnie71 » Tue Feb 22, 2011 10:20 am
rockhopper wrote:Cracking adventure - well done. On my list for summer - have cycled up to Loch Einich from Coylumbridge umpteen times but haven't been up Sgor Gaioth yet. Looking forward to it after reading your report.
It is a fantastic Munro and I am so glad we chose it as our first as the scenery is so varied and you really get a sense of how wild it can be up on the Cairngorm plateau. Would go back in a heart beat!
by smirnie71 » Tue Feb 22, 2011 4:25 pm
First time I clapped eyes on Sgor Gaoith was back in April last year as I proudly conquered what I thought was my first munro, Carn Ban Mor.. lol! I couldn't even see Sgor Gaoith, it was white out and we came across a couple of other walkers who said they'd had a close encounter with the cornices.. *gulp* Still, you can always go again... it's well worth it! We were plain lucky that the cloud we sat in for 90% of the time lifted a wee bit!