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Lessons from a wild camping trip

Lessons from a wild camping trip

Postby Physicistinboots » Sun Sep 23, 2012 10:54 pm

Route description: Cairn Toul - Braeriach traverse

Munros included on this walk: Braeriach, Cairn Toul, Sgor an Lochain Uaine

Date walked: 08/09/2012

Distance: 34 km

Ascent: 2080m

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This trip was supposed to be a first attempt at climbing and wild camping, a time for learning what works and what does not work on such a trip. In the end it proved to be a lesson in how not to plan a walking trip and how despite going totally wrong a trip can still be absolutely awesome :) .

First lesson - taking a two day route from Walkhighlands and attempting to do it in one and a half days whilst also carrying full packs for the first time, is probably not going to work. We had originally planned to camp on the Friday night and start early on Saturday morning. However work commitments made this tricky so we decided to travel up in the morning. Unfortunately the earliest possible arrival at the start (Sugar Bowl car park) by public transport was almost 11am. We also had to be back at the bus stop by the Cairngorm ski centre by 5:40pm on the Sunday in order to make it home that evening. This limited amount of time certainly made us walk faster on the second day! Although considerably less stress would have been preferable :) .

Second lesson – There is probably a reason why the route goes one way round rather than the other. We decided to attempt to walk Braeriach, Sgor an Lochain Uaine, Cairn Toul and the Devil’s Point on the first day and then descend to camp near the bothy before returning along the Lairig Ghru on the second. In the end heavy bags and a late start meant that we didn’t get nearly as far as we wanted on day one so we ended up camping just off the summit of Braeriach. On day two we made it to the next two Munros before sadly deciding to not attempt the Devil’s Point as we were a bit pushed for time by that point :( .

Third lesson – 8 litres of water is far too much! Two litres were poured out before we even started and another two later on. We passed plenty of easily accessible clear streams where I could have filled up.

Fourth lesson – A large, unwieldy pack combined with a rough, boulder strewn path and a tired walker lead to many more falls and hobbling the last two hours of the route on a swollen ankle is not particularly fun :( .

Fifth lesson – waking up in the morning to the sight of the rising sun shining on the clouds beneath you makes everything else seem worth it :D .

Our campsite was nowhere near where we had originally planned but we found a boulder free patch and decided to stop in case we couldn’t find another suitable spot further along the route. And once you have the tent up, some hot food inside you and most of the climb out of the way, everything seems much better. The view in the morning was magnificent and camping at over 1200m is an experience worth having.

The walk on the second day was long and we were short on time so the pace needed to be fairly relentless. We also had much more wind to deal with than on day one which made walking with large bags even harder. However we made it back to the road, dodgy ankle and all. A lovely South African couple were then kind enough to give us a lift back to the station to save us the walk up to the ski centre.

All in all an exhausting trip with many aspects that I will do differently in the future. But with enough amazing parts to mean that there will definitely be future trips.

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View towards Loch Morlich

The hills ahead

The Chalamain gap

The view back down

Taking a break

Another view

The clouds start to descend over Carn a' Mhaim in the distance

Finally the first summit

Camping up near the clouds

The tent in the morning

Morning view

Falls of Dee


View towards Sgor an Lochain Uaine and Cairn Toul




Sgor an Lochain Uaine

View along the top of Cairn Toul

View from Cairn Toul

Cairn Toul

The Devil's Point - the one that got away

Finally the Corrour bothy

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Re: Lessons from a wild camping trip

Postby skuk007 » Sun Sep 23, 2012 11:04 pm

Enjoyed that report.

I've yet to be brave enough to attempt wild camping at height but I can imagine seeing the sun rise over the tops must be quite magical, Shame about the Devil's Point :( , means a return trip :)
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Re: Lessons from a wild camping trip

Postby LeithySuburbs » Sun Sep 23, 2012 11:07 pm

Congrats on your first wild camp trip :clap: . Despite the obstacles you encountered, you seem to have adapted well and got some great pics and memories 8) .
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Re: Lessons from a wild camping trip

Postby Cairngormwanderer » Mon Sep 24, 2012 8:02 am

Glad you enjoyed your trip despite the problems - but all valuable lessons (and a great place to wake up in the morning!). It's worth underlining, for others as well as yourselves, the potability of Scottish water. I've been climbing in Scotland for 45 years and have never carried water beyond the one water bottle which I fill from streams along the way. Touch wood, I've never had any problems.
Avoid still water (although I have drunk out of larger lochs) and anything within 10 metres or so of a dead animal (rushing streams filter stuff out very quickly). If there are a lot of sheep in the area I tend to wait until I'm higher up the hill before filling up, but it's all a case of using common sense.
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Re: Lessons from a wild camping trip

Postby SAVAGEALICE » Mon Sep 24, 2012 8:39 am

good effort girls
dont think i'd fancy lugging big packs up those hills!
well done
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Re: Lessons from a wild camping trip

Postby pigeon » Mon Sep 24, 2012 10:32 am

Good try ladies,it's no easy with those big packs so you did well on a big route,only way to learn is to give it a go.Some great pictures as well :thumbup:
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