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A 5-to-9 Adventure on Meall Buidhe

PostPosted: Thu Jun 11, 2015 5:22 pm
by shivy88
I took far too many pictures and could not for the life me narrow them down for this report so I’ve put them together as slideshow. The pictures and report tell half the story, for the other half well I guess you just had to be there…

There are 16 glorious free hours between leaving work at 5pm and returning at 9am the next morning. That’s the mantra of the 5-to-9 microadventure. With the warm summers evenings we’ve been having this week I thought it was about time I did something special with them. Planning my first solo wild camp on the summit of a munro seemed to fit the bill perfectly.

But where should I go? I wanted to be on the summit to watch sunset and sunrise, and would need to be home in time to grab a shower and make it back in to work for 9am. That narrowed the search area nicely and in the end I settled on Meall Buidhe. It looked to be a perfect way to bag an otherwise short munro and I’ll still have an excuse (not that I need it!) to go back for Stuchd an Lochain.

On Wednesday I happily told my colleagues my plans for the evening, which got me more than a few funny looks. They thought I was crazy for doing it and I partly agreed. This was going to be my first solo wild camp and I was a little nervous about it. I wasn’t afraid of anything in particular, but I was afraid of being afraid (on a hill in the middle of nowhere with nothing to do but wait out the fear until morning). But I knew the only way to find out how I would handle being out alone was to go out and do it.

I bundled all my gear into the car and set off on the drive to the Loch an Diamh car park under clear blue skies. Just after 7pm I set off charging up the mountain. As I was heading up the track I met a man heading back to his car, he asked if I was planning on spending the night up there and then wished me good luck. I spent the next half hour worrying about what I might need good luck for and only stopped out of annoyance when I realised I’d left one of my water bottles back in the car!

I don’t have anything to add to the walk description other than it really is a boggy mess up there. Even with the recently dry weather I was struggling to find ground that didn’t squelch! As I was thinking to myself just how boggy and horrible it was I suddenly remembered that I’d not packed my extra pair of socks, which were now sitting uselessly in the car, next to the water bottle. I’d read that solo trips were good for making you realise what skills you need to improve on – apparently mine is to stop leaving things in the boot! It was hard going through the peat hags and the sun was blinding, making it difficult to pick out a path (no prizes for guessing where my sunglasses were!). Maybe this was where that luck was needed…

Whatever luck I had ran out when my foot slipped off of some reasonably solid ground into an incredibly deep bog that swallowed my leg right up to my thigh! “******* brilliant” I swore out loud at the bog, like it should care or at least feel guilty. I looked like I was wearing trousers with two different coloured legs; one black, one muddy brown. I considered turning back but quickly decided I would dry out and, although I’d rather not be, being caked in mud was not the end of world and not worth missing out on my plans.

By the time I’d reached the summit and dried out I was happy I’d made the right choice. I pitched the tent, got the stove out and settled down to watch the sunset. As I sat enjoying dinner and a cup of wine a fellow Walkhighlander appeared at the summit and introduced himself. We chatted a while and he had a hard time pulling himself away from the summit, as I knew I would in the morning too, but for the moment I was glad that I was set up for the night.

It’s hard to imagine how a summit camp could be more perfect than the night I had. The summer air was still warm, the wind only gently blowing through, and the sky was virtually cloudless. The views in all directions were extensive and mesmerising. I spent the entire time on the summit in awe of my surroundings. Even nature was completely silent and I kept thinking of a poem I’d read:

All the birds have flown up and gone;
A lonely cloud floats leisurely by.
We never tire of looking at each other -
Only the mountain and I

It gradually dawned on me that I wasn’t afraid of being here alone. The silence on the mountain wasn’t empty or threatening, it was somehow full and peaceful and I just relaxed into it. Knowing it was getting late and I needed some sleep before sunrise, I reluctantly dragged myself into the tent and climbed into my sleeping bag. I fell asleep with tent door still open, watching the sunset.

I woke earlier than planned but feeling wide awake decided to get up and start getting breakfast ready while I waiting patiently for the sun to rise. If sunset had put on a spectacular show, sunrise then equalled it. I stood watching as the sun rose over clouds and mountain tops, and had the vague sensation that I might still be dreaming.

Far too soon it was time to shoulder my rucksack and head back to the car. Everything had been finely timed to get me back in work for 9am. The mountains have a strange effect on time. These 16 hours seemed to last much longer than my usual 5-to-9 weekday. When I opened the office door this morning I half expected something to be different, I had been away for so long! But everything was still the same, well almost everything…. :-)

Re: A 5-to-9 Adventure on Meall Buidhe

PostPosted: Thu Jun 11, 2015 11:12 pm
by davgil
Hi Shivvy 88,
I've been looking forward to your report and it's an interesting read.
You're right, I did have a hard time leaving the summit that night, I was so envious that you were getting
to stay and enjoy the fantastic views on such a well chosen night.
Conditions for your first solo summit wild camp will be hard to beat I reckon but I'm sure you'll be hooked and enjoy many more after such a positive experience.
Nice to have met you there,

Re: A 5-to-9 Adventure on Meall Buidhe

PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2015 8:34 am
by Kevin29035
Great report. I completely relate to all of that, definitely the bit when you walk through the door a bit and feel like something should have changed... just that something has changed in your mind, maybe.

Re: A 5-to-9 Adventure on Meall Buidhe

PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2015 11:13 am
by trederdog 100
Sounds like an amazing place to camp. I have been up there, but could only see cloud and snow! Like the idea of you using your time to squeeze in such a great camp!

Re: A 5-to-9 Adventure on Meall Buidhe

PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2015 5:06 pm
Some lovely photos. Well done you! :clap: :D

Re: A 5-to-9 Adventure on Meall Buidhe

PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2015 3:46 pm
by shivy88
Thanks for the comments guys! :-)
Not bad for my first solo wild camp, really looking forward to doing more!

Re: A 5-to-9 Adventure on Meall Buidhe

PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 2015 10:27 am
by edinburgh36
Great report - as always! Didn't realise you'd done it on a weeknight after work. What a brilliant idea :D

Re: A 5-to-9 Adventure on Meall Buidhe

PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 2015 10:09 pm
by lindseym
Was doing a couple of Munros on Thursday and thought to myself on the summit what an amazing couple of days it would be to do some wild summit camps so nice to see someone actually did it. Hoping to do my first in August so this was lovely to see :clap:

Re: A 5-to-9 Adventure on Meall Buidhe

PostPosted: Tue Jun 16, 2015 7:43 am
by Huff_n_Puff
Brilliant idea - how to have a mid week holiday :D great slide show.