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The day of temptations

The day of temptations

Postby zatapathique » Sat Aug 19, 2017 4:27 pm

Route description: Càrn a'Mhaim from the Linn of Dee

Munros included on this walk: Càrn a' Mhàim

Date walked: 27/05/2017

Time taken: 6.25 hours

Distance: 22.5 km

Ascent: 670m

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The weather forecast had predicted thunderstorms and even hail for the afternoon, so I had a special early breakfast at my B&B. The plan was to be at the summit of Carn a'Mhaim before noon to be back at the Linn of Dee car park or at least in the valley before the bad weather would set in.

The first 5.2 km up to Derry Lodge were flat and comfortable to walk, first through the woods at the Linn of Dee, partly on a wooden board walk, then through the open Glen Lui.
Through the forest

IMGP3288 DSC_2938.JPG
Crossing Lui Water, looking up Glen Lui towards Derry Lodge

So far, the weather was good, with blue sky over me. The thunderstorms were supposed to arrive from the southwest, so I checked the sky there regularly. The clouds still looked harmless enough, although they were quite big already and continued developing.

I reached Derry Lodge after almost exactly one hour. If I could keep this pace up until the foot of Carn a'Mhaim, reaching the summit before noon should not be a problem at all. After a short drinking pause, I had some initial confusion about where exactly to go. The bigger direction was clear, but where to cross the stream? The map suggested I should ford the Derry burn, but common sense made me finally follow all the people heading towards the bridge a bit further upstream. Just when I had crossed it, two young ladies in very short trousers stormed past me from the right, one of them carrying a map in her hand.
Even if they hadn't taken the direction where I should be heading anyway, the simple wiring pattern in my male brain would in any case probably have made me turn left behind the bridge without thinking to follow them...

What happened in the next 45 minutes is best described as "the race against the weather forecast". A group of three guys in front, then the two ladies, and finally me trailing behind, with the three groups equally spaced at about 30 m from each other, were racing along the path up Gleann Laoigh Bheag.
All six of us apparently had the same "maximum permanent speed", as I like to call the maximum speed I can sustain for a very long time without getting tired (it is a bit faster than what I call the "maximum comfortable speed").
No group was gaining even an inch on one of the others. All I saw during these 45 minutes were five pairs of moving legs. At the risk of my wife reading this, I felt quite happy about the position behind the ladies chance had attributed to me. :wink:
The race, Carn a'Mhaim already visible

From time to time, they consulted their map, which gave me the chance to catch up a bit. At one point, they stopped a bit longer, and I had at least the chance to say hello. They told me they also wanted to go up Carn a'Mhaim, but were not quite sure where to turn off.
I desperately needed some water, and by the time I had stowed away my bottle, the old distance between them and me was established again. Along the narrow and winding "new" path leading to the ford across Luibeg burn, the others were mostly out of sight, and I didn't know if I was still going fast enough. The water in Luibeg Burn was low, so fording was easy enough.
IMGP3293 DSC_2939.JPG
In Gleann Laoigh Bheag

Fording Luibeg Burn

A short distance behind the ford, the path up Carn a'Mhaim forked off to the right, and I just could hear the last futile attempts of the three guys to invite the ladies to stay with them for a beer and sandwich break on a group of rocks. The ladies were already speeding up the track towards Carn a'Mhaim when I approached the rocks. I exchanged a few words with the guys, who intended to keep walking at low levels and go to Aviemore before the rain "for beer drinking". I was not the least disappointed when they did not try to invite me to stay and went after the ladies, by now only two small spots already high above me.
Up we go

As I am not the worst of climbers, I slowly came nearer as we went along the good path up the southeast side of Carn a'Mhaim. The more the path approached the summit, the steeper it got, before levelling out shortly before the summit.
Before the final and steep ascent

There, I joined the ladies for an early lunch, and we had a very nice conversation. They were from Elgin and, like me, wanted to make use of the good weather in the morning to go up a hill and enjoy the view. One of them had even worked for some time in the capital city of the French region where I live, and we exchanged our experience with the local idiom there.
They wind was quite chilly, and as the ladies were only lightly clad and already quite cold, they said goodbye and "see you on the way down". Knowing the typical time I spend on a summit, and at possibly almost twice their age and maybe half of their energy left to go down, I said "probably not", and it was indeed the last I saw of them.

The view from Cairn a'Mhaim was fantastic that day, and once I had done my secret summit ritual, I spent much time taking photographs.
View across the Luibeg towards The Devil's Point (the Gaelic name suggests something different), Stob Coire an t-Saighdeir and Cairn Toul

The southernmost tors of Beinn Mheadhoin unless I'm mistaken

View back towards Derry Lodge

Looking North, the next temptation was right ahead of me. A beautiful and narrow ridge linking Carn a'Mhaim to Ben Macdui, the Ceann Crionn Carn a'Mhaim. If it weren't for the weather forecast, it would have been so nice to walk along this ridge and up Ben Macdui, then down the almost equally beautiful Sròn Riach back into Gleann Laoigh Bheag.
IMGP3310 - IMGP3311 Pano.jpg
Keep us from temptation... The path leading to Ceann Crionn Carn a'Mhaim is visible on the left, Sròn Riach is the beautiful long ridge in the middle

The weather was just beautiful, no sign anymore of overdevelopment of harmless cumuli into powerful cumulonimbi. I have basic meteorological training (for my pilot's licence), and quite some mountain weather experience (mostly French Alps), and I was 95% sure that there would be no thunderstorms that day. On top of that, it was only 11 o'clock, plenty of time ahead. Oh how I yearned to go on - the temptation grew stronger with ever minute I looked at that ridge.
Still, you cannot simply ignore the forecast and weather warning, and I was not at all familiar with the peculiarities of local Cairngorms weather. After some 15 minutes of intense pondering and the first timid steps towards that magical and tempting ridge, common sense kicked in and told me to go back the way I came.
I had experienced walking between thunderstorms twice in the French Alps, not something you wish to repeat if you don't have to.

Better safe than sorry is what they say, but in this case I felt more sorry for not going on...

With a very heavy heart, I finally wrenched myself away from the tempting call of Ben Macdui trying to pull me up its slopes, and retraced my steps back to the Linn of Dee, which I reached at a quarter past two.

Needless to say it didn't rain a drop all day until very late in the evening, and in retrospect the weather would have just been perfect for Ben Macdui - the following two remaining days of my stay in the Cairngorms would be much worse...

Altitude profile created with GPS-Track-Analyse.NET

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Last edited by zatapathique on Sat Sep 09, 2017 4:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The day of temptations

Postby rockhopper » Thu Aug 24, 2017 9:57 pm

Good day for it - you certainly saw a lot more than I did up here in the clag :roll: Carrying on can often be tempting as you say but if you're not happy then you can always come back another day - cheers :)
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Re: The day of temptations

Postby zatapathique » Sat Aug 26, 2017 2:30 pm

rockhopper wrote:Good day for it - you certainly saw a lot more than I did up here in the clag :roll: Carrying on can often be tempting as you say but if you're not happy then you can always come back another day - cheers :)

Oh, I will, you can be sure of that. :-)
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Posts: 79
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Joined: Sep 3, 2014
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