walkhighlands

Share your personal walking route experiences in Scotland, and comment on other peoples' reports.
Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.

Geal Charn - in the shadow of a man's best friend

Geal Charn - in the shadow of a man's best friend


Postby Graeme D » Thu Apr 05, 2018 8:40 pm

Munros included on this walk: Geal Chàrn (Monadhliath)

Date walked: 18/02/2018

Time taken: 7.1 hours

Distance: 17.9 km

Ascent: 850m

18 people think this report is great.
Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).

We had had Lucy for over 14 years. She joined our family in January 2004 aged 6 weeks when there was only the two of us and before we were married. She had seen so many changes in our lives from our early thirties to our mid-forties. She had defined an era in our lives and had shared so many memorable hill moments with me until old age had cut short her hill days a few years previously. And now she was clearly losing her battle against The Watchmaker. It had been on the cards for a couple of months, ever since a lump had appeared on one of her hips. That was but one thing on a list of things that typically afflict Labradors of a certain age. Her eyes, her ears, her legs - none of them were what they once were. I could somehow sympathise! :lol:

We took her to the vets in early January, after the lump had started to bleed on and off, and they said that the lump was benign and not unusual in a dog of her age. Her age, they said, was also remarkable for a Chocolate Labrador. They could operate, but it would be costly and at her age, she would probably not survive the operation. Operating was a non-starter for us anyway, even before the vet said that. She had gone through two major operations in the last couple of years and we knew that putting her through that trauma again would be unwise and unkind. The vet agreed. She asked us if we thought Lucy was happy and had some quality of life, which we did. In the end, we left with our dog and a £50 bill for the consultation and a course of antibiotics. I think we all knew that her time was now being counted in months (low single figures at best). :(

A couple of weeks later the lump started to bleed more heavily and more regularly and started to smell quite bad. We took her back and another vet said that there was nothing they could do, other than advising the application of hydrocortisone cream. Given its location on her body, they couldn’t even dress it. The vet said that best case scenario (however unlikely) was that the wound would heal naturally and close up, worst case the haematoma would “shell out” and she could bleed out profusely. We left again, still clinging to the fact that the vet was happy she was in no pain from the bleed and that her appetite was as good as ever and she could still manage the occasional leisurely plod round the lane a couple of times a week. We bought a surgical collar to stop her gnawing at it and hoped for the best. The mess being made by her on the flooring and the carpets wasn’t a huge issue, given that most of them were about to be ripped out, but we were spending an increasing amount of time on our hands and knees cleaning up blood. She was also being increasingly confined to the kitchen, where it was easier to clean up. I was aware that we were treading an increasingly fine line between doing the right thing and letting things go too far.

Then came the Friday morning of the February mid-term weekend. I came downstairs in the morning and the kitchen looked like the scene of a murder in a Friday 13th movie. Lucy had managed to get out from the barricaded area where her blanket was and blood was everywhere, including up several kitchen units. It was time. We couldn’t go on like this. She was bleeding to death.

I needed some fresh air so I drove to the vets and asked if they had someone available to come out and do the needful. They could manage a house visit around 2 o'clock that afternoon. I nodded my agreement and left while I was still just about holding it together. My composure lasted as far as the car but no further.

By 2.45 that afternoon she was gone, but not before a last plod round the lane (most of which I spent carrying her and in tears) and a last meal of scrambled eggs, meatballs and prawns. The farting would have been horrendous if she had been spared any longer!

My wife and daughter were away later that afternoon with three other mums and 6/7 year old kids to Kilconquhar for the weekend leaving me home alone. The Saturday was spent helping the guy who had bought our old kitchen rip it out and load it onto his van, so I spent the Saturday evening with no wife, no daughter, no dog and no kitchen. I was feeling very sorry for myself and in dire need of some mountain therapy. At the same time I felt drained and the thought of actually pulling some gear together and planning a route was almost too much to contemplate. My good mate Robin came round that evening for a curry and a few beers and made me see sense. Actually he told me to man up and get my **** together! :shock: So I did and the following day I headed up the A9 to see to some unfinished business on Geal Charn from the Spey Dam.

IMG_7400.JPG
Zoom to Meall Cuaich from the Dalwhinnie-Laggan road

IMG_7402.JPG
Creag Dubh and a coo in a field

Robin had been right (as if I ever doubted it!). I needed the space, the time, the reflection, the quietness and power of the mountains. The walk up Glen Markie was amazing in pristine conditions and more than once, a young Lucy was with me, bounding through the deep snow and having an absolute blast. 8)

IMG_7404.JPG
Creag Ruadh across the Spey Dam

IMG_7415.JPG
Starting the walk up Glen Markie

IMG_7417.JPG
Back to Creag Ruadh

IMG_7418.JPG
Deeper into Glen Markie

IMG_7420.JPG
Deep snow ruts and back to Creag Ruadh

IMG_7425.JPG
Thanks Robin!

IMG_7429.JPG
Lucy is here somewhere!

IMG_7432.JPG
Not a bad spot for a bite of lunch, all things considered!

After lunch I crossed the Markie Burn (not an easy task with deep snow lying across most of its width!) and followed the Piper Burn up towards Bruach nam Biodag and then skirting some serious looking cornicing up onto the summit plateau.

IMG_7435.JPG
Time to leave the glen and take to the hill proper

IMG_7436.JPG
The Markie Burn

IMG_7439.JPG
Magic fence - now you see it, now you don't!

IMG_7442.JPG
Yours truly on the shoulder of Bruach nam Biodag

IMG_7447.JPG
I think I'll look for a route around this!

Once onto the ridge, the winter wonderland was amazing but the going was hard through deep, virgin powder snow. But hey ho, this had to be better than sitting at home with no dog and no kitchen!

IMG_7448.JPG
Across Lochan na Choire to Beinn Sgiath

IMG_7450.JPG
The Window between Beinn Sgiath and Geal Charn

IMG_7453.JPG
Summit ridge around the head of the coire

IMG_7455.JPG
Wildnerness behind me!

IMG_7457.JPG
Stay focused on that summit!

IMG_7458.JPG
Visibility going......

At this point it closed in entirely to that point where you can see nothing but white, you don't know whether you are going up or down and frankly you begin to question whether you are still on the same planet that you started off on! :shock:

IMG_7459.JPG
...... visibility gone!

Some careful map and compass work was required but even still I think I really only found the summit cairn by inadvertently walking into it and falling over it. :lol: Plans to make it a circular route were promptly shelved in favour of the security of following my footsteps back down. :wink:

IMG_7460.JPG
The summit is right there, just a few metres away!

To Lucy Dog (4th December 2003 - 16th February 2018)
IMG_6469.JPG
Lucy on another Geal Charn, 11th April 2011


our_route.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

Last edited by Graeme D on Mon May 03, 2021 7:43 pm, edited 8 times in total.
User avatar
Graeme D
 
Posts: 3705
Munros:230   Corbetts:114
Grahams:67   Donalds:22
Sub 2000:57   Hewitts:36
Wainwrights:27   Islands:6
Joined: Oct 17, 2008
Location: Perth

Re: Geal Charn - in the shadow of a man's best friend

Postby rockhopper » Thu Apr 05, 2018 11:55 pm

You see some reports where people talk about white outs but they aren't really - to me white outs are where you can't make out the difference between the ground, the air round you and the sky 'cos it's all white and looks to me like that's what you had - good experience but a tad worrying the first time it happens. Still, good to be out.

A fitting tribute, Graeme, to Lucy and sounds like you did the right thing. Never having been a dog owner it's hard to understand fully the bond that builds but you'll have some great memories of good times.

All the best - cheers :)
User avatar
rockhopper
 
Posts: 6852
Munros:282   Corbetts:222
Grahams:73   Donalds:89
Sub 2000:9   Hewitts:2
Wainwrights:3   Islands:19
Joined: Jun 1, 2009
Location: Glasgow

Re: Geal Charn - in the shadow of a man's best friend

Postby KatTai » Fri Apr 06, 2018 10:39 am

Beautifully written report, I find it hard to read about saying goodbye to furry friends because I know that over the next few months we will probably have to make that decision for one of ours :cry: Looks like an amazing walk was had though and it is a very fitting tribute to a hill-dog!
User avatar
KatTai
Wanderer
 
Posts: 920
Munros:52   Corbetts:16
Grahams:10   Donalds:2
Sub 2000:29   
Islands:25
Joined: Feb 12, 2015
Location: Angus

Re: Geal Charn - in the shadow of a man's best friend

Postby Sunset tripper » Sun Apr 08, 2018 7:58 am

Sorry to hear about your dog. Great photo of her.
All the best.
User avatar
Sunset tripper
 
Posts: 2489
Joined: Nov 3, 2013
Location: Inverness

Re: Geal Charn - in the shadow of a man's best friend

Postby gammy leg walker » Sun Apr 08, 2018 6:52 pm

I couldn't find any words when you posted on FB, and after reading this I still can't find any words to help. RIP Lucy
User avatar
gammy leg walker
Mountaineer
 
Posts: 3384
Munros:272   Corbetts:7
Grahams:4   Donalds:3
Sub 2000:2   
Islands:7
Joined: Jan 30, 2010
Location: Central Region
Walk wish-list

Re: Geal Charn - in the shadow of a man's best friend

Postby malky_c » Mon Apr 09, 2018 3:37 pm

Sadly I guessed correctly what this one was going to contain. Still, a mixture of nice wintery sunshine and some serious concentration will hopefully have given your mind time to churn through everything and do its stuff - nothing better than being out in the hills for that.
User avatar
malky_c
 
Posts: 6085
Munros:282   Corbetts:222
Grahams:219   Donalds:74
Sub 2000:280   Hewitts:271
Wainwrights:130   Islands:38
Joined: Nov 22, 2009
Location: Glasgow/Inverness

Re: Geal Charn - in the shadow of a man's best friend

Postby Mal Grey » Mon Apr 09, 2018 5:22 pm

A beautifully written tribute to your wonderful friend.

And rather a good hill report to boot. Whiteouts are always interesting!
User avatar
Mal Grey
Wanderer
 
Posts: 3892
Munros:112   Corbetts:20
Grahams:9   
Sub 2000:3   Hewitts:113
Wainwrights:71   Islands:5
Joined: Dec 1, 2011
Location: Surrey, probably in a canoe! www.wildernessisastateofmind.co.uk

Re: Geal Charn - in the shadow of a man's best friend

Postby BlackPanther » Mon Apr 09, 2018 5:58 pm

Mountains have that special power... They take the inner pain away.

It's always hard to say goodbye to your furry friend. I've been up that street once so I can fully sympathize with you. My little dog died when I was away traveling and I never had a chance to say good bye. It's been a long time since and time has healed the pain, but the good memories are still fresh in my mind. I know he had a happy life and enjoyed it to the full. I'm sure it was the same with your Lucy. All the photos and stories about her accompanying you on the hills, that you posted over the years on WH show that she was a very happy pooch.
User avatar
BlackPanther
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 3712
Munros:260   Corbetts:172
Grahams:123   
Sub 2000:56   
Joined: Nov 2, 2010
Location: Beauly, Inverness-shire

Re: Geal Charn - in the shadow of a man's best friend

Postby PeteR » Mon Apr 09, 2018 8:16 pm

As has already been said, a very fitting tribute

Your reference to The Watchmaker has left me with a tune running through my head ever since.
User avatar
PeteR
Munro compleatist
 
Posts: 2078
Munros:282   Corbetts:159
Grahams:89   Donalds:89
Sub 2000:177   Hewitts:3
Islands:9
Joined: Jan 27, 2010
Location: North Ayrshire

Re: Geal Charn - in the shadow of a man's best friend

Postby dogplodder » Mon Apr 09, 2018 9:00 pm

You did absolutely the right thing but it's still heart-wrenching to go through that. I had the same experience as you 'seeing' Lucy bounding along beside you, when out on my first hill two days after losing Tess. It didn't happen again - just that time. Will you consider having another? We have just adopted a 3 year old labrador girl from Lab Rescue, almost a year after losing Tess. She won't be a replacement.... but having her is already such great therapy.
User avatar
dogplodder
 
Posts: 3825
Munros:237   Corbetts:65
Grahams:18   
Sub 2000:28   Hewitts:4
Wainwrights:9   Islands:23
Joined: Jul 16, 2011

Re: Geal Charn - in the shadow of a man's best friend

Postby Graeme D » Mon Apr 09, 2018 10:16 pm

Thank you for all the comments. Not the easiest report to write nor indeed the easiest walk to do, so I'm glad people have been able to identify the sentiment wrapped up in it and enjoy the report for what it ultimately is. 8)
User avatar
Graeme D
 
Posts: 3705
Munros:230   Corbetts:114
Grahams:67   Donalds:22
Sub 2000:57   Hewitts:36
Wainwrights:27   Islands:6
Joined: Oct 17, 2008
Location: Perth

Re: Geal Charn - in the shadow of a man's best friend

Postby Graeme D » Mon Apr 09, 2018 10:20 pm

KatTai wrote:Beautifully written report, I find it hard to read about saying goodbye to furry friends because I know that over the next few months we will probably have to make that decision for one of ours :cry: Looks like an amazing walk was had though and it is a very fitting tribute to a hill-dog!


I'm sorry to hear that, but hey, that's how it is. Doesn't make it any easier, it's just how it is. Enjoy what tie you have left together.
User avatar
Graeme D
 
Posts: 3705
Munros:230   Corbetts:114
Grahams:67   Donalds:22
Sub 2000:57   Hewitts:36
Wainwrights:27   Islands:6
Joined: Oct 17, 2008
Location: Perth

Re: Geal Charn - in the shadow of a man's best friend

Postby Graeme D » Mon Apr 09, 2018 10:22 pm

PeteR wrote:As has already been said, a very fitting tribute

Your reference to The Watchmaker has left me with a tune running through my head ever since.


The Watchmaker keeps to his schemes? 8)
User avatar
Graeme D
 
Posts: 3705
Munros:230   Corbetts:114
Grahams:67   Donalds:22
Sub 2000:57   Hewitts:36
Wainwrights:27   Islands:6
Joined: Oct 17, 2008
Location: Perth

Re: Geal Charn - in the shadow of a man's best friend

Postby Graeme D » Mon Apr 09, 2018 10:26 pm

dogplodder wrote:You did absolutely the right thing but it's still heart-wrenching to go through that. I had the same experience as you 'seeing' Lucy bounding along beside you, when out on my first hill two days after losing Tess. It didn't happen again - just that time. Will you consider having another? We have just adopted a 3 year old labrador girl from Lab Rescue, almost a year after losing Tess. She won't be a replacement.... but having her is already such great therapy.


Thank you. No, I'm not sure I will "see" her there in quite the same way again but she will still always be there. Great to hear that you have a new Lab girl in the family. As you say, not a replacement, but a wonderful new friend in her own right. I'm sure we will get another in the fullness of time! A family is not complete without a dog after all! 8)
User avatar
Graeme D
 
Posts: 3705
Munros:230   Corbetts:114
Grahams:67   Donalds:22
Sub 2000:57   Hewitts:36
Wainwrights:27   Islands:6
Joined: Oct 17, 2008
Location: Perth

Re: Geal Charn - in the shadow of a man's best friend

Postby Collaciotach » Mon Apr 09, 2018 10:38 pm

Ach 's bochd sin a bhalaich :( .... that brought a lump to my throat. They never leave us really our four legged family great pals for the hill and home , she had a grand life .
User avatar
Collaciotach
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 1824
Munros:282   Corbetts:178
Grahams:33   Donalds:3
Sub 2000:23   
Islands:28
Joined: Aug 8, 2011
Location: Gaidhealtachd an Iar

18 people think this report is great.
Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).

Next



Walkhighlands community forum is advert free


Your generosity keeps this site running.
Can you help support Walkhighlands and the online community by donating by direct debit?



Return to Walk reports - Scotland

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Kev_H, neilgrant and 68 guests