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First solo outing since lockdown

PostPosted: Tue Jul 21, 2020 6:11 pm
by kirstyfc
I decided it was time for my first solo outing since the 5 mile restrictions had been lifted. I had read Wild by Cheryl Strayed during lockdown, a memoir from a woman who hiked the Pacific Coast Trail in the US by herself so I was feeling very inspired. I wasn’t hiking over a thousand miles across the West Coast of the US, I was doing two Munros in Crianlarich but still, her thoughts sat with me and made me appreciate solo hiking more than I did before.

The weather wasn’t deciding what it was doing as I set off from the layby, it was cloudy with a bit of sun then a bit of rain came to cool me down. I set off at a fast, excited pace as usual up the clear winding track.

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The beginnings of An Casteil in site

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The clear track

I came across a gate to hop, and was aware the instructions said turn right immediately after the second gate. I completely forgot I had already passed through a gate at the start and bombed off up the track in search of a second gate. After ten minutes the four people behind me hadn’t appeared and I realised my mistake. I very briefly considered doing the whole route backwards to save the mistake but given my navigation skills this was a terrible idea and wasn’t worth the twenty minutes I had lost. I always have a token 'getting lost' whenever I'm out myself so glad I got it out the way at the start.

I got back to the gate and found the path heading up, thankful there was no one there to see me come crawling back. It was a bit hard going here as it was boggy and squelchy – I much prefer to be walking on stony paths, however overtaking two couples was making me feel good about myself.

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Heading up

The views behind very quickly opened up:
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And it wasn’t long until I began to see the other side:
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Some bad clouds and rain over there but I was safe so far:
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It then looked as if I was heading into total cloud but I had trust it would clear :)
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A bit scary as I was alone and I get lost in clear conditions but the path was good. I've had an album club through lockdown with friends where we put forward an album we like and go away and listen to and come back and say what we think so I was getting lost in Transformer by Lou Reed. Love solo hiking for quality time with music.

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It wouldn't be very interesting with clear conditions the whole way would it?!

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Looking back over where it was still clear

Heading up Twistin Hill – I liked this bit, very similar to the Tarmachan Ridge I did a week later.
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There were some awkward rocky bits to navigate through which I realised afterwards could have been completely avoided by taking a different path but where's the fun in that. I hurt my cold easily injured wrist heaving myself through one but it soon eased off.
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Lots and lots of green could be seen – nice but after my first year doing Munros in the winter I was missing the beauty of the snow – but not the cold :)

There were a couple of walkers doing the route in reverse, I was still reveling in the novelty of saying hello to anyone and everyone after three and a half months in the city :)

I reached the top, and it was a little stony cairn to mark it. It had considerately cleared up by this point and views could be seen all around – in my 34 Munros to date I am very lucky to have only ever experienced two viewless summits!

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There were too many people around to attempt any embarrassing selfie or self timer photos so there would be no photograph evidence that I was up there.

It was time to hide behind a rock for lunch. I looked over to find what was next, and felt a bit intimidated by the length of what I thought was Beinn A’Chroin - but i don't think this is it? I had forgotten to redownload my trusty Munro Bagging app to tell me what's what around me.
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It got cold pretty quickly even in my raincoat – I’m used to t shirt weather in July, how rude :) so I set off. Unfortunately one of my earphones then packed in so it was Taylor Swift in one ear and the sound of the wind in the other. There was a bit of navigation through rocks and people having their rest in the middle of the path. It was then up the buttress (I like that word) of Beinn A’Chroin. There was a very awkward scrambly bit for my little legs to get up. I had no idea how to get up it and the pressure was on as there were two people coming behind me. Somehow I found I had myself pulled up and was happy. I’m glad it wasn’t too wet as I would have slid right back down.

A wonder through gradual up and down and some tiny lochans and here was then the awkward right this is the summit but I'm aware there’s also another summit?
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There was also another cairn…I often wonder if these are to signify anything or are just for fun and confuse people. There was then the steep bit to climb back up again to the other summit. A path led away to the left to I believe avoid this completely but I could tell there was going to be the best views of the day and I would have the place to myself.

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Beinn A'Chroin Summit No.2

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No people and enough rocks for a rubbish self timer photo :)

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I was up there, see? :)

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The best view of the day, with Loch Lomond just in site

After another snack hiding from the wind and it was then the long walk back to the car park which is visible the whole way.
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I had motivation to get down to get away from the horrible wind at this point – my issue with solo climbing is sometimes you feel it’s all you can hear. My poor knees were suffering at this point – I picked up a terrible habit of doing 5ks every two days in lockdown but it soon seemed my knees could only handle running or hiking so I’ve picked hiking and making sure to bring my poles next time.

Eventually I got to flatter ground, and met a solitary tree:
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I’ve heard this bit can be very boggy but it was fine today. This bit can be long but I was glad just to be out and it helped having the end in sight to know how long was left.

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Plenty opportunities for a water stop along with way

On reflection this walk felt bizarrely long for me despite it being a short one for bagging two - maybe I'm just not used to being back out yet :)

After I got back I then went for a little jaunt round Crianlarich, I like exploring little Scottish towns and sun was giving a lovely warm glow. I found the shut up hostel, can't wait until places like these can have some life again. I went a walk through the Community Woodlands which has a great viewpoint of the Corbett Ben Udlaidh and Beinn Odhair, and Munros Beinn Dorain, Ben Challum and Ben More. I’ve done Dorain and More but not Challum so this got me looking that up.

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Beinn Dorain peeping through

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Ben More looking as steep as it is. It's taken me until looking over this report to spot the rainbow!

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Overall a good day getting two hills and exploring the little village that's usually bombed through in the car :)