Monday, September 8, 2014
The weather, spectacular. I had everything. The warm, quiet, wet atmosphere that midges like so much. If I ever start a rock band, I will name it 'Midges in September'. Rain, lots of rain. Rain without wind. Rain with wind. Sunshine, moments of sunshine, here and there. Good moments. And storm. Storm from the south, storm from the north. During the last night, the storm was blowing the waves right into the tent. Well, not quite. I've never listened so intensely to waves before. It's nice to be so secure in the assumption that the water can't reach you, unless you jump in of course. When the storm didn't stop, and I couldn't stop shivering, I packed everything together, thereby performing some weird free dance to hold tent and sleeping bag and mat and thousands of other things all in my three hands. The glen of the loch is a great wind tunnel.
It is always steeper than you think. I chose to leave the mountain through Coire Mearach, a steep funnel from the ridge straight down to the loch. Lesson learned: If you absolutely have to go down these 60 degree slopes, please consider their surface. Scree is terrible, cliffs are deadly, grass is acceptable, particularly if you can find some clean slopes where you can practically slide downwards like there is no tomorrow. Heather on the other hand is messy. You never see the ground, you slip on wet branches, you step into deep holes, you end up hating yourself. No fun. At the end I find a few mud tracks paved by my compatriots, a group of 20 deer, all male, all with spectacular antlers. It was a curious meeting. They stare at me, I stare at them. Do they already know that, a few weeks from now, when the hormones take over, they will wage war on each other, just for the chance to procreate? I reach the loch with holes in my feet.
This is the way to climb mountains. Not to aim for it, but as part of an afternoon stroll, sometimes accidentally arriving at the top, sometimes stopping just short of it, sometimes exploring some other aspect of the hill. Mountains corrupt our minds. They make us think that we need to strive for something, to reach the top, any top, that we have to work hard, suffer for a while and will be rewarded at the end, basically a geographic version of protestantism. Perhaps not coincidentally, the concept of mountains as a destination was invented during the rise of capitalism. As I arrive on Gabhar, I feel neither elation nor pride, I'm just glad to have reached the relative shelter of the huge cairn. Really, why would anyone want to be here, I mean, at this specific spot, and not at some other place a few meters or kilometers away? Just for the view? Why on earth would I want to look at all that stuff?
Sunday, September 7, 2014
I felt sort of weak upon arrival. Nothing twenty hours of doing absolutely nothing cannot fix. Absolutely nothing, in other words sleeping, reading (Napoleon, 1812), and mourning the fact that I'm unable to construct a simple funnel to collect rain water. Then more sleeping. The funnel seemed necessary because the filter failed, again, the unreliable bastard. Saturday afternoon I was so enormously refreshed that I climbed 400 meters without noticing. Mostly to collect some cleanish water. Also to check out the most pathetic corrie in the world, straight up the stream Cas-eagallach that feeds the loch. You really have to look for a flat square meter here. Rocks, rocks, rocks. A place made for a miserable bivouac in a rainy November night.
Almost coincidentally, I continued up to the ridge and the munro. This is the view towards the east from a point close to the top. The loch's south beach just visible. The munros on the other side, something with Righ and something with Tulaichain, in the background. And yes, that is my shadow. For the first time I reached Carn nan Gabhar in sunshine. It was again one of these moments in Scotland. At 5pm in September, any person can throw a huge shadow.