Saturday, 4 July 2009

Ben Vorlich and Stuic a' Chroin

What fun we've had the past couple of days on what has had to have been the hottest days of the year!
RB got a slackline for her birthday and we played with it Wed (her birthday,) Thursday and Friday!
Wednesday, we were both pretty awful, wibbling and wobbling all over the shop, Thursday was much better though.
I've been getting a whole new kitchen put in and the electricity and water was off for a while and what with the glorious weather, we ended up spending most of the day outdoors in the sun.
The slackline was up first thing and we managed to get it a bit tighter, but discovered courtesy of UKC's slackliners, that the line is supposed to be a bit wibbly, hence the slack bit! We also got tips of knee bending and looking forward to help with balance.
So, by the end of day 2, RB was managing to take 7 steps unaided and I was managing 5 steps unaided. Even one of the workmen was joining in the fun! Some dude who used to do Circus skills in Dundee including tightrope walking and unicycling, but even he couldn't master the slackline! The rest of day 2 was spent swimming in the local river, jumping off rope swing into river and blasting down the rapids.
By the end of day 3, RB was walking the whole length of the line unaided.
So, there is a point to all this....................
I was supposed to be climbing today, but thanks to the slackline I've hurt my neck! Sometimes falling off the line can be a little graceless, especially if you catch your foot on the line, tumble forwards and land awkwardly on your shoulder. If you've been reading my blog, then you'll have probably heard me wittering on about having a twingy neck/sore shoulders/sore elbows/numb fingers from time to time?
Well, around 15 minutes after falling off, something went bad in my neck (it's a disc, I know it! Just know that feeling!) Oh the pain was horrible! I couldn't move my neck at all to the right and I couldn't move it downwards either, it was just locked and really sore. 2x Codeine and 2x Robaxin (muscle relaxant for sprains and strains) later, a light massage with Wintergreen oil (anti-inflammatory) it felt a tad looser and less painful. We decided that going to the river would help with a dip in the icy cold water, followed by an ice pack at home.
Aaaaaarg, how annoying!!! So, I was supposed to be climbing today (Sat) but what do I do. Do I wait until the next day (injury was Thurs) to decide, so if it's still sore, then I rest it. Or do I just climb regardless and risk making it worse and buggering up my holiday. Aaaaarg, I hate these decisions! But it's really not worth risking not being unable to climb while I'm away!
Next day it's much better pain wise and my ROM is much better, but I still can't twist my neck properly to the right and it's still sore to try and do so and as the day goes on it gets stiffer and sorer (though still not as bad) It's definitely one of the discs, but I feel it's a minor 'twang' compared to before as the pain has settled so quickly. It's just going to take time to loosen off fully (back to doing neck and shoulder stretches for me!) and I'm going to have to be careful as regards falling onto my shoulders/neck or back!! (so, I didn't bother with any slacklining on the Friday as tempting as it was!) And no climbing over the weekend either, although once it's eased off more I actually think the stretching etc involved in climbing will help (though the heavy rucksacks probably won't!)
So, decided to go hillwalking today instead, although I'm not sure if walking downhill over rough ground is the best thing for a dodgy disc problem! But hey ho, I just had to go out and do something!
RB wanted to do an easy scramble as well and I was trying to rack my brains of places that weren't mega far to drive and had a mega easy scramble that we could do without rope. Then I remembered Stuic a'Chroin that I hadn't bagged yet. Munro book mentions a scramble that can be avoided, or take the buttress but not for the inexperienced. Sounded just the thing and not too far to drive!
Up at 6.30 am (yawn!) and off to St Fillans and down to South Loch Earn. Now, took a while to find the correct starting point as it's not actually on the map that I have for the area. Arrived at the back of ten, but it was 10.45 by the time we actually set off! RB was huffing and puffing, too tired, too hot and it was hot!! Forecast had been for sunny intervals and light rain showers but the rain never materialised and it varied between hot and muggy and blazing sunshine all day long.
It took about 3/4 of the way up Ben Vorlich for RB to get into her stride and start enjoying the day (after a game to take her mind of the effort!) You have to imagine that money is no object whatsoever, then go though the letters of the alphabet and say what you would want to buy, beginning with A, then B and so forth. Finally at the top and we could see the scramble on the Bealach an Dubh Choirein ahead of us. Some yucky and loose downhill first, along a flat and then up to the scrambly bit. RB and I had a bet as to how many groups of folk would tackle the scramble directly up the NE buttress or how many would skirt around it, taking the steep but easier option to the right. RB thought only the group in front of us would go for the harder option but I guessed that only we would. At first it seemed that the blokes in front were going to go for it, but they veered off to the right and went up the easy way! Not RB and I though, we went left and sniffed out the funnest way, scrambling over big blocks and up steeper walls, with a committing and thin step fairly near the top that was a bit damp and scary with big boots on! RB thoroughly enjoyed it and before long we were on the final leg to bagging Stuc a' Chroin, RB's 10th munro and my 95th.
Then began the long, long descent back down to the car, across the mighty bog of doom (!) around Coire Buidhe (the estate said they'd marked a path with poles where they wanted you to go, but we couldn't see them so just followed a not too eroded path (maybe the sign at the estate gate is old?) The descent down off Stuc a Chroin was steep and loose and yucky, then traversing around underneath the Bealach an Dubh Choirean was the bog of doom! There would be a very short section of okayish path, then a huge section of bog where we'd have to go back up hill to avoid wet feet and then back down again. And the traverse carried on in this fashion for a lifetime! Then after meeting up with the Vorlich path, the going was much better but seemed to take a life time.
But finally back to the car, with sunburnt leggies (didn't put sun cream on calves!) and tired feet. Only a 6 and 1/2 hour day but I must be out of hill condition cos my legs were feeling it!

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