I was in two minds whether to have an easy day and go an do Ben Chonzie or stay East in the better weather but have a longer day. The reason I wanted an easy ish day is because I have Bronchitis and also cos my knee is giving me grief.
Originally, I'd thought it would be nice to get up mega early, bike in to Derry Lodge and go do Beinn Breac and Beinn a' Chaorainn, but the thought of bog slogging was a bit unappealing. Then I thought I'd do Derry Cairngorm, but in the end decided on Carn a' Mhaim as it was nearer.
I love this part of the Cairngorms, it seems so different to the other side. More trees, which when you look back down Glen Lui, gives the place a really prehistoric look I think. And I'm always amazed at the scale of the place. Once you're up high enough to start seeing across to Devil's Point and MacDui etc, I'm always blown away. I do love the splendour and beauty of the the North West hills and mountains, but there is something so timeless and full of magic and mystery about the Cairngorm hills. I'm always struck by how much of a lonely place it is, no matter how many folk could be about, there is something untouchable about these hills, like they stand guard over some higher mystery.
I'd planned to get up at 6am, but after wittering away on my pc for too long, writing emails and messing about on Facebook, I didn't get my desired early night, so set the alarm for 6.30am and had left by 7.30. Arrived at the Linn of Dee at the back of 9, after a toilet stop at the carpark you go to for Beinn a' Bhuird, the name of which escapes me! I set off around 9.30 am, and biked up Glen Lui as far as Derry Lodge. I'd been a bit nervous about biking and what the track would be like, but it was ace, a really good landy track the whole way. Once at the lodge it took me a while to figure out where I was going. My map showed 2 different paths fording or bridging the Lui Water, but there was no sign of the bridge that my map said should be there, and the river was in spate and a bit spicy looking! There was a bridge past the Mountain Rescue hut, so I dragged my bike over there, only to get confused as that path said it was going to the Lairig Ghru, which I thought was away round by Glen Dee. After much map consulting, I saw that I could just cross that bridge and the path seemed to be going in the direction I wanted and if not, I could meet up with my path. Looking at the map opened up now I'm home, the Glen Luibeg path, meets up with the Lairig Ghru path if you don't turn up towards MacDui.
I padlocked the bike as there was no way I was taking it past the Lodge as it was too rough for me, and the path went a bit boggy and yucky after that for a bit, so no sense in churning it up more with bikes and it wasn't far to walk. Before long, I reached a split in the path, a higher path and a lower one through some trees. My map showed the higher split crossing over a bridge to get to the start of the hill, so I took that branch. But after a couple of hundred yards I realised I was too high up and could see 2 paths in the trees, where the lower path had split again. Consulting the map again, it seemed I had missed a split on looking first time and should have gone into the trees. So off I went. This was rougher going now and my knee was protesting a little.
Across the bridge, and over a horrible boggy section and that was me at the bottom of the hill. Was feeling great and so happy to be there. But it was slow going! As the ground got steeper, my knee protested more and my back started hurting too. My back was the most painful it's been in a long, long time, feeling like it was crushing down into my pelvis and I was getting awful stomach cramps, gah, who'd be a female on days like these! I normally can't survive these spasms without strong painkillers but I'd stupidly only packed 2 and I knew it wouldn't be enough for the journey up the hill, down the hill, bike ride back and car drive home. So, decided to wait until on the way down before taking them and just putting up with the pain in the meantime.
Nearing the top, it was so painful I felt sick with agony and was starting to feel drained and a bit wheezy.
I'd been told the day before that I had Bronchitis, and jeeze I'm such an idiot for pushing myself like this! But I was so near the top, I didn't want to come all this way and just go back again. I'd still have to suffer on the way out anyway, so I may as well suffer a while longer.
I know that exercising with a cold/flu/chest infection can be damaging to the heart (rarely I think though! But you do hear stories) and I started thinking about what an idiot I am, if anything should happen to me, I'd be fecked. I hadn't met anyone at all up here, out in the middle of nowhere. Ho hum, onward and upwards and push away the paranoid thoughts.
I did meet someone near the top, a couple on there way down. The wind was picking up and I could see grey, rolling cloud over the Devil's Point, MacDui and Derry Cairngorm, but my top was clear with just the hint of rain being blown in from surrounding cloud. I didn't want to hang about, eager to get down and get my painkillers too! The knee didn't stop me from hobbling down the path as fast as I could, but each time I banged my toe or heel off a rock, it would send a jarring pain into my knee, searing like a hot knife, ouch not fun! I overtook the couple I'd seen on the way down, and I do like overtaking folk. Very egotistical, but I do get smug thinking stuff like,
'hey, I've torn something in my knee *and* have Bronchitis, but I can still move faster than you two!'
Painkillers have kicked in and my back is all good again but the codeine has no effect whatsoever on my knee. Back at the bike, I have a quick bite to eat and then zoom off. Tis ace! This would have taken ages to walk and I'd have been dragging my feet a bit, but the bike makes it so easy and as it's mostly downhill it's super fast! By the time I get back to the car though, my knee is so swollen I feel like it's going to explode and I'm getting darts of pain into my shin and to the side of my quads, ooooops, I over did it again I think.
I'm going to have to be canny with this knee from now on, cos it's going to be tough lugging a heavy sack about this winter if it's too painful to cope!