D and I went munro bagging this weekend as I was in desperate need to get out into the hills having not been near a hill since our trip up Tower Ridge with RB. Too much wall climbing and cragging is no good for the soul. Besides, I need to start getting hill fit again as winter will shortly be upon us, hurrah, yipee, woohoo! I'm getting excited about snowy hills and frozen turf and crunchy, crispy snow sparkling in the winter sun. Mmm mmm mmm!
Anyway, back to the weekend! It was the AVW bouldering comp on Friday evening. It was really busy and their were lots of new faces around which was good and not many regulars which was good too as it means I came in 3rd in the Women's Easy category. RB was a star as usual and came 1st place in Juniors Girls. She did the hard comp this year, without using any junior holds, bar on her first problem, before Ian, AVW's manager, reckoned she should do it without the junior holds. I was a bit miffed at this to start off with, as she maybe a good climber, but there are some things that are impossible if you just can't reach. But she did amazingly anyway, coming in first place still and beating the Hard Women (although the usual hard women regulars weren't competing!)
I met up with D afterwards and we drove up Glen Lyon way and parked up in the Schiehallion carpark for the night. We were up bright and early, drove down to Inverar only to be met with a closed gate and 'Stalking taking place today' signs everywhere. I was miffed! I'd gone to do these hills before and had to bail because of crap weather as the guy I was with at the time didn't want to do them in the rain. The notice board said to take alternative routes as suggested, but I didn't notice any suggested alternative routes. We both came to the conclusion that the stalking sign is probably put up at the start of September and just left there all the time, and there probably wasn't even stalking taking place on the 4hills we wanted to go up, as the argocats had been taken in the opposite direction! We decided that we would go up the hills regardless, me a bitty nervous of meeting some irate stalkers with guns, but my rebelllious nature out in force regardless.
As it was, there wasn't a stalker in sight so it was doubly annoying that there were signs up saying not to go up the hills. And having closed gates and signs verges on a breach on the access code as far as I'm concerned if there isn't any stalking taking place. But the estate is notorious for such nonsense!
I wasn't going that well up these hills. My legs felt heavy and weak and my lower back was aching, muscles spasming every so often, sending wee nervy feelings reminiscant of sciatica into my legs. Bloomin neck! I could feel the muscles around my neck tightning up and knew it was a touch of the arthritis kicking in. I ploughed on regardless. I won't let this stop my enjoying the hills, even though it makes it hard work at times.
Think my most prominent memory of these hills is going a stupid way down off the 3rd hill, ploughing straight down from the summit, down a very steep boulder field. My knee didn't appreciate that in the slightest and was all swollen by the time I got to the bottom.
We were out for around 6 and half hours and then drove along to the dam at the head of Lochan Daimh for the night. It was freezing through the night and we woke to a sheet of ice on the front windscreen which had me hoping that I might see a wincy snow flurry or two. But it wasn't to be, it was much milder on the hill than the previous day, though there were still pockets of ice in puddles. We left the landrover track to head up Meall Buidhe and sheesh it was boggy! We'd reach a bit of a dryer bit and I'd hope that was the bog finished and then it would get worse. I wasn't going well again today, worse than the day before if that's possible! Felt really tired and heavy legged again and a bit woozy. I was getting hot flushes and ended up taking several layers off, it was so warm in the sunshine.
Seemed to go better nearer the top, although the last leg is a broad and flattish ridge so there wasn't really any uphill to speak of. We didn't hang around the summit for too long and it felt weird going back down, like it had seemed pointless going up, just to sit for a minute and not go back down. I'm too used to doing several hills at once and dying to get off the hill at the end of a long day.
Driving home, we came into mobile reception and I received some really gutting news that my Grandfather had passed away that afternoon, probably around the time I was up on the summit. My earliest memory of my Grandfather is of him pottering away in his greenhouse and me being allowed to help repot some plants for him and help him plant seeds into small pots. I can vividly remember him showing me how to compress the soil down into the pots before adding more soil, but not to compress it down too tightly. I can still picture the feeling of the soil between my fingers as a young child and how it made a great impression on me. I am sure that my great love of the outdoors and nature stemmed from such simple pleasures and for that I am eternally grateful.