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Monday, May 25, 2009

Blog plan and four more days of recall

When I make it back to the states on the 1st of June, there will be a full write-up about the Challenge. This will include:

An explanation and history of the Challenge
What hiking in Scotland is like
Gear and food lists
The planning process
Day 0 in Oban
A greatly expanded day by day section
Tons of photos

Secondly, there will once again be a 3318 documentary produced from the photo and video of the challenge.

Lastly, there will be a 1-hour presentation on the Challenge and the culture of the Scottish Highlands. This is in coordination with the Alworth Institute at UMD and is currently set for THURSDAY, OCTOBER 8th at 12noon in the library at UMD.

On with the recall:

Monday the 11th of May - Loch Cairian Bothy to Lairig Leacach Bothy.

After the hard long day yesterday and the unplanned bog-hopping near the end, I was reluctant to leave the bothy. After waiting until noon for socks to dry, I made my way further north, passing Loch Treig and on into the Lairig Leacach towards Roybridge. I stopped at the bothy and once again cancelled my plans to summit the two munros to the east.

Tuesday the 12th of May - Lairig Leacach Bothy to Luib-Chonnel Bothy

The original plan out of the bothy that morning was to make for Tulluck station and wild camp at Tom Mor at near 800 meters. The summits would have been clear and an ascent was possible, but my battered and blistered feet had already endured enough. Feeling a little down about canceling more summits from my route, I made my way into Roybridge. The problem here arises that, although called Roybridge, there is no actual bridge over the river Spean. This forced me to add 3k moving towards Speanbridge and quickly (and slightly illegally) dashing across an active railroad bridge. After walking back along the river and reaching the south end of Glen Roy, it was time to phone Challenge Control to report in.

It was then that I learned the scattered showers I had in Oban had translated much heavier further north. The combination of rain, wet ground, and now burning heat had caused some 30 Challengers to drop out. Suddenly I felt much better about myself and pressed on up Glen Roy, reaching Luib-Chonnel Bothy by 8.

Having traveled north for 5 days now, I had seen very few challengers. When I reached the bothy, however, there were several challengers camped outside and a few more inside. After a good discussion and a goodnight I went up to the loft and once again passed out.

Wednesday the 13th of May - Luib-Chonnel Bothy to Gharva Bridge wildcamp.

Having not camped high in the mountains last night and instead moved up Glen Roy, I was rather far ahead of schedule (at a time when the rain had put some people a day behind). Leaving late once again (me and mornings don't do well) I followed the track around towards Melgarve Bothy, finally turning east. When I reached this bothy, a healthy number of challengers were having lunch. Melgarve sits at the intersection of Glen Roy and the Corryarick Pass, so it acts as a natural funnel.

Deciding that 2pm was too early to stop for the day, I moved a bit further east to Gharva bridge, where we ended the day with some 12 tents all told. While pitching my tent I chatted with Anthony, who was pitched next to me. A few moments later, Ian came and joined us. Both had come over the Corryarick that morning and I had met both at Melgarve bothy a few hours before. As the lighted faded, the 4 yorks came strolling on. The 4 were carrying large packs and moved perhaps slower than I, but then again so did most, and the 4 were physically fit enough to be able to easily handle their loads. After munching down some gorp and watching the sunset with Anthony, I bedded down for the night.

Thursday the 14th of May - Gharva bridge wildcamp to Newtonmore campsite

Waking slightly after most of the others along the river, I made my oatmeal and hot cocoa and proceeded to break camp. Anthony left just before I did, heading off towards Laggan Stores with David, who was camped just on the other side of me. Within an hour, Ian and I were trudging down the pavement towards the shop, and nearly caught David and Anthony before we arrived at Laggan.

In addition to having a public flush toilet, laggan makes a very convenient resupply point because the store there stocks nearly everything. However, as we were heading into Newtonmore anyway, that would be a better resupply point and I ready had plenty of food.

The 4 Yorks appeared as we were leaving, and we continued on the road for a bit. Just as we reached the castle, Ian Anthony and I turned north to bypass some of the pavement and get into the hills a little. David continued along the road as it was shorter and his leg had started to hurt a bit. After stopping at a cozy estate bothy, we continued on to Newtonmore, where Ian was booked in at a B&B and the rest of us continued to the campsite.

It was once again time to phone Control, where I was advised that the sunshine of the previous 4 days was about to run out.

As Anthony David and I made our way to the bar, we were met once again by the 4 Yorks, who were also heading for the campsite. Ian met us at the pub, and a good time was had by all.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

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