For those who cannot wait until I make it back to the states, here is a quick rundown of the 2009 TGO Challenge. Please note that these will be short and quick as i'm typing on a 3 inch screen. It is also in dire need of a spell check.
Friday the 8th of May - Oban to Cadderlie bothy.
It was hard waking up after the celebrations with the hostel staff the night before, but I somehow managed to organize the kit and meander down to the youth hostel to sign out. A good few of the challengers had stayed at the youth hostel itself (presumably to avoid the kilometer walk I had before I actually signed off) and I passed them in a steady stream along the coast. I stopped and chatted with a few, including one who knew I MUST be the young american on a solo crossing. But the scattered rain drew the conversation to a halt as he darted off for the ferry to Lismore and I ducked in to sign out.
As it were there are very few good ways out of Oban. Probably the most common is to catch a ferry to the small island of Lismore and then again later in the day to Appin. Another is to head east and come around the south side of Loch Etive. However, as I was heading as far north as Glen Roy, I opted to head for Connel and the falls of Lora, then along the west side of the loch.
After tromping up the gravel road for a bit and getting passed by quite a few royal mail trucks, I ran into my first set of Challengers. Low and behold, it was Bob and Rose Cartwright, with their daughter Beth in tow. I recognized Bob immediately from his podcasts, which I had used extensively to plan my crossing. The 4 of us walked on to the bridge where the Cartwright were heading further up the coast before turning in land in a few days time. So by myself once again, I followed the road and navigated around the Bonawe Query before coming to the bothy to end the day.
Saturday the 9th of May - Cadderlie both to wild camp at Kinlochetive.
A relatively uneventful day as it rained and I walk on disappearing trails and wet ground. After reaching the head of Loch Etive, I crossed the river in hopes Kinlochetive Both was still open, but to no avail.
My high level route took me up Ben Starav, but the high wind and snowfall on top cancelled those plans. I found a decent flat spot to camp and pitched down early for the night.
Sunday the 10th of May - wild camp at kinlochetive to Loch Chairian Bothy.
Showers persisted through the early morning and I headed back across the river to pick the track back up for the Lairig Groutain. As I was making my way along the road, I spotted three walkers approaching from behind, and quickly recognized them as the Cartwrights. Their coastal path had run out earlier than expected and they had come over the hills through the not so great weather the day before. Happy to beck in company, we trudged up the pass with me in the rear, still trying to get used to the added weight of 14 days of food in my bag. At the top of the pass they continued on towards Kinlochleven and I climbed east to summit Stoab Dearg. After a hairy but fast descent, I bushwhacked a few kilometers north to the Black water Damn. After hurrying across, I attempted to follow the non-exsistant path towards the bothy, which turned into a heather bog. With the last rays of light, I stumbled into the bothy at nearly 1030 and proceeded to peal the soaked socks off my aching feet and pass out on the floor in my sleeping bag.
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