Paul P and George 'Daddy Team' Hiking Trip 2012
Day 3 - Tuesday
After a rest day, today saw Paul return to the fray, although the rest had not exactly cured him, and for myself, the extra hiking day had only pushed my ankle worse. And so it was in a sorry state that we started what we knew would be a very big day, and a linear one at that, meaning that if we turned back we would have to repeat every step at some point in the future.
The opening kilometres of this hike were along estate tracks, and the hard ground was unforgiving; Paul and I had to keep to our own sides as we required opposite cambers to help ease our ailments! Once we were onto the path proper things improved, as did the weather, as a mist-filled glen gave way to strong sunshine, bizarrely coinciding (after a sharp turn off the lochside path) with our hitting the snow line!
Thankfully, the route along the loch and then up into Coire Leachavie was fantastic, and we soon forgot our potential alternative descent route down Gleann nam Fiedh. The route only really gave out when we hit the snow, which was a little worrying as the walls ahead seemed impregnable. Fortunately for us, a super keen lone hiker overtook us at this point, and provided a welcomed lead on the way ahead.
Once on the ridge, the snow was deep and soft and going was slow, and for a while the cloud came in and made us worry that this was going to become an epic, but after a short while the sun became the victor and we strode to a magnificent first hill at 1181m, Scotland's 14th highest...
A long downward push and climb through the same soft snow found us gaining another 2 metres overall as we came to stand on Carn Eige, the 12th highest...
After being on two amazingly high hills, the third hill of Beinn Fhionnlaidh was a surreal sight, standing so low below Carn Eige, but Beinn Fhionnlaidh demands respect as it is one of Scotland's most remote Munros, and, after descending through much loose snow, it was a privilege to stand upon it, especially with the wonderful views over the ridiculously long Loch Mullardoch, which had given us all the problems on the first day.
You always take a deep breath leaving such a remote point as you know all the work that remains. We had hoped for a quicker return as a path bypasses the height of Carn Eige, but ironically in all the snow this less frequented route seemed much more work than the climb back onto it would have been.
Once past Carn Eige and back over Mam Sodhail the going was much quicker and our spirits were raised as despite less than 100% fitness we had managed a classic Munro day, and we had done it in spectacular conditions. Truly one of the best hikes experienced!
Glen Affric starts to fend off the morning mist:
Coire Leachavie, gateway to a snowy world!
Burning off that mist!
Paul gets serious with the sticks!
On the ridge!
Nice hat, onto Mam Sodhail:
And Carn Eige:
Beinn Fhionnlaidh below:
The git that is Loch Mullardoch: