Carn a' Mhaim, Ben Macdui, Derry Cairngorm & Beinn Mheadhoin
Thursday 26th July 2012
Weather/Conditions: Cloudy but clear conditions over Carn a' Mhaim. Into mist over Ben Macdui, but ultimately benign weather. Into mist on each successive summit, with a particularly thick spell on Beinn Mheadhoin - locating the right summit tor was an arresting experience. Down to the Hutchison in good time for a low-key evening.
Distance/Ascent/Time: 23.2km / 1500m / 8h 15m
Carn a' Mhaim
This day was a fantastic morning, and oddly low-key compared to our 13-hour heroics the day before. The bothy burst into life with Struan, Steve, and then DofE groups dropping by. We left at a good time and headed for Carn a' Mhaim. The direct ascent up from Corrour looks pretty damn steep - I'd like to check it out one day. But for the meantime, we headed slightly up the Lairig Ghru path then went up the hill just beyond Clach nan Taillear. It's a fair detour back to the summit of Carn a' Mhaim, but it did have the advantage we could drop our rucksacks yet again.
The ridge to the summit is a long haul, but we made it up and met Steve on the summit, who had approached from the south instead. Opposite, Beinn Bhrotain and Devil's Point were prominent. It's a stunning vista, but I began to feel as though we would never break free from their sight.
Steve wished us well and we set off on our respective ways. The following ascent to Macdui is a long haul. I put the head down. I ended up counting my paces - it was just something to do, I suppose. It's a long way up those boulderfields, and the effort of yesterday lingered in the muscles. Quietly I counted away the paces and Carn a' Mhaim sunk into the ground below as we reared far above it.
Into the mist, we gained Macdui's summit plateau and I'd counted beyond the 2000 mark. A quick bearing was taken and deposited us neatly on the summit of the highest hill of the trip, and the second highest in the country.
Other folk were milling about. It was nice to see people, but it wasn't a place to hang around too long in a chilly wind. It seemed utterly absurd that this was the same place as I'd come in January. The summit rocks seemed pedestrian in the dank mist, a world away from the fantastic light show that late January afternoon, as the sun slowly set into a sea of cloud. Was I really back in the same place? A strange thought.
We took a bearing off for Derry Cairngorm. This was the break point of the entire trip - a halfway point where the scales tipped in the direction of "complete" rather than "starting out". We headed over snowfields in mist, until the grey began to tear apart. Loch Etchachan pulled into view and my mood went sky high! Finally we had managed to break away from the hills around Corrour. Completing Macdui brought us into a new and fresh world, new tracks, vistas and places of interest.
Derry Cairngorm was the simplest of rises to a cairn in the mist. The bags had been dropped again, and we picked them up on return, only to deposit them again in the vicinity of the Loch Etchachan outflow.
Beinn Mheadhoin & the Hutchison
Beinn Mheadhoin lay above, a great humpbacked hill peppered with summit tors. We climbed back into the mist, thicker this time and began an intriguing search for the highest summit. Each rise in the landscape was mentally noted on the map. We swerved between the tors until we appeared by the highest and largest. After some nervy minutes while we located the summit, we clambered on top of this, my 200th Munro. I was delighted.
The real theme of this day was this slightly euphoric sense of progress. I'd reached a milestone on my own Munro journey, and we were also make really significant inroads to our own trip. The day was modest - just what we really needed - but it seemed as though we got a lot done.
Picking up the bags, it was just a simple descent to the Hutchison. Prior to it's refurbishment, it was still a bit of a concrete cell, but I felt real affection for the place. The setting is stunning. Soon after our trip, it became so much more of a bothy thanks to the work of the MBA. Sleep came early for us. After all, there isn't so much to do in a place like this, except enjoy the place while you are there.
Carn a' Mhaim
(0.00) 9.10am Corrour
(1.50) 11.00am Carn a' Mhaim
(3.50) 1.00pm Ben Macdui
(5.20) 2.30pm Derry Cairngorm
(7.15) 4.25pm Beinn Mheadhoin
(8.15) 5.25pm Hutchison