Beinn's Dorain, Dothaidh, Achaladair, Chreachain & Mhanach
Thursday 16th May 2013
Weather/Conditions: Truly great weather. Misty and a bit of snow on Beinn Dorain, then improving. Good cool conditions for the following evening, which matured to a phenomenal sunset, one of the best of the summer.
Distance/Ascent/Time: 27.7km / 2400m / 12h 25m
I'd planned ten Munros, beginning on the amazing Beinn Dorain, swinging around the "Wall of Rannoch" (so some call it) to Beinn a' Chreachain, past the head of Loch Lyon to Glen Lochay, and finally over the trio of Munros to Strath Fillan.
Dad saw me off from Bridge of Orchy on Thursday the 16th. I was feeling pretty knackered and not really feeling like being on the hills. Conditions were pretty cold at Bridge of Orchy, and reluctantly I set off up to Beinn Dorain with a heavy rucksack, and three days and ten Munros to go.
Beinn Dorain was climbed without a view, and in deep snow. Back at the bealach, I would have been quite happy for an excuse to quietly crawl back to Bridge of Orchy - I really wasn't feeling great. But I slogged with the rucksack over Beinn an Dothaidh, where I got some good views of Rannoch Moor.
In truth I think the real thing bugging me was the lack of having a place to sleep that night. Several factors came together: a high-Munro day, a lasting tiredness, a heavy rucksack and the prospect of sleeping out in the middle of nowhere. The thing that kept me going was the good forecast: there was no real reason not to go and so I talked myself into continuing when everything else said don't bother. Retrospectively, I'm very, very glad I continued.
Having climbed Beinn an Dothaidh, I dropped the rucksack at the Achaladair-Mhanach bealach and set off up Achaladair. I was still not right: an off-day was amplified by a feeling of commitment, and my mood became dire. By Beinn a' Chreachain I was just pissed off and quite unhappy. Everything was there for the taking: the hills were in condition and the weather was good. But something was missing. I just wasn't getting my usual kick from these hills. I was emotionally drained. I couldn't contemplate doing this day after day.
I headed back to the rucksack, and decided to camp there and then. Beinn Mhanach would have to wait, even if it meant a longer day tomorrow. I had a meal and a big mug of tea, lying still and content for once. I felt fuelled and settled for the first time all day.
Perhaps I could make over that last Munro?
The pressure had gone, but only because I'd felt beat.
I packed up, excited; slightly apprehensive that I might physically not be ready. It was getting late, but I had time. I took a slow plod and it was like lifting a veil on my mood - suddenly the whole world opened up again and I saw it all: the sun sinking in the west, snow-covered spires of the Highlands (many which I'd now climbed). It was almost poetic, and borderline cliche. The panorama opened wide and sunlight danced on the brown slopes of Glen Lyon. I was seeing it all again. And I felt incredible.
Completely at peace, I strolled to the summit, shocked at this turn around in mood. Colours changed and shifted, I was buzzing to it all. The sun sunk to the horizon; I left the summit, and descended to Loch Lyon for a content night, only drifting off in content peace somewhere about 11pm.
I'm honestly not sure just how it all turned around.
Beinn an Dothaidh
Beinn a' Chreachain
(0.00) 9.40am Bridge of Orchy
(2.20) 12.00pm Beinn Dorain
(3.40) 1.20pm Beinn an Dothaidh
(5.00) 2.40pm Rucksack drop
(5.45) 3.25pm Beinn Achaladair
(7.00) 4.40pm Beinn a' Chreachain
(8.10) 5.50pm Set up camp
(9.55) 7.35pm Left 'camp'
(10.45) 8.25pm Beinn Mhanach
(12.25) 10.05pm Campsite, Loch Lyon