Bynack Mor - 1090m
Cairn Gorm - 1245m
Ben Macdui - 1309m
Carn a' Mhaim - 1037m
Monday 10th June 2013
Weather/Conditions: A carpet of mist pulled back in the morning to reveal a glittering blue-sky day. One of the best weather days you could have hoped for, and a yellow and brushed red sunset over Carn a' Mhaim to Corrour. Amazing.
Distance/Ascent/Time: 30.7km / 1980m / 10h 35m
Accompanying: Alone, then with Colin on Ben Macdui and Carn a' Mhaim. Michael Kerrigan then arrived at Corrour in the evening!
It was the 'big day', over the meatiest section of the Cairngorms, where plateaux, lochs, and cliffs of stunning severity are all mashed up into this arctic-like paradise. Add to that the brilliant blue skies of this day, and I was onto a winner.
I woke up at the Hutchison, which was clamped down in thick mist - bit of a bummer. After breakfast, I left Ian and his dog Mallie mid-morning for the walk to Loch Etchachan. The cloud base was lifting and very soon it shredded against the flanks of Beinn Mheadhoin and broke up completely, to reveal a fresh blue sky beyond.
Loch Etchachan, 3000 feet up, was silent and still, yet so impressive. The deep blue skies were reflected in the cold waters. Lingering snow fields dipped their toes into the water, turning turquoise. A magic place. But if I was to continue happily, some TLC was needed: brush teeth, drink (lots of) water, eat a lot. I'd traveled 80km the previous two days, and if I were to continue I'd need to get fueled and as comfortable as possible.
My first Munro, Beinn Mheadhoin was a bit of a drag, but only because I wanted to be further on with my day! Corrour bothy, the night's destination, seemed very far away. Down the far side of Mheadhoin, I crossed the River Avon at the loch outflow. The water was fast-flowing, and cold with the snowmelt. That took a minute or two to recover from... I sat on the far bank and ate some more while my legs dried out in the sun.
Bynack More was the real outlier on this route, so I left my rucksack and headed out to it's isolated summit. It felt like effort I could do without, all the way out and back. I wasn't so sure I was enjoying my day yet, but I was sure I would make it whatever the cost.
Back at the Saddle, I picked up my rucksack and started the big plod to Cairn Gorm. From there it would be a long plateau walk to Ben Macdui and then onto Corrour. My brain simply switched off, happy to be making 'real' progress, and I seemed to fly up the south face without much concious thought. Loch Avon looked amazing and by the time I got to the summit I was ecstatic!
Near the summit, I noticed someone striding toward me, shopping bag in hand. I didn't think much of it, then looked back five minutes later: it had to be Monty, with the bag of shopping I'd asked him to bring along! He'd got the bus up and was to join me over Macdui to Corrour and back over the Devil's Point and Braeriach the following day. We reached the summit a short time later.
We raced up Carn a' Mhaim and then plodded down the worst Cairngorm heather-covered boulderfield you can imagine. Corrour was waiting, the day was drawing to a close. Once again, I'd done many miles and was very glad to still feel fresh. Fitness levels are good at the moment.
And then a couple last surprises - Richard Goodman had given me a "good luck" in the bothy book, much to my pleasant surprise. To top the evening off, none other than Michael Kerrigan came through the front door, completely unannounced and with a bag of Doritos in hand. (I can't help myself!). Thanks guys.
As the light died, the summits grew cloud caps and we settled in for a night in Corrour, the bothy's only occupants.
Hutchison & Beinn Mheadhoin
Carn a' Mhaim & Corrour
Carn a' Mhaim
(0.00) 10.15am Hutchison
(1.40) 11.55pm Beinn Mheadhoin
(3.55) 2.10pm Bynack Mor
(5.45) 4.00pm Cairn Gorm
(7.45) 6.00pm Ben Macdui
(9.35) 7.50pm Carn a' Mhaim
(10.35) 8.50pm Corrour