Saturday, 22 May 2010

Failure, some success and more new friends

On Sunday I woke in the early hours with a migraine and raging hayfever, so I was rattling my way to the showers a couple of hours later, full of tablets in the hope of feeling better. Eventually, we travelled along the road towards Kinloch Hourn and Rosie waited for us below Gleouraich.

As we faffed outside the van, two walkers came down the road. An interesting looking couple and despite lacking the usual huge rucksacks of Challengers, I guessed who they were. They stopped for a chat, the gentleman having mistaken us for gypsies because of Rosie and as we got to know each other, I asked if they were on the Challenge and if they could possibly Lou and Phyllis La Borwit. Yes! The internet is an extraodinary thing and these people are famous Challengers because of it, on their 13th and 12th crossing, respectively. They were travelling light on Sunday because a kind man had offered to deliver their packs to their next stop, so today they had a tiny pack between and were fair flying along. It was wonderful to meet them.

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The plan was to do a loop, taking in Gleouraich and Spidean Mialach, but it didn’t quite turn out that way. It’s a steady, winding climb up towards the summit on a fantastic path with fabulous views towards Knoydart and the Glen Shiel hills and it was a lovely day, if a little breezy at times with the odd spot of rain, but nothing to speak of. David considered it to be perfect walking conditions.

VLUU L310W L313 M310W / Samsung L310W L313 M310WVLUU L310W L313 M310W / Samsung L310W L313 M310W

We reached a sheltered point at about 2666 ft where I started to have a crisis. I was anxious because the path I could see seemed close to the edge and we were obviously a long way up. I felt insignificant and vulnerable. I wanted to do my first Munro, but I was running out of steam because of the after effects of taking *Cetrizine and I was still suffering flashing lights and visual distortion from the migraine. There was also time pressures as we’d set off a little later than intended and at the speed I was going, we would have finished later than we wanted. Not really the best circumstance and I wanted to enjoy the experience, rather than a miserable struggle, so after some soul searching I decided to wait there, wrapped up, where I could still watch David make the final part of the ascent.

VLUU L310W L313 M310W / Samsung L310W L313 M310W

VLUU L310W L313 M310W / Samsung L310W L313 M310W

As I had my crisis, a golden eagle soared above the summit and along the ridge, an omen of success according to David, just waiting to enjoy my sorry carcass, I thought! Three other walkers appeared and left us to discuss my predicament, but the chap at the rear later confessed to David he thought I’d made the right decision. As I watched from my vantage point, the eagle soared back into view and away again. David followed the other three dots up the hill, disappearing briefly from view, then back again at the top. Then he romped back down to me. I was only 1000 ft roughly, a half a mile from my goal, but I was more relaxed when he returned.VLUU L310W L313 M310W / Samsung L310W L313 M310W

We returned swiftly downhill to Rosie and trundled back along the road to the Tomdoun Hotel to spend the evening with a few Challengers, including Laura, Alan, Phil, Chris, Dennis, Humphrey to name but a few. There were many who’s names we didn’t catch, or maybe just can’t remember! Lou and Phyllis were there too and had remembered to mention us to Alan, so he knew we were there. All lovely people.

A little later, we left the chaos behind, (and there was chaos!) and tiptoed back to Rosie, whom David had secreted away down the road a little, so we could have a couple of drinks with our meal and wild camp with Rosie for some added fun.

We had a great day, despite my failure to summit my first Munro. I refuse to let myself feel bad about this, it was just not the right day for it. I’ll have another go someday. My overall conclusion is that I am a walker, I can plod all day long, I can do a decent gradient, but I don’t like height. With edges. I’m not and never will be a Munroist, but I don’t have to be to be a walker, so that’s fine with me!

*Cetrizine is a ‘non-drowsy’ hayfever medication. I only have to take half a dose and within a few hours, I’ll be in a truly unpleasant, drug induced sleep. I wake up feeling exceptionally grotty. Loratadine is is another ‘non-drowsy’ hayfever medication. Half a dose, and I’ll be out cold in less than an hour and feel grotty for a day or two after. It’s no fun, but neither are my symptoms in the first place, unable to open swollen, gunk filled eyes, swollen face and lips, unbearable itching, and this year, aggravated asthma. I could go on (and on) but you get the picture. It’s pants.


Martin Rye said...

I get hayfever. In Scotland in May I am fine. Come home and it is hell. Pills control it and that is as best it gets. Summits are great but not the goal. The walk is the goal always for me. Summits a bonus. Keep at it.

Louise said...

Thanks Martin, I know you're right, but I must confess it's some of your photographs of fabulous views that's made me want to see them first hand. Some I will, but not many!

It would be silly to put myself off by making it a trauma rather than an adventure.

Alan Sloman said...

I totally 'get it' with the heights thing. Don't worry about it though - just carry on 'in' the mountains and not necessarily 'on' the mountains.

Having just returned home, the hay fever is back with a vengeance.

It was splendid seeing David and you - Let's hope we all get on the walk next year. Thanks for coming - it's great to meet the people behind the blogs.

Louise said...

Thanks Alan and you are right, being 'in' the mountains is just as breathtaking.

It was great to meet both of you too, and all the other Challengers that were there. It's so good to meet people for real.

And thanks for all the encouragement you give by the way, it really does help.

Martin Rye said...

I forgot I had Hayfever Alan for a few days up in Scotland. Makes a nice break from it this time of the Year. I wonder Louise if you would suffer as much visiting the East of England?

Louise said...

Lived most of my life up until my mid-twenties in Louth, Lincolshire, and suffered terribly, so I'm not sure it would help. To be honest, I think I'm picking up new triggers each year. I start early in the year now, March or even February if it's a mild winter, so trees are the culprit and last year I had horrendous urticaria for three weeks about now, which could have been triggered by the gorse, there's a lot on my regular walks.
The allergies are all connected with the asthma, so I shouldn't moan, I just have to live with it!