Craig phoned as Bobinson and I drove up on Friday, “Don’t eat too much” he said when i spoke of our plans for lunch at Ft Bill. He’s right, on a trip a couple of years back he and I stopped and had a late and huge lunch which gave me the mobility of a bean bag and the whinyness of a Cbeebies presenter when deprived of hairgel.
But Main Street was cold and miserable, the Nevis Bakery was warm and staffed by smiling, rosy cheeked girls. It would have been rude not to have a pie, and it would have been cruel to leave the last hot one next to it on it’s own, and it would have been strange not to have had sweet after savoury. With a cuppa.
Hands and pockets full, fingers dripping grease, we headed back to the truck in high spirits.
We were kitted and admined at the carpark quickly, and out onto the trail. It’s a great path that takes you up into the coire, eroded in some places but pleasant in a hands in pockets way. Although there were patches of thick water ice (see above) which extended up slope and down either side of the path making for a few moments of ponderation with my American boots as Bobinson skipped gaily across in his Icebugs.
The view ahead through the birch wood is one that draws you forward, indistinct shapes become defined and separate into the jagged buttresses of Stob Ban. At 999m it’s one of the wee yins in the area, but one of the most properly mountainous looking.
As we got higher into the coire the wind was getting up a little and the light was fading a little too. Plans for camping at the lochan just below Sgùrr an Lubhair were abandoned without question. We were well aware of the weather forecast and that’s why we were camping on the North side of a ridge, but minimising exposure was still high on the list of priorities.
We descended NW from the track at the top of the zigzags towards the burn and after some faffing and stamping of ground like two shady characters prowling a used car lot for an annonymous getaway vehicle we picked a reasonably gradient-free and flat (in this context, the definition is stretched to its maximum) pitch with a nearby supply of fast flowing, sweet, cold water that I can still taste as I sit here typing. Tents went up, mats and bags installed and our eyes immediately turned South to where the moon was flashing across the slopes through the gaps in the clouds like a searchlight looking for JU 88’s.
An attempt on climbing to the main ridge to have a look was foiled by the increasing amount of water ice which was laughing in the face of my Keens. The hardware was all back at camp, and soon so were we. Stoves on.
Dinner, cuppas, chocolate and a lie back with the ipod as the tent rippled and vibrated gently in the occasional gust that found its way down to us. It looked like a relaxing night ahead.
“The moon! The moon!” so I stuck my head out of the tent to have a look. The holes in the cloud were now much bigger, the moon a pure white disc bursting through the fast moving gaps, making the mountainside look like a ankle-breaking dancefloor illuminated by a mirror ball and spotlight with a madman at the controls.
Even as the temperature slipped below freezing we stood and watched. It was stunning.
I had some texts with friends staying at Inchree and made plans for the next day. Reception was five-bars strong, at the end of Glen Nevis we could see the lights of Ft Bill and Corpach twinkling away.
It wasn’t intrusive, but I got a feeling of detachment which I don’t get on camps where there’s no sign of life at all. Maybe it’s the visible difference between the two places? I could see where I wasn’t. Maybe sometimes that’s as important as seeing where you are?
I stuck the stove on again and had a play with the camera. I’m loathed to do this stuff as I begrudge spending time on it, but if it means I can take photies of the mountains at night I’ll budge just an inch or two.
The cloud thickened and the winds strengthened. We got back in the tents and got down to the serious business of making Z’s.
Snug in PHD’s finest, and with the metal in my ears keeping the rattling flysheet from being annoying, I slipped away for the night.
BoommmFFF!!! Everything went sideways, I knew the fly was loose or torn, the inner was stuck to my right ear. I unzipped the inner door and grabbed the flexing pole above me, I held it down while I scrabbled for my headtorch in the near darkness with my other hand. I heard Bobinson shouting, but couldn’t make out the words.