Monthly Archives: February 2009

Ardgartan Adventure

Since the weather done its favourite trick of being bloody aw full for the weekend causing a thaw, I decided to stay low level and put some miles in.

I parked up at the event car park on PTC’s recommendation’s that way I wouldn’t have to touch tarmac on the second day.

The last time I was in this area was for The Argyl Forrest Challenge it was wet and the midges were unreal !

I struck out about 10:30 am and headed back up the road I had driven.

After about 10 minutes I passed a guy going the other way on the track and I debated if he was doing the same route in the other direction (I did not see him again).

After about 5km I was starting to heat up and stopped to take of the PS3 so I was just wearing a Dale Merino base layer.

The path for The Brack branched off here and I debated heading upwards but it would be pointless as the mist was coming right down low.

I headed of again in a mixture of running and walking and praying the mist and cloud would lift.

The track is similar to bit of The West Highland Way and is well way marked as a red Mountain Bike route.

At the top of Glen Croe I took a left into Gleann Mhor and the cloud lifted a bit to give me a glance of the retreating snow line.

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I dropped down the single track mountain bike route just before Lochgoilhead after looking at the map as the big track comes to an end, this meant dropping onto the road for a couple of hundred meters.

Skirting round the outskirts of Lochgoilhead (I had forgotten my wallet and £1 in my pocket ) I headed back up hill through the Highland cows .

I took the small track that branches of the main one and started heading up the hill to Corran Lochan.

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There are some great wee streams coming off the hill along this track giving fresh water and I would think a great place to cool off in summer.

I stopped and had some jerky and a drink, I contemplated  having a brew but decided to push on.

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My legs were starting to get tired as I pushed on for the Lochan which eventually loomed out the mist.

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My feet were also starting to hurt a bit in the Hardrock Mids the insole just seems all wrong and different from the ones in the Namche’s.

I arrived at the Lochan and stood surveying the ground for a campsite as well as watching a few deer standing on the hillside.

I headed up off the path up the hill and found a prime spot to spend the night.

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As I sat waiting for the water to boil there was a distinct sound coming from the distant ranges of Garelochhead, GPMG volleys tapped away for about 10 minutes and then it was silent.

I walked up to the trig point on Clach Bheinn and watched the dear roam around as the light started to fade.

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I topped up my water bottle from one of the many streams feeding the lochan and headed back to my wee vantage point to make dinner, I was starving.

The gas was getting low and I did not have a spare as I waited for the water to boil for another brew.

It started to drizzle as I climbed into the Three wire to drink my coffee and read my book.

I was in my bag with just a pair of boxers on and was roasting despite having the zip of the PHD Minim 500 bag undone.

The zip on the Three wire was also open as far as possible without letting in the rain that started to fall.

I woke up about 7:30 and it was starting to get light through the very grey sky.

I boiled some water with the last of the gas and ate a couple of muesli bars for breakfast as I packed up my kit.

I figured it was about 6 km back to the car (it turned out to be just over 7km)

Based on the pace yesterday I reckoned an hour and a half max to get back.

The fine drizzle continued and occasionally got heavier as I ticked of the track junctions in my head as I passed them.

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I arrived back at the car at 10am happy and reluctant to head home.

I drove down the road passing numpties with fog lights on despite the fact you could see across the Loch to the other side.

When I took the Hardrock mids off I had a big red line on each foot where the foot-bed edge was, I also noticed that on the inside of each shoe the stitching was starting to give way !.

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I will have to try them with different foot-beds to see if it makes a difference.

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Weather Fustration

After last weekends carry on of indecisiveness and lethargy (ended up decorating)!

The decision has been made !

I will be  heading out Friday morning and back Saturday.

It will probably be low level thanks to the weather crapping out with typical timing for the weekend!

Its ok though as I will get some good miles in the old legs as I start to think about my revenge attack on the West Highland Way.

The bags packed and in the car and I aint changing my mind, sunsets and sunrises are oot the windae but hey it will be good to get oot.

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I am the passenger

The plan was set last minute to ensure a suprise location so as the weather could not ruin play !

Dalmally was the location, an early meet at PTC HQ (8am is early right ?) saw me being spoiled and getting into the passenger seat of the new PTC chariot.

Patches of blue skies appeared and dissapeared on the way up the road giving a taste of weather to come.

One other car was in the car park as we arrived for our backwards assault on the horse shoe of Stob Diamh.

PTC (as usual) was fretting over what gear, mainly footwear and ended up going for Keen Growlers (nice mid shoe I think any way ).

The wind was a cold one and I was keen to get on the move as I chucked the Haglofs Endurance on my back.

We trekked up the old mine road which provided a good warm up and then across the bridge and up a faint path heading up the side of  Sron an Isean.

The return ridge and the alleged gentle slope !

We stopped for a quick munch break and PTC delved into his stash of curried flavour jerky.

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Go an' have a bit !

On reaching the snow line the patches were hard and crisp, we had that when do you put crampons on debate, once right into the snow we relented and stuck them on despite me wearing Ice Bugs, but I did want to try the Kahtoolas out.

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We were in the cloud which made the light eerie and flat, the narrow ridge that joined us to Stob Diamh had corniced and we stopped to pick the best route.

The wind had picked up as we came up the ridge so I stuck my Montane Superfly on to break the chill.

Decided I started off and stepped on a crusty bit of wind slab which gave way with a crack !

My knees flexed and my heart almost escaped from my mouth (and something almost escaped going the other direction ).

My foot had gone through the slab but it was the noise that had un nerved me !

All was fine but you just don’t need that when you step onto a corniced ridge !

The going got steeper I used poles PTC used his axe as we passed a couple of others going the other way in the steep boulder field.

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At one point just before the summit we were standing having a breather, the cloud was thick but in a brief instant cleared exposing the valley floor as I pointed PTC (who was standing closer to the edge than me ) glanced as well, we were exposed enough that both of us took a step away from the edge.

We stood on the summit having a chat with a few other fellow walkers as the wind chilled all that was exposed.

Tempting as it was to wait and see if the top would clear (we always live in hope !) you wouldn’t last long in that.

We dropped down into the whiteness Kahtoolas biting into the consolidated snow.

As we got lower the cloud lifted from the summit, greeting the party we had just passed with summit views !

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We dropped down further testing the Kahtoolas on some pretty steep thigh burning slopes without failure or protruding front points to trip over or stab you in the other leg.

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Ptc even tested his ice axe out purely for research purposes of course.

We stopped for food and a drink, probably out of the sheer want to stay in the amazing location and not out of hunger !

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We removed crampons and set off down the frozen turf to the flat ground below and then onto the mine track, pausing to check out the old mines.

A steady jaunt back to the car a change of footwear and 13 miles to the Real food cafe later we were seated drinking pints of coffee and fine Scottish fare.

We waddled out belly’s full for the potholed drive back to the big smoke.

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