Monthly Archives: February 2010

Its Back ! The snow that is.

As I walked into work this morning there was flurries of snow floating about on the wind.

It never came to much but I did notice the cloud was getting heavier as the day progressed.

I was out on the White Cart Walk Way having a look at the river as we are supposed to be doing a trip down it with the Countryside Rangers in June.

PTC rang me asking where I was as he was close to Tiso, but I could not make it.

He was heading out on the Kilpatricks tonight if he got finished on time.

It must have got me thinking as the past few weeks the “want” to get some training done has been there but the motivation was not.

I bit the bullet and got home and changed.

It was rainy outside when I left the house, but as I neared Eaglesham it was turning to sleet.

By the time I got up on the hill it was coming in heavy.

I walked and ran the usual track enjoying the dying light and started of thinking about a wee comparison of the Haglofs Endurance and the Haglofs Ace M, but that’s for another time !

I stopped at the point where normally there is a gate, it is not there now but the handy posts make a good platform for the camera and is used often.

The snow was falling heavier making it harder under foot as all the rocks were just visible, I had the head torch on but the light was reflecting off the snow.

I tried switching it off but my night vision was gone and did not feel like standing about for 20 minutes whilst it came back.

I turned back at the end of the woods, I was getting tired but still felt good enough to trot along at a reasonable pace squinting through the snow and the glare from the headtorch.

I had the Ipod on and was lost in my own we world of  “hyperdrive ” as I came round the last bend and down the hill.

I had enough energy to vault the gate although it did take a wee bit of concentration.

Good job I was back at the car as I was starting to fade away into the dark side !

So first training session over, that means it should be easier to get out for the second ! Right ?

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Midnight Meagaidh Madness

PTC had an impending deadline yet again for Trail.

As ever the perfectionist in him was waiting for the perfect weather so he could get the pictures.

I thought he might have gone whilst I was in Iceland but when I phoned him and asked I got a plain “NO”.

With work dictating available days we hatched a plan to avoid an early start.

I got in from work and packed my stuff which happened to coincide with everybody and their brother phoning me as I was doing it.

Just before 6pm I left the house and headed for PTC HQ.

On Arrival PTC was packing the last of his stuff and getting changed.

We headed out on the A82 with food plans that were only soon to be scuppered as the Real Food Cafe was shut !

Onwards to Fort Bill which was equally as shut at 9pm !

Petrol station snacks it was and as we neared Creag Meagaidh in the dark the cloud was starting to come in and there was no sign of the moon.

We parked up and ate the sandwiches in the darkness of the car, quizzing ourselves as to why we were about to leave the car at 11pm at night in the middle of winter.

Packs and headtorches on we headed up the new track that was not their when we both climbed these hills.

The path had a bit of fresh snow on it that masked the hard uneven pack underneath it formed by many pairs of boots.

This made the going a bit harder as we pushed on up the path past the farm.

Not long after that the moon poked itself over the ridge and out the cloud.

It was strong enough that the headtorches could be turned off and night vision could be restored.

As we stumbled up the path all was silent apart from the crunching of our feet on the compact snow.

For some reason I don’t seem to be carrying any more gear than normal but my pack feels as if it weighs considerably more !

I pondered if it was the fact that the Ascent 48 is just under 2kg?

As we trudged further my head was down and my thoughts were inward, I laughed at myself and compared myself to some Dof E exped candidate only I did not have a 70ltr pack and half my wardrobe in my pack.

I dont know if it was the late hour or the weekend before catching up with me but I was tired.

I think PTC sensed this and suggested at just before midnight that the patch of snow off the path might be a nice wee spot.

After a bit of scouting we found a flatish spot and as PTC started pitching I scraped a ledge for my tent.

The snow was compact and it took a bit working with the Snowclaw.

As I attached the poles to the footprint of the tent the pivot point for the poles came apart again.

This happened a while back and I thought I had fixed it, obviously not.

I reached for the multitool only to find the phillips screw driver on it was too wide to fit in the hole.

Luckily on the other side there was a thin flat head that fitted and 5 minutes later the poles were up.

At this point PTC was unpacking and blowing up his neo-air.

It felt like it took an age to get the tent up again was it tiredness or just that PTC had chucked his up in very little time as I faffed about?

Tent up and kit in the tent it was time for Hot Chocolate.

The moon was still up and as I lay in my bag and drank my hotchocolate I was now a happy bunny.

There was no Waltons “good night John Boy ” as we both zipped the tents up and disappeared to the land of nod.

I woke up to what appeared to be  very light outside, on checking the watch it was 07:50 OOPPSS !

Any advantage from the walk in was ebbing away before our very eyes.

I chucked my kit on and stepped outside to clear blue skies but the sun was not over the tops of the hills to the East.

As I was about to go for a pee I noticed the numbers of climbers coming up the path and sought another more private spot.

We messed around taking picture whilst drinking Lyons Coffee and eating breakfast bars whilst wrapped in down to keep the morning chill out.

The thought of getting packed up and on the trail was lost, especially after we filmed this clip.

We had another brew and started packing up and at the same time melting snow to top up the flask.

It still really had not got above freezing despite the sun being up over the hills.

This made the task of taking off the down trowsers an unpleasant one and stripping down to layers for moving off  in.

We continued up the track towards Lochan a Choire watching the sun glow on the cliffs in front of us.

Climbers could be made out hanging on the near perfect blue ice on the impressive routes.

We stopped at the bottom of the slope to fit crampons.

I chose to keep the poles out and PTC opted for the ice axe.

The slope was a mixture of hard crust and soft deep drifts of snow, making the going harder.

Finally getting to the top we passed few climbers who said it was the same conditions on the tops.

We skirted round the tops of Coire Ardair commenting on how featureless the tops were, it would certainly be a challenge to navigate up here in a whiteout.

The visibility was reasonably good but the flat light made it hard to pick features out as we moved.

We looked for some shelter so we could eat, it was almost 3pm and apart from some Jelly beans I had nothing since breakfast.

There was nothing so we walked further on along the tops of the cliffs, any thought of getting to the summit of Meagaidh was gone and the order of the day was food and then off the hill.

We found a slight rise on the ground and took shelter behind it as best we could.

I used the water from my flask for my Chilli and a cup a soup whilst PTC got the stove going to melt snow for his lasagna.

It was getting cold, the front that MWIS had promised was moving ever closer swallowing up the views to the West.

The wind had also picked up and was biting at every bit of exposed flesh.

Buffs were utilised as nose and mouth protection as we moved on with re new ed energy after some hot food.

Along the ridge to Sron a Ghoire you have some great views on where you have come from and of some of the cornices that have been formed.

Heading down the slopes back towards the car park some of the snow bank’s were steep enough for you to think that having an axe in your hands would be reassuring.

The Kahtoolas as always were great and gripped the varying surfaces well.

We could see the track in the distance but the tussocks of grass and hidden heather snow drifts tested our strength and interrupted our happiness.

Finally on the track we crunched down to the car park as the last light faded and the snow came on for real.

A quick change of footwear later we departed  the car park and headed for the A82 again.

The thought of food and coffee stabbed at us as we were stuck behind the snow plough doing 20mph all the way to Bridge of Orchy.

Finally we could see the lights of Tyndrum, as we pulled in it was a ghost town and again the Real Food Cafe was shut.

Our hearts sank as we continued through the snowy desert !

Our vision was blurred by hunger and tears.

There was light at the end of the tunnel and not just the cars coming the other way !

The BP station at Dumbarton was a life saver again,  I purchased coffee and a sandwich to sustain me on the trip home !

I was tired due to being a passenger.

I chucked my kit into the truck at PTC HQ and set off over the bridge and on the motorway.

All the way I drove in the outside lane which was slightly snowy, I am sure the cars on the inside lane looked on with comments such as ” silly young man does he not know its snowing ” and ” bloody 4X4 drivers think they are invincible”.

I didn’t care, I know the limit of my truck so was happy and on my way home.

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Its not just mums that go to Iceland !

As a wee birthday treat we decided to go away for the weekend to distract me from the fact that I am an even older grumpier git and half a decade away  from 40.

So with the Friday off work we jumped on the plane from Glasgow and two hours later touched down in Iceland.

We checked into the hotel and dumped the bags in the room and then headed down to the excursions desk to book some trips.

As part of the package we had a free Northern Lights trip and the women at the desk suggested we go tonight as this was the best night according to the forecast.

We parted with cash for some other trips and headed out for quick bite to eat before getting on the bus and driving into the middle of Icelandic know-where.

The moon was full and bright which was not ideal, we stopped at a parking spot and we were told what to look for as we headed out into the cold.

After about an hour of playing with the camera and seeing nothing we jumped back into the bus.

Just as we were about to leave there was a faint show off to our right so we all jumped off the bus again jostling for the best tri-pod spot.

on a 60 second shutter you can see a lot more than you could see with the naked eye.

Happy we all jumped on the bus and headed back to the warm hotel and to bed as it was passed midnight.

The alarm went off at 7:30 am and we woke and got dressed in many layers of Merino and soft shell.

The bus picked us up at 8:30 and we changed busses at the central bus station for our excursion.

We headed North East towards Pingvellir national Park, it was still dark and the colours in the clear sky were mesmerizing to the point it managed to prevent me from doing my usual drifting off to sleep.

We stopped at the Lake at Ping Vallavatan to see the fault line where the plates ar colliding.

It was good timing as the sun was about to break the horizon line.

It’s only when you stand on a point like this that you actually appreciate what your Geography teacher was trying to teach you all those years back !

The rock is lava rock like we use on our gas Bar b Q’s and the fault line is getting bigger and bigger and as it does the water fills the gap.

There is  also smaller faults that open up to display further layers of rock.

Photos taken and the cold starting to sink in we headed back to the bus.

As we passed the visitors centre I paused to look at the reflection in the window.

I could not resist, the arty farty side of me coming out in me !

Back on the bus we thawed out and continued through some amazing countryside.

We had another stop at the Gulfoss Waterfall, this time we had a bit more time to stretch our legs and walk to the view-point.

Despite the sun getting higher in the sky it was still cold, we paused for a quick photo before legging it back up the steps towards the café for a cuppa.

After a nice hot coffee we headed back to the bus, I had just enough time to admire some of the transport in the car park.

And of course if thats not green enough for you and you are thinking about getting the bus !

Back on the bus we continued inland towards the mountains.

The road was getting narrow and more covered in snow and ice to the point where the bus stopped and we had to get on one of the big off-road busses.

We headed up the glacier taking the NFA route !

The glacier is the Langjokull which is the second largest glacier in Iceland.

We had a quick stop off to pick up helmets and snow suits as it was -10 degrees Celsius on the top and with wind chill it would be worse.

On the flat we got off the bus and headed for our next mode of transport.

We thought about dog sledging but the lure of power and something different steered towards this.

After a quick briefing our convoy of snow mobiles took off across the glacier.

The wind chill soon sucks the heat from you and I found that my right hand was cold despite wearing the Helix Gloves.

After a quick stop and a stretch of my hand the heat  was restored to my fingers.

The throttle of the snowmobile is big and my chubby little thumb could not cope !

Off we set again after the guide, it’s actually hard work controlling the bike in the ruts of snow and you have to lean the bike over.

God knows how these guys race them.

The cold air was biting at any exposed skin so buffs were handy as always.

Just as we were starting to enjoy ourselves we headed back to the starting point and back on the bus to head back down the glacier.

The sun was getting low in the sky despite it only being about 3pm.

Back on the wee bus we headed for Geysirs, only too aware of the fading light

We all yearned a hot cuppa but it was going to have to wait if we wer to get photos.

The whole area is a maze of boiling hot pools and bubbling mud.

We spent about 15 -20 minutes standing t the wee geysir, the guide was telling us how they worked and how to tell when it was going to go off.

After the first up and down of the water surface you get the mushroom of water as the steam blasts through.

Then you get the steam !

I could have stayed there for hours trying different settings on the camera to get the “perfect shot ” but it was cold and people wanted cuppas and then we had a deadline to get back on the bus.

The journey back was a dozey dream as I drifted in and out of sleep.

Time enough to catch a great skyline !

The evening consisted of a Seasonal Icelandic menu of 8 or so courses of all sorts of strange but tasty stuff.

Despite the small portions I was glad to hear that I had made it to the last course.

Bed called in a big way !

Next morning it was a leisurely breakfast and back on the bus via the bus station to go south east this time.

We were going to the Blue Lagoon.

Outside temperature was 0 degrees celsius in the water it was 35-40 degrees celsius.

We done all the tourist things like chuck white mud all over our faces to make us look younger and swam under the fake waterfall of hot water.

Julie and Tracey ran the extra metres in the cold for the steam room while I stayed in the hot water.

Thinking of it I should of brought the wee Olympus waterproof camera to get shots !

On the way out I walked round the lake outside.

It’s hard to explain how barren and rugged the land scape is here.

Evry time you change direction you have contrasts of colour between water, land and sky.

We did decide that any more visits to the bus station would make you cross-eyed !

We got back mid afternoon and after ditching the bags we walked into the city/town centre.

Being Sunday lots of things were closed so there was much window shopping (not enough gear shops if you ask me !).

We stopped for food and a beer before walking back to the hotel for a few more beers.

An early start (05:00) seen us getting on the bus for the airport.

Soon we were on the plane and heading for Manchester.

It should of been simple, we get to Manchester people get off the plane, people get on the plane then we fly to Glasgow !


We had to get off the plane walk half way round Manchester Airport then go through a security check again where people were removed of their duty free !!!!

Well done yet another massive waste of money and time.

Back on the plane and 45 minutes later we were in Glasgow.

As we circled over the Campsies there was no snow and a hint of disappointment grew in me.

Is that winter over ?

I don’t think so.

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Pile up !

There has been too much time exploring and adventuring and not enough time updating the blog !

There is now a back log so I better get the finger oot and get typing.

Stay tuned kids !

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