Yesterday was interesting in that I've rarely felt so effin' fit on mountains. Summer has arrived it seems, but I don't recall there being a spring...
You might remember in the first days of the walk, I abandoned the self-propelled idea. As it turns out, this decision keeps on giving in ways I hadn't expected. After nearly two weeks in the Etive/Coe region, I left six Munros as I felt I was wasting my time there until the snow melted. I went elsewhere - mainly Crianlarich and Lawers - and now my remaining Southern Highland hills are scattered all over the place. I'd need a crazy support network to get me around to finish them all, and the May days are running out, too. If others could drive me, does that mean I can drive myself? As strange an idea as that is, I guess it does.
When I set off for Mull on the 1st May, I honestly didn't expect to be leaving home again three weeks later, this time taking a car as I did yesterday. In one way I feel guilty, there's probably a sense of wanting to live up to the original challenge I set myself. Then I remember the weather I've so far had and tell myself not to be so stupid. It's only practical! I think I've discovered a truth or two about the way I like to tackle mountains, as well: I enjoy the car-to-car trip (stark contrast to some who shun it!). Strangely, multi-day camping trips leave me feeling inflexible and trapped. I'm sure that'll subside in time, when I get further from civilization. Home comforts are too tempting!
Back to yesterday. I didn't get up too early and only started up Vorlich around lunchtime, with wide blue skies and a hot sun pounding down. I was within touching distance of the summit of Ben Vorlich when I checked my watch and noticed I was only gone an hour. I made the summit in 1 hour 15 minutes - probably my quickest 3000 feet ever. Moreover, it was done with a sustainable level of exertion: no burning muscles or breathlessness. It's a source of continual amazement at how the body rises to meet demand.
I took a bit more time over Stuc a' Chroin. From it's summit I stood and enjoyed the sight of the lowlands. I had a strong sense of 'home', an odd contrast to the daunting northern panorama of mountains that lay ahead. Must have been my mood.
After the Vorlich pair were done, I drove round to Comrie to climb Ben Chonzie. After a quick chippy, I headed up Glen Lednock and set off up the hill. Originally, this would have been done on a separate day, but by combining them I'm making up the day lost to snow and storm in Crianlarich a week ago.
A steady plod took me to the top. I was a little tired, but the legs just moved. The moors were golden in the warm light and lambs ran back to their mothers. I've lost count of the amount of lambs I've seen and I don't ever recall seeing so many in the spring. It's one of the pleasures of spending all my time out on the hills: I really get to experience the landscape very deeply, although I also feel this is something felt retrospectively as much as it is felt at the time.
Ben Chonzie is pure Perthshire moorland, albeit high-altitude by normal standards. As on Vorlich, the visibility was incredible. The Fife Lomonds looked surreal: where there should have been a washed out horizon, there were stark, high-contrast colours, with the deep blue double-prongs cutting into an orange horizon. I was sure I could see the North Sea, too. It was a place of wide open sunny silence, crying birds and dormant mountains.
Back in Comrie, I bought some groceries and the shop closed it's doors behind me (9pm). I headed up to Killin, stopping by the Falls of Dochart Inn to try out their wifi. Eventually, I went to sleep in the Meall nan Tarmachan car park.
The following day: Meall nan Tarmachan and Meall Ghaordaidh.