Today, I climbed one Munro, Beinn Bhuidhe at Loch Fyne. It's good to get the independent summits all cleared up in the Southern Highlands, and I slowly leave myself with a bunch of multi-topped groups now to go.
I've not been quite right the past few days: I seem to be eating well, but that bad sleep at the Meall nan Tarmachan car park must have knocked me. I woke up this morning with slightly delicate joints and an overall feeling of weariness. So although I've have preferred to tag on Beinn's Narnain and Ime today too, that would have trashed me and any gains would have been offset. Definitely under-recovering at the moment.
So I took an easier day and settled for Beinn Bhuidhe. Insanely, snow has arrived back in the Highlands, roads in the north-east have even been closed. It's the end of May! Beinn Bhuidhe seemed to be one of the few peaks that remained relatively untouched, and the weather in this corner of the west was even quite settled. A bike ride makes the first long glen section far easier than it would otherwise be, and I dropped the bike a km or two short of the abandoned house Inverchorachan.
It was a slow morning for me, I knew I really needed to get my stuff back in order. I've felt pretty lethargic for the last couple of days, so I was determined to make this an easy hill, and get down and get rested. All in all, it was a fairly uneventful hill. I'd done it before and knew what to expect. To see the Highland peaks covered in snow this late in the year was a novelty, but otherwise I was forcing myself up, similarly to Meall Ghaordaidh the day before.
I've read other continuous-Round completers who talked about how their first couple weeks were quite turbulent, before they gained their fitness and settled down. I have to admit that I'm not really sure whether I'm settled or not yet. I felt like I had my fitness from day 1, but I'm beginning to wonder if I have a different problem. The writings I've read from many others were typically a generation above me, who although they might not have their fitness as readily as myself, they might tend more towards having the mental side sorted?
This could be a generalisation so sweeping as to be borderline untrue, but I think there's something in it: I find I constantly have to stop myself being impatient. The curse of a young mind? It's something I've been thinking for a while. I think how far I have to go, and I become impatient to make progress. The other half of my brain then kicks in and I have to tell myself "Just put the head down and keep going. It will come in time". "Keep the faith", as Martin Moran put it in his book.
Today was a good day, but when I'm walking up another hill feeling lethargic and uninspired, the mind does start to wander. For the first time ever, I've found myself thinking "glad to get that one done", when I finish a mountain. I've never really felt that way before, and could never understand it when people did feel that way. But now the pressure is on. Here lies the true challenge. Walking the Munros is the easy part, controlling the wandering mind is difficult!
I suspect and hope the answer to all of this internal babble lies on the far side of Blair Atholl. As I've mentioned elsewhere, Blair Atholl is a kind of watershed, kind of like the end of one journey and the start of a next. On this side of that watershed, I'm doing single day's walks from cars, close to home. On the far side, the journey becomes wilder, more continuous, I'll be out with just a rucksack, my tent and food, staying in the tent or in bothies. If I don't settle down by then, then I might never! Reading Hamish Brown's book, he seemed to suggest that his doubt and tension didn't begin to dissipate until after Skye. He mentions on the Saddle day, that he finally felt beyond despair. It took him a few months to get there, I think I'll just have to bide my time and keep plugging on.
Anyway, I should point out that I haven't hit a wall - although I'm keeping a careful eye on my physical condition. I trust myself not to push too many barriers down and push myself over the edge physically. (I've done that enough times to know the warning signs!) But all of this has been crystallizing in my mind for a while, I thought it might be interesting to write it down.
The day ended well today, in sun, biking down the glen back to the car. I even checked out some boulders for climbing (for some time beyond the Round), and it was actually the high point of the day. For 15 minutes, I forgot the tensions of the continuous Round and simply walked around a forest of boulders being inspired by great-looking lines - which is what lies at the heart of all I do on mountains, and on rock. You can take the boy out of Dumbarton...!