Recently, I really feel like I've been cooking. Not in the food sense, but in that everything is working so well. My fear is that it doesn't last, which on the whole isn't a such a bad thing.
The good weather must have a lot to do with it. The last two days have been the first of the trip where it's been properly warm and humid, but I can't really complain about that either, when all I seemed to see in May was rain and snow.
Last night, I camped in Glen Cluanie. There's a minor road running parallel to the main road on the other side of the river and I was surprised to see the riverbanks being abused as a campsite. So I made sure this morning I'd cleaned out everyone else's mess before I'd left. I tend to go to bed quite early at the moment, and one of the amazing pleasures is to wake up in the wee hours, look at the watch, think "only 5am, back to sleep"! I love the drifting in and out of sleep with the birds and river to listen to. I'm thankful that at the moment there are no midges - but who knows how long that'll last.
Today saw me over six Munros, which consolidated an already good morale. They are also easy hills and don't feel difficult for their high total of six. At Glen Shee Ski Centre I bought second breakfast, and set off for Creag Leacach.
Today was a music day, I was just in the mood for Rush in myy ears - which made me walk faster too, because I'd had quite a spectacular lie-in and had to meet Jac Johnson later for dinner!
I make a point of shooting a 360 panorama on top of every Munro that I get a view from. In doing so, I'm slowly building up an archive of summit panos. I've come to realise just how many summit panoramas I didn't have before, and this group of six was yet another area I hadn't shot. By the end of the Munro Round, I might not be far off having all the Munros panorama'ed!
Creag Leacach and Glas Maol went by easily, but on Cairn of Claise, I noticed huge rain showers gathering over Braemar. Quite surprising, when the forecast was for endless sun and light winds. I'm happy to say I just missed the rain, but only by a couple of kilometres: by the time I'd walked out to the isolated Munros Tom Buidhe and Tolmount, the rain was falling where I'd just been, and showed no signs of following me! It then went off south somewhere and disappeared completely.
The last time and only time I did these hills, it was a misty day. Finally, it was nice to see something and I feel like I'm really getting to know these eastern hills. There really is a difference between bagging them, and knowing them. Multiple visits do repay, and spending time in one area as I'm doing really does repay in familiarity. A long journey like my three-month indulgence is easier to process when everywhere feels a little like home.
I also look to the distant Southern Highlands on the horizon, and they seem different from before. I might have recognised all the peaks before, but now there's a deeper understanding. Hard to explain, but definitely there.
My day today ended well. I did my last Munro under sunny skies, and the light quality on Carn an Tuirc was stunning. Lochnagar just looked incredible. In that direction the plateau swells up, one hump upon another until it culminates in the high pap of Cac Carn Beag. A short descent from Carn an Tuirc brought me back to the road and I walked back up to the car.
So in quite a short period, I've worked through a sizeable chunk of the Grampian (some call it Southern Cairngorm) region. For the next couple of days I'll work through Mayar, Dreish and Mount Keen, and soon after I'm into the Cairngorms!
Hopefully the weather holds. I feel like the Gorms could be a stumbling block, and I think it's got a lot to do with the fact that I did them all in five days, last year with Struan. I remember how draining they were! But logically, with my current fitness I don't think they'll be an issue. I might split them up if it's tactically advantageous. Every day, I can see the high plateaux and gaping, snow-choked coires, and part of me wants to just get on them so they aren't hanging over me. But I must just bide my time - I'm sure when I get there I'll be absolutely fine.
But for the moment, I'm staying in Kirriemuir at Jac Johnsons' flat - and for that many thanks! I also feel really good, like I'm settled into the routine. As I said at the top, I would only be worried about losing it. But for now, the numbers are ticking up and all is well.