I've had quite a run recently. The sunny weather saw me make easy (that's relative...) work of the Grampians and the Cairngorms. I've hardly had to navigate with map and compass, and I picked off summits and covered tremendous daily distances. The best part is that I feel great at the same time.
I've been feeling so good that I crammed two of my Central Cairngorm days into one, and today I've had a rest. Unlike previous rest days, I haven't actually felt tired (or the need to recover), which is great news and bolsters confidence for future exertions.
I've been having a read of Dave Macleod's blog tonight (when I should be finishing my own blog!), and I found a brief quote which I thought apt. "With every grade higher you get, it becomes clearer that you are only limited by your desire to see if you can go further."
And it is so true... After spending the first two/three weeks of my Munro trip permanently tired, I seemed to break through a mental and physical barrier. Funnily enough, it seemed to be the day after Beinn Bhuidhe (Day 22), when I wrote a lot about the mental trials. I suddenly found myself with a fitness I didn't realise I could have so readily. Of course it comes at a cost, but the cost is climbing mountains day in, day out and that is of course one of the greatest pleasures in my life. When I was planning the trip, I'd hoped to gain this kind of fitness. The hills are starting to slide by with ease, though the complete lack of rain might have a lot to do with that, too!
Talking to Monty over the Macdui and Braeriach lot only made this clearer: I don't think I've yet completely realised what I'm physicially capable of. The body has adjusted, but it might take the mind a while to follow. But it's true that any time you raise the bar, you get a glimpse into just how far you could go if you want to. (The problem is often probably working out how to shift the bar!) The only thing that seems a shame to me is there will probably be little way to maintain this fitness once I'm finished the Munro Round. How could you substitute endless days full of non-stop exercise? I might have to nip around the Mullardoch one-day round in August, then...
I've had to make the trip home again because I'm picking up my mums car and going properly car-centric. This always raises the short-term enjoyment to effort ratio. It also feels a shame to go back to seeing the hills in a sort of artificial manner. Three days and nights through the Cairngorms has given me something I could never gain out of a car, an experience of depth and intensity that can only be allowed to mature through days on the hills. But I can't complain: the choice to use a car has been long thought out, and the advantages are mostly obvious and numerous! I have no linked up journey to tie me down anymore. I can chop and change and be more tactical in my approach. And anyway, there will be loads of forthcoming opportunities to disappear into the wilds and use the bothies. There is just so much incredible stuff still to come...
For now, I'm at 116 Munros and half-way isn't far off now (#141, somewhere around Ben Alder). Tomorrow, I'll be starting on the Drumochter hills. The weathers looking good for one day only, and I'll see how many I can cram in. I'm on my way to Fort William, slowly, and then I'll cross the Great Glen. Not long after is Skye... before I know it I'll be blasting up the north-west on the way to the finish-line. So cool!