The previous night I'd met James and Ailsa in Aviemore, and among the chat, they were talking about going up the Fiacaill Ridge on the Cairngorms.
I'd nearly finished the Cairngorms and was sad not to be going back (apart from the western ones I still have to to). So, with an easy day planned, I decided to join them! I could do with the extra time to sort stuff out, but why not?
We met at Cairn Gorm Ski Centre at 9am, and set off up towards the ridge. With all the heather/grass plodding I've been doing recently, it reminded me how much I miss putting hand to rock, dealing with height, making moves on rock. It was awesome! I was so glad to be there, up on the ridge, cloud swirling through the Northern Corries which are still holding loads of snow.
At the top, I bagged Cairn Lochain (which I haven't done before), said bye to James and Ailsa who were continuing to Ben Macdui, and set off down Fiacaill Ridge for the car park. A brilliant morning out which I probably shouldn't have done - but hey, it was great fun and lasted only a few hours.
Regretfully, I can't say such glowing things about Geal Charn. I guess I'm nearing the end of my tolerance for rounded eastern hills. Don't get me wrong, I love them as much as anything, but Geal Charn felt like one too many. It probably had a lot to do with having done the Fiacaill in the morning.
I went up by Markie Burn, and walked up by Lochan a' Choire. From last year, I remembered the hill being typical Monadhliath-pudding, but the summit views being amazing. It was the same today, and this was one of the highlights of the day. The way to the west is opening out bit by bit: I could see Meagaidh, Alder, Nevis, and then all the way up to the north-west spine of Scotland from Ardgour to Monar. I could see everything, my entire journey laid out, right there. Behind me, I'd climbed everything. In front, there was so much still to go. Wow wow wow.
I headed back down the way I came, and got back to the car early tea-time. I met James and Ailsa back in Aviemore at the Old Bridge Inn where I am now, finally with internet after a few days unable to get a connection.
Tomorrow I'll be on the Cairngorms doing my last 4 (Sgor, Monadh, Bhrotain, Mullach). After that I'm on my way to Fort William. So much hard work to do, so much good stuff still to come...