After my far-too introspective rest day the day before, I was back out on the hills. Hamish Brown talked about days beginning in despair and ending in joy. This was one of them.
It feels like the stress has suddenly piled on out of nowhere. I think completing everything up to Affric made me feel as if the back of the trip was broken, and subsequently everything beyond would be a come-down. So, so wrong...
To add to that, I realised yesterday I wasn't feeling 100%. That carried across to today, and if I haven't been walking I'm quite literally conked out somewhere, either in a car, on a sofa, or usually in bed.
Once we'd done some morning filming in the glen, dad left me at Liathach. Although I made it up to the summit ridge in good time, I just felt I'd had the arse kicked out of me (excuse the francais). How the hell would I do Alligin today too? I eyed up the sky cautiously: the forecast of lightning scares the bejeesus out of me... luckily the Northwest has been the one part of Britain that has escaped it, so far. I hope it stays that way.
I slogged up to Spidean a' Choire Leith, Munro #1 on Liathach, and then Am Fasarinen appeared ahead: the pinnacles of Liathach. I headed along the ridge, scrambling little corners and climbing over the pinnacles, looking down plunging cliffs, turning to drops of thousands of feet, completely unaware of the exposure. This is a great example of how mountains seem to work magic sometimes. I just had a lot of fun, filmed some good footage, and ended up at the far end of the pinnacles, my mind buzzing.
My legs remained heavy, but I felt great. I was electric. My crossing of the pinnacles was really easy - a fact I was glad to see. Without a doubt, Liathach is easier than the Aonach Eagach. It would be fun in winter...
On top of Mullach an Rathain (#2), I phoned the folks below. They were on their way to Shieldaig, so they pulled into a car park and got photos of me on the long lens, standing on the summit. Well, maybe Beinn Alligin would go today, too.
For now I was definitely dehydrated, and since I wasn't feeling too great I decided that I was going to descend back to the glen and do Alligin later via the normal route.
I was down Liathach in 45-ish minutes and soon after, dad picked me up. We all went for lunch and I stocked up on food. The sole advantage of not feeling well is that the body is completely unaccepting of a deficit of food. So I ate well, and made sure I was on form before I headed back out.
The sun had been out all afternoon, but as I started up Alligin, the skies began to pour. Luckily, I just missed the worst of it, but it made me very thunder-anxious. I also missed the Tom na Gruagaich path, instead heading up the other side of Alligin, to the Horns.
Admittedly, I chose to miss out the Horns, bypassing them on the wee path that winds around the side. It's about the Munros right now and nice extras are just bonuses. Heavy rain clouds hung worryingly close to Alligin, so I scooted to the top of Sgurr Mhor and phoned dad again. He was on the other side of Upper Loch Torridon, thus I got a photo of me on top.
The skies cleared up as I headed around to Tom na Gruagaich, and the views to the west were just immense - a sunset over the Outer Hebrides. On descent, the peaks of Coulin Forest turned incredible shades of orange and gold, and the sunset put my mind at ease. For all my worrying about the days to come, a feeling came over me that all would be okay.