My day began in Lochinver, and I took my time about getting up and getting ready. I felt the pressure was off: it wasn't an intense day, I'd simply head up the hill when it suited me. So I had an easy breakfast, drank cups of tea, set about some necessary business at the harbour, got stuff from the shop, etc. My body took a long time to really wake up, and it really was sore now. I'd given it a good beating in Monar!
Ben Klibreck is one of a few Munros in the real far north of Scotland. It's all the way up beside Ben Hope, and it was the second-last Munro I hadn't yet done. On the road north of Lairg, the weirdest thing happened... I passed a cyclist and as I drove past, it completely unexpectedly turned out to be Dougie. He'd managed a few days of work! Mental. We threw the bike in the back of the car and headed off to meet Liam and Neil just north of the Crask Inn. The four of us set off for this, my penultimate Munro.
Klibreck's actually a better hill than I remember. When I last did it, nearly four years ago to the day, we went up the huge heathery slope to the west of the summit. This time we followed the actual path, which gives a really nice ascent and aspect on the whole mountain. Being here was like having walked straight into a Lewis-landscape, with mile upon mile of bog and subtle hills rising from moorland like the swell.
The day was still and calm, and we climbed the mountain at a gentle pace, which was really what I needed after the hard days of the previous week. Ben Hope was clear, and right in view. 280 Munros lay behind me. I thought about that a hell of a lot, but it's actually hard to comprehend.
The other nice thing was to see the Orkney Isles appearing out of the haze. It's a place I haven't seen in a while, I should get back one day. We all stood around on top getting cold and getting footage, then headed back the way we came. I took a moment on the top to think about the significance of where I was. Not a lot came. I might take a while to grasp it!
Before the whole mental adventure started back in April, I'd get random butterflies in my stomach at what I was about to do. Now I seem to get giggly at random points when it hits me in wee bursts what I've just done. It's hard not to get excited. The greatest happiness has been to channel so much effort into something that I've always loved so much.
A wee part of me is sad that it'll be over. I had one moment a couple of days ago where I felt I'd be losing so much. In reality, I have a lot of good stuff to go home to. I've gained so, so much from my summer out on the mountains. I've enjoyed it immensely, even when it had moments of stress and difficulty that were hard to swallow.
When I began, I set out with a plan to do them all completely continuously. That plan evolved over weeks, then months, into a nearly-continuous crazy car-based Munro round. It's surprising that a few folk get their pants in a twist about this point, but I'm actually quite easy concerning it. (Ah, but was it 'continuous'?) The trip evolved as I discovered my own core motivations were different to what I'd expected, regarding the continuous travel.
I've stayed in so many bothies, camped out above 3000 feet, crashed in houses, hostels, in the car (always a bad move). I went to a gig during it and even found myself at a couple of parties. With a car, I probably removed some of the stress and a lot of the isolation, which was probably in no small thanks to Facebook.
My mobility during the round allowed me to play a good tactical game: I could swap days out, move things around and give myself the best shot at any range I went to. I always maintained that I wanted to keep the spirit of the journey by moving around Scotland in the same order as I would have in the original schedule. I maintained this to the end, and I've always enjoyed that sense of journey. It was always a very important element. Maybe some day in years to come I'll go back and do that self-propelled thing... I've enjoyed this one enough! But I'm saying nothing right now. ;-)
The mountains have been (nearly!) always inspiring and I see them so differently now. They're all unified into one great mass in a way I could never see through weekend trips. I've given them all their own due time, seen each and every one. I can't say there's a bad one among them. This is what I wanted to get out of the whole thing. I just love climbing the mountains, whatever way: I don't think I could walk (approx!) 2000km on the flat - it's got to be the mountains. I think I've wanted to do this kind of thing for many, many years, and tomorrow Ben Hope awaits to finish it off. There may be no surprise to discover that tomorrow feels like much more than the conclusion to 100 days; more like six years. It's a fitting end. Ben Hope gazes out over the north coast, the mountain at the end of the mountains. It's the last gasp to end the endless waves of peaks that came before it. I've tread every single last one... above 3000 feet.
I'm in Altnaharra at the moment, up a bit too late for my own good. It's been amazing to see all the folk who have come up this evening to share this with me. It's very heart-warming; I couldn't have picked a further-away Munro! I'm looking forward to a good day tomorrow up and down Ben Hope. Then it'll all be behind me. A bit freaky to think from 12 hours from now I'll be done, time to party.
(note for future: finished Klibreck 8:05pm)