Making an Evening of it……
Addictions need fed and my need to get high was growing. A busy few months at work and home was squeezing time and as the new week beckoned another long day travelling on the road for work was on the cards.
The day before I had thrown some light outdoors gear in the car, a boot that usually contains a pair of boots , trousers and a jacket gives the addict the chance to feed his habit should the chance arise…… The weather was fine, a late spell of settled weather as the summer ebbed away. Leaving Elgin at 16.15 and my thoughts were of a quick blast up Geal Charn again. A road side hill that can be summited easily in in under an hour, easy parking and stupendous views from the top make this a favourite quickie of mine, providing exercise, aesthetics and mind clearing properties.
But today was different, the meditating action of one foot in front of another along soft spongy terrain was usually fine for me but today I need more. Having not climbed for a while I had an urge to utilise my upper limbs in an attempt to ascend and the two scooped bowls of the Northern Corries were too irresistible to drive past this evening…..
A left turn at Aviemore and I was soon heading against a steady stream of cars, day trippers who had smiles on their faces after another fine day spent high in the Cairngorms, either via foot or by funicular access.
Parking in the ski car park I was soon happily hiking in along the well-constructed path toward Fiacaill Coire an t-Sneachda. A few years previously on a rather windy summer’s eve I had done the same, albeit harbouring ambitions slightly more ambitious than this evening’s adventure. On that occasion I climbed the Ridge with my full camping gear and enjoyed a night high on the plateaux before a 5am ascent of Scotland’s second Highest peak.
No camping gear tonight though, this was clearly a smash and grab affair, an attempt at getting maximum mountain infusion.
Striking off the main path that circumvents the corries, and the rocky granite blocks provide boulder hopping fun as I make my way for the crest. I see people ahead of me; perhaps people of a similar mind set – headed for a quick evening hike. However the strange looks I get as I say my hellos and that I am on my way up confirm that I won’t have company on Fiacaill tonight. This weary band are returning from an adventure that took place in the interior of the range and are loitering on the ridge , soaking up the warm rays before they return to civilisation. It’s a fine night to loiter, but I don’t have the time to….. Onwards and upwards, the familiar Ridge shows itself as the last of the boulder field is left behind. My excitement grows; the drops off to the left are starting to get a little more vertical and soon the ridge starts to rear upwards as it reveals its final stretches to reach the high Cairngorm Plateaux.
Hands are now removed from pockets and concentration is required. The Fiacaill RIdge at this time of year is a short lived scramble but enjoyable enough. A few steepening sections and keeping to the left of the ridge provide the best entertainment and views down in to The Coire. There is nobody down there now, strange to think in few months that this will be filled with winter enthusiasts heading up and down classic winter routes, this evenings benign weather make it look tame in comparison to the scenes coming up when winter takes a grip…
A few more rocky steps and suddenly the views are expanded. The plateau reveals itself quickly and the sky grows larger. Lochnagar and the smooth horizon of the Glenshee Hills form the sky line beyond The Cairngorms. I see two matchstick figures rimming the Corrie, matching the footsteps I will be taking in a little while. Soon I am at a Cairn, a quick look at the map and I see am elevated at 1176m, I feel great, the outdoors drug is elevating me, I may be the highest homo sapien in the UK presently.
Shadows are lengthening and I sense the long arms of dusk approach. However I am only on the edge of the wilderness. Not wanting to waste Petzl batteries, I don’t linger and soon I am amongst the metal work of Coire Cas. There are only a few cars left now. I sit and have tea (egg sandwich and the remaining wine gums).
The A9 beckons but the miles are eaten up and now the smile is on my face…
Some thoughts and reports from my outdoors activties...