Munro-bagging! (2005-07-25 - 5:04 p.m.)
I bagged a Munro!!!
As Brad says, tick that one off the list. Although I would hate to think that I'm a list-ticker. I would prefer to think that I am aiming to get a variety of experiences by deciding what I want to do in advance. Yes, that's it.
Anyway, to start from the beginning - I took Thursday and Friday off work due to feeling rubbish and having a stupid rotten eye infection. Rather than feeling like a long weekend, it just dragged. Friday and most of Saturday were boring and depressing - Brandon had gone to Manchester and I didn't have the energy to actually contact anyone, so I had no one to talk to. Couldn't really go outside because the light hurt my eye, and all I wanted to do was sleep anyway. Waste of a weekend! It got worse when I got into Brandon's Stephen King novels and completely freaked myself out. Should definitely know better.
Saturday was also spent alone, but it was better as I went and did some stuff. I went to the Farmers Market at Castle Terrace, which was small but nice, and then attended the Homeless World Cup. This was pretty awesome. It was teams of homeless guys from all over the world, playing four on four football (soccer) in a little tiny arena. There were bleachers set up and the games were so fast-paced (14 minutes long) that I watched four of them in a row. Very entertaining because they were all really, really into it and so was the crowd. I miss soccer and I even sort of miss watching it a little bit, so I really enjoyed this. I wanted to buy a t-shirt but I absolutely cannot so close to the end of the month. (I wish I still got paid weekly!)
I also hit the sales and actually managed to find a pair of jeans that more or less fit. That was lucky, because I got them at Next and they had the changerooms closed and weren't letting anyone try anything on. I totally guessed on the size and turned out to be right, thank heavens. And they were cheap! (And sorely needed.)
It was early to bed that night (not that that was much of a change from the last few days) because it was a VERY early morning on Sunday. We met at the train station at 7:45 to catch an 8:00 train to Glasgow, and from there on to Arrochar, near Loch Lomond. It was a gorgeous train ride, though I admit I slept through part of it and had to be poked awake by Brad to see the gorgeous lochs and glens. (And I missed a couple of Heiland Coos. Oh well).
It was a couple of miles walk to Arrochar. The train station, interestingly, is shared between Arrochar and neighboring Tarbet, right in the middle between the two. Arrochar was basically a few houses, which were almost entirely B&Bs, strung out along the edges of Loch Long. There was a restaurant, a store and an Esso. It reminded me a lot of Lochranza on Arran, actually. Very similar tiny little village slung along the edge of the water, although Lochranza did consist of something other than B&Bs!
We had big plans to climb a Munro called Bein Nairnan. A Munro is a mountain (or hill) which is higher than 3000 feet or 900 meters. There are lots of them in Scotland and a lot of people have Munro-bagging as a hobby, which is to say climbing as many Munros as possible. They usually have some sort of marker on the top so you can tell when you've reached the summit. Anyway, of course I've read about the Munros and I've done some hiking, but I'd never actually got to the top of one, so I was quite excited. Brad had the Ordnance Survey map and although it looked steep, it didn't look like too bad a hike. Or so I thought... cue ominous music.
The three of us, Brad, Bella and I, started up the trail. We were only a couple of minutes into the climb when Bella started wheezing and gasping for breath. It was quite scary. Apparently she has asthma but has only had three attacks in her life, so she hadn't brought an inhaler.So that really sucked and she had to head back down by herself to walk around the loch while we went up. It just seemed like a really bad idea to have her come in case something happened while we were way up high.
So Brad and I continued on. Unfortunately, due to his *ahem* excellent map-reading skills, we ended up taking the wrong path and instead of going straight up the mountain, we sort of wound up one side, adding a mile or so onto the walk. It wasn't actually his fault, as the two paths started out really close together and it took a while to realise we were on the wrong one. Turned out that there was a lovely view on the detour, though, so it was all good.
Then we got onto the proper path, and climbed up and up and up and up and UP. We eventually stopped for lunch and had a look at the map and the hill across from us (which we were level with, and which was about 400 m high) and realised that we were not even halfway. I was not about to climb halfway up a Munro and then give up and go home, so we crammed down our lunches and surged up the mountain. Man, it was hard, though. I was going on sheer determination, because my body was under the impression that it was time to stop and lie down. The climb was not easy, either. The path was fairly clearly marked, but it went straight up through rocky bits that you had to clamber up, and cliff faces where you had to grab hold of boulders and pull yourself up. There were about four different summits - you'd get to one and think you were finally there, and then see the next one looming farther above you. By the end I was so tired and dehydrated and dizzy that I was bit worried about falling off - but then we got to one final cliff and one final path, and there we were!
There were a bunch of old Glaswegians at the top, which was a little disconcerting as they looked to be in their late 50s or early 60s, and they had clearly climbed up fairly easily. I felt better when we told them the way we climbed and they said, "Oh wow, you went the HARD WAY? There's no way we'd attempt that!" So then I felt better. Apparently there's another way you can climb up the far side that's a gentler slope.
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