Today's weather and avalanche forecast report revealed that there was to be nothing major enough to keep us from venturing out into the great outdoors. Just cloud, mist and patchy rain on the horizon. Wouldn't be Scotland without that report really.
We were told that we would be heading to Stob Ban today and since we would be starting at near sea level, we would be ascending almost the full 999m with a lovely rocky start and most likely no views from the summit. No problem, bring it on I thought.
About 40mins into the walk in and my back was seriously protesting with each step. So much so that I had the feeling that I would have to give up and go back. Alex (one of our guides) offered to distribute some of the weight from my backpack around the team to see if that would help me out. For about 30 minutes it definitely did help but a sore back is tricky thing.
After another hour as we began to climb steeper, my back was beginning to protest again but determination would not allow me to give up especially since some of the others were going to all the effort to carry some of my things. I refused to be the girl who gave up. So I just tried to keep my spirits up and keep focused on the light at the end of the tunnel.
Stob Ban summit came soon after and all of us (Peter, Graham, Kevin, Lukas) rejoiced to reach the top and not only that, but to also have been given such unexpected gorgeous weather and stunning panoramic views. Whilst the rest of us were munching on various items from our lunch pack, Alex and Sandy decided to come up with a new plan. Instead of heading straight back down from the summit, since it was such a lovely day, we would just traverse down to the col at 817m and then across the ridge and then back up to the summit of Mullach nan Coirean which stands at 939m to claim our 2nd Munro of the day and then head on down from that summit having then completed a circular walk instead. I'm sure this seemed like a good idea at the time when we were all on a high but halfway there, a little bout of tiredness kicked in and I began to find some of the guys gigantic footsteps difficult to follow and then cutting my own steps became a chore that resulted in the odd stumble and sidestep but after approximately 45minutes of trudging, we finally stopped at the summit of Mullach Nan Coirean for our much needed staple diet of juice, jelly babies, chocolate and energy gels. (Which are the most disgusting things ever. I imagine it's kind of like eating hand gel... Yuck!)
Once we had topped up the necessary sugars we headed off the summit and back down towards the van. Everything seemed to be going well with the descent and just when we thought we were home free, we hit a forest and darkness closed in. We then became the jagged globe bushwhackers. After 30-40 minutes fighting our way downhill through trees by head torch light we finally emerged victorious with the odd branch peeking out of our backpacks.
We eventually made it back to the hotel just minutes before dinner, dehydrated and a little delirious. Wind down time in the bar became necessary. Good company, good chat and a top up of water and sugars and the night ends well.
A massive thanks to all those who made the whole day a happy memory even after all the aches and pains.