After a days delay due to the rotten weather, and an early away from work I headed 40 minutes along the road to Loch Lomond in a quest to climb Ben Lomond with Mr PTC - you can read his version here.
I'm glad to say my pack was "not that heavy" but it looked ma-hoose-ive compared to his Haglofs ACE L job. I really need to stop bringing everything and the kitchen sink I thought as I tried to hide my embarrassment of my huuuuge pack.
This was my first venture over Loch Lomond way to climb some hills and it was looking good. It was sunny when we set off around 5.30 (give or take 10 minutes!) and I soon warmed up. The jacket had to come off. We'd gone up the Ptarmigan Ridge and met a few folks on the way down. Probably getting home in time to get their dinner at half six. The route up was filled with magnificent views, good chat and lots and lots of information about all manner of things. I was with a walking encyclopedia! Great stuff. Never stop with the info, we can never learn enough.
We wandered along at quite a steady pace (hopefully not too slow?! I'm a bit obsessed that I'm not too slow) anyway next thing I know he stops turns around has a look, gets the camera out his pack and he's bounding up the grassy slope. "Right...go back a bit and walk, look natural" he shouts - yikes! Thankfully you can't really see me in that pic! After a juice stop for a few minutes we were off again. By now I was liking this day oot - a lot. Some of my previous jaunts up hills have frankly turned into hideous affairs with so much competitiveness it was off-putting. But this, this was fine. No pressure and good company.
" On a scale of 1-10 how hungry are you?"
"aye me tae, we'll stop at those flat rocks up there".
We headed up to the rocks and ate our dinner. Couldn't beat it for a dining room with view. The sun was still out and the breeze which was welcome at first soon had a wee bite in it so on with the jacket again. We got on to talking about my dodgy knees and then came the revelation - had I ever thought it was the boots causing the pain? should I get a pair of trail gutties?... hhmmm could this be right? I pondered. I'm not sure, maybe I should give it a go? With that we were off. This is the flat part I was told. Now I know from Nepal that "flat" in mountain terms means up and down like a yo-yo (well not quite) but the path was meandering along this flat-ish area. I was also to find out that half an hour in mountain time means that plus 10 - at least! Anyway I wasn't caring. The views kept coming and a wee lochan appeared. It was just lovely and was my first opportunity to get the camera out and take a few photies...
This was a lovely spot but it was time to head off again. Looking up I could see the ridge - eek! it looked pretty rocky from down here but I'm up for this challenge. We continued on all the while the info kept coming and then "...and that there is Ben Nevis". "where?... oh aye". This was brilliant. You could see for miles all the way around albeit a bit of a hazy, and by now, a dusky view. The wind was a bit gusty and we came across a cool sheltered area where it suddenly died. It couldn't reach us in there. More photie time was to be had and I watched the professional do his thing. No secrets shall be revealed on the process! Then I heard voices. Who is this? A couple of folks appeared from above and then another. Then about 5 minutes later another. They were all wearing shorts and looked like they should have been in their beds at this hour! More photies were taken and the rocks around this area were pretty awesome - Ruth would love this wee hideout i thought. So this one is for you Ruth..
We decided to stay for another 10 minutes here to see if the sun would do anything like form into a great fantastical sunset but it wasn't to be... not tonight. It was a rather good sky nonetheless with rays of sunshine peeping through every now and again. I just kept staring... braw. I was happy.
Next it was time to head up for the summit!! It was up and over and around the rocks for about 30 minutes and then the trig point appeared. This was a nice surprise as i honestly thought we had further to go. Woo-hoo!!!! We both took more photies but i never got one of me at the summit which is my normal customary thing to do. Never fear, you can catch a glimpse at Petesy's blog We got there around 10pm, I think, but the sky was still light and he must have been sick of me saying "is that the time?, doesn't feel like that!" oh and "I'm craving a drink of Irn Bru!!!" I only had water with me as I'd refused a Nuun at the car park. Maybe i should have tried one. Never mind next time I'll take my dissolving Barr's Irn Bru sachets - kidding... no such a thing yet but hey there's an idea!
Homeward bound we headed off down the tourist route and as we got lower it was quite a pleasant evening (and still not that dark). There was noise from the sheep and other nightlife hanging about on the slopes. I was just done saying my knees weren't that bad tonight when i nearly slipped and went over my ankle - oh sh*t, that would've been a disaster but it was fine. "That's them boots" he said. I was thinking it's not as light as I thought it was and was kinda right because I swear about 20 black cows just seemed to appear. I never seen or heard them until we they were there right in front of us. Negotiating our way down the path around the cowpat was getting tough but we hit the trees and then came the midges. Loads of them. They were all over the place and seemed to be taking a liking to my long hair - yuck! Makes me itch just thinking about them. Soon enough we were back at the cars after a thoroughly enjoyable walk.
We said our goodbyes and headed off home. The road home was pretty quiet and i was still craving a nice cold drink of Irn Bru. After a stop at the petrol station in town i was home at 12.30 and hadn't turned into a pumpkin after all!
This was my first proper jaunt up the hills since Nepal and to be totally honest, for various reasons, the only one I've really enjoyed in quite a while. This is what it's all about, getting out in the countryside, walking about the hills, seeing amazing views, in good company with a wee challenge thrown in here and there. No competitive edges, no-one telling you to tick a list. Who cares if you've climbed it 10 times, surely it's the fact that you're out there doing it that matters?
Anyway this was the wee tonic I needed after recent events and for that I'm really grateful. Thank you Mr PTC* for a grand evening oot. Hopefully it won't be the last. :o) Alright!