Monday, 30 April 2012

Recharging the batteries in Torridon (posted by James)

A perfect day on Beinn Alligin

I don't usually blog my hillwalks or runs. I'm out so often that I'd struggle to keep it interesting and I know there are already thousands of people out there who are writing hillwalking blogs.

Today I'm going to make an exception today though. Yesterday I did the classic walk and scramble over Beinn Alligin and its Horns, the "Jewelled Mountain" which overlooks Upper Loch Torridon. 

A clear and sunny day in Torridon

I won't say much about the walk itself, other than that it was superb - every inch the classic ridge traverse and with an almost impossibly beautiful view in yesterday's sunny and clear weather.

Fresh snow on An Teallach

No…instead I want to talk about it more in a wider context. On saturday I worked for 10 hours in the Clachaig and finished at 1am, packed a rucksack and started driving at 2am, did Beinn Alligin, got back to Clachaig before 4pm then started another 7 hour shift at 5pm. So by the end of my shift last night, I'd been either working, on the hill, or driving non-stop for 47 continuous hours.

Sunrise over Liathach at 5:30am

After reading that I wouldn't blame you at all for supposing that I take bizarre pleasure in exhaustion and suffering, or that I'm just plain stupid. I guess there are elements of truth in both. 

The sandstone cliffs of Tom na Gruagiach

During the summer months I do a lot of this, making the absolute most of the lengthy hours of daylight and pouncing on every period of good weather as an opportunity. And I've found that doing what I've just done since saturday, i.e occasional long periods of continuous tiring activity with no sleep or rest, is a surprisingly healthy thing to do sometimes.

Beinn Bhan's impressive corries

It's hard to explain, but when you finally get to rest and sleep after a stint like that, waking up the next day is almost like a minor rebirth. Even though I spent the last few hours of my shift last night in a state of severe fatigue, I felt recharged and rebooted when I woke up this morning. Getting into bed at the end of the night wasn't just a relief as usual, it was incredible. The simple sensation of not having to concentrate became amazing, as it was the first time I'd felt it for 47 hours. 

Sgurr Mhor at 8am

I know it's a cliché nowadays to say how "revitalising" the hills are, but that really isn't what I mean. Going into the hills always provides an escape from work and everyday life, but this is a different feeling. It feels like totally emptying the tank, running on empty and then keeping on running on empty. Then you wake up the next morning, and you have that wonderful knowledge that you can fill the tank again. 

For something that is so tiring, I find long continuous stretches of activity like that surprisingly invigorating. Now just the wait until the mega early sunrises of mid summer, so I can do some really long days….


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