Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Here me are

I'm told that's what I used to say when I was much, er, younger than I am now. And somewhat smaller. We've been in Scotland! Camping! In the rain! (no surprise there if you know Scotland :-)

That's me, grinning inanely. With luck you can't see just how silly I look when happy even if you click for big. If you can, feel sorry for him: he says that's my characteristic expression. That's a 35l Atmos pack loaded until it squeaked for mercy. It weighed about the same as his half-full 70l which is to say about 20-25lb. We very quickly became accustomed to the weight, even when hauling it up and down trackless mountainsides (this was An Adventure), which is a credit to Osprey's designs. There was knitting in my pack, but no knitting was harmed during the adventure: shortly after that photo was taken, things got much more interesting very quickly indeed. See the next hill, just behind me?
That's the view from it. We planned to camp near that loch, which lies at the western foot of Beinn Alligin. The plan (when we left at 0645 on a sunny morning 9hrs earlier) was to pitch the tent, amble up Sgurr Mhor (the peak at right obscured by cloud), and have a leisurely meal followed by knitting. What happened was that the cloud fell like a stone down the mountainside as we walked to the loch. The rain started just as we unrolled the tent and within about 5 minutes it was bucketing down. The tent was up as quickly as when we pitched it on our lawn (the only other place we'd ever put that tent), we dumped our packs in the vestibule and hurtled over them into the tent in record time. There followed a night of weird contrasts. GOOD: enough water in our hydration packs to cook our dehydrated dinners. BAD: I have never, ever eaten anything more utterly disgusting in my entire life. And I write as someone who's eaten really cheap bologna and sandwich spread, octopus sashimi, soil (I was younger then) and loads of flies (happy cyclist!). GOOD: tent didn't leak. BAD: Constantly checking for non-existent leaks. GOOD: Blissful night of warmth wrapped in my new down sleeping bag. BAD: I accidentally used his (thicker) sleeping pad, so he wasn't as blissful. GOOD: watching the @**! midges trying to squeeze through the mesh panels. BAD: listening to the
@**! rain hammering on the tent all night. Cut to the next morning
That picture's not as bad as I feared. For 5am. Can you see the rain? We could hear it... Worse, our planned route out led along the ridge of Baosbheinn, which was almost completely hidden in mist. Not a good time to walk it for the first time. So we decided to retrace our route in, with some trepidation because the cloud was brushing even the 650m summits of the hills we'd walked (there were alternatives, including a short emergency escape route to the Torridon road, but we decided we could cope with the conditions). At one point my worst fears were realised: the cloud dropped so densely we couldn't sight the next landmark. We were standing 3/4 of the way up a high hill, the only people for several miles, with
visibility less than 10m, known sheer drops somewhere to our right and unfamiliar extremely steep slopes to our left. A fall of only a few metres can kill. I felt sick. I wondered if we'd made a Really Stupid Decision in choosing to retrace our route. I wanted someone to tell me what to do... but there was just him, who knew no more than I. So we kept calm and worked it out for ourselves. The 'escape route' was obvious on the map if not in the mist: there was a straightforward compass bearing that would take us well out of our way, but safely down to lower ground. So that's what we did. I tell you, the sense of relief when we broke out of the cloud was, well, it was amazing. Total distance walked: c. 34 miles, at least a third of which was bush-whacking. We arrived home tired but triumphant and, over corned beef hash, agreed we'd keep the tent and the sleeping bags. We're already planning the next expedition :-)

Baosbheinn seen earlier in the day. I want to walk that long ridge so badly...


Sadly we'd wrecked ourselves a bit, so we took it easy for a couple of days. Intermittent, frequent showers would have made for unpleasant walking anyway. I finished the Electric Sox:
Pattern: Sidewinders, a PerpenSOCKular Pattern by Nona
Yarn: Colinette Jitterbug in 'Jewel'
Modifications: this is only a 260m skein. Having finished, I think I'd probably have run out of yarn if I hadn't shortened the leg by 7 stitches, but I do think it could have been shortened by less. If I did it again I'd try reducing by 4.

We did the wildlife boat trip, we made a pilgrimage to Knockan Crag. We read. And I spun.

Didn't I mention we stopped at Woolfest on the way north? He didn't know either, until after I'd booked it. Our first fibre festival. Togetherness. Listen to the hollow laughter of all the men patiently following their partners. They all have the same glazed eyes, bemused expression. A bit like people in a dentist's waiting room. He didn't *enjoy* most of it, but there was some interesting stuff and he did occasionally touch fibre voluntarily and almost, almost persuaded me to buy an 8g Bosworth. I was good. I got everything on my list and relatively little else, a bit frightened by how easy it would have been to blow a lot of money. I did not buy the discounted yarns (Rowan, DBliss, Noro): I wanted stuff I'd been watching online for months. Like that baby alpaca from Fyberspates, patiently becoming a light fingering yarn. I like spinning. I like spinning a lot. I really, really like spinning with a spindle, especially with a good drop from a rocky seashore. And a glass of wine.







5 comments:

Joanne said...

You look so beautiful in this last photo! (actually, in all of them, but spinning by the water? perfection.) Transport me into that photo, please!

You had me scared there with the Scotland story. Glad I wasn't in that rainy cloud experience. You must be made of sterner stuff than me am. (I am!)

La Cabeza Grande said...

You are an incredibly brave adventurer! There's something lonesome yet beguiling about those photos...

I also admire your desire to forge your own fiber path and bypass the commonly available.

catsmum said...

That last photo is utterly gorgeous.
I was wondering if you could occasionally give us non-gaelic speakers an approximate phonetic rendition of some of the place names [ a translation if such is available wouldn't go astray either ]
Like about seemingly half of OZtralia I have strong scots and irish roots and a fascination with the gaelic language[s]

Midsummer night's knitter said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog ;0) And isn't Scotland a beautiful place? I have to keep telling myself that the rain is the price to pay for living in such a place...And yep, I like the results of spinning the cap, I just don't like the process ...
India

HPNY Knits said...

the electric socks are fantastic! but camping in the rain- no that's love!