Monday, 15 October 2012

3 Bloggers, 2 Munros and a Wild Camp

A last minute opportunity arose to get out on the hill for an overnighter, so I put some feelers out to see who was interested. As everyone knows it's not to easy to easy to get out with life's commitments so I planned to capitalise on this good fortune.

Initial responses came form Sandy as he already had some plans which were now going to be adjusted to allow for this wild camp. Also, Michael was only going to make the day hike until persistance allowed a last minute pass to bring his tent with him.

Rumour had it the weather was going to be good for this time of year and I raised the idea of the proposed 2 summits, Ben Vorlich & Stuc a Chroin. It's not that far from me in Glasgow but for whatever reason I had never made it to them. So not to jinx it I didn't check a weather forecast but the hearsay on the net suggested we weren't going to be disappointed.

I picked Sandy up and we eaded up to the bnks of Loch Earn to meet with Micheal, the journey up there was scenic as my sat nav has a knack of taking me the most obscure route possible; it must have the outdoors in its circuit boards.
...and wild campers!

It was a beautiful day and the scenery glistened around us. We headed up the well worn track chatting about outdoors, photography, gear and everything else in between.Michael and Sandy have already posted their trip reports and their photographs do our surroundings justice.

We summited Vorlich with amazing panoramic views. It was getting a bit blowy so another layer was required. A wander along to the second top up there gave us extended views across the glens around us.

The next top could be seen from where we stood, Stuc a'Chroin, getting there would mean an altitude drop into the bealach below. This portion of the route led to discussions of the ironwork embedded into edge of the path and had the background song of rutting stags. We surmised that the now rusty brown iron stakes would have been placed by some burly, hard as nails Scottish type you wouldn't want to pick a fight with in a highland bar.

As we crossed the trough of the route Sandy  filled up his platy bottle for the upcoming camp and we looked up at the impending scramble to the summit of Stuc.

Leave only footprints...
The route up to the summit wasn't as bad as it looked from below, we chose a simpler route, due to the overnight packs, which snaked up through the boulders. There was a big shock when I clambered over the crest of the bouldered wall. We were greeted by Mr Wonderwoman, Paulo. I wasn't able to get a picture but there is one here. The purpose of his fancy dress is on Paulo's Mondo Loco foundation blog which you can read about here.
We headed along to Stuc's summit cairn and marvelled again at our surroundings. We checked out the surroundings of the summit for a good pitch. The lower platforms were soggy and with Sandy's shelter we could of done without the damp. The summit plateau was breezy, to say the least. The forecast that I never looked at apparently stated the wind was going to die down later in the evening, so we ran the risk. Pitching in strong wind is always risky, if your grip slips the unsecured sail of a tent it could end up anywhere!! 
It was early in the evening by the time we were set up, which gave us a bit of time to killl before sunset snaps. I went for a little nap, the wind was still persistant on the side of the tent but I did get a little snooze. The buffeting did drown out the rutting Stags but it didn't drown out engine noise of a passing sea plane. I didn't get a shot of it but both of my companions did.

The temperature was now plummeting so there was plenty of insulation worn by the three of us. By this time the sun started to drop and the orange glow spanned the horizon. There is never enough words to describe what you see from the summit of a Scottish mountain as the orange globe descends.
Once I had made my meagre attempts at sunset shots, it was dinner time for me. I got out the wind and boiled up some water and heated up the silver pouch for scran, with a little dessert as a bit of treat. Then a wander around our exclusive campsite before bed.

The wind relented for about half an hour around 10pm. Then after that it came at us again, the laser comps single pole was bent out of shape slightly. It's worst point was around 5am when the pole may as well have been removed but it eased off, slightly! It was then time to get up to watch the orb appear following its latest orbit.

On the opposite side of the plateau we set up ready for its appearance, well Sandy nearly missed it so I gave him a shake and he sprang into outdoor action, camera poised! We all snapped as it emerged. This is something I need to improve for this blog (well along with the grammar, punctuation and writing style) is the hardware and the ability to take photographs that do my surroundings justice.
A MasTer at work!
Anyway I digress. The sight that the rays created across the frost encrusted landscape gave the mountains and glens an amazing glow. We continued to take our memories and I wandered again around the summit. I dropped out of the wind and immediately the song of the Stags echoed, it still surprises me that even with the noise they make and I can never see them?!?
Next it was breakfast time, a bit of porridge and a coffee. And after that our campsite had to be dismantled and the big step of removing the down. Brrr! It was still early as the arrangement Michael had made to get his pass was he had to get back to the ranch as early as possible.
We didn't push too hard but we made good time back down through the glen, contoured around Vorlich and emerged heading  back down the path to Loch Earn. On our route down with the sun shining on our back we passed a lot of day hikers heading for their summit. A lot of surprise when they found out where we laid our heads the previous night. One gentleman in particular was very inspired by our adventure.
The last stretch along the banks of Loch Earn brought us to the cars. This is where we came across a group who had on the spur of the moment decided to bag Ben Vorlich - no map, no clue and had to ask a random stranger what direction to take to the summit. Sandy had a print out of the route from Walk Highlands which he gave to them. Haven't heard of anybody not making it off  so I assume they get home safe. It was a nice day, plenty of visibility. Had this not been the case I may have politely suggested that they turn around and think again.

Our route mirrored the one on Walk Highlands, it was probably a little short for a wild camp but it served its purpose, it got us high(altitude), it gave us some amazing views and we lucked out on the weather. All in all a result of a trip.