Maybe it’s Time to Listen

31 May

It’s a challenge trying to write a story about three and a half hours of wishing you were somewhere else.  That’s what the ascent of Meall a Bhuiridh felt like…wishing I was somewhere else.  The day before I was really up for this trip but it only took a dozen steps up the trail to realise it wasn’t going to be a good day.  Someone had shut off the power to the legs. 😯

Thicker cloud than anticipated had sunk into Glencoe and coated the surrounding tops.  On top of that it was bloody freezing and I had left the base layer behind in favour of a lightweight shirt.  Half an hour later the fleece and the outer jacket were on, as were the gloves and the hat.  The breeze from the north was biting good style.

I wasn’t happy.  😦  No amount of cajoling would make the legs turn any faster.  I needed to move faster to keep warm but that just wasn’t happening.  I just kept getting colder.  Oh, how I wished the sun would come out, even for a few minutes.  Just to increase my general level of irritation the strung out calves and hamstrings were playing hell with my balance and I kept wobbling and stumbling on the loose gravel path.  Slowly I gained height.

A solitary ptarmigan was the only thing which brought a smile to my face.  I debated constantly whether it was worth pressing on.  Cloud was beginning to fill the corrie between Meall a Bhuiridh and Creise and began to obscure the summit of the former which had hitherto remained clear.  As my internal debate continued, the legs kept slowly churning their way upward into the opaque greyness above.

We arrived suddenly.  It came as a bit of a surprise.  The mist filled plummeting drop in front threw me; I hadn’t been expecting it. I hitched up The Fatdog and hauled out the map to check where we were.  There was no doubt we were at the summit and the cloud wrapped spur to our right would take us down…then up…to Creise.  I decided against it.  It had been hard enough doing this one and I still had the (by now dreaded) descent to do.

Going down proved to be as uncomfortable as anticipated.  Unable to stretch my legs for fear of a horrible twanging sound from the hamstrings, I cut my stiff legged steps short leading to more than a few jars through the left ankle.  The uncertainty of a soft landing resulted in tweaks in the left knee as it attempted to fold under and the ache from the “gluts” was beginning to build.  The strain on the walking poles increased with every step as more and more I relied on them to keep me upright.  Ah…the joys of hillwalking.

Needless to say we were only some 10 minutes into the descent when the cloud began to lift from the summits.  Thankfully the sun didn’t shine until much later when we were on our way home.

At least once a year for the past 3 years, I’ve thrown a hissy fit and “given up” charging up and down hills and every year, a few months afterwards, I’ve managed to start up again.  However this is the first time I’ve ever felt like giving up on my first hill of a “comeback”.  I think my body is trying to tell me something…maybe it’s time for me to listen a little more carefully. 😉

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Posted by on May 31, 2010 in Munros


12 responses to “Maybe it’s Time to Listen

  1. scott

    May 31, 2010 at 7:32 pm

    Disny sound like terribly much fun. Mind you, it’s not the most inspiring hill in the world, so you need to factor that in. Plus, you seem to have a rather impressively fancy new slideshow thing going on – that has to cheer you up a wee bit, eh?


  2. fatdogwalks

    May 31, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    Naw…just couldnae be bothered inserting the photos one at a time 😉 Not to mention the fact that the photos were as uninspiring as the day out 😦 . You can only spread around so much misery. Just thought I’d just get the whole episode over and done with quickly so we all could move on…

  3. scott

    May 31, 2010 at 9:46 pm

    Ah, right.

    Would it make you feel better if I said that I had to do that hill twice, because a few months after I went up it, one of my companions who shall remain nameless Gordy , decided that we hadn’t actually got to the proper summit at all?

    NB: I invariably abdicate all responsibility for navigating when there’s other folk with me, so it wasn’t my fault. 😉

  4. scott

    May 31, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    Hmmm. That nameless thing didny quite work. There was a comedy “cough” on my screen to cover it when I pressed the submit button.

    Still, no harm done, ‘cos it was all Gordy’s doing.


  5. fatdogwalks

    May 31, 2010 at 10:16 pm

    How on earth did you miss it???????????????

    I went up…in the mist…and found it…well strictly speaking Maisie found it…I was tagging along behind.

    There was nowhere else to go…other than what appeared to be a very big drop into infinity! Gave me a wee bit of a surprise…that drop.

  6. scott

    May 31, 2010 at 10:43 pm

    In fairness, I didn’t think we’d missed it.


  7. Simon

    June 1, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    Ken, I think that your body is trying to tell you to take the right flipping gear when you go walking!!

    Skipping Creise was probably a good move. The last bit up to the ridge is, umm, ‘interesting’. And then getting back down it!

  8. fatdogwalks

    June 1, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    Point taken Simon…not very often I get it wrong though 😆 .

    As for Creise I noticed (before the cloud rolled in) that the corrie edge facing MaBh still had snow on it but didn’t get a good enough view to see how much – so I was going to have to pick an outcrop route to avoid mishap. I wasn’t confident that I could hit such a narrow target in the mist and given the state of my legs and my general disposition I reckoned that one was enough.

  9. Alex

    June 2, 2010 at 10:07 am

    I had a similar problem with my knee years ago Ken.
    I changed my mindset and stopped caring whether I reached a summit or not and just set out to enjoy the day and see what happened.It`s pretty dispiriting when you fail to reach your goal for the day.Why not try some of the smaller hills and take it from there.Look on the bright side…there`s more time for photography and you get home in time for dinner which I gather is of extreme importance to yourself and J 🙂

  10. fatdogwalks

    June 2, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    Oddly enough Alex I’m not over concerned. Sounds odd I know.

    I’m more frustrated by the perennial re-occurrance of the problem and by the fact it’s getting worse. No sooner have I got my mind set on doing something then the condition of those muscles puts a spanner in the works. I think that situation is reflected in the content of the blog which bounces around like a demented budgie.

    Sunday’s walk was unusual in that I knew from the start that things weren’t good. The reality is I can still get up there but I pay for it 😆

    I do enjoy less strenuous days but I suppose I’m more worried about losing hill fitness – though I’m not sure that really applies now 😆

    That said, I know the problem is my fault in that I diodn’t keep on with the constant stretching and back exercises that were required so it’s up to me to sort it out. I’m starting from a deteriorating position this year but I’ve started to try to counter it and am fairly confident that I can make progress.

    Oddly enough the smaller hills can give me more problems…less paths – more dog tossing fences etc. It’s a funny balancing act.

    More time for photography and food? Hmm….now that is worthy of consideration 😉

  11. Tessa Park

    June 2, 2010 at 8:54 pm

    Sorry to hear you had a frustrating day Ken. I don’t think it’s that inspiring a hill – been on our to do list for ages and never quite been arsed to actually do it. Hope you get a better day next time.

    For what its worth my calf muscles are killing me today after a big walk at the weekend. 😦

  12. fatdogwalks

    June 2, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    Easily put behind me Tessa 😆

    You’re right it’s not particularly inspiring; it was chosen because it was easy and quick to get to. What it did tell me though is that I’ve a lot of work to do before I’ll find it easy to do a hill again.

    Was just checking out your recent exploits a few minutes ago. Glad to see after a slow start this year that you’re getting into the swing of it again. Can’t believe the distances and ascents you’re putting in now…I remember those early days of near collapse… 😆

    Make sure you keep stretching those calf muscles.


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