T'was a dull and cloudy day at home despite the thick snow. Looking across the Great Glen it was obvious there was a thin cloud inversion and a little effort on a personal level would reveal the sun. With skiers on a mission to get to the slopes no matter what, it seemed a good time to get in a quiet Half Ben. My dodgy old knees have taken exception to the Ben in recent years and the place of happiness has become a place of torture as I constantly glance at my watch in an effort to get halfway in 1hr to meet Ben Race requirements. I like going up the hill, but when I get to the top, someone sticks metal rods through my heels and all the way up my thighs, and another one across my shoulders. They stay there for the entire journey down the hill. The only way I can meet the 3hr 15min cut off for the race is to get up a lot faster. I'm thinking this doth not equal fun. But a thin cloud inversion, a trail that had been cut by early walkers, and glorious sunshine within easy reach - it was turning into a place of promise. Spook, Running Girl and Ted the Collie were happy to accompany me.
We didn't meet many people but anyone stepping off the path to let us by ended up more than thigh deep in a big hole, so it was better to get up close and personal to pass each other. But that was only a very few people. Folks were mostly turning back at half way which was borne out by no sign of footsteps on the higher reaches. For those not in the know, there was little guidance on a route. There were a couple of skiers further up and one group cutting up the hill on the wrong side of the Red Burn for the summit. We saw them heading down, before we turned ourselves.
We were on the plateau at half way near the lochan, but we were not on the path. The trail had been cut straight up from the 'Baskets' and had avoided a whole zig. Nice peace of rule breaking.
Spot the skiers in the distance. We met them further down the hill, bathed in sweat. The first part of their ski-ing had been fun. The lower path was hard work and not so much fun.
It was difficult to say who was happier - me or Ted.
My survival of 14 Ben Races and all the training in between, is a bit of an enigma. I just can't do that downhill stuff with any kind of grace. But with snow even-ing out the rocks, it was the most fun descent I've ever done. Happy, happy, happy.
Slim pickings. Back below the clouds - reluctantly.