I had some holidays to use before the end of March, so I thought I’d seize the opportunity to get up to the Cairngorm NP to check out the snow and go for a camp. Given the Avalanche forecast was ‘considerable’, I decided to stay low and explore the area around Inveroran and Loch an Eilein, unfortunately I can’t embed maps, so here’s the link instead.
I say ‘explore’ the area, but the reality is that without skis or snowshoes I was limited to following the paths trampled by others with the odd excursion postholing through the powder. The path around the loch was not exactly busy, but I did see a few folk, one guy harnessed up being dragged along by Huskies.
The weather was glorious though, not the best photography-wise, but the sun was warm and I was happy enough wearing just a baselayer and my new Montane Featherlite Smock [£25 from George Fisher, bargain!].
I decided to head off toward Lochan Deo/Cairngorm Club Footbridge, I was stopping regularly to take photos and spotted a prominent tree on a snowy knoll which I thought would make a nice spot to camp with a good outlook over the forest and surrounding area.
I was, um, baws deep at some points but eventually managed to get to the top, my gaiters kept creeping up as snow was forced between them and my new Roclites. The Roclites were great BTW, bar the one problem that powdery snow gets forced through the mesh outer and forms an ice cube to keep your toes cool, not ideal, but tolerable.
I started trying to make some sort of snow platform to pitch up on, but the powder was just too…powdery. I may have had more success if I’d had a snowclaw/shovel or better pegs, but the Akto pegs weren’t really cutting it. I did manage to pitch it, but it looked a mess and I wasn’t convinced it’d stay up if the wind got up overnight and with a forecast of -14C, I didn’t fancy taking the chance. I stood around for a good couple of hours deliberating the decision and enjoying the scenery, but in the end decided to drive home. I waited for the sun to go down and watched as the sky did some cool stuff.
As I watched, I realised I could hear singing, coming and going, drifting on the cool breeze. Where was it coming from?!?!? For about 20 minutes I could hear it. Singing. Foreign sounding singing. Then as they came into view I realised it was a couple and young baby [in one of those rucksack carrier thingies], the father was singing in gaelic to the child. In those surroundings, those conditions, it seemed perfect. I could have listened to it for hours…
So it was a long day out and a long drive, but well worth it to see Rothiemurchus under snow. At dusk, on the walk back to the car, I made the photo at the top of the post. I was happy 🙂