TGO Challenge 2017: Day 4

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Distance: 20km, ascent 566m

Overnight I had an acute attack of anxiety and found it difficult to sleep. I knew the weather forecast was not good, so I worried about the weather. I worried about my wife’s health and whether I’d have to go back home when I reached Fort Augustus. I worried about whether I’d brought the right gear. In fact, I worried about virtually everything. No amount of rationalisation could stop my anxiety.

After a restless and sleep deprived night I got up reasonably early to find that Callum was already leaving. Although overhead was thick cloud, it wasn’t raining. However, cloud covered the hill tops, so I decided I’d take my Foul Weather Alternative to Cougie and then to Corrie Dho. Having made that decision, I felt a bit happier. I was ready to leave at 7:30. The weather was still OK.

I tootled along the track for a while before it started to spot with light rain.  Uh-oh, here comes the heavy rain that was forecast, I thought. Reluctantly, I put on my overtrousers in anticpation of a tough day in the rain.  However, it was only spotting when I reached the Allt Garbh.

It was a huge shock to see the hydro works. I was glad that I hadn’t continued the day before with a view to camping there. Despite all the warning signs, I continued along the track, allowing some heavy plant to pass. The turn off to Cougie was hardly obvious. There was no sign and I had to check on my GPS for the exact exit.

It was a relief to get away from the carnage. Hopefully once the work is done, it will be returned to the way it was when I passed here two years ago. Before long I reached the turn off to Cougie. The rain was still only spotting, so I was keen to push on as quickly as I could manage. I’d heard bad things about the track to Cougie, but apart from a couple of muddy sections, it was pretty good.

I reached the lochan before Cougie in good time. The clouds were thick and glowering, but still the rain was very light. Just after the lochan I had to climb a deer fence as the stile had been removed, which was a bit irritating. The track in the forest was nicely graded, so progress was quick.By mid morning I was at Cougie. Tempted though I was to call in and experience the hospitality, I wanted to get to Corrie Dho as quickly as I could, not trusting the weather, which was still looking a bit ominous. By this time, I felt my anxiety start to abate. Even if it got really gnarly, I wasn’t more than three hours from my destination.

As I got into the shelter of the forest, I looked for a place to stop and have a quick bite to eat. I found a convenient stone to sit on under a tree for a bit of shelter. I decided to have an early lunch so I wouldn’t need to eat again before I finished the day. Conscious of the weather, which was still ok, I was soon on my way again. The forest track was nicely sheltered. Every so often I’d catch a glimpse of the Allt Riabhach below. Soon I emerged from the forest into the open. I was surprised to see a number of horses roaming free. Fortunately they didn’t seem too interested in me.

As I climbed up to the bealach, the path deteriorated but I noted with interest there were several good places to camp along the way.  At the bealach, I decided to see whether I could get a phone signal. Success! I phoned Challenge Control to let them know that everything was on course. Then I phoned my wife to see how she was. Not too bad came the reply. At last I felt I could relax, the chances of having to abort the Challenge early seemed to be receeding.

The next section below Creag Bhog was rather like walking on Dartmoor. The cloud base seemed to be lowering and it looked like rain in the distance, but still only spotting where I was.

Reaching the slopes above Corrie Dho, I was taken aback by seeing two shed-like structures by the bridge where I had intended to camp. As I descended, it was obvious there was another hydro scheme being developed.

I investigated whether I could camp somewhere along the stream leading into the River Doe, but it wasn’t very promising so I decided to make for the meadow below. Beyond a stand of trees, there were some decent patches of flat grass, so I decided to stop for the day and pitch there. Although it was only 2 o’clock, I knew that beyond here decent places to camp weren’t easy to find. The weather was also holding off, so I could pitch virtually dry.

It proved to be a good decision as part way through the afternoon there was some heavy rain. I felt snug and smug sipping tea in my tent as the rain beat a tattoo on the tent fly. Finally, I felt properly relaxed and happy.


6 thoughts on “TGO Challenge 2017: Day 4”

  1. There was a gate on that deer fence next to where the stile had been removed…… It looked a bit odd as it was two gates together, but they did open – I went through them! 😉

  2. I was absolutely horrified to see what had happened by the Allt Garbh. I remember how beautiful that spot was when I stayed there in 2015. I am glad to hear your anxiety abated and you enjoyed your next day. I know that things can get on top of you in the early hours.

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