I'm back a week from a week long trip, first to Assynt in the Northwest, then to the five Munro's around Loch Treig. This was amongst many things a training trip for the coast to coast, and as usual I came back with a notebook full of weird, barely legible meditations on being immersed in wild places, as well as copious scribbles inside the front cover about which kit to fix, take or leave behind come May. I also came back with some photos, a few of which are below.
Four days carrying my boat in my pack and my pack on my boat confirmed that if I'm only paddling, I may as well get a canoe. Packrafting also means hefting my boat up mountains, and that's heavy work, especially amongst the spaced out, boggy bulkheads of Assynt. The point here is continuous travel.... that and time. There are also contour lines, and then there are the contour lines of the Northwest! I spent a night in a cave with a dead deer as a neighbour, a place that shall remain nameless here due to it's popularity with coach tours in the daytime. I got strong and felt weak and re-iterated my daughter's cold into something thin and indestructible, watched the sun set on the pink sands of the secret coire of Cul Mor whilst brown trout played in the shallows, rationed food on 'big island' in a squall, bounced from mossy mounds to pine cone encrusted woodland floor on a bluebird day, dossed in a dead stalker's bothy and crawled to the top of my penultimate hill in high winds and spindrift. I found noise, and I found quiet. I coughed up some blood and slept alot.
Preparations for C2C4K are in the final stages. After testing and discussions, we've decided not to share a shelter (better weather resistance in the Trailstars, a little more personal space after long days, the weight penalty over my new family shelter, the Wiki 3, is negligible), but cooking is a joint effort which will save a little time and weight. I've yet to make up the food parcels and post on to our 2 resupply points but it's mostly bought and paid for. We'll be packing lightweight axes and flexible crampons from the start, but will send on river knives and helmets to our resupply point in Dalwhinnie - there are (almost) no rivers until the Avon in our itinerary now. The key to the CIC hut has arrived. We leave for Oban early on Friday 8th May, hop onto Mull for a couple of hours and then onto another ferry bound for Kilchoan. Which reminds me, I might need to register a postal vote.
As for you - I hope however you vote, you'll be voting for boats on hills come what May!