I left camp near 10:00 and made good time down the track towards Heatheryhaugh and then my troubles began. I went to the left of the old farm buildings following old paths that lead me nowhere. I felt sure I was about where I should be. In fact I knew I wanted to be just over that barbed wire fence but I couldn't get over. Michiel and Arno came by, maddeningly close, and were then gone. It seemed an age had gone by and I was really irked by this point when I learned I just should have gone around the house on the other side! I followed more paths and before I knew it my little path had put me on the wrong side of the stream. I lost the path but that hardly mattered since it was likely the wrong one anyway. I looked at the map and shape of the route on the GPS compared to where I was and struck out cross country. With frequent checks I made it to Heathery Hill and I slowly climbed the steep deep grass and dense heather coated hillside of Builg Burn. This may have been my toughest climb of the trip edging out the climb up the scree field back at River Feshie because there I knew I was heading the right way and this time I didn't have people waiting at the top. But I gained the track again and things were once again totally right with the world. Finding Michiel and Arno sitting at the side relaxing for upwards of an hour was good and bad. It underscored how incredibly long it had taken to get through this little bit. But they were great to talk too.
The climb up Kirloch Cairn was one of the windiest and worst ones I've made this trip. The track is wide but boulder strewn. At the top of this hill is a cairn and an obelisk I should've checked out more closely. If it was a trig point it was huge. I should have looked at the map more carefully because I think I could have skipped the climb and just gone around the base of the hill. Of course, I would have missed my 360 degree views even though they weren't much given the overcast sky.
Following the rocky track down into Fettereso Forest was nice enough the dense evergreen forest really could be too thick for camping. I met Joy as I was realizing I overshot my turn, by about 0.4 kilometers, and we hiked together for a time on track and footpath before we went our separate ways near Stonehouse. It was still early when I reached Mergie and found Rolph, Steph, Allen, Terry, and Sherry. If I'd gotten there earlier I certainly would have pushed on to Stonehaven. But I am staying put and under cover the rest of the time at Mergie - 14 hours and change.
I am not entirely sure where I took this picture. Am I actually within the boundaries of Fettereso Forest? I only barely set foot in the forest when walking along some bicycle tire rutted narrow footpaths with Joy. It appears quite thick. But the vast bulk of my walk through this forest was along forestry roads and that wasn't that exciting. May 21, 2008. 14:59.