Friday, June 13, 2008

Spittal Glennmuick, Part 2—Braemar to Spittal of Glenmuick

I left Braemar taking the long way around. Or, at least the less nice way since it was the road (the A93 I think) walk. I couldn't find the Lions Face path. During the road walk John, another first timer, caught up and we walked together. Very enjoyable. When we shifted to the first two-track style road we began paying more attention to navigation. But too late. I'd missed my turn off by quite a ways. John was very helpful in helping me sort it out and went so far as to walk down my path to return to where I needed to be for a short ways. I likely added some distance to my hike with that error, but it might not be much since in essence I followed a north path through the Ballochbuie Forest instead of the more southern route. I can't really complain though since walking with John was enjoyable and who knows maybe I saw things on that route, like the deer herd, that I would not have seen had I followed the path I had mapped out for myself. While on track I did my best to enjoy the cool day. Definitely our coldest yet, low 50s at best before you factor in the breeze. Walking through more working forest was a bit of a let down but that's the way it goes.

When I reached Gelder Shiel bothy I failed to find the hot water toilets. Perhaps they're in the locked building (I later learned I had misread my notes and the hot water is at Spittal Glennmuick). I had been making good time up to this point but that would change. First I went a short ways down the two track (call it about a third of a mile roundtrip)  correcting that I found the faint footpath, more game or hunter  trail than anything else, that would lead about 1.8 kilometers to a main track again. I managed to push through the heather staying on the footpath for a time but I soon lost the path. I followed the stream which was always near the path trying to avoid stepping in leg swallowing holes or cold water. I hoped to regain the footpath. Instead I had a very intimate encounter with the stream: I fell in. I soaked my legs, flooded my shoes, and horrors submerged my camera bag. Remarkably the Sanyo Xacti HD1000 seems fine (I've not tried the Samson Zoom H2 audio recorder yet).  Had it been colder or windier I'd have been in trouble but instead I was merely shaken and soaked. Surprisingly I didn't really soak my head or torso which was another plus. But I was still plodding at a snail's place. I'd find the footpath and loose it again. I think I spent nearly two hours covering the distance (looks like I added some distance to the route overall, but still a very slow pace). By this time I had also figured out that my route data for the day was incomplete. For unknown reasons the route ended almost four kilometers short. It was as if I hadn't laid it out. It will be interesting to check when I go home (editor's note: I have no idea what happened because as I look at the map the route is all there so something seems to have happened with the Garmin software or the saving of the route from Quo and then transferring it to the GPS using the Garmin software—Quo, by Mapyx, refused to talk to the GPS and I don't know if it's a problem with Quo, the Garmin, VMWare Fusion, or something else).

In time I got to the main track again and the going was good until the descent which was awful rocky and steep and walking the path on the verge wasn't much better (I think this was near Little Conachcraig). Then to add insult to injury I took two wrong turns by the buildings (holiday homes) where the Lochnagar path emerges - eating up more time and adding more distance (and frustration at this point) to my day. I'd long ago decided that I would stop at Spittal Glenmuick and I was anxious to arrive (editor's note: I had thought it might be technically a no-no to camp here but since I didn't see it in the Final Details, a mis-read on my part, I did it anyway. I doubt I was invisible but no park ranger kicked me out).

It is now 21:30 and I'm under cover, have had a tasty meal-read-to-eat style dinner and can now ponder what to do tomorrow. Going to Shielin of Mark and than Tarfside seems foolish unless I have company. I just don't want to go cross-country without complete information. But my alternatives appear really lousy. I'm going to check with Challenge Control and confirm what I think I know and then see what happens. I am also probably just feeling a bit nervous after the happenings today and know that with time things will improve.


I know large deer herds roam the countryside in the States, but this is the first time I have actually ever seen one. May 18, 2008. 11:29.

This still, pulled from some video, ishardly the best picture you will see but it gives you a small sense of the area at Spittal Glenmuick. The horses in the field had no interest in me. I camped not too far away and it was a fine site even if technically an illegal site. I was hardly invisible but no one kicked me out. May 18, 2008. 21:03.

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