A tale of two mountains (part 2 of 3)
The Girls' Mountain:
Saturday morning we set off to meet at 8.30am - two of us with particularly sore heads. After driving around for 20 minutes, we eventually found the start of the walk. It is here the different adventures begin as Brent raced up the hill and abandoned most of the girls.
As we were preparing breakfast at 8.15 am, I was thinking to myself "don't worry ... it will only hurt a little" and "I hope the girls are okay, and not too hung over."
After a breakfast of champions, I turned on my phone and it began to ring and beep frantically! I was greeted with about 8 missed calls and 6 text messages asking "Where the hell are you, Brent?" "Why are you not here?" "We have been here since 8.10 and now it's 8:45, where are you?" That's when it occurred to me that the text about the new 9am meeting time that I sent last night (to whom I thought was a responsible adult) didn't get relayed to all the girls.
I told the girls to start walking and we would catch up with them in about 30min. As we departed from the camp site, I could see the girls and Laurent plodding away up the mounting some 100 metres above us. Fortunately, we knew of a very steep shortcut from the hostel along the road and over the bridge so we had no doubt of catching them up.
As the Londoners and I approached the main path, the girls were sitting on a corner bench with one individual struggling to tie her shoe laces only 35 minutes after starting. I noticed that four girls were missing and found out they had walked on ahead. After staying with the girls for 10 minutes, I took the pack and pressed on the catch up with the leaders.
The Girls' Mountain:
After 1 hour of walking up the incline we began to wonder when a bit of flat surface would come. After 1 ½ hours of walking up the incline it became clear that there might not be any lovely flat surface to walk on. After about 2 hours we finally got a bit of flat surface but it certainly didn't last long. That's when the weather started to turn. Those with hangovers started to wish they hadn't been out quite as late the night before - and so did everyone else who had to listen to their moaning.
As we walked in the rain with gale force winds blowing at our faces, our moods turned somewhat, but we soldiered on. In fact, we were so focused on going up, we started climbing up a pile of rocks before realizing it was the wrong way and turning back.
After departing from the main group in pursuit of the leaders, we finally caught up with the group about 20 minutes later. Surprisingly, there were only three girls there as one rogue walker was alone up ahead. No sooner were we together, when another member bolted off up the hill leaving me and the Londoners behind with two girls. We walked together for another 15 minutes before leaving the two girls and giving chase to the leaders.
The weather was ok until we turned right at the loch; the clouds began to come in closer and closer and, before you knew it, you were engulfed by a dark gloom. At this point, we caught up with the second walker who looked like she was struggling a bit. I stayed to offer moral support and walked at her pace for about 30 minutes until she stopped and ushered me on.
Now the Londoners were up ahead, just out of my sight due to the clouds. They were in pursuit of the last rogue walker and I was hot on their heels! Well, that's what I thought anyway. When walking on your own, your legs can start to play tricks on you. It's like they're not sure if they want to cramp so you have to walk gingerly trying to prevent cramping. Eventually, I had some relief and continued my mission to find Rose, the lead girl. I soon found her struggling with a cramp.
After plodding up the hill, Rose and I arrived at the summit of 1344m. We were greeted with no visibility, high winds and pelting rain. Once Olivia arrived, we managed to get one photo in before we got some shelter out of the wind. We added another layer of clothes with our frozen fingers before planning our speedy descent. I know this might sound like hell, but it was not too bad since Rose saved the day by bringing along some good old whisky to warm us up.
The Girls' Mountain:
As we continued our pursuit of the summit, we were passed by Brent - who seemed to be racing down the hill. This gave us hope that the top was close and after walking another 20 minutes on the Mountain of Hell (except in hell we wouldn't be freezing with mascara running down our cheeks, snot running into our mouths, more water in our gloves than in our water bottles, soaking hair and wind-slapped cheeks... ) we finally reached the top!
Or was it a shanty town? What we climbed up this blasted mountain for was, essentially, a couple of steps leading to what looked like Darth Vader's tombstone, a heap of fog, a creepy shack and some weirdoes with a tent. Yas! Great! So worth it. Our first thoughts on this wonderful summit were 'Let's get this picture taken and get the hell off of here'.
So, desperate to get out of the freezing cold wind and rain, some of us ran down part of the way to get out of the clouds. This is when us girls began to split into smaller groups...