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|Today I replaced my hiking stick boot (right) with a new one|
|Days N45 - N56 Scottish Highlands|
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English West Country
North of England
Monday, May 7, 2007
Time of departure: 8.45 am
Time of arrival: 3.30 pm
Place departed: Newtonmore, Highland
Place arrived: Aviemore, Highland
Cum miles: 767.7
Percent complete: 82.8
Ravenscraig Guest House, Aviemore ***
Cost for bed and breakfast: £30 ($60)
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What others say
indicate that I covered ground quickly today. It wasn't nice
weather, but it was much better than yesterday. Instead of
it was drizzle; instead of gale-force winds, it was breezy - and it
wasn't quite as cold. True, the bike track turned into a
without a footpath. But for no reason at all, the backpack
cut into my shoulders, and I am quite surprised that I walked as fast
as I did.
Last night was one of those approximately weekly occasions when I took everything out of my backpack. This wasn’t because the backpack got untidy; in fact I had a defined place for everything, as indeed one must have when traveling with such limited volume. It’s rather because I needed something at the bottom of the pack. Aside from a pocket at the back in which I carried food, water, a credit-card size knife-fork-spoon set, and sunscreen – in the outside pocket for easy access – the backpack really has only one compartment, a deep and not-so-wide sack-shape accessed only from on top. The paucity of compartments is actually an advantage, because it makes for lightness, and with fewer seams and zips that can give trouble.
The pack is a North Face Skareb 55 (for 55 liters, which equates to about 58 U.S. quarts), and it’s a good one, weighing only about 2 lb. In the main compartment, I had a strong plastic liner for water-resistance, and I placed everything into that in a series of mainly plastic bags. At the very bottom went spare nylon bags, some envelopes, and documents and articles that I wanted to take home but wouldn’t need enroute, such as sheep wool for Jenny’s class, and the manual for the new phone. Above that went backup clothing – clothes that I wouldn’t need unless I couldn’t wash my current clothes overnight – and this plastic-bag was one of those roll-up ones that allow you to expel the air in the clothing to minimize volume.
On top of the back-up clothes bag went three smaller bags side-by-side. One was for overnight toiletries. One was for back-up toiletries and what I called “tools”, for example band-aids, antiseptic cream, string, sewing kit, spare bootlaces, and the like. The third small bag contained medications.
On top of the three small bags, I placed the articles I might want to take out of the bag during the day or evening. For example, I had a small daypack which I could carry on my back to a restaurant or pub after checking into a B&B in the evening, containing valuables – also in plastic bags, one for such things as passport and important documents, and another for electronic equipment chargers. On top of the daypack went clothes I might need during the hike such as a sweater and some very limited raingear.
The pack also has two very small compartments on each side. In one I placed a LED-flashlight and whistle (for emergency), and in the other a rain cover for the entire pack.
In a quite separate bellypack, I carried my electronics – PDA, phone, and so on – and a very small notebook and pencil. These, too, went with me wherever I went.
Overnight at the Alvey House Hotel was the normal B&B experience, marred by a cramped room and by their accidental over-billing which had to be straightened out before I left. I had had to dry out my boots by using the hairdryer, a tedious matter because you mustn't cook the boots or the hairdryer. It's quite an art using a hairdryer without it cutting out from too much heat generated in a confined space.
Today there was nowhere to stop for a decent break. The first and only enroute town was Kingussie (pronounced Kin-oosie) and the first and only village was Kincraig - and neither beckoned to me in any way. When I found a bench or grass bank, they were either wet or it was raining.
Aviemore, my destination, seemed a lively place - a resort even, and a gateway to many recreational areas in the Cairngorm Mountains. It's a tourist town and has outlet stores, restaurants and sporting goods stores. It also conveyed to me that I was back in civilization, yet without any of the social benefit, as I felt quite alone here. There’s nothing quite like seeing other couples walking the town together to make one miss one’s own partner.
When I got to my booked accommodation in Aviemore, they had replacement hosts there while the owners took time off. The replacements couldn’t hear well enough to answer the door, so I waited for a long time with a heavy pack on; then they didn't know which room to give me; and then they did not leave me to myself in the room and hung around too long.
To add to these minor aggravations, I knew of only one place to stay in Tomatin, my next logical and only stopping place between here and Inverness. When I called them to book for tomorrow, they only had a double room. Usually, there's a reasonable single supplement, but this time they quoted a monstrous one. I turned them down, clearly cutting off my nose to spite my face.
Did this add up to just a bad day? Or was I burned out?
|Day N46 © 2007 and 2008 Daryl May Day N48|