TGOC2012 – Day 2 – A very wet Sunday with a FWA – Kinloch Hourn

I woke at 5am and it wasn’t raining; I went back to sleep. Unfortunately, when I woke again at 8am, the rain was bucketing down and that’s how it remained all day. I knew that today was due to be wet, so I’d been thinking about my Foul Weather Alternative(s). My plan had been to go NE along Allt Coire Sgoireadail then E and up the hill to Bealach Coire Chaorainn and I knew that I’d have a tough enough day in fine weather. In this rain I really didn’t fancy the climb up to the bealach so I decided to keep following the track along Allt Coire Sgoireadail until it joined Wester Glen Quoich Burn. Yes, it would be further but it should be easier. However, my plan still depended on me being able to ford the Allt Coire Sgoireadail and that proved impossible.

It doesn’t look TOO bad, but this water was scary

My vetter had suggested the best fording place and, looking at the map, I agreed with him. The river looked quite ferocious and I kept checking my GPS to see if I was exactly where I’d planned to cross. I walked a little further along the west bank, looking for inspiration. Eventually, I sat down, removed my Sealskinz socks and put my shoes back on. I was carrying Crocs for river crossings, but in this depth and speed of water I wanted something more substantial on my feet.

I looked for the easiest place to enter the river and, from a sitting position on the bank, dropped into the water which came half way up my thighs. I knew I would have to use my poles for stability, so the last thing I wanted to do was let go of one of my (brand new) PacerPoles. Yes, I had the orange cord round my wrist but obviously not tightly enough. Luckily I managed to trap the pole before it floated too far away, and I made sure it was well secured to my wrist. I tried to take a step, but my leg was being dragged downstream as soon as my foot was lifted. I was having trouble planting my poles in the river bed as they too were being dragged downstream. Suddenly, I wasn’t enjoying myself. This water was cold, fast and deep, and quite capable of bringing my TGO Challenge to a very nasty end. I’d only managed to shuffle about 10 inches from the bank but that was quite far enough and I carefully shuffled back and climbed out.

I was wearing my waterproof trousers over my Rohan Goas and my lower body was already soaked before I went into the river. [I later found a small rip in my waterproofs and, in such heavy rain, this was enough to render the trousers useless as waterproofs.] There was no point changing into dry clothes, as my waterproofs were keeping the chill off my legs and I wanted to be certain I had dry clothes to wear in the tent at night, so I put my socks back on and reverted to FWA2, going back the way I’d come towards Kinloch Hourn and the minor road lying to the South.

From now on the walking should be an easy plod along the road, but even that was difficult in places as there were two sections where Loch Quoich had overlapped its bank and the road was flooded.

The road along the N shore of Loch Quoich

In terms of distance, my new route was pretty similar to the original one but I’d now wasted a couple of hours failing to ford the burn, and then backtracking, and I thought it best to take advantage of the easy road walking and push on as far as I could.  I had a bed booked in Invergarry the next day, so any extra distance I covered today would increase the time I had in the hostel (or pub) tomorrow.

I thought that Kingie may be a suitable place to camp but I spent ages trying to find a flat, bog-free, tussock-free pitch which was out of sight of the road and any buildings.  There was no chance of meeting all those requirements as everywhere was absolutely sodden, but I found a reasonably good pitch directly N of the power station dam.  My main concern, that night, was the wind rather than the rain and I rigged up an extra guyline on the windward side of the tent.  I don’t think it really needed it, but it made me feel better.

Unfortunately, with the heavy rain and the strong gusts, I decided I couldn’t cook either outside or inside the tent so there was no hot food or drink for me that night (but the whisky warmed me up).  Most of my gear was completely soaked; even some of the clothes in a “dry” bag were damp although, thankfully, my sleeping bag was dry.  Remembering last year’s wind and rain, I was concerned that this year could be even worse.

I keep my camera in a plastic bag in a camera pouch but it was also wet – probably from when I took photos – hence the foggy nature of the next photo.

Trying to dry my kit during a brief sunny spell next day. I wish I’d remembered to dry my camera before I went to bed.

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9 Responses to TGOC2012 – Day 2 – A very wet Sunday with a FWA – Kinloch Hourn

  1. alan.sloman says:

    Ooh. A very wise move to abort the river crossing. I *hate* crossings like that when walking alone.

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  2. Theo says:

    To attempt such a rivercrossing you must be :
    A. A very experienced mountainwalker
    B. Extremely brave
    C. Very stupid
    D. Judith

    Or : E. Very wise to turn back

    Theo

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    • Judith says:

      This was the first year I had really understood what “in spate” meant. Like Alan says, it was the “when walking alone” which made it worse. Maybe 2 or 3 of us could have held onto each other as we crossed? (But I think turning back was probably the best decision),

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  3. John J says:

    I’ll drink to that. Mind you….
    Yes, without doubt you took the right decision.
    Keep ’em coming….what’s next?
    JJ

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  4. Grumpy says:

    The worse thing you can do when wet and cold is drink alcohol. It opens the pores and allows heat to escape from the body there by lowering the core temperature. Sorry but it almost as dangerous as trying to cross a river in spate solo!

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    • Judith says:

      Oh dear. I think I have just been told off – twice. Don’t worry, Mr Grumpy – I didn’t drink much and I soon warmed up in my down bag. I still have some of this year’s Challenge whisky in my hipflask, so I can’t have drunk that much. But, point taken!

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  5. Grumpy says:

    To resist further temptation it my be a good idea to get rid of the offending hip flask altogether, you are welcome to forward it to Grumpy Towers (don’t bother to empty it)!

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