I lept the big stones that defined the path in places, finding good footings and moving along with good pace. The feeling of fresh legs and a thrilling day ahead gave me an added confidence, it was as though I was hungry for the effort and to gain a place on the higher ground ahead in the coire - a little to excited perhaps about the potential to move across the tops and turn to the views that lay in wait for us.
Soon we slowed to a fast stride to climb toward to the lip of Stob Coire a t- Sneachda, looking up I realised that soon we would be atop the edge of the coire running past y gully, the vent and toward the Buttress and for Cairn Lochan at 1215m. A look across my left, the mountain unfolded down toward Loch Morlich and the tops of the trees toward our campsite.
The Buttress stood out off the Coire, like a finger running out of the had of the mountain. Given my excitement and hunger for the run and I had to step out on the top of the crag. It looked an easy stride to it's base and then a short and safe looking scramble onto it's top. But once atop the contrast in height was stark as the rock fell away below deep into the Coire bottom, vertigo threatened so off I came, a little sheepish bit casting a glance across to see climbers moving up the vent and the gully.
Along the ridge we stopped for a quick snack and a look at the map to decided what next for us - the day was still early and the weather offered us lots of possibilities.
We looked across to Ben Macdui and set a bearing and off we went across good open ground stopping at Lochan Buidhe for more food and a chat about the line across to the Ben. Moving quickly we were soon on the steady climb on the cairned path to the summit.
The sunny day had opened up the hill to many; passing hello's to walkers and the occasional chat on the beauty of the views.
Nearer by the attractive and defined ridge of Angels Peak and out toward the Devils Points...maybe another day.......
The decision was to head for Loch Avon and climb up to Cairn Gorm via coire Raibert. Dropping steadily over good ground reaching the a clear path we levelled out on Loch Etchachan dropping off Creagan a choire ectchachan; a single pitch tent sat by the loch....A great place to be on a sunny evening watching the star canopy light up!
The drop to the valley bottom at times steep and stoney, needed good caution. The distraction of the climbers dotted on the Shelter Stone draws our eye and watch them for a while pinned to the rock or slowly moving across their pitch. To our left are the many fast tumbling water lines running off Hells Lumm; as the decent sharpens the rfats streams become waterfall cascading toward the loch.
Making our way to the foot of the climb at coire Raibert we take the line twisting up the side of the stream up toward Cairn Gorm. The sides of the mountain bank up quickly but the going is good and in no time the last stretch to the summit is open to us. The ground looks fresh, short grass, lichen on rocks, a tundra landscape comes to mind.
Days end at the rail station, people wandering around taking photos and looking up to the summit - it's well marked and an good walk for many...a better run for some.
Macduie - I know we weren't.....