Markus's tent fabric is 'flappier' than the thick single skin of goretex that I prefer despite the extra weight, so it was probably quite noisy in there. Tonight we both have the crashing of Petter Falls, where Allt Feith Gharuiareagan pours into the outflow from Loch Monaidh, to lull us to sleep (or in Markus's case, keep him awake).
After a lie in until 7.30, the dynamic duo had packed up and were off down the hill by 9 o' clock. It was a good track on a cold morning with fine views.
After passing a lovely lawn full of daffodils at Innerhadden, we fancied stopping for a coffee at Kinloch Rannoch. Then, after Markus had raided the local store, he remembered that the hotel was not 'backpacker friendly'. 'Under New Management' proclaimed a large sign outside the Dunalastair Hotel. We entered; the interior was even more opulent than the exterior. "Sloman country" muttered Markus, and asked for breakfast.
All except Markus agreed that 10.30 was a little late for breakfast.
"Will a piece of toast, with perhaps a bit of bacon be ok", asked the waitress.
A few minutes later, after they had killed the pig, its meaty bits arrived, sandwiched between the best part of a loaf of bread. We didn't need to eat again until we reached camp. My food mountain of uneaten supplies is growing steadily.
"So the new owners don't mind grubby backpackers?" I tested the waitress. "Not at all" responded the waitress "I AM the new owner!"
It turns out that TGO Challengers will be most welcome here in May, either calling in for refreshments, or staying in one of their 28 rooms. It is a posh hotel, though, and is priced accordingly - B+B from £120, B+B+Dinner from £180. I didn't ask about camping.
After an hour or so in the hotel lounge's comfy armchairs earwiging the witterings of a conference breakout group (oh, the memories!) we felt obliged to continue.
Waves were breaking on the eastern shore of Loch Rannoch, but the strong, icy wind was forecast to subside, and the tops were clear, so there seemed no good reason to adopt a Foul Weather Alternative.
We headed on up the elderly Land Rover Track that leads to Loch Garry and the A9, pausing frequently to admire the views in the crisp light. The prominent prow of Schiehallion was a highlight.
Soon after 1pm the angry roar of two RAF jets appeared to declare UK airspace open for business after a five day shut down (I never did get a photo of the 'All Scottish Airports Closed - Volcanic Ash' sign on the M74 gantrys), though we still haven't seen any commercial planes and the red sunset did indicate high level air pollution...
Loch Garry came into view (pictured), as did a plethora of wildlife - mountain hares, a huge herd of deer, wheatears, chaffinches, golden plover, black grouse, and many more.
Duinish bothy provided a brief respite from the icy headwind, before we left the main track and headed up towards Loch Monaidh along a boggy, haggy rudimentary LRT beside Allt Shallainn.
It was hard going.
Imagine our delight when we turned into the valley that houses the outflow from Loch Monaidh to find a Rivendell. The river trundles down a wide canyon, with flat grassy banks on either side where the water hasn't dredged its way into the mountainside. It was cold, with sleety showers, so we halted here, opposite the waterfall named after my companion, in this secret wonderland (for backpackers, anyway) rather than continue to our planned destination. We can easily pick up the time tomorrow.
The sun came out and we have enjoyed a most pleasant evening here at about 580 metres, after a day of 24 km and 580 metres of ascent, taking 8 hours including two long stops..
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