After a slightly disturbed night due to sleep not being on the agenda of the local bird population, especially one that made a frequent curlew like trilling sound, I woke to high cloud and a windless 6C.
The glassy lochan reflected a lovely skyscape.
Having decided to ease my day by omitting the aforementioned hills - they will form the basis of an excellent day walk sometime - I spent the first few hours strolling along pleasant lochanside then forestry tracks. Geese, dippers, curlew, various other birds, and distant red deer were my only company. The first human encounters of the day were Peter and Barbara, in Dalwhinnie, on their way to the distillery.
Geal Charn was sunlit in weather that again demanded t-shirt and suntan cream. It's pictured as the backdrop to my elevenses break.
Disconcerting forestry signs requiring authorisation for entry to a small area of deserted woodland were summarily defaced.
By late morning I'd reached Lochan na Doire-uaine, a small lochan edged by a fossilised forest. This led to a rocky defile that Markus and I had negotiated a few years ago during his fine Caledonian Trail walk. It was as I remembered. A bouldery mess with deep holes and no evident path. A vetter has apparently described it as an area slashed by the lashing of a dragon's tail. It looked to me like the 'other worldly' set from a dinosaur movie. There were traces of boot prints - probably belonging to Peter and Barbara.
Once through the defile, a small river appeared, the path slowly regained its composure, and I could enjoy a second lunch (my provisions inexplicably contained two tins of fish today) in the knowledge that I would be in time for the 16.09 bus to Newtonmore.
On the way I called in at the café for coffee and cake, and met Markus and Philipp who joined me on what turned out to be a private bus ride to Newtonmore, where we are TGO Challenge 'tourists', staying at Sue and Ali's bunkhouse.
There are too many to mention here and at Dalwhinnie, but my plan for a sociable Challenge has certainly been achieved.
In particular it was good to see Louise and Laura in good spirits, the Forfar trio, Sam and Richard, Emma, Peter and Jayme, to name but a few, not forgetting Ali, Sue (en route to Montrose) and Neil at the bunkhouse.