18. Loch Maree – Kintail (Dusky Track 6/8)

Tuesday, February 28: Cold again in the early morning but otherwise a fine and sunny day

Tramping: 11.5 km

Kintail Hut (Doc)

Kea were playing on the roof for their breakfast @ 6:00, but otherwise the night was surprisingly peaceful considering the age distribution. Only one person snored, and then not too loudly.

I let the others get onto the track before me, and then was able to pack up everything, send off a spot OK, get a sat fix, sweep out the hut and get on my own way. Pretty muddy today, and a lot of ups and downs all over the place. I could see that one “gut” had been completely avoided by a new track, but still, even if the mud was fairly firm in places, in others it was soft and unavoidable.

Caught up with the group of five at a river bank just as I was ready to have my hydration break so I joined them for a bit and tested out the HDR program on the camera. It takes a total of three shots @ ± n/2 EV where n can be set as a a parameter. Tried the default n = 4 which was OK; n = 6 was too much, so I settled on n = 2 for further brackets. All handheld, of course.

Up the next valley. GPS quality: 30/30, coverage: 95%, download: Loch Maree - Kintail GPX (967 downloads)
Can’t see map? Click here!

I pushed on, into the largest bog of the day and promptly lost the track. Thought that the track must have gone to the right so I went in search of it but all I got was up to my knees in mud. Tried tracking back towards the river and just before meeting it was able to take up the track again; this time with the group of three still ahead of me by about 20 m. They then decided to stop for lunch and I pushed on, meeting Cathy & Dave just a couple of hundred metres further on, who were having their lunch; on greeting them I could see the three-wire bridge just a further couple of hundred metres up the river. That is what I aimed for for my lunch – two muesli bars and a dozen prunes. Filled the empty water bottle, and watched Cathy & Dave walk over the bridge, then I had a look at the map to see what awaited me. I put a minimum of two hours on the remainder of the track and started off.

The next section was a kind of sea of rocks, all in green moss, and a bit of a climb. This southern mountain face was very dark, almost a place where the sun never shines. Along the top there were a lot of ups & downs, and some mud, then there was a bit of a down climb to the lake, Gair Loch, and quite a bit of mud along the lakeside. Could hear and see the waterfall at the end of the lake. When the river appeared again the track was much better & straighter and the pace increased considerably. The turnoff was soon there, and while the river was inviting for a swim, the five minutes to the hut were too long to walk there or back in crox.

Met Cathy & Dave at the hut, they had just arrived. Decided I needed to wash all of the stuff I had on, and try washing myself as well, and there were only 20 m to where a tributary met the creek, so I was off in no time. Icy cold! And it was all that I could do to wash the hairy bits with rei and rinse them convincingly before the sandflies became too much of a menace.

Had forgotten the towel, but was soon in my spiderman suit and back in the hut. Still trying to work out why the left big toe is rubbing against the index toe, as the feet are so swollen with water – but an interesting observation: The sandfly bites around the ankles are barely visible and no longer inflamed – could it be that the venom and/or the antibodies have diffused out of the bites or been diluted out by having constantly wet feet? Perhaps not much for a direct medical intervention, but anyhow.

Dinner was a full cup of rice, two of water, two oxo cubes, & was sufficient.

Two further guys turned up on their way from Upper Spey: Matt from France with a bow & arrows for shooting possums, and Christoph from Austria, only coincidentally taking the track together. Interesting how having washed everyone else’s smell was quite prominent.

After all the eating had finished, there was a bit of a crossword bee.