Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

Nativity by Sir Edward Burne-Jones
The Virgin brings forth today
the Word Eternal
and the earth offers a cave
to the Unapproachable.
Angels give glory with shepherds,
and the Magi journey with the star,
when for our sakes was born
as a new babe
He who is from eternity, God.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Cairn Gorm and Fiacaill Ridge

Cairngorms and thereabouts-051

The other hike we did in the Cairngorms was perfect in every way, except for the fact that we were still recovering from our hikes up Ben Nevis and around the Ring of Steall (we actually did the numbingly cold hike after this one -- I haven't been following a strict chronology while blogging about this trip), and so were a little tired.  It's probably because of the hiker's "bonk"* that I don't have a real narrative for this hike.

Cairngorms and thereabouts-016

We set off from the Cairngorm Ski Park, intending to hike up Cairn Gorm and along Fiacaill Ridge.

Cairngorms and thereabouts-021

The trail was nice and smooth for the first part of the hike. I admired the heather blanketing the ground.

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If we had been able to get over the spine of Cairgn Gorm, I think that is the ridge we would have walked along on the last part of the hike.

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The clouds remained far above and we were able to enjoy the view of the Rothiemurchus Forest, Glenmore, and Aviemore off in the distance.

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I said Scotland is rocky.
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Our first good look at Fiacaill Ridge.
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Fiacaill Ridge looked like blocks set carefully on top of each other to form teetering columns in danger of sliding away.
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This is about as far as we got before we had to turn back.  Snow and ice covered the trail.  We couldn't figure out a way to bypass the obstruction.  The rocks on the left were too steep to clamber over, and the land dropped away too sharply on the other side for us to safely go that way.

On the bright side, while making our way back down Cairn Gorm, we met the ptarmigan, of which I have spoken before.
Bog cotton, Cairngorms, Scotland
 Last, but not least, we saw plenty of bog cotton along the trail.  What a homey name for such a funny looking plant.  It made me think of fairy brooms.

*The "bonk" is what you can sometimes feel after putting your body through a massive exertion of effort (such as 2 difficult hikes of 10 - 12 hours each within a few days of each other) and not yet eating enough calories to make up for the caloric deficit that results from such an effort.  All of this combined makes for a nagging sense of fatigue and a stomach that annoyingly feels like a dry, echoing well no matter how much food you stuff into it.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Cairn Gorm is rocky

Cairngorms and thereabouts-036
Looking up at J. on the side of Cairn Gorm
Scotland has a lot of rocks.