Thursday, February 21, 2013

Back to Bennachie

Last time I came back from a trip to the states, I was reinitiated into hiking right away with a trip up Clachnaben. This time upon my return, the scheduled Explorer’s hike was up Bennachie. 
I had climbed this ‘hill’ before during the summer, but have been wanting to revisit, especially since last time I chickened out and didn’t make it to the top of the Mither Tap peak. (*Spoiler alert*: I didn’t make it there this time either, but for a much more rational reason.) 

This week’s hike happened to fall during a school holiday, so many of the ladies were unable to join us. Since it was going to be such a small group, Jillian and I decided to take our pups along for the exercise. 
Yea, I know, I’m an awesome Mom. Well to Bailey. Sam’s still a little perturbed that he was left behind, but I’m sure some time in my lap will cure that attitude right up. 
Pitiful pup in the window: "Wait Mom! You forgot me!"
Anyway, back to Bennachie. When we started the hike, it was fairly ‘warm’ and the winds weren’t anything to be concerned about. I am usually the wimp toting along my ski jacket and 7 extra layers, which I hardly ever need. So this time I figured my new ‘Omni-Heat’ fleece (reflects your body heat back to you) would be sufficient. After all, we’d be climbing quite a ways which always makes me start tearing the layers off.  (*Spoiler Alert* I needed my ski jacket and 7 extra layers.)

We meandered through scenic woodlands made even more picturesque by a babbling brook that ran parallel to our path.
After about 10 minutes we reached a clearing, revealing our steep climb to the first of 3 summits…and also revealing gusting winds and icy trail conditions. 
It was quite hard to focus on Bailey’s wild gallivanting while simultaneously deciphering my footing. I was determined that no matter what, I WOULD NOT FALL. As the other hikers took minor spills, I gritted my teeth, fell way behind the pace, and slowly made my way safely up the mountain. It was tricky, especially when trying to keep Bailey within a reasonable distance. 

When we made it to the first summit, we were greeted with the fiercest winds I have ever encountered, and this Louisiana girl has lived through many a’ hurricane. They were such freezing cold gusts that my teeth hurt from the sensation, as if I was biting into a scoop of ice cream.

Needless to say, we snapped some pictures, and hurried our freezing butts back down to the path to continue on to Mither Tap, the elusive peak. 
The path become a bit less treacherous as we made our way across the flat parts of the hill, but as soon as we started the ascent to the Mither Tap Summit, it started to ice over again. 
I walked on top of the heather where I could, but we eventually decided that reaching the top wasn’t worth the risk of injury. 
We took pictures of the peak before making our way to the third summit…which we also skipped. This time because we were cold and tired and hungry. Even Bailey was losing that pep in her step and by the end she was just walking right by my side. 
It made the icy descent much easier not having to keep an eye out for her mischievous meanderings. Once we hit the tree line on our way down, we instantly felt better. 
The wind was blocked and the forest insulated us from the cold. It was like an entirely different world. Gone were the snowy and iced over fields and back were the lush and green plant life that thrives here year round. 

I breathed a sigh of relief and foolishly let my resolve of NOT FALLING fade. As I went down a set of damp wooden steps built into the path, I clumsily slipped and busted my butt. Seriously. I lasted the whole 3 hours on ice without falling, and as soon as we were back in good conditions I busted it. Typical.   

Even though it was markedly warmer in the woods, we still felt frozen solid.  We decided to forgo our frozen PB&Js and stop by Gadie’s, one of my favorite cafes, for a warm bowl of soup and a cuppa tea.  After dethawing at lunch, we all headed home for a well deserved nap, Bailey included. 

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