Monday, April 3, 2017

Day 3 (HT 500 starts to bite back)

Day 3, have left planet earth for a few hours......

It was cold and damp when I woke the morning of day 3.  I had slept on the steps of a small building, wasn’t my best ever choice for stealth camp spot but got the job done. Heading out thru the mist and fog I felt lots of solitude even knowing other racers must be nearby.  The sealed road turned to dirt then to a rough two track.  Soon I was riding next to then above the Glen Golly River. 

Foot bridge across a tributary of the Geln Golly

A racer just a tad faster than I was could do a lot worse that to set up a 2nd day camp down in the shelter of a low meadow area, where route gets near this river.  

Above the Glen Golly, heading into the remotest (coolest?) part of the route

As I slowly climbed up to Lochan Segreach the going got steep, other racers began to roll by and the terrain and trail became single track to bushwhacking.  Not a section to attempt at night unless you like wasting massive amount of time and energy.  During the day this section is great fun as even in light mist and fog you can see enough to pick a reasonable line to follow, riding or hiking.  This section like many others is now deeply embedded in my ‘western US cowboy county memory’ as truly other-worldly. 

For a short time I felt I was on a different planet, ahh such memories….

After some hike-a-bike I shot down out of the rough backcontry, back down to rural highlands.

Once you pass thur these gate rocks you have returned to planet earth

In a couple of miles the route has passed me by the few homes and buildings of Achfary and up a steep climb, up to some unnamed saddle and on towards the coastline and Kylestrome then Drumbeg (got a snack there) and on along the coast to Lochinver (lots of resupply choices here)

Fun singletrack next to the Atlantic Ocean (when I at this picture I again realize I was not in peak race condition, carring about 10 extra lbs--and on day 3 I started paying the price)

As I moved along the coast line other racers came and went and for the first time since the start I talked and chatted with the few that were close to my pace. 

Singletrack that drops you right into Lochinver

After a fast resupply I was back by myself and found smooth sailing till just before Lochan Fada.  The trail hear was chunky and beyond my tired legs to ride.  I pushed my hardtail for what seemed like hours (Trackleaders says it was 3 hours) till I hit A835 and could remount and ride.  It was about 10pm and for the day I had around 77 miles and 17hr behind me.   

9:40pm, I had just finished pushing my rig down that shoreline,

I was now about spent and found it hard to fully appreciate the spectacular view, it had been frustratingly slow going the last 3 hours…..

The plan was to push on till I hit 100 miles for the day and then camp up.  At 92 miles I gave up and called it a day.  I picked what I thought would be a great camp spot but soon was fighting off Midges as I ate, cleaned up etc.  The next morning, in only 2.5 more miles, I would learn I had made a truly major blunder in not staying on plan and going for the full planned 100 miles…….as I write this report this gaff still bugs me almost a year later...ahhhhhhhh......

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