I'd gotten up in the middle of the night and wrapped my "affected area" in an Ace bandage. I can tell you I never really expected to use that when I loaded it ino the med kit however many years ago. Anyway, and moreover: given that my foot/leg hurt like hell overnight, just lying in bed, I figured mountain climbing today might be out.
And when Tim threw the curtains back at 7am, outside was: soup. He then picked up his phone, and read aloud the following text: "Rain both days, slightly better today. Love, Mum."
Because of the wildly variable climate here, we'd scheduled two days (three nights) in Glen Nevis. The idea was always that you do the climb on whichever of the two days looks better weather-wise this, obviously, doubles your chances of something decent. But it does raise dilemmas, about which we'd already had long involved debates. An obvious example: the weather on day one is just good enough to attempt the summit, but the forecast for day two is slightly better. Do you wait? Tomorrow might be slightly better; then again, the weather may unexpectedly nosedive, and tomorrow be impossible, and you've already thrown away your chance to do it on day one.
My injury made things slightly easier, I think, in our case. I simply didn't think I could do it today. Though, it got complex again quickly: since I wasn't too optimistic about being able to do it tomorrow either, I suggested Tim might go without me today. Did he wait, on the chance that I'd heal enough? What if he did, then tomorrow's weather (and the forecast wasn't promising) turned terrible?
We decided provisionally to bag today. That left breakfast. But we quickly realised that (if you didn't have B&B) there was nowhere to get breakfast in this one-chalet town. But, then, I also realised we weren't actually walking anywhere, so we had no real claim on breakfast. It was just habit at that point. I guessed we'd have to find something else to fixate on. This could be a very long couple of days.
Tim braved the weather soup, to return to the Visitors Centre for the very latest mountain forecast (and some provisions). On his way out, he snapped a picture of me with my bandaged foot up, looking crippled and pissed off.
Me: In case you need to blackmail me?
Tim: No, I won't blackmail you. I'll just put it on the Internet. You haven't got anything I want. Except humour value.
Me: That's terrifying. The man who can't be bought off.
I dragged the heater into the bedroom (glad there was a heat source!) so I could be crippled in bed, until Tim returned about an hour later. Result: basically, the forecast for the day wasn't good and tomorrow was slightly worse. I was still pretty sure there was no way I was making it up the mountain today, so we officially waved off.
We hung out in the lounge (heater relocated again), chatting and drinking tea. We read Scottish mountaineering magazines, Tim already planning his next trip. By about 10am, I was bored and borderline depressed. (I'd been on a lower dosage of my brain drugs, which is usually fine when I'm on a walking trip.) I ventured to the upstairs suite to scavenge some more sugar for tea, and got up the stairs reasonably well but that's one flight, versus a mountain. I was finding it seriously hard to imagine that I was going to be able to climb Britain's tallest peak in less than 24 hours.
Of course, it's just one of those things; but facing two full days of doing nothing here was seriously depressing. Pretty quickly, I wasn't even looking forward to going back home, or to anything. Such is depression.
At noon, Tim sucked down some soup, then geared up and headed out for Fort William, mainly just as something to do, perhaps also to shop for outdoors kit. (Fort William, a couple of miles up the road, and the official end of the WHW, famously has a lot of outdoors shops.) He also promised to hit a real grocery store and heroically procure me some soya milk, fresh fruit, etc.
A little while after Tim left, I repaired to the Ben Nevis Inn with reading and writing supplies, for tea and lounging. The Inn has an extremely funky interior, which you saw yesterday, but here it is as a reminder. It also has the following curiosities, many of which hang from the walls, and all of which I had great leisure to review and catalogue:
- A banjo
- A long bundle of rope
- An ice axe
- A sled for getting injured people off the mountain (pretty sure that one's for use, not decoration)
- A saddlebag
- A wood-burning stove
- A large barrel
- Another large barrel, cut in half and turned into bookshelves (this was upstairs in the old hayloft, where I moved because it was cosier and much, much warmer)
- A rifle with scope
- The head of an elk (in close proximity, and presumably intimately related to, the rifle)
- A drum
- A jug
- A rocking chair
Just after 3pm now. Time hangs heavy. This is too much like the end of the Cornwall walk. On my way back from the gents, I grab a menu to begin pondering dinner.
I realise I've, once again, forgotten my afternoon brain pill, which I intended to bring up here with me. I've just about run out, actually (I get mine from Tuvalu, so lead time is key) I was running low before I left, and didn't quite reorder in time but I've a feeling I'm going to need it.
I hobble down the hill and back again the 25m is still giving me trouble, which still doesn't bode well for the 1344m. And neither does the weather. On my way back into the
barn Inn, I decide to switch to that other great mood lifter a pint of Tennant's Ice Cold. It's pretty early to start drinking yet; but, then again, it sure feels late.
The trick now: drink slowly. I've never been great at that trick, but I've got the time to learn it now. While I sip, I copy down passages out of my volume of Greene it's too classic an old Pan edition to mark with highlighting for use as dispatch-opening quotes later:
Eventually, I stumbled back down to the farm to meet Tim, the outside colder than whale shit, cloudy and misty, too. Over tea, we discovered that the front page of the Times trumpeted, swear to God, this:
A national campaign to persuade every Scot to take daily supplements of vitamin D is needed if the country’s appalling health record is to be reversed, leading scientists believe.
The research points to the country’s damp, cloudy climate as a significant contributor to its bleak record of ill health and disease.
Vitamin D deficiency – caused by lack of exposure to sunshine – is twice as common among the Scots as it is among the English.
It suggests that the “Scottish effect”, the country’s hitherto unexplained high mortality rate compared with other industrial countries, is in large part down to lack of sun.
Great. This is where we're stuck.