Sunday, 21 January 2018

the best way to clean your shoes

So it snowed midweek and I wondered if it would last (along with the sunny forecast) all the way to the weekend. To my surprise, and against the odds, it did. And the snow didn't even have a shin scraping crusty ice topping or get too deep to run in. Resulting in one of the best Winter day's running EVER!

I have a new favourite cup at home. Holds the same amount as a small bathtub (not as much as a Sports Direct mug but halfway between normal and that) and Mary filled it with far too much coffee in a bid to get us to the Pentlands before the sun went down. I had had a long working week and was in dicking-about-mode. Also fishing out Yaktrax mode, and after the coffee, chat mode as well. Unusually Mary conceded to my route suggestions; that we park at Bonaly (pretty much on the flyover above the bypass) and avoid the parking at Flotterstone and Hillend. Then do a mid-level run missing the high tops but covering about 7~10 miles. I had found my Yaktrax, AND my gaiters. Not sure whether to fit the gaiters' thin elastic band under or over the coiled wire of the Yaktrax. Did one on either, to see which survived. (Both did.) At this point I was considering going to Feel The Burns on Sunday so wanted to test kit before the race.

Yaktrax over Speedgoats under gaitors.
Like chains for tyres.

After the car park at Bonaly we immediately turned right onto a small track that climbs between the trees. We continued right at the top fence although we stopped for a kit change as we had overdressed. Mary took off her Yaktrax: they are great over hardpack snow and ice but less essential for deep snow and she was finding them cumbersome. There was a bit of balling snow underneath but I kept mine on and felt they were helpful. The quality of the snow was really good - powdery and good under compression and not icy. As soon as you went into shadow you could feel the difference in temperature. The sun was blasting down all afternoon. It was partly intended we set off in the pm to get the best of it, but if it had been brighter in the morning we probably wouldn't have seen too much of it. Everything was sparkling in the dazzling light.

kit change: I took off my 2nd hat and outer gloves
before we even got out the trees

it was Ochilly snowy over in Fife

While the main trail turns right, and through a gate, there is a small stile over to the left that cuts through the trees and leads to Bonaly Reservoir. I suspected it would be rather magical today and wasn't disappointed. Was there ice? Yes. Would it support a person? No. And what's more I didn't even get a wet foot finding that out. There were a couple posing at the far end but it really wasn't sitting down weather. We ran past but stopped to take pics of the backlit heavy frosting on the grasses there in the sun. I didn't get the photo I was after - it was difficult to know if the results were sharp with the glare on the screen and I didn't want to hold up Mary. She was not in the best of moods. We went back through the trees to come out on the main trail again but not before we bumped into Greig and his kid at a self made wind break and shelter, cooking sausages on an open fire. I asked was it generating enough heat to keep them cosy and the answer was no. Nice idea though. And I liked the look of the 2 fat sausages on sticks above the fire. 

Out through deeper drifted snow and up the hill. I suggested we go over the summit rather than round the contour as I suspected a better view. It was outstanding! We joked about avoiding the use of cliches like winter wonderland and Narnia

I had done a couple of variants of a 10 mile out-and-back from Bonaly but had no particular route in mind from this point. Mary had cheered up a bit and suggested we take the diagonal to the summit of Bell's Hill. It turned out to be the worst section of the day - even though the trail had been broken by someone earlier, it was knee deep a lot of the way and left the path to wander blindly over lumpy ground hidden beneath the snow. Mary was not a happy bunny and blamed me for everything wrong in the world. I was keen to avoid further wrong doing but couldn't think of a route to the Black Springs end of Threipmuir without more of the same. Once we got back on route the going improved and happily the path (pretty much the skyline in reverse from Harbour to Black Hill) wasn't too bad. M cheered up again but I could tell she was tired and wouldn't enjoy any kind of epic shenanigans beyond sundown. I was high as a kite and running about taking hundreds of photos. 

going down Bell's was tricky and the only place 
where the Yaktrax weren't a great help getting grip

we both suspected this trail would be BAD but it was bearable,
except for the poor souls who had brought their mtbs out to play

after crossing the end of Threipmuir the path goes up through these trees

there were quite a lot of folk out enjoying the conditions

We headed towards the Rangers' Lodge at Harlaw but turned up Maiden's Cleugh to contour round the side of Harbour Hill meeting the path we'd come on earlier and descending back to Bonaly car park. There were plenty sledgers on the lower slopes and hills near the car park. The last hour saw the hills awash in a low orange light - Mary's legs looked the colour of spray tan. We both felt really lucky to have had the time and energy to be up the hills on one of the finest Winter days in memory and were excited to see how the photos turned out. We were also really hungry when we got back to the car and wolfed down 3 protein bars I had taken in case we ended up in a snow cave for the night. Tremendous day out and such a difference to the following day when we were back to dull flat light and low cloud. We both slept like crazy and were glad we'd decided to give the Feel-the-Burns race a miss and instead get some early spring marathon training road miles in instead. 

8.5miles over 2.5hrs

1 comment: