Dawn came with a cold blue light on the snow-covered landscape. The temperature was -7.7ºC. A cool breeze drifted over the tent. Rocks were black against the whiteness. The only sound was the gentle trickling of the half-frozen stream. Then the sun came and a warm wash of pale pink light swept over the snow. I brushed the frost off the hood of my sleeping bag, having slept with the tent wide open and just the sky above my head, and watched the winter night turn to day. The warm early sunlight cooled and the snow turned back to white. Above the sky was a brilliant Alpine blue streaked with light clouds. My companion Alastair and I had walked in at dusk beside Loch Muick the previous evening under a cloudy sky and pitched our tents in the dark. Slowly stars appeared in the black sky and a crescent moon shone through the fading clouds. Only in the morning did we realise just how magnificent a setting we had chosen for our camp.
The last clouds cleared and there followed a perfect day to match the perfect camp. We hiked past frozen Dubh Loch with its massive snow-spattered cliff rising above the far shore then climbed to the rounded summit of Carn a’Choire Bhoidheach and a tremendous view of the snow-covered Highlands. The mountains were etched sharp against the deep blue of the sky, shining in the bright sunlight. The snow was crisp and firm, making walking easy. We wandered on to Lochnagar, where tracks in the snow radiated from the summit, showing the focus for most walkers. Some, like us, still lingered, reluctant to leave this mountain glory. Leaving the summit and the other people we headed back to our camp as the sun touched the horizon and deep blue shadows crept across the hills below the bright touches of the last sunshine.
Photo info: Camp beside the Allt an Dubh-Loch. Canon EOS 450D, 18-55@18mm, 1/800@ f5.6, ISO 100, raw file converted to JPEG in Lightroom 2.6