Thursday 7 November 2019

Drifting clouds, snow and cold on Cairn Gorm

Coire na Ciste

An overcast sky solid with dense grey cloud didn't seem to offer much for a mountain day as I headed for Coire na Ciste and the north side of Cairn Gorm. Typical November. Dark, damp and cold. But up high there was said to be snow and I wanted to see it.

Swirling clouds

Arriving at the car park  I looked up Coire na Ciste. Hazily, through shifting clouds, I caught glimpses of rugged mountainsides fading in and out, mysterious and insubstantial. But to the north there was blue sky above the mists shrouding Strathspey. Bands of cloud drifted across the forest below Meall a'Bhuachaille.

Meall a'Bhuachaille and Loch Morlich

A muddy path led upwards. It was soon spattered with white and then faded away as the snow cover grew more extensive. Pools were frozen, the air chill. Frost feathers decorated the grasses. This wasn't the monochrome of deep winter though. The last colour in the grasses still glowed. The land was dull gold as well as white.

The higher summits remained in the cloud. I entered it as I approached the summit of Cairn Gorm. The weather station emerged from the mist in its winter coat, as familair and eerie as ever.

There would be no sunset. I didn't linger long. As the sky darkened I set off down past the forlorn empty Ptarmigan Restaurant, waiting for a train that may now never arrive again. It's over a year since the last one. Beyond Meall a'Bhuachaille mist covered Strathspey.

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