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Meall a' Bhuachaille Route: The All Weather Trail

BY ABBY

all seasons in one day 8 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

View on the Meall a' Bhuachaille Route

View on the Meall a' Bhuachaille Route

Today we went for yet another hike in Cairngorms National Park, this one was in Glenmore Forest Park. The walk itself was titled Meall a'Bhuachaille..you all can have a go at trying to pronounce that one (Bh is pronouced "V").

Today's hike turned out a little different. It was fine at first, the weather wasn't too bad and the sun even came out a few times, but as we neared the summit of our little hill we noticed that the wind was picking up, and some dark grey clouds were headed our way. A few minutes later some snow started to fall down on us, which wasn't bad at first, it just meant sticking another layer on to keep warm and we would be free to continue on. But it started to come down faster, and turned into hard little bits of ice which we were pelted with continuously. When we got to the top there was a small wall of rocks which we sat behind to try and stay out of the wind. But it looked to us as if there could be rain coming and so we decided that we might as well continue walking, as we'd be wet either way. The wind had picked up even more, but we pushed through, hoping we could find the shelter that the information centre had said was somewhere along the way. The rain never did come, but the hail stayed unfortunately. But as we got partway down the other side we were able to get out of most of it, which was quite a relief. The hillside was pretty steep, and a little slippery from the few days of weather, which isn't a great combination. But at least the other three were able to keep their footing. Closer to the base we found the shelter that we had heard about, and decided to stop in for a few minutes to have a little lunch. We were joined later by a few others, along with their 8 month year old dog. You all are probably thinking "Aww, how cute.. a puppy!", but it wasn't quite like that. It looked to us like a cross of a Doberman and a Rottweiler, and it was so huge that even the man holding his collar looked to be having trouble. Some of you may know that one of my biggest fears are dogs, especially large ones... who aren't on a leash... and are very energetic... and want your chocolate. But we were soon on our way again, eager to get on with our walk. The rest of the hike was very flat, as we just circled around the bottom of the hill around to our car. But before we were able to seek refuge in Winston, we got our last bit of weather, some nice rain to finish everything off nicely.

Meall a' Bhuachaille Route near Summit

Meall a' Bhuachaille Route near Summit

When we finished our route we decided that we were done for today, as the weather had been pretty nasty and we all just wanted to have a warm drink, or in my case, a shower.

I've also decided to include a short summary, if the details were just too much to handle and get your head around.

Wow, this is pretty. Yeah, quite nice. Now I'm tired... and hot. Oh, but not for long. Wow, that's a strong wind. Ooh, snow! Ow... ow that hurts... wow, that's a lot of hail. Yay, the top! WIND.. MORE WIND. Lots more hail. Finally, a break with food and shelter! OH MY GOODNESS.. IS THAT A BEAR? No? Just a dog?.. okay... Great, this is nice and flat. The car is so close!!... but... RAIN.

After we got home my parents took a nap (surprise surprise!!) and Hannah and I just relaxed and enjoyed ourselves. Later we got a knock on our door, and when we answered it turned out to be our friendly landlords offering us some freshly baked scones. They were warm and delicious and we all thoroughly enjoyed them. My mom was even able to wiggle her way into getting the extra one.

Posted by KZFamily 11:58 Archived in Scotland Tagged rain scotland mountain hill weather hike wind hail cairngorms_park scones Comments (3)

Montagne Sainte Victoire: Round Two

by Ben

sunny 14 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

Montagne Sainte Victoire: Part of the 18 Km length of the mountain

Montagne Sainte Victoire: Part of the 18 Km length of the mountain

There is a local shop that rents bikes in Cavaillon and we tried to connect with them by email and by going to the shop only to find it closed with an the alternate address printed on the door which we checked out but it was a bit of a dead end as it led us straight to the cemetery. Since our hopes of renting bikes and cycling one of the many velo routes in the area were not to be fulfilled we decided to return to our favourite mountain today.

All our leg work two days ago gave us most of the information we needed for a successful expedition up the mountain. A trail map continued to elude us as we could not find an information office that had the information we were looking for. I was able to determine the location of one of most popular trailheads for going up the mountain on the web. It is an hour drive from our apartment to the trailhead and we decided to let things warm up a bit before heading out (it can go down 2 degrees at night). We arrived at the proper location at 10:30 am and the sun was shining and only a bit of foggy haze was preventing an entirely blue sky. This mountain has dozens of routes around it and over it, many of them which don't go to the summit. It is a popular area but everyone is going off in all directions and quite a few don't look certain where they are heading so information as to our route was in short supply. We made two false starts which saw us expend about 30 minutes of walking in the opposite direction of our intended destination. It certainly got me a little rattled as I did not want to have another outing that would have no summit.

We finally got our direction and kept our eyes peeled for the small red paint marks on trees or stones that indicated the route. By the time I had relaxed and was enjoying the ascent Abby was having her misgivings about going all the way to the top--it was way too hot! Let me tell you something about the temperatures you see posted on our blog entries. They indicate the temperature in the shade. Between 11:00 am and 3:00 pm if you are out in the sun and there is no wind, a 12 degree temperature can be more like 18 degrees. Walking up a steep hill in 18 degrees was not really on Abby's top ten list. I said we would continue and re-evaluate later. Within 20 minutes Abby said, "I know I will appreciate you pushing me to go on by the time we get to the top." From a teenager that is high praise indeed.

Montagne Sainte Victoire: Priory

Montagne Sainte Victoire: Priory

Simply put, the weather was great and the views spectacular. We ascended the mountain in about 2 hours will very little stopping. Three hundred meters from the summit is a small priory that was established in the 1700s. It is a tremendous location but must have provided pretty harsh living conditions for its residents. Surprisingly, the chapel at the priory is still in use although I didn't see any notices as to when services are held. The Croix de Provence was our final destination although it is not technically the summit it is one of its key features with a 19 meter cross perched on top ( approximate elevation is 1000 meters but it feels a lot higher). I am not sure what it was when I got to the top, but I had this distinct unease with how close we seemed to the sheer cliff that makes up two thirds of the summit's perimeter. I have been on top of a good number of mountains and have never had a similar sensation. The kids went closer to the edge to find a spot out of the wind but I chose to stay at my spot and its good back rest. Later just before we left I scrambled down the ridge on the other side of the summit to get a better look at the cliff face. The drop from the summit must be 200 meters straight down and it looked to me that the kids had been sitting less than two meter from the edge on a fairly steep slope. I guess they are part mountain goat. I showed them the cliff after they had finished their lunch--they were a bit surprised by the drop but still felt they had lunched in an ideal location.

Montagne Sainte Victoire: Second Try

Montagne Sainte Victoire: Second Try

All of us were very happy to have made the trip in the end and found the descent quite pleasant. We were home by 4:00 pm and started our chores. It is pack up and cleanup time (last minute laundry etc) because we leave Provence and head to Menton which is near the border with Italy. Our stop on the way will be in Monaco.

Posted by KZFamily 13:03 Archived in France Tagged mountain provence montagne_sainte_victoire Comments (6)

Montagne Sainte Victoire

By Abby

sunny 13 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

Montagne Sainte Victoire

Montagne Sainte Victoire

Today we woke up at a very reasonable time, nine o'clock. The only unfortunate bit was that we were woken up with a "We have to get moving because we have a really long day ahead of us." But then we decided to discuss our options and chose for a different kind of day. We were going to drive to Aix-en-Provence, and climb a mountain (Montagne Sainte Victoire--a mountain that inspired Paul Cezanne) that was just outside of the town.

Our GPS led us to the town without too many problems, but after that it was a nightmare. The traffic was terrible, and any time that we kind of knew where we were going the street we were supposed to go down was closed. And to make matters worse, our GPS didn't know that the mountain existed. After much frustration we were able to leave the town and decided to stop in a municipal park for the little village of Le Tholodon just outside Aix en Provence for lunch. We ate lunch on a bench inside a small area dedicated to the playing of pétanque.

Montagne Sainte Victoire:Part Way Up

Montagne Sainte Victoire:Part Way Up

Eventually,by our own fantastic navigation skills, by two o'clock we were at our destination. Because it was so late in the day we knew that we weren't going to make it to the top, but we wanted to get a little of what we had come for. We had heard that it was supposed to be a cold day, but there was barely a breeze and the sun was shining...and it was quite warm. I happened to be wearing leggings under my jeans to keep warm...not the best idea. After some time of climbing I was so hot I could barely keep going, because I also happened to be wearing the warmest shirt I had brought. But my dad found a place for me to change and I was able to get into cooler clothes. The sky was a pretty blue and there were no clouds to be seen, it was really a beautiful day.

Montagne Sainte Victoire: Paragliders over the Summit

Montagne Sainte Victoire: Paragliders over the Summit

We saw about four people floating with paragliders over the mountain's summit. We ended our hike a short way from the base of the actual mountain, which you could not reach from the side we had approached it on. The wind had started up but we appreciated it in our hot state, and began our walk back down again. It took us a while to find our car because there were so many parking lots, each between 50 and 120 metres away from each other. By the time we did find our car we were content with our days work and were each granted a well deserved drink of water. We started the car ride back and before I knew it I was woken up to be told we were in the grocery store parking lot, ten minutes away from our apartment. Our shopping trip took longer than expected (and we spent more than expected!) but we were able to get the next couple days covered for food. Right when we finished unpacking at home, Hannah started dinner and we were able to eat a nice warm meal of taco-jitas (tacos with fajita sauce). We plan to get to bed early tonight as we are most likely going to be touring many towns tomorrow and it will be a very full day.

Posted by KZFamily 14:04 Archived in France Tagged france mountain driving sainte montagne aix_en_provance victoire Comments (1)

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