After a bag of chips in Aboyne, I arrived at the Linn of Dee carpark at about 7.30 pm. I'm always surprised by the number of cars parked there, even at odd times like this wet and blowy November Saturday evening. A few cars had an foggy blue glow of light coming from inside them, and a misty view into the tiny domestic life going on inside.
I'd chosen to do this camp out for many reasons; the weather forecast was good; I need to log a night ride for a qualification; a mate was going out as well; I'd been in the office all week; I wanted to practice a cold camp out. There are all sorts of reasons for a micro-adventures but often its the one reason not to that means it doesn't happen. Three top tips for overcoming that blocker: Make a deal with your family and friends, have your kit close at hand and only aim for a small trip.
I sat in the car to let a sleet shower pass through, checked the map one more time, checked my kit one more time, then stepped outside. It was like stepping on to the deep seabed. There was a sense of massive space around and above me, but my breathing and view were trapped in a capsule made by my light. The narrow beam exaggerated the sense of space outside it and amplified all sight and sound. I was startled by a line of headlights in the valley ahead. They were moving quickly towards me. I imagined they were a drunken, late-back shooting party ready to run me off the road. Panic subsided when I was close enough the see they were the eyes of deer crossing the track reflecting my lights. Further along, a great roar started as a whisper over my right shoulder. Involuntarily, I quickened my pace. The roar came on louder and faster. I spared a quick glance over my shoulder into the darkness, I hunched for impact, just before I realised it was a waterfall just ahead at the side of the track.
I camped at the Red House, if I'm honest, because it was a reassuring point of civilisation. I set up my tent, sleeping bag and stove during a lull in the wind and rain. I felt the instant calm of tent life, as soon as the door was zipped up. I carefully separated wet and dry clothes, repacking each vital piece of kit to avoid losing it and the potential wet, cold or hungry consequences the next day. I boiled water for a brew, then knocked the stove over so boiling water filled one of my boots.
I had a decent nights sleep. A noisy wind kept waking me up until about 2, Then it must have stopped because I jerked awake at 7.40, It was light, calm and cold. A hearty, congratulatory breakfast of Porridge and Sultanas, and then the careful, wet and icy repacking. All packed up, and with one icy foot, I set off. The good weather in the forecast failed to appear, so I checked out a trail on the west side of the Glen Dee. In the daylight, the tracks were a pleasant ride and pedalling soon warmed me through. The high Munros, with their snow covering hiding them in the cloud, might be my next micro-adventure.