Thought it might be time for one of my sporadic poorly framed picture-fests, so here you go!
Seeing as the weekend looked like being the last one that would feel remotely summery this year, I made a last minute decision to pack up the bike and go for a ride after dropping the wife at the airport on Saturday. This meant a late start, but these things normally are when I'm concerned!
I'd been dying to try out my bikepacking gear from that nice chap Pavel, so I packed light.
I set out from the Linn of Dee at 2pm, hoping to get all the tricky bits out the way in daylight.
I was quickly over White bridge and passed Geldie bothy at the start of Glen Geldie.
The estate track ran out opposite the ruin of Geldie Lodge and it was on to singletrack, gradually petering out into random stretches of bog. It all seemed wetter than the last two times I'd passed this way.
Eventually, I slipped and slid my way up to the bridge over the Eidart.
With the watershed crossed, I could make my way onto the fun narrow track into Glen Feshie. Don't bother with the land rover track here, it's a boggy mess.
I made my way further down the glen, coated in autumn colours.
The bikepack setup made negotiating the landslides a simpler job than the panniers usually do.
Once the Ruigh-aiteachain bothy was reached, it was simply a question of making as much distance as possible through Inshriach Forest towards Rothiemurchus with the remaining light, before making camp.
In the end, I got a bit carried away and ended up slinging up the hammock in the dark by a ford just off the track near Loch an Eilein. I cooked up some dinner, made myself a hot chocolate and jumped into bed to watch the amazing starlight - no need for a tarp tonight.
Next morning, I knocked the frost off the hammock and packed up after more hot chocolate. The sun was still warm, despite the cold air.
I crossed the Cairngorm Club footbridge on my way to Loch Morlich.
After a quick stop for some snacks, I quickly passed through Ryvoan and took a right - my target being the Lairig an Laoigh.
First up was a climb up the flank of Bynack More, which looked imposing but was surprisingly rideable - feeling easier than the last time I ran this way!
Looking back to Meall a Bhuachaille:
With the final steep section requiring some pushing I got up onto the plateau feeling hot and sweaty, but was rewarded with a rough and rocky downhill into Coire Odhar.
Unfortunately, this was rewarded with a similar push up the other side.
The next drop would take me to the final stretch before the Fords of Avon.
Up close, the going was not as smooth as I'd like.
Much tripping and swearing brought me to the Fords of Avon refuge, which the MBA have done a great job of renovating - last time I was here it was pretty grim. It was a good spot to have lunch - this is about as remote as it gets.
Next up were a couple of river crossings and a whole heap more pushing up and over the Lairig an Laoigh. At the top, the riding improved and the views into Glen Derry and Coire Etchachan were even better.
Soon enough, I was looking back towards Beinh Mheadhoin from the floor of the glen.
From here, the going was much easier and I could enjoy the late afternoon sun as I made my way down very familiar tracks.
The final stretch was the usual quick dash along the main track to the Linn of Dee to complete my loop.
A bit long winded, but in summary the weather was great, the scenery breathtaking, the bikepacking gear flawless and the tracks rough to smooth!