April in the Mountains

Another month - another wander along the Lairig Ghru to see what's changed.

When I was planning this project for the year I had some preconceptions about how the walk might develop as the year went on.  In January and February, I had pretty much expected to get beaten back by the weather (and I was - by snow in January and by wind in February).

March came as a bit of a surprise. I hadn't expected to get to the top of the Lairig Ghru quite so early in the year - but I got sunshine and still air, and good snow to walk on near the top of the pass. There was more about this walk in last months LG post.

Having used up my weather luck in March I booked my April visit to the Cairngorms fully expecting to get seriously rubbish weather, and probably pretty difficult conditions underfoot. That isn't quite how it panned out.

Loch an Eilein - beautiful at any time of year

Down around Loch an Eilein at the start of the walk not too much had changed in four weeks - the green on the trees is a little more intense and there was a lot more bird song in the air.

Getting Greener
Blue skies in April
The differences did become more dramatic as I climbed up slowly through Rothiemurchus forest - where last month it was difficult to pick out the dead trees from the living ones that just hadn't got going yet, this time it was really obvious.  The dead trees are still barren, wind blasted and white, and the live trees are a vibrant green.

Dead Wood
Lochan Deo in January was covered with a thick layer of ice, in March it was a mysterious black lochan, but by April it was starting to fill with reeds - I'm guessing that in a couple of months time it won't be obvious that there's a loch here at all.

Lochan Deo

Climbing up above Sinclair Memorial
Slightly higher again, the banks of snow that were around last month have now receded higher and higher up the pass.  It's only in the last few hundred feet that there is still enough snow to walk on, mostly there is just little patches between the rocks.  Ironically the melt has made the walking harder - last time there were smooth snow banks to walk up, this time I needed to pick my way from rock to rock trying to figure out which piles of rocks are waymark cairns, and which are just piles of rock.

Didn't see this last time!
Pools of Dee still surrounded by snow
Next month's walk is going to be very early in the month, so I suspect there might still be a little bit of snow around, I also suspect that my weather luck might be on the point of running out.

These pictures are also available on Flickr.

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