When I was a lad the only quotient anyone ever mentioned was IQ, the Intelligence Quotient. Then a few years ago the Emotional Intelligence or EQ was invented in an effort to explain why gregarious dullards often achieve better life success than socially inept geniuses. Now there is another one to contend with, the Body Awareness Quotient or BQ. I first read of this new quotient a few months ago in New Scientist and was amazed to learn that some people have such a low BQ they aren’t even aware of the beating of their own heart.
The concept popped into my mind a couple of weeks ago on the walk in to Kinbreack bothy, during which I was aware of not only my heartbeat but also a slight headache and mild nausea, the physiological effects of carrying an outrageously heavy bag. On describing these symptoms to my companions I found I was not alone: we were all similarly affected by our burdens. None of us actually weighed our bags, but I’d estimate they were in the 25 – 30 kg range. This may seem outrageous, but it’s actually close to the minimum weight for a pack containing all the essentials for a winter weekend: axe and crampons, sleeping gear, a 12 pack of lager, 5 kg of coal and provisions that included a nice slab of 28-day hung sirloin.
After all, who in their right mind would skimp on the essentials when a cursory glance at the map had given the impression of an easy walk-in of only about 5 km? Well the 5 km was more like 8 km, including an exceedingly rough ascent to 450 m, where we picked up a boggy Argo track of pulverised peat. Thankfully the peat-mush was mostly frozen; a few comedy slips were a small price to pay for being spared repeated knee-deep immersions.
The weather was benign, a constant, soaking drizzle, the march was arduous enough to be satisfying but not long enough to cause any real distress or lasting damage. A mere three hours of discomfort was a small price to pay in order to reap the rewards of two nights of bothy life, sitting round the fire, drinking beer and eating steak in the company of farty men.
One of the great pleasures of a night approach comes the next morning when daylight reveals the surroundings. The approach was an order of magnitude easier than that to Maol Bhuidhe, but the quality of Kinbreack’s situation is comparable. Indeed I found the particularities of its location, the general layout of the surrounding terrain, to be uncannily like that of Maol Bhuidhe, though Maol Bhuidhe has the edge in terms of topographic aesthetics of both mountains and moraines and in having a scenic loch in front.
This compleats my first round of the Knoydart bothies. I look forward to starting my second.