The next few weeks passed in a blur of wind, rain and constant fatigue. This was another level from what I had experienced so far and I frequently found myself on the verge of tears. The closest I came to quitting was on the day after finishing the Glen Etive Munros, having had a completely miserable day trudging in the rain and wind across pathless ground with grasses and ferns so tall they tickled my nose (alright, I’ll admit, that’s not actually all that tall, but it’s still not pleasant!) to the outlying Beinn Sguilard, before cycling back in the pouring rain to my tent. After eating all my remaining food supplies, I crawled into my sleeping bag, grateful to be out of the rain. When it was still hammering it down the next morning, as I got up and put on my wet waterproofs and took down my wet tent, I had to keep a bit of a sense of humour. That was my low point. Had someone arrived with a car and told me I could get in it and it would all be over, I probably would have jumped at the opportunity! Instead, my only option was to load up my bike and get going. It stopped raining as I cycled across Rannoch Moor and I took a hit on my credit card, checking into the Bridge of Orchy hotel and hanging up all my wet gear, before getting back on the proverbial horse and bagging the four Munros forming The Black Mount, with the thought of a hot shower, dinner that wasn’t Super Noodles and a comfy bed spurring me on.
I have never felt as run down as in the final weeks and there was a physical manifestation of this as I developed a nasty infection in my finger which my body was too tired to fight off. Thankfully, a doctor friend I made on the hills in the Far North who climbed five Munros with me in the first month, had decided to come and join for a day climbing the seven Munros that make up the Ben Lawers group. Andrew diagnosed the infection as acute paronychia and told me I would need antibiotics to treat it. For those who like the technical terms, it then also became macerated and I had desquamation of the skin. In English, it looked really gross and also hurt a lot! The antibiotics did their job though and I can confirm I still have all digits intact.
In the last week, I still had a long way to go… I climbed 28 Munros, covering almost 200km on foot, climbing just over 18,000m: more than twice Everest from sea level, with another 200km on my bike to get between them. In that week I also faced winds of up to 100mph (thank you Storm Ali), snow, torrential rain and many hours of darkness. To say it was an interesting week to finish with is definitely an understatement. I paddled across Loch Lomond to Rowardennan on a stand-up paddleboard, to then be accompanied by 15 people up Ben Lomond (five of whom were people I’d met earlier in the journey). I was rather shell-shocked from exhaustion. It was pretty surreal to finally be climbing the last Munro.