Well, if launching an inflatable canoe and paddling it across Scotland doesn't count as a good launch for 4Manchester Women (daily magazine-style blog for busy Manchester Women - launching Monday 16th April), then inflate me with offal and call me a haggis!
Today was epic (22Km)! That doesn't actually do it justice - it was EPIC!!!
35.5Km completed, 65Km-ish to go.
On this fine Scottish day of sunshine, showers, hail, persistent rain and thunder, we made it right across Loch Lochy (no that isn't a made up name) to the southern end of Loch Oich. It's been such a long day that I'm struggling to remember where we started.
Loch Lochy was our first loch and as we paddled onto it, I tried hard not to think about the fact it's 1500m deep. It was beautiful, like canoeing across a mirror. At one point there was a rainbow which both started and finished in the loch - I've never seen anything like it.
We made amazing progress, meeting up with my in-laws at specific points along the way. It was all going very well, until a storm rolled in over the mountain and along the water. You could see it coming and almost immediately we went from mill pond to seriously bouncy.
"To the shore" I yelled as the hail stones bounced off us. It was a bit disconcerting - but lunch helped.
It was clear that the rain had set in for the foreseeable future, so we just had to go for it. The HMS Helen Skelton did us proud and Monty, our mascot Moose on the front guided us through the rain. We were soaking - but I just kept focusing on points on the horizon and heading for them.
"It's not impossible, it's just difficult - and if it wasn't difficult then it wouldn't be a challenge" I kept reminding myself.
Tris' parents were brilliant - like the shop keeper from Mr Ben, they kept appearing on the horizon, cheering us on and reassuring us that we weren't alone. It's the first time I've actually been in 'the team' - usually it's me acting as support. I know now what an important job that is.
Onwards through Laggan Locks, a floating pub and a eerie stretch of the Caledonian Canal lined by spooky trees, hairy with stringy ice green lichens - finally arriving at the southern end of Loch Oich at around 6.30pm. Like a well oiled machine Tris and I paddled together really well, and although I was shivering with cold it was - in the words of Ron Weasley - "Bloody Brilliant!"
Tomorrow is an even longer day (26Km in total) - all the way along Loch Oich, a stretch of the canal and then 15Km along the biggy - Loch Ness (makes a worried face). Fingers crossed for fine weather and no wind!
Here are a few pics from today: