Sunday, April 20, 2008

Helicopter (Glen Affric Day 3)

Sunday morning brought more misadventure. All the guests had left and I'd finished cleaning and then washed my hair in the kitchen sink (as that way I could mix hot and cold water and not worry about scalding myself or freezing myself in the shower). I was just heading out the door when Willie the National Trust guy stopped by again. He wanted to get a map reference, as one of the tree-planters had fallen and broken her ankle on the hill and he was driving out to call for an air lift. He pointed out to me the ridge where they were, to the west of the hostel.

As I was planning to head in that direction anyway, I walked down the glen and then over an hour later I spotted them on the hillside and went up to chat. I arranged with the injured woman and her friend to take their luggage to Inverness with me tomorrow, and after a while the air ambulance eventually appeared over the mountain opposite (after having first gone down another glen).

We weighed down all the bags so that nothing would blow into the blades and gathered in one spot while the helicopter tried one spot after another in order to land. The pilot eventually managed a brief touch down to allow one medic to get out, and then continued trying landing spots on the hill, but it was too steep. He settled on a spot down the hill, which meant that once on the stretcher, the pilot, the 2 medics, and 3 other guys helped to carry the injured woman down the hill.

Here's the NHS Scottish Air Ambulance. The swirly stripe on the bottom is tartan, just so you know it's Scottish.
The rest of the day was uneventful, fortunately. Back at the hostel I had to take a brief nap while the tree planters were having dinner. My face was quite warm from the sun and wind. I think my fatigue might actually have been a bit of sun exhaustion - I haven't been exposed to so much sunlight since last summer on the Continent!

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