Every day this week we've been heading out to the far reaches of the ground, looking for foxes. The landscape is more reminiscent of Greenland and the amount of snow out on the hill is beyond anything I've ever experienced. Yet when I look to the distant Cairngorms, I can see there is even more snow there. Even near-vertical rock faces are plastered.
And we're seeing plenty of fox tracks. Where the makers disappear to during the hours of light is a mystery; you'd think there was nowhere to hide in this landscape.
But today was not such a good day. My colleague, Dave, and I were all set to head out in our tracked argocat when we found the brake for the left side had gone AWOL. A greasy investigation found a broken linkage to the master cylinder and it took 3 hours to bodge a new one and install it. When we eventually got 'oot the hill' we found that we'd missed the action and our Head 'Keeper had already been there- and shot a fox forbye!
So we ventured further...and further...and when we got to the farthest limit of the ground our gearbox died. Big time. Popped it's cogs, you might say.
We might have been in serious trouble if it wasn't for the fact that both Dave and I had our own travel insurance- for just such an eventuality.
His policy took the shape of a pair of snowshoes, mine a pair of cross-country skis but even with these, it was a long slog home.