Our afternoon was spent hill walking. We had originally planned on hiking up either Stac Pollaidh (Stac Polly) at 510 meters or Cul Mor at 849 meters. The access trails for both hills were on the opposite slopes, however. So we opted for scrambling up neighboring hills which Kyla labelled Burnt Hill and Scorch Mountain due to a recent wild fire that charred all the heather off the granite tops. They claim the fresh burn is good for the grouse, which we were glad for - but it added a good collection of charcoal smudges on our boots and pants.
By the time we made camp on the center island of Loch Sionascaig the wind had completely died and we discovered why wind is a good thing to have while paddling the Northern Highlands - the horrific midges came out during the calm for a feeding frenzy.
Midges are nasty! While canoeing northern Ontario I've routinely dealt with black flies, mosquitoes, deer flies, horse flies, stable flies and no-see-ums. So I figured dealing with another species of biting insect couldn't be that much of an issue. How naive. Midges are miniature vampires that group together by the thousands - so thick you literally breath in swarms of them while tramping through the heather. The blood thirsty buggers crawl into your eyes and nostrils and when they bite they leave a small red dot. It's like being constantly being burnt by sparks from the campfire, except worse. Highlander walkers make the claim that you swat and kill one midge and a hundred come to the funeral. I believe that.
To repel them we sprayed generous amounts of Skin-So-Soft on us and lit a smudge fire with green heather and punky birch in the base of our Kelly Kettle. It seemed futile, however, and we eventually escaped into the tent to eat dinner. Later in the evening the wind returned in full force. It blasted in from the east and brought in cool temperatures and more rain. I was once again tested with my ability to put up a tarp in a landscape of limited trees, but it chased the midges away - at last!