First of all, apologies for the lack of pics; my camera is dead and my phone pics are rubbish generally!
Anyway! At the weekend I went up to Scotland with Steven Horner to walk the Buachaille Etive Mor.
My Lowe Alpine Frontier pack was old, big, heavy. A bit like me!
I enjoyed the walk despite not being very fit, and was 'made up' to be in the hills around Glen Coe. Steve was very patient and walked with me rather than nagging me into a route march which I have experienced a number of times, the last being Scafell Pike with an Ex Army guy. Not great fun though I still remember the satisfaction of being up there.
We went down into Glen Etive, which is a place I've visited on many occasions to camp, usually on my way further north or to Skye. There's a lot of variety in the glen with waterfalls over glowing pink rock, to wider pools of slower flowing water over large cobbles. There are wooded areas and then just flat, often boggy grassland. The road through the glen must go on for about 10 miles or so, ending at Loch Etive, another place I've made camp at. Sadly I have few pictures of this now, due to idiotic actions of other people in the past, but is all mine to claim now. I get a buzz out of purposefully enjoying life and as my friends have come to expect of me, enjoy indulging in my childish side, paddling in the river, examining stones, wanting to have a go at things that before I felt too entrapped to express. I suppose it's just being me now.
I wanted to write this post because being in the hills again was a massive contrast to the previous 2 weeks which had been incredibly demanding. I worked my backside off on a presentation to a couple of Directors for a job it turned out I didn't get and the following week (last week) was on a PRINCE2 project management course, involving a lot of after course study, often working in the evening and then getting up at 5 to continue to do homework (I'm much more a lark than an owl). After that and being able to be in proper hills again I've come back to feeling a tad flat (unusual for me) and am sat writing this in my spare room, with a map of the world looking down on me.
In my life I've been lucky enough to do a bit of travelling as part of holidays usually, but also worked for 3 months in South Africa. So I've walked up the Austrian Alps (plus other areas in Europe but not as significant to me), the Blue Mountains in Australia, some of the Drakensberg in South Africa and of course Table Mountain as does everyone who goes to Cape Town. I learned to dive in a Dolomite quarry while I worked in Pretoria and subsequently dived in Cape Town, sailed in Sydney harbour, in the Med and around the West Coast of Scotland. I've also travelled over a lot of Scotland, though the Buachaille was my first Munro (very happy about that - ta Steve). Ireland also made a showing when I was 21, being my first backpacking trip where I travelled to Killarney and Dingle, bus-ing and hitching my way around. I may post on that another time; I do have a few pics of that trip.
But with my big map looking down on me and listening to Pearl Jam, the days since the weekend have reinforced my wanderlust and passion for my goal of specifically walking the Pacific Crest Trail in 2012. It's something I've dreamed about for a number of years now, since reading about Chris Townsend's trip in his Greak Backpacking Adventure book. Even back in the late 90s I was thinking about other trails including walking in the Patagonian Andes and still have books I bought back then on the subject; it's not a mere whim but something I revisit regularly.
But not done anything about.
My blocks now are really lack of immediate money. Being out of work I am a doley, receiving £65 a week. I don't feel any particular shame about this; work does not define who I am. But I miss the social interaction and mental stimulation work gives me, and especially the money side. Not money for moneys sake, but as a tool to enable me to accomplish things. Going back to the start of this post, my kit is old and heavy. I can't effect radical changes to me in the immediate future, though am glad to be able to say I don't ache anywhere nearly as badly as I thought I would, maybe due to me walking between 4-5 miles a day anyway. And I've since enlisted a friend to go running with me to work on that part. But with cash I can change my kit, make it easier in terms of effort to get out and do multi-day trips. I used to be able to carry heavy packs up mountains and it's something I could do again if I train for it. But frankly I liked Steve's lightweight approach of having a shelter rather than my 3kg tent (though in midge city being open to the air can be a bit of a 'mare) and seeing his pack compared to mine though not quite humiliating, was certainly sobering.
My thoughts about what to do next of course involve the on going task of finding work, getting fitter, improving my kit, shedding 'stuff', but most importantly getting out into the hills where I do feel alive (amazing even!) and more in tune with the world than in any other sphere. I feel an almost irresistable urge to sell everything I own and to leave to just walk. I've felt these urges to dissemble my life plenty of times before, in the past thinking about 'doing a Thoreau' and living in a cabin, emigrating to Oz (very nearly did!!!) or living a solitary life. But I am tempering my current angst with an element of pragmatism and arranging my life to enable my goals to be achieved!
Not sure how to end this post really. There are a lot of unanswered questions and a lot of variables I have little control over. But that is my dream and it will only become an achieveable goal with action. Better log on to ebay and start selling!