A wet walk, a very wet walk. Few important lessons learned – to take care of waterproof clothing and boots is a must, otherwise they don’t function as they should, no matter how expensive and I should keep this in mind. Wet feet is no fun and especially when one boot is filled with mud too and hello blisters – hiking is fun! 3 nights wild camping for the first time, few errors and the next camping trip to Iceland in 4weeks and I’m much smarter now.
How can people manage to stick to their plans? I can’t, this time highlighted trails, mountains on the map and was ready like never, felt proud of myself like one of those organised people who know what they are doing. I was ready! I did stick to my plan at the beginning and then another trail appeared and got so excited as I had no idea where it goes and thought it must be more interesting than the trail I was following and later I noticed I was on West Highland Way, from Fort William to Kinlochleven. After 3h of hiking, it got dark and around 10pm started to look for a good spot where to pitch tent, when it was 11pm, it was pitch black already, still no good, relatively dry spot. As it was my first night ever wild camping, spot had to be perfect of course. It kind of was, underneath the fir tress. Have to admit, it was hard to fall asleep, heard every little noise! Anyway, really happy with my tent and a sleeping bag, have done the right choice, not so sure about sleeping pad…
If you happen to walk opposite direction of West Highland Way, be ready to say hello hundreds of times… or better just stick a sign ‘hello’ somewhere on you, it can get too much! Some people stopped for a chat (other solo hikers), some said hello and with some exchanged eye contact and a smile. You can never be alone on this trail, human traffic is impressive not so bad as a tourist trail up Ben Nevis.
Cheated on a second night, instead of wild camping stayed on a campsite in Glencoe. They had showers, toilets, mountain view and a river where it was allowed to swim if you like a bit chilly swim, oh so luxurious place! My other luxury was dry wool socks, couldn’t wait to get inside a tent and put them on! Beautiful moment!
During my hike, I didn’t just eat like a hungry animal (heavy rucksack, going up and down the mountains took so much energy!), had irresistible craving for apples, all I could think was apples, when got to the shop bought 4 apples and ate 3 straight away and saved one for the next day just in case.
It always amazes me how strong wind can be on Scottish mountains, they are not high at all but weather sometimes can be mean. The other thing to keep in mind – always to check weather forecast on mountains no matter how peaceful it can seem down.
Last camping night spent in Fort William, near Braveheart car park, met another hiker and decided to camp together underneath the fir tress, forest seem to be the best option when it rains. When the morning came, was sure I was done with hiking and put jeans on and T-shirt, even used dry shampoo and put some make up on to look like a human. Didn’t really work out that way, decided to join fellow hiker who’s plan was to go up Ben Nevis, mine was to reach the lake and take the trail to north face. North face of Ben Nevis took my breath away, froze for a few moments of amazement. It’s dark and beautiful. Nothing to compare to tourist route and no human traffic, barely anyone was there.
Hiking is not easy, definitely not a picnic. In 4 days managed to walk 84km, quite good for me. Have learnt from mistakes and probably will do a few in future too and that’s ok. Being outdoors is the best thing I can do for myself. Hopefully one day I’ll be brave enough and move away from London, somewhere closer to nature.