Here is a jumble of thoughts about hiking Ben Lomond yesterday. [26.09.2017: I edited this post a tiny bit (typos, links etc) now that I’m home and I put up more of my photos]
One of my My Peak Challenges for this year was to “bag my first Munro” i.e. hike my first Scottish Mountain over 3000 feet (~900m). And I did. So: YAY! But… OMG did I underestimate what it would take. I’ve been hiking before, but never at this height. As about 30.000 people each year hike up there I somehow expected it to be a bit more…. manageable? It seems a bit comical in hindsight, that I didn’t expect steep rocky parts to get through. Because…. it’s a freaking >3000 feet mountain!
Luckily I at no point actually doubted to have the strength and endurance to make it all the way up and down (I’m sure I have to thank MPC for that in the most part) It didn’t help though, that I got properly soaked on my way back down as the predicted rain had set in after all. My boots weren’t as water proof as I had hoped and I lost the gamble of “only softshell vs softshell + waterproof layer”. The softshell was fine for the occasional drizzle on the way up, but not for the rain on the way down. My own fault. I just hope this won’t lead to me getting sick again like it did the last time I was drenched on my vacation in Brighton in May this year. Back then I stayed in my wet clothes too long though and didn’t take enough rest after. I will definitely take it easy for the next few days. And I don’t want to dwell – in this post or my mind – on the negative things too long, because I bagged my first freaking Munro! YAY!
I also definitely have to thank past me for being willing to invest money in some good hiking poles. I would have not managed this hike without them. Or maybe I would have, but it would have been so much harder especially coming back down. Because even if my endurance and strength were up for it, I’m still overweight. And clumsy. And tend to be overcautious. I don’t know if that’s always a good thing on a mountain. But for the most part you would think so, because there is 3000 feet of nothingness around you at the summit. The summit was in a clould/fog yesterday, so I didn’t take photos of the view from there. I did some on the way up though and it was quite beautiful. It is Scotland after all :-)
As I’m not an experienced (mountain) hiker, the whole endeavour took me over 2h longer than it’s actually stated in any Munro guide book, where it says 4 – 5.5 hours. I needed 7.5 hours and I admit it, that it took me a while to accept, that I’m that much slower, especially on the way down. It wasn’t so much that it was too strenuous, but there were so many rocky/steep parts where I dared to only take very small steps and where I really needed to think about where to place my foot next. Because: inexperienced + clumsy + overcautious. The hiking poles definitely helped for that, but still…
Anyway, this also was a good way to remind me, that it’s not a race! And that it was MY challenge, so I could and should do it at my pace. I don’t have to prove anything to anyone else. Just to myself. That I can do this. And I did! So… yay, again! It was also good to experience or to be reminded that “one step at a time” will get you through almost anything. At least it yesterday got me up a mountain and back down. And back down might have been more challenging – physically and mentally – than going up. And while it was daunting to see how much further I still had to go, it was also very rewarding to turn around and look back all the way I had managed to come already. That goes for both the ways up and down and maybe even for life in general. But I don’t want to be overly philosophical here now.
I’m glad and grateful and proud that I was able to experience all of that. To see what I could do. To be reminded that it’s ok to do things at my own pace. To see the beauty of the Highland mountains once more and this time not by having driven up to a view point, but from having hiked up a freaking Munro. To every once in a while stop and notice not just the beauty but also the stillness of it all.
So, all in all: Yes it was challenging. But it was worth it! Thank you Sam Heughan for the inspiration, My Peak Challenge (John especially for the training) and all my lovely fellow Peakers whose stories made be believe that I could do this too.