Wednesday, September 13, 2006

994 meters of ups and downs

This is the view from the top of Sgor na h-ulaidh (pronunciation: Skor na yoo-lee) ... the hidden mountain of Glencoe. 994 meters high, it's quite an ascent - apparently famed for people losing their breakfast on the steepest part of the track up.

It was a great trip away. Walked miles, crossed rivers, breathed the freshest air and cheated the odds to have fantastic weather on all but one day. For much of the trip we saw no other humans, save each other - it was just me, my intrepid-explorer and map-reader-extraordinaire companion, and Ruby.

Ruby had many adventures, but I will save those for the coming days. Her holiday was made by the presence of Jess - a boxer of similar age and mentality. Mine was made by the presence of Jess's owners. My oldest friend. We laughed about the echo of the moments our parents must have had with us, as babies, as we watched our pups play nicely and shame us with their bad behaviour in alternate moments.

Friendships feel especially important right now. The holiday, and the isolation, cast in a different light when a very dear friend passed away suddenly and far too young midway through the week. A real but that can't be true moment. Many of them. I struggled with whether to mention it here, put off posting because I couldn't decide. But it is no doubt a pivotal moment. I will never forget where I was when I got the phone call, and made the subsequent calls to pass on the news to people who I knew would be heart broken. I suppose I should be glad that it was a beautiful forest with incredible views, and not a cramped commuter train or a service station. I am glad. Grieving sucks, but it sucks less with mountains to climb and friends to climb them with.

Having made the ascent, and reached the top - for me and my housemate our first Munro (a Scottish mountain over 3000 ft) we tackled the descent. I'm glad I didn't know that this slope has been the site of a few fatal accidents over recent years, as we made our way somehow down an impossible angle covered in long grass and heather. Slipping, almost falling, became a regular feature rather than a heart-stopping exception.

Caring about people, living with the knowledge that all relationships are temporary, hurts. And climbing this mountain hurt. It hurt going up, it hurt coming down. It hurt the next day and the day after. As my friend, who is about to bag his 100th Munro, said (with a grin) "It's pain the whole time. That's no reason not to do it.". The trick, as Jess (a veteran of 7 Munros) has already sussed out, is to make the most of the moments when you can relax, without worrying about the slopes ahead.


Blogger PurpleSparkleBright said...

oohhhh that sounds lovely. Climbing upwards in perfect weather... what a refreshing metaphor for feeling better about everything :) Moving on up!

14 September, 2006 22:36  
Blogger MB said...

Such rugged and austere beauty. Wonderful.

21 September, 2006 02:46  

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