The Trial Run
So here I am the morning before my first ‘walk’. The honest truth is, I have absolutely no idea what to expect and hence I am not nervous. Why should I be when I have my friends Oblivious and Denial to keep me company?
Besides that I have my real friend, let’s call her Jane Doe, an old school friend who enthusiastically (I think) volunteered (I’m pretty sure she did) to come with me on my first mini-adventure. With Duke of Edinburgh tucked somewhere in the depths of my repressed memories, I was going to need all the help I could get to steer me through the wild lands of the West Highland Way. Or rather, you know that one short leg from The King’s House Inn to Kinlochleven, complete with Devil’s Staircase and all. (Even by my standards I think this Staircase is slightly exaggerated in its choice of nomenclature. I’m pretty sure the hill near my house (the one with tarmac and cars and street lights) is steeper, but what do I know I’m just a mere beginner).
Just to make sure I didn’t suddenly develop the Bubonic Plague, I volunteered to drive Jane Doe and myself to our starting point. She proved to be a vital ally on many levels. Not only did her Duke of Edinburgh Gold skills make her the more knowledgable of our unlikely pairing, but her time spent rowing for Glasgow University had made her virtually water repellent.
Actually, Jane Doe was a little bit my life saver, from the long sleeved ‘base layer’ she lent/made me wear to that extra energy bar she offered me just around the 3/4 mark. Not to mention the endless hours of chatter both on the drive and on the hills.
About a week before the walk I took an impromptu trip to TISO with a new work colleague and her query billionaire boyfriend (seriously, he said he owned several businesses and was ‘sort of doing an art degree’. Either that or he worked for MI5).
Anyway, here’s what I purchased:
– Waterproof trousers (cheap thanks to her advice, maybe about £30)
– Walking boots (the most essential of all, cannot believe I did not stamp them all over the top of this page! They are purple, and Scarpa. That’s about all I know. And they cost anywhere between £80-£100. They may have also mentioned the words ‘light weight’ but I can’t be sure. I was too busy walking all over their fake indoor terrain complete with water feature to pay attention. Worth trying the boots on just to do this!).
– Walking socks (I later learn the term ‘marina wool’ for better breathing and wicking of well…sweat. I also learn the term ‘wicking’-it basically means it sucks the sweat away from you and keeps you cool and dry. Lovely.)
– Bargain find of ski jacket (water repellent not proof) with inner fleece I.e. TWO layers! Half price at £100)
Here’s a list of things I brought/recycled from the house:
– Long sleeved top (‘it’s all about the layering!’ cautioned Jane Doe, so I stole this from her actually).
– T-shirt (just a regular free one I got many moons ago)
– Leggings (H&Ms finest. I hadn’t by this stage bought fancy base layers yet).
– Walking/trekking trousers (can’t remember if I got these online or not)
– Bag/rucksack (resurrected an old and somewhat decrepit school bag)
– Bottle of water (Note: I’d probably advise purchasing this earlier than on the way at a petrol station)
– Waterproof jacket (?bought when first moved to Glasgow almost 2 years previously. Thank god I am a hoarder…)
– Compeed (Boots’ finest)
– Hair bobble (you might laugh but, essential)
Things I did not bring:
– A working camera (but iPhone to the rescue! Hurrah Steve Jobs and Wozniak! )
– Paracetamol (for my raging headache because of the lack of the following)
– Enough water (this means more than one tiny bottle by the way)
There are a few things I’m still not very sure about, like trekking poles. They do look cumbersome but might actually be kinder on your knees, and my knees have seen far too many ceilidh dancing days to be quite as accommodating as they used to be. My second doubt is those cool watering hose things that loop into your rucksack. Well, not mine obviously. But for when I upgrade to the latest model.
Whatever the attire, there is one thing I can be sure of and that is the Glasgow Young Walkers did a mighty fine job of co-ordinating everything and everyone, without whom I would never have lost my walking virginity. As designated driver, I drove a hell of a lot. And after walking 12miles on your first walk ever, the very last thing you want to do is get in a car and drive home. Get in a car and sleep maybe, yes. But not drive, especially without a cuppa first!
How I felt after:
I’m not going to lie, unsure is probably the first thing that springs to mind. Here I am, not even doing the whole of the bloody West Highland Way, and all I could think of the entire time was, ‘are we there yet?’. Not ‘wow this bracken is so beautiful’ or ‘isn’t the greenery simply divine?’. Ok so I’m not really sure why I decided I was in Pride and Prejudice, I guess I was still trying to find my ‘inner outdoors’. I’m not really convinced I did. Plus my raging headache at the end probably didn’t help things. It did make me wonder however, a little about my own health and tackling an actual mountain. Ever heard of that little thing called Altitude Sickness? Well, if you haven’t know this, it gets pretty bad even at Base Camp. And given that I am probably the most migraine prone individual you will ever meet in your life, I’m guessing the whole Migraine Headache plus Altitude Headache might not be a good combination.
Don’t know what I’m talking about? This link will explain it rather nicely:
(By the way, if you haven’t clicked on it already, please click on the ‘dancing’ of Ceilidh Dancing above, and enjoy 🙂 )