Trails and trials of the writer who walks
Within 30 minutes of leaving Inverness I was blasted with drizzle, icy rain, sunshine and snow. A small thunderstorm would have completed the collection. The wide well-signed trail had no chance of becoming dull with such challenging weather and humbling scenery, now enhanced by snowy peaks and white-laced Scots pine.
Thwarting my plans to camp for the night, was a weather forecast of severe wind, with gusts up to 100 mph. The short daylight hours demanded a decision by 3 pm. Should I a) camp in the open and risk tent damage b) camp in the shelter of the forest and risk me damage from falling trees or c) continue in the dark to the hostel at Drumnadrochit. I chose c) and had my first experience of night hiking. As I descended the forest track by head torch, everywhere seemed so mild and still I was tempted to cancel the hostel bed. Someone else had pitched on the edge of the loch at a viewing point, a clearing between the tall pines.
I thought often of that camper as I lay in bed much later, listening to rain pounding the window, wind howling, the roof above me rattling and groaning. Then the lights went out and power was still off in the morning, so I cleaned my teeth in darkness in the unisex bathroom (they could have been anyone’s teeth), brewed up on my own camping stove, and crept out into a grey morning.