(First of all, just a note, I am alive and well, this is actually being posted on Sunday, from Fort Augustus, the first wifi I’ve had in a couple days).
I have no idea why Friday the 13th gets such a bad wrap, besides a tie to 1307 when the Tmplars were brutally sabotaged. I’m staying at the Altbeneithe Youth Hostel. no wifi , no heat but in the kitchen, carry out all your own waste (no worries, not that waste., at least I thought when it was pointed out that oh we’re expected to carry out any paper used, as well), and it is wonderful. All thanks to Tony, a Brit who’s hiking chum couldn’t make it.
That’s Tony who is doing his ninth TGO and has finished seven. But I get ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning. As you remember I am an idiot and had left my boots in Oxfordshire because I was so concerned about my non-waterproof kit. That took my mind off the boots only confirming how distracted I can get. Oh, look at the lovely sunset. But I degrese. Thanks to NIck, he shipped them via TNT (not the explosive) to my hotel in Shiel Bridge.
Now the boots were coming from a tiny village in Oxfordshire to a Hamlet in the west of Scotland, remember a Hamlet is more than a To Be Or Not TO Be A viable community, they are charming places to live.
By now to the other TGO’rs, I was the American who forgot his boots and when I showed them the slip ons I was considering walking in, the young ones laughed and the older ones wept. Which means most everyone, save five or six, were weaping. As I’ve mentioned, it is an older crowd.
As my new best friends were leaving, I met Herman, Dutch, who had left his walking poles on the bus to Shiel Bridge. We looked at each other, me without boots and him without poles and I wondered, which is better, to be deaf or blind?
Having talked with TNT in Inverness, I learned my package would arrive there around 11 and possibly be here by 1PM. So I decided to wait for good news. And I got it, the boots arrived, were delivered by 12:45 and I was one the trail at 1pM.
I hit the trail and marched on for a mile or two and came to a fork in the road. There were two routes towards Glen Affric (not to be confused with Ben Affleck) and the Altbeithe Hostel, the oldest hostel in Scotland. Mine was the northern route, through bogs and a steady ascent, the other was the southern route, with a 1200 meter ascent, sort of straight up. No let me get this correct, straight up.
A couple of French hikers came down the path and I asked them, but their English was limited. I showed them where I wanted to go and mentioned another late hiker from the hotel had left and was wearing a red hat. Did they see anyone in a red hat? I used my meager French on a young woman, saying something like rouge, touque, chappel, and rouge a levres. She suddenly looked very frightened point up the path on the right and hurried away with her friends. It was about 20 minutes later I realized she thought I was asking to use her red lipstick. Sad, haven’t worn it in years.
So I trekked on, made the climb and and it was stupendous.
The trail up was much like this:
Rewaxing pants and jacket? 20 quid
Shipping boots to Shiel Bridge? 60 quid.
Doing the Great Oudoor Challenge? Priceless