“On the road again, just can’t wait to get on the road again.”

Thank you , Willie Nelson. It’s just what I was thinking. My feet may not agree but I’m ready to hit it. Only I’ve had my eyes opened and I’m a calling an audio, I’m changing my route. I had planned to go to Glas Alit-Shiel and then the next day to Tarfside. The first day would have been 23 kilometer hike with a 1000+ meter climb and the day after that 25 kilometers and a 1077 meter climb. It all sounded so simple back in December, maps spread out under the Christmas tree. After all I was counting how many trips around Lake Harriet each day might be. Only I didn’t add in that Lake Harriet is flat and the rest of the world, isn’t. Maybe it was the Egg Nog, maybe it was my boyish exhubrience but in reality it was my boyish ignorance. 

But here I am half a world away, staring my plans right in the face and they are laughing at me. It was Ben Marcin (my roommate from Shiel Bridge) who told me he was in B&Bs the rest of the trip (four nights) and was shipping his tent and sleeping bag on to Montrose.

I looked at the map. I looked at my feet. And I looked into my heart and knew I did not have it in me to climb any more than I had to .

So I followed suit.  I shipped out as much as I could. It is, after all, walking across Scotland. Not walking across Scotland with a big bloody rucksack. 

My pack was considerably lighter. My spirits were high and I set off down the road to Ballater, about 15 miles away.

It was a grey day, not raining and really a pleasant walk. 

The road was a quiet one, mostly through Balmoral Castle property. I ran into Howard and hiked with him as best I could but still had to stop for my back.

I finally arrived in Ballater, knowing there would be no place for me to stay. The town was booked. But I took my chances and as luck would have it, found a B&B but had to book two nights. I decided to take it, knowing I could hike out in the morning and hitchhike back in the evening. 

Walking through town, I found a Chinese take-out restaurant. I went back once I had a place to stay and ordered enough for two people. I have been dreaming about Chinese food for days. Go figure. 

All in all, a good day. And one that I could handle.

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