Every now and again life just goes pear shaped. It happens on a fairly regular basis for me and I’ve no reason to believe I am any more unlucky than anyone else so I’m going g to take a wild guess and suppose it happens to you too. One minute everything seems to be going fairly smoothly then next a piano falls from the sky, a tidal wave rushes down the river or your job, the plans you had for the next couple of years, all fall apart spontaneously. Well for me it wasn’t the piano or the tidal wave so I’ll leave you to guess.
So Sunday didn’t start well, my mind was in turmoil and everything was pretty gloomy so I did the only thing I could think of and went up a hill. To be honest it could probably have been any hill but for me it was Tom a Choinich in Glen Affric. I had been thinking of walking into a bothy on Sunday but the weather forecast was just too good –cold, bright and no wind. Part of me wondered if perhaps that might be the only day we get this winter worth going out so I better not spend it plodding up a glen weighed down by coal and whisky. This was a day for the tops and so I flung my chocolate and pork pie, (Yes the diet is over) into my rucksack and headed off along the winding road that runs from Inverness to Cannich. Soon the car temperature gauge was reading -7 and I was driving along a road sparkling with hoar frost with the sun peeping over the hills like a red faced farmer.
Just outside the little Highland village of Cannich a red deer decided to see if my brakes worked by stepping out in front of the car. 20 years ago I would have been driving an old Morris Marina. I would have braked and the Marina, which would have been better named a ballerina, so good was it at skidding, would have said, “Oh good, it’s time to dance,” and pirouetted into the nearest ditch. Leaving the deer almost certainly unharmed as it was standing in the safest place, i.e. right in front of the car in the direction of travel. The one place, I can assure you, the Marina would have had no intention of going. Now I was driving a modern car with ABS, it skidded for a second and then carried on leaving the deer to watch me pass doubtless impressed by my driving skills.
Normally I’m not the best person at thinking ahead, I always run out of bread and stand staring into the fridge waiting for cheese to materialise when I decide to have a late night snack. (Remember the diet is over). On Sunday, however, I surpassed myself. Over a year ago I had stashed three energy drinks at the path junction where you set of up out of the glen and onto the start of the hill climb proper. This was when my two mates, Joe and Mr Jones, were planning to climb the hill and I thought it would be nice to surprise them with a cold drink before we set off. Our plans changed and we never got to that junction so I wondered if the drinks would still be intact after all that time. I assumed that sub-zero temperatures would have frozen them and burst the bottles or perhaps a passing fox would have devoured them. All this, of course, assumed that in the intervening year my rapidly deteriorating memory hadn’t shed the information about where the bottles were hidden. To my amazement I found the bottles in moments, not only were they intact but, amazingly, unfrozen and I was able to enjoy a cold drink.
An hour later I was heading up the ridge on a bright, bitterly cold day. I can remember standing on the top of the great tower on Tower Ridge one winter. The air was so still that I was able to strike a match and watch it burn in my outstretched hand. I rare thing in such a place, perhaps a day in a thousand. This was such a day, great views and blue sky as the hills around me seemed to stretch on forever. As I climbed the worry that filled my mind slowly dissolved and peace returned to me. I saw ways through my problems and realised, that although I might not get what I thought I was going to get, actually everything was just fine. The hills were still there and a man can leave his problems in valley below. From a mountain top, you can see how small your troubles are and begin to understand where treasure really lays.
I’m growing philosophical and I feel a podcast coming on. I’m hoping to get my mate, Adrian Telfer, to provide me with some music and I’ll post a link to the podcast once it’s on the net for you all to listen to.
In the meantime. The two bottles of energy drink are still buried in the heather, just across the stream about 3M before the path junction to the left of the path with the stream behind you.
NH 184 261
If you can find the buried treasure it’s yours me hearties!