Misty Mountains and the Isle of Skye
I weigh my options. The track which is a loop through the mountains and valleys is supposed to take approximately twelve hours and I have been walking almost ten. So this is the last part that should take me back to the beach where I started this morning. According to the map, there is a shortcut that follows the coast back to the mountain bothy where I left my stuff and where I will spend the night. It was all easy breezy until...I got lost in the sudden rain and surrounded by heavy fog.
“This is Scotland. One minute the sun is shining and the other you're stuck in rain and fog.”
“OK, let's do this.” I begin to climb down the steep hill. I am a bit too fast as I find myself sliding down the wet rocks. “Excellent, break a leg along the way, not that it's bad enough already,” I curse. My brain starts to come up with all the different ways how this will end up badly. There is no signal. Nobody knows my whereabouts. The last message I sent was to my sister and it said something as useful as "I intend to go to the Cuillin Mountains, they said there is a cozy hut there". When I opened the door of the bothy this morning, it looked like three more people will keep me company but all were out and about. So nobody knows about me, really.
This is Scotland. One minute, the sun is shining and the next one, you're stuck in rain and heavy fog. I can't turn around because it will soon get dark. So my best option is to climb down and head for the ocean. I have a good visual memory so I remember which way to go, roughly. I remember, but I can't see shit.
Next, the panic sets in. My hands begin to shake. Even better, now you trip and break your leg for sure! I take a deep breath. I have done this before, I have good shoes that carried me safely through worse terrains over the last five years. I slap myself and take the next step.
After an hour, I finally see the track again. I follow it and can feel sand cracking under my shoes. I make it to the beach. The tourist guide said that the last challenge is a cliff hanging over the ocean which is moderately difficult to climb. After the recent rain, all I see is a slippery wet rock two metres above the ocean and myself slipping and falling in the water. No way I am doing this, I'd rather sleep on the beach tonight.
But then I notice another person sitting on the beach. I walk to the woman and after a brief chat learn that we share the same worries. She wouldn't try her luck on the rock. Her boyfriend was braver and did it, promising to get help. So we wait. One hour. Two hours. A small fishing boat with two people appears on the rough water. They've come to rescue us. It was a happy end this time.
Hiking alone in the wilderness will clear your head but I realized how important it is to let someone know what is your daily plan if anything goes wrong. The mountains (especially the harsh ones such as in Scotland) are unpredictable.
The mountain bothy in this story is Camassunary Bothy. When planning a trip there, be sure to regularly check your weather and pack good hiking boots and wind and rainproof clothes. After all, you're going to Scotland.