Jan 192011

I suppose it’s time to officially announce that I will not be participating in this year’s TGO Challenge here in Scotland. It’s nobody’s fault but my own. I planned poorly and the UK government now insists that I return to the States unless I get married or figure out how to shear sheep. Since neither appears on my calendar before the event kick-off in May, I suppose I will just have to submit to the reality of a different plan.

Every year ‘The Great Outdoors Magazine’, published in the UK, sponsors in partnership with RAB, an outdoor equipment company, the ‘The TGO Challenge‘, the world’s only organized backpacking event, actually being the Burning Man of the hillwalker world. Hillwalkers, peak baggers, backpackers, hikers, outdoor enthusiasts, general lovers of Scotland, and indescribable others from all over the world apply to be picked in a lottery for 300 spots in this event. The lucky 300 then have the map-nerd manna of constructing their OWN ROUTE across this incredibly beautiful country, with a few guidelines to keep them in a cohesive whole. Along the way there are plenty of optional pub stops and gathering points with one scheduled don’t-miss hoo-ha happening right in the middle that spawns countless TGO Challenge legendary stories. I cannot plug, promote, or even pretend to adequately describe to you what the TGO Challenge actually is and how it is experienced. I strongly urge you to visit the website if you feel the stirrings of an attraction in you towards it. I can only communicate my own romanticized understanding of it as a noncompetitive trek across one of the most beautiful countries in the world and a rare opportunity for people bent on this particular form of outdoor adoration to say howdy to their “kin” and celebrate the passion that binds them. I wanted to go. I got a spot in the lottery. But I’m an American who’s been here already for 6 months. So hi-ho to New York I go.

To soothe my jealous soul, I am planning a thru-hike of Vermont’s ‘The Long Trail‘, the United States’ oldest long distance hiking trail, during the month when my UK friends will be walking the TGO Challenge. It’ll take about the same amount of time. It will be in a similar environment. I’ll try to gather other hikers into some kind of social communion. I will name that hike, to myself and to all who will listen, “The Great Vermont Challenge”.

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  13 Responses to “Scotland~ From the TGO Challenge to the TGV Challenge”

  1. Oh Kim, I shall be sad not to meet up with you on the TGO. But what a great alternative; I like your thinking! You never know maybe in years to come I will walk the TGV Challenge in your honour. Are there any pubs along the way? ;o)

  2. I don’t know, Helen! Going to have to Google that 🙂 … I’m happy you’re going to be on the Challenge and can’t wait to hear how it goes! Maybe you’d wear a live webcam?

  3. That’s a real shame, Kim. How long to you have to be in the States before you are allowed back?
    Good luck with the TGV.

    Just how difficult can it be to shear sheep?

  4. This is waaay to sad. Can’t you leave for two weeks and then go back?

  5. OMG – the disappointment is palatable.
    But totally selfishly, welcome back!

  6. Has it really been 6 months already? If you get on the Long Trail in May bring your bug defense artillary! Good thing you have been getting used to bogs and wet feet as the Long trail will happily dish out plenty! Be prepared to use your hands along the northern half of this trail too, just remember straight up and down is how they like to build trails in the northeast! You are going to have a blast and it will be challenging! Back to Scotland after your hike?

  7. Thanks Alan! 180 days before I could re-enter… And I haven’t even been able to accomplish the simple task of catching a sheep in the six months I’ve been here! I can see why shearers are scarce 🙂

  8. You sure don’t make that sound inviting Derek 🙂

  9. Oh….., Uhhh, what I meant to say was how beautiful Vermont is in May! You will blossom with spring as your feet happily trod along lush forest floors…the mountains beckon you to their summits, teasing you with sweeping views of endless cloaks of “Green Mountains”! Quaint three sided shelters and high mountain cabins openly invite you in to nurture your spirit and rest your soul…for yet another day the trail awaits your whistling tune!

  10. Well, I’m sorry to hear that you have to leave – a miserable experience to be forced out of a place you’d like to remain in, but I love New York and, if there were a city I wanted to live in for a while it would be NYC. I far cry from the hills and mountains I love, I know, but it’s an amazing, vibrant city which I have always found (somewhat oddly perhaps, given the reputation for ‘hardness’) really very pleasant and polite people (more so than in London, I’d venture to suggest). I hope you enjoy Vermont and I’ve enjoyed your views on Scotland too.

  11. Thanks, Maz! So far I’m enjoying it and yes the people are very warm … A little noisy …. 🙂 .. But the city is surrounded by lots of hills and forests … There’s trails to be found ..

  12. As someone who will embark on just their third TGO Challenge in May 2015 I can confirm that sadly you really have missed a treat 🙁

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