This is an outdoor blog. I am an “outdoor person”. You can expect to find words about outdoor things here, like gear, and trails, and hurt knees, and water purification, and pretty skies. Inside is as temporary a condition as I can make it without wholly becoming animal and I relate more easily with wind currents than I do with sidewalk traffic when I am outside. So a post about people is not a common occurrence.
My goodbye-Scotland trip occurred this week and was spent in the hills of Torridon and the glens of Aviemore. An absolutely gorgeous woman-friend came up from England to share it with me, a sensitive and brilliant blogger named Helen, and after an obligatory whatcha-got gear parade, we popped into the car and embarked on the 3 hour journey across Scotland to Torridon.
I frequently forget that the journey starts way before the trailhead, in the car on the way. Completely relaxed into jovial conversation without suspicion, the environment began to creep into our experience, sifting in through the road mucked windows before we were ready to receive it properly. It was beginning its tease, making good and sure we fully desired it before we arrived and could get out of the car . We had a destination in mind. We were excited to arrive there and begin our walk. But we quickly broadened our idea of “destination” and gave in to frequent stops.
Early on in the walk, we set our collective walking “tone”; the pace, balance of silence and giddiness, mood, all of those things that eventually must gel in a walking partnership for a trip of any duration. The tone pleased me. We intuitively knew when to keep an aggressive pace with each other and when to saunter and when to break out in song and when to break out the camera. We agreed on a place to pitch. We agreed on the menu. We agreed on when to shut up and go to sleep. We enjoyed each other, heartily and without irritation.
We woke up to a day of robust weather. The rain fell horizontally and with herculean propulsion, the wind threatening to strip the skin off our face. We, in pro-girl outdoor bad ass style, were not only fine, but happy, vibrantly happy. The weather was simply doing an absolutely applaudable job of maintaining its Scotland-in-February integrity. There was no reason to be bothered.
A desire to balance out the severity of rock and open space led us to Rothiemurchus the next day, to take in some older woodland and undergrowth. The sun was also shining in that part of Scotland with spring creeping in on the sidelines. A day not buried in waterproofs sounded wonderful. We were able to participate in more fine-ponted conversations there without the wind snatching up our words and I appreciated the familiar intimacy growing between me and who had just a couple of days ago been a new friend.
This post is dedicated to the natural beauty of friendship and allowing the person you are with, or the people you meet, to be the point of the journey. I love my solo walks in silence in the wilderness, but to have that silence be the undertone of the happy communing of friends, is to expand and share the joy, like a buried seed in isolation offering itself to life.