So, when you’re on vacation you are NOT supposed to complain. You’re supposed to recognize that You. Are. On. Vacation. And that is sacred stuff. And the people back home aren’t on vacation. So when you talk about your vacation, and you complain, you sound like a ninny. Like an ungrateful ninny that should be sent home from her vacation because someone else could obviously do it better and with being less of a ninny.
So when I say I’ve had a rough few days, I know I half deserve a punch in the face. But nevertheless, whether at home or on vacation, and especially when traveling alone, there are good days and bad days, and my last two days in Glencoe were a bit iffy.
Saturday, nothing particularly bad happened. I took the bus to Kinlochleven, a little town that is a stop along the west highland way, and that is currently known for its indoor ice climbing gym (unfortunately closed because of a fire). I had picked out a trail that started off of the west highland way that I thought would be a nice to hike and a chance to see some new sights. The hike was going fine, but I realized half way through that I hadn’t rechecked the weather before i left and that the sunny forecast of the day before seemed to instead be more of a cloudy with possible rain situation. On feeling some drops half way up the hike, I bailed because of the slipperiness/steepness of the trail.
Hiking alone, as I noted in the previous post, has been a lesson in humility and patience and solitude. Ive had to turn around on things I very much had the ability to continue on because I didn’t want to risk slipping while on my own. Aside from one or two very popular hiking trails, the trails here are rather unpopulated so if you get hurt, it’s not like someone’s going to happen upon you within the hour. So even though I have an emergency beacon and the ability to call for a rescue, there’s the additional consideration that if I get hurt, I might not be in state where I could press the SOS button. Anyway, I digress. I headed down the hike, a bit grumbly because my hike the day before hadn’t been spectacular either — I’d bailed on a hike because the trail turned to slippery scrambling and I didn’t feel comfortable on it.
When I arrived back at the hostel, I was greeted with instructions to move to a new room, as a massive group of 40 smelly, loud teenagers were spending the night. I loved their enthusiasm, I did, but the group was so loud that they basically took over the hostel and all of its bowls and burners and tables.
That night, however, was a super bright spot, and totally reinvigorated me! I went to the chalaig inn, where the live Irish/Scottish folk band was playing and it was just awesome. I met a wonderful couple that was on vacation (married 46 years!) and they bought me beers and we chatted while everyone in the bar – young and old – sang folk songs at the top of their lungs. It was awesome. I think Scottish folk music may be my favorite music.
The next day id planned to stay in — it was supposed to rain! But I woke to sun and a forecast of more sun so I planned to catch a 1:40pm bus (id missed the earlier one) to head back to Kinlochleven and hike south on the west highland way. I headed down early to the bus, and ended up an hour early to the bus station (oops!). I read in my phone and listened to podcasts and chilled out but was a little antsy to get going as it was my last day in Glencoe and the hike was long and I wanted to make me day “count.” It was not to be though. The bus never showed, and I realized I’d been looking at an incorrect bus schedule. Sunday is the day all buses in Scotland go to really sparse schedules so I couldn’t get another one out of town. I tried looking at my map and picking a different hike I could walk to on foot, that looked relatively interesting, and that I could get to and get done before night fell.
The walk there was short enough and the hike was on a dirt road before hitting a real trail. Now, maybe I took a wrong turn, but the real trail portion was only a few hundred yards long. And there wasn’t anything to see. So the hike just kinda sucked.
Discouraged and out of time to start a new hike, I figured I’d head back to the inn, have a beer and do some writing or reading. There was a shortcut on the map through a trail and over a river, which I thought would give me a little more hiking time. Turns out it gave me a little more ankle-deep-in-bog time. The trail was impossible to follow and there didn’t seem to be a way across the river. So instead, I had to walk along the road, on the teeny little margin next to the very thin roads. That cranked my anxiety up, for sure. Once I got to the inn, my nerves and patience were frayed.
The thing about mishaps and days when plans fail, when you’re traveling alone, is that they don’t feel as okay as if you’re with someone. Because if I was with joe or amy or a person I met, the at least we’re in it together. It’s would be a story. We could play 20 questions or cards or laugh about how poorly the day was going. Together, we could face it and laugh. But on your own, days where things go wrong feel not just wasted, but lonely. They make you question, what the hell am I doing here? Why did I plan my trip this way? Why wasn’t I smarter?
If I did my time in Glencoe over, I would have planned out the hikes I wanted to do – near and far – and hiked there. I would have spent less time in one place and instead moved to a new little town where there was more hiking areas I could walk to.
Live and learn, right? Right!
So, now I’ve left Glencoe and the last two days behind and have been in Uig for a full day. The hostel I’m staying at, The Cowshed, opened only two months ago and the premises show it. The rooms are new and shiny, the bathrooms are clean clean clean, the furniture is spotless, the kitchen awesome. I highly recommend it, though we’ll see if time is kind to it.
Today, a new friend — bridie — and I headed to do a hike in the northmost section of the isle of Skye, and boy, was it beautiful. Together, we got “lost” (aka missed a turn) and eventually found our way and during the whole walk we were treated with incredibly enchanting views. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves, but the main idea is that the start of my time in Skye has so far been awesome. Here’s to some more great days ahead.