It turns out that I have a new hobby. I never really considered myself an outdoors-man of any kind, even though most of the activities surrounding that title have always seemed appealing to me. In reality, I think that I liked the idea of those activities better than actually getting out and doing them. A few months ago, I wrote a post on how a couple of friends and I decided to start hiking some of the more popular mountains of the Scottish Highlands, known as Munros. What became an experiment has now become a hobby for our little group of Munro Men. For the last couple of months, on every other Saturday morning we have piled into my small car and driven to a different destination with our sights set on conquering another Munro.
Saturday was our fourth Munro, Schiehallion. This mountain, which is situated between two separate ranges, has a reputation of giving beautiful views of both ranges on clear days. We knew it was a medium difficulty hike (right in our wheel house!) with a few strenuous sections. However, we also realized it might be more difficult at the top if there was a dusting of snow or if it was raining. As it turned out, neither of those conditions were present. Instead, the entire area surrounding this mountain got a good bit of snow that was not in the forecast. As we started out, we all agreed that we preferred snow flurries to rain any day and eagerly made our way up the snow covered path. As we reached the first steep section, I began to think two things. The first was that the presence of this much snow on the mountain quickly made a medium difficulty hike a more strenuous one than any of us expected. Second, I was very mindful and thankful for those who had started hiking Schiehallion earlier in the day. Without them going ahead of us, we would have no idea where the path was, which could have made the hike treacherous for us. All along the way, there were moments where the clouds would break and the sun would come out to reveal the splendor of the views all around us. I was blown away that we could be walking through white-out conditions one minute only to have a crystal clear view for miles on end the next.
Not only was Schiehallion harder physically than we thought, it also presented more of a psychological battle than any of us had expected. On four separate occasions we all thought that the ridge we were looking at above us was the summit. To our dismay, as we reached the top of the ridge, we saw another ridge further up ahead. When we finally were able to see the actual summit, we were heartbroken that we had yet another tough, really long section ahead. At moments like that, you just have to laugh at the circumstances. At the end of the day we reached the summit successfully just in time for the weather to break. As we walked along the very narrow ridge at the top, all of the amazing views that Schiehallion is known for were all around us. It was spectacular. I wish the photos below did it justice.
In the months to come, our little group of Munro Men hopes to have the opportunity to conquer many more Munros. We only have 278 more to go until we have bagged them all! I look forward to each and every one that the Munro Men have the opportunity to hike.