My Mountain Trek

17:00 Alyson Tart 0 Comments

Some of our friends (same ones we visited Copenhagen with) had planned a trip to Ben Nevis for our second bank weekend in May and were trying to convince me to go.

Ben Nevis is the tallest mountain in the UK. It stands at 4,409 feet tall (1,344 meters), which is not saying much if you're from somewhere like Colorado, or even West Texas. But for me and my out of shape self, that's a big mountain to climb.

But, I let myself get talked into it. I figured that 3 months was a long time to get into shape, and we were doing a wellness challenge at work, I was taking zumba classes; YES, in 3 months, I would be ready to climb a mountain.

Three months later, and I'm packing for the trip. I found myself with my running shoes, socks, yoga pants and a t-shirt. Because I was travelling, I left my bag packed for Paul to bring to the airport for me on our Friday flight. The day prior to leaving, our friend who is much more familiar with hiking warned us to bring cold weather clothes, as it was set to be hovering right around freezing at the top.

At that point, I realised my yoga pants probably wouldn't cut it and anxiety of what lay ahead of me seeped in.

Luckily, Paul was able to prepare me with a little better attire, so on Sunday, after our day at the Lochs, I found myself staring up to what I figured was the top of the mountain we were about to conquer.

When we set out in the morning, the fog was surrounding us. On one hand, we missed some spectacular views on the first part of our climb; on the other hand, I couldn't see what lay ahead of us. We walked past a lake, only to miss it, and see it was we looked back down.

Lochan Meall an t-Siudhe - we stopped for a snack and rest
for the weary (aka me)
Despite the weather and grueling exercise, the hike was beautiful. Besides the lake, we passed a waterfall that seemed to cascade all the way down to the bottom of the mountain. I felt like a little wood nymph hopping from stone to stone to avoid getting my running shoes wet (note to self: pack some gortex shoes next time). We passed sheep on the way up, crazing with their babies, as if it were nothing to have people wander through their backyards. And, as we peered over the side of the mountain, we often caught a few minutes glimpse of different parts of the valley below: a loch, the town, the inlet to the sea. It was almost as if the fog opened up to give us a moments encouragement, then rolled back in so that we couldn't be distracted from our mission for too long.

As we went up and down the mountain,
my wardrobe continued to change.
At this point, I seem to have most
of my gear on. Must have been
cold!

I was obsessed with the sheep in Scotland. I probably
came home with at least 50 pictures of them


One of the moments with a good view

The fog also seemed to distort everyone's views of what we had left. One couple told us an hour; what felt like an hour later, we were told 15 minutes; then another 15 minutes. Then, I gave up asking until we reached the summit.
Almost to the top! It was so crowded with people,
kids and lots of dogs too. Belle would have
loved the snow

I can't make any claims that I was a good climber. I tried to pace myself to the best of my ability, taking water breaks and/or snack breaks. And 5 hours later, I had gone up the 1 vertical mile, who knows how many switchback miles, to the top. After celebrating with some sherry and/or whiskey, we snapped a few shots, exchanged a few high fives, and the mounds of snow drove me back towards the bottom.

Yes!

The whole gang at the highest point of the mountain

I would like to say that going back down was a piece of cake. In some ways, it was. Only 3 hours to descend, it was certainly faster. But, with lots of scree (loose rock), it made it difficult on your knees, especially when it started to mist, then rain. That, added in with the crowds of other people who made the same climb, you had to watch your step.

Some of the group found sliding to be a more efficient
way to descend the mountain

So, when we made it to the bottom, it was time to celebrate! We figured we burned off 2,000 calories meaning we could indulge in a beer at the very least.

I am so happy I made it to the top. I'd say I am proud, but I was definitely the straggler of the group. I will say I am proud to have kept going, despite my muscles burning, the cold weather, and my body's sincere desire to not climb a mountain.

I can say with definite certainty, however, I will not be partaking in the Three Peaks Challenge anytime soon!


When it was clear, the views were just about worth it

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