Buzzing with texts
The Halls family
Lone walkers pass me with a cheery ‘morning’ but not stopping. Dropping below the snow line, the track comes alive with chatter and colourful Gore-Tex. Just before my return to Lochan Meall an t-Suidhe, a group stop me to enquire what time I reached the top. Recounting my story, jaws drop, hands are shaken and birthday greetings offered. As James Brown once sang: ‘I feel good’.
Tinny, electronic phone music stops me. Friends, the Halls family from Looe, Cornwall sing Happy Birthday. Buzzing with texts, I pocket my mobile to savour later. What a memorable day it’s going to be. Out of the wind and sleet I start to warm up – fast.
I’m still wearing thermals, merino wool top, fleece top, fleece jacket and waterproofs. Something has to go. Most of it actually. Before I strip, a large group of youngsters (in their twenties) are putting clothing on. We chat. I go through my spiel. They congratulate me and sing Happy Birthday. I wish I’d filmed them.
A little reflection
11am. Like a salmon returning to spawn, people are like waterfalls and I get in the way. For over 25 years I have learnt, most of it by trial and error, the way of the outdoors. But even now, it still amazes me how many people venture out unprepared.
A lady passes me in jeans, t-shirt, jacket and the thinnest soled fashion shoes. A bottle of water and no rucksack compliment the look. I think about the ankle-turning ice and deep summit snow. Head down, she glides past. Sometimes you have let people make their own mistakes. I’ve certainly made mine.
I suddenly want to be alone. At a way marker post, I drop down to the river Nevis. A few minutes to take in the last 24-hours. The inviting, crystal clear water gurgles past. Looking back, the trail is thronged with eager feet. Blissfully unaware of the snowy treat ahead, I bid them safe voyage.
In a second, I’m back in real time. Time for a quick shower, then lunch. And beer, lots of beer.