Hiking Scotland’s West Highland Way in April

Where the hell have you been, Amy?

Last year was supposed to be a mega-adventure year, including the Pacific Crest Trail, Arizona Trail, and the West Highland Way in Scotland. My own major medical complications plus my dog’s sudden Osteosarcoma (which culminated in an amputation) pretty much ruined all plans.

Nisa the newly tripod dog

This year started out rocky, but there has been some progress in my “Mysterious Never-ending Bleeding Illness” (in fact, it may have been nothing exotic or mysterious this whole time, but just boring old Fibroids, after all) and so I am getting the hell out of this damned house and onto a trail.

“Aren’t you, like, totally out of shape after 15 months of bleeding?” I hear some of you asking. Well, yes, quite so. And the excessive beer drinking to manufacture a semblance of ‘good mood’ hasn’t helped things. Aaron and I both gained something like 40 lbs during the last year. (Aaron joining me in the misery-loves-company fashion of a sympathy drinker) I lost a lot of blood, enough to pretty much sleep non-stop. Walking made me pant like I was running a marathon. And you can imagine how all this wreaked havoc on my mood disorder. Yeah, I’m pretty weak. Physically, emotionally, mentally.

But, I don’t care that I’m out of shape. Was I ever really “in shape?” Not really! Not by outdoor enthusiast standards. Getting outside will do wonders for my mental and emotional state. I know this from experience. And I’ve had a blood transfusion and iron transfusions and a procedure that may have stopped the bleeding for good. Nothing left to do but go hike. Hopefully, make up for some major lost time.

Wait, so where are you going?

Scotland! The West Highland Way is a 96-mile route starting just outside Glasgow and loping north, winding through scenic and diverse landscapes of the Highlands. It’s going to be green, and it’s going to be cold. Looks like about 45 degrees with rain most days. I’ve logged in a couple thousand miles (Just shy of 2K. Not too epic, but not too shabby, either.) of backpacking by now, yet have had amazing luck in terms of rain. Yes, I was stuck in an electric storm once, which has forever conditioned me to cringe at the rumbling of airplanes (and nod sympathetically during the crack—BOOM! of war films) but I’ve never experienced the mindless trudge of hours and hours—nay, day after day—of walking in the rain. So, the mercurial weather of Scotland should be pretty interesting.

Even if it rains every day, I’m not sure we’ll be earning any hardcore-hiker cred, because we’ll be sleeping in nice, warm beds every night. That’s right—no cold tents, no frozen water bottles, no damp sleeping bags. Ramen? Nope, full meals each night. And probably a wee dram or a pint. It’ll be a thru-hike like I’ve never experienced. We’re basically gonna be spoiled with all this warmth and roofs over our heads and showers and food and stuff.

“Spoiled” by Haggis, Neeps, and Tatties

One can camp their way along the West Highland Way, but Aaron and I specifically wanted to see what this kind of UK holiday-trekking-town-to-town would be like. Almost touristy, but not quite, as most tourists don’t opt to walk anywhere. We ‘re both excited at the prospect of walking town to town, with lots of gorgeous countryside in between.

We head out next Tuesday. If all goes well, I hope for more adventure in 2018: