17 April 2013

drymen to inversnaid

In the morning we hopped on a bus to Balmaha which is right at the southernmost tip of Loch Lomond and continued walking the next two legs of the West Highland Way.

The Way follows right along the water for a ways, and we took the opportunity to touch it for the first time. While we have generally kept the tradition of taking our shoes and socks off in order to better touch and experience new bodies of water no matter how cold they are (See the posts on visiting Howth in Ireland), we decided that that would not be a good idea due to the continuing rain and the importance of dry socks when walking.

 Next the trail heads up…

…and shoots into the hills beside the Loch. I have never seen so many colours in a forest. Deep orange branches, burgundy saplings, purple mountains, fresh evergreens, rich brown bark, white birches, lime green mosses, burnt orange ferns, and a strange neon pink fungus on a tree we passed. 

Pretty soon we were able to enjoy the height we had gained through rough climbing as we came upon gorgeous views of the Loch far below us.

Lunch saw us at the end of the road. This was in a very literal sense as we were entering into the section of the park where cars cannot travel because there is no paved road for them. If we wanted to take a bus (which, due to the constant, drenching rain, didn't sound like that bad of an idea), we couldn't have gotten one. I spent lunch writing down all the reasons I had thought of in the past four hours walking about how walking in the rain is really nicer than walking in the sun.
  1. I would never have to complain about walking in the rain again
  2. I would never have to complain about walking long distances again
  3. Wet jeans are a good cooling system
  4. My rail pass, though soaked through, would dry perfectly fine if left flat to dry
  5. It wasn't windy
  6. Each turn brought new color combinations
  7. The water soaking into the woods brought out the most vivid natural colors I have ever seen
  8. So long as you keep walking, you stay quite warm and hardly sore at all
  9. My hat was working like a charm
  10. When we finished the fourteen miles, we could say we'd really done something, and no one could say otherwise.

With seven miles down, seven more to go, and a puddle on the pub floor to prove we’d been there, we set off with extra chocolate rations in our pockets and determination enough to reach the warm beds awaiting us.

With the continued rain, the trail was constantly coming upon waterfalls, some of which had overtaken the trail. We have many snapshots like the one below depicting rivers which are actually the trail we were supposed to be walking on. We gave up on dry socks.

At last we arrived at Inversnaid and our favourite of the hostels we stayed in. An old converted church, it had everything we could have desired. A restaurant up stairs, a warm cozy room all to ourselves, and, most importantly, a dryer room, which is a glorious thing in which one can put any wet item in overnight, come back in the morning, and find it completely dry. Sadly, it didn’t work for the letters I’d written and left in the top pocket of my pack, but I’m sure they will understand.

That night I climbed into my bunk and just sat still, feeling the buzzing hum in my legs and the peace in my mind from having the time and space to let my thoughts wander where they would all day. Foot rubs, Charles, and bed.

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