I hiked this mountain path over ten years ago, when I was 23 and fit. In the lapse of 10 years I have since borne three children and spent too much time sitting at a desk writing curriculum and grading essays. I neglected to consider this fact when I suggested to Reay and Karen that we hike up to the Fyrish Monument one breezy morning. I also did not consider the fact that my mum-in-law is an avid walker who hikes Fyrish several times a year. Clearly my powers of reasoning were amuddle in that moment of outdoor enthusiasm.
We began our hike in an area that looked much like Hobbiton--it was wild and mossy and looked as though hobbits should be popping out of their underground hobbit houses to wish us well and cheer us on in our journey. It was shady and the ground relatively level. There were 5 of us in our merry band of hikers. Our spirits were high and conversation unimpeded.
We crossed a bridge, mounted large rock steps, and soon the easy path became less easy, as did the catching of our breath. My gait slowed more and more as the rocks beneath my feet multplied and the trajectory of the trail went up at a disheartening angle. Conversation lagged. It had truly become a hike.
I paused with Alan--Jonathan's Uncle Al as we lovingly call him--to look through a break in the trees. We had made progress. Already we had climbed high enough to overlook the fields and the firth. But we still had a ways to go. I gulped some water. Took deep breaths to slow my pulse. And we pressed on.
|Alan the Conqueror pointing out landmarks.|
One foot. Whump. Other foot. Whump. Step by rocky step we made our way to the top. Soon the path began to level out again, and the trees turned to scrub and thick grasses and heather. The wind strengthened in the absence of shelter, and it felt good against my neck and face now coated with sweat. And then I saw it. The peaks of Fyrish rising up from where earth met sky.
My spirit was buoyed, my legs lightened. We forged ahead, breathing deeply, smiling. The wind whipped across the summit, the grass bending flat to the ground. I stood, hands on hips, gazing at the loveliest vista I've seen since my last journey up to this peak. Had I but known what a difficult climb it would be, I would not have changed my mind. The breath-stealing view was worth every minute and each ounce of effort. I would have, however, had a different mindset in the launching out of this venture. I would have prepared my mind for the journey itself, not just the end result. Which seems, somehow, apropos to life, does it not?
|A brief respite for the weary travelers.|