Meet our guide Dan, he learnt the hard way of what NOT to pack on a multi-day hike!
In my mid-twenties, my best friend invited me to join him in Scotland for a week camping and hiking. He’d already taken himself up there some weeks earlier to roam around and I guess he now wanted some company. So, I borrowed a rucksack, took my limited camping gear (extremely limited!) and off I went on the train to meet him in the Cairngorms, a rugged mountain range in central Scotland. Once we’d done the customary pub adventure, we set out the next day with a rough idea of spending 3 days walking off into the mountains to return via a loop back to town. I remember deciding that some cans of beer were necessary for the days walk ahead along with various extremely weighty food items. We trudged along a road out of town for maybe a few miles before turning off down a lane and started climbing, it was here I quickly realised.
- Beer is heavy
- My rucksack weighs more than me!
- I’m really not in shape
- I might not make it up this massive hill!
My friend, having spent a few weeks prior hiking, quickly forged ahead while I laboured along. Despite feeling like I had somebody perched on my back I got into a rhythm and realised HOW MUCH FUN IS THIS. I had everything I needed with me, I didn’t need anything else, I could choose where I went, nobody around for miles, apart from my best mate it was a really liberating feeling. One I still have to this day when I head out hiking. We spent the next few days ambling around the mountains, highlights being.
Stumbling on a herd of Reindeer (the only wild one in Scotland I later discovered) but they were very tame.
Discovering sleeping on a bed of dry moss is the best thing ever.
My rucksack got slowly lighter, bonus!
We were only out in the mountains 3 days but it felt so much longer, it was revelation how much fun it was and that started me off on a lifelong love of exploring places with a pack on my back. The slow pace of walking coupled with being able to get to places that other modes of transport are unable mean a hiker can see the most wild, marvellous country and you don’t even have to go home at the end of the day if you don’t want. I especially love overnight hikes; these give you the chance to go deeper into natural places. If your lucky you can have a fire (natures tv) and any food after a long hike and whilst camping tastes so much better. These extended overnight hikes reduce us down to a simple life and remind me, we really don’t need much. Taking a break away from our often busy and complex lives is ultimately very refreshing and I always feel so invigorated after these sojourns into wild places. Along the way I’ve learnt about myself more than anything. Experience teaches you about equipment and tips and tricks, and what not to take! I think hiking gives us A chance to reconnect, observe and learn about the amazing natural world. It makes me want to grab a pack and get going, how about you?