Monday, 24 April 2017

T-Minus 2 Weeks

In a little over two weeks Mandy and I will be heading out on our big walk across Scotland as part of The Great Outdoors Challenge 2017. TGOC is an annual event sponsored by "The Great Outdoors", a British hiking and camping magazine. The event is described on the website as follows:

"The TGO Challenge is a self-supported Scottish Coast to Coast backpacking adventure. In essence it is about experiencing the remote parts of Scotland you can only reach by foot. Wild camping is a large part of the experience. Nothing beats opening your tent door to reveal a different stunning view each morning – although we can’t absolutely guarantee the view won’t be behind a cloud . . . . . !"

The routes are self-crafted by the participants using one of 13 pre-determined start points on the West coast, and one of 21 end points on the East coast. Amanda and I will be starting in Plockton, a small holiday village on the mainland right across from the Isle of Skye. Thirteen days, 280 km, and 9,000 m of ascent after we start, we hope to arrive at the Scurdie Ness lighthouse in Montrose. Along the way we will camp in our tent nine times, and stay in B&Bs three times. This event is not a race, and is not meant to be competitive in nature. It is about experiencing the Scottish landscape, camaraderie with other participants, and challenging yourself.

A lot of planning has gone into this trip so far. The first thing we had to take care of was choosing our route. This was a lot of work. The route had to be vetted by TGOC organizers. They provided a lot of excellent feedback that will have saved Amanda and I a lot of heartache and misery. After about four iterations we finally had our route approved. The next part was taking care of logistics: planes, trains, hotels, B&Bs, food, child care, etc. Over the past few months we have also been preparing our gear. Based on our research we need to be ready for all types of weather - hot, cold, dry, wet, sunny, cloudy, windy. As a result we have had to add a few clothing items to our collection. For the most part I think we are ready. I am hopeful to get a couple of long hikes in, in the next couple of weeks so we are not completely shocked in the first few days!

Marking up our maps in the basement.

I am really looking forward to going back to Scotland. My first two trips there were amazing as I am sure I have shared with everybody I know, and I am very excited for Amanda to see it herself. I am also excited to be outside for a couple of weeks, rain or shine, on our own schedule, doing what we love to do.

My intention is to write an entry each night while we are there, and post them whenever we happen to have a signal. This should be every 3-4 days at the outside. That's all for now. Thanks for reading our blog, everybody!

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