The 17km Ring of Steall and its 4 Munroes is the quintessential Scottish mountainous experience. Monster elevation gains reward the determined with unparalleled views and the brutal grace of prehistoric panoramas. There is a palpable sense of the unknown – what lies in store, how will I cope, how far will I go.
Standing at the base of Sgurr a Mhaim, I ruminated on this as I gazed up at the1000-odd-meter face as I began to twitch with excited trepidation. It’s the thrill of exploration. Not knowing what treasures I will find or how hard I will have to push to discover them. Today we were rewarded with clear skies and views of various mountain ranges that went on for miles and miles. Quite literally breathtaking. Once we got our breath back, we pushed on to the next Munroe - Am Bodach.
In between us and our next target is an incredible ridge line called the Devils Ridge. We could see the whole ridge line and just had to stop and stand in silence as the late afternoon sun casted a shadow emphasizing the steepness and exposure of its flanks. Moving between these vistas on what feels like a knifes’ edge is visceral. It requires grit, experience, and presence of mind to stay in the moment.
There is nothing quite like moving fast with competence along features like this, and moments like these are the ones that will always stay with me. It’s what ignites that spark and is all part of why I do this and why I love it so much.
After the ridge the rest of the route is exposed but never steep, allowing you to find your rhythm and pick up pace listening to your breath and watching the trail flow under your feet like water.
As we reached the final summit the sun began to set, and we stopped to take in the amazing sunset casting a shadow over the mountains. Like the final chapter in a book the approaching darkness frames the journey and puts everything into perspective and gives reason to why we do this in the first place. We come up here to find our adventure and find our alive.
This is why I do it. For the brilliant explosions of peace that punctuate the thrum of endurance. To find moments amongst a timeless landscape. To feel an insignificant yet capable part of this world of drama and contradiction. To Find My Alive.