Featured writer: thedotpages
This last month I was working at the Kilbowie Outdoor Center in Oban, Argyll and Bute. This center runs weekly programs for over 100 kids from the North Lanarkshire Area of Scotland and the instructors here teach activities such as kayaking, canoeing, rock climbing, skiing, gorge walking, mountain biking, and hillwalking. As an assistant instructor I had weekends off, thus I looked at my new tent and backpack and thought, what the heck; it’s about time I went on a Solo. It has taken me a few days to reflect on my recent experience…
The ferry took me to the Isle of Kerrera where I began my journey. As it pulled to the ramp accross the Sound of Kerrera, I hopped of and speedily took to the trail. Bright, green, lush hills surrounded me as streams and brooks trickled through their cracks. The hillsides looked painted, as if an artist had dusted them with some ashy orange heather tones. The sheep dotted the landscape as maggots dot the inside of rotting wood. Their teeth chomping up any trees that were even remotely beginning to form. As I summitted hillsides and crossed muddy tracks, I found small hidden cottages nestled and glowing of white stucko and brick laiden walls.
Then, I turned around the last bend of the trail I had been following for about an hour and there it was. The castle stood before me on the ocean cliffs and was glowing against the falling sun. Unreal it felt, so unreal. I found myself yet again brought to tears at how grateful and lucky I truly am to be able to experience such beauty. I breathe it in. Inside the castle I stare at the hundreds of years that have passed its walls. Brilliant and green the moss hangs closely, as if it never wants to let it go. Gazing out upon the ocean, I think about my friends and family far and wide and how I wish they could be next to me and talking about life, love, and adventure. I realize that I am truly alone – with noone for miles around me. The closest civilization of any kind was far, far away from me. Realizing this I morph into a child. Prancing around the grasses below the castle, setting up my tent in a fury and playing with my knife amidst the stone cliffs. If anyone had seen me, they would have thought I was a proper crazy person.
Once I had settled down a bit and taken some photos, darkness fell. My tent became my new home and safe place away from it all. But then, loneliness set in. Along with loneliness came fear. And for the first time in my life, these feelings and emotions were truly and utterly entering my body. The nervousness that I was experiencing took over my night. Jolting at every sound, I prayed for rain, Please oh please let it rain, I thought. For, I thought if it did rain I would be able to sleep.
Pitter-Patter…Pitter-Patter. The rain began and my fear seemed to be drained a wee bit, but it still lingered. I would fall asleep for a few hours and then wake up, having to talk myself back into sleep in order to make it through the night. I kept thinking, is it because I am a woman that I am scared? Is it because I am fearful that something will come and try to attack me? Ridiculous thoughts entered my head and those are only two of the thousands. But, it is only until you are truly alone that you are able to realize how much you actually think – when everything and everyone is away from you. No distractions, no people, nothing. Just you and your mind.
This experience was one I will never forget. I am still trying to understand it and I think it will be that way for a long, long time. All I know is, it is something everyone should experience at some point. I will say that even now when I think of that night alone, I can actually feel the pangs and emotions in my stomach, as if I was there again. Strange it is indeed. After a calm day of teaching canoeing to kids and having a canoe lesson from a fellow instructor, I feel rejuvinated and absolutely grateful to be able to test myself in such ways in this breathtaking place that is Oban, Argyll and Butte.
For pictures from my solo, view my online slideshow on flickr:
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