It’s Not Always a Physical Challenge

When I began my Million Boot Steps Challenge I did say I was donning my boots to do walks that challenge me. And I guess for many that would read mountains? Distance? Speed? Solitude? Carrying 25kg! But what else could that word mean?

Well, this week was my chance to test another challenge – for me. You see I am very much a high/low person. I tend not to shout about the low bit, instead waiting, hoping for the moment I will find my mojo again, a goal, something that ignites my inner emotions to the point I fly. Because those are the days I love. And I could run for ever on that fuel.

But of course life isn’t like that.

For no obvious reason – or maybe it’s a tiny trigger – something quite incidental, puzzling, dismissive to most even, which will knock me off my high wire. Send me on an introspective journey which can steal my enthusiasm. Let’s call it the “happy thief”. And this week the happy thief came back off his holidays. Or maybe it’s a “her”.

Last night’s walk was an impulse. Planned earlier in the week when I was in control of the week ahead and had space to go out and walk on a whim. But then over a period of 24 hours I went from yay to nay! Nothing was working. The weekend’s event laundry was taking way too long. It was raining – again. My e-mails were coming in quicker than I could reply. Ok, there was a host of other underlying stuff, like a very sad reminder popping up in the midst of my mental see-saw. And then a lack of clarity somewhere else. Imagine a big melting pot of “stuff” and that was my inner me. Oh, and there was no bread in the freezer? I know, bonkers isn’t it!

Then there was the other factor – the TV factor. Andy Murray about to play his quarters in what would be an epic. And Wales in the Euro semis with the whole of Britain (mostly) suddenly feeling a bit Welsh. But I swear if TV ever dictates how to spend my free time then my life truly is on a downward spiral.

So by 3:30pm the boots were on, my packed “tea” was in the rucksack. No bread meant time to get creative with a salad concoction. A “Kara” concoction (she’ll be reading this, she’ll laugh!). But I was going. Hell, yes, it’s still raining, and hell, yes, I really don’t feel much like it and was this close to bailing, but am going. Destination? Somewhere called Carn Cattoch just outside Archiestown Village. Not a marathon, not a mountain, but a mental challenge to get me from my own low to high(er) God willing.


Got my map, got my printed Walk Highlands route, got my banana, got my water. And my camera. Phone Fitbit set to count and I am off.

It was a quiet start. Then I lost the path! Well not entirely. See the village plan said go this way. And the Walk Highlands route quite clearly said count three yellow posts til you get to the red one. Well I passed a purple, and a yellow. And before I knew it I was already three miles round with no signs of a “red” path up to this Carn! Even with a detour up, what turned out to be a newly formed forestry access roads (one of many) I still couldn’t find the blasted Carn. But I was now on a mission. If I can’t go up then I am going all the way.

The whole 9 miles and bring it on. See it worked. I did have a couple of “what if I am not where I think I am” moments but the track just kept going left. So you have to come back round eventually. Don’t you? Ok, quit worrying. I know I shouldn’t be allowed out alone, but don’t fret, I was on a pretty well made track and if all else failed I would “make a U Turn”. And anyway by the time I reach the desert next year there will (hopefully) be a line of camels in front and I can simply follow my nose (literally).

So the lesson for the day? If you take a map then have it to hand and read it – oh and perhaps it would be better if it wasn’t 20 years old. Ok, I hold my hand up, I have almost all the UK in pink OS maps dating back to many years. Am proud of them! So proud they take up an entire shelf in our office. They are fine for roads, we haven’t had that many new roads built. But trees grow I guess?

The smile eventually came. Meanwhile that’s another 18,431 steps approx

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