Year of the Snake

I swore blind to a friend I wasn't going to do this, but as I glance furtively at the year ahead with a mix of anxiety and anticipation, it seems right to cast an eye back over 2013.  Hopefully this isn't too indulgent, and makes for interesting eye candy via the links.

2013 was the year we stopped being visitors in Scotland, and made it our home.  The honeymoon was definitely over, but our comprehension deepened.  Whatever (y)our personal views, Scotland in the year before a vote on Independence is a land full of debate and potential - a vibrant and exciting place to be.  That spirit of engagement is worth celebrating.

Our personal lives grew complex for a time, but slowly we grew alongside.  And I was also outside alot, and for the first time that meant work as well as play.  This was very definitely not a bad thing.  I cut my teeth on some new tricks and (I hope) got better at some old ones.  The new year holds new unknowns, but I guess that isn't new.  In the meantime, here are some personal highlights:

January, and my first Hogmanay in Scotland.  We also built an igloo with some new friends.

February, and I met up with Fraser in the wintery heart of the highlands, for two beginner's mountaineering routes that ended up as a feature in the December issue of The Great Outdoors Magazine.

March, and another winter weather window.  T, phil and I went back to the Cairngorms for Easter.  Our almost alpine weekender ended up featuring in the recent British Moutaineering Council's (BMC) Summit Magazine.

April was busy, first Arran to see family and get blown off Goatfell, Italy for The Great Outdoors, and then back to the Isles for Outdoors Enthusiast magazine. Our squally trip around the 'lost coast' on Skye made for a reflective way to round out the month.

May, I gave a talk about the HRP in London, and we had A Rum One.  On reflection, this was probably the most satisfying trip of the year personally - the right mix of fun, weather, history, exertion and relaxation.  It's due in The Great Outdoors Magazine in Spring 2014.  I also wrote up a route for Walk Highlands across the Rum Cuillin.

June, I learnt how to Packraft in Inverpolly with Backcountrybiking.  Or at least, began to learn.  Articles appeared in The Great Outdoors and Outdoor Enthusiast in the autumn.

In July, there was a heatwave on Ben Lawyers, and an attempt on a classic round that challenged mentally and physically.  A different take on this was written up for Mountain Pro Magazine in the autumn.  I got the gig for the feature by email as I stood on the 18th Munro of the circuit. 

August, I went walking in the Rhinogs on a photo shoot, and then photographed Todd and Phil looking heroic in the Alps.  Our tale of 3 men in a Bongo should be popping up in Outdoors Enthusiast next year.

September saw a trip to the Bridge of Orchy Munros on two wheels, talking at the Edinburgh Night of Adventure about... nights of adventure, and a pitch perfect bushcraft trip across Loch Lomond led by Tam from Wild by Nature.  Another for Outdoor Enthusiast, spring 2014.

October, I was out twice and both times with friends - once on the ridges and scrambles around the glens of Affric and Shiel, and then onto Loch Maree and Torridon with a packraft.  One or both of these are slated for The Great Outdoors Magazine as features next year.

November was spent exploring the gentler parts of Perthshire, and I took a trip around Glen Lyon that I'm hoping will pop up somewhere soon enough.  The packraft section of that trip didn't exactly work out as planned.

December, and a 3 day packraft trip on the River Dee during a huge thaw meant some choppy water and honing some skills, working my way past dangerous to amateur.

May the trail rise up to meet you.  Forward, Avanti!