WHW Day Three: Never Quit on a Bad Day
(CW: anxiety and panic)
Today is a hard day to write about, and it was a hard day to go through.
It started like any other: getting out of a bunk bed, putting on my walking kit (read: hiking clothes), and putting together my day pack and luggage bag before heading down for breakfast. I had cold leftover pizza from the night before and a coke.
Set off walking for the day – planned to do 7-8mi into lunch at the Inversaid Hotel, and got there at 11:15am with food starting at 12pm. It had rained all morning so I was happy to just have a Pepsi, full water bottle, and a dry place to sit inside.
I was dog tired at this point and dreading the second half of the walk (another 6-7 mi to my B&B). Idk when exactly the shift happened, but right before my lunch came I was feeling really nauseas and just knew I needed to get food in while I still could. I ate half a scone quickly and when my soup and sandwich came, I could barely look at it…
I was having an anxiety attack.
Suddenly my insides were twisting and it was incredibly apparent how alone I was, and how terrifying the experience on Ben Lomond was for me, though that part was brief. My fight or flight kicked in and I was… suddenly looking at trains to Glasgow?
I thought that I probably just needed a break from hiking for the day and asked the hotels reception if they could call me a cab. He was really kind and said that there aren’t any roads north to Inverarnan, and because we’re on the north east end of the the loch that they’d have to drive on bumpy, winding roads all the way around the loch. Which would probably cost £150! Instead he advised to wait another 1.5 hrs until the next ferry comes in right outside, take it across the loch, and then I can take a bus.
I sat on it for awhile, continued to be sick, and tried to eat as much lentil soup as my stomach could take. Finally, I just struck up conversation with two walkers at a nearby table just to distract myself. One was from Scotland, the other from France. They were great and made a fantastic distraction, we all actually left at the same time (once I gave up on eating anything), put our boots on and grabbed our bags, and I hurried out the door wishing them a safe walk.
The fresh air did wonders! It took me probably 4 hours to do the 6-7 miles because I took a few breaks to drink water and talk on the phone with my boyfriend Brian for awhile. I finally started to feel like myself again by hour 3.
This again felt like a huge accomplishment – being absolutely terrified, but pushing through anyway.
I’m someone who routinely does hard or uncomfortable things, but nothing like what’s transpired over the past two days.
I’ve also let go of the “thru hiking” culture that is so fervent in the US – you have to hike every inch of the trail and yellow blazing is unthinkable, xyz.
I’m supposed to hike 20 miles tomorrow, 21 the next day, and 15 to finish. And I’m tired! Maybe I want a rest day now that I’m halfway! The issue is that all accommodations book up well in advance, so I can’t move any bookings forward/back.
Once into town, I stopped at the Beinglas Campsite store, where they stamped my WHW passport, and I loaded up on actually good hiker food – protein bars and cereal. On the way to the B&B, I met a hill Walker, who had just done four Munros THAT DAY! He assumed I was coming down from the same route while I assumed he was doing the WHW? He talked about his hillwalking experience and we talked about Ben Lomond and Ben Nevis before parting ways so I could cross the road to the Rose Cottage B&B.
It’s a super charming little building with huge rooms and bathrooms – a real treat and relaxing space after the day I’d just endured. The hosts asked how things were today and I let on that it’d been hard and starting to feel rather isolating since I’m walking alone. They were really nice and said that many walkers say today is the toughest day on your feet with the constant rocks and gravel.
The hosts are an older couple, the husband showed me to my room, how all the knobs and switches worked, and gave me the breakfast menu which I was to indicate what I wanted and then return to the dining room that night.
After all of this, I asked if he had a bus time table for any local routes. He did not, and was curiously concerned why I’d be considering a bus. I mentioned how I had come out really strong and doing a lot of miles but probably just needed to skip the next section and pick up walking in two days.
He provided two really helpful alternatives:
(1) walk 6 miles to Crianlarich and bus from there
(2) walk 12 miles to Tyndrum and bus from there
So now my options are: walk 20 miles or bus to Bridge of Orchy, and the two options presented above.
Lots to think about and I’m not making an decisions tonight! Currently, I’m going to eat my protein bars, pack my bags, get a full nights sleep, and meet everyone for breakfast at 7:30am to set myself up for success if 20 miles is what happens!
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