To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, to draw closer, to find each other and to feel. That is the purpose of life.
~From the movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
BIG news… my husband, Dan and I were selected to participate in The Great Outdoors Challenge 2014, a west coast-to-east coast cross-country backpack across Scotland. I am super excited and honored because only 300 participants are selected each year with only a handful from the United States. The annual event is May 9 – May 23. The Challenge is sponsored by The Great Outdoors Magazine (much like Backpacker Magazine in the United States), in partnership with the outdoor company, hanwag.
The fun and difficult task of Challengers is the responsibly of planning their own routes across the entire country passing through Scotland’s Highlands, Monadhliath Mountains, and Cairngorm Mountains.
The TGO is entirely non-competitive (although, on finishing, Challengers receive a special badge, certificate and T-shirt). A maximum of 15 days is allowed for the crossing. Most people take between 12 and 14 days to cross, and the average length for a crossing is about 180 miles. The Challenge demands a good level of competence in navigation, survival techniques, campcraft and general hillcraft that requires crossing rivers, climbing Munros (peaks over 3,000 feet), walking through peat bogs, bad weather bypasses, mud, and boulder fields. There are no pre-blazed trails, just hill walking.
Our route plan is due February 15th to an experienced vetter, who will offer comments and assistance in final route approval. The detailed route plan must be flexible enough to provide alternate/safe detours if the weather is bad.
I should add that Dan and I applied for our first passport ever. Fitting that we will hit the ground walking the minute we land in a foreign country. Love it.
It is going to be super helpful that the event is renowned for its sociability and camaraderie. We are looking forward to experiencing Scotland’s beautiful landscape, culture, and hiking community. Oh and I might add, the event has a VERY informative and encouraging message board.
The Challenge begins.