After having her fun with us the previous day, Mother Nature gave us a break and we enjoyed a few hours of pleasant weather as we started hiking around Loch Lomond. With soggy socks and two hikers in flip-flops (seriously) we elected to take a bus a few miles up the road to avoid a particularly rocky area that “guaranteed blisters” according to a local.
Reaching the crest of a hill, we got our first look at Loch Lomond, a body of water roughly the size of Nevada’s Lake Tahoe, but infinitely more mysterious and sadly devoid of Loch Monsters. Shrouded in mist and fringed by fairy-tale forest, the lake stretched on into the distance until we could just make out the hills of the Highlands what seemed like a very long way away.
This was the day we got a real taste of hiking hills with 20+ pound packs on our backs. Removing the weight during water breaks brought with it a floating feeling and a new respect for anyone who commits themselves to an exercise regime carrying a few extra pounds. Still, it was impossible not to look around and feel incredibly fortunate to be in such a beautiful, peaceful place. The trail is very remote, with only a few small villages scattered along it. Even the most reclusive hermit would be quite happy here, I thought, given the hours that we passed without seeing another soul.
Our hostel that night was a sight for sore eyes. Set in a clearing right on the edge of the lake, the red-trimmed roof and glowing windows promised comfy beds and hot showers. Staggering into the lobby, we threw down our packs and desperately looked around for food. Alas, the kitchen closed soon after we arrived and we washed down miniature frozen meals with tinny-tasting wine and tried not to resort to cannibalism.