If you have read my previous posts on hiking, you will know that a hike never comes easy to me. I absolutely LOVE it, but there is always one thing that doesn’t quite work. When I hiked Goatfell in Arran, with my very bad choice in footwear, I fell on the way down. Twice. The first time I attempted to tackle Hiking The Cobbler , I ended up just walking around the base of an entirely different mountain for 10km. I put those two up to teething problems and decided to tackle Hiking The Cobbler once more. Feeling prepared and confident, what could go wrong this time? Try almost getting blown off the side of the mountain!
The morning of hiking The Cobbler was quite dull and grey but clear enough. Stepping off that bus in Arrochar, you really feel the temperature difference from the city and the Highlands. It was bitter! Eager to get our blood pumping we marched off with the other early morning hikers and made our way to the start of the trail.
Starting in Arrochar
Arrochar is a small village in Scotland, located near the head of Loch Long in the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. It’s one of those places I used to all the time when I was younger. It’s far enough away that it feels like you are in another world but close enough that it’s only about a 40 minute drive from Glasgow. Absolutely stunning in the summer, absolutely freezing in the winter.
So off we went to start our hike, with the path winding in a dizzying zig zag. The trail was steep and rocky to begin with, but by the end of this hike I would be longing for that winding rocky path again! After 20 minutes we came across a bench, and realised we had basically just walked the trail to the trail. The real work was still to come!
The Serenity of Nature
I think my favourite part of a hike is just before you get to the real, mountain scaling trail, you always walk through a forest first. Or at least in my experience you do. There is something so peaceful and calming about the woods. Being in complete quiet except for your own thoughts and the odd song bird. I think about hiking sometimes and how it’s such a strange hobby. You go on these long adventures with friends and then spend hours not speaking to one another. Just be in each others company, but in your own heads. It’s pretty amazing, don’t you think?
As we cleared the forest the sky followed suit. The clouds were parting, the sun was shining. It was still absolutely freezing, but at least everything looked a little bit prettier. The stream of rainfall that was running down the path was turning to ice the higher we got untill, at one point, it was almost completely covered in a sheet of ice. After roughly 20 minutes of watching every step I made trying not to fall on my face, we hit the snow.
Wait, We Have to Walk in the Snow?
Now, I’ve since learned that hiking in snow is a monster in its own right. If you have never hiked in snow before and you find yourself suddenly on the side of a white coated mountain I wish you luck. This soon became on of the most stressful couple of hours of my life. I was thankful in a sense because snow is considerably less slippery than ice. But snow that has been treaded on all day and flatted into the ground I would argue is even worse! If the scenery wasn’t so stunningly beautiful I would have hated it.
Remember when I said I felt prepared and confident for hiking The Cobbler? Turns out being prepared for a snowy hike in 30mph winds is a different kind of prepared. My level of prepared was for the likes of a leisurely stroll. Nevertheless I was having a great time! I was a Saturday so the trail was very busy. You had your “Just going for a walk with my nice coat and a coffee” type people. Your “We’re hiking but aren’t entirely sure what we’re doing” type people, like us. And then there were you “Snow spikes on the bottom on my snow boots, climbing picks and full ski mask” people. THEY were prepared. They knew exactly what they were doing.
Make it to the Summit For Bragging Rights, or Not Die?
We decided we valued our lives more than bragging rights. The wind was so crazy it was picking the snow up of the mountain. We coudln’t see a thing. The path was gone. The only people left were the spiked-shoe-pros who were getting out their ice picks and harnesses. So we turned back. We didn’t make it to the summit. But hey, at least we climbed the right mountain this time, right?!
The trepidation I felt on the way up about falling and breaking my neck was gone. My hands weren’t numb, they were burning with the cold. I felt like Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant (too much?) I wanted so badly to not be up to my shins in snow anymore. Please give me that icy path again? I will happily slide down on my back if it means I can have a nice hot cuppa.
After a nice big meal looking out over Loch Long and that long awaited cuppa, we headed back to Glasgow just as the sun was setting. Attempt Number 3 of Hiking The Cobbler is coming this Spring. I ASSURE you that I will make it to the summit this time! If it’s the last thing I do I will stand on the top of The Cobbler before the year is up!
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