An excel sheet, multiple months in the making, is evidence of the planning and preparation done before setting out to hike Scotland’s Trossachs mountain range. My good mate Shaefer and I had decided we would squeeze in an easy 5-day, 45-mile backpacking trip the week before our final exams, and wanted to be sure everything was set for a good adventure. There is no better way to avoid studying than leaving the city for the humbling Scottish
We met in Glasgow, Shaefer flying from Madrid and myself taking a 6-hour coach ride up from Leeds. We would spend the first night in Glasgow on the floor of a dorm, courtesy of Shaefer’s old friend Julia. That afternoon, our well thought-out shopping list made it easy to gather our supplies in the city centre and fill our packs to the brim.
We took pride in the fact that our route had been fully self-made. We had planned for an average hiking distance of 10 miles a day, and with rough targets
set for each day’s end. We knew that there was no cutting the route short – we must make it to Loch Lomond, and the small town of Iversnaid if we were find our way back to Glasgow and make it home in time to finish exams.
All of the preparation that had gone into this trip could only guarantee so much, to some extent we would be at the mercy of the weather in a region that is known for an abundance of water. So, with heavy packs and a sense of optimism, we set out from the southern-most point on our route, Drymen.
Right from the get-go the weather had been teasing us. Walking, we would get warm and want to strip some of our layers,
but the quick-moving skies and the grey clouds looming on the horizon kept us slightly apprehensive. As the path wound up and into the lush mountain valleys, our trust in the skies grew, and the sun grew more and more reliable.
Backpacking is knackering, but one thing that kept us going was our incredible meal supply. We really did a great job on this front. Our best meal had to have been a spicy-rice and bean mix with vegan sausage that we wrapped in flour tortillas. We ate this one on the one night of constant rain. Sitting on our ‘porch’, well-string tarp, and cooking over Shaefer’s whisperlite pack stove, it was the best way to unwind after the tiresome trek.
On the final day, with our packs nearly emptied of our food supply and lighter than ever, we walked the final stretch along the western half of Loch Katrine, and descended into Iversnaid pier along the north-eastern shore of Loch Lomond. Dirty, and feeling accomplished, we sat under the shade of a large tree and prepared our final portable meal – couscous with a backpacker’s vegetable chili mix.
The ferry ride across Loch Lomond was a satisfying conclusion to our five day adventure.