It seems that no matter what the actual reported weather conditions are in Scotland, I always manage to get soaked. It wasn't raining in Glenfinnan when we arrived, only misting, with some occasional determined rain drops dancing on my hood and making their way down the cracks in my sleeves. Honestly I don't mind the rain. I feel like rain gets a bad rep because it's cold, there's mud, and shoe choice is limited. But rain is life. It is a revealing and determined force of nature that breathes life and clears the air. While waking up to a gray sky and water droplets blurring your bedroom window can cause dismay for some people, I find it to be one of my favorite scenes. It makes me wanted to linger in my cozy bed just a minutes more, and enjoy the warm spaces of home. It encourages me to spend the day doing something I love -i.e. baking a pie, or wandering around museums and indulging in an afternoon latte. It also provides an unbelievable and dreamy backdrop to places I remember mostly from the scenes of some of my favorite childhood stories of fantasy and friendship.
We did the tourist thing of course, climbed a hill to get the perfect view of the viaduct, took some loving group pictures, and made some "Harry I think I found the train" jokes. Then we made our way to the base of the viaduct, not only so that we could say we touched the bridge, but also to locate the beginning of the trail we would walk along for the next hour. While I did some hiking and camping as a child in San Francisco, living in Brooklyn hasn't exactly provided too many opportunity to frolic in wilderness or sweat it out on a long woody trail; most of my hiking was done walking from one end of Manhattan to the next. But my new life in Vermont has opened up a love in me for mountains, hiking boots, and fresh air that I didn't know I had. Some of my best memories of Vermont so far have been of solitary moments walking along a leafy path in the back country of Vermont, in two day old clothes and a 20 pound pack on my back. So it was a relief after nearly 2 months of not seeing Mt. Mansfield from my dorm window to finally be back in a familiar environment, surrounded by a never ending landscape, lifting my feet up and pulling myself along the trail.
I love hiking with friends. I know there's an value in being able to follow a trail completely in solitude and not feel overwhelmed by vast open spaces, with nothing but your mind to keep you company; but sometimes it's the scene of marching along with a group of people, one after the other, the harmonious sound of crunching the cold wet ground beneath our feet, the in and out of all of us breathing in the cold air, that I crave. Being able to be silent while together, as you continue on. When everyone suddenly stops to take in what is right in front of them. Being able to smile at each other, revel in the beauty and collectively say "wow, look at this, I am just so happy right now" -that is a special moment.