gmhTODAY 13 gmhToday March April 2017 - Page 94

Highlights • The highlights of the West Highland Way were everywhere as we hiked through farms, passing sheep and highland cattle with their cute long bangs; through peat-covered forests, and along picturesque lakes and rivers. In our first two miles we were treated to a virtual “dog parade” of villagers out for walks with their canine companions. • The stop at Glengoyne Distillery for whisky (yes, with no “e”) tasting added additional fun to the 12-mile day. We were tired and ready for the coziness of our small B&B by the time we got into the quaint village of Drymen (pronounced Drum-mon). We were soon to relish the Scottish pronunciation of their towns and their accents. We were always brightened, even on dreary days, by the smiles, sense of humor and friendliness of the local villagers. We would usually have the bed and breakfast or small hotel where we stayed make us a bag lunch to carry in our daypacks. Since the Scots have some unusual flavors in their bags of potato “crisps,” it made for good horse trading on the trail. (“I’ll trade you prawn chips for haggis chips.”) Just to be clear, it was not rosy all the time. At the end of the trip, we gathered to recall high points and low points, and there were some. Low point for Sherry, Mike and Janet was their Day 2 walk in rain, cold and wind. They were soaked to the skin going over Conic Hill (a.k.a. Cardiac Hill), only to miss out on the famous views of Loch Lomond due to low clouds and mist. This was also the day we discovered that coin-operated clothes dryers on the WHW are too rare. To top it off, Janet slipped and fell in a great, big pile of sheep manure. (It absolutely was not hilarious.) Secondary low point: At intervals throughout the trip we were attacked by midges (MI-jees), small, biting insects similar to our no-see-ums. They are especially obnoxious when going off-trail to relieve oneself. Fortunately it was not their high season. We all agreed that our take-away was a feeling of accomplishment. We did it, without injury or illness. We braved the elements and found that they added to the experience. We had time to reflect, get away from the busy-ness of our lives. We met walkers from all parts of the world, like Norman, a Scot who hiked the entire Way in his kilt. Passing him always added color to the day. The 94 GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN MARCH/APRIL 2017 Devil’s Staircase