Hiking the West Highland Way, part 3

This is part of a series. For the rest of the series, click on the links below.
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Day 5 – Thursday, 20 miles

You know how people disdain discussing the weather as conversation material? This became our whole lives. Every person we met on the trail, from the group of four young siblings that we dubbed “The Narnia Children,” to the Dutch man Conrad who was a zoomer, we all talked about the weather.

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Austin rarin’ to go

The weather was better this day, which brightened my spirits. And after spending the night in a cozy microlodge, I was ready to face the world again.

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The Bridge of Orchy

On this day we hiked across the Bridge of Orchy, took a quick break to eat some delicious digestives, and then progressed through Rannoch Moor. We had considered camping here, but it was so boggy that we envisioned our tent sinking into the bog with us in it and decided to keep going.

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Such bog. So swamp. Wow

We didn’t see anyone for miles – we had met up with Conrad the flying Dutchman in a pub while we were eating lunch, but after lunch he took off – ZOOM – and that was the last we saw of him. So we walked alone through Rannoch Moor, coming up with the scariest stories we could think of, trying to scare each other and wondering if that tent we passed even had people in it.

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The long, lonely road

Fun fact: Rannoch Moor was a filming location for Harry Potter! The Hogwarts Express drove by it. Even more fun fact: it’s where the dementors got on the train! Even MORE fun fact: it felt like we were in this place forever and I feel like dementors sucked the life out of me!

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Look how cute I am when I’m in despair

All bright spirits I had at the beginning of the day were slowly draining out of me. We reached Glen Coe and I was ready to spend the night there, but Austin wanted to go further and get to Kingshouse, which was “only” a couple of miles away. The spirit was unwilling, the flesh was weak, but somehow I found it in myself to get all the way to Kingshouse. Set up the tent and be ready for the night, right?

Oh, wait – the midges.

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Found this image on Google Search from earlier this year, property of the fine people at Smidge

I didn’t know that a midge forecast even EXISTED. But man, we should’ve taken advantage of that thing and armored up with midge nets for our heads. The midges at Kingshouse at the time were category 4 (probably 4.5 to be honest) and it was like something out of The Mummy.

They swarmed our faces as we were setting up the tent. They would literally create a disgusting black cloud that you would breathe in and cough up and sneeze out. They obeyed the midge repellent, but would bite anywhere you didn’t have repellent. They gathered by the hundreds and hundreds and followed us into the tent, where we began our massacre.

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A deceptively calm scene

The worst was when I had to get out to quickly pee outside our tent. I pulled down my pants and my legs were literally – LITERALLY – covered with midges. They went places I never want any bug to go. I screamed loudly and dived back into the tent with my pants down. I must have gotten 4 dozen bites alone.

After crankily killing the last of the midges, we went to sleep. That night, temperatures dropped below freezing and the midges all disappeared by 4 AM. I know this because I celebrated by peeing on the cold ground.

I’ll tell you about the last two days of our trip tomorrow. Until next time!

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