Munro Bagging

Rainy days in June remind me of Scotland. Two years ago I had just returned from ten days in Caledonia and as I gaze out my window at the rain falling over Brooklyn right now, I'm reminded of the gray afternoon I spent struggling up Ben Nevis, Britain's highest peak. Nevis also happens to be the tallest of the "Munros" (mountains with elevations topping 3,000 feet), and it's a climb made all the more challenging by the unpredictable nature of the weather at the summit.

To quote one of the safety notes printed on the Harvey map I bought at the tourist office in Fort William: "Always be prepared to turn back in the face of a sudden deterioration of weather." In hindsight I'm happy to have bagged this, the most famous of the Munros, but I can't say I enjoyed the hike all that much. The visibility went from bad to worse and what started as a light drizzle became a steady shower that left me soaked from head to toe. Which might have been tolerable had I not been greeted at the top by wind and snow. Mind you, I did pass a older gentleman in shorts and a running singlet on my way back down, but I'm pretty sure he was insane. In any case, my Scottish folly led to the single best night of sleep I've had in my life.

Of course some people are of the opinion that the real reason to visit Scotland isn't the hill walking, the haggis, the golf, or even the abundance of whisky distilleries. As I argued in an article for Transitions Abroad, it's the beer.

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