Two years ago I got it into my head to go solo hiking. I’d had enough of people and not understanding them and decided to see a new city, think a while and just walk and walk and walk. After a hasty search I ended up on the West Highland Way, a fantastic eighty kilometer route from Glasgow to the foot of Ben Nevis. This path winds through countryside so varied and wild that it is pure joy just to stare at it. I saw fairy-tale stone bridges, rough rain-swept moors, shadow-filled forests and gouged-out mountains.
And then, at the highest point of the walk, I clambered up to a mountain pass and emerged into a blasting gale of cool air. I stood there, gritted my teeth and leaned into it, arms spread, like some Gore-Tex clad angel. I felt completely happy, with the wind doing its best to whip me away and me fighting back, using every muscle just to keep my hold on the Earth. It was sheer heaven.
And now, with the winter tightening its grip, and the dark spreading like a nasty growth across the city, and the shitty disappointments of life leaving their nasty wounds, I find myself thinking of that cold breeze more and more. As soon as I step into a street with a lively wind, I stand there and lift my face and smile. And despite the biting snow and stinging pain it’s the time I feel most utterly alive.
I need to go there again. I need to feel that total unbridled rage of nature. Give me those streams of air roaring past me, so hard that tears roll down my cheeks, while I grin squinty-eyed with delirious joy and try to forget the empty holes and spaces.
Come back, you wind. Without you nothing is quite the same.