TGO Challenge 2021, preparations part one
Madness. We are locked down and I got a place on the 2021 TGO Challenge, a walk across the Highlands of Scotland (Read more about it here). This is the first post, in English, about my TGO preparations and walk. The walk is in May, preparations are just what I do every winter, absorbing maps.
The good old romantic babble claims the Highlands separate the men from the boys (the women from the girls), build character, reveal the real you to you. Repeating this, supporting it with gear, building communities around it in a wave of instagram-posts and books … doesn’t make it true.
One might as well claim that walking the Highlands is easy, easier than working life, easier than raising children, easier than the culturally complex task of visiting an art gallery on opening night (how to dress, what to say, who to avoid, how little to drink, how late to arrive? Whoa!).
‘By what route shall I descend Ben MacDui if the weather comes down?’ is dead easy by comparison. Still, the outdoors is made out to be difficult, and scares people into buying gear that has eleven word names, like said cuben fiber tent peg bag. I clicked on it, it was that close! Madness.
This will be my 20th wander in the Highlands. My career started with hitchhiking in jeans, followed by a long period of semi-heroism, doing more or less dangerous/daft things, in recent years growing into the subtle art of mobile waiting, mixing roughing it and touristy stuff into a pleasant blend. I try to counter the nature-adoring pose of the romantics or the heavy handed gear talk of the control freak type of walker. For me, walking is doing nothing. Turning it into a sport, by pole-flaying along at great speed, or turning it into a religion, by striking a pose every turn, just shows how bad people are at doing nothing.
Yet, I might be counted as a member of the Church of Hillwalkers. I keep a log of classified hills and aim for them, I own a too expensive handmade tent, I sleep under a quilt with custom colours, I donated to Walkhighlands and won its prize for report of the month.
But I will go great lengths to deny my membership. Call me a snob or spineless, I like my identity to be layered. I’ll be my own subcategory of hillwalker-designer, neither mountaineer nor artist. I’m in-between but hey, I can handle a pub full of hillwalkers. And I might even dare going into an art gallery during opening night.
So what has all this to do with the TGO Challenge? For one, this challenge will be a nice and purposeless saunter, mixed with daft high stuff. That’s what I’m aiming for.
Soon: since it serves no purpose, my route had better be baroque.
Click here for TGO Challenge 2021 preparations part two