On a lovely November day 4 years ago, I returned to Glencoe unsure of my plans for the day. A group of pensioners from Glasgow struck up conversation with me in the parking lot of The King's House Hotel and invited me to hike along the West Highland Way over to Kinlochleven with them. I said sure - they were a hoot and I was intrigued about this Devil's Staircase they kept referencing! I soon learned how it got its name (oh the burn!).
As we walked, the mighty Buachaille Etive Mor loomed to our left. It was really something to see it from that vantage point after having climbed it a few weeks before. I remember hearing two of them up ahead of me as we were taking in the view quietly speaking to one another: "Thats the one she said she climbed? Up that edge? And that little tower sticking up?" "Wow, she is brave!" (They were speaking of the Curved Ridge and Crowberry Tower route I had done). I was tickled pink to have impressed someone with my adventure.
Meanwhile, I was equally impressed and inspired as I huffed and puffed behind these gentlemen nearly twice my age zipping up the steep slope. Up over the Devil’s Staircase and on towards Kinlochleven we met up with a nice young Australian guy who fell in with our group.
We spent the afternoon hiking together, and after the Australian went on his way, my Glaswegian pals bought me supper at a pub in Kinlochleven then paid for a local driver to take me back to my car in Glencoe. From this spontaneous adventure on the West Highland Way I remember snow flurries, the dramatic shadows cast by snow-laden clouds, the chatter of my 5 new friends, the warmth of the celebratory trailside Drambuie in my belly, and the haunting call of a stag up on the hill.
One of the men said that if his daughter was out alone somewhere in the world, it would have made him feel good to know that someone had shown her kindness. It was a lovely sentiment and a great reminder to just be nice to people. Not once did they make me feel like a fragile woman they had to look out for, chiding me for hiking alone etc. They simply showed kindness and friendship to another human being. It’s also why we should branch out of our norm sometimes - I’m almost exclusively a solo hiker but it was lovely hiking with them!
It was a wonderful experience, and this is a perfect example of why I don’t like to plan things out too much - I prefer to leave lots of room for spontaneity!
Edit to say: I’m getting the warm fuzzies retelling this story. It’s such a timely reminder during such divisive times. Be good to one another :)