Coming Up For Air
A brief bivy.
Sometimes it doesn’t take much to recalibrate your sense of place. Not everything has to be a big adventure all the time. Sometimes the simple things are just enough. More often than not, simplicity feels best. Like packing light to sleep up a nearby hill and coming back down in time for breakfast.
So it was a couple of nights ago when I headed off with a couple of friends to bivy at the summit of Sgurr a’Mhaim, a modest 3600ft top but sufficient for our purpose.
More than enough for a reset of sorts, and a reminder of what’s just outside.
A late start meant little disruption to our work and family commitments. It was nearly 2200 before we got to the summit, and a good bit mistier and colder than we were expecting. Earlier in the day I’d mocked Ruaraidh for thinking about taking gloves. At the top it didn’t seem so daft. Given the warmth of the day I nearly didn’t take a sleeping bag but was glad of it in the end.
We woke around 0500 to find a clear, cold morning. It was also pretty damp with dew and condensation inside the bivy, but not enough to get through the sleeping bag.
We were just in time to catch the supermoon. I don’t remember seeing a moon that colour before - an orangey-yellow blaze, just like the sun.
As the sun rose to outshine the moon, it illuminated the eastern flank of the Devil’s ridge. Wisps of mist drifted below us, hugging the contours and pouring over the ridges like dry ice.
iPhones are great for their simplicity, but sometimes I’d love to capture things at distance. In the golden light of the morning we could see stags and hinds lined up along a ridge below us, but they were too far away to take a worthwhile picture with a phone.
Stob Ban looked inviting as the sunlight touched the summit. These peaks - Sgurr a’Mhaim and Stob Ban - are clear from my house down below. I can stand in the garden with my boys and point up, telling them “that’s where dad’s going” or “that’s where daddy slept last night”. I love that.
I want them to know it’s there for them. Home is not just this garden, street or house, it’s up there and all around us.
We descended in the blaze of morning and I carried a sense of satisfaction with me all day. I arrived home to a house that was still asleep at 0700, as if I’d never been gone.
Except I was.
And although the time was brief, some hours are worth more than others.