One lovely summer, Emily Scott decided to take on an epic adventure: she was going to climb all 282 Munros, continuously. Emily took on the challenge with the image of a ‘pure’, self-powered journey, in one go of 120 days – the fantastic carbon footprint was just a plus!
In this episode we talk about balancing your social life with the outdoors, preparing for adventures, type 2 weather, beautiful Scotland, the culture shock from almost complete isolation for 4 months straight to the city, and sticky toffee puddings.
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Balancing Friends and the Outdoors
Like many of us, finding the outdoors and growing the adventure-travel passion later in life can be met with more challenges than usual.
During Project 282, Emily agreed and committed to finishing by a certain date to get to a wedding on time. But, this didn’t come about so easily; there was a dilemma to decide upon.
Weighing up the project, Emily didn’t know whether to commit to the wedding, or commit to completing the expedition. It was incredibly important to her – and necessary – that it was done in a continuous approach. To top it off, the time, effort, and personal investment really came into play here – this isn’t just choosing a day-hike over your friends.
It had been a growing point of interest, but the project really brought it to life; the question of balance would have to be addressed.
The main lesson came from this project, but is applied to everything. This wasn’t just a day out. It had taken months of planning and work for a continuous effort to climb 282 mountains in one go, by human powered transport. What mattered most: completing this large, important project or staying true to the friendship values you hold?
Eventually, Emily didn’t settle for one or the other. Instead, she went for both – and in doing so charged ahead in the journey to complete it in time for the wedding.
The push at the end to meet both her own desires and step up as a friend required an momentous push at the end. In the podcast, Emily states how it was almost like the entire journey so far was training for the final week. She had said she wanted to finish that day, had a ticket to take her south again, and was determined to make it to the party.
The main takeaway? True friends adapt. As so many of us may have experienced, people come and go in life. With nothing wrong to the other set of friends, it’s real friends who stay by you no matter what your passions are (so long as they’re legal…).
“I was able to use [the experience in the Cairngorms] as a kind of tool to tell myself ‘well, this is hard but that was worse and you got through that… so you can get through this!'”
Scotland Is Beautiful
Let’s address something that we’ve discussed before. Scotland is bloody beautiful.
Emily goes in to quite some detail in the podcast. She has been to New Zealand. The mountains, fjords, and landscapes are immense, and in her mind the Highlands are comparable. Especially North of the Great Glen, the mountains are jaw-dropping! To top it off, the wildlife is a real gift. From hundreds of deer running over mountain passes in front of you, to spotting rare eagles. It’s like a dream.
I have spoken before about perspective and how important it is. Emily talks about the feeling of being a small figure moving through big, epic landscapes. The feeling it gives you of being totally insignificant, but also incredibly humbled.
Type 2 Weather – Hand in Hand with Scotland
With Project 282, Emily talks of how blessed she had been with great weather… for the most part. The Scottish Highlands do, however, come with its fair share of ‘character-building’ weather – or, Type 2 Weather, as Emily puts it. On one of the days, she even experienced a named storm (Storm Hector)!
“I got to the top, and got hit by the wind. Like, a wall of wind. It just turns out the mountain was shielding me from the worst of it”
Making the risk mitigations, Emily went out to climb in the storm, getting battered as she went. For the most part, it still seemed doable. But, when reached the top Emily realised the mountain had been shielding her from the worst. Getting destroyed by a high speed winds – and staying true to risk mitigation – she turned back and headed down.
Sitting by a fire and reflecting on the day, Emily realised that although this had been the toughest day yet, it had also been one of her most favourite with the most development. How many of you can relate to that?
But, as Emily hints at, be responsible – if you think there is a good chance you will have to call mountain rescue, turn around or stay home. The mountain isn’t going anywhere!
Interested in Type 2 Scottish Weather? Why not read about climbing Ben Nevis in Storm Ciara
Culture Shock – From Isolation To Cities
Whether it sounds idyllic or it sounds like hell, 4 months cycling or paddling between mountains, camping, staying out in bothy’s, and hiking 282 mountains is enough to get you set in to the ways of near-isolation.
So imagine going from being your own company to arriving in London the next day!
Water proofs on, hood up, and be in your own space. That was how Emily dealt with coming back to Victoria Station.
Staying with friends for a week, Emily’s recovery went from (deservedly) sitting on the sofa relaxing in front of the tv to, shortly afterwards, a hen-do with her friend. Quite the baptism by fire method of reintroducing yourself!
Something that comes up in conversation on this show are the Expedition Blues. As Jenny Wordsworth says, being in isolation can be so good for your headspace. Pairing this with an adventure is a wonderful recipe for self-development, sitting in that zone of the uncomfortable. But, the Blues can hit afterwards, especially with a shock like this one (Emily did say that she had to take a quick break during the hen-do!).
With contrasts like this, it is no surprise that Emily ran back to the Alps as soon as she could.
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