I apologise for my last walking post, which finished mid-stream, was written in complete haste and had a rather obvious lack of spirituality contained within it. This one is no better, but I'll start off with some Goethe. When Faust asks what Nature does, she answers,
"So at the roaring loom of Time I ply,
And weave for God the garment that you see Him by."
After Beinn a Bhuird (pedant) I met up with some teachers from Stewart's Melville. 2 of them, Iain Crosbie and Graham Wilson had taught during my time at the school, whilst Malcolm Garden is a fellow cellist who I knew through many Mahler symphonies, and he has subsequently joined the Classics department. We decided on Lochnagar, and the day started with rainbows and uncertain weather. We bumped into a family extraordinarily ill-clad for such a hill on such a day, and they seemed utterly clueless as to which way the hill was. At the parting of the paths before the slog up to the famous corrie, the father asked which way it was, despite the fact that the cliffs of Lochnagar were clearly keeking over the ridge. It was like standing in Paris close to Mr Eiffel's metal thing and asking, "Ou est le Tour Eiffel?" I felt such a killjoy when I asked, "Are you sure you've got enough clothes to be going up?" I really hate the over cautious killjoy know-it-alls you sometimes meet on the hill. 2 examples. My lovely lady and I did Schiehallion on a beautiful winter's day, and, as is my custom, I like to go up late to catch the setting sun and return by dark....you get the loveliest light, and you see the stars. Anyway, we were constantly hassled by walkers descending who admonished us about going up a hill so late." It'll be dark soon," etc etc yawn yawn bugger off. Example 2 was on the Lairig Ghru when I met a man with the heaviest and most lopsided rucksack I've ever seen. He was clearly struggling, but explained that he had a bivvy bag for possible benightment and a tent for indefinite benightment as well as every other piece of gear known to modern mountaineering. Not only was his day probably miserable and slow, but his risk of injury was probably twice that of someone going light.
It was a real joy to walk with Iain, Graham (both Munroists.....501 and 502 I think) and Malcolm. And, being good teachers, I still learnt some things from them. When I've seen other people's rubbish on the hill, I've had a tendency to tut tut, but perhaps, at best, try and bury or hide the offending item. Iain Crosbie takes a bag with him to carry off other people's detritus. I thought this was highly admirable and I'm going to do the same (carried 2 empty, rusting cans of condensed milk out from Altanour Lodge the next day). If Nature is going to weave the garment, it's up to us to patch up the occasional pulled threads.
Teaching is such an important profession, and yet it seems it's not treated at times with the respect it deserves (unlike many other countries). You don't forget a good teacher. They can inspire you in a way which can change the direction of your life. I might not have had the love of the hills which I have, had I not had the chance to experience them through my school's very active outdoor education project.