Last time, I shared my best bits of the West Highland Way, the first long-distance trail I’d ever hiked. Sure, it was amazing or ‘awesome’ as everyone keeps telling each other nowadays. I’m an optimistic person, but I don’t believe that long-distance hiking is continuous happiness. I mean, come on! For me at least, hiking – as life in general – is with ups and downs.
“They made me a heartless murderer – although I plead self-defense: it was them or me”
So what are the downsides of the WHW, you may wonder? Some may mention its popularity, but for my first trail, I kind of liked that I wasn’t all alone in the wild 😉 Others have argued that the first few days are the least interesting. I wouldn’t know, because for that reason (and to make sure that our first hiking trip was not too long), we skipped the first few days.
It’s pretty personal what you like and dislike on the trail, but I decided to share my dislikes, because I don’t want to tell only one side of the story.
Midges are absolutely the most freaking annoying and bullying creatures I can think of. They made me look ridiculous when I started to walk in circles during our lunch break, because I refused to sit down and become their lunch. They made me a heartless murderer – although I plead self-defense: it was them or me. They made me hold my pee during nights: I’d rather had a little bit of bladder discomfort than a hundred bites on my bottom (like my friend had when she had not yet realised the risks of peeing at night). I could go on and on.. but you probably get the point: midges are not my friends. And they won’t be yours either…
Like midges, some persons always come in pairs. Clingy couples. Both single at that time, we couldn’t understand the couples who were absolutely not into a chat without anyone else but their other half. Booooooring! So, I promised myself never to become a clingy, boring couple. Well, by now, I do understand a lot better that couples need couple-time, and thus, from time to time, I don’t want anything else than enjoying Garuda‘s company while hiking. So I’m guilty of being clingy myself sometimes, but I try to keep my promise by staying open-minded to other hikers. Either when hiking alone or together, it always brings joy to meet interesting, new people while travelling.
Luckily enough, we indeed met a lot of cool, open-minded people, and were even offered some food when we made a stupid rookie mistake by not bringing enough food with us. Food was one of the other downsides of our hike. We figured bread with honey would be nice for breakfast. Well, it was. For one day. But imagine what happens with bread after few days smashed in a full backpack. Or what happens when you eat honey every morning: I started to hate honey. Frankly, while writing this, I feel spoiled. I mean, I’m lucky to live in a Western country, to be able to travel, and basically eat whatever I want. When hiking, however, the world becomes small: basic things that I normally take for granted – such as food, the weather, and shelter – turn into the center of my hiking universe 😉
So midges, clingy couples, and our food choices were bothering us from time to time. Particularly when we had to hike in the forest. It’s not that I don’t like a walk in the woods, but when hiking on long distance trails, I want to see where I’m heading to. This year, I will attempt my first thru hike and the WHW helped me somewhat with deciding which trail to pick (or rather which not). Although it would be fascinating to encounter the old Appalachian mountains, my experience in the forests of the WHW tells me I would be miserable in the ‘green tunnel’ of the Appalachian Trail (AT). So, no AT for me. Wanna know which trail I’m hitting? Keep reading my blogs, and you’ll find out soon!
Even worse: Felled forests
Although the forest sections were not my favorite, felled forests were worse. Seeing the remains of what used to be an ecosystem full of live made be feel sad….
What about you?
I’m curious to hear what you didn’t like about the West Highland Way or any other trail. What is bothering you during hiking and why?