Trekking the world, one mountain at a time ¦ June Update

As part of Pamoja's 'Business for Good' strategy, we support good causes that are close to our hearts. One such amazing cause is the Christopher Angus Fund, which you can learn more about here.  Each month, Michael Angus, co-founder of the Fund, guest blogs to tell us about his progress to trek the world, one challenge at a time.


First day: setting off on Canal Trek, Lochrin Basin, Edinburgh

First day: setting off on Canal Trek, Lochrin Basin, Edinburgh

June 2017 has been, as predicted, all about getting the training going, in earnest, for the Rockies trek in September.

The month began with some self-inflicted isolation – in order to get my mind right basically; I headed off for three days into Scotland’s Westcoast wilderness, travelling back in time, literally and metaphorically, to walk in amongst the historical remnants of Scotland’s prehistoric past: along the Dalriada Way to Fort Dunadd and Kilmartin Glen.

There is something almost tangibly prescient about the past here – ancient bones emanate. It is where the original kings of Scotland were crowned, but before that, it is where settlers buried their chiefs in celebrated mounds, and practiced sun worship: the area abounds with stone circles; it is truly a magical place, a vast flat flood plain, stretching for six miles, almost perfectly aligned north to south – it must have provided the ideal landscape within which to study the skies…… Weather permitting of course - which seemed appalled by my presence, it must be said – maybe I imagined it. But I was the only figure in the landscape, so for whom other did nature wish to impress, by its awesome display of thunder and lightning at 11 in the morning on the second day? I felt honoured, to be honest - altogether, it was wonderfully primal……being in that the place, and nature performing at its powerful best.

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It has in fact, been a month of being witness to impressive phenomena. Canals have been the predominant man-made feature of the month, and they have been pretty awesome in their own right; for these first three days, I stayed by the canal at Cairnbaan, and later in the month I completed the cross-country canal challenge that I set myself: to walk the Union Canal and the Forth + Clyde Canals, east to west, all the way from Edinburgh, to Glasgow and beyond, right to and back to the Westcoast. 65 miles in three days. Toughest thing I’ve set out to do; it’s no mean feat of human engineering and construction endeavour either.

Things did not go as well as intended. Seems my mind was not quite as right as I hoped - I took eight days to complete the trek, not three - due to an enforced injury, which was completely of my own making. I walked too far, too fast on the first day, injured my foot, which by the end of the second day was simply done. I had to let it heal, before going back to complete the last day five days later.

This has been the first challenge that I have not completed as intended – it’s provoked a lot of soul searching and reflection. I have a lot (personally) invested in this trekking campaign. But what I discovered, or rather what has been confirmed, is that I love trekking. I could never have predicted making such a statement – but the thrust of the planet, pushing back under one’s feet, even feet somewhat aching and bloody, is deeply comforting. It’s a healing thing to do, even if it harms – a contradiction, certainly, especially, as one’s mind wanders when one treks, and thoughts are not always entirely wholesome, the grief demons most certainly take advantage and invade – I suppose though, that really, they have nowhere to go – and the broad expanse of the landscape can accommodate their unhinged expulsion; whatever angers and rages I might feel, the natural world can summon breaths and downpours, and thunderous (literally) voices of its own, to both mirror and acknowledge my own dark heartache. The man-made world cannot match such ache – but one has to applaud the endeavour involved in the construction of such a thing as the Union and Forth + Clyde Canals – the will – which has created a place for water to rest. Within all the torpor of the natural world, the static and level calm of the canal infused more than anything else, by its silent balm, an unruffled ear to my unspoken aches and pains – both the physical and the mental.

In between these treks, I’ve continued to complete other shorter and regular training walks, locally and through the city; altogether, distance travelled 90.5 miles. Plans for the following month are to continue, with regular walks through the week, and longer treks at the weekends. It’s good to have a plan……and speaking of which, the longer-term plan has been moved on: this month, I officially registered to take the 8 day trek challenge in the Grand Canyon in October 2018: the fifth of six treks that I’m setting myself to complete in six years.

It’s all investment……

Thank you for reading.