Favorite hikes: The Quiraing, Isle of Skye, Scotland

Favorite hikes: The Quiraing, Isle of Skye, Scotland

There are places on this Earth that feel other worldly. The Quiraing (pronounced KARE-ING) on the Isle of Skye is one of those places. Inspiring, romantic, and immensely beautiful, the mesas and cliffs of the Quiraing are a jigsaw puzzle on the Scottish coastline.

IMG_20170415_124734IMG_20170415_135106

If the Quiraing looks familiar you probably recognize it from a movie: Macbeth, The BFG, Stardust, Snow White and the Huntsman, Transformers: The Last Night, and the new King Arthur movie all feature the iconic landscape. It is also part of the regular screensaver rotation on Google Chromecast.

IMG_20170415_131202

We hiked it on a cold, windy April morning. Our bed and breakfast host warned us the path is muddy and sometimes treacherous and we should avoid it if the weather is not cooperating. We looked at the grey skies above and took a chance.

The crisp wind blew in our faces as we rounded the cliffs, turning our cheeks and noses red and freezing our fingers. Konnor was bundled snugly on his daddy’s back, a brave baby ready for the ride. IMG_20170415_145352

The weather was mixed. It even started to hail on us briefly. Nevertheless, we trusted our instincts and moved forward, confident the unpredictable Scottish weather would hold and we could round the face of the Quiraing safely – toddler in tow.

The trail is breathtaking on several levels. It is one of those places that makes a person feel incredibly small. The human body is minuscule measured against the colossal cliffs and the burn in my lungs is a humble reminder that there are forces in this world much bigger than myself. This sense of humility is one of my favorite emotions during a hike. The fact that I can traverse these environments is incredibly fulfilling.

This terrain is also quintessentially Scottish. Hikers share the grassy terrain with herds of sheep. Bunny rabbits hop in the meadows. The air is crisp and cool. Everything is green.

IMG_20170415_142401IMG_20170415_142350IMG_20170415_133523

I could talk about the beauty of the Quiraing all day, but there is one significant downside. The Quiraing is one of the most popular hikes on the Isle of Skye and it is crowded! Fortunately, most of the bus stop tourists are not equipped for the terrain and many turn around at the  first small stream (nearly impossible to cross in April without sturdy hiking shoes or boots) and do not hike all the way to the rock face. At the front of the rocks only experienced hikers remain.

IMG_20170415_132519

The path becomes narrow and slick. There are harrowing cliffs. A single step off trail into what appears to be grass can be misleading and leave a hiker knee-deep in a muddy bog. This is not a trail for the timid. But it sure is gorgeous and quintessentially Scottish.

 

Want to hike the Quiraing? Here is what you need:

  • Transportation – It is far from any of the towns on the Isle of Skye.
  • Sturdy boots –  The terrain is slick and muddy
  • Wind breaker – Preferably a water resistant one. Weather at the Quiraing can turn in an instant
  • Camera – You will not be able to take enough photos.
  • Hiking poles – We did not have poles along, but they would have been helpful
  • Plenty of water – As you should carry for any trail

 

 

 

Advertisements

Been camping? Great, you’re prepared for a hurricane!

Been camping? Great, you’re prepared for a hurricane!

You don’t have to be a skilled survivalist to survive mother nature’s tropical fury. And you don’t have to be a stay-at-home mom with a Suburban to pile mountains of water bottles into either.

 

If you’ve ever been camping, then there is a good chance you already own the gear and skills you need to ride out the storm.

at201711_sat

Problem: NO WATER
Solution: If you have a back country first aid kit, there is a good chance it includes iodine tablets. Water purification iodine tablets are used to kill dangerous bacteria in water. Experienced backpackers use them on trails to kill nastiness in river, stream and lake water. The casual camper may not realize they often come in those ready-to-go first aid kits.

If you are an experienced backpacker, then there is a good chance you may also own a water filtration system like a Lifestraw. You can also fill any portable bladders like a Camelbak with fresh water before the storm hits.

Problem: NO POWER
Solution: Most modern camping enthusiasts own at least one solar powered charging option, but don’t worry if you don’t, this just means you will have to spend your post-hurricane days living off the grid. Isn’t that part of what makes camping fun?

Dig through your camping gear to find items you may have forgotten about like:
– Headlamps and extra flashlights
– Portable fans (I have one for my luxury tent)
– Lanterns
– Extra batteries
– Sun shade

Problem: I’M HUNGRY AND I DIDN’T STOCK UP
Solution: The food in your fridge will start to go bad if the power stays out for any length of time. If you didn’t make it to the grocery store before the hoards of people took all of the dry goods off the shelves, then take a peak at your camping supplies.
– Camp stove: Almost everyone buys one of these before their first camping trip and probably has an extra can or two of fuel to go with it. WARNING: Do not cook with a propane or butane stove indoors!
– Can opener: Remember the old fashioned kind you twist around the top of a can? You probably have one of these from the last time you ate Campbell’s soup on a camping trip.
– Matches/Lighter/Firestarter: If you aren’t a regular camper you may have to dig for this one, but most first aid kits do include matches, so check there first.
– Fishing gear: If worst comes to worst, you can pull out the bait & tackle box and try to catch some bass or catfish from a neighborhood lake or pond (or your living room, God forbid). You won’t go hungry!
– MREs: Experienced backpackers can probably dig in their pack and find an unopened Mountain House meal, but even if you are inexperienced it is possible you grabbed some MREs while grabbing stuff from Bass Pro Shop before your first big adventure. They don’t taste the best, but hey, if you’re hungry?

Other useful items you may find in your camping gear: 
– Tent: can be used as a tarp to block rain if necessary. It can also serve as shelter.
– Bug spray: You are going to need this post-hurricane. No question.
– Raft: If you have a fancy emergency kit it may even include an emergency raft.
– Hatchet and/or machete: If you don’t own a chainsaw or don’t have fuel for a chainsaw, this could become a critical tool if you get trapped.

Where to buy: Almost all of these items are available on Amazon, most outfitters, and many Walmart stores (depending on the season and where you live).

Of course, the best thing to do if you find yourself in the path of a hurricane is evacuate. Take shelter in a safe, dry location. My tips do not take into account risks like storm surge and massive amounts of flooding like people saw after Hurricane Harvey or Katrina.

Did I forget something? Please share your wisdom!