Yesterday I joined the St Andrews Breakaway Club for a day hike in Glenshee. Glenshee is in Cairngorns National Park, and in full winter it's a ski center, complete with chair lifts and snug overpriced cafes at the bottom of every mountain. Right now, though (in that lovely period where it's cold but not cold enough to snow, so it rains instead) most of the cafes are closed, and it's more sparsely populated by hikers and bikers, tough or stupid enough to go out in this transitional weather.
The bus left from St Andrews at 7:45 am (pretty sure that's the earliest I've managed to get up and be functional since I moved here), and after a 2.5 hour journey we got off and split into three groups - mine, about ten people, did a "medium high" hike with three munroes and lots of cloud. Munros are the Scottish term for mountains over 3000 feet, and some people make an effort to reach the summit of as many munros as they can - each time you climb one, you've "bagged a munro". So I bagged three munros yesterday. *brushes shoulders off*
It was quite cold - I didn't really register how cold until I wasn't able to unzip my backpack because my fingers were too numb. I also didn't think to wear my handy, warm and waterproof ski pants so instead I endured the cold and wet in leggings which really didn't do the job - my legs were red and numb at the end of the day. But other than that, I had a good waterproof jacket and a rain cover for my backpack so the rain didn't impact the hike much - as long as we were walking I was warm, and the way the wind would blow wisps of cloud over and across the mountains was magnificent to behold - one minute everything around you was a pearly mist, then suddenly it was clear and you could see the green glen for miles. It kept me on my toes, never knowing if there was a magnificent view right beside me or just more cloud. I had to risk a few glances up from my footing on the loose rock path to look around, resulting in a few muddy falls (totally worth it).
Between this Breakaway hikers club and the Dance Society classes I've been taking, I'm really glad I looked into the undergraduate clubs at St Andrews - it's always a bit odd having to explain that I'm technically staff (which comes up because of rampant student discounts that don't apply to me), but all in all it's really nice to have trips and classes and socials that get me out of the lab and make me meet more of the students. Also, trips and classes through the uni are wayyyyyy cheaper than trying to get those same things on my own, so that's a plus :D
I'll be on a stint in North America for most of November (Toronto Nov 5-14, Boston 15-16, Pittsburgh 17-23 and Fort Myers 21-28) so no more posts from me until probably mid-December!