Summer series of interest, part 4: Staying connected to the mountains
Updated: May 10, 2020
I had planned this article to be about Ben Nevis in winter but with the bright sunny weather we have been having this past month, even though there is still a good amount of snow on the north faces of Ben Nevis and Glencoe, winter feels a long time ago.
So, in light of current events i have decided to write a short article about a few ideas to help people stay connected to the outdoors and the mountains, more specifically. We have seen a lot of recent social media posts about past hill walks and adventures where people reminisce with a few happy photos and a quick comment. I wanted to to take it a few steps further now that a lot of us have more time on our hands.
Wherever we live in the UK has its pros and cons, one pro of living in Fort William is that it is in the middle of coastal, river and mountain scenery. My local government allotted walks, bikes and runs still keep me connected to the mountains as i can see them close up each day and at this spring time see the transition from winter to summer. This helps me cope during the lockdown, in the very simple level of thinking that the mountains i regularly walk up are still there and that i will at some point be back on them.
Recent pics from my bike and walks in Glen Nevis and the Great Glen, left to right Ben Nevis and River Lochy, Highland Coo in Glen Nevis, River Nevis and Stob Ban.
But i realise that a lot of people who love to go into the mountains at the moment are physically far removed from them, if not mentally. Some of you may even have had trips planned that have been cancelled or postponed or hoping a trip that is coming up is going to happen. This can be disheartening and confusing not know when things may be back to normal.
One way of keeping yourself sane is to flick back through old adventures, photos and stories and sharing them with the people who you were with or looking at other peoples posts online. This process has a lot more to it than just choosing a few quick photos and clicking 'post' with a comment. People have to think which day they want to choose and why, pick the photos that highlight key points about the day and then wait for the all important feedback that for a lot of people drives social media posting.
Here are some of my extra ideas
First some homework (remember you have time now to plan).
Start the process of picking an adventure in the past that you want to relive. Jog your memory by maybe looking at the photos and who you were with. From this certain general memories will come back and you will have a general 'feeling' about the day or days as a whole. But i would like you to get specific. Here are a few questions to ask yourself, these are just some examples:
What time of year was it?
What was the weather like through the day, did it change?
Who were you with and what did you talk about?
Where did you stay/eat?
What were you wearing?
What did you have to eat and drink?
Who else did you see on the day?
How did you energy levels change?
Funny moments, comments?
What did you see when you were travelling? Think both small scale and big scale(muddy bog around your feet, any views)
Here is where the technology comes in. Arrange with the people you were with to have a video call to relive the day. Wear the clothes you wore on the day (waterproofs, boots, rucksack and all) make the lunch that you ate and you could even do it outside (in your own space) in the similar weather you had, or in the shower!
Now when you chat through the adventure it does need a bit of structure to the chat.
Think about using a time line of events and memorable moments to structure the chat in general and one thing will naturally lead to another. You will be amazed at what other people remember that you had forgotten. Think also about all the senses when you are remembering specifics: feel (muscles, feet, shoulders etc), sight (what did you see or not), sounds (the chat, other people, weather, clothes), taste (lunch, snacks) and smell (i'll leave that one up to you), as well as conversation and how your emotions changed as an individual and as a group.
As you go through the time line of events you can add or take off the clothes that you wore, eat some of the food and lunch as you get to it and even end up with a pint at the end! Make yourself a mini pantomime.
Left to right: Ben Nevis, south face of Ben Nevis, Mountain path Ben Nevis, Sgurr a' Mhain Glen Nevis
No not the mapping software. If you are not inclined to dress up and talk to your friends you can do the similar process above but with drawing, painting, collarge. Create a time line of events using the medium that you wish to remember one of you adventures. You still need to go through the same questions above to remind yourself and to cover as many elements as possible but you can keep the result of what you produce. You could do this on a piece of paper, in the garden with physical objects, paint or do several small pictures or collarges that then make up the whole.
This works well if you had a solo adventure or with kids. If you were with friends you can each do you own and then show them to each other via video link to start the chat about the adventure you had.
Snapshot in time
Finally, you can take one moment from an adventure, you may or may not have a photo of this, and you can either draw, sketch, write or video chat through that one moment or photo. Think about the time in the day when that moment occurred and all the events that led up to it in your visual or verbal description. Maybe it was a funny moment, when the weather was particularly bad, when you got an amazing view, a moment of contentment, relief, emptiness. Try and put that emotion into the piece whilst remembering that that moment or emotions you connected to it were not a stand alone event, there were lots of other physical and emotional events that happened that led up to that one event and helped sculpt it. Without these prior emotions or events, that one event you want to remember, maybe for its physical nature (a view) or emotional feeling (happiness) would not have happened.
I hope that these few ideas help to keep you connected to the mountains, keep you occupied, connected to your friends and family and start a chat about future trips into the hills.