The Scotland Series: Conquering Ben Arthur or Something Like That

I awoke the morning of May 19th, 2017 groggy and sleep deprived. This didn’t matter though, because I was waking up with the sun in order to experience a dream of mine that was finally about to come to fruition. On this beautiful May morning, four out of five McFarlands headed out at the crack of dawn to traipse through the Highlands that lay just beyond our hotel. The fifth McFarland needed his beauty rest. Not naming names, but it may or may not have been my brother (It was. It definitely was.).

Almost alien in its landscape, the sparse, grassy masses of rock that make up the Highlands jut out of the Earth in striking fashion. Somehow both domineering and graceful, it’s impossible to tear one’s eyes away from them—a driving hazard for any visitor, I’m sure—and I shake my head at my pesky ancestors for being dejected from this landscape all those centuries ago. Just leave the cows alone, guys, how hard could that be?! I’ve lived almost 29 years and have not stolen one cow—not one! But I digress.

This morning, we drove to the base of a mountain called Ben Arthur, which is best known for its famous peak, The Cobbler. Although I could continue to describe its beauty, pictures are worth a thousand words, so let’s take a look:

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Sister takes in the view of The Cobbler while I hit the trail. Photo cred: Dad.
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‘Twas a foggy morning, which only helped set the mood.
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There’s lil ol’ me. Not that it was a race, but if it were a race, I would have won. I mean, it wasn’t one, but if it were, I’m just saying. I would have crushed it. Just saying.
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Taken at one of the many times I thought we were almost at the top.
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The most sensible McFarland’s can be seen to the left making their descent. Also, the pictures really don’t do it justice, but my words would do it even less so.

The only unfortunate part of this hike was that we had to check out of our hotel room later that morning, and as a result, we could not climb all the way to the top. That was all well and fine because we were out for a leisurely hike, after all, with no intention of making it to any specific end point. The problem was, the mountain kept going up. 

Now, its times like these when whatever unlinked chain in my dad’s DNA that makes him a psycho-maniac athlete with no ability to stop within any reasonable measure has very apparently been passed down to me (I also obtained my mother’s aptitude for getting food stuck in her teeth. Really won the lottery with these two.*). My mom and sister are much more easy going about these situations. Do they want to see? Big time. But will they make the logical decision to turn around when it’s obvious that too much stands in the way given the limiting timeframe? Yes. Dad and I, however, decided to run.

There I was, running up the Highlands, breathing in the morning mist, with the promise of a beautiful view just waiting to meet my gaze. And waiting. Waiting… waiting… still waiting… any moment now…

If you think our efforts paid off, I’m not sure you’ve quite grasped the qualities that make my family, well, my family. That is ultimately my fault and I’ll try to do a better job explaining from now on. We didn’t reach the top. Every incline led to another incline, and thus I leave you with a taste of the disappointment I felt running back down to catch up with the more sensible family members with this very anticlimactic story. The view was so close, it was painful to turn around, but many more adventures were to be had that day and it was time to hit the road, leaving Ben Arthur behind until I can reach it again someday in the future. Glencoe was waiting, after all.

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*The funny thing is, after I finished writing this part of the story, I unknowingly walked around with food in between my two front teeth for about an hour afterwards.


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