In summer, beating the first rays without being in a tent at height is a thankless task with tired eyes behind the steering wheel and joyless miles before setting foot on the ground that had drawn you so far.
Better to see the low sun warm the slopes across the glen with a fresh cuppa sitting on a cool rock or a dry patch of grass if you’re lucky with a rainless night. The slopes are thrown into relief in a different and more subtle way than under snow, but it’s no less grand.
Dawn gold slides into fresh green as the new day’s warmth reaches your face and evaporates any thoughts of another wee kip before setting off on day two of a leisurely and most likely unnecessary mini adventure. But what hill isn’t worth two days of your time, one is never enough.
The pack is lighter with food eaten and water drank and it sits easy on shoulders that are soon damp under the straps as the sun climbs towards a warm noon.
A bead of sweat escapes my hat’s soaked brim, day two was warm and the ascent was maybe more than I was expecting. It was longer certainly and my pace was slow as much to subconsciously stretch the day out than the usual tired legs and burst lungs.
Slowing down your steps means that the end of the day is yours too, long after the day trippers are back on the road I’ll be watching the sun slipping away again. Just enough left to drink to get me smiling before I get downhill to a burn to fill a bottle, just enough snacks will be found after a rucksack rummage to keep the rumbling at bay until I get close to home.
Close your eyes, you can feel it too can’t you.