This summer I learned a few things from my most recent mountain trips. The main one is nothing short of a revelation, and something I wish I’d done three or even four years ago. This has completely revolutionised how I visit the mountains. Bear in mind that I am a father of two very young children so this is based on their needs and my own desire to be with my family, yet still indulge my outdoor and hillwalking passion at the same time. I’m going to let you in on my secret. Shhh, don’t just tell anyone…I call it…Sleeping in the Car.
Sleeping in the Car is a lot comfier and straightforward than I thought it was going to be. I get way more sleep than I expected using my rucksack as a pillow and with my legs bent all night. It helps that I am very tired and usually need the sleep, so I use this to my advantage.
Now, I’ve slept in my car many times in the past, countless times, so this is not exactly new to me. In the past, the cars I had were much bigger and there wasn’t a dog taking up the boot either. It is the way I use Sleeping in the Car that is new. I’d leave late, waiting for the girls to be properly fed, bathed and bedded but would still take my time getting north. I’d stop at a garage for coffee and a walk somewhere for the dog. Then I’d park up at the bottom of the mountain I intended to ascend in the morning, get as comfy as possible and go to sleep. I call this Guerrilla Hillwalking.
I pack the tent anyway, but usually I found that I couldn’t be bothered looking for a spot at around about midnight when I didn’t have to, and on a few occasions the midges were absolutely louping anyway. Pitching a tent in the middle of a midge infestation is horrendous. It’s almost as bad as taking one down in the morning, which is a very special kind of torture. Driving along Highland roads late at night was great though. Very few cars around at all.
The alarm goes off at half four, so by quarter to five we’re out and away. One morning we summited at exactly 7:00am and passed the first early morning walker heading upwards just after eight. We were already on the forest track, a mile to the car. To say this was satisfying as fuck is a total understatement. I had been eaten at by the clegs constantly for the last half hour or so of descent and it was only the constant movement that kept them off more. The dreaded midges were ok that day; we possibly managed to miss them but the clegs were out like the Luftwaffe and I was glad to be heading. That day I was home whilst the youngest was still having her morning nap.
So, for the time being at least, this is my new way of getting to the mountains. It’s worked well for me, ensuring I get time with my daughters, see them off to bed, yet still getting the time I need for my own trips, to replenish my soul and clear my mind and do all the other wonderful things that ascending mountains does for your health and well-being.
My point is not, ‘you should be sleeping in your car like me’ though. Only this; do what needs to be done. If you’re passionate about something, you should find a way to do it. Everyone is busy, but squeeze it in somewhere, somehow. Make it work for you. This fits my life right now; it might not in a year, but then I’ll need to adapt and find a new way. But there is always a way. Find yours.
Currently listening to: Little Richard: The Reprise Years