I left the Moray Way on the 19th of May due to an injury on Day One. The injury would have not gotten progressively worse IF I hadn't been walking 12+ miles a day for the next few days after falling. The night of the 18th, I could barely lift my left leg due to the pain in my hip. I was able to get to a GP on the 19th and without doing an MRI which would have been a large medical expense for me, he diagnosed the issue as bursitis as a result the slip and fall onto my hip that first day due to the rain. Now that I had a diagnosis I was told to STOP walking, take lots of ibuprofen (3 Advil is the equivalent of a prescription dose), rest and see my doctor when I got home and even have some follow up PT depending on any tests results. At this point I called the shop elf to tell him my plans which were to rest on Thursday and on Friday take a bus from Grantown to Inverness, then the train from Inverness to Inverurie, and then a taxi from Inverurie to Mike & Elisa's. I also called Elisa and gave then the update and my expected time of arrival in the early afternoon. I did rest and prepared my pack and overnight bag for the next day, strolled around the town and walked across the street to a great pub for dinner; afterwards I had a lovely evening in the lounge talking to the owners. On Friday all went well despite being slow to walk and having some issues standing up and walking up and down stairs with a pack and a small suitcase.
Looking back, I will say that despite the injury I had a wonderful time even though it poured on Monday and I had issues with the trail markings. IF I had continued I knew to be more attentive to them and direction changes.
Now I will discuss what I did right and what I did wrong.
- Training - this I did right and some wrong. All the walking really helped me get my legs use to that much movement. What I did wrong was not hitting that 12+ mile training walk nor being prepared for the large hills I went up and down. IF I had walked on a treadmill with inclines, I could have gotten that training in and been better prepared.
- Clothing/Boots - I was properly clothed as it was cool and raining especially that first day so that was what I did right. My boots kept my feet dry; the Gore-Tex rain jacket and pants were well worth the money; my walking leggings also were of the correct weight so they kept my leg warm but not hot as did my REI super wool mid-layer long sleeve, 3/4 zip pull over. What was kinda wrong? I did need the shorts I brought though maybe in July or August I might have used them. I did not use the base layer clothing but if it had been cooler I certainly would have and that Puffy jacket I got from L.L. Bean was perfect in the mornings when it was very cool and until I warmed up. Then there is the black toenail; was it the boots being to small? My socks that day being too thick?? The steep downhills? Or all of it, who knows but it happened and so I am moving on and not worrying about it.
- Backpack - after seeing what others were using, my initial thoughts about it being too big (and thus I filled it with too much stuff) might be justified as everyone else I saw (5 other people) had about 35 L packs and mine was a 44 L. BUT it worked brilliantly and I have no regrets about trying 2 others to get a good fitting one and not settling for something that kinda worked.
- Food and Cook Stove - mostly wrong but some correct. I planned and purchased food to eat on the trail and even planned for snacks because I was afraid I would not be able to either purchase food in each town, easily or if I ordered lunch to go from the B&B it would not be adequate in terms of caloric need. Again after talking to other hikers and seeing what I had, I could have or should have done this. Additionally NONE OF THEM carried a stove for a hot lunch or beverage along the way; for a hot cuppa they had thermos' which I had thought of but decided at the last moment not to do. Then there was the rainy day - I really could have used a hot lunch that day but between the rain and wind and falling behind timewise, did not stop to cook and proceeded to snack all day. On the second day, I stopped for a nice lunch in Aberlour. Carrying the snacks was the correct thing to do, planning to cook lunch on the trail, not so much.
- Hiking/Walking Pole - THIS I DID RIGHT. I almost did not bring it as I was not enjoying walking with it during my training but this pole really did help especially when I needed to stabilize. Two would have been better and I understand why.
- First Aid Kit - I got this mostly right. I did not get blisters but was prepared and one of the women that I met on the trail had some baddies; I gave her some of my mole skin (she had not heard of it before) which really helped her. Overall I had the right stuff incase I did get a cut but I had too much of everything except for the ibuprofen and the topical lidocaine cream.
- Electronics - The phone with the GPS and the GPX trail maps was brilliant except that the screen would go wonky in the rain. Note: I did have maps and a compass too. When I was deep in the wood and had no cellular service I did put it in airplane mode to save the battery. When my phone battery got down to 50 % I would plug it into the battery bank with internal solar charger I had and it would get topped up; the charger could last more than a day of walking but I did top it up every evening. The other electronics I had with me, in the pack was a small android tablet which I used for email and writing blog posts each night but I have to say that I hate the app for writing the posts and it is not as fully featured as using a full blown web browser and it would crash and close and not have saved what I was working on many times.
I am very very glad I did it. I set a hard challenge for myself and in my opinion did fantastic.
Will I or would I do it again? Yes, but not that section of the Speyside Way; I would like to come back someday and finish the Moray Way but not right now as I need to heal and do some hiking in the USA.
I have 1 more week here in northern Scotland then I head to Edinburgh before returning home.
A picture of the Moo and Blue (beef and stilton blue cheese) pie and chips I had for dinner. Scotch not shown ;-)