four years of bumbling

An update a little late for some but not for others.

It’s week two of fourth year.

This past weekend was spent in Glencoe.  I hiked the Three Sisters on Saturday (a walk I had done in first year and was keen to repeat to see how times had changed).  I ran down the trail back to the bus in boots and probably broke at least two toes.  That evening the club went to the historic Clachaig Inn and fondly reminisced about the snow and the hail and the rain and then finally the sun.  I learned boat races are not a thing I should compete in no matter how much I want to.  Sunday morning I left for a gentle ten mile jog, came back to the campsite by one, and took a nap until people returned around four.

I hadn’t been to Glencoe since first year, so I was quiet excited to return to see how I’ve improved.  Spoiler alert, three years does make a pretty big difference.  And since coming from Kansas back in 2015, I’ve learned a lot about mountains/mountaineering in general.  I’m still by no means an expert, but I would say I’m at least fairly competent.  It’s a bit odd now, if I’m being entirely honest, being seen by the new members of the club as one of the people who ‘knows what they’re doing.’  Especially if I think back to the some of the stupid tactical errors I pulled in the first three years of my mountain existence such as:

  • thinking I didn’t need a roll mat
  • putting guy lines of a tension tent in the wrong direction so it collapsed
  • having my water bottle freeze shut because it was metal and reversely trying to fix that by putting boiling water in a metal bottle the next day and burning my hands
  • forgetting. my. gloves.

A side by side comparison of my wholesome growth illustrated through my first year trip to Glencoe versus this past weekend for interested parties:

View this post on Instagram

spot cha girl

A post shared by 🌻kenn dold 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 (@baeowulf_) on

Which, again being as honest as I can on this platform without further incriminating myself as a bumbling idiot, is pretty reflective of my time here at University.

For those unaware, I upended my life in 2015 and moved to Scotland having accepted my offer to study without actually visiting the country prior or knowing anyone who lived here.  At this point, as well, the longest I had spend away from home had been at most two weeks.  It was a bit of a snap decision really.  For most of my high school years, I had plans to attend UChicago to play basketball.  It really wasn’t public knowledge at the time, but I had actually been in the middle of recruitment process, having visited the university, spoken with the coach, and attended a few camps.  I applied to Edinburgh in October more as a long shot ‘what if’ but six days after my application had been submitted I was facing an unconditional offer.

By January, I decided to not even apply to UChicago and move to Scotland.

But, I am glad that I did it.

Really glad actually.

(My university saving and parents are as well just fyi.)

But, then to complicate matters further, instead of joining the basketball team as I had thought I went on the Cobbler day trip with the mountaineers.  And, after spending my formative years in Kansas, (a flat farming state in the landlocked dead-center of the USofA) I decided that I should learn how to rock climb and hillwalk.  It was a very steep learning curve, both figuratively and literally.  But it has allowed me to travel the country and see sites (including archaeological ones) that I would have never seen otherwise.

Which I guess is the point of this post? And the reason for the beginning anecdote about Glencoe. This year brings my undergraduate degree to a close, but hopefully opens up more opportunities for additional study.  And my typical fashion of bumbling around until something works out, it’ll probably crop up when I least expect it.

roadtripping 2018

Sorry for the absence, I’ve been away for the last few weeks getting eaten alive by midges.

I’ve been in back in Edinburgh for nearly a week after time at the Bothy, Arisaig, Skye, and Torridon.  It’s been just enough time to take multiple showers, postpone my laundry until I physically couldn’t stand to have it in my room, read not one! but two! trashy teen medieval fantasy novels, get the photos from the trip developed, take part in the Processions to celebrate 100 Years of women having the vote in the UK, and teach young children about worms.

A lot has happened so I’ll try to summarize it the best I can without boring you.

As per my last blog post, I stated I would be returning to the club Bothy in Kintail to do some final fixings before I officially retired from my post as EUMC Bothy Secretary.  With great pride, I can say the EUMC Bothy is now fitted with a fully working gas kitchen.  We cooked a group meal on Saturday night and I spent another weekend in one of my favorite places in Scotland.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Then it was quickly back to Edinburgh to repack for the following two weeks of Roadtrip.  Gregor arrived back to the flat with his dad’s orange jeep and the four of us (being Gregor, myself, Tuva, and Erling) drove to Arisaig for the kick off of the annual EUMC Roadtrip and the 75th Anniversary Dinner.  This year was special in that the event was attended by not only current Yummicks but past club members as well.  I spoke with a few members from the 1970s and 1980s.   We arrived on the Friday night and had a BBQ on the beach.  On the Saturday, we went cragging to a nearby sport crag.  That evening we had a hog roast, a ceilidh, bottles of committee wine, and I got to meet not one! but two! very fluffy cats.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

That Sunday, Gregor drove back to see his parents and I along with Alven and Tuva packed out kit into Ellie B’s car.  Erling, Oonagh, and Ben packed with Ellie Leigh.  The eight of us went to the beach near Arisaig were we discovered how quickly the Scottish tide can come in and that apparently, gin bottles explode in hot cars (?).  Then it was off to Mallaig to catch the ferry to Skye were the weather was the nicest.  No one really starts the Roadtrip with any concrete plans, we just check the weather and go.

I had never been to Skye before this week.  I had been close, multiple times.  The Bothy is just south of Kyle of Lochalsh, which if you wanted to drive to Skye over taking a car ferry is where you would find a very steep bridge linking the island to the mainland.  And the weather was incredible.  On average Skye gets about three sunny days a year, the rest of the time it’s known to be clouded in mist and rain.  The week we were there, it did not rain a single day.  Clear skies, hot weather to the point I was still sweating in just a sleeping bag liner… and midges.

The Scottish midge is a beast known only to itself.  While I pride myself for never getting ticks or mosquito bits… holy living Hell I was eaten alive.  I looked like a pox victim.  Actually, probably worse.  And since we wild camped most nights, the midges had no mercy.

But anyway, here’s what we got up to on Skye.  Ellie B and I had a nice walk from Elgol to Kilmarie.  It was along the coast and we stopped for ice cream and met a nice dog.  We ordered way too many plates of sweet potato fries from the pub in Sligachan and probably ate all their mayo as well, sorry.  All of us had the bright idea of wild camping at the Fairy Pools so that we could wake up early and see them without all the tourists, which was great and we all went for a swim until the tourists showed up… with their mechanical, whizzing drones.  I really hope when they rewatch the footage they see my kind, respectful one finger salute while I’m trying to bathe for the first time in a week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

View this post on Instagram

day 1 on skye

A post shared by 🌻kenn dold 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 (@baeowulf_) on

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a stroke of ingenuity, we sat cooking dinner in a layby with cars speeding past.  We were all well beside ourselves having realized the speed of the cars kept the midges at bay (it’s hadn’t occurred to us how low our standards had gotten that were were excited about cooking on a layby)…  that was until I woke up the next morning to see the yellow roof of my tent covered in black patches.  In a speedy departure I thought I was home free until I fell into a bog up to my waist.  Pinned down by the weight of my base bag, my friends abandoned me to the midges while I pulled myself (and about a metric ton of bog crap) out and stumbled to the car.

That afternoon, everyone was just a little tired and split up to do different things.  Some went climbing, a few ran errands to get missing kit, and I went for a run.  Despite falling in a bog that morning the day evened out and I ran a solid 18km down Sligachan Glen at the base of the Cullins.  The sun was out, the trail was amazing, and I honestly haven’t felt that happy running in a long, long, long time.  I could have kept going… in fact I sort of did.  I only planed on maybe 7/8km max… but it was just one of those days were nothing hurt and the surrounding were beautiful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then it was off to Neist Point for climbing by the coast.  I’m normally not scared of heights, but, ouch, did I think I was going to fall into the ocean.  But, I mean it didn’t help that the path to the crag neared about three inches to the cliff with horrid, cackling birds below.  But, the climbing at Neist was great.  The sun did not set until nearly 11 pm so we stayed out late AND! we had our first midge free night!

 

 

 

 

 

The next day, Ellie B and I met up with Sophie, Caitlin, and Urte who were all on their own roadtrip around Scotland.  However, before we went to Dunvegan Castle because tbh is it a trip if you don’t see a castle?  That evening we pitched our tents on a dubious beach spot and got a bit of a fright when we thought the tide would wash us out again.  But, it didn’t and we had a BBQ and celebrated the week as the sunset on Skye with a bottle of cinnamon schnappes.

We were all brutally awoken by Ali shouting, ‘CAN EVERYONE GET UP SO WE CAN LEAVE THIS HELL HOLE!’ at 7 am. My eyes snapped open it was wasn’t even patches of black this time, no my tent was entirely blackened with midges.  Not wanting to even think about moving I shouted back, ‘Have you tried asking them (the midges) nicely to leave?’ No one thought that was funny and with panicked screeching we packed up and got the heck outta Dodge.  However, this was not before Erling became the next victim and if it wasn’t for his socially acceptable male leg hair, he would have looked like not just a pox victim but Patient 0.

Ellie B drove in silence back to the pub carpark and I didn’t blame her in the slightest.  I even forgave her a bit for almost murdering me in my sleep.  *Apparently* I snore and the only way to stop it was to hold my nose until I woke up.

That afternoon, Ellie B drove Tuva, Erling, and Alven back to Edinburgh and Ali returned to Aberdeen.  I swapped into Ellie Leigh’s car with Oonagh and Ben and we all drove to Torridon.  We spend the rest of the time in Torridon before Ellie Leigh dropped me in Inverness and I caught the train back Wednesday night, just in time to go to the pub and see friends again before they all left for the summer.

But back to Torridon, it was finally windy and the midges met their rightful demise.  The highlight of my time in Torridon was scrambling across the Liathach Ridge.  With just the four of us in Torridon and with limited rack and ropes Ellie and Oonagh split off to do an eight pitch route while Ben and I completed the ridge.  (I’ve linked the route description above if you want to check it out because I’m a little too lazy to retype it here.)  But basically, at a few points, while clinging to the side of a rock I cried to Ben (he offered no sympathy, mind you!), why I, a meager Kansas farm child, had ever thought leaving the flat of the valley floor below was a good idea. Jokes aside, it was actually fine and I’m glad for this view.

 

 

 

View this post on Instagram

Some scrambling.

A post shared by 🌻kenn dold 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 (@baeowulf_) on

 

 

 

 

View this post on Instagram

😻

A post shared by 🌻kenn dold 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 (@baeowulf_) on

The next day all four of us drove to Diabaig for some climbing but after a while we bailed and went for a swim instead.  Then it was off to Inverness to drop me at the train station for my train back to Edinburgh.  I left early so that I could make it to the RBGE Volunteer BBQ on the Thursday.

 

And that’s the trip.  I’m back now and I spent today at the gardens helping the education team with school groups aged 5-6.  I need to start some research, pay a few bills, and answer a few emails before heading off on excavation in July.  I keep telling myself to do things and I probably should get started.

 

cairngorms 2k18

Hello, dear readers.  Welcome to my trash blog.  You’ve clicked the link so now be prepared to be bombarded by narcissism.  Similar to the last two years of my meager existence, the EUMC journeyed northward to the Cairngorm National Park for the first weekend of second semester.

How did I end up in the perdictiment below?  Read on.

26903656_1502912493090046_3697198160543150136_n

The EUMC stays annually at the Woodlands House, a house owned by the university located in Kingussie. The house has real beds, a kitchen, and hot showers. As I told a few of the Freshers, this is luxury meet.

Ellie and I departed early on Friday after my first of many early 9am Theoretical Archaeology seminars. We stopped to get food and arrived at the house around 6 pm. We grabbed beds for ourselves, put lasagna in the oven for dinner, and then made a snow cat/rabbit outside. A car later hit our snow creature and it was sad.

The rest of the club arrived later that evening and the mad scramble for beds/floor space ensured. Then we sat about to plan our activities for the next day. Some went skiing, some went climbing, others walking. I went walking with a smaller group up Ben Macdui, the second tallest mountain in the UK. We left the house at 7.45 and arrived at the Caringorm ski center to start our walk. The sun was out in the morning and while temperatures were low, the psyche for a mountain day was high.

And even when the sun disappeared behind low sitting clouds, I was glad to be out in the mountains. We all finally slugged it to the top and I imagine the view must have been spectacular. Coming back down was a bit more difficult in the conditions, but we all safely made it back.

Throughout the walk, I was reminded it was the one-year anniversary of the Women’s March. And, mind my hubris, but I rather thought it was fitting to be slogging up a tall mountain.

Back at the Woodlands House that evening, Tuva, Erling, Ellie, and I made dinner. We made plans for the next day. We would go cross-country skiing. And reader, by ‘skiing’ I mean I was 12 and I also fell off the ski lift.

That evening, there was some pretty good chat, a bit of sock wrestling, and some snorers.

The next morning everyone boarded the bus and we set off. Tuva and Erling, being Norwegian were basically born on skis. I, being from Kansas, a relatively flat and warmer place, was not. Ellie also was a decently experienced skier. Tuva and Ellie were very nice and helped their suffering friend. Contraily, Weird Ski Uncle Erling laughed whilst I lay face down in the snow.  After sufficient mocking, he did eventually ski back to help.

For those unaware, cross country skiing or sometimes called Nordic skiing is a type of skiing in which the front of your boots clip into the skis but not the backs. You move the skis in a gliding motion but acting like you are walking but not lift your feet. It felt a bit like trying to run underwater.

I learned how to move forward pretty quickly, I did not properly learn how to stop.

And before you ask, I fell – quite a bit. I would describe my faceplant more to you here, but I feel like this video accurately describes my first attempts. I did get the hang of it toward the end and would absolutely do it again.

Sunday night we left about normal time only to discover that our usual route south through Pitlochry was closed due to a snow gate closure in Dalwhinnie. The only other way back to Edinburgh was to go eastward to Aberdeen and then south from there through Dundee and past St Andrews. This turned a 2 hour car ride into a 4.5 one. Ellie drove and was a star about the whole debacle.

Monday, I didn’t have class and stayed in to read and catch up on work. Tuesday, I had seminars for Archaeological Illustration. I am very excited about this course and I am looking forward to creating some art pieces for the assessment! This morning I had my seminar for my Crusades class. And, my dearest dudes, I am one of four girls in this class. The rest are the stereotypical ‘Edinburgh history student’ and I unsure where they came from or where they go considering I have been here for three years and have never once seen them in such an innumerable pack before. Perhaps it’s something about the Crusades that brings them out of hibernation? Unsure – more research is needed. Will continue to monitor the situation.

After my lecture I met up with Sophie, Caitlin, Urte, and Ellie for coffee. I’ve got a bit of reading to do before Friday, which I plan to work on later this afternoon/evening. I’m volunteering at the Botanics tomorrow with a community art group so won’t have as much time in the afternoon to work.

But, uh, yeah, the US Government is still shut down and I’m still alive and kicking it in the UK. So until something else cool happens, my darling dudes.

Welcome to Wummer

I spend the weekend in the Cairngorms, the national park located in the northeast of Scotland.  I packed my crampons and ice axe in hope of snow.  There was no snow.  I hiked in my baselayer and went for a swim – it’s technically still winter, but it felt like summer… hence the title: Welcome to Wummer

Such was the weekend.  We departed from Edinburgh at 6pm Friday night and drove up through Pitlochry to Kingussie where we all stayed in the Woodlan House, a uni owned house with a kitchen and real beds!  Luxury!

Saturday morning was an early start with bags on the bus by 7 AM.  Naturally, because of my bad temper in the morning and general dislike of humans prior to 10 am, I set my alarm for 5.15 AM.  I got up and immediately went to the kitchen to make breakfast and have at least three cups of heavily caffeinated tea.  I had a nice 45 minutes of quiet before the rest of the 50 some odd people woke up.  By 7AM, with boots and gaiters on we were loaded into the bus to be dropped down the road at Glenmore Lodge.  We had a long day ahead of us with a 18 km hike up to Bynack Mor, down a bit, over and a up Cairn Gorm, and then down again.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It was really lovely.  The temperature was cold but not terrible, the wind was bearable, and you couldn’t have asked for better visibility… you could have asked for a bit more snow. Especially considering I had thrown my crampons in my bag.

My anatomically fucked up knees even held out all day until we reached the summit of Cairn Gorm.  Increased stretching and yoga has definitely been helping, but there is only so much you can do when they already do not articulate correctly.

I was glad I got the chance to get out of the city and walk however.  Women’s Marches all over the world in solidarity against the general anti-woman feel of the new Trump Administration were being held on Saturday.  While I had been unable to join the walk that day in Edinburgh, I focused my walk in the Cairn Gorms about moving forward and what steps I would need to take to continue to be a positive, supportive member of society.

Saturday night we returned to the house and Tuva, Erling, and I cooked dinner.  We’ve been collaborating on the past few meets for Saturday dinner because 1) it makes cooking easier and faster and 2) we can split the supplies and actually make more food than we could have if we all made it separately.  We decided to go all out and brought along diced lamb, feta, tomatoes, spinach, pita bread, and tzatziki for a feasting fitting of Athena.

The next day, my knees were a bit sore and Tuva had a cold so we planned a bit mellower day starting early again at 8 AM.  I woke up again early so that I could have my tea in peace.  Our walk was planned through the forests around Glenmore, through the reindeer reserve, past a loch, and then back to the ski center car park to get picked up.  When we stopped at the loch most of us jumped in for a swim.  I use the term ‘swimming’ rather loosely for when I got into the water it was more of a run in and scream.  It reminded me a lot of my track and field days when I would have to take ice baths after practice.

And that was the weekend.  It’s back to classes now, I had an Archaeology lecture, Medieval Europe tutorial, and a Roman Empire lecture today.  Tomorrow I have a Medieval Europe lecture about the power of the papacy and another Roman Empire lecture.