The Angry Corrie 13: Jun-Jul 1993
WALKING TYPES No. 5: The Lost Boys
You always meet them at the fag end of a really awful day. It's been thick mist since Tom a'Choinich, and you had this idea that it would be just as easy to walk along the ridge as to get down into the glen. But weird divisions in the ridge keep looming out of the mist, and you're getting a bit twitched about the navigation, and this bloody snowy sleet has started up. So when the big, unmistakable cairn on Mam Sodhail is past, you're heigh-ho for off and down and the dubious comforts of Alltbeithe.
And then they appear. The first one out of the mist is thirtysomething and reasonably well clad in waterproofs. Behind him comes a spotty teenager, wearing a thin anorak zipped up to his chin, denim jeans, and a bobble hat. He's got no gloves, and he's carrying a Quantas bag with a picture of a kangaroo on it, slung diagonally across his chest. Sleet has formed a white rime on the upwind side of his body, and he's shivering violently.
"Hi," says thirty something. "Is the top up this way then?"
"Yes," you say, as number three comes tottering into view. He's in his fifties, warmly clad, but walks as if his feet hurt badly. When he sees that his companions have stopped, he sits down heavily on a rock and rests his head in his hands. He seems to be slathered in mud from head to foot.
So this is, ah, Chrysanthemum" says thirtysomething.
Ceathreamhnan. "No, that's way west of here. This is Mam Sodhail, " you say. (Is it? you think.)
"Ah, right. So Chrysanthemum's over the back of it, then?"
"No, west," you say, getting twitched again.
And you get out your map and you point things out on it, as much for yourself as for them. The spotty youth shivers and rolls his eyes a bit. The older guy groans on his rock. Thirtysomething looks sort of keen but vague. "Yeah. Up here then?"
"Yes," you say.
And off they go, swallowed by the mist in a few paces.
They never show up at the hostel. But they never appear in one of those sad little newspaper items either. After a while you can't believe that you actually met them at all.