The Angry Corrie 53: Apr-May 2002


The Knee of Cairnsmore and the damage done

THIS HILLWALKING GUIDE is written for the benefit of middle-aged persons who have found that the introduction of walking poles has not substantially decreased the pain and effort experienced during the ascent and descent of Scottish hills. It is important to note that the advice tendered, if used, is likely to be dangerous, will definitely be illegal and may be considered, in some circles, "artificial aid". However, while congress with nature instils romanticism, it also breeds pragmatism. With this in mind let us consider the realities of the middle-aged state. I trust your experience of this is less oppressive than my own - but, if I may generalise, the following statements are broadly true:

  • You feel older
  • You are heavier
  • You are less fit or even unfit
  • You experience more pain
  • Recovery is protracted
  • Your bad habits have been around for a long time
  • All the previous engenders great weariness

Unless you are made of very stern stuff, and I guess you are not if the above applies, one way to combat these grievous impediments is in the consumption of toxic substances. Generally this has been considered the Province of Youth but, like so much in a funny old world, this is a topsy-turvy notion. The young already have endless opportunity for fun, eg energy, libido, looks and generalised adulation. Why fuzz-up the picture with psycho-active static? On the other side of the hill we oldsters have fewer of the attributes mentioned and considerably more justification for tinkering with a picture that probably has seemed dreadfully askew for some time. Indeed now is the ideal time to start getting twisted and there is no better setting for this than The Great Outdoors.

I have been researching this article for the last 40 years: beatnik/hippy parents gave me my first experience of peyote at the age of six. With a selfless (some would say mindless) devotion I have been spinning ever since in the revolving doors of perception. It is true that I am somewhat dizzy in a permanent and inner manner - but, assuming the general reader does not share a similar history, I can confidently assert that Drugs are the Answer to Hills.

It only remains to detail the peculiarities and particularities of a few substances. On a cautionary note, the note of caution in the advice should be utterly ignored.

Barbiturates

Limited application: they can guarantee a profound slumber in any conditions, even a bothy crammed with drunken beards, or if ingested on top of a hill can precipitate incredibly rapid and painless (although perhaps fatal) descent.

Alcohol

About as useful as barbiturates, although a decent bottle of red will render any camp food infinitely more palatable.

Cannabis

Not so useful on the hill - hard to consume unless baked into biscuits or buns. Regular users are unlikely to get this together, man. The thing about this method is ending up totally gaga on Curved Ridge wanting your mum. A reefer may be as well be smoked in a wind-tunnel as on a hill - just try lighting a pipe on the CMD arÍte. The druggy effects are of varying usefulness. Sloth, vagueness and niceness are all to be despised; massive paranoia and/or hysterical mirth are to be thoroughly enjoyed. Perhaps the best use of cannabis would be in the intricate (and domestic) planning of elaborate excursions that are never undertaken.

Nicotine

Not useful.

Psilocybin mushrooms

If consumed in sufficient quantity these can transform any situation, but uncertainty hovers around the exact nature of any such transformation. Disorientation and a degree of social awkwardness may prevail and cause some difficulty, but energy is abundant and that is what we need to get to the tops of hills. If you find yourself dressed in nothing but a bracken kilt, copulating with a patch of bog, you have taken too many.

LSD

The perfect substance for all hill occasions. An hour after embarking on your walk ingest between 250 and 500mcg. (About eight rave-type blotters should do, ask one of the kids to get it for you.) Now you are set for adventure. LSD is a strange attractor, so while there is the weird you become, the weird that happens is even weirder. Anything can happen; just try to keep your clothes on (or read RDS on the preceding page - Ed.). When you realise you are completely lost, try and remember that sooner or later the map and compass will make sense again; likewise the strange guttural noises made by your companions. If one finds the combination of drug and wilderness a tad challenging (eg I am an insignificant speck in an infinitely meaningless universe), know that on the other side of terror is bliss and beauty. There is, however, no map or bearing to ensure that is where you will end up.

As well as releasing psychic energies you never knew you had, LSD liberates forces of a usefully propulsive nature. Another bonus, in the gaga come-down phase, is a spaced-out vagueness that renders miles insubstantial. Should you make it back to the tent, all will seem hilarious until sleep gently blots away the remaining smudges of consciousness.

Cocaine

In its commercial form cocaine is singularly useless up a hill. An experiment with talcum powder at any point above 1000 feet should convince even the most sceptical blow-hard. Long before the snorting point is reached the substance will be widely dispersed over several Landrangers. If actually consumed, it will enervate you, cause lesions in the nostrils and knock the shit out of your immune system. Coca leaves might work: in this form it is a drug with good pedigree for hill work. Try explaining that to the cartels or the CIA, though.

Opiates

Not recommended. The profound gouch effect enables outdoor sleeping in the worst climatic and thrutch conditions, but there will be a waking at some nightmare later time.

Ecstasy and amphetamines

Not to be encouraged. A potential threat to peace and quiet being hordes of ghettoblaster-toting eckie heids grooving across the countryside. Similarly, speed, while liberating energy, will also liberate frenzied gabbling. Well, fuck that noisy shit. (Handy for the skiing, though - Ed.)

There we have it. My personal recommendation is acid. Just remember, you got this advice and any illegal substances from a guy you have never met before in your life, in a hillzine the whereabouts of which you have forgotten.

Dr GW McSharkie


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