|Kayaks: "On the bonnie banks o' Loch Lomond."|
Mike's warm hospitality included a Sunday afternoon "recce" to Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, to ensure that we would easily find the trailhead on the east side of the loch early the following morning.
|The National Park Ranger Service - superb!|
Three well-equipped and cheery kayak enthusiasts soon appeared with associated gear. They must have wondered, just a little, as your reporter gushed over their boats and the magnificent loch - a body of water so celebrated in music, poetry, and history. It was a perfect day, sunny and warm. Of course, it's always sunny and warm in "Camelot". And, it only rains at night. ;)
|Great to meet you all!|
Loch Lomond is 28 kilometres long and 7 kilometres wide at it broadest point and offers dozens of islands to paddle to and around - and practice waypoint to waypoint navigation!
Bidding the paddlers a great day on the water, it was time to return to the mission at hand - locate the direction of the trailhead for Ben Lomond for the next day's "ascent".
|Correction, four paddlers.|
|Joan and MG Mike, engaging in preliminary "route planning". :)|
When I was growing up, my mum and dad would often sing the well known tune, "The bonnie banks o' Loch Lomond". They would describe the loch's beauty and the great times they had spent there. Versions of the song have been recorded by a diversity of musicians and bands that include Ralph Vaughan Williams, Benny Goodman, AC/DC, Rod Stewart, Mark Knopfler, and the Scottish folk-rock band Runrig. Now that's musical diversity! Every version brings back warm memories.
|It feels like the top of the world.|
As in life, perspective changes as effort is made. The higher you get on a mountain, the more clarity there is when looking out at the surrounding topography. So often, as folks get older, they begin to doubt their own abilities and are reluctant to make the effort that will get them to any number of life's "summits". That's unfortunate because without effort and its inherent rewards, we lose perspective and clarity.
And then we "age"...long before our time.
We human beings need to remember that we are usually capable of doing far more than we may ever believe is possible.
|Frequent stops...to take it all in - and catch breath!|
|Near the top, clouds began to swirl up the slopes.|
|On the summit of Ben Lomond, fellow hikers...|
and a lovely Golden Retriever.
|Heading back down and into the clouds.|
|The clouds suddenly form an arch...|
and reveal beautiful Loch Lomond.
Two years ago, on the Summer Solstice of 2011, my mother died in the company of some very special folks. I will never forget their kindness and their compassion. I know that her generous and loving spirit is still very much alive. We felt both hers and my dad's in the refreshing wind, high on Ben Lomond, above a special loch they knew so very well.
This is for you, mum.