October 19, 2008

An Epic Hike

At the top of Arthur's Table

Friday was Mark's birthday so naturally we decided to pre-game in the boys' common room. But instead of going out to the pubs afterward, we donned our hiking boots, packed our sleeping bags and flashlights (and Whisky), and marched down the Mile to Holyrood Park. That's when the adventure began. We were feeling good about the fact that there were 13 of us about to hike the Salisbury Crags, especially considering a student plunged 50ft down to his death only 3 weeks back. Lucky 13. But we went up with 13 and came back down with 14, so I'd call that a success! (No, we didn't pick up one of the Bush People... although that would make a much better story.)
We had decided ahead of time to take the gradual route up the backside, because it would be the safest and easiest climb. But as soon as we reached the bottom of the Crags, all of our careful planning went to boot. Liam and John saw the steepest, muddiest, slipperiest side of the hill and thought it would be a great idea to climb up that way. They just ran straight up. Since we didn't want to split up, we all followed, slipping along the wet grass and mud as we climbed. I was grabbing onto the long grass, weaving my fingers in between the shards, to anchor myself to the mountain. But we made it to the summit - huffing and sweating. The 13 of us pulled out the Whisky and passed it round for victory shots and birthday shots and warming shots - because it was bloody freezing at the very top. The views of the city were absolutely stunning, though. The pictures do not do it justice. There was no one else around (why would there be in the middle of the night at the top of an extinct volcano...?) But it was like we had the city all to ourselves. 
At the top of the Crags

After about an hour, we decided to climb back down and find the ruins of St. Anthony's Chapel that we had visited before on our daytime hike up Arthur's Seat. We thought the ruins, overlooking the pond, would be especially haunting at night. So Liam, part-man/part-goat, led us off the beaten path and down toward the ruins. As Rachel so perfectly put it: "he was born in the wrong century." We were walking through knee-high brush, and prickly plants were cutting through my jeans. Christina and Mark pretended they were on an African Safari... it kinda felt like one. We came across Pride Rock, slid straight down a steep hill on our backsides (like a shortened and muddy Summit Plummit on Mount Gushmore at Blizzard Beach) then scrambled up a steep cliff of rocks to reach the ruins. Don't worry, we made full use of the lone goose call to keep track of all 13 of us. We tried assigning everyone a number for a Sound Off, but no one could ever remember their number, so it was pretty useless. Of course once we reached the top, we then had to climb back down the extinct volcano and back up the Royal Mile, which, correct me if I'm wrong, is roughly a mile's walk back to our dorms. But it was definitely worth it. We found our 14th MC buddy somewhere between Pride Rock and St. Anthony's ruins... he had hiked the hill alone with a case of beer to meet us!

As we made our way through Holyrood Park, Mirit and John slipped off their shoes, rolled up their pant legs, and waded out into the middle of the pools in from of Parliament. I photographed the nonsense, but it was too dark for the pictures to come out well. But that is definitely being added to the list of "Things I should have been deported for doing": Wading in the pools of the Scottish Parliament.    

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