Since I passed out so early last night (and as it turns out, so did everyone else), I expected to be up before dawn. But thankfully, Lara and I didn't stir until 7 am!
We were down at breakfast shortly after 8 and were greeted with a LARGE meal. Fruit, cereal, hash browns, roasted broccoli, carrots and mushroom, and toast. Since it was more food than we could possibly eat, we took all the leftovers for lunch. By the time we finished packing up and heading out for day 2 it was shortly after 9 am.
Knowing that this would be the longest mileage day of our trip, we started off at a quick pace. The early part of the path followed the lake, which provided Lara and Olivia with a great photo op!
And then we winded our way up to Balloch castle, a beautiful but derelict 13th century structure replete with 200 acres of landscaped gardens.
After the castle, we spent quite a bit of time walking paved country roads. While we prefer being more in nature, we could cover more ground quicker on these roads - not bad news for such a long day's hike. Eventually we veered off the road onto wooded paths and farm trails. We even came across a herd of cows and I was able to utilize a skill we first had discovered almost 20 years ago, when Lara and I biked across the USA. I seem to be able to speak 'cow' and can draw them close with my sonorous 'moo'. Since then, I have come to be known as The Moo Man and have spoken Moo with cows all over the world. I worked my magic again with this crew in Scotland and they started coming from across the field to greet me!
Soon after, we split in pairs, with Jonah and I taking the lead while the girls had some mother/daughter time. Jonah wanted me to tell him the story of Romeo and Juliet, so we spent the next several hours on and off going through the tale. Tomorrow he wants Midsummer's Night Dream!
Lara said that she and Olivia had a great time talking, with Olivia pointing out how much she enjoyed spending time with her brother and just being able to be kids and goof around. I'll walk 18 miles any day for the gift of hearing my child say something like that!
We had decided that we would stop for lunch when we got to the 11-mile mark of our hike - fortunately that provided us with a great view of the Burncrooks Reservoir, which we had hiked most of the way around by the time we stopped.
Jonah had been getting a bit tired leading up to lunch, but that break seemed to revive him and he started off again with quite a bit of energy. That boost lasted for a few more miles, and then we hit a breaking point for both kids somewhere between miles 14 and 15. They were physically spent and didn't feel like they could go any farther. Olivia was a bit faster than J-man at this point, so Lara went ahead with her and I stayed with Jonah, each of us encouraging our respective child partner to push through to the end. I even offered to carry Jonah's bag, but he wanted to hold on. We eventually came to a sign that listed our destination town within a few kilometers - this seemed to give Jonah a little boost.
But the last mile and a half were tough - for all of us. The kids definitely had their moments, but, with encouragement, pushed on. We discussed the old adage of 'Mind over Matter' and that mental fatigue precedes the physical threshold. We had confidence that they could fight through and make it to the end, and they did. And we felt grateful that our longest day of hiking turned out to be a dry one - this tough day would have been awful if we hadn't been blessed with nice weather. Still, today was definitely one of those that Lara has dubbed #TSBT, also known as 'This Shit Builds Tenacity!' And it does. We'll need to get shirts made up as it is so fitting. We're proud of Olivia and Jonah - and the reward was getting to stay at the beautiful Kirkhouse Inn, which was fortunately right at the beginning of town.
This was our longest hike day (as far as mileage) in two Coast to Coast treks, and when we finished it at 4:30 pm, we were happy to be pampered with a great lodging. The kids were thrilled to have their own room, and we didn't mind that either! Nice bathrooms with towel-heating racks added a nice touch. After some much needed rest and showers, we went down for dinner at 6. Some potato wedges and a green curry with vegetables and basmati rice entree hit the spot. Well it did for 3 of us. Something didn't sit right for Lara - not sure whether it was the food or the hike, but we're hoping with a good night's sleep she will be feeling better in the morning. The kids then departed for the night and we did too. Once again, I crashed fairly quickly, this time at 8 pm. I'm usually early to bed, but this is getting ridiculous! And again, I woke up after a few hours to write this blog. Having done that - it's now time for bed. See you tomorrow!
Distance: 17.7 miles
Time: 6 hrs. 46 min.
Avg. Speed: 2.6 mph
Total Ascent: 2,170 ft.
Total Descent: 1,954 ft.