The stones of Sgurr Alasdair thunder over me like forgotten gods of the earth. Through the scudding mists wreathing the peaks, the Old Man of Storr, the Zeus of this lot, is a claymore buried in the sky. My ragged breaths swirl away, mirroring what looks like the mountain’s exhalations, as I leave the woods behind. The air grasps with cold, clammy fingers and clutches the climber in claustrophobic embraces. Lichen-splotched rubble peeks through the turf like old, exhumed bones of a titan beneath its burial wrap. The Storr resembles a wrinkled middle finger, a monument of defiance.
I am lost in a landscape of such magnitude that every thought and fear and moment of exultation I’ve experienced amounts to less than the residue in a pan after the water has boiled off. Impossible to find amidst cities of our creation, this moment of calibration bends back the shivering will. The sky doesn’t hang on my shoulders; there are older, Promethean things that fight that battle, and they will persist long after our intangible experiences have slipped from the world. Somehow, there is release in that thought. I unzip my jacket and continue hiking so that I might lay my hand upon the Storr and keep that thought in mind long after I leave these slopes.