TGO 2018. Backpacking across Scotland

Last year during the month of May, I rode my trusty BMW R1200GS 5,000 miles/ 8,046 kilometers through Canada over the course of 17 days and camped out along the way (Labrador was the best, though I did love Qu├ębec).

I loved the journey and it was an amazing experience but it left me wanting to explore more on my own two feet. That led me into backpacking and I’ve been spending a lot of time in the Catskill mountains hiking and camping on the various mountains (see my Catskill 3500 posts).

I spend a lot of time reading blogs for tips and experiences and every once in a while, I come across a photo of someone pitching tent in the Scottish highlands. Nothing is as picturesque as seeing a pitched tent with the rolling Scottish hills in the background. Amazingly beautiful.

As part of my stateside backpacking ventures into the Catskills, I’ve been on the quest to go lighter and lighter in order to allow me to go further and enjoy my trips better. This quest brought me to Zpacks and I’ve fallen in love with their products. A couple weeks ago, I surfed around other parts of their site, notably the “Adventures” section. Here I read about Joe’s TGO trek in 2010. I was immediately hooked by the thought. Entralled, I tell you.

Hanging up a map of Scotland in my office as I begin plans for (hopefully) backpacking across Scotland in the 2018 TGO.
Hanging up a map of Scotland in my office as I begin plans for (hopefully) backpacking across Scotland in the 2018 TGO.

Fast forward… much Googling… reading many blogs of past TGOs… WOW!!! I’m hooked! Backpacking from the west coast to the east coast of one of the most picturesque lands in the world (Scotland, in case you’re not paying attention). Sign me up!

So yeah. This is my planned vacation for next year – the last two weeks in May. Per protocol, I have to submit an application to the The Great Outdoors magazine starting September 15 and I think that I won’t know if I’m accepted until November. Not sure, either all the literature is a bit fuzzy or I’m just not reading it correctly.

This is COMPLETELY up my alley. I’m going for it. Fingers crossed I’m accepted. I’ve hung up a map of Scotland in my office, so now all my co-workers think I’m crazy. Actually, I ride my motorcycle every day, including winter, so they already think I’m crazy. This is nothing new.

In terms of physical preparedness, I backpack most weekends, with the goal of adding summits to my Catskill 3500 list, but I’m stepping up and throwing in 24 mile New York urban hikes. The TGO trek will be, give or take, 200 miles. This equates to a minimum of 15 miles a day for 14 days straight. That’s one thing if it were on level ground in wonderful weather, but it’s going to be in up and down terrain in quite possibly miserable weather. Much more strenuous. Gotta prepare.

Regardless, it’s going to be a lifetime experience, one that I will cherish. Stay tuned. I will post as I prepare.

Visit the official TGO website for information if you’re interested.

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