As Dave mentioned in one of his recent posts, one of the Orkney traditions is that the seniors climb up a mountain and gather at a huge wooden cross to share memories and dreams. Since this is a school-sponsored function, some of the chaperones have to climb the mountain with them. I was one of the chosen few this year.
We began our climb just before 10 p.m. The first order of business was to ensure that everyone had flashlights. Then we did a head count. I was one of two moms who gamely offered to be the rear-guard to ensure that no stragglers strayed off the path. This position also gave us the opportunity to climb very slowly (there was definitely method to our madness). Well, this climb was STEEP. And rocky. And slippery. Did I mention that it was STEEP?
The top of the mountain, where the cross was located atop a 40-foot tower, was about one mile from our starting point at the resort. It takes about 30 minutes for the out-of-shape to get there. By the time we arrived at the top (after pausing a couple of times to catch our breath), I was gasping for air, my heart was beating furiously, and sweat was pouring all over me from the top of my head through to my toes, which were encased in wool hiking socks and my brand new hiking shoes. The socks and shoes worked well - I did not get any blisters.
When we got to the cross, the students climbed the stairs of the 40-foot tower to the cross, took in the view and chatted a while. The parents recuperated at the foot of the tower and poured celebratory glasses of cider (the kids are too young for champagne). We drank ours and set some aside for the kids. After a few minutes in the tower, the kids came down, drank their cider, then sat at the base of the tower to chat some more. By this time the parents had caught our breath sufficiently so that we were able to climb the tower and give the kids some privacy.
The view from the tower was awesome. It was an amazing starlit night and, since we were at the top of the mountain and miles away from civilization, we had a completely unobstructed view of the sky. We chatted a bit, but we mostly just sat silently and enjoyed the beautiful scene around us and the pleasant mountain breeze. Two people saw shooting stars. Alas, I was looking in the wrong direction both times, so I missed them. That's typical of my luck.
After about 45 minutes at the cross, we did another head count (didn't lose or gain anybody), descended the mountain and arrived at the senior party at about 11:15 p.m. The party ended at 1:00 a.m. Believe me, everyone slept soundly that night.
I'm thinking of getting myself a T-shirt that says something like, "I survived the Walk to the Cross and all I got was this lousy shirt." What do you think? I'm open to your suggestions.