This has been an agonizing decision for me over the last week. Several conversations I have had with Theresa have made me re-assess my current plans to travel to Scotland and hike the TGO in May. There are many many reasons I really want to do the TGO (not least of which, it's on my Top-5 list), and a handful that give me pause for thought; but it boils down to two major factors:
- When I initially explored the TGO I viewed it as 200 miles across Scotland , and in my head, I did the math as Crank it out in 9-10 days, get the T-shirt, back on the plane, job done. Since spending more time on the TGO forums and reading several trip reports (especially this one of a newbie TGO'er who made a similar error), I think this attitude it counter to the spirit of the TGO. The TGO appears to be as much of a social event as it is a challenge, and given that I would likely only hike it once in my lifetime – I think the right way to do it , is to take the full 14 days and enjoy the social event with fellow hikers at the end of the trip. With travel time on either end (and a lay-over in Chester, UK to see my parents – they would kill me for going to England without a visit), this is probably at least 12 work days off.
- Which leads to my next dilemma in the US – employers give out a stingy 15 vacation days (20 if you're lucky) a year. Just four months ago, Theresa and I were blessed with a bouncing baby boy; and as enthusiastic and optimistic as I might be, it turns out raising babies is a lot more time consuming that I expected. The reality of abandoning Theresa and little Chester for two weeks to tromp across Scotland in my pre-fatherhood modus operandi doesn't sit well with me; and burning more than my share of family vacation days on a solo trip doesn't seem fair to them or me either. Plus, truth be told – I'd probably miss the little bugger 😉
So with much sadness, I am withdrawing from the TGO. I am thankful for the opportunity to be accepted onto it this year, and hope that Nigel and Lynn at least (Tim will likely withdraw also given this news) will see their way across Scotland. I very much hope and wish I hike the TGO some day when the planets align to make the circumstances right.
I shall turn my attention back to my top-5 long distance list and pick a long distance hike closer to home this summer – perhaps this is the year for the Wonderland Trail?