Standing atop Creag Choinnich just before a December sunset, the world stretches at my feet in preparation for a good night’s sleep. To the northwest, the River Dee, glinting in the afternoon light; to the northeast, Invercauld House, huddled in the gathering gloom, just beyond the reach of good photography. The sun ducks below the ridge across from my perch, and a sharp chill accompanies the deepening shade.
You know that “million-dollar view” you always hear about? This is it.
We drove up the A93 from Dunfermline to Braemar, taking a brief break from the Edinburgh crowds to enjoy the Cairmgorns for as long as the shortened days would allow. As Tammy window-shopped below, I hopped a rickety stile on the east side of the motorway and began my ascent amongst the pines.
Before long, I’m gasping for breath at the top of the ridge, and the spectacle overwhelms me. If I hadn’t already been out of breath from the climb, the vista would have stolen it away. I stand transfixed, cold and wonder working their way simultaneously under my skin. I have been many places and stood atop many such mountains, but never before and never since have I seen a more beautiful sight.
And then, simultaneously exhilarated by the experience and saddened at the impossibility of holding onto it forever, I descend again as the sun disappears from view. Another day, another adventure…
As always, happy travels, my friends!