Tumbling into the Cairngorms Mountains

Tumbling into the Cairngorms Mountains

The power of Earth graced us with rain, wind, rocks and crystal waters while crossing the rough slopes of the Cairngorms Mountains in Scotland. From Pitlochry we headed northeast toward Aberdeen, threading our way through pastures beneath rising hills, the landscape beckoning us into immense valleys that first opened and then narrowed as we rode deeper into the mountains.

Lingering sheep fell away as slopes became too steep and farms too distant for their liking.

Here, we felt most alive.

Here, we felt our immortality.

Here, without signals or supermarkets, we saw how vulnerable we are.

Yet here, without convenience we felt grounded with a sense of belonging.

We are made of Earth and Earth is made of us.

Dipping into the icy waters and sensing rough stones beneath bare feet sparked memories of a time long ago. Over thousands of years we humans yearned for more. More comfort, more health, more safety.

In the pursuit for more, we began to lose something. Or were we ever truly connected? Was there ever a paradise of Eden? It's easy to daydream of such a nostalgic place to escape the harsh realities of a life out of balance.

Nature is a source of generosity and also a force of relentless power.

Slim and rocky ascending tracks slowed our pace to hike-a-biking, while riding risked tumbles down steep ravines. Steven experienced this once, falling into a patch of heather rather than down a sharp descent.

Nature holds us.

Moving slowly in this wild embrace we felt all the things that matter most in life. They are simple things grown from community circles, not overseas factories, but homegrown wonders made of love. In the cold night we yearned for warmth of connection and in the day we delighted in meeting two others on the trails.

A different life played out while cycling in the Cairngorms wonderland, so desolate yet flourishing with memory and layers of microscopic life. While our food supply ran low, our hearts both rose and sank when we saw the first signs of civilziation again. A foundation of an old stone cottage stood in defiance to its long ago abandonment.

Convenience called to us, but we felt a deep sense of loss whilst looking at the ancient mountains looming behind us.

Crossing rivers we then saw a new home in the works, a tiny cottage with two windows and one door being built by hand.

River Dee guided us through the remnants of the mountain wilderness, asking us not to feel alarmed when cars came into site once again.

An illusion burst then. Suddenly roads, traffic and farms reappeared as if from a dream, reminding us of our place still firmly enmeshed within the system. A herd of red deer ran across our path as we left the mountains.

We long from the healing mountain. For the River Dee untouched by ships and agricultural runoff. Free from bleating sheep and branded cows.

Thriving in this life is not a matter of standing in supermarket aisles and long blocks of rush hour traffic.

Thriving is taking charge in a wild, dynamic world, truly feeling the elements and awakening from the stupor of complicity. Tumbling into the Cairngorms Mountains woke us up that much more, putting our bodies and minds to the test, asking,

Are you ready for the task?

We are ready, ready to step from smoke and mirrors and live a life in balance with Nature. Ready to embrace our own true wild Nature.

Written by Karla Sanders @karlasandersart | Photos by Steven Tiller @steventiller