Life cycles…

Towards the back end of 2007 a walker went missing in the hills above Colintraive. I wrote about it here, and here.

The area in which she went missing is not particularly dramatic- it is rough hill country, rising to a maximum height of around 300 meters, and heavily forested. The woman concerned was fit, well equipped and very experienced- a former teacher from Perthshire in her early sixties.

Despite extensive searches of the area, she was never found. I have often thought of her as I have driven, walked and canoed around where she was lost.

A couple of weeks, two sea kayakers were exploring Loch Striven, and set up camp in an area I know well- a flat patch of land that is only reachable by boat, and has signs of old habitation- I have canoed there with my family, and explored the remains of the houses. It is a lovely, romantic spot. We took a trip there in 2008-

The two Kayakers ventured a little further into the woods then we did- climbing up a steep gully through the trees.

And by some miracle, they stumbled across an orange survival bag and a rucksack.

More out of curiosity they cut the bag open- and discovered the remains of the missing walker.

I feel strangely satisfied that the walkers body has been found. It feels like a circle completed. Family are able to lay their loved one to rest, and a mystery has been solved. Or at least- partially solved. We will never know why she died, or what combination of circumstances contributed to her death.

The other thing that feels right is the humanity that the community celebrates in relation to this lady. The extensive searches- by police and by her friends in a mountaineering club (searches that must have passed very close to where she actually lay.) These searches were not done with even a flicker of resentment- just concern and care.

Then there was the final discovery- the kayakers, the doctors who examined the remains, the police who stayed with the body all night before it could be recovered, the contact with family…

It sometimes seems that our hold on life is so tenuous- a bit like the settlement in the photographs above, all too soon we are overtaken by time and sucked back into the ground.

But humanity is not just bones and buildings- we also have spirit and soul.

May one soul be climbing still.

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