Friday night. Leave late to miss the traffic, Radio 1, eyes on the drive. Smoothly up the M6, slingshot Glasgow, onwards up the A9, horizon rolling as the mountains cluster around. Haul up in the chosen layby, unfurl sleeping bag in the back and dive for broken sleep.
Rudely awakened. Wrestling into layers in the half-light. Base layer tucked into shorts under mid layer tucked into tights under another mid layer over shorts under vest and jacket zipped right up to the nines. Inhale steam from the stovetop, suffer apple pie and coffee burps for the rest of the day. Pack up, lock up, hit the hills.
Roiling nerves give way to exhilaration. The sun is up - it might not be seen all day but it is up and that's what counts. Miles roll on. Eat, drink. Views absorbed, perils assessed. Decisions made quickly and sensibly before crazier, more stupid ideas can be entertained. Somewhere in the back of your mind a smile grows broader as the crux is passed and the last leg looms. Endings matter less with a long before to give them substance. Watch the sunset, feel not much of anything. Eat, drink. Miles.
Finish in the dark, car safe and small and familiar. Fall around a muddy car park, stripping off to nothing and then layering up again whilst the stovetop steams and the rain returns and you stub your toes painfully on your socks. Black coffee, whole pot of. Scour the car for food. Heater on, radio on. Back on the road, smiling.