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Tears in the Rain

Tears in the Rain

I always wanted to camp on top of Ben A’an in The Trossachs. I’ve climbed the small mountain 89 times (now 90) but never camped on top. It was while trying to climb it my age in a single year that I tore my ACL and medial ligaments last year which put me out of action for 3 months.

The weather forecast for 8/9 March looked promising, clear blue skies during the night and a nice sunrise. Chance for some astro-photography. Packed all my kit and headed up the mountain. When I got to the top the ground was covered in light snow. Found a camping spot just below the summit and began to set up the tent. This is when the problems started. The ground was frozen and I bent several tent pegs getting them into the ground, only to discover that I then needed to move the tent as the entrance was on top of underlying rock and wouldn’t take any pegs.

The weather then went rapidly downhill. Overnight, the temperature dropped to about minus 5, probably minus 10 with windchill. It started snowing. There was a fierce western wind which battered the tent all night, made sleeping difficult. I dozed fitfully all night and lay in my sleeping bag with all my clothes on: two pairs of socks, thermals, lined trousers, shirt, fleece, down jacket. Of course, as soon as you get settled you need the toilet. Up, out, freezing wind and snow, back, get settled again. Repeat a few hours later. While I’m out I thought I should take some ‘classic’ lighted tents on mountain shots.

Dawn. Still overcast and snowing. Decision time, do I get up or stay snuggled up in my sleeping bag. Well I came all this way and put in all this effort, so I got up. I’m glad I did. I walked the few metres to the top hoping for something to happen. Conditions gradually improved, although there was still the occasional snow shower blowing over. Then there was an explosion of colour to the east as the sun found a gap in the clouds and the light beams came streaming through.

The conditions were gradually improving and I spent the next hour taking photos in all directions from the top of Ben A’an.

About 0900 hrs and time to pack up and head down. The overnight snow fall made the steep descent and the stone steps treacherous. Having fallen on my last hill climb I didn’t want to take any risks, especially weighed down with my 25kg pack and I cautiously made my way down. By 1030 I was back at the car park and the drive home.

So why is this blog post called ‘Tears in the Rain’? It’s my favourite movie quote, from the film Blade Runner (the original). “I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.” I think it’s an apt quote for landscape photographers, particularly when you see and experience things that no one else witnesses – moments in time, lost forever, like tears in the rain, if you do not capture them in photographs.

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