I feel like I'm standing on the edge of a cliff, peering off into the unknown. In a relatively short time, I'll board a plane for Ulaan Baatar - hop a bus 1055 miles to Olgii - and spend the next ten months with a horse and golden eagle pursuing fox across the lonely Altai mountains. Even typing such a sentence feels surreal. I've been loathe to say much until recently, as such plans have a necessarily tenuous air to them. Even though the end result is something everyone is familar with - an eagle pumping across the vast landscape to collide with a fox - there are endless small details that will go into making those few heart-stopping moments. All the feelings of worry, uncertainty, excitement, and adventure are starting to coalesce in me now.
But now I'm in Scotland - and incredibly grateful to be here. Sometimes, I can't help but smile when a plane touches down in a particular place. Scotland is one of those places. Whether we expect or not - certain spaces become part of us, ingrained in us. Coming from an Air Force family, I've never really settled anywhere long enough to truly call "home", but I have those feelings of contentedness and belonging here. I can't seem to stay away.
The road leading up to a friend's farm, esconsed in the hills of western Scotland.
This is a place I enjoy sitting. The creek winds across the valley to the base of the hills. Unfortunately, the air was thick with midges.
The sheep were sheared yesterday...
Falcons at hack, destined for the Middle East, play in the air over hack tower.
A young female crowned eagle, bred here in Britain, gives a penetrating stare.
The thought of holding my own in Mongolia scares me. Hell yes it does. I'm terrified. Often I feel little stabs of doubt. What on earth do I think I'm doing? I'm not good enough for this. I don't have the skill, or the talent, or the strength...
Then again, there are days like today. I was lazing on the lawn with Floyd, a male golden eagle. How much I would have loved to stand up in heather, in deep winter, with hills and hidden hares before me. How much I would have loved to have been hunting, breathing frigid air and tensed for the slip. And then I feel excitement - I feel those familar butterflies before what you know will be a great day's hunting. I think, I can't wait to get started.