I'VE been restricted to indoor mountaineering for the last week. Climbing the walls you could say.
It's been a real tonic to see so many wonderful pictures of snow-covered landscapes being posted on social media, but equally frustrating that I haven't been able to be out there. No peaks, just lots of coughing and sniffling.
Still, I'm luckier than most. It's just a cold. This winter flu season has been the most virulent for years, and I've lost count of the number of acquaintances who have been absent from the outdoors for weeks.
One friend hasn't managed out at all this year, this being the fifth week in a row he has been laid low. At least I had a productive January and all going well I will be back out on Saturday.
Typically though, the forecast is for squally conditions, high winds and rain, the worst day of the week. The flip side is that I am happy to settle for a lower level expedition. Anything to get out. Even driving rain is welcome after a week in quarantine.
Despite the constant telly outpourings about Brexit and Trump, being confined to the house isn't always a bad thing. Having the time to read is one plus. I have just finished a book about the wonders of Iceland. More of a leaflet really, but I admired how the narrative flowed from special offers on grill steaks to frozen peas (I really do need to get out soon).
It also frees up time to pore over maps and formulate plans for the months and years ahead. For me, the next best thing to being out on the hills is planning to be out on the hills.
I love paper maps and enjoy forensically examining them for the unusual, the hidden gems; ghost villages, forgotten sites, memorials and other curios that throw a spotlight on the forgotten history of our country.
There are places I have had on my wish list for years, curious names with even more curious back stories, places that demand further inspection. Such as Loch Loch, Coire Bog, Rotten Bottom. Then there's the likes of Quarff and Gleann Mama and Juanjorge and so on.
It's also satisfying to work out long, sweeping routes round the bigger mountains that would provide a different perspective to long established routes..
I know I will have to outlive Methuselah to do everything I want to, but there's nothing wrong in having ambition, especially if it keeps you healthier and happier. Anticipation is often a far better experience than the actual event.
I have recently been enjoying the book Great Scottish Journeys by photographer Keith Fergus, constantly flicking through the pages and drifting away to so many beautiful places.
I've also been knee-deep in the mythology of the moon and possible links to the mountains for my planned new book, Mountains of the Moon, and have been able to work on the opening chapters. It's at that stage of collating as much information as possible, never mind the finer points.
There's a lot of preparation for the ascents ahead but at least there's a set timetable and a month's grace between each walk. I know there will be some problem excursions but hopefully there will also be some sensational moonlit nights.
In the meantime, I'll just load up the tissues and head on out into the eastern glens. Low level or high level, I'll take it as it comes.
The winter is far from over, and with the prospect of a huge eastern high heading our way soon fingers are crossed for plenty more blue sky days in deep snow cover. Bring it on.