15 May 2011

Walking up a mountain

Today I finally went walking up one of these Irish 'mountains'. My friend said to me the other day  would I like to go walking with her on the weekend? I said sure, where? She had heard something called the 12 Bens. Called so because of the Irish word for mountains - basically it is a mountain range of 12 mountains. An experienced climber might do it as a challenge. Perhaps in one day, like a 16 hour walk. So it took a lot of convincing to get this weekend walk down to just one or two peaks. She thought it would be a sunny day, a nice sunday stroll. Luckily I convinced her to bring a friend with lots of experience.

So of course being Ireland it has been raining for weeks so even if today was dry, the ground would have been soaked. As it was, it pissed down. The tops of the mountains were covered in fog. Which once you are in it, is awful gusting rain. So we began to walk, not overly well prepared because of course we don't have proper walking shoes. And my waterproof gear has never been subject to quite so much water - turns out it's not very waterproof. The walk up was cold and wet and I was soaked so immedietely. Mountains here are not covered in forest - they begin with bog and grass and end in rock. So the boggy bit was not really my cup of tea - even on a nice day I don't like walking uphill like that. Finally we got to the rocky bit and that was much better. More like climbing. We got to the top! It took about two hours, I think it is about 750 metres or something like that. And the wind was so much worse up there!

So we went back down. But before I knew it we were going up again! By this stage I was getting a little clumsy, my legs were getting tired. But I got up, and up the next slope too. Finally, time to go down for good! We had climbed two mountains! I don't know their names. If I did I wouldn't be able to spell them anyway. The downhill was not so bad, the slope we took was more gentle. Lucky we had an experienced friend to navigate though because visibility was zero! Eventually we were so low down the mountain we came mostly out of the cloud and could see again! Only now we were out of the rocks and it turns out that a month or so ago there had been a fire, all the heather and shrubs had burnt away. So it was charred vegetation and heaps of mud. I spent about half of the rest of the way down sliding on my bum. Luckily I was soaked already, and while my gear didn't keep the water out it did keep most of the mud out! It was great to get to the bottom. Once we were on the road again the rain stopped fully and the sun came out a little, I dried off somewhat. By the time we got back to the car, took the wet gear off and got dry stuff on, sat for the drive home with the heater on, and everything was all better. Except later I found that the dirt was somewhat ingrained into my hands, had to use the scourer to get clean again!

Now I have dinner on and I am warm and clean. I will be very glad to go to bed tonight. There were no photos taken, it was too wet, I didn't dare take it out. Shouldn't have even taken it up the mountain though, I fell one time too many, now there is a small crack in the screen. It's still fine though, there has been a crack in the screen of my phone for months and that's not a problem. I must begin to be more careful of my things.

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