flashback: the mountain top

walking the wicklow way, in early april 2013
walking the wicklow way, in early april 2013

April 3, 2013 12:33pm
Walking the Wicklow Way
somewhere in Ireland

“Sitting in Mullacor Hut, having just had a fine lunch of Heinz cream of tomato soup with Dubliners cheese on buttered brown soda bread. Enjoying a cup of Ceylon Tea and some Cadbury’s fruit and nut. I don’t have to sit in the hut, but it just seems right to shelter from the wind for a while. All things considered, I’ve been very lucky with the weather. It’s been -2 – 0° at night, and between 4 – 8° during the day. It was a frigid March here so there is still a lot of snow on the Dublin mountains.

Although the snowy peaks are a sight to behold, I think this qualifies as late winter – rather than early spring – camping. Given that I must observe,  cold weather camping has all the hard work of normal camping but less of the fun bits. You know, the same could be said about solo hiking… I take that back. I find it comparable to most of my solo travel experiences. I occupy myself quite well and enjoy going my own pace,  but after a while I can’t exactly remember what I’ve done.

Now fair and square at the midpoint of my trip, having walked 62km in three days.  And I’d say there is a lot I will remember. This is my first solo backpacking trip after all.  I would like to note that there are a few phrases which have come in handy:

  • you’re not out of the woods yet
  • It’s all downhill from here
  • I get knocked down, but I get up again

and more recently:

  • “Come along, Charlie”
  • I’m a little pony
  • Get me the f-ck off this mountain…

There have been some rough bits, obvs. The slushy muck on white mountain is particularly vivid. The icy river of death vs. ankle breaker alley this morning was also very exciting. No- for me, as someone who always eats her vegetables first, choosing to walk from Dublin to Wicklow has been a wise choice. It’s been one mountain after another but they all get shorter as the trail progresses. Anyway, at some point they’re just hills. There is a nice rhythm to conquering the peak in the morning, as they say here “just to get it out of the way, like!” This gives me all afternoon to amble down to the valley bottom and make camp by the edge of the forest.

Speaking of these mountains, they are not huge. But they do confirm for me that while mountain trekking is not a particular interest of mine, there are many amazing trails which are already within my reach.  The Wicklow Mountains have had their way with me.

– 21 fellow hikers and counting – pretty impressive tally for a frigid easter weekend! Last night I met with some fellow walkers at the Glendalough hostel and we enjoyed comparing notes. The lads (from the Netherlands) were like, “I died there, and there…” But their route diverged significantly from mine, having wandered from Clonegal along various country roads and only just making it into the mountains at Glendalough six whole days later. They did however find every pub along the way. It was they who warned me about the Icy Rocky River of Death this morning, and also the endless stairs ascending to The Spinc. Their advice has added at welcome drama to my travels. I actually copped out on those stairs and took the logging roads instead. Nothing special, except unfortunately the area had been logged. The snowy fallen logs made finding a path tiresome. The forests here are heavily managed. The trees planted such that on some hillsides it is as if a massive comb could be run through them.

But some of the scenery is amongst the finest I have ever seen. The views from White Hill, the roads at Oldbridge by the Glencree River… indeed, the woods at Glendalough reveal a stunningly ancient Ireland. I wish all these evergreens gone, so that Ballinafunshoge, Ballinafunshoge hill and Coolafunshoge would return to ash and oak and the woods of old could regrow.

I also wish that I could feel my right big toe. Back to the trail and onwards to Carrawaystick Falls! Looking forward to more views, glens, valleys… and hopefully hills.”

I hope this excerpt from my journal may help another fellow traveler, as my rambles on the Wicklow Way are a special memory of the sort which are not always easy to share.

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