After a lot of hours training last week and increasing my mileage, I finished with a relentless hike on connaught’s highest peak of Mweelrea on Sunday. David and I arrived at Doolough near the base of the mountain at 9.30am and sat looking at a heavy mist descending on the valley above. To go or not to go?!
First selfie of two, no more I swear!
I had never been up Mweelrea for some reason so a day like this could be tricky but no better way to try learn more on my navigational skills. I had my map, compass and all gear to stay warm and dry, well as much aa possible on a wet January day in Ireland.
We started the hike with a river crossing and then a long valley awaited. The ground was soft but less so than that on the Turk’s or Ben’s. We hiked to the base of the mountain range.Mweelrea lies a few kilometres away from the top of most climbing on this hike.After an hour and a quarter we reached 750 metres and there was a peak of 795 and 790 on both sides as we made our way through a narrow gap. Mweelrea peaks at 814metres. A wee bump on the ground to many of you mountain hikers and runners. I will let the photos talk for this post as my time is limited today.
As you can see the weather was worsening at this point. I knew if we followed a flat section on the top keeping the ridges on either side and taking a left southerly turn after roughly a kilometre all should be ok. In saying this visibility was extremely poor and conditions just nasty. A slight error saw us go too far to the west and we ended up at 640 metres. At this point i knew the safest thing was to use the gps and get out exact location on map. From there it was possible to reroute and find the base of Mweelrea. This added an hour to hike but when the cold and rain is that bad the gps is essential. I found the map reading fun and had it almost bang on. Using the gps was a safety and shows respect for such conditions. As you can imagine the terrain was soft and slippy so we were hungry at the top. A two second inhalation of a sandwich and we were off back down the mountain.
On the top and fed.
The descent was slippy but navigation across the coll went well and we took our time in the tricky descent. A round trip of just over 5 hours had us back to the car. Nearly two hours slower than I expected. the original plan was to do a two hour cycle but we hadn’t factored in needing lights so this will wait for another day. The conditions had us flattened anyhow. This goes to show to always give yourself plenty daylight and never go up without a map,compass, lots of food and extra dry clothes, especially in January.
Finally on the top.
A day to toughen the body and use the mind.
For anyone that hasn’t checked out Gavin hennigan’s adventure/row, check out the link to his blog below. Phenomenal stuff.