Thursday, January 10, 2013

Another round on the Reeks

I have been trying to up my fitness regime this year and yesterday I took advantage of a decent weather forecast and headed back to Kerry for a hike on The Reeks. The weather lately hasn't had much in the way of winter about it and indeed it has been more like wet spring conditions, very mild and damp. I knew that there wouldn't be anything in the way of snow or ice to be found but it was nice to set off on a foggy frosty morning with the temperature gauge reading -2. When I emerged from the fog as I neared Killarney it was with some disappointment that I saw a blanket of cloud clinging to the mountain summits.
The Slieve Mish Mountains


Still I was determined to make the most of the day and I decided to once again to do the "Hags Glen Horseshoe". This is a fine big day out that covers about 17 kilometers and has over 1700mtrs of ascent. It also traverses all the major tops on the Reeks over 3000ft except Caher. I was just finished a week of night work and I must confess to being quite tired as I set off from the car park at Lisiebane. To the north the view to the Slieve Mish mountains on the Dingle peninsula was beautiful and I hoped that my chosen mountains would become as clear of cloud as those were. There was a stiff chill breeze and I had hat and gloves on from the outset. My energy levels didn't really improve but I persevered and eventually found myself atop Cruach Mhor. Here the wind was quite strong and the windchill was considerable. I donned full metal jacket clothes wise and set off along the ridge. Despite the lack of views and the chill wind (or because of it) I was really enjoying myself. It is a great feeling to be alone in such a wild place on such a wild day.
Towards the top of the Devils ladder

A clearing coming to Carrauntoohil
Gradually as I went around the ring the wind came more to my back. I enjoyed a nice bite to eat in the sheltered side of Cnoc na Toinne looking down under the cloud to the glen far below. I then endured the 300mtr slog to the summit of Carrauntoohil and then across the airy ridge to Benkeeragh. This side of the range was enjoying more in the way of cloudless summits and here I was once again able to enjoy the spectacular views on offer. I went along the stony tops of Knockbrinnea, casting bashful glances at the spot where I "mislaid" my rucksack during a winter wild camp here in December, and then made the long descent to the boggy plain that slopes gently back to the car. Six hours in total made for a satisfactory day out but I was fairly bushed by now and to be frank looking forward to a nice bit of sleep.