Monday, November 18, 2013

Carrauntoohil with James

Sunday 17 November;

Today I went to Killarney to have a hike with James Moore. It had been far too long since we were last out and this was too good an opportunity to miss. James has been working hard on his fitness over the last couple of years and has been concentrating mainly on road running. A few years ago I would have to take it easy if we went on a run together but now the tables have turned and he can sustain a six minute mile pace while it would give me all I could do to break seven minutes for one. Anyway he had been to Killarney  the day before with his club for a race and social evening and as it had been quite a while since he had been on the mountains we decided to go for a hike.

I have been trying to get in a few long runs of late to try and prepare for a marathon I intend to run in Clonakilty on December 7th. I went for a nineteen miler on Saturday and found it tough, very tough. I ran over Bweeng Mountain and this added over 400 meters of climbing to the route and I guess I paid the price for it in the latter stages as the last three miles were brutal. Its fair to say that I still felt the effects of that outing as I set off for Killarney but I reckoned that a hike was just the ticket to try and stretch out my aching muscles. The weather forecast was for rain to arrive in the morning and continue for the day so it was a pleasant surprise to arrive in town and see that the skies remained largely clear. I collected James from his hotel and after a brief discussion we decided to climb Carrauntoohil and off we set. It was great to see him and we nattered away as we had a fair bit of catching up to do. We were changed and ready for the off at 9.45 and still the weather played ball. It is always a joy to walk into the "Hags Glen" and this amphitheater of 3000 ft plus peaks never fails to inspire. We decided that we would go up the "Heavenly Gates" and  then see from there. I don't think I ever actually climbed the mountain by this route as I normally use it in descent but it is a delight whichever way you go and it shows the impressive ridges and cliffs to their best effect. We were delighted to get a great view of a wild goat perched on a ledge on Primroses Ridge and he looked positively regal as he surveyed all beneath him. Onwards we went and we soon reached the col by the Devils Ladder.
King Puck

Sorry James, not your most flattering pose

The Hags Glen

The Heavenly Gates

The 300 meter slog from here is always a chore and there was nothing for it but to put the head down and plod on. As we got higher the wind got stronger and colder and there was a real bite of winter by the time we reached the summit. I also had a touch of rubber legs and was in dire need of something to eat. We had intermittent views when the clouds parted but the cold ensured we didn't tarry and we left as soon as we had eaten. We both agreed that a swift return to lower ground was the best option and we descended via the Heavenly Gates again. Once we were down under the cloud the temperatures improved dramatically and we enjoyed glorious views down and across the plain of north Kerry. We were back at the car about four hours after setting off and in a reversal of what normally happens when I'm out with Frank I dropped James back to the train station. The weather was now lovely and thankfully the bad weather forecast hadn't materialized. We have plans to get out and about soon, only this time I hope James will take it easy on me during our runs.
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