December 21st, the shortest day of the year and a red letter day for other reasons as well. James has had a tough year with injuries and his Achilles has been causing him big problems for a full year and he hasn't been able to get out running or hiking which are things he really loves to do. It was therefore great to be able to meet up with him this morning in Killarney to go for a hike and welcome him back into the great outdoors as he finally throws off the shackles of injury. The weather was looking less than promising and being mindful that he was still in the early stages of his recovery we opted to climb Mangerton Mountain 838 meters. This offers a fairly straightforward route to the summit yet it still has a nice big mountain feel about it. We arrived at the trail head and the stiff wind and misty rain ensured we put on our full waterproofs right from the start. The one thing in our favour was that there was no cold there and it was about six degrees warmer than yesterday. Despite being a year away from serious exercise James showed little sign of being unfit and he managed the climb with no difficulties and kept up a good pace throughout. Predictably as we rose higher the wind only got stronger and with nothing in the way of views we didn't stop at all and just dropped from the summit down to the arret between it and the outlying Mangerton North which we duly dispatched and then dropped back down to meet the track back to our car. We were just three hours out in total and we got a good soaking and buffeting but the chat flowed throughout the day and it was great to share the evident delight that James felt in his return to the mountains. It is so invigorating to be out on the hills in bad weather. Once you are dressed appropriately it can feel that the wilder things are the better. The change into dry warm clothes at the finish and the subsequent feeling of well-being always make it a memorable experience. Now that James is back in the proverbial saddle I look forward to getting out and about with him regularly in the new year.
James ready for anything
Back down below the cloud looking towards Kilarney