Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Wild Camping On The Reeks

Kevin and myself were hoping to have an all too rare outing on Saturday by heading somewhere to camp overnight and hike on Sunday but our luck being what it is we had to cancel as torrential rain and strong winds arrived Saturday and washed away our hopes. As I had a long weekend off I decided to head away myself on Sunday and have a solo camp on The Reeks instead.

Always a delight

Bouldering heaven

Spectacular as they are, the Reeks is a small compact range and the options for making a two day outing while using just one car are quite limited. I had often thought to camp up on Knockbrinnea which has great views and a ready water-source but the problem (if it's a problem at all) is that one of the days is going to be very short. With that in mind I had a very leisurely morning on Sunday and I didn't arrive at Cronins Yard until after 1pm. The day was shaping up to be a beauty and the first thing I had to do was lather on the sunscreen😎. After letting the people them know I was going to be camping overnight ( so they wouldn't be alarmed to see the car there all night) I set off into the Hags Glen. The view towards Carrauntoohil as you leave the yard is I think the finest in the glen and seldom fails to excite. I was in no hurry and it was nice to just amble along at a leisurely pace. I left the main track and headed up to a large boulder on the right to have a goosey. I have never seen anyone climbing there and it is a real shame. It is quite large and imposing and is actually a split pair of rocks. To my untrained eye there looks to be lots of "problems" that would give people of all abilities a good workout and several overhanging parts are there for the very good. I climbed up the steep slopes of the northeasterly spur not far from "the Fingers" until I reached the easier ground that rises in a couple of stages until the final slopes of Knockbrinnea east top.

Even though I had taken my time it was still only just gone 3pm when I was on the top of the west top at 854mtrs. It was a little strange to drop my bag so early but I luxuriated in taking my time in choosing a good spot for my tent and once I decided on a place (lots of great options here) I just relaxed and watched the world turn for the evening. There was lots to maintain the interest throughout the evening with wispy clouds appearing and disappearing over the higher tops and all the main summits (except Caher) are laid out in front of you to admire. As if that isn't enough the mountains of the Dingle Peninsula stretch away to the northwest and the north Kerry plain lies to the northeast. As time went by and the light changed I was treated to a lovely sunset and fiery cloudscapes which I delighted in trying to capture with my camera. The forecast was for a calm night with the promise of extensive fog in the morning so I was hoping to perhaps experiment in the dark of night and try and capture a starry sky over the peaks. Here at almost 850 mtrs it was decidedly chilly and before I started cooking my dinner it was only 8 degrees. The breeze was light but it chilled so I had my insulating jacket and hat on from early doors. After dinner I watched the sun slowly set and I decided to retreat into my tent and settle into my sleeping bag for a while.

Good morning

Benkeeragh casting a long shadow

 As often happens I got snug and drifted off to sleep quite early. I woke up a little while later to discover that the breeze had strengthened a fair bit and my hopes of getting a steady long exposure of the night sky seemed to be dashed. Instead I stayed inside my bag and went back to sleep...at least for a while as later in the night my lightweight sleeping bag didn't prove up to the job of keeping me warm and a somewhat restless/chilly night followed. The breeze was turning into a wind my the time the morning arrived so rather than try and warm up a brew I had a sandwich and some cold water (yum yum) and I packed up and was ready for the off just as the first rays of sun started to appear. A few more pictures and I set off up towards Benkeeragh at 7.30am. Starting so high and so early meant that I had reached Carrauntoohil before 9am and I decided to go as far as the Bone and head back down at that stage. I hadn't seen a soul since I stepped off the main track yesterday afternoon until I neared the Devils ladder where I met the first of the days hoard that headed for Ireland's highest top. It was cold in the wind that crossed the ridge so I didn't delay anywhere until I reached the Bone at 10.00am. A lengthy but easy descent followed and I was back at the car at 11.30am. Down low it was much warmer and nice and sunny and it felt a little bit of a cop out to be finished so early but I had really enjoyed the experience. I think I will need to take my warmer sleeping bag from now on.
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