There’s always something to celebrate

Today I am celebrating ten years living in Ireland, I arrived on the 25th of November 2006 on my own and with literally two empty hands. At the time I didn’t have a proper goal, my only goal at the time was that I wanted and needed a job, and as it has turned out it has proved to be a good choice and a smart choice, if I may say so.

img_4990It has been a long and interesting journey, have not always been easy coming in as a foreigner in a new country. But, I was fortunate to have a good base of English when I arrived, it has made it a lot easier for me to integrate into the society and get use to the language [we do have many different accents here in Ireland too] I started my time in Ireland down in Cork city, and the accent there is very different from where I live now. But, you get use to it and life goes on, kind of.

 

 

Today started with an early rise, even though I was off from work, but lot’s to do. There is an event on for tomorrow RTL – Run The Line, which is one of three charity events the DWMRT (Dublin Wicklow Mountain Rescue Team) runs every year. RTL

And we have some 600+ participant’s that has signed up for this particular run, so we are a good crowd out tomorrow working along the routes. A few of us were out marking the routes today, and above are a few pictures from there. It is up in the Dublin Mountains, and it looks like it will be a dry day tomorrow, which is fantastic for all the runners, and for us too of course that will be at various check points guiding the runners.

I must say that I truly enjoy being part of this fantastic group to do something meaningful and to be able to be outdoors as many of you probably have guessed – I really like!! And, even if the day may be grey and dull, the things you see when you are out there and up on the hills of Dublin- and Wicklow mountains is spectacular.

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This picture was taken by one of the guys in the team today, I am the tallest one. And in the background you see Dublin city below and in front of us.

So, tomorrow it is a “wrap up well” day, because it is a bit chilly out there and up on the hills there is a breeze as well. The forecast looks good, so that is fantastic!

 

Here’s a few of my journal doodles I have done recently, in between all the busy times I enjoy relaxing just doing some doodles, it can be anything really. And, soon it is Christmas time and looking forward to put up all the lights and decorations. I have started a little bit already.

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I have put some light on my “bike” looks really good.

Enjoy your week and stay warm!!

 

 

Trek up to Scarr summit (641m)

The hill walk this weekend was taking us up to the summit of Scarr mountain, co Wicklow. img_4963

At this hill walk I knew it was going to be cold, especially when reaching higher grounds. So this day the warm gear was coming on. Where I live is on the lower grounds and we are only about 15 – 20 minutes by car from the mountains, and leaving our area you are gradually climbing upwards, and you can even feel your ears pop. Luckily there was no ice on the roads this morning, I was a bit worried that it might be. When I reached the higher grounds, I could see the snow covered mountain tops in the distance and I was thinking, this is absolutely gorgeous.

I met up with the group (http://www.mikeshikes.ie) in a place called Roundwood and we were a good amount getting out today. From Roundwood we then drove another 5-10 minutes to park the cars before starting our trek for the day. This was a slightly longer route, and the first half of it would contain a lot of climbing, and there were some false horizons. But as we started our journey up the hill, the air slightly changed and we started to encounter frost on the ground, and some icy patches where the water was creating streams down the hills.

The wind was slightly picking up while we were climbing, but the views that met us on the way up was absolutely stunning. You certainly feel like one with nature up there, it’s not only beautiful, if you’re not careful it can be quite dangerous. It is important to first of all take it easy, look where you put your feet, to avoid slipping and hurting yourself. Stay on the grass side of the path if possible, to avoid icy patches. At some areas with rocks it might be hard to see the think layer of ice.

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In the picture above we have just reached the summit, and you see how much frost that is covering the grounds. The mountains in the far distance are a bit higher and some of them were totally covered with snow. Lugnaquilla is one of them and it was practically completely white. At this summit, Scarr, it was very cold so we only took a quick nibble break before we started our journey down to the lower grounds.

I have been walking with this group http://www.mikeshikes.ie  for a while and the leader, Mike, lives in the same estate as us. And he is a trained mountain guide and always takes us on very good walks, real hikes if you like. Because we walk through terrains that can be both easy and tough, and we really get to experience the roughness and wildness of the landscape. The Wicklow mountains has many beautiful spots, and each of them has something special.

On this walk we encountered various views as you can see in the pictures, down below it was calmer and felt really warm actually. But when reaching higher up, it was changing fast and you were really happy to be all wrapped up. I can’t stress this enough, that to dress properly is essential when getting out on the hills. It is better to peal off a layer if you get warm or the opposite put on an extra layer if it gets colder. Always be prepared by bringing an extra layer of warm clothes in your back pack along with hot drink, water and food/snacks. It is good to carry a storm shelter and survival blankets as well, should you get caught in bad weather.

Where I come from it was a necessity to wrap up well, it’s almost like when you learn to ride a bicycle, after a while you just do it…the autopilot sort of kicks in if that makes sense. I have taken part in winter courses up in the northern areas of Sweden, and up there it is really cold. It can be around-25 to -30 degrees Celcius.

Here are a few pictures of me and my friends in the Home Guard Service (I am the one in the middle) all dressed up in the Swedish Military Uniform, we were all leaders of a cooking group in various areas of Sweden. And at this occasion we were spending a week up in Luleå, the airforce base. The purpose of this course was to learn how to prevent the food, water and other supplies from freezing in the cold. Being in the cooking group might seem like an easy task, but it is a lot of hard work involved, physically and mentally. When you are out in field in cold weather conditions, you have to use your common sense in many ways. First of all to dress properly and the army was great in that sense, they provided us with all essential clothing and equipment that we needed. But one good thing was that you were quite popular among the other units, because everybody needed to EAT and get something warm to drink.

For us it was long days, and it started with early morning getting the kitchen up and cooking. Our kitchen was made out of a big trailer, where we had wood burners and from the burner we connected the pots, and did pressure cooking. When you cook for many people that is really the most effective. And once the breakfast was finished, we started to prepare for lunch and so it went all through the day until it was time to retire into our tent. Yep, we slept in large military tents and kept watch one hour per person. And the wood burner in the middle of the tent, should be glowing red, then the temperature was nice and cosy. You could sort of see if it was warm enough, because the people sleeping pulled their feet closer up towards their stomach away from the heat.

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I am ending with this picture, another one from Wicklow close to Sally Gap.  Wishing all a great week ahead, stay warm and safe!

The beauty of the Mountains

img_4867Anyone that loves the outdoors, find it hard to sit indoors. Especially at this time of the year when the leaves have changed their colors and the beautiful earth color of nature has emerged. Especially up in the mountains. You will see them shift between the deep orangy colour to grey, brown and almost a bit purplish. I find it absolutely stunning no matter what time I am there. It is as beautiful when it is sunny as it is on a dull, grey and cloudy day.

Recently I have been out hill walking quite frequently, at least once a week, with a hiking group where the leader takes us on really good walks. Some of you that follow me on FB might have seen some posts from the walks, and we go to various places of the Wicklow mountains. Some walks are more challenging than others, depending on the surrounding terrain, it can be extremely mucky and wet but we also come across nice paths and even boardwalks, especially along the Wicklow Way.

I have recently been offered a spot in the Dublin Wicklow Mountain Rescue Team as a probationary member, which means before becoming a full member, I need to undergo some intense training in mountain skills, navigation, first aid on the mountains, and all variations of tasks that this entails. And I feel extremely honored to be given this opportunity. The coming year will be filled with various trainings with the team. This gives me an opportunity to do what I enjoy, which is to walk those hills and learn new skills, and at the same time do something meaningful – to be part of a great team and to help others in need.

 

Here above I have attached a few pictures taken during my previous walks. And as you can see in two of them the clouds can make it sometimes hard to see the surrounding areas once you get up to the summits. These pictures are taken on the West side of Wicklow mountains, at two hills Seefin and Seafingan, the Seefin summit was a challenge to get up to as it was very steep and even for me being fairly fit, it was hard. It was a real lung-buster. But was worth it once reaching the summit. This route we were walking was a bit hard on your feet, because it was very wet and mucky and we had to zigzagging through the area due to water and grass tuffs here and there. In those occassions I am really happy to have long legs. Being tall has it’s advantages LOL!

To do hill walking is a nice thing to do, and a few things to think about before heading out:

  • Always let people know where you are going and when you are expected to be back
  • Wear proper hiking boots, preferably with ancle support, this will give you support while walking on rocky paths and would prevent injuries. And wear good warm socks, merino wool is very good, and is breathable too.
  • Get into the habit of layering up from the inside/out. Always wear a base layer to keep your skin dry, this should not be anything in cotton, cotton will easily get wet/damp and it will make you feel cold faster. Use material that is transporting the transpiring sweat out from your body. On top of the base layer you use a middle layer that is more insulating, this could be a fleece jacket or any other insulating material that breathes and makes you feel protected and warm. And as the third layer you can use a shell jacket, that will prevent the wind, rain getting through the other layers. This will make it easier for you to take off one layer if you get warm.
  • When you are resting, after reaching a summit etc, and if you have worked your way uphills, you may feel a bit cold. Then it would be a good idea to put on one of those warm layers you have in your back pack. I always carry an extra warm layer, such as fleece jacket, and a pair of warm trousers that I can pull on top of my clothing. This will make you feel warm and the cold wind and air does not get to you as easily.
  • And then of course a hat, or wolly hat is always good to wear, especially during the winter months. But being out in the mountains, remember that the temperature is a bit lower than it may be on the lower grounds. So always bring your extra warm layers in your backpack.
  • Bring food and snacks [snackbars, chocolate, nuts, dried fruits] and a flask with a hot drink. And most importanly bring plenty of water, because your body is working eccessively and you transpire a lot, so you need to refill by drinking lot’s of water. I usually bring a flask with some hot tea and a little honey in there to give it sweetness. It’s nice to drink should you feel a bit cold, and having something sweet gives you the little extra energy as well.
  • Bring your map and compass, and know how to use them.

More updates will follow. wishing you all a good weekend!

Eva