The hill walk this weekend was taking us up to the summit of Scarr mountain, co Wicklow.
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.
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.
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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.
I am ending with this picture, another one from Wicklow close to Sally Gap. Wishing all a great week ahead, stay warm and safe!