Mountaineering is fun

January has been very mixed here in Ireland, weather wise, we have had everything from frost and cold days, to strong winds, rain and milder weather. And some conditions makes it a bit rougher being up in the mountains. But, if you are well prepared before heading you, you should be fairly safe. It can be mild and warm at the lower grounds, but once you get up higher, the temperature drops and sometimes depending on the heights you’re at, you’ll notice a big difference. The temperature drops 1 degree per/100 m you are ascending.

So if you for example are going to challenge walking up to the summit of Lugnaquilla, Wicklow which is 925 m. The temperature on lower grounds are lets say +9 degrees C then the temperature at the summit of Lugnaquilla would be zero degrees, and add the wind chill on top of that. It can be really nasty up there if you’re not prepared wearing the proper clothing and having the proper gear with you.

During the past three weeks of January I have had a fairly busy schedule being out in the mountains, where two of the weekends I were undergoing training in Mountain Skills. http://www.mountainskills.ie/

If you are getting out on a hill walk in the mountains, it is essential to know how to use your compass and map, those are on of the most important skills you will need, to be safe if you get caught in bad weather or fog/mist. The visibility can be as little as 20 m and in those conditions you really need to trust your compass and stick to your bearing. This is important! During these courses this was practiced in day light as well as during night time. We were lucky to have good visibility during both weekends, but things looks very different when you’re out there when it is dark. But knowing and trusting your navigation skills will keep you safe out there, and to be careful is essential. And of course wearing the right clothing and equipment, I cannot stress this well enough!

I never get tired of being out in the mountains, and I guess when you have found your passion for it, that is the way it is! That’s why I chose to join the mountain rescue team to do what I love and at the same time something meaningful as helping others in need out there. It’s a win-win situation in my opinion.

What draws me to the mountains? Well, since I grew up on the countryside of Sweden, I have always loved being out in the nature. There is nothing like getting out walking in the forest, on the hills or just being outdoors, it always gives me a sense of freedom while I am out there and it keeps me sane, sort of. Having an office job as I do, being outdoors takes the edge of the stressful tasks I undergo on a daily basis at work. So yet again it’s a win-win situation. And not only that, being out in the nature is very therapeutic, whether you’re out riding, hill walking, running, cycling or simply just being. Nature will often have a calming effect on most of us. And to be out hill walking, you come across easy forest tracks, paths, rougher grounds, man made tracks and that makes it exiting in itself, because the terrain are changing depending on where you are.  Walking up a hill, it may feel tough, but the reward is the view you’re getting once you are up there. Take a look at the pictures i have posted above. They may not look like much, as they are very dull and showing gray and misty weather, but to me that is absolutely gorgeous. No matter the weather the mountains are fantastic!

This weekend there is resting on the agenda since I have a slight cold, and it is a good opportunity to let the body rest after all the physical hard work during the past weeks. I’ll be back at it soon enough since we have more training lined up. But so far so good and am grateful that I have the healthy and physique, so will keep at it as long as it allows me to.

February is knocking at the door, and a new month with new adventures.

A Wednesday trek ascending Maulin..

On January 4th I was out on the first hill walk in 2017, and the task was to trek from Crone forest ascending Maulin (Co. Wicklow) linking up with Wicklow way on the way back to the Crone Forest car park. http://mikeshikes.ie/

The weather looked very promising in the morning, with blue skies, a little breeze and comfortable temperatures. But as an experienced hill walker I know it would be slightly colder and breezier once getting up a bit on the hills. So, this time I layered up so that I would be nice and snug no matter weather we’d face up there.

In the pictures above we are still climbing uphill from our starting point at the Crone forest car park. There are a few lung busters on the way, but we took it nice and easy. And, as you can see it started to be quite misty once we reached the higher grounds, and the wind was picking up too. If you look closely at the first picture you will see a raven soaring in the winds, I like their characteristic sound.

While we were trekking up along the ridge as you can see on the first larger picture above, it was extremely windy, coming from West. And you could feel the chill in them, so had to wrap up and pull up the hood while walking there. And once we started to walk around the bend, heading further up hill up onto the summit the ground was a bit rough with rocks and chisel. We had to be careful and see where you put your feet, you can easily twist an ankle if you’re not paying attention to the ground. I am using trekking poles when walking on rougher ground, it helps keep the stability and you can at the same time sort of “feel” your way through the grounds. Trekking poles are also good to use when walking down hills to ease the pressure for your knees.

The descent from Maulin was not so bad, and went fairly fast, we had the wind in our backs. And once down we linked up with Wicklow way.  If you want to read more about the Wicklow way you can press the link above. The Wicklow way is a 127 km long trail, which you can take in sections. Some do the whole stretch and camp out. When we are out walking we often link onto it one way or another.

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This is the Wicklow way trail we were following.

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Beautiful view and the gorse is a lovely contrast to the dull environment. It was very misty unfortunately, but this happens ever so often here in Ireland, especially if you’re heading for the hills. Some days you can be lucky to have beautiful views, and other times it is like pea soup, you see absolutely nada.

But we had a great time and was even passed by a few mountain bikers on the way down. This was a fairly short walk (8km) but was enjoyable. Afterwards we met for a coffee down at Poppies in Enniskerry village which was our initial meeting point.

This coming weekend I have a Mountain Skill course so it will be all about navigation with map and compass. Looking forward to that very much.

A year in pictures

Happy New Year! 2016 has ended and a new year has begun. 2016 has been an eventful year, with new skills to learn and all that comes with it. In February I went on a four week long journey to Denmark, Sweden & Norway. It was not a leasure trip, it was purely for work. I spent two weeks in Copenhagen, Denmark, one week in Stockholm, Sweden and lastly one week in Oslo, Norway.

Even though I was working a lot, I tried to also take time to spend some time in the cities, to look around and get the feel for the three cities. Well, Stockholm is sort of in my home back garden, know it by heart and I never visit Stockholm without walking to my favorite area behind the Royal castle. This area is called the Old Town, and I can wander around these old buildings for hours and hours, and every now and then sneak into a coffee shop to have a coffee and gorgeous cinnamon buns.

Then we have Copenhagen, it’s a nice city, I have been visiting here a few times in the past. This time I had two full weeks, and unfortunately after the first week I got a really nasty cold, or I think it was the flu. I was really bad, but still had to go into work and do what I was there to do. Well…well…

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It was mid march when I finally got back to Ireland, and boy was I happy to be back HOME. After leaving Oslo, that still had a very cold winter, I arrived home to Spring. The garden were starting to wake up and I could not help myself, but enjoying my favorite spot in our garden and let the Sun warm my face.

 

In May we decided to take a long weekend away and went to the west part of Ireland, to Gougane Barra. We arrived to the hotel in the afternoon, and this place was really quiet and nice. Located beside a lake. And just a short walk from a forest national park, and I think that was the most gorgeous place, it was like entering another world. The second day we went for a walk after breakfast before heading off on our day trip. And here we were walking on the road towards the forest. Himself and I said, that we can just take a quick look and see what we find. But we never expected the things we saw once we walked around the bend. In front of us where the most amazing landscape, and I kid you not, we saw tree after tree after tree…and for Himself designing gardens and tree houses…this was like stepping into a paradise.

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This year has been a lot about nature, and being out exploring! Himself and I we love the simple things in life. The pictures above is from our fishing trip to Ennis, Co. Clare, also in the west of Ireland. We stayed in a nice hotel, and it was pretty quiet, just like we want it. But, the main thing this weekend was just fishing. Well, I did not do so much fishing, I was more like the documenter of the whole thing, and have to admit it was quite peaceful sitting by the lake late in the evening, listening to the surrounding farmers getting their kettles ready for the evening, cows needed to be fed and milked, and as we sat there and the time moved, it became quieter and quieter. It was still a bit cold, and we really had to wrap up well.

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In August we went down to West Cork, to explore that area. Himself has spent a lot of times down there, but I had not been to all the places yet. It’s a beautiful area, with the sea, all the fresh fish and seafood. We spent nearly two weeks down there, driving around, simply enjoying the simple things of life.

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We did have some nice sunny days this summer, and BBQ was on the menu a lot.

Here is my favorite spot, our garden, I have spent many early mornings and days out here.

In between all the busyness I have gotten out with the cycling club doing some good spins around Wicklow area. We usually do our Sunday spins.

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During October – December I have spent a lot of time out in various areas of the Wicklow mountains. And, every time I am out there I get a sense of freedom. It does not matter if it is a dull and grey day or a sunny day, the mountains are just a beautiful no matter the weather.

I was out cycling this morning, the second day of 2017, and it was a beautiful morning with a little bit of chill in the air. But it was all calm, and clear blue skies, and just lovely. While working our way up the hilly roads, it is lovely to look around you and seeing those rolling hills, beautiful landscape, sheep calmly eating their way on the fields, the mountains rising up in the surrounding distance.

The pictures above are taken from various areas of Wicklow mountains.

So, yes, it has been a very eventful year and this year can only get better. There are many things in the making, and goals to work towards and I feel very exited about them all.

I will get back with more updates on that later. But for now I am closing the book for 2016 and will move on into this new year 2017.