Mist on the hills

I woke up all exited this morning. I have been out travelling for three weeks for my work, I have been to Poland and Norway (my fav country). And, some may think it is exiting to do those travels, but the truth is that when you’re travelling for work doing what I did., is not that exotic. Living in hotels is nice maybe for one or two days but having to stay in a hotel for a week is no fun at all.

My last week visiting agencies in Oslo was the best part of my trip, mainly because I really like Norway and Oslo is a nice city.

Here are some of the pictures I took this week. And as you can see the weather was nice and clear, temperatures a bit low. But I love that fresh air.

So you can imagine the reason for my excitement this morning…I was finally home and the Mountain is calling my name. Had a walk scheduled for today with Mike’s Hike’s where I often help out with the group.

The route for today was planned to start getting up to Croghainmoira summit and continue along the ridge over to Fananieran, but when we gathered at Glenmalure Lodge it was looking very poor, the mist was down and it might be hard because the guys would not get any views at all ones up.

And we had to make a little change of the plan, we decided to walk up two different summits instead, and we set to it.

We decided to venture up to Carriglinneen but unfortunately the mist was still heavy in places, but I did not really care I can be out there in any type of weather, it felt so good being out on the hills again to smell the nature and the colours were beautiful.

There was a big crowd out today, and very nice meeting them all again from being away for a while, due to various MR trainings and such.

As you can see on the above map, we had to backtrack back to the car park and continue up to Cullentragh. We wanted to make a nice walk of our day since we had to change route. But I will get up to Croghainmoira again, last time we tried we had to deviate and get down to lower grounds due to a blizzard.

The weather in the mountains is forever changing, you can not really plan, the weather is what it is here in IRELAND. But I truly love getting out in any type of weather hot or cold, and even drizzles.

The mountains are calling and I must go!

September is here..!

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The evenings are getting shorter and the darkness falls quick. But it does not stop me from getting out and about on the hills of Wicklow. Got this shot the other evening being out doing our navigation practice in the woods. Got to this open area and the mist was sitting low and could not resist taking a snap.

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The autumn is the season having the most gorgeous colours, I love the contrast between the red berries, the green leaves and the brick wall in the background in this photo.

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A couple weeks ago I was out on the hills with some people marshalling at a charity race, and being out and about you get to see things like this. We had rain clouds coming from one side and the sun was setting on the other and the heather is so gorgeous this year. I love the purplish ‘carpet’ covering the grounds. And to tell you the truth the heather is a great cushion while doing the bivvy at night. Yep, have actually slept outside up on those hills. The experience is interesting, but have to say that I cannot wait til all the midges are gone. They have been really annoying this year.

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This picture was taken while heading out on one of the bivvy nights. This is taken standing above the Miners Village in Glendalough, after walking up the zig-zags (as we call it) and the lake in the background is the Upper Lake. It was a lung buster getting up here I have to admit. I love this place, and once you get up a bit you get a different perspective of the surroundings. On the way up here we came across a few deers that were looking at us like we were some ‘out from space’ creatures.

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Well, this is not the best picture but as close as I could get in these circumstances. It is quite rewarding when you see things like this, makes it worth while getting out. We were from here navigating up to the spot where we should stay for the night. The forecast was rain in early morning, but in fact we were very lucky. There was no rainfall during the night which you can imagine felt good. But, we woke to a huge mist coming over us so we had to raise early, get our gear together and start our trek back to base.

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The mist lifted once we got a bit lower, but then the rain started to drizzle and it got real wet. But still, look at this view, isn’t is gorgeous? No matter when you’re out on these mountains/hills it is just as beautiful (in my opinion). This was Saturday morning at around 6.30 a.m. and it turned out to be a very busy day, so was up and down the hills in various locations.

As you can see our backpacks were pretty big and might seem heavy, but it was not so bad. You need to be clever when packing for a night out, and not pack things you absolutely won’t be needing. Keep it to the minimum, but be safe.

  • Sleeping bag – in the Wicklow mountains you’ll need a warm one.
  • Bivvy bag to put outside your sleeping bag.
  • Extra warm change of clothes
  • Food and snacks, water
  • Ground mat
  • Stove (if you have one) if not, there’s always someone in the group that has one.
  • Plastic bags to keep your backpack dry and your boots.
  • Storm shelter to cover your equipment, also good to get under to get changed for ‘bed’. (this should ALWAYS be in your bag).
  • All your other outdoor necessities; map, compass, head torch plus spare batteries, hat, gloves, buffs, first aid kit, waterproof trousers and jacket, etc.
  • Basically, think ahead and be prepared for the unexpected, without packing too much because you have to carry all the stuff all the way – and rain and mist comes in quickly at times.

 

Enjoy your time on the Hills!

Saturday hill walk, Maulin Co. Wicklow

Saturday’s has become my “hill walking” day and after a week in the office, it feels really good getting out and about on the hills. It is a great catalyst to get out in nature, and take in all the beauty that is out there. We are approaching a very nice time of the year, Spring is lurking out there, but at the moment the “bad” and cold weather we’ve had have sort of kept spring from arriving properly. But, I’d say in a couple of weeks the weather will be much warmer and we will be able to enjoy sitting out in the sun again.

Me myself, am a sun lover and my best moment is an early morning, bringing my newly brewed strong coffee out in our garden and just sit out there taking in the scent of everything, listening to the birds chirping away in the trees and bushes, hearing the traffic humming in the distance. I love getting out early before life around us gets busy, before the neighbours wake up and starting their day. There is also a different scent outdoors at this time of year, not sure about you, but I certainly smell it.

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Last Saturday started out pretty good, with some sunny spells and patches of blue skies as you can see in the above photo. Moments like these are rare here in Ireland, but they do exist and when this happens you simply catch the moment and just enjoy it. I certainly do and that’s where my hill walks comes in handy. It does not matter if it is a sunny, rainy or extremely windy day, I still love it and see the beauty of the surrounding nature.

Anyway we started our walk by meeting at the Crone Forest car park and from here we will have a zig-saggy track, and for the fun of it we are throwing in a few lung busters as well. This time we have a few relatively new hill walkers with us, quite a large group actually, the more the merrier. I started out my hill walking here in Ireland with http://mikeshikes.ie and now I am helping out at the walks guiding and keeping the group together etc. I have always been an outdoorsy person and it comes easy to me.

Here we are starting to get up on the heights a little bit, climbing up towards the summit. And as you can see the clouds are closing up on us, and the mist were coming in behind us. It’s funny though, every time I have been up this summit [Maulin] it has always been misty, and poor visibility of the surrounding area. This summit is not so bad because there are paths to follow, a bit rocky but it’s fairly easy to find your way down on the other side. We did not stay too long up there because it was very windy and cold up there, and once we got down a bit it got warmer and less windy. We had the wind in our backs. But I quite enjoy this route.

This coming Saturday I am heading out on another adventure, longer walks and also a night walk so that should be interesting and fun. but I will write about it in another post.

Wishing all a great weekend and be safe out there!

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!