Day 23b: Over And Down (BBW1 Beara Way: Castletownbere-Adrigole)

Remember that itty bitty lake in the distance, a ways back in the previous post? We finally made it there, a feat which provoked in me a mix of accomplishment (“yay! we reached the landmark!”) and horror (“that was… just over half??”)
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The trail by the lake
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Across the waters
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Water lilies admiring their own reflections
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A colony of seabirds living on the lakeshore

Given that whole ‘much farther to go’ thing, we did not linger long. It was shortly later that we reached the point where one could, conceivably, bail out of the hike and head down to the road and try to flag a lift on to Adrigole. After about five hours of climbing mountains and wading through grass and such, I confess I was feeling a bit weary.

But earlier in our hiking, Carl had mentioned something about the O’Sullivans who had done this before.

“Yes,” Caroline had responded, “They did it, but only 35 out of the thousand made it. If that were us, one pair of our shoes would get to the end.”

I’d been thinking about it, though, as we walked and I huffed and puffed under the pack which, that morning, some of my hiking mates had remarked on with raised eyebrows. I’d been thinking about it when I poured out the last dregs of the poitin from Thursday night on the mountain grasses in memory of those same ancestors. We had a lot of advantages over the O’Sullivans, really. It wasn’t the dead of winter (they started out in December). We didn’t have a bunch of murderous Englishmen with cannons behind us, nor did we have antagonistic countrymen ready to strike us down. None of us were starving, or wounded, or particularly old or young.

And bedamned if I was going to quit early on the first day.

So as we stood at the juncture with the little road down, and Caroline looked over at me and asked me if I wanted to keep going, I wrapped myself in a thick layer of good old fashioned stubborness and said, “Yes, of course!”

Shortly thereafter, we encountered another lake, except of course this one lay across our way forward.
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Squish

We decided that maybe we could hop over the reasonable-looking fence there and trek up along the far side instead.
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Through lots of ferns

Of course it was only shortly thereafter that the fence alongside us developed a serious case of rusty barbed wire and we began wondering how it was we were going to get back over again. Eventually we found a bit that was slightly lower that we could sort of clamber over. Not so bad for most, but me and my ridiculous pack no doubt made a rather farcical sight, even with help.
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Totally climbable really

And so we continued… up, and down, and up, and down…
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Oh look, there’s that lake vanishing behind us from the other direction…
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And here we go onto the gods’ own superhighway
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Finally, a good shot of our hiking companions! From left to right – Marc, Francesco, Caroline, and Carl

So a note, which you may have gathered from some earlier photos – fairly early in our hike, the trail went from ‘a discernable path that you follow’ to ‘the route you invent between one waymark and the next, provided you can see the next one through the grass or after it fell over or whatever else’. Just wanted to call that out to contextualize my happiness about being able to take this next shot:
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A discernable road? WHAT
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It… didn’t last though. Also you might notice that the clouds have arrived in force, like friendly grey cheerleaders who instead of shaking pompoms might instead fling rain at you
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This area is so heavily deforested that even the most twisted little trees clinging to life among the rocks become a remarkable sight

Finally, after many a rise and fall, we saw a stile that would lead us back out onto the road into Adrigole.
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There off to the right, while Marc, Francesco, and Caroline enjoy a well earned sitdown
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…of course then we had a good while to walk along roads
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But at least the roads came with a side of adorable lamb faces

We’d hit the road a little after 9 in the morning, and finally rolled into our accommodations in Adrigole at about 9pm, if I remember correctly, which to be fair is not an entirely safe assumption as I was rather exhausted by this point. But we made it, we didn’t quit early, and thanks to Caroline and Francesco’s clever logisticking, we even got to eat a hot meal at the end of it. (Chinese takeout, but after a day like that, it tasted pretty fantastic.)

So that was our first day. All in all, it was tough, and long, but also beautiful and in the end survivable.

It’s tomorrow where it starts to get harder.

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