The Ballyhouras aren’t the Cahas (those mountains I hiked over the first couple days), and I really can’t say I mind too much. They were still lovely, though in a different way, and they killed my feet a whole lot less. (though the ongoing absence of my full pack – thank you Mike, and also Noel of the Marengo B&B in Ballyhea, for that – probably has something to do with that too) The unfailingly generous Mike Moroney walked with me today, which overall was good because while I am sure I would have figured things out, there were some unexpected obstacles to overcome.
I am speaking not of the mountains, but what came before. You see, our day began with crossing a rather mighty obstacle right out the gate. Not a river. Not some other mountain range.
No, dear readers, we had to cross a live motorway.
I should have been clued in when the first bit of our trail literally came off an onramp.
As we slogged through some very tall grasses that, quite obviously, no one had walked through in sometime, I wondered to myself why this section was so unpopular. My question was answered in short order.
No overpass. No underpass. Just… wait until there’s a gap and hop it like Frogger. I mean, okay, we crossed N72 before (during the limbo-land of Millstreet-Newmarket). But somehow that seemed a lot… quieter than this one. Ugh.
Anyway, spoilers, we didn’t die, and found our way instead to the rather proper turnoff from the highway to the trail.
Of course, shortly after we headed down the nice clearly marked path, it kinked sharply into an even more dense wall of vegetation. Again, I don’t blame people for not walking this section, as seriously, who the hell wants to start their day off by dodging across a full-speed motorway? Except me, apparently?
Eventually the trail calmed down and merged into some more frequently trafficked (BY PEDESTRIANS) ways, and we trotted along for some time with no further incident.
Eventually we began gradually heading upward, without me entirely noticing it because apparently upward slopes below a certain grade apparently no longer register to me as hills, especially in pack-light mode.
But we made it it to the top of Carron Mountain, apparently the highest peak along the Ballyhoura Way.
This is for my sister, who begged for more pictures of me in the blog. I am not generally one for such things (…showing myself? on the internet? Who DOES that?) but I could not refuse such an earnest plea. So here I am, standing in a high place! Love you, sis! ❤ (don't expect it to happen all the time. the pictures I mean, not the love, that will happen all the time I mean obviously)
Eventually, I stopped camera-ing about and reluctantly started picking my way down the far side, enjoy – you guessed it! – more scree as my path material. I hate scree, and would happily have traded it for more bogs, because at least if you fall on your ass in a bog you end up wet instead of broken (generally, please don’t feel the need to prove the exception, Oh Bogs of Ireland).
Eventually the rocks stopped being perilously slide-y, and the trail returned to being a surface I could walk on rather than devote every fiber of my being to not falling down. We sat and enjoyed a brief snack and foot-airing, during which Mike informed me that we’d soon be “crossing the Black Ditch over to Philip’s Castle”. Back on the trail, we closed the distance to our next destination – some TV towers perched atop the next peak over.
It was at this point that I thought to inquire a bit further into Mike’s previous remarks… (continued in next post)