As I have said many times on this blog the mountains and nature are my happy place. I feel so at home when I am hiking and surrounded by the wilderness. That feeling when you reach the summit and it feels like you are on top of the world and sometimes like you are the only person in the world. Since arriving back in Ireland I had been unable to go exploring as I was waiting for my driver’s license to come through and also just trying to figure out my next steps. Last week the time finally came where I was able to head to the mountains and explore. Having hiked in Canada in the Rockies for the last few years, the mountains here are definitely more hills but the hiking and the views are still amazing nonetheless. It is also very nice to not have to worry about any animals that might try and kill you on your hike and always being prepared with the bear spray, the most you might see here are some sheep or dear which is nice.
I headed out bright and early to Glendalough in the Wicklow Mountains, which is only a short hour’s drive away. Glendalough is a place that I am familiar with having visited many times and even going on a school tour once so it was a nice place to start for my first hike back. The sun decided to show up for me to and the majority of my hike was done to a backdrop of blue skies. Of course, this being Ireland that could change in an instant so I was prepared but luckily I didn’t need to use any of the extra clothes I brought. Arriving at the car park at the upper lake I got myself organized and ready to go. Putting on the familiar hiking backpack and hearing the clip of the buckles around my waist, made my heart flutter with joy and excitement. I had my route picked out and the map downloaded to my phone and I was ready to go. I had picked to do the longest route of the red route that took in part of the Wicklow Way hiking trail which was supposed to be a nice 11.5km hike. Starting off I headed out the wrong way but quickly realized my mistake and headed towards the lake before starting on the route. All of the routes are easily marked with arrows in the colour so it was very easy to follow.
The start of the hike began with some lovely switchbacks as you go up to the elevation, it was definitely a lung burner but it felt good to be back. Once you got to the top you had a lovely view of the lake below and the sprawling mountains in front. Walking along carefully placed sleepers with the wind blowing the cobwebs away, the hike was underway. This first section is the beginning of 3 of the routes so it was a little busy with people all out for their Saturday morning exercise. It was nice to see so many people out enjoying the beautiful landscape. For some reason, nearly all of the hikes I decide to seem to have some element of steps in them and this one was no different. Climbing the sleeper steps was a leg workout but was the hardest part of this hike so I am not complaining. Once getting to the top I veered off on my route and this is where I had the mountains to myself. Everyone else had opted to continue on with the slightly shorter route so I didn’t see a soul until I was on my way back down the other side. Honestly, that is just how I like it, being alone on the mountain with not a single person in sight. It is during these moments that I feel you really get to experience the true magic of the mountain and have the time to self-heal or deal with what you need to. I have cried while hiking up a mountain before it and it was very therapeutic, I wasn’t that dramatic today but it still felt nice. I also attempted to take some photos of myself, balancing my phone on my backpack but they didn’t really turn out the best.
Walking up the grassy bank with the clouds rolling over me on the top, giving it an eery feel. Once I got to the top and the clouds cleared a little I was welcomed with an amazing view of the valley below and the mountains around. It is because of that feeling that I love hiking so much, of course, the journey up is wonderful but there is something about reaching the top and the view appearing around you that is one of the greatest feelings in the world. Coming down the backside of the mountain wasn’t quite as picturesque as you followed a fire access road but it was still very enjoyable. Making my way back down, my legs were certainly a little tired and I was looking forward to eating the second half of my sandwich and taking my boots off. My Strava read 13.8km when I arrived back at the car so my mistake, in the beginning, added a few kilometers but I’m not complaining, it was all worth it.
Heading home feeling refreshed with a clear mind I was reminded of how much energy I take from nature and being outside. The weeks leading up to it and certainly since arriving home have taken a toll on me as I try to sort out what my life is going to look like and what I am going to do. Getting out and not thinking about anything but putting one foot in front of the other up the mountain was just what I needed to remind me that it was all working out. These mountains have been here for thousands of years with mother nature and sometimes humanity throwing everything at them and yet they still stand tall. It was the perfect way to clear my head and I would recommend it to anyone. If you are feeling in a rut or just not 100% yourself, get outside and let mother nature give you a helping hand.
Stay tuned next week to hear all about how the job hunt is going.