2 Months On…Looking Back at the Blackstairs & Co.
Where does the time go?!?! For the best part it has been two months since I have blogged, or at least two months since the last walk I blogged about! On the 31.03.2014 I struggles through my first “big” Mourne Mountains walk, received some blisters, and ended up exhausted by the end of that trip/month. “PMG Walk 19 – Up N’ Down: Mournes 1, Goat 0” was my last blog, but so much has happened since then! 😉 I have ticked the Dingle peninsula PMG summits off in one trip! I have conquered the Comeragh Mountains and Slievenamon Mountain, again, in one trip. I have slogged over the Slieve Bloom Mountains in boredom. The Blackstairs Mountains and Brandon Hill were also trudged over in one and half days of walking! Mostly big walks, long days and many many summits! In between all that, I have been working hard running many climbing sessions, indoors and outdoors. In between the work I planned the routes and summits which I would climb. And somewhere along the way, I turned 30!
It was not long after my defeat in the Mourne mountains (yes I considered it a small defeat not being able to do the second big planned route in the Morunes that would have finished the Mourne mountains chapter in PMG all in one trip) that I found myself packing the car for yet another trip to the hills. This time I was looking at Brandon Hill and the Blackstairs Mountains. My plan was to achieve all this in a day and half of walking! Compared to my last walk in the Mournes this was going to be easy!
08.04.2014 – Tuesday! Working as a climbing instructor inherently means working weekends and evening. In short, my weekends are normally mid-week or non-existent! On Tuesday afternoon I drove south towards New Ross and a half day of walking. The object of my desires was Brandon Hill at 515m! The sun was shining and easy walking lay ahead. The biggest difficulties were the heather and gorse that I found along the way, followed by some downed trees in the forest section that provided the usual duck and weave fun of finding your way through the storm casualties.
On the summit of Brandon Hill there was this hideous cross of metal that was a real eyesore! It was not all bad though. On the summit there was also a concrete platform with markings of surrounding mountains, rivers etc and in which direction they were. On a sunny clear day (not unlike the day I had) one can see far and wide to the Comeragh and Galty Mountains. The nicest part of the day however was the old (1700 A.D) Clodiagh Church that was at the side of the road where I parked. The setting was beautiful and quite tranquil! Thus, ending a lovely day in the hills. I drove to the start of my next walk which would be a full traverse of the Blackstairs Mountains. I cooked dinner, and put my feet up and went to read my book….which I then realised I had totally forgotten at home. Instead to kill the time I looked at the map and summit list for the next day. Once it was dark I fell asleep in the car only to be woken by the Garda making sure everything was ok! After I explained I was a hill walker and that I was getting up at the crack of dawn to walk nearly 40kms from one side of the mountains to the other they apologised for waking me and wished me all the best for the walk!
Walk 20 – Map & Stats:
14.90kms – 3hrs & 8mins
552m Ascent Meters – 554m Descent Meters
1 PMG Summit
Once the summit of Blackstairs Mountain was reached I descend to the valley between Blackstairs and Knockroe mountain. The descent route I used was probably the normal way to the summit of Blackstairs. Anyway I had to follow the small county roads for a short time until I found myself on the climb to Knockroe and its summit Cairn. From here one can walk directly to Mount Leinster and then one could take the Mount Leninster East Top by walking to it and then back again. However I opted for a different route. Instead I headed towards the summit or spot point known as Black Rock Mountain at 602m. This would then give me the lovely ridge to Mount Leinster East Top, then Mount Leinster itself with no need of a double back.
After ticking these summits I head to Slievebawn my final summit of the day. For a short time I took the road that leads from the summit masts of Mount Leinster and them headed off on a more direct route towards Sievebawn avoiding the road and making it more enjoyable than staying on the road itself….but man was I bored! I really don’t know why the walk bored me. I felt like I was not really there enjoying it. Even as pleasant as it was I was distracted or simply not focused on the walk itself, the mountains, the views, or the fun I should have been having. Instead I felt like this was a job. Another summit, another walk, another tick on the list! Was this how the rest of Project Mountain Goat was going to feel? I reassured myself that of course it would not feel like this….like a job…like a mere tick on a list. As I would later find out I would first have to suffer through the Slieve Bloom Mountains before reassurance would be felt or found!! And so, after hitching back to the car the chapter of the Blackstairs Mountains & Co. came to an end. Another area out of a very long list of areas was completed. I drove home happy, but happy to be going home rather than the success of the trip. I ponder why I was feeling “off”. Was I already loosing focus on PMG, losing interest…nah, no way! As I put distance betweeen me and the mountains I came to the conclusion that after the enormity of the Mournes, the excitement of the Mournes, that maybe, simply, I was tired and needed a small break from the hills! A break from route planning, summit searching, hill walking and even the blogging. After all, this was suppose to be fun! Hard, but in a fun way! And so a small break from PMG would be had until the end of the month! I would recharge the batteries and relax a little!
Coming up Next: Slieve Bloom Mountains and their heathery flat summits! #mindnumbing