PMG Walk 11 – A Day in the Hills; From Dawn to Dusk!
Ah yes, good old walk 11 of Project Mountain Goat happened on Tuesday the 18th of February! The route had been planned for some time now and I held out for possible better weather! Why, you ask? The answer: because it would be "around" 40kms of walking and it would be my longest PMG walk so far! Here is the story…
Beep Beep Beep Beep… 4.30am! The alarm woke me up….or could you even call it "waking me up"…it felt like I hadn't slept, it took me ages to fall asleep as I was wondering how the walk would go, how the weather would be, how my friend Xandru would manage on this walk. Oh yes, Xandru! Xandru, a friend from Germany that I met travelling back in 2008, decided to come over to Ireland for a short trip and while here join in on a PMG walk. They say "timing is everything" and for Xandru his timing would be just right for a "long" walk 😉
5am; in the car driving down the drive way! 6am; shoes, gaiters, GPS, and head torches all on! We took a last look at the map and off we went! The route would take us up 11 summits, 10 of which I had not done for PMG. One summit, Lugnaquilla, I had done a few walks back. The walk would start just off the N81 near Church Mountain 544m and would take a big horseshoe loop and finish off Keadeen Mountain 653m on the back roads near "Davidstown" close to the N81. We would then hitch the 12kms to get back to the car.
We started in the dark which is always fun. The clouds were slowly clearing off and we made good time up Church Mountain on the forest tracks. The walk up Corriebracks and Lobawn were blessed with great views and some blue skies. Sadly we could see there were clouds on the way and as we walked our route to Table Mountain and Camenabologue we were stuck in the clouds…oh an all too familiar place for me! However as we stood on the summit of Camenabologie SE Top the clouds just opened up above us and blue skies started to appear! Sadly this didn't last very long and while on the summit of Benleagh we would see the way forward for a while, the cloud totally engulfed us as we started the ascent to Lugnaquilla. With little visibility, strong and cold gusts and what little snow was left we made it to the summit! As I stood on the summit waiting for Xandru I thought to myself that only two days earlier these summits were fully covered in snow! The weather I have faced this last one and a half months has been so random…climate change; and some say it's bogus!
3pm on the summit of Lugnaquilla! It was late! The route for Xandru was long and harder than he thought! Xandru being an avid walker and climber in the Alps had never walked in Ireland. Had never seen "bog" or "peat hags" or the real absents of "tracks and trails". The terrain here in Ireland can be hard, and, can be very unforgiving when combined with difficult weather, not to be underestimated! It proved though going for him; navigating through, around, up and over the peat hags, around huge bogs, through thick heather, and over ground flooded with snowmelt. To top it all off, an old knee problem started to act up for him! So as I stood in the freezing wind on Lugnaquilla watching him appear through the cloud, like a true mountain man slogging his way up the mountain; I had respect for him, he really gave it loads! Time however waits for no one!
With 3 summits to go the plan would have to be altered a little. We descended Lugnaquilla into better weather! As we ticked Slievemaan and Ballineddan Mountain the sun and blue skies gave us a warm welcome to a nearing end of the day. Once off Ballineddan Mountain the new plan was for Xandru to walk around the mountain to save his knee while I would go over the mountain. So we parted ways for a few hours and as I reached the summit of Keadeen Mountain is was getting dark. The views however were amazing, a must see! I descended fast and followed roads/lanes to the rendezvous point! Of course it would not be an adventure without something going wrong! Xandru was not there! I said to myself; "am I wrong or is he?" A few text messages later all was sorted. It turned out Xandru tried the ancient art of hitch hiking and was taken to the wrong crossroads which a local was 100% sure was the right crossroads 😉 He hitch down the road to the new rendezvous point and all was well. With happy faces and warm greetings we proceeded to hitch back to the car. As usual the locals were lovely and helpful and we were back at the car in no time at all!
I would also like to say a big well done to Xandru for completing the biggest PMG walk so far. For sticking it out and being good company! Cheers for coming along dude! Here are a few words from him on PMG Walk 11:
"I'm happy to have given the chance to take part in his so called "Project Mountain Goat", which is to climb 454 mountains (yes: 454!!!) in Ireland (north & south). I can say, the landscape was beautiful, the smell of the forest reminded me sometimes on my beloved Alps, the weather was colourful with clouds covering us within seconds and sun shining through the next minute, all combined with wind and the biggest pain in the ass so far for me, ankle deep mud or bog. Not to mention the "peat hags" really gave me a hard time since I had no idea our route will be that trackless. Anyways, I knew I will feel stronger when I will return home, and that was true indeed. Cause it didn't kill me, it just conquered… good try. Now my mind is richer, my body stronger and my motivation larger."
The summits in order were:
Church Mountain 544m – (Summit #46/454 – Mtn Class: Arderin)
Corriebracks 531m – (Summit #47/454 – Mtn Class: Arderin)
Lobawn 636m – (Summit #48/454 – Mtn Class: Arderin & Vandeleur-Lynam)
Table Mountain 702m – (Summit #49/454 – Mtn Class: Vandeleur-Lynam)
Camenabologue 758m – (Summit #50/454 – Mtn Class: Arderin & Vandeleur-Lynam)
Camenabologue SE Top 663m – (Summit #51/454 – Mtn Class: Arderin & Vandeleur-Lynam)
Benleagh 689m – (Summit #52/454 – Mtn Class: Vandeleur-Lynam)
Lugnaquilla 925m – (Previously climbed on PMG Walk 9)
Slievemaan 759m – (Summit #53/454 – Mtn Class: Arderin & Vandeleur-Lynam)
Ballineddan Mountain 652m – (Summit #54/454 – Mtn Class: Vandeleur-Lynam)
Keadeen Mountain 653m – (Summit #55/454 – Mtn Class: Arderin & Vandeleur-Lynam)
41.1kms – 13hrs & 5mins
1916m Ascent Meters – 1967m Descent Meters
11 Summits – 10 PMG Summits / 1 Perviously Climbed Summit
Current Progress – 55/454