Walk 101 – The Final PMG Walk – Project Completed!
So today the 09/01/2015 is the final day (as such) of Project Mountain Goat. It marks the 365 days that I set to complete the project in. Lucky enough I finished the project on the 27/12/2014, ahead of time! That evening I put up a small Facebook post saying how happy I was that it was completed. I also said I would put up a “fuller post” the next day! Well, that didn’t happen. Too many things were happening over the following days. Two weeks later I am finally sitting here writing this. It has been a strange two weeks. Personally I have found this time a little difficult. Going from “all go” on PMG to what feels like a “full stop”, has been hard! Even though I may be planning this year’s project already, it is not the same as being out actively climbing a hill or a mountain etc. Progress can feel terribly slow. Somewhere in the mix I have been catching up with work too. I have always know that “sitting around” is hard for me. However when you go back to “normal” life after climbing mountains nearly every day (November/December) the adjustment, for me at least, was hard. The single minded (for want of a better word) “attack” on the mountains and the project itself was all consuming during those last few weeks. It was this that made me succeed! Well, that and the luck I had with the weather! Every day was about the project and moving forward with it! All my energy was used to push towards completing the project on time. So going from that, to it being completed and done is a big change in pace. As delighted as I am in the completion of PMG, the pace change, has been difficult! I can’t be any more honest than that. This is also one of the reasons it has been two weeks since I said I would do that post.
It also puts things in perspective for me. I know getting up at 3am to drive across the country and then do a hill walk for 8 to 10 hours, is in fact, something I am actually good at, something I find easy (as such) and enjoy. However, I do find certain things hard, like for example; Sitting down to plan the next adventure, writing blogs, sorting the photos and dealing with the “media”, something new that I never even thought about. When I set out to do PMG it was all for me, and as flattering as it can be to have people ring you up to ask you about it, or ask if I am interesting in having a piece written about it for a newspaper, it’s all very strange to me, all very new. I certainly am proud of myself for even trying to complete PMG whatever about actually completing it, and I guess now it is safe to say the dust has settled and I can see how big the project actually was. Then I start to think, “What was I even thinking taking this on in one year!” With all that said and done it has been an amazing year. It had ups and downs, excuse the pun, but I have learned a lot about myself and this beautiful country of ours, and, the amazing people that inhabit it!
On the 27th of December 2014 at around 11.10am we (family and friends) reached the parking spot on the B48 as planned. I was not sure what to expect on the morning. I had no idea who or how many of us there might actually be. Or, what level of experience or equipment people would have! Needless to say I was shocked to see so many people there. I thought if 10 people showed up that would be awesome. In the end there was 17 of us. Some Mountain Views.ie users, rallied by David Owens, where there too! Support from my peers was very humbling and I felt honored that they would join me on this final walk and summit! After a brief greeting and matching of names to faces we were just about ready to start. The snow started to fall! The 17 of us set off up Mullaghcarn in the Sperrin Mountains in Northern Ireland. The final Project Mountain Goat summit. There would be no difficulty in reaching the summit due to the route selection. We would take the road that goes all the way to the summit masts! From there it was a short muddy, or in this case, snow track to the Trig Pillar at the highest point. This was done by design. As I knew my family and friends would be joining, some of which would not have hill walking boots meant that a mountain road would be a great aid to us as a group. We would then descend the same way as by ascent.
Not many of my PMG walks have been accompanied by people, let alone 16 other people. That’s a lot of people, and it was great sharing this big moment with them all. Most of the gang there were following and supporting PMG throughout, some from the very start! What would it be like to reach the last summit? I wasn’t sure if it would be a moment of anti-climax or a moment of happiness! We followed the road to the masts. On the way to the summit I spent most of the time with Mark, Martin, Sharon and Adrian. Martin and Sharon were shooting a film about the ascent. This meant that nearly everyone else was at the Trig Pillar just before myself. As I reached the summit and the rest of the gang, we were blessed with some views and some blue skies. The wind was strong, cold and sharp! Snow was driven around in small flurries that added excitement to the moment of the day! I walked to the Trig Pillar, touched it, grinned a lot, and that was it! Summit 454! I did it, I had actually done it! Man I was happy! A big part of me never knew if I could finish within the year. Between weather, finances, work and other personal commitments I was never 100% sure if it would all come together. So as I stood on top of the Trig Pillar at the summit of Mullaghcarn at 542m I was happy, delighted, relieved and of course a little sad the adventure was at an end. It certainly wasn’t an anti-climax though.
At the summit everything was happening so fast. A summit selfie was taken for tradition, group photos and more photos, and somewhere a bottle of bubbly was handed to me, which was opened and then another bottle appeared from someone. It was all a blur (not from alcohol I might add) 😛 Before I knew it the sharp freezing wind was blowing, the blue skies were gone, and people were heading down off the mountain. I stayed for a moment on my own at the summit. The final summit! I thought to myself, fair play for not giving up, as there were so many times when I nearly chucked it all in, said, “to hell with it”, or, “what did it even matter”. Of course it did matter, it mattered a lot! The adventure was over and I was happy to be safely done with it! To have succeeded! However, I would lie if I said there was not an element of sadness. The year and its summits seemed to flash through my mind! It was hard to believe it was just a year, and it was actually over. Sad and happy, all mixed up into one big ball of emotion! However as I stood on the summit and just before turning to descend, I grinned to myself. I already knew what I would try set out to do in 2015. One adventure was over, but another was about to begin!
On the way down back to the car, to normality, to life, I got to speak with more of the lovely gang from Mountain Views. One of which was “Aidy” or Adrian who has written a lovely blog about the walk which you can read here: https://aidymcglynn.wordpress.com/2014/12/29/mullaghcarn-and-witnessing-the-end-of-a-quest/ He also has some other lovely blogs with great photos, well worth a read and look! Thanks for joining us Adrian!
On the ascent I spent quite some time with Martin and Sharon who were making a film about the ascent which will be finished in February some time. Martin Critchley (mcrtchly) and Sharon Schwartz (kernowclimber) it was a pleasure to have you along and thank you so much for taking time to come out and make a small film about it. I look forward to the finished result. You can see their YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/user/mcrtchly. Mark Brennan, also known as (wicklore) on Mountain Views was there to cover the audio side of the film and of course the walk itself! Cheers guys for hauling all the gear up a mountain and for taking the time to do it! I also would like to thank David Owens aka (Onzy) for not only being at the end of my phone calls and emails throughout the year but for getting the MV guys together and for all the encouragement too! David is also taking on the Arderins and Vandeleur-Lynans, and hopes to be finished by the start of 2016! I will see you on that final summit Onzy! I wish you the best of luck with your remaining summits! I would like to point out that this is not a PMG credits or thank you post. There are a lot of people to be thanked from throughout the year and that will be covered in its own post soon! However, I do want to thank friends and family who came along on the final walk. This was great for me and made it even more meaningful! Thanks guys! Brendan, Brigid, Wendy, Philip, Megan, Dorian and last be certainly not least my wonderful girlfriend Tara! You guys are great, thanks for sharing the moment and for all the support throughout the year!
My brother Philip was also there with is GoPro camera. Philip has been getting into film editing over the last year or so and he has made a great little film about the walk. You can see it here on his YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_nDb5c46Y4 or watch below!
Shortly after the final summit day the Irish Daily Mail did a small story on it. As seen below.
CRC FM Castlebar radio did a small interview about PMG, which you can listen to below:
Other newspapers have been in touch and there will be a few pieces about PMG coming in the next few weeks. Again as exciting as this is, I still find it strange but I guess I will have to get over that!!!
In regards to the Project Mountain Goat blog, now that I have more time on my hands I will continue from where I left off…way back at the end of April. There are many walks and stories to cover! I hope to do a weekly post on PMG to finish the blog. So for all fans of PMG, or more to the point, fans of my terrible writing, there will be a weekly dose of it to look forward too :p
Thanks for reading…oh and I nearly forgot…I will be covering this year’s project soon! 😉