This is part II of my hiking adventure. Here is the part I
How the hell I will make it down now that I don’t see shit? As soon as I thought that I saw something surreal. Three silhouettes running down the mountain. Not walking carefully. Running full speed. I couldn’t help myself. I laughed out loud. You will be fine dummy, come on! One foot in front of the other!
People often make the wrong estimate of their physical limitations. One might think they are quite fit for something, but actually, come up short as they have not been trained to endure certain things. I for one knew I have health issues but did not think it would be a problem. Well. At this point, I felt my hip and knees quite a bit.
I was a few meters from the summit in the fog freaking out that I will not make it when the people I met in the morning came towards me. Hello again! They were lovely and gave encouraging words. You have done most of the hard work! Not long now! I took another pause thinking about hip replacement operations and then despite the pain and exhaustion I kept on going.
There are many reasons people hike Slieve Donard. For some, it is part of their pilgrimage. In fact, the mountain is named after a saint. Others do it for sport or a challenge. At the summit, I met a couple in their 70’s. They are hiking the Mourne Mountains regularly. They began their journey in the Silent Valley and after Donard, they continued along the wall towards Slieve Commedagh and beyond. I could not believe their age. They seemed superhuman.
For the past year, I am not doing too well with my health. Both physical and mental. I still suffer from severe anxiety most days. Snapping out of it is a challenge every day or I end up unable to getting anything done. My current job has helped with it a bit since it is quite physical as well and focusing on tasks takes my mind off of whatever triggers them. Mostly I am unaware of the underlying causes.
Physical? I suspect arthritis in my hip and knees. It is to be soon diagnosed by a doctor, but I feel in a very poor condition even though I am taking supplements, having a better diet and generally take better care of myself. I crackle like 100 years old granny trying to get up the stairs. You can only imagine how much I crackled hiking up the mountain.
Despite all that I wish to remain hopeful. Things can and will improve. I will not give up. Just like I did not give up on getting up this mountain. So my white rock is all about hope.
I sat down by the rock tower where I was shielded from the wind and had a small snack of dark chocolate and water for more energy on the way back. All of a sudden, it felt peaceful there, in the fog. Perhaps, I finally fully connected with the mountain sitting and observing the edges of rocks disappear in the white. My mind wandered off to mystical places past the rocks in the fog. What if there is a different world other than the one I came from waiting?
In Irish mythology, the great cairn (the pile of rocks from above) is actually believed to be a passage tomb that leads to the Otherworld where different mythical creatures and the dead hang out. So if you accidentally walk off the edge of the mountain because you can’t see in the fog and fall to your death, you go there. Folklore makes everything more fun! ^^’
Climbing up is the hardest part, right? I was no longer out of breath, but after a while, I began to feel my legs shaking. Ordered noodle legs weakling? The fog wasn’t as scary. The Mourne Wall was guiding me til the Saddle. Slowly, but surely I became more relaxed and filled with joy about my adventure. I did not see much up there in the distance, the horizon or the sea, but somehow all this fog felt so mysterious and so much more magical.
It felt like a celebration to be there. I took a few good moments to take it all in. More hikers showed up when I was about to start the steep Saddle bit down. A lot more. If you wish to enjoy the solitude on the mountain, start early as I did.
Sources: Passage tomb mythology
Song of the day: School Of Seven Bells - Put Your Sad Down