Solo hiking Slieve Donard Part II

m31
m31 @m31a month ago | 5 min read



This is part II of my hiking adventure. Here is the part I

Weather in the mountains can be very unpredictable. As I approached my destination, all of a sudden a fog took over. What is happening? Out of the blue visibility was only a couple of meters within minutes. I paused. Not only because I was out of breath from the steep climb clinching by the wall, but also because I was having a miniature freak out.

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.  





I made it! Hard to find words for how happy I was to see this pile of rocks!

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.



The white granite rock is the one I found by the ice house and carried all the way in my backpack. I wrote for white thoughts in my previous post. What did I mean by that?

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! ^^’





Time to go back!

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.  





Slieve Donard hiding in the fog



The second cairn at the Saddle



Besides dogs and black slugs, I caught this huge raven resting by the cairn before taking off



















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


Written by:
m31

Stranger

@m31 that raven had the whole hill to itself, amazing views of stone formations and the fog.

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m31
m31 @m31a month ago

Hey!Thank you so much! I was really glad to get out there and that I got to witness and capture some of the beauty and magic of the fog. Glad you enjoyed! :)

31

These shots are so captivating. I just love all the mystery lurking in the foggy ones and this one... wow, just wow... it's just so beautiful. All of these are. But looking at that specific one, I wanted... well, I wanted to run at that edge and jump off. And just fly. Way above all of that down below.

"But lem, you can't fly!"

Details; details. Don't spoil my fun.

I hope that if I make it to 70, I can be as awesome as that couple, hiking mountains and living life and stuff. I'm glad you do not let your physical limitations keep you down. It might suck sometimes, you know, you might be crackling and aching and stuff, but just look, look at all this life you're living. That shit's amazing ^_^

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?

[...]

Folklore makes everything more fun! ^^’

Indeed it does. Some time ago I traded in my pedantic know-it-all skepticism for suspension of disbelief and open-mindedness. After all, no one can really prove anything about our world. We can try to examine and define laws of "reality," but who is to say they are not simply local consistencies within the simulation? As I have grown fond of saying... I find that the world is much more interesting with magic in it. Thanks for bringing some magic back with you, to share with us :)

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Sensei kickin butt and taking mountains. Fog is weather of a different realm, I’m certain of it. Where magic sleeps within the earth, and adventures set out on everyday journeys like yours. I can feel the energy from your photos.

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m31
m31 @m31a month ago

Thank you so much @thatkidsblack! :) Maybe that is what inspired people writing tales and stories in the old days. It feeds our imaginations and that is truly magical.

0

Very nice photos. Fog is magical, but can definitely be unnerving. It adds an almost ethereal feel to the landscape. Pretty vistas, too. It seems odd not having trees around, but that's all what one's used to. Are there any dolmens in that area?

Sorry to hear about the hip problems. The surgery has gotten a lot easier, from what i've heard. My father and a friend of mine both got that surgery over the last year and the recovery wasn't too bad. My friend had a minor problem with bone regrowth, but it all worked out.

The thickest fog I've ever encountered was when I was in the Black Hills of South Dakota. A group of us were camping up near the summit of Medicine Mountain and awoke to fog so thick that you couldn't see more than a few feet. Nedless to say, we didn't dar attempt the climb down until it dissipated.

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m31
m31 @m31a month ago

Thank you @fotosdenada! Yea, no trees at all. Just a small patch at the foot of the mountain, but it seemed all the birds were hiding there, except for the raven.

If there are any dolmens, they are either covered in rocks or I did not see any.

Yea, it's been tough. I love moving around a lot and running too. Now I haven't been able to run much at all. Have a doctor's consultation on Tuesday, see what they find. A bit scary.

At first I was shocked about the fog, but luckily it wasn't too thick and only up top, so I found the way. Can see how it could be dangerous in more difficult mountains.

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Good luck with the appointment. Hopefully they can help you out with a Cortisone shot or something a little less intrusive than a hip replacement.

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tarazkp
Taraz @tarazkpa month ago

These are really great M!!
see? Fog is awesome.

So many great images but my faves are the crow flying (if the crow was a little higher to contrast in the fog it'd be perfect), the stone wall with the wooden structure, and the last one with the silhouettes. Great job :*

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m31
m31 @m31a month ago

Aww! Thank you Taraz! Indeed! <3

Yea, I see what you mean about the crow being higher. I was surprised I caught it at all actually.

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It's a scary place and very nice photography

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m31
m31 @m31a month ago

Thank you :) It was scary some places a bit.

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galenkp
galenkp @galenkpa month ago

Looks like something out of Game of Thrones. Looks cool!

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m31
m31 @m31a month ago

Yea, no wonder why they have used so many wonderful locations from Northern Ireland in GoT. It was breathtaking up there :)

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galenkp
galenkp @galenkpa month ago

We plan to get there some day and would love to do some hiking in more remote areas. Probably guided I guess, but would be no-less enjoyable I think.

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m31
m31 @m31a month ago

So worth it for sure! Hope you get there. So many peaks, cliffs and forests to explore.

I hope I will still have time to visit some places I really want to see such as the Giant's Causeway and the ocean for the first time.

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galenkp
galenkp @galenkpa month ago

I’m pretty confident we’ll get there sometime. I won’t get recalled to my home planet for some time yet so we’ll make it happen. 😂

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m31
m31 @m31a month ago

Ahaha, you are an alien too? Sent to explore this strange place! ^^ Isn't it wonderful to do some exploration?

Going back to Latvia soon and will share more of the wonderful places we got there too :)

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galenkp
galenkp @galenkpa month ago

👽😊

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No mini watercolor paintings this time? :P

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m31
m31 @m31a month ago

Hey @direwolfslair! :) Not this time, but Slieve Donard is really inspiring place for creativity. Perhaps, I will create something more based on this experience. It took a lot of time to process. I sat at it for a week unable to find words or where to start.

31

I agree, being in presence of such Mountains is powerful and inspiring. I also find walking through forests inspiring as well, and kind of cleansing, but I guess it also has to do with all that pure oxygen as well, affecting your mood and clearing your mind from the everyday life in civilization. Forests mostly inspire me write music.
You should definitely try to create something based on your visit :D

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Hiking is always fun

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m31
m31 @m31a month ago

And scary a bit as well if you are on your own. I did not expect the fog to happen at all :)

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You travel feeds and the hiking, photography is so strikingly blowing my mind, that i can’t help to feel the urge to visit these places. Have you tried barefoot walking before?

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