Una's Blog

24
May

Una’s little world 17. No sunrise – all challenge! Part 1

 

 

 

by Una Hearne.

In a blatant act of self-care I am saving myself writing two blogs this year and instead recounting an epic adventure from 2013 in two parts. Enjoy…

My friend Sinead and I (joint name Shinuna) have been on many roadtrips – generally to Spas to be pampered. In May 2013 we thought we’d do something different and raise money for the Red Cross by signing up for the Sunrise Challenge. A stroll up a mountain, fresh air and the mystical splendour of sunrise. Lovely. I’m not sure what caused this combination of insanity and denial but here’s what happened…

Arrival

It was raining and blowy when we arrived at 4am (WHAT TIME?!?) in the car park. The ambulance and flashing blue lights were both comforting and a little alarming. ‘Oh, good, we’re in the right place! And look, if we have a horribly disfiguring accident these nice burly men will come and rescue us!’ Hmmmm

We had been giggling since getting up at 2.30am, we found it amusing that 20 odd lunatics were meeting in a pitch black car park half way up a mounting in the pissing rain for a ‘Sunrise’ challenge. Very Irish. And we were two of them!

Another two of the lunatics were nearly and hour late so we all had to wait in our cars, in the freezing cold. No loo! I am still convinced that people who keep an entire group waiting that long in those conditions, and then bounce up looking delighted with themselves, should be bitch slapped by every other person in the group. Seems the organisers thought differently and merely looked apologetically at us. Ho hum. And off we go.

The walk actually took about two hours, however, perception being reality I would like to tell you about the three day endurance test we experienced…

Day one on Djouce mountain

It started relatively well as the first leg from the car park was sheltered by a valiant little group of trees which I only appreciated for their fine work after we passed by and were hit with the wind lurking behind them. It was ‘blustery’ at this point and we were still dry which lulled us into a false sense of tame adventure and we laughed in its face. Not wise. Djouce summit is reached mostly by walking along a ‘boardwalk’. When our guide told us, it conjured for me a sunny image of a wooden thoroughfare, cluttered with holiday makers eating ice-cream and populated beneath with kissing couples. Dispel that image immediately.

An Irish board walk is two railway sleepers planted side by side (one for each foot you see), laid end to end with the next two. It goes on FOREVER and is flanked by all manner of delights: marsh, mud, bog, mud, pools of icy water (of indeterminate depth) mud and snow. Snow? Yes! Melting to be sure, after all it is Spring, but only to provide greater rivers of icy water to traverse. Concern begins to prickle, but no, Shinuna are made of sterner stuff… onward!

Our focus quickly became keeping our eyes and feet on the two planks and keeping up with the people in front. While trying to protect ourselves from the driving rain and wind in this totally exposed place. Up a mountain. Dear god. In the dark. Our entire world became the few feet visible in the beams of our torches. Spooky and amazing if you could look up and see the eerie line of ghostly beams dancing up the hill, but the risk of wobbling off the planks prevented that. While the people in front were our guides and salvation, the people behind quickly became irrelevant. If they had fallen in the bog, the hero in me would have grimly carried on in the knowledge that when you are trekking over the Himalayas – not everyone is going to make it.

As the wind got into its stride and became the gale that had been forecast (we had looked it up and gone ahead anyway!?!), our guide stopped to let us pass, shouting at every few people “If you feel the wind is going to take you (WHAT?!?) just brace yourself, wide stance.” Right, well, at least we are now armed with the knowledge to save ourselves. Good. On we go.

Part 2 next month…

 

 

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