Una's Blog


Una’s little world 18 No sunrise – all challenge! Part 2





by Una Hearne.

Following from last month…

Day two of our survival trek

The increasing awareness that the wind battering us was going to be in our faces on the way down was a little distracting on the way up. By the time we reached the top, which we knew because we reached a rock – there were no other clues in the darkness and dense low cloud – the sun was rising. We inferred this from the grey light which began, surprising rapidly, if dimly, to illuminate the ground.

The organisers wisely decided not to hang about as there was zero chance of seeing the sun through the thick cloud and driving rain. So, after an entirely unsuccessful effort to get a photograph – not even a shred of evidence we were there!! – we turned around, facing into our friendly gale which was now battering us with … what’s that rain that feels like tiny bullets in your face? Oh yes, hail. All hail the hail. And thus began day three of our adventure. Oh, by the way, at the top of the mountain I did manage to get one bar of chocolate out of Sinead’s backpack – just a feat of strength I thought I ought to mention. No no, really, it was nothing, I just am that kind of superhero.

Day three of our near death experience

There is something about taking time out of your life and doing something different, getting a new perspective, that is… something… I really can’t think of the word… I’m sure it would be very philosophical. It felt like madness.

As our whole lives became focused again on putting one foot in front of the other and battling to stay upright, day three brought reflection and learning:

  • There is no such thing as waterproof clothes in Irish rain so my runners were just as effective as others’ boots. (Although I had to throw them away afterwards.)
  • On the way up we were wet through but warm as we were moving. On the way down we were still warm apart from our hands. The icy sponges our gloves had become seemed to beat back the body heat very effectively. I am mildly surprised and very happy we didn’t need multiple amputations.
  • When there is only one path, it is the best path in the world and you are grateful for it.
  • The instinct to stay alive can keep you upright and walking in circumstances you really wouldn’t believe if described to you beforehand.
  • The leaders of these trips are amazing, they really know their stuff. Apart from my awe at their abilities, I have learned they were not kidding when they listed the gear we would need. I will pay more attention next time. (NEXT TIME?!??!)
  • Sideways hailstones in a gale give you the same treatment as a chemical peel. I didn’t want one, but when you consider the cost of a chemical peel, sure it was a bargain!
  • If it wasn’t for Sinead’s knowledge of skiing clothes and provision of waterproof trousers (not waterproof but still a much appreciated layer) and wool socks and vest, I think I may have needed those burly men to come and rescue me. Brilliant girl, she really knows stuff too. Wait a minute… did I miss a trick there?
  • Chocolate tastes even better up a mountain in a storm. Who knew?
  • It is absolutely not necessary to go and experience this, chocolate is more than good enough on the sofa in front of a roaring fire.

Clearly we made it back in the end and two things made this trip almost worth it. One was a change of clothes. While it is insanely difficult to wriggle out of wet layers in the confines of a car without flashing your assets to all and sundry out the windows, let me assure you it is BLISSFUL to get dry knickers on after being soaked for two hours. I apologise for the over-share but until you experience this sublime feeling for yourself you simply won’t understand. The second thing was a flask of hot chocolate, the drinking of which, in these circumstances, is a profound spiritual experience.

And all of this by 7.20am!

After the hot chocolate we found an hotel for breakfast. Sanity restored and the world returned to normal. And as we drove home we had mixed feelings about the sun breaking through the last of the clouds in an increasingly blue sky…




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