When to listen to or ignore the voices from the peanut gallery

Well we’ve completed our walk, all 150 miles. I’m embarrassed to admit that I realized my boots were tied too tight, which was why my old boots hurt my feet. Unfortunately, I realized this on about day 10. I think my rain pants, which hooked onto my shoelaces, gradually tightened my boots. Live and learn.

Our last day was the longest and also had the most elevation gain. I was sort of dreading it since before we arrived. Add the sore toes, sore calf, shin splints, and my dread mounted. To make matters worse, as we approached the shoulder of Mount Brandon, we saw two hikers who looked like they just arrived from Mt. Everest. While I only had on a wool undershirt, wool tee shirt, wool leggings and light pants. (I had everything else I might need in my pack),  they each wore at least two down parkas, hat, gloves and looked miserable. They had camped somewhere along the mountain. One loudly told us the weather was very bad on the other side of the mountain; very cold and the wind was howling. Did we have any idea where we were going? And the path down the mountain was treacherous and steep. Did we know what we were getting into? It was very cold and steep. This is all a gullible, chicken like me has to hear.  This is how it looked from our approach.

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But I had read the guide. I knew it would be steep but not impossible. OK, I might not turn around at this point but wait to see what lie ahead. So we walked through cloud cover, still in a tee shirt. And I didn’t get cold. Their weather scare was wrong, the wind had picked up but it was still in the low 50’s. Chicken little?

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When we were ready to start our descent we met another group of hikers headed our way, one in a tee shirt. This made me feel a little better but I should have disregarded their opinion. They were swigging from a bottle of vodka to celebrate their ascent but…they said the way up was HORRIBLE. Very bad, very steep. I sent Tim to the edge to check it out. He’s a much better hiker than me and I trust his judgement. He said it was nothing. Steep for a ways but not unlike the Adirondack mountain trails at home. So away we went. I made it and never got cold. And the sun came out.

Later that night we were celebrating in a pub and enjoying good company. The publican was even telling stories. At some point our table asked for two pints of Guinness.  I said, “make it three”. Tim said he’d like a half pint and so would she. I said, “no I would not, I would like a pint”. The crowd went wild. They almost lynched Tim. “Let her have her pint”, they cried. And so I did. These were people worth listening to.

 

 

 

Walk on

Our walk around the Dingle peninsula, also called the Kerry Camino, continues. There are more sheep than cattle here and lots of mud. The innkeepers ask us to park our boots at the door rather than tramp inside with them.

I’m not guaranteed to shed pounds on this trip, despite 13 + mile days, because of the hearty breakfasts we eat, but I am bound to lose a few toenails. There’s no avoiding getting wet feet with all the mud. We’ve been very lucky with rain after our first day, only light showers. Today I didn’t even need rain pants.

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I still stop to admire the sheep. Today we walked through several grazing fields with sheep. One sign was a little disconcerting though. It advised us to walk into a field but watch out for the bull!! I certainly did.

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We stopped at a church from the 12 th century yesterday and at a pool of water today with some historic and probably religious significance.  Oddly enough, the trees get decorated with all sorts of things – socks, earrings, a pack of cigarettes. Not sure about this custom.

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We passed a townhouse yesterday on our way into Anascuel that reminded me of ones I have seen in Queens, NY. There, two owners of one house don’t always agree on paint color and you will see I house with each half painted a different color.  Here the owners couldn’t agree on whether ivy should be allowed to cover the house.

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To each his own.

When Irish skies are smiling?

Is that the verse? I wonder if the Irish have as many words for rain as the Inuit have for snow. We were reassured that yesterday there would only be showers, not rain per se.  One man we met walking his old dog said there could be ten squalls or perhaps none until night, you never know. That’s Ireland for you. Here’s what the radar looked like,  chicken pox, with little squalls all over the place. Not like home where we often get one huge formed storm system. But we are not home, are we?

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The first couple had hail and strong winds. That hurt! And they were in the first hour of yesterday’s walk. Then we mostly had showers, quick bursts of rain and wind. The walk was through a bog – read miles of mud and puddles – that were unavoidable. I had water sloshing in my boots, which at least prevented blisters. We took a lunch break during a bright spot in the weather. I changed into dry socks only to walk through puddles for the next couple of hours. Gaiters might have helped.

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And to think we are here in early Spring to miss mud season at home. May have to rethink this.

The skies were dramatic and there were long views over the Lee River at the start of our walk along the Dingle Way, which was an old pilgrimage walk. I’m rereading some of John O’Donohue’s work, my favorite was Anam Cara, which is on my bookshelf at home. He reminded me to breathe.

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We’ve seen many breed of sheep along our walks and often walk through fields with animals since all of the land is privately owned. We saw this colorful flock near the village of Camp. Dyed in the wool?

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And at the end of the day, I had a sunburned, hail beaten, windblown face.

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