Everytime I've driven a particular route into Connemara, I've admired a particular ridge line, one that starts near the road and climbs at a manageable grade for while before flattening out for a long, gentle ascent toward a towering peak, and then the real assault on the summit starts. The view of this ridge from one of the other peaks I climbed was as striking as it was from the road. It wasn't a question of if I would do it, it was simply a question of with who, and to where. But did I take a photo of this ridge from the road? No. But if you can read a map, maybe you'll appreciate it from this photo:
So on this Saturday of the Galway Races, Lenny and I escaped the city to take on this ridge. Many details were planned, but the most important was the departure time... because you see I learned in the past that Supermac's doesn't open until noon (which is why I've been up the neighbouring summit Diamond Hill twice without a cheeseburger, hmph).
It was a challenging start to the hike, with the first challenge being finding a place to park. The road into the area is narrow with no shoulders to stop on, and the road is through a bog, so parking on the side of the road isn't an option. Finally I found an entrance to a field that had stones laid down between the road and the gate, which proved solid enough to keep my Mini from sinking into the bog. While trying to get safely parked, the clouds decided to dump everything they were holding onto us at once. I don't mind hiking in the rain, but I don't care much for starting in the rain. Fortunately, the rain passed rather quickly, but that was just an indicator of how fast the winds were blowing!
We climbed the fence to join the sheep in the bog and started our ascent to the ridge. Bogs hold water exceptionally well, and it had been quite wet in the days leading up to today, so it wasn't long before we were well past worrying about dry feet and at the top of the hill looking along the ridge towards the first summit.
Here's another view of part of the ridge and the first summit, as seen from our descent at the end of the horseshoe shaped route we covered:
In my past hiking experiences, ridges have usually been associated with rocky paths between summits. I have a new reality now. Connemara is all about bogs. As you can see in the first ridge photo... there's lots of green and not a lot of rock. I don't know why the laws of gravity don't work here, but all that Irish rain just hangs about on the top of mountains and ridges and doesn't seem to bother with flowing down hill very much. I'm not complaining though, it simply adds a new dimension to hiking... dodging the deepest and wettest parts of the bog!
Eventually the ridge turned upward and we started our assault on the first summit of the day, and the highest peak in a group of summits called The Twelve Pins (which means there are several more reasons to bring cheeseburgers back to this range!).
It doesn't look terribly steep in that photo, but it was a bit more vertical than the photo suggests. We passed a couple of guys coming down, and one more just leaving the summit as we were arriving, then another 10 people on the rest of the hike ... a crowded day on the hills in Ireland!
With four cheeseburgers to share and three summits to cross, Lenny and I each had one on Benbaun to refuel ourselves for the rest of the day's hiking. Not sure what happened with the light in this photo. The view is of a couple of summits to the west that will be conquered another day. Today, we're going east to continue our hike.
Lenny/LooneyTunes' self portrait: