Last Saturday, three of us that will be doing the climb for prem babies bit the bullet and went on a hill walk to see how we’d cope. It crossed my mind as I was driving up through the Wicklow Mountains that these mountains looked huge and they’re only about a tenth of the size of Mt Kilimanjaro. It was very cold and more than a little windy but otherwise quite a pleasant day. We chose the red trail which has a 490m elevation and decided to take the gradual climb up as that will be closest to what we will be doing on Kili.
It all went very well in the beginning. Grace, Ger and I got on well and there was much chit chat as we ambled up. After about half an hour it became clear that I was wearing too many clothes and I started peeling off layers. We continued up. It was tough on the old legs but not unmanageable. We took a break after about 90 minutes and figured that we must be near enough to the top. How happy we were we had this hillwalking lark nailed.
Off we set again. After a while, we started getting tired. How much more up could there be? There didn’t appear to be anything above us but still the path ascended. We met some hikers coming the other way and asked them. ‘Oh not much more, the path turns to sleepers a little bit on and there’s a little bit of a climb but it’s all downhill from there.’ Grand. The path turned to sleepers and split. We considered not going the rest of the way up and taking the yellow trail that went down instead but it was so windy and so steep that we reconsidered and went up…and up…and up.
The wind was unbelievably strong where we were exposed and parts of the walk got very scary. We were blown off the sleepers a few times by strong gusts. At one point, I was clinging on to a gorse bush so as not to get blown away. The views were spectacular but we were starting to get worried by the strength of the wind and didn’t stop to take many photos.
Eventually the sleepers started to descend. It was after 3pm at this stage and I was getting concerned about the people we were meeting walking the opposite direction. Many of them didn’t appear dressed for the trek and it had taken us over 3hrs to get where we were. Wouldn’t it be dark before they got down? We just kept on going. We passed what looked like a fantastic viewing point but it was far too windy to go out and view from it. Finally, we came to steps – a lot of steps. I discovered later that there was over 6oo of them. I was very glad we were going down and not up them. The thoughts of coffee and cake kept us going. At 4.30, almost 5hrs after we’d set off we made it to the warmth of the hotel for our prize.
This is what I learned from the trek.
1. Furry hats are too warm, hoods are good to keep wind out of ears.
2. Waterproof trousers and boots rock.
3. Jersey cotton is not a good base layer. I was soaked through from sweat and began to get cold almost as soon as we sat down.
4. Tea from a flask tastes good on cold mountains.
5. Check the weather before you set off.
6. You can get anywhere if you just keep putting one foot in front of the other.
All in all it was a great day. I had fun and felt like I’d achieved something. My legs weren’t too achy the next day either. We’re planning some more practice treks before the big climb in June. I still have a good bit of fundraising to do too so please sponsor me here on the Jenny Climbs Kili My Charity page.
Thanks again for all the support.