Thursday, August 8, 2013

That time we decided not to pay for anything: Killarney

On the road into and out of Killareny we encountered a lot of luck. The 'out of' you'll hear about later but the 'into' consisted largely of meeting a man named Colum. But to begin where I left off!

We got a series of rides to Limerick at which point sleep deprivation caught up with me (pretty standard every time we got anywhere near a comfy patch of grass) and I settled down for a nap in a park while E, divested of our bags, went to get her cultural fix in at a nearby museum. We got back on the road 2 hours later and quickly discovered that Limerick is a horrible city to hitch out of! So we ended up stuck on this patch of road with nowhere to pull over and still in the city. We also later found out that Limerick is called 'Stab City' by the Irish (not the ones living there I imagine), so whoops on the nap!

We did eventually escape the city limits and rides picked up pretty quickly thereafter. We also played leapfrog with another hitchhiker named Aske who is from Sweden or Poland - I forget!! Not actually leapfrog but the hitchhiker equivalent which involves a fair amount of trudging along roads together and waving at each other from car windows as we pass.
Our last ride of the day was Colum, who conveniently was returning to Killarney from work. He turned out to be an amazing stroke of luck. As soon as he heard that we had no plans he turned into a font of information about the local area with recommendations suited to us (no money, no accommodation or reliable transport!) I waved as we passed Aske and Colum pulled over to give him a lift as well. He ended up offering for us to camp out in his garden. He didn't live close the the town but he did live at the base of some mountains that he'd recommended we go walking in.

He was especially awesome and stopped at a viewpoint to show us the area.

Nina, Colum, Eleanor, Aske

I have no idea how to get rid of the panorama image. Sorry!
So, like lost puppies we followed him home, where he introduced us to his wife and two very cute children with Irish accents (I know, duh, but it made them extra cute) called Anna and Cathail (pronounced Ka-hill). They gave us beer, wifi, offered us showers, and of course provided endless cups of tea. In the morning the kids came outside to eat breakfast with us which they also provided. When you don't know where you are going to be sleeping, having anyone take care of you in any capacity is incredible nice and I got very excited over the cereal! The night before Colum had been regaling E and Aske with tales of the amazing hikes (tramps to all you kiwis) through the local mountains, which counted amongst them the tallest mountain in Ireland, Carrauntoohil (ka-ran-tool is the closest pronunciation I've got).
Eleanor's eyes grew bigger and she got a happy glow and suddenly I knew what I was doing tomorrow. I did talk her down from doing the whole range so that's something!
So, after breakfast Colum kindly drove the three of to the base and gave us his number so we could call for a pick up - basically chauffeur service!

Carrauntoohil is the pointy one, centre right.

To the left (I think east) of Carrauntoohil are two peaks called the Big Guns. So of course, we had to show our big guns - couldn't let the mountains have all the credit!
You can possibly see the first Big Gun in this photo, or the slope of it - to the far left.

You see that pale bit going up to the saddle? That's the Devil's Ladder and was out path up to the top of the pointy one on the right.

Aske prepares to attack a hapless hiker.

The Devil's Ladder.
This is the point at which I started to wish I had tased, gagged and restrained Eleanor. I would have told her so if I'd had any spare breath.
Look at her! She's enjoying it!
In the next two photos I was both impressed and unimpressed with life depending on whether I was looking at the view.

This is the Devil's Ladder, it's pretty rough the whole way.

The top! I think the cross is so you that can thank God that there isn't any more to climb.
Eleanor surveys her kingdom.


We sat and recovered a bit and then got a bit silly. I blame it on the altitude.

It is possibly time to admit that Carrauntoohil is only 1,038m high...
That's still a vertical kilometre which is considerable further diagonally! We decided we'd earned a long lunch break and lounged around at the top for a while. There's also something about being at the top of the highest mountain in a country (regardless of its comparative height) that makes you want to hang around. Aske being the annoyingly fit individual that he is, decided to walk along the ridge and camp up in the mountains. He'd bought enough water for a small nation plus bedroll and sleeping bag. Even E conceded defeat on that one (though I'm suspicious it was due to a lack of time and not a lack of desire) so we meandered down, discussing philosophy of all things.

Oh, by the way, both Colum and his wife are chefs, so that night they fed us a delicious pasta dish which included black pudding - the first time I've ever tried it! Though Colum wouldn't confess what it was until I'd already tasted a bit. Seriously, 5 star treatment! After dinner we had a game of Badmington with Cathail and Colum, when Aske came wandering back in. The weather had started turning so he'd left his mountaintop... after traveling about twice the distance E and I had!

At this point it becomes relevant to mention that I sleep talk and walk and flail about and generally suck at sleeping. This is especially true in small spaces or those without windows where the flailing becomes more pronounced. A tent consists of both of those things (especially our tent which cost $22 and I'm pretty sure was designed for children). So.

I destroyed the tent.

In the middle of the night I scared E half to death by trying to escape very suddenly and violently and without using the zips. While she was still trying to figure out why the tent was collapsed I went outside into the hands of (as far as she knew) whatever psycho had just attacked our tent. Conveniently I was the psycho so no harm done (unless you're the tent). So.

The next morning we were off again, via the Gap of Dunloe. This is a nice walk that is relatively flat (especially when compared with the day before) through a valley. At the end of the walk there is a boat that ferries you back to Killarney Castle and from there we caught a ride to Kenmare with some women we had met on the boat. Colum completed his full service ride by calling a boat owner he knew and getting us a cheaper price. Colum was unbelievable generous and welcoming, throwing yourself on the mercy of the general public really can restore some of your faith in humanity. So without further ado - the end of our trip to Killarney!

Pronounced Slaan-Cha as far as I can tell and is the equivalent of Cheers! - I think it means 'health'.

The whole walk kindled the fantasy fan in me, but in particular this road winding up through the pass.

Our ride also stopped off at Lady's View despite having seen it already, so we could have a quick look. It got the name because Queen Victoria's ladies-in-waiting particularly admired the view from there (apparently).

Until next time! (I'm heading to Sicily tomorrow so no guarantees on when next time is)

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