Warning: This post contains A LOT of writing…because this was an absolutely wonderful, adventurous, exhausting, shit show of a day.
This weekend my friend, Bill, from Bentley came to Ireland for 4 nights, and in his short time here I think he nearly saw as much of Ireland as I have all semester.
The first full day lil Bill was here we woke up early to head to Wicklow Mountains National Park to hike for the day – I had never been there before so I didn’t confidently know how to get there, but hiking was something both of us really wanted to do while he was here so we went for it.
It turned out that going for it meant wandering around on foot for a few hours, and about 6 miles, through the hills and mountains after riding on public transport buses for over an hour before actually finding the Crone Car Park where the trail head to the hike is. I knew that the walk to the trail from the bus stop was pretty long, but I didn’t exactly anticipate walking this much before we even got to the hiking part. At one point we saw a mountain in the distance and decided we wanted to hike that specific mountain, so we started walking toward it…and kept walking toward it…for a very long time…until it was put into perspective just how far away it was and we realized that it would likely be dark outside before we even made it there. We didn’t have a map and neither of us had phone service and we were pretty damn lost at a few points, but I don’t think either of us really minded that much because all of the views were absolutely magnificent.
After a while, we started following the signs to go to the Powerscourt Waterfall, the tallest waterfall in Ireland. I knew the hike we wanted to do had a view of the waterfall so I figured the car park HAD to be close. When we finally got to the entrance to Powerscourt, the nice lady at the gate told us the car park was only a 10 minute walk away! The route we took to get there was definitely not the most direct, efficient, or even a way that made sense at all, but at least we made it. Although we kind of felt like we had already hiked, we really wanted to get to the top of a mountain that day.
So, we found the car park and began the hike up the Maulin Mountain Trail which was listed at around 3 miles long. It didn’t take long for us to find the view of Powerscourt Waterfall on the hike, and it was pretty okay (just kidding, it was beautiful).
After stopping to take in the landscape surrounding us, we continued on the trail up the mountain. The sign at the bottom described the trail’s terrain as “strenuous” but it seemed to be rather easy for the first hour we were walking, so I was a bit confused…until then it got more difficult. By a lot. Between the wind, rain, and mud, everything on the trail (which had gotten much steeper) was extremely slippery and the middle part of the hike was a real force. I may or may not have almost fallen a time or 12 on our way up.
We got to a point where we realized we were starting to head back down the mountain, but we hadn’t reached the top yet and our 1 goal of the day was to get to the summit. We were convinced we could nearly see the top from where we were standing on the trail, but there was a fence covered in barbed wire halfway up. Thankfully the fence was short, SO, we made our own path and scaled our way up the wet grassy mountain, hopped the fence (thankfully both avoiding the barbed wire – I can’t imagine that would have felt awesome), found a little path and started to follow it. That wonderful little path led up to another trail straight up to the summit. We were PUMPED.
Although the wind was getting much more fierce as we hiked higher, we kept trucking along and finally made it to the tippy top. No picture can do the view from up there any justice and although it was partly obstructed by clouds, the photos make it look much less clear than it actually was. Despite the wild wind and rain, getting to the summit was pretty freakin’ amazing and well worth the trek. We froze our butts off to stand up there and take it all in for a few minutes.
After we made it to the top, enjoyed the scenery, took some photos, and did a few victory chants for still making it after the way everything had unfolded that morning, we headed back down, got back to the car park and started to walk back to where the bus dropped us off so we could head back to UCD.
Well, at least that’s where we thought we were going. After walking for almost an hour and registering that nothing was looking familiar, we realized something wasn’t right. As it turned out, we had managed to walk in the complete wrong direction. For an hour. After already walking/hiking at least 10 miles. And when I say complete wrong direction, I mean it couldn’t have been more opposite to where we were supposed to be going.
Even without service Google Maps will tell me our location, and for no particular reason at all we didn’t even think to check to see whether or not we were going the right way until we had already walked a few miles. At this point I was ready to just bite the bullet and call a taxi to come pick us up and bring us back to the bus stop, but that wasn’t an option…because I still had no cell service…so we turned around and started walking back the way we came. After a half an hour of walking (at a much slower pace than we started the day) we heard a car coming from behind us heading in the same direction we were, so we decided to hail the car down. Bill stood in the middle of the narrow road to stop them as I waited to ask if they could call a taxi for us or give us directions. Following a couple of failed attempts (one guy sped on by and the other said he couldn’t help us), the third car stopped and asked us if we needed any help. He was a really nice guy, originally from Kansas, and had his son in the passenger seat.
We asked him for information on a cab but he informed us that we wouldn’t be able to get a taxi out where we were (because we were actually in the middle of nowhere), but offered to give us a ride into the little village of Enniskerry where the bus stop is since he was heading in that direction anyway. Now Mumma, if you’re reading this I know what you’re thinking and I know I should never get into a car with strangers, but Bill and I were about 10 minutes from accepting defeat and laying down in the middle of one of the numerous grassy fields to sleep, because we were too tired to keep walking. Doing this probably would have resulted in hypothermia for both of us, so we thought accepting the ride was the better option.
This man was extremely kind and chatted with us the whole way, drove us the 4.5 miles into Enniskerry and told us where the bus stop was (unfortunately we didn’t get his name). He was originally from Kansas and met his wife in London. They got married, had 3 sons, all moved to Ireland in 2011 and bought a farm right near where he picked us up on the road. Needless to say, he was the hero of the day.
By 8pm we had made it back to UCD, eaten and gotten ready for bed. We had to be up at 5:30am the next morning to go on a tour of the west coast, so we pretty much put on a movie and passed out. As much of a shit show as that day was, the adventure we had easily puts it in my top 5 days of study abroad so far.