Saturday, October 31st, 2009

The lovely Sharon and I made turnips today, before I rapidly began to feel ill.





Timmy dosn’t feel great either.



A Mountain Leader Assessment was not the ideal way for me to ‘relax’ during Halloween break.  It was something I had wanted to do for years and it seemed the right time to do it (maybe not that particular week necessarily).


So, on Sunday morning I found myself being dropped off at the docks by the lovely Sharon.  I had heavy bags and what felt like enough food to feed everyone on the assessment.  Soon I was getting to know the other candidates whom would all become great friends and who I would share much laughter.  We were all like-minded individuals from a range of backgrounds, we all the same nervousness and dark cloud of stressful anticipation hanging over us.  The driving wind and rain on the journey down did not help in lifting our moods, it made our own gloom grow heavier.

Things began to change on day 1.  We had all started to relax as the weather shone October light through the clouds.  The day was a basic navigation and walking day to allow the assessors to get to know us. Late that evening we all hid from the assessors and got the ropes out to freshen our skills for day 2.

We clambered and lowered ourselves up and down steep ground on day 2. Again the weather was a friend to us and we relaxed a little into the week.  This relaxing was not to last; day 3 ramped up the skill levels of navigation.  Then on the evening of day 3 we wandered in the dark intensely concentrating on ring contours and obscure little wrinkles in contour lines.  Late into the night and back in the tents we grabbed a cup of tea and enjoyed a few laughs before crashing in preparation for the big event; day 4: the Epic.


Day 4 began in a relaxing way with plenty of discussion about managing groups camping and then emergency situations.  At that point we discovered that Joey had not returned to camp and a sweep search began to find him.  Joey (who was an empty tent bag) was swiftly found and looked after.  Then someone else (allegedly) slashed open a knee and had to be stretchered down a steep slope.  But the knee quickly recovered in time for the navigation that began at lunch time and ended late into the night.  The whole day was intense navigation long into the October darkness, up and down  steep terrain and through bog, juniper bushes and what felt like miles of bracken.  We all arrived into camp as hill fog rolled in.  We chatted and laughed over a cup of tea, hungry but too tired to eat.


The next morning was just a short walk out for a few hours and then the final outcome.    As I walked down I still felt fresh and with reserves of energy in my tank.  When I was actually told I passed I then felt the tiredness begin to pass into me from the feet up.  I had been running on mental energy and now my body was allowed to speak.  It was a long week that felt like forever but then all the memories seem to blur together.  I met some amazing people and enjoyed it, as much as you can enjoy such a thing.


There be monsters about;


Interesting post here: Muckross Lake Monster

Also, a friend was telling me about old irish stores about the giant otters: