Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Sunday, August 31 - Day 2

Hike: Knockree to Roundwood, approximately 11.4 miles/18.3 kilometers

We've safely arrived in Roundwood, at Tochar Cottage (the town's Gaelic name is An Tochar), after 8 hours on the trail. To begin at the beginning:

We left our hostel in Knockree around 9:40am, following a breakfast of cereal, orange juice, toast, maramlade, and tea. The scenery is for the most part truly epic and really beautiful, as pictures will show (the greens are lusher in person):

We did quite a bit of up and down today (most of it gradual, thankfully), with a total elevation gain of 500m (though, considering that we were going up AND down intermittently, I think our total uphill mileage was somewhat more than that). The landscape was diverse: there were forests, open stretches of hills and mountains, and even sheep pastures.

I don't think I need to say--our feet are killing us. We walked at least 18km (according to Keller's pedometer), and I don't think we'd be comfortable right now even if the terrain had been feather beds instead of rocks, mud, grass, wood planks, pavement, and sheep poo.

The low point of the day was around 12:30 or 1pm; we had just gotten to the top of a hill and planned to eat lunch when a heavy mist settled, along with strong winds, and we began to get very cold and wet. Every changed into rain gear and managed to stay dry, and we kept moving. A little while later it had let up a bit so we picked an open spot off to the side of the sheep path we were traversing to sit and eat. Lunch was PB&J, protein bars, and trail mix, plus turkey jerky for the meat-eaters. After a while the weather cleared up, giving us a gorgeous view of the countryside and hope for the future:

The sun actually came out, and the rest of the day was beautiful.

We got to Tochar Cottage around 6pm. We have two bedrooms, three bathrooms, and a living/dining room to ourselves. The owners, Tom and Stella, seem very nice. Tom picked us up at the road and Stella served us tea with cake and biscuits. She said they've had the B&B for about 6 years; the guest book shows mostly names from Ireland, Holland, and Belgium, with visitors from places as diverse at Israel and China.

We're showered and about to go our for dinner and a pint. I'm feeling a lot more optimistic right now about tomorrow than I was a couple hours ago (especially since tomorrow is almost half today's distance).

We had dinner at the Roundwood Inn--I had traditional Irish stew (I bet you can picture it), applie pie with ice cream, a pint of Guiness and a Bulmer's cider. And I'm a bit tipsy--we all are, to be fair. Poor Brandi had bad allergies all day and was completely exhaused at dinner.

Tomorrow, Andrew and I are having a full Irish breakfast, which I will describe tomorrow as I don't know exactly what it entails. I wonder if we'll have black pudding.

Anyway, our pub was apparently named Ireland's Pub of the Year in 2007 by someone or other, but it seemed just okay to me.

Things are expensive here. (Also, on a brighter note, it's cold!)

More photos from Sunday

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