IT was April 1, and we had an early start - 24 of us 5th year girls headed off for the Wicklow Mountains with the hope of completing our Silver Gaisce adventure challenge.
Enthusiastic and excited we set off from Downey’s at 8 o’clock all packed and ready for our hike! We reached the trusty Knockree Hostel around 10 o’clock where we met with our guide and put our bags away for later. Hats, scarves, gloves and coats we were all wrapped up and ready for the snowy conditions ahead!
1k and we were already complaining, but eventually we got used to the ice, hills and rocks and we were off! 30k and a mountain later, we had finished our first day, and wow, we were crippled with pain. After a shower and some dinner, we swapped the runners for slippers and returned to our rooms where we opened the cases of junk food and the fun began.
A few hours later and we were all set for bed, however on a trip down to fill hot water bottles we were delayed our sleep by a Belgian folk group that were having a seisiún ceol down in the kitchen. Entertained by the music (especially the violinist), we got permission to stay up past our bed time and have a little listen.
Unfortunately, day two was nowhere near as easy as the first, even if we were only walking 20k! Every bone in our bodies ached and we weren’t exactly as fresh as we were the first day, but we battled on and reached our destination a few hours later. At 700 metres above sea level we were on a high at the top, even if we moaned a little on the way up.
Ice cold, the mountain was like a skating rink and at stages we townies were slightly worried for our lives, but our lovely guide ensured us we had nothing to worry about and we made our way back towards the hostel.
Finally at half five that evening we had the full 50k under us and our gaisce complete! Although we could hardly walk, the trip was well worth it and we’re very grateful to have been given such an amazing opportunity. Thanks again to Mrs Dollard who organised the trip for us and also to Pauline O’Sullivan and Martina Cushen. It was fab!