DNM Hike Life – Episode 1 Baptism of fire (and endless ridges!)

News and Events / September 03, 2019

This event has been a long time in the planning, but I think all who attended will agree that it was worth the wait! With a short summer window and people away on holidays, it’s always a challenge to find the right date. But we finally did it! Here’s a little summary of what turned out to be one of the best DNM Summer Shindigs ever!

August 24th was a beautiful sunny morning and spirits were high as we met outside Dublin City Council at 9am (well as high as they can be for that time on a Saturday!) as we eagerly awaited our bus. Being in charge of booking the bus, I cringed slightly when our bright yellow minibus pulled up. No luxury Mercedes for us! Our driver popped out for the chats and we knew instantly that he was ‘a character’ but more on him later! Once we were ready to go (aka when Nigel finally arrived!), off we took at breakneck speed on the most round-about way ever to the Wicklow mountains!

Pic: We don’t have a pic of the bus so instead here is a picture of Kev moving at ‘breakneck speed’ in the mountains!

Hike 1 – the ‘warm-up’

Description given to team pre-hike:
“Hike 1 is a path but it’s a bit boggy near the end so your socks will probably get wet (best to throw in a spare pair!). This will take us 1.5/2 hrs – epic views guaranteed!”

Pic: The ‘epic views’ part was not a lie.

Reality:
Some people’s feet were wet within less than 5 minutes of walking, some already having submerged up to their ankles/calves! As expected with Richard as the leader (see more info on what he considers a normal outing in the mountains here), there was no messing around, and we took off up Tonlagee mountain with great gusto. It was a steep enough climb – turns out it’s the second highest mountain in Leinster – but a promise of the stunning Lake Ouler over the top (and a chance to rest) pushed us all onward…and boy was it worth it.

Pic: Made it to the top – still smiling!

Here are some shots of us posing on a rock trying to ignore the sheer drop behind us!

Pic: Richard trying to entice us onto rock 

Pic: We reluctantly agree, but most of us take to ground for safety!

After hanging out there for a little while basking in the sunshine and stunning views, it was onwards back over the top of the mountain and back the way we came, calling our driver on our descent as we had promised to wake him up from his nap to come and bring us to our next destination!

Pic: Our first descent 

Hike 2 – the ‘slightly tougher’ one

Description given to team pre-hike:
“Hike 2 is a little more of a challenging one, there are no paths in some places and other times we will be following sheep trails – it has a bit of everything, but we will descend on a normal path. There’s an alternative to skip this part and go via the road if people want to (5km to the end point) (3-3.5 hrs) This a tough aul climb, but sure we are in no hurry 😊”

Pic: ‘Bit of everything’ alright!

Reality:
Next stop was the beautiful Glenmalure valley for the second hike, so off we zoomed again in our magic yellow bus. Upon exiting the bus, our driver enquired whether any of us had a spare bottle of water as he ‘was dying’, no-one did. Good thing someone didn’t sacrifice a precious bottle as supplies were running low at the end of the day. So off we went, up a lovely trail, chatting, laughing, thinking ‘wow this walk is pleasurable’ and then the voice of our leader stopped us mid-flow.

Pic: A lovely stroll

Pic: Getting ready for our second ascent 

“This is where things get interesting” the bossman said, before turning over his shoulder and pointing to what can only be described as more of a cliff face than a mountain. “We’re going up there.” At that stage there was nothing left to do but embrace it and trust that the hardship once again would be worth the views and the feeling of accomplishment.

It was a tough climb but once we approached the top and saw the glistening lake ahead of us, we were delighted with ourselves plus we knew it was picnic time. We enjoyed another blissful break where we sat in the heather and munched happily on our sambos and some treats.

Pic: Giving him some time to think about what he’s done!

It wasn’t long before we were being shepherded on to embark on the ‘final final’ climb, and although doubtful, we forged onward! A quote from one of our hikers is all we need to sum up the next part of our journey – “It’s funny, I forgot about the blisters and pain when I was more worried about falling 500m to my death!”

Turns out, Richard was indeed telling the truth and once we had pulled ourselves up over the final ridge, we had made it! Our reward – another little break AND a tinny (it is a DNM hike after all)! There was a choice between a can of G&T or a Rum and Coke and although warm, they have never been more welcome!

Pic: A rest and a tinny!

Armed with a slight pep in our step due to the alcohol, the descent was, although rough at times, really nice and a welcome break from the upward climbs! Once we made it down to the road, we trekked back along to Glenmalure Lodge with the promise of a nice cold pint. In the meantime, our beloved yellow bus had broken down (no one was surprised) and on arrival to the Lodge, our hard-earned pint time was cut short with our original driver trying to usher us directly onto a replacement bus driven by a friend. Although not too impressed that we had to leave Glenmalure Lodge so quickly, we downed our pints and obliged!

We arrived back in Dublin city centre at 7pm with jelly legs and a strong sense of achievement and hobbled to the nearby Bonobo where we had a lovely little area reserved. We ordered delicious pints and the best pizza ever (shout out to Dublin Pizza Company!) and reminisced on the day we had.

Even though it was a tough day on the hills, it really was the most fulfilling and fun summer shindig we’ve had. We are hoping to make our hikes a regular occurrence and get more and more of the DNM family involved (once we rebuild our trust with Richard that is!).