Original date 5/24/12
Black Valley to Glencar
After a grueling first day hiking the West Highland Way, I awoke the next morning and could actually walk, much to my surprise. When collapsing into my bed that evening I thought there is no way I will even be able to move tomorrow let alone hike for 12 miles. I guess I was wrong. That morning I met Karen and Steve who were from England and were also hiking Kerry Way. Although we did not hike the trail together, as I wanted my solitude and they wanted theirs, we did spend the next two nights together at the same hostels where we drank a few cold ones and told stories from the day’s travels. Mine just happened to be the story of the day. (Center of attention any one?) I had a good start to the morning making my way past the Gearhanour Stream and past the Lough making the decision to veer off the trail and hike along a road that ran parallel to the Way and which rejoined it later. Itt was a beautiful sunny day, Broaghnabinna Mountain and Cummeenduff Lough were shining brightly in the rare sunlight and I was maiking good time across the valley. My spirits were high and my aim was true. I easily regained the “Way” and traversed down into Commeenduff Glen. I then followed the posted signs making my way up out of the Glen. I stopped to refill my water bottles at a mountain stream. After surveying my surroundings, I instinctively told myself that south through the low pass is the way out of the valley. But the trail book indicated to first head up a steep graded road. I hesitated; it just felt like something was amiss. When in doubt people, go with your gut. I ended up taking the wrong path all the while Karen and Steve, who did not miss that particular marker, were across the mountain waving at me frantically and watching helplessly as I veered up the mountain and out of sight. Now when the trail ended smack dab into a lake, I knew I was not where I needed to be. Decision time. Forge ahead or retrace my steps. Since I am the type of person who always errs on the side of caution, I forged ahead. I continued telling myself all the while that I could regain the trail if I could cross the Infant Caragh River and make my way to the top of the near peak, or thereabouts, and look down into the pass to see if I could spot the trail. So, that is what I did. I climbed to as near as I could to the top of the bluff, saw the Caragh Valley, which is what I had been searching for and was supposed to be heading into, checked my bearing with my compass, decided it was correct, and made my way down onto the valley floor below finally finding the “Way” markers and breathing a sigh of relief. I remember falling in the mud a lot coming down off that mountain; luckily it wasn't over a precipice. So, with my pride intact, my ass covered in mud, and my sound sense of direction back on course, I traversed across the Caragh Valley where I found a gravel road and where I was lucky enough after two hours of walking, hitch a ride with the one car that came by. It was occupied by two teenagers’ joy riding and who I considered to be my guardian angles. They took me the last 6 km and dropped me off at the front door off the hostel. Steve and Karen were shocked to say the least when I was at the bar awaiting their arrival. I let them think on that a bit before I told them I cheated by hitching a ride. We all had a good laugh, a cold beer and a good night rest before we headed out again the next morning in the hopes of making it to Glenbeigh that afternoon.