Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Hike, Lots of Rain, and an Air-Lift Rescue (no joke!).

I can hardly believe our big hike that we have been fundraising like for like crazy for the last 6 weeks is over!  (In case we aren't FB friends and you missed it, last weekend, two teams undertook a 22 and 10 mile hike in the Mourne Mountains to support the incredible Galway Hospice Foundation, in memory of our dear Sue - you can read all about it here).  It has been a very hectic couple of months since we set the wheels rolling on this, especially since during that time the Husband and I organised and executed a big move of all our things into storage and relocated to my sisters house, went on holidays, and (Sister and I) did a trial run of our walk last weekend. 

But Saturday August 13 came whether we were ready or not!  We were two groups - one group, consisting of my husband, his father, my brother, and three good friends, attempted the 22 mile hike of the Mourne Wall - a seriously challenging hike in good conditions, never mind the terrible conditions they faced last Saturday.  The met and set off at 6AM, prepared for 12+ hours of seriously hiking up peaks and down valleys.  
 Here we are all excited and ready to go!

The remaining 12 of us met at 11AM at the foot of Slieve Binnian, ready for our 10 mile hike to it's summit and back, then past the Blue Lough to overlook the reservoir and back, which, despite it's description, isn't at all an easy family walk - just ask my poor cousin.  But we'll get to that later.

So we were off!  When we checked the forecast the night before, it said sun sun sun from 6AM onward.  LIES!!!  We had rain 90% of the day.  It is Ireland in August, you know.

Allan, the horse-whisperer....
  And resident photographer.
This was early in our hike - thats the wall....obviously. :)
Behind those clouds there are about 4 peaks that you unfortunately can't see.  Thats where the 22-milers were to end their hike.

Almost at the top - it was like walking into a cloud.  Very low visibility and really wet.
Showing off the momentary view we had - and proving that I was, in fact, doing the hike too.
We made it to the top!  It really was like sitting in a cloud.  
Had mother nature been cooperating we would have been looking at this:
 And this:
 And this:
Aaaaaaaaand this:

 These were all taken when Sister and I did our practice hike the week before.

But instead, this was the best view we got - for about 30 seconds as a new set of clouds blew in:

But we were happy to finally be at the top...

And able to eat our lunches!
Sisters!  :)  Photo as we started the treck down. 
A glimpse of a rainbow as we neared the base of the mountain.

The Blue Lough...not looking so blue, thanks to those dark clouds!
Two more hikers (with 2 of our original group) come to meet us to do the last 5 miles! 
All of us (but one, who is behind the camera!
At the reservoir!  
We made it!

A group shot (between bites of ginger nut biscuits!)
And not long after this, disaster struck!  Just as we came back around the Blue Lough, we saw that my poor cousin had fallen and her ankle was in really bad shape.  She was such a good sport, hardly complained at all - if it were me, I would have been in fits of tears!!  She was more concerned that she had ruined it for us (which she hadn't).  So we waited and waited for help to come and tried to keep her as warm and as dry as possible.

And then things got really exciting:

My cousin might kill me for saying this, but we all got so excited when the helicopter came swooping in to our rescue.  Well, my cousin's rescue.
All of us girls kept dreaming talking about how if we were in Wales right now it could be Prince William coming to our rescue.
Some of us might have giggled like school girls when one of the coast guard dudes waved at us as they flew overhead.  But I can't comment on that for certain.
They must have circled about 5 times overhead, which we all found kinda exciting.  It was definitely an unexpected end to our day, one we'd have much rather not have happened, of course.  
The South Down Coast Guard were stars - and good sports, too, as we took their photo over.... 
and over.....
and over....

Given the unexpected events of the afternoon, we didn't get back in our cars until 8:00PM.  By that time we were all cold, wet and starving!  We headed to Diamonds Restaurant in nearby Warrenpoint where we had a much deserved celebratory dinner.  Reunited with our other team of hikers (those crazy 22-milers), we exchanged photos and stories of our crazy day.  Here are some photos from our other group of hikers as they completed 9 peaks before the terrible weather made it too dangerous for them to continue, forcing them to head home a little earlier than expected:

It was a brilliant day.  Many thanks to all of you who donated in Sue's memory to support the amazing Galway Hospice Foundation.  If you didn't get a chance to donate but would still like to, it's not too late! Any donation, no matter what the size, would be greatly appreciated.