Friday, April 15, 2011

Mind the Gap

Our exploration of western Ireland continued today at the Gap of Dunloe. In order to get there we took these long red motorboats through 2 lower lakes, a river, and the upper lake. It was gorgeous! But freezing! I was wearing athletic shorts because Audrey and I were planning on running later in the day... Good choice for running, bad choice for boating. I think our driver felt bad for me, because he handed me a rain jacket and told me to wrap it around my legs. Much better!
By the time we got there we were so hungry! So we quickly downed our lunches and set off on the hike. Audrey and I had decided it would be fun to run this hike! We didn't have anything else after this so it didn't matter if we were sweaty. I think we made Kyle (our group leader) nervous. He thought we would get lost... So after much pleading we finally promised him we wouldn't get lost and if we ever felt uncertain about where we were going we would sit down right there and wait for him to catch up.
We took off running and got half a mile before the road forked and we didn't know where to go. GR! So we waited... they showed up a few minutes later and we got better directions and set off again. The road started to incline and after ten minutes we had worked up a decent sweat. Then we reached the path up the mountain. Oofda. That was rough! We did intervals up the winding route. The whole time it felt like we were racing these horse carriages that took lazy tourists up the mountain. They were ahead, then we overtook them, then they caught up to us, then we pushed ahead and managed to outrun the horses! (Although, I gotta give the horses some credit. They were pulling carriages full of people; we had just ourselves.)
Just when we thought we couldn't go any farther, we made it to the top. The view was incredible! It looked more like the rocky mountains than the rolling hills of Ireland. Thankfully, I had handed off my camera to someone else so I wouldn't have to carry it while running, but still have pictures of the scenery.
The rest of the hike felt like a breeze compared to the first third. It was nice rolling hills. We ran, pet sheep (or at least, tried to), ran, talked to a shepherd, walked, ran, saw some rock climbers, ran, walked, ran, and before we knew it, we were there! I thought we still had a ways to go and was trying to conserve energy. So it was a nice surprise to find we were already there! 7 miles through the Gap of Dunloe in an hour and a half. Not too shabby.

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