Carrauntoohil – 3,406 ft
Eric and Matthew Gilbertson
Date: May 10, 2013 (Eric), August 25, 2015 (Matthew)
> A good Omen:
“Carrantouhill, kærənˈtuːl/, from Irish: Corrán Tuathail” – Wikipedia was trying to be helpful with the obvious pronunciation challenge for the name of Irelands roof. So, it’s Karäntouil, … maybe??? – uhm, tongue twisted in a knot! Man, I want to make it up to the summit, I should be able to pronounce it properly and in authentic local’s style at the very least, I’m thinking when entering the aircraft. Wow, how it felt like a good omen, when during the flight a real Irish woman was willing to hold the mountain-related language class for me .
It had been Eric’s proposal to climb the unpronounceable mountain for right after he and John finished with a conference in Karlsruhe, Germany. Both, John and I were enthusiastic to join for the adventure and it happened that the next good omen was already advancing because we got super lucky with Ryanair low fares (that’s the cheapest Cheap Airline of all Europe) although booking just shortly in advance of the trip! So, the plan was for Eric and me to meet Friday afternoon in Dublin, hike tonguetwistermountain, meet John at Dublin Airport the next morning, fly to Glasgow and go for adventures in Scotland all together. Puh, the Gilbertson-efficient way of “vacation”, I guess .
With no checked luggage I got out of the airplane quickly, making my way to the car rental station. If you’re flying Ryanair, usually there is a free airport-sightseeing included because you feel like having seen almost all of it when walking from the remote Ryanair gate into the Airport building.
I approached the Hertz desk and was a little nervous, actually. Time has passed since I was in Boston last year. Would that be strange now? Meeting in a different world??? I wasn’t sure, … but suddenly, Eric appeared, smilingly said hi and it was as if we had gone hiking just yesterday. I relaxed and enthusiastically was looking forward to get ready hiking (good omen? Sure!).
> The 19-hour country
Whenever I had hiked with Eric in the US, all of our trips had taken 18 hrs and usually involved some amounts of craziness (crazy at least in the definition of a German ). There was the Mt. Lowell bushwacking expedition (never had heard of bushwacking before!) and our Presi traverse (where we suddenly had got caught in winter). So somehow it seemed like a logic next step that we would have 19 hrs in a whole country this time!
We quickly got the rental as well as first exposure to Irish accent and made our way out of town at left-side traffic. That went surprisingly smooth because of the GPS Eric had brought and taking the M50 freeway that circles around the city. So, we didn’t have issues with traffic, luckily. Eventually we hit M7 and headed down south-west towards Limerick/Killarney and went across the entire island. On our way we could admire the lush green landscape with sheep all around. We spotted some pretty old looking castles that reminded Eric of his trip to Europe that previous year and cute little houses in tiny villages. The weather was quite indecisive that day. There were alternating moments of rain and sunny blue sky on our way and we hoped it would stay dry for during the hike. But before getting on the trail, we needed food! Shortly we took a break for pizza and Eric discovered that “Pizza in Ireland tastes just like in the US!” – guess, that’s alright, they’re having Guinnes, pizza’s secondary .
Must have been around 7 PM when we reached the trailhead and guess who else was there? The rain – of course! We started out when it still was light outside and there was hope for good weather, though. We spotted a rainbow in the distance. And full of hope as I was, I made Eric betting we would see the ocean at some point of the hike. Mh, …. wasn’t the day for optimism, unfortunately. We approached the devil’s ladder, the pretty steep and ambitious part of the hike. There is a creek running down where the trail goes, so you gotta be placing your steps carefully since it was wet and had gone dark in the meantime. Eric led the way perfectly and it seemed it had gone too fast when I saw a huge metal cross not far off. We had reached the top and there was even snow up there (not much, though). It was super misty because of the cold temperatures and much air moisture – so the pictures we took are rather far away from what can be considered “distinguishable”.
I think it wasn’t too easy to find the point to enter the devils ladder on the way back. But Eric did pretty well from my (orienteering-lacking) point of view. We made it down and I think even were a little faster than predicted by the trail descriptions – guess the cold temperatures have helped. Actually we had planned to sleep for a bit and heading back to the airport afterwards, but changed our minds, since we both felt awake enough. So, Eric drove for an hour and then it was time for Nadine’s very first left-side traffic experiences! I was excited, but it wasn’t much of a big deal if you drive from 2 AM to 5 AM on a two-lane freeway in Ireland ….
> Scotland’s next …
Back in Dublin, Eric searched for a place to take a nap at the airport (that’s the good thing about the outdoors, no matter where you go, you’re always prepared to sleep ). We were on different flights to different airports in Glasgow (remember: Ryanair’s remoteness king, so John and me would fly into an airport outside of the city of Glasgow). As I walked through the airport feeling like a sleep-walker, suddenly and earlier than expected I saw John who’d just arrived from Germany. I was happy to see him, we had much to talk and immediately I was awake again. To say good-bye to Ireland we decided to go for a typical Irish breakfast together that consisted of all kind of weird looking, but fortunately tasty components. Almost a little late we arrived at the gate (being too late would have been fatal, because Ryanair’s always on time for the reason that they don’t wait for belated passengers ….). John was facing his first Ryanair experiences by joking about the companies’ philosophy and asked me while pretending to be shocked: “Noooo! I haven’t payed an additional fee for the life-jacket online. Will I get one in case of an emergency?” But, no need for a life-jacket, we made it to Glasgow Prestwick Airport no problem, ready for mountain number next.
Ah, I suppose you’re still wondering about the pronunciation issue, right? No problem at all! Just stick to Eric’s creative thinking & vocalize it as “Car rental hill”! – There you go .