Saturday, September 10, 2016

I Climbed Croagh Patrick

I climbed Croagh Patrick ... and I had to get a shirt to prove it.

As we watched the mountain loom closer and closer for the last 20 minutes of the drive toward Westport. It didn't look as hard as it felt on the way back down.

 Croagh Patrick is the legendary mountain St. Patrick is said to have climbed barefoot and where he fasted for 40 days and 40 nights. Every year there is a national pilgrimage that thousands attend and climb Croagh Patrick. Some Catholics performing penance, do this hike barefoot to this day.

The trouble started almost as soon as we climbed out of the coach. I forgot to fill up my water bottle at the hotel, and promptly discovered that the water was unsuitable to drink. Fortunately, Mrs. Cosgrove was sweet and gave me some of her water. 

At the base of the mountain was a very nice riding stable. It was tempting to go hang out with the ponies instead. It was even more appealing when we got to the top.

Then the hike started. It was a sloped asphalt path to get the the base of the trail.

Then the footing changed completely.
We have to climb WHAT!!!!!
Another view of the footing.
Shouldn't this path be going toward the mountain and not away?
 This would be torture to walk barefoot. We saw a few people that day who were barefoot and we saw blood on the rocks proving the folly of it.

After the initial surprise, I took on the mentality of a mountain goat and climbed steadily, unfortunately energy only game in spurts, but the views were spectacular and stopping to take pictures was as good as any to take a break from the steep climb over piles of rock.

I loved this curly island in Clew Bay behind us

During the lower parts of the hike, this lovely creek cheerfully tumbled beside the trail and gave an mystical feeling and a sight that seems to come from a fairytale's enchanted isle. Don't you agree?

That is our road. The white line cutting through the mountain.

In fact, I loved every aspect of Clew Bay.
I've shown several pictures of Clew Bay. It was a stunning bay with a fantastic history. In years past a Irish Pirate Queen roamed these waters in her shallow bottom boat, running other pirates ashore on unseen sand bars.

My companions up the mountain changed the higher we went since most of the group were ahead of me. By Paige and I decided that we had to at least see the other side of this dreadful mountain.

Step by step we came closer. Finally, we reached the halfway point, which was also where I ran out of water.
The far side of the mountain.

More mountains behind the mountain we stood on.

Looking back. See how far we've come? Remember this was only the easier half.

This was where Paige turned back, but I decided to continue on. (This is arguably one of the worst decisions I have ever made.) The path continued to the right. At first the going was fabulous. It was the easiest part of the hike, reasonably flat, few rocks, mostly packed dirt and pebbles. That was the path across the ridge of the mountain.

Then I reached the foot of Croagh Patrick. And with every yard uphill, the experience went downhill.
The footing turned from bad to terrible. How would someone even do this barefoot?

WHAT IS THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
It just got worse. It got steeper and steeper and the last 30 minutes of the hike had to be done crouched over using your hands and toes to climb almost strait up on sharp rocks like this.

This is the best representation of how steep this hike was, and it does not do it justice. It only got worse from here.
The only good part about climbing this is that the views continued to improve.
When I finally met up with the rest of the group heading back down, I was out of breath, exhausted and 100% ready to give up. I'd been out of water for awhile and was parched. The group encouraged me, Carlee gave me her water and they told me that I was "only" fifteen minutes from the top. Sweet Emily climbed the rest of the way up, again, with me.

The Church at the top. In which mass is held during the annual pilgrimage.

I made it!
The weather had been fantastic and the mountain top perfectly clear for the several hours while we were hiking. However, the clouds decided to descend on the mountain just in time for me to reach the top and I could hardly see any of the "great" views I'd worked so hard to see. The clouds parted just enough so I could see the bay and the evergreen forest, but it was little better than what I'd already seen.
The rest of the group were waiting on us so we had to catch our breath before we started the decent back down, which was almost as bad as going up. It was difficult to know where it was safe to walk. The going was very slow because the footing was so unstable and steep. We practically slid down in places.

But we finally made it back down without causalities. Everyone else was already on the coach and we stepped on and everyone erupted in cheers.

As this whole trip to the northwest was one no Taylor group has done, Diana and Koert were taken aback by the sheer difficulty of the hike. So they talked to Vance, who informed us that we were never supposed to the entire hike all the way up the mountain.

Oh well. It was an interesting experience that I'll never forget and now I have a new T-shirt. 


  1. Enjoyed reading this. What an accomplishment!

  2. You go, girl. I like the picture of you at the top. Love you!

    1. Thanks. Isn't a great one, but I was too tired to care. Whenever I see it I remember that exhaustion clearly.

  3. That's the spirit. As G.K. Chesterton puts it, "An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered."

    1. Definitely. Adventures make for great stories, after all, and they don't happen without conflict. :) I'm glad I did the hike all the way to the top. It is something I'll always remember.