In the morning we stepped on some ice. Maybe it can be considered strange but I do not thing I am alone when I say that I delight in the sound of crunching ice and snow underfoot. I felt like a child as I played on the mountainside.
We pitched tents at the side of a Loughshannagh deep in the Mourne Mountains in conditions which should have felt cold be actually felt pleasant. A lone Raven krunked nearby, welcoming us to her home. No wind.
On the side of Doan we practised our rope work and discussed safe anchors as the sun went down and revealed a range or deep colours that sank into our souls. These are the moments we are here for, in these mountains and in this life. Way better than Saturday night TV.
The temperature plummeted dramatically as the shadowed cloaks of the mountains dropped on us. It was already -2 as we shoveled our dinner into us. Dessert; guilt free.
Night navigation was practiced by a waxing moon. The moonlight cast long shadows and the stars rose and set like a clockwork blanket. The terrain was interesting, twice I had the rapid thought “hello ground” as I fell into hidden holes that left my armpits at ground level and my feet caught deep underground. The moon and stars kept turning.
Returning to camp took us past the frozen half of the Loughshannagh. We turned off the head-torches and threw chunks of ice and rocks across the half inch thick surface. We listened to the sliding ice and strained our ears for the splash. No matter how hard we threw, we heard no splash. Later on, the next day, we saw some of our rocks sitting on their own on the lake’s surface. Waiting for the moment of inevitable plop and sink when no one would be near to hear it. It was very cold.
Before crawling into our bags for the long cold night we gathered together and had a little tent party with laughter and a selection of fine cheeses. This was a luxury wild camp.
After a cold night that we have been told sank to -5, I woke up to grab my gas canister and nurse it to life while I had a brief snooze and then muesli in bed. Sleeping and hugging my cooker made me feel like a mountaineer. Linkback: mountainviews.ie/summit/290/comment/3475/