I love all mountains, but some of them I love bit more… Carrauntoohil is one the very special ones. The highest peak in Ireland, part of the Reeks. Over the years I walked to the top of Carrauntoohil using different routes. Zig zag, O’Sheas Gully, Caher, to name a few. Few years ago we decided to reach Carrauntoohil from the Black Valley. Walking up was fantastic, we were in awe of the beauty of the valley, of the remoteness, of a quick way up. Only coming down, we realized why there was none choosing our route…. Going up very steep slopes is fine, going down few hours later is less fun, actually it is a hard work. We spent a good bit of time trying to find an easy way down, with very little success.
Few years ago we discovered camping. After few nights spent at campsites we decided it is time for the real thing, the wild camping! Going to the Reeks was going to give us two full days to explore the area and to sleep wild.
We left our car near the Black Valley hostel and joined the Kerry Way trail. For first few km we walked on a quiet countryside road, getting ourselves ready for what was ahead. Later we left the road and took a path leading into a forest. A few km further by a small farm yard we started climbing Cnoc an Chuillinn. The way to the top was extra hard this time, as we carried heavy backpacks with gear, food and water for two days. After 2,5hrs we were on the top of the peak (958masl) and cooked a small meal and had some tea and cake.
After the well deserved and needed break we walked along the ridge towards Carrauntoohil. The views on both sides were purely stunning! We had clear views of Lough Callee and Lough Gouragh and all the way along Hags Glen. In the other direction we could see as far as Kenmare Bay.
It took us few more hours before we stood on the top and enjoyed even more views.
At that time it was getting late and we had to decide where to spend the night. We noticed few tents near the Devil’s Ladder and thought it might be a good spot for pitching. The only disappointment was, we would not have the place to ourselves. There were already two tents there, but we hoped to find a private spot. The whole idea was to have the place to ourselves, right? But it was late and tiredness was kicking in after a long hard hike. Suddenly, on a slope facing Black Valley I spotted few big rocks, and a bit of flat ground in between. Bingo! This was a perfect place for us. We quickly pinched the tent and cooked some food. Choirs done, time to seat and stare in the nature, admire the landscape, enjoy the space. Experiencing the now and here moment.
We had a long sleep after a day of long hiking. I woke up few times to the sound of wind shaking the tent, every time the wind was stronger…. In the morning we got up to mist and poor visibility. The sunny weather and clear blue sky seemed to be a distant memory! There was no time to complain, as we had again a long hike ahead of us. We started going up to the top of Caher (1001m) and to Caher West (975m). Following the route was easy thanks to little cairns placed within view from each other. We tried to walk down the ridge. This was relatively easy, even with the poor visibility, as there was a clear path to follow. After a long walk down and few stops for a cuppa we finally joined the Kerry Way track. From then it was all pretty easy, but long. Few hours later we finally reached the car. The trip finished. Considering the length (30km), the weight of our backpacks (12 and 16 kg) we agreed that the walk was EPIC.
For the walk we used map printed by osi, Adventure Series, Macgillycuddy’s Reeks and Killarney NP, 1:25000, this time compass was forgotten, but we had GPS. We had Vango two people tent weighing 3 kg, so not ideal. Our sleeping bags were 3 season, we used silk inserts too, and we were just fine for the night. We always take light mattresses, for the comfort. We ate freeze dried meals, leftovers from our trip to Peru. We had some protein bars and home made cake. We carried 8 liters of water, 4 liters for cooking, 4 liters of sparkling water for drinking. Next time we will take more water and more snacks.
For more details on packing check my another post, click here.
For more hiking ideas in the region please read my another post.