Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Glendalough to Glenmalure

Glendalough to Glenmalure 7.16.12 The climb out of the Glendalough Valley is breathtaking. The Poulanass waterfall pours off The Spine feeding the Lake of the Angels in Glendalough. Past the waterfall the slow climb continues steadily through Darrybawn Mountain eventually reaching Lugnaquilla, Wiclow’s highest mountain at 925 meters. Walking through Lugduff Gap, an important ancient path from Glendalough to Glenmalure, I encountered a tall, graceful, and curious deer. She spotted me first about fifty yards up the road. I stopped and quietly took a few pictures. It was as if she waited for me to get closer. I eased up the road stopping at intervals thinking it would be my last picture before she would dart off. She let me get within twenty feet and take a picture before she crossed the road. She stood there, turning her head, checking me out to see if I was safe. I took a final portrait before she decided she leisurely eased up the opposite side of the mountain. I could not help but believe her visitation was a sign of peace, joy, and affirmation I am the right pilgrimage. I needed her strength during the next several miles. Shortly after being with my deer friend, I was met with a poster saying “Only Authorized Personnel Past This Point!” Now I was having second thoughts if I was on the right road. I hadn’t seen a Wicklow Way marker for more than a mile. But, I was positive I hadn’t pasted another path. My doubts were mounting as I entered a logging operation. No one was in sight, but piles of logs were stacked along the side of the road. The road ahead was a steep climb. My doubts loomed large. If I was on the wrong path and had to turn around and go back I was going to cost myself a long painful walk out of the way. I trusted my feeling about the encounter with the deer so I kept walking. About a mile along the way I saw two figures up the road, about half a mile. I trusted they were pilgrims so I kept walking. It was another mile or more before I finally saw another Way marker. I stopped there and gave thanks to God and to the deer. The Ludguff Gap Borenacrow lie ahead. As I would soon find out, the gap is White Hill, Jr. A long barren mountain top with whipping winds and driving rain. This time my new rain gear, thanks to Kris Burgess and the hardware store at Roundwood, held true. Though wet, I was not soaked. Time for another prayer of thanksgiving. I had to take my time, the path was steep, the grass was slick, the mud thick, and the road slippery. Even slow going, I slipped a few times, but was able to catch myself with my walking stick and free hand. Time for another prayer of thanksgiving. Leaving the gap the road flattened out as I walked along the Avonbeg River. I was able to see water rushing down the side of the mountain hundreds of feet into the river. Nature’s power on display. I was greeted in Glenmalure with an inviting lodge built in 1801. This area was home to leaders of countless uprisings against the British from the 1200’s through the nineteenth century. The Wicklow’s are a good place to plot and to stay hidden. The place has the air of insurrection. I can’t help but feel slightly akin to the place and the people. What does that mean? Time will tell.

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