Thursday, July 19, 2012

Moyne to Shillelagh

Moyne to Shillelagh 7.18.12 The fifteen-mile walk has lots of slow hills through grassy lanes along rock fences. The fields of hay have all been freshly cut. Cows, sheep, and horses populate these larger farms, by Irish standards. The day started with a bit of rain, then sun, then clouds, then a few showers, and finally a nice breezy day with a light cloud cover when I needed it the most. My friends the flies were around a bit, but not too much. The southern part of the Wicklow Way south of Glendalough is not well traveled and the Way markers are further apart and sometimes obscured by the brush. I didn’t meet any walkers this day. Though, I was walking down several lanes by farmhouses and through tiny villages and saw plenty of folks. At Mangan’s Wood, about six kilometers into my day, I got a bit off the Way. Walking through the woods down a small grassy path, I came to what seemed to be the road to take, turning down a farm road instead of through a gate. I realized pretty quickly I had taken the wrong way. Coming upon a farmhouse I asked for directions. The lady was very kind and familiar with the local treks. She sent me back the way I came and pointed me in the right direction. She even complimented my “proper boots” for walking in the muck. When I returned to the point I had departed from the trail I was faced with two gates, one slightly above the other. I stopped for a few minutes checking my map and compass hoping that the way I would choose would be the right way. I opened the gate, closed it behind me and as I turned to start walking, a raven flew up out of the middle of the path and straight down the lane for quite a bit. I now knew I was indeed walking the correct way. I also started giving thanks for every Way marker I saw. Much of the next six kilometers was slogging through the mud, black earth saturated beyond tolerance. The path was very narrow and livestock and hiker had walked what lane did exist. At many points the only choice was to walk in ankle deep muck. Thanks be to God for proper boots. Eventually the soaked trail turned into a small country road and the remainder of the day was spend walking on tarmac, which after awhile is hard on the feet. Near the end of the day, walking down a small rock-wall lined road, I was able to look back on the terrain I had covered. It’s a good feeling to see how far I had traveled. Not too far down that road I saw a dead raven by the way side. I stopped to offer a pray of thanksgiving for the life of the raven and the help I received this day. At that moment two ravens circled, cawing, over my head. Today was a day of learning to say, “Thanks be to God” for every bit of help, the Way markers, the farmer, the proper boots, and the raven.

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