It wasn’t so far, and at the beginning it was just a stiff uphill – a good bit of work but worth it for the views. I even took the time to go off the route to see a stone circle, an indulgence I hadn’t had the energy to allow myself on other days. Then I headed over the mountain. Time after time I thought I was reaching the top of the mountain, only to see another dip and another peak. But the footing was good, so that was all right.
Then I started downhill. Now I’m not a spectacularly experienced backpacker, and I’m walking alone. So as I descended over boggy ground I couldn’t help but think how bad it would be if I twisted an ankle here, miles from a person and without mobile service. I went from tuft of grass to tuft of grass, paying all my attention to my feet with only an occasional glance up for the views. After some time the path changed into a muddy, fairly level smudge in a sea of dry golden grass, a welcome rest.
Then I came to a marshy bit. No stepping stones, only tufts of grass. And there was no way to reach the next path marker without going straight through. So I balanced from one wobbly tuft to another, thinking that this was it, this was where I fell on my ars* in the muck and had to walk the last five miles so covered in grime I looked like an orc. Then I thought, well, maybe I would make it, and luckily I did.
When I finally got into Kenmare I was so grateful to see shops and pubs and even payphones; I stopped at the first phone and called my boyfriend, who I hadn’t gotten to talk to in a week.