The Connemara

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Over the last year we have been on a fair number of hikes throughout Ireland. Hiking is a bit different in Ireland than California, as there are rarely proper trails and as is customary in Ireland you frequently experience all of the seasons in one day (or one hour for that matter): sunshine, rain, hail, snow, and blistering wind.  Connemara National Park is one of the most frequent places we have hiked, since it handles the elements pretty well with well built paths and trails. The first time we hiked there it was shrouded in a fine Irish mist and we were wondering what made this a national park but this became abundantly clear the next time we hiked there and it was utterly gorgeous.

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The first time we hiked in Connemara – why exactly is this a national park?

Oh this is why!!!

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A beautiful bluebird day!

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The one lovely trail through the park to the top of Diamond Hill
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Good rainbow weather on top of Diamond Hill

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At the visitor’s center in Connemara National Park there are a couple of photogenic Connemara ponies
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Kelley’s birthday hike in a 40 knot gale!

Connemara National Park is also part of the Twelve Bens mountain range, so for some proper Irish hill-walking we typically go there. The mountains rise triumphantly out of the dark dank bog below and their silvery stony summits beacon the ardent hill walker. The mountains of Connemara are part of a once great mountain belt of Himalayan magnitide that formed 400-600 million years ago. The remnants that can be traced from the eastern USA, through Greenland, Scandinavia, Scotland, and Ireland. Over time, these mountains have worn down to the 700 meter stumps we see today. There are no trails underfoot here and as we hike up the mountains I am always perplexed how a bog can defy gravity and march its way up the mountainside. The only ones we have climbed are Binn Doire Chlair and Binn Chorr but I have aspirations to complete a big day-long traverse across most of them once the weather warms up a bit.

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A topographic view of a few of the Bens.
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A nice “alpine” lake near the summit of Binn Doire Chlair
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Looking towards Connemara National Park and the speckled summits of the Twelve-Bens
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Beautiful sweeping ridges near the summit of Binn Chorr
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The rugged Irish mountain sheep with its never sheared coat of manky wool
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Panoramic view of Lough Inagh

Kelley and I went back into the area in November and boy look at the difference! Instead of warm blanket of blissful sunshine, we had volleys of rain and sleet and the bog’s chlorophyl had hibernated for the winter – quite a different experience! Not to mention the howling wind that was generous enough to give us a complementary microderm abrasion.

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But when there is rain, there is alway a chance for rainbows!
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Kelley not so sure what to make of this weather!

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Trying to stay upright in the howling wind

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The last place we have hiked a few times is Derroura Mountain Bike Park, where there are proper trails and it gives you sweeping views of Lough Corrib, which stretches all they way to Galway.

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We still have a few more months to explore!  The weather is getting nicer and the days are insanely long – we’ll see what we can scramble up in our last few adventures!

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