Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Thing 200 Climb Slieve Donard

Slieve Donard is a mountain. The Canuck calls it a hill, and he's probably right. I'm sure it's dwarfed by Canada's smallest mountain, but in Ireland. Donard is a mountain. And it's awesome. It sits, with its base parked right next to the beautiful and magnificent seaside town of Newcastle in County Down. I think I might be in love with the place. Anyone who's been reading this blog for a while knows that Token Northy adopted me and now I think I'm an honorary Down man. Newcastle is the reason I love Down. Donard is one of the reasons I love Newcastle...

Mind you, for just a few hours on Saturday, I hated Donard. With all my soul.

We weren't just climbing Donard though. There's an ancient old tradition up in that part of the world, so old that most people don't even know about it, it's kind of fallen into the annals of history. Basically, there's a cairn at the top (for those not in the know, that's an old Celtic burial mound), and the tradition is that you pick up a rock on the beach and carry it to the cairn, and leave it there.

Effectively, it's not enough to climb the two-thousand-seven hundred feet height of Donard, you've got to carry a rock with you.

This is the source of much contention. Seven men climbing a mountain, testing their manliness against a mighty hill. Two small a rock and the other men will be manlier. They'll have more hair on their chests and will be able to fart louder than me. Too large a rock and I'll die, spewing up my lungs and coughing to death on the side of mountain by the sea. Decisions, decisions.

We all opted for a similar sized rock, just smaller than the size of our heads. Not too small to be embarrassing, not too big to be a show off. Except God Boy. He brought a rock about the size of the palm of his hand. And laughed at me huffing and puffing all the way to the top. Clever bastard.

Speaking of which. If there were two men I'd have expected to drag their feet and die every ten minutes all the way to the top (as I did), I'd have expected to them to be The Frenchman and God Boy. Deceptive chain smokers that they are, they were actually the first up there. I think for the first time ever, I hated them both a little just then...

We left at eleven in the morning. We got to the top at two fifteen. I had a pint of Guinness in front of me at five thirty. Seems like a good round trip right? It's not as challenging as I make it out to be. I just want it to seem hard to justify my near death experience that came on me every time I looked at how much we had left to climb. If you're ever in the area, get your ass over to Slieve Donard and make that climb. It's amazing, and if I can do it, so can you...

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