One of my New Years resolutions has been to get back into hiking. We plan to start slowly and build it up little by little. A great place for this is our very own local mountains in South Armagh, a half hour drive away.
Slieve Gullion is the highest point in County Armagh with an elevation of 573 metres (1,880 ft). We've climbed it before, in May 2016, with our nephews and friends (Super Man and Wonder Woman from the Mt Whitney trip). Unfortunately, the mountains that day were covered in thick fog and we were not able to see the small lake and two ancient burial cairns at the summit.
So when we found a Sunday in January that had crystal clear skies My Husband and I decided to have another go up Slieve Gullion even though it was only 2 degrees Centigrade.
It's been a decade since we spend time at this latitude at this time of the year. I never before realised just how tough the short days were. It gets dark at 4 ish, and the sun doesn't come up until 9 ish. I just feel lethargic all day. Some days the cloud cover is so thick that it feels like twilight all day long. I'm not complaining - at least I'm trying hard not to - I'm merely describing how it is...dark...
This lethargy means that it's a slow start in our household in the mornings - even slower than usual. We didn't begin our walk up Slieve Gullion until 3 pm with the result that we had to cut our hike short without getting all the way to the top but got to watch the sunset as we came back down again. An hour's walk was still a good start to our hiking plans - 3.7 miles and 900 feet elevation gain, according to Strava.
It gives us plenty of room to improve as the year progresses, as we get more hours of sunshine, and as the world around us slowly wakes up to springtime... I'm looking forward to it.
And no matter what time of year - the Irish sunset is hard to beat and can last for hours!