Tag Archives: Ireland

No sheep jokes please!

Before I turn the page on the adventure in Wales, I need to display this photo taken by hiking pal Susie McNeely (triple crowner, i.e. CDT, PCT and AT). We had just climbed through morning mist out of the town of Knighton where the Offa’s Dyke Path HQ is located. It was a steep, relatively short climb to the grassy ridge where we came to the spot in the photo which had a sort of Mediterranean look to it. The inquisitive sheep added whimsy to the moment.

My friend Jay Dement who will soon be prez of the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club observed that the Welsh word for Richard is “BAAAAAAA.” Clearly, I command little respect among my companions, nor do I give a sheep’s butt if I do. Jay and I spent several days swapping sheep jokes before we exhausted our repertoire. Wandering along the Wales/England border certainly provides a sheep jokester with plenty of inspiration.

I am moved to note that the agricultural element of the British Isles is a big part of the joy of the experience. We hiked through fields of corn, sugar beets and all manner of other cultivated vegetation. At other times we hiked through dark forests and across windswept moors covered in purple blooming heather. In other words, there was variety of experience. Each day stood out as an individual memory.

At the end of each daily hike, we bent over — testing our aging, aching vertebrae — and scraped mud and sheep/cow/goat excrement from our boots and trail runners. It’s just what you do there, and it isn’t as bad as it sounds. I’ve experienced the same thing in Ireland, the Balkans, South Africa, Nepal and myriad other adventure venues. Sheep and other livestock — even yaks — are part of the deal. You enjoy their curious countenances and live in the moment. Stay vertical, you all, read¬†THRU: An Appalachian Trail Love Story,¬†and keep walkin’!




THRU Goes to Ireland!


Steady, my AT thru-hiker daughter, joined me over the past couple of weeks to hike what many call the most beautiful trail in the world, Ireland’s Dingle Way. I’d be hard pressed to disagree that any place is more beautiful, and to make matters even more wonderful, we were there for just over two weeks and never wore rain gear while hiking. We climbed rugged peaks, traversed gorgeous pastoral tableaus, strode along the edges of sheer sea cliffs and often walked for miles on lonely strands of beaches. We saw sheep, surfers, cows, horses, castles, ancient abbeys, museums, peat bogs, craggy tors, idyllic villages and people whose speech is as much lyrical as communicative. Unlike trips in recent years to the Himalayas and the Balkans which left me exhausted, this trek energized me. I’m eager to hit the Benton MacKaye Trail in a few weeks. Hiking with Steady was a treasured experience. She seemed ready to chuck her return flight ticket and stay in Ireland forever. Stay vertical, my friends, and keep walkin’!