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My Legs Have Not Thanked Me

My Legs Have Not Thanked Me

When we were in Berlin, we took a day long walking tour, that had us going at a fast pace for almost 12 hours. As my legs thawed out from exposure in the bar, enjoying the beer was so sastifying.

When we were in Cinque Terre, Italy, a very-hungover group of us decided to "walk" it off by hiking from Monterossa to Vernazza. The walk turned into stairs upon stairs up the mountainous countryside. We had sweat so much over the hour and a half walk that we were no longer hungover. I couldn't get back to the beach fast enough.

Neither of these activities, however, compare to the "walking" I did yesterday.

I would not so much call it a walk. It was a hike. It was a mountainous hike. It was like a mini Everest expedition - okay it wasn't THAT strenuous but it was absoutley that spectacular.

I went hiking - with walking pros - in the Mournes, Northern Ireland.

At first it didn't seem to bad. I was the only one in running shoes but I figured, they got me across Europe, they can get me through some fields in the Mournes.

It would have been useful to find out what the Mournes actually were before I decided what type of footwear would be suitable.

They are mountains, lined with rocks and foliage as far as the eye can see. In some seasons, the heather is in full bloom, making them look like a larger version of Barney the dinosaur.

It was just after 2:00 p.m.

I had to take a few deep breaths as we were at the bottom of the hills. We were going to climb those? Up to the top? The distance seemed difficult enough but what about the incline.

It didn't take me long to start huffing. Somehow, at the beginning of the walk, I became the pace setter. I was in front for all of about 20 minutes...and then, everyone had passed me.

The first mountain was the most difficult because although the incline was not as treacherous as the second and third, the distance to the top was much longer.

It wasn't just me who was having trouble. The lady who talked to me about it decided we could be 'Team B'. B for Behind.

As I ascended, I took the time to check out the view. Perhaps, it was also a good reason to stop.

I learned yesterday that the stone walls that run around and up to the tops of the mountains were actually built to keep the sheep from grazing in certan parts of the mountains.

As I gasped for air halfway up on of the hills, I was reminded that men would have to climb these hills to be at the top by 8 a.m. to start their day working, building these walls. After finishing at 5 p.m., they would trek home again, possibly miles to where they lived, only to get up the next day and do it all over again.

The thought, however, didn't make my legs feel any better. It got to the point where the leader decided that taking my backpack would help.

Sheepishly, I made my way up the moutain, with a bit more ease and less weight on my back.

It took probably a couple hours to get to the summit. It was two mountains before we were finally at the top.

The view was breathtaking. It was one of those odd Northern Irish days where the sun was shining and the blue sky was out.

I looked down to the bottom - our cars looked like dinky toys. We were so high up.

I had actually climbed to this height. Amazing.

I could see the Isle of Man from where I was standing. There were lakes from above, almost as beautiful as what we'd seen in Intelakken, and just as breathtaking.

You could see the shadows of the clouds slowly moving across the mountains across from where we stood. It was windy as well. You felt like you had to hold onto the rock just to make sure you weren't blown off the top.

The group climbed onto some rock formations that were at the top to get a view.

Stating the obvious, this made the hard work all worth it.

And so we began our decent...only to come across another "wee" mountain everyone thought would be good to climb. Either my legs had given up or gotten stronger but I managed to ascend AND have a "yes" "no" conversation with the nice gentleman who was carrying my bag.

Finally at the top of this mountain, we made our actual descent - and this is where I realized I need to get walking boots. My trusty little shoes did their best but there was no way they could have saved me from twisting an ankle if I had tried to go any faster then I already was. Plus, I needed to keep my eye open for the bogs - not that it mattered much since I had step in abotu 3 by that point anyway.

And my knees were not happy campers by that point. Every step was starting to become torturous. And we seemed to have so far to go.

About an hour later, we finally got back to our cars. Off with the shoes, off with the socks. Heaven. It was after 7:30 p.m.

I looked back at the mountains. They seemed even larger then they were when I saw them in the morning.

Somehow, though, less unsurmountable.

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