A Wicklow Winter Wonderland At Lugnaquilla

Short, sharp and sweet was the clearance of fog at Lugnaquilla last weekend (2nd Feb, 2019).
Leaving my home at 4 am, I was a bit concerned about the roads due to most of Wicklow’s high roads being impassable because of lying snow and ice.
Not a problem, if you start your hike quite low!
The roads were fine (I was mostly using national roads) until I arrived at Knockanarrigan, where it was a bit icy with some snow on the road banks.
I parked up at around 05:00 I think, and I got home around 20:30, from memory.
Long day!
The forecast was for clear skies all day except around lunch time, when some low cloud was forecast, so probably a whiteout at Lug. Ironically, this was the only part of the day (after the sun rose) where Lugnaquilla was actually clear! Well, a weather forecast is just that – a forecast – NOT a statement of weather!

Such a perfectly clear morning, a bit of wind but not horrendous down here in the glen.
Already some lying snow here, at the 200 metre above sea level mark. Lugnaquilla is 925m asl.

I took a couple of night sky shots, because it was so clear. Looking over to Keadeen with some obvious light pollution behind, presumably from Baltinglass.
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I  managed to catch a couple of meteors in the below shot as well (near top right).
Looking upto Lugnaquilla just before dawn.
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Ascending Camarahill now, and the snow on the ground is getting heavier, and in places has collected into deep drifts. Taken during ‘blue hour’ – the hour before sunrise, you can see where the name came from!
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No joke getting up here this morning, tough work. Some of the drifting here is knee level, or higher. The fresh north-westerly winds of the previous day have left their mark in the patterns of the snow here. They were not light at this moment either!
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Sunrise was soon, so at this point I pressed on up Camarahill a bit. It was tough going, the snow was deep and I was carrying heavy photography equipment (as always). I paused for quite a while for a breather (and some calories) at the top of Camarahill, where I was greeted by a (mostly) clear view up to Lugnaquilla.
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Here I was overtaken by two hikers who found the tracks I left in the snow a great help on their ascent! You’re welcome chaps!
It was their turn to pioneer snow tracks now :).
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Just after this, I met a follower of my blog who figured out I was who I am! Hi Jan, if you are reading this. Nice to meet you!

Oh no!
The fog moved in, just as I was ascending Lower Corrig. It looked temporary, so I took a shot and pressed on. The sun pretty much up now, the snow on the ground getting deeper still.
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The fog is getting thicker, and lower – Ballineddan is ensconced now (at left) and it looks as though Keadeen is about to become smothered too. Whiteout soon, I suspect.
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Just as I thought the whiteout was imminent, it cleared in an instant!

Here is a shot I took just after Upper Corrig (I took none there, because it was intermittently foggy). Pretty arctic looking up to Lug from this spot.
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I knew the fog could return at any moment though. It always does at Lugnaquilla!
And yep, it did! Just as I was ascending the final slope of Lug, it came in thick.
I decided to press on. Fortune favours the brave, I was thinking. It also favours the prepared. I had a map and a compass – and I know how to use them.
Whiteouts are extremely difficult to navigate in, impossible without navigational tools.

Here is the summit, I found it without difficulty in the whiteout ( a well rehearsed routine!).
Arctic Summit copy.jpg

Suffice it to say, it was quite a challenge to read the army information sign this day.
However, that was not my greatest challenge that day though!
You can just about make out the summit cairn in the background too, right of centre.

The snow here is less deep than on the way up, presumably the strong north westerly winds would have blown a lot of it off into the south prison (which is really south east facing). Still, it was pretty deep in parts where it had drifted.
Not much to see right now, but it’s probably about -14°C including wind chill at this point. I was not cold though, I had my winter gear on. Even still, I could not hang around here for many hours (as I do in summer!). It was about 10:45 when I got here. Operating camera gear with heavy winter gloves on is difficult, my hands and fingers are quite large, clumsy and inflexible. This was when I felt the cold, to remove the gloves to operate the camera settings. This is one of the reasons that touch screens don’t impress me!
I have a strategy for this though, I always pack a hand warmer in each glove, so that after putting the glove back on my hand heats back up fast.
Arctic Summit Cairn copy.jpg

Well, the fog showed some signs of clearing, so I headed over to a spot I love just above the south prison. Still in mostly whiteout conditions at this point.
Still very foggy.
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I sat (I was wearing ski trousers) and ate my lunch now. I was hoping the fog would clear. The mountain tends to reward patience, in my experience.

Less than an hour later, it started to clear.
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A winter Wicklow wonderland is revealed!
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Looking south east to the pyramidal Croaghanmoira Mountain.
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And then further, to Croghan Kinsella, beyond the Ow river and valley.
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A shot down over to Cloghernagh and Corrigasleggaun. To those who are not familiar with this view, that is a LOT of snow down there.Cloghernagh copy.jpg

Skirting around an interesting cornice at the south prison.South Prison Cornice copy.jpg

Pretty arctic up here, and I have a strong (and cold) wind to my back. You wouldn’t want to be up here without appropriate clothing.South Prison Cornice II copy.jpg

I was having a great time with some of these compositions. The landscape up here is remarkable right now, almost lunar.South Prison copy.jpg

My footprints above the south prison.
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A (super) detailed shot of the tumbling cliffs of the south prison, taken with my 35mm Zeiss lens. The level of detail in this shot is pretty astonishing when viewed on a large monitor at high resolution.
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So many interesting snow formations up here, I knew I didn’t have much time. I know how fast the fog rolls in up here. And I knew more would return.
South Prison Arctic copy.jpg

Another composition.
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Aw shucks. Just as I had anticipated, the fog came back in. Thick, rapidly and heavy this time.
I headed back to the summit now, figuring that the fog would be here to stay now. I was correct in this assumption, Lugnaquilla remained in fog for the rest of the day. I still had to get down though.

Although I was not worried, it pays to respect the mountain. And whilst I have descended Lug in whiteouts a few times before, always respect the mountain. Navigation skills are a must here.
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Another world…
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Descending the final slope of Lug now, and out of the fog (almost) and I bump into someone I have not seen for five years or so! Fellow landscape photographer and mountain skills guide, Adrian Hendroff.
Hello Adrian!
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Photographer in action:
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Another one.Adrian copy.jpg

I continued the descent with Adrian for some time but I wanted to shoot some long range shots and some snow drifts in the Corrigs whilst he opted to continue down to Camarahill. I would catch up with him later to shoot the sunset over the Glen Of Imaal.

Looking down to the artillery range with Lobawn rising above.
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Such a clear day at this point. Perfect atmospheric clarity, cold winter days are best for that. Taken using my manual focus Zeiss Milvus 100mm – the resolution is truly outstanding at 100% on my large monitor here.

Looking over to a snowy Keadeen:
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Some of the drifts at Lower Corrig.
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The light started to get really interesting now, as the sun was dipping lower in the sky.
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It enhanced the contrast on the drifts here.
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The snow here started to take on a slight pinkish hue.
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A challenging shot to achieve, but the high dynamic range of my Nikon D810 helped me out a lot here. I had to push the shadows 2 and a third stops in lightroom here so that I could save the highlights of the sun at capture time. The latitude for pushing shadows on the D810 is wonderful and when you couple that with quality glass (such as the Ziess 35mm f/1.4 used here) you can capture shots that would be very challenging with other cameras (in a single exposure). The Nikon does this, with minimal/non existent noise or colour banding.Keadeen Sun copy.jpg

A glance back at Lug, before I look down to the Glen Of Imaal. Yep, still in fog.
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Beautiful colours in the sky above Mount Leinster in this long range shot.
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The shoulder of Keadeen and a snowy Glen Of Imaal.
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Looking over to Knocknamunnion. I captured the belt of Venus at the start of the day and at the end of the day this day!
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One last glance over to Lug.
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Now, for the descent of Camarahill. I always find this tough going after a long day at Lug. But at least I had some company this time! See you on the hills again sometime Adrian!
Adrian pointed out that I was the first on the hill this morning, and the last off it! Not unusual to be honest.

A beautiful day, but not without challenges :).

Fifteen and a half hours out on the hills (including driving) – time well spent if you ask me! It took about that much time to compose this blog post too!

Thank you for reading!

If you like what you see here please feel free to take a look at my portfolio site where you can see lots more of my work, or follow me on Twitter or Facebook here!

The images presented here are my intellectual property and must not be distributed without my consent.

 

The First Dusting Of Snow At Lugnaquilla

The first snow to fall at Lugnaquilla occurred last weekend – some of it whilst I was on my way up.
Howling winds and horizontal snow, with wind chill of -5°C in the morning – that’ll wake you up alright.
I have to say, I’ve been to Lugnaquilla many times but this day was the toughest that I recall. It was not purely because of the weather, I’ve been up in much worse – it was just a long day. I spent 12 hours out walking the area, carrying heavy camera equipment the whole time.
The Moon was slightly more than three quarters full, and on a clear, frosty morning illuminated the way enough that I barely needed my head torch – only in the forest was it dark enough to warrant its use.Moon copy.jpg

The sun not up yet, but it’s not far off. I can see that there is snow lying on the lug already and it appears that it’s getting a fresh batch of it.
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As I approached the north prison, the sun had risen and the winds were strong.
Northerly winds are cold too!
This was a very challenging shot, the wind was so strong that standing was a problem let alone trying to shoot a dimly lit landscape with a high resolution camera.
Camera movement ruins sharpness when using longer exposures – this was 1/30th of a second shutter speed – which sounds fast but really is not. Viewing the scene in live view, I could see how much vibration was being caused by the wind. My advice when shooting these scenes is either use a higher ISO (I don’t prefer this) or wait patiently for a drop in the wind and use a cable release (my preferred option). Obviously, sometimes you cannot wait – for example if it’s -5°C and howling winds you might not really want to stand around! Still, I managed to get a sharp shot at ISO 64 here, using a bit of patience and some grit!North Prison copy.jpg

Woohoo!
Some snow!
I wait all year for this!
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The summit, with a light dusting. This would not last long – the October sun would later prove to be too strong, despite the freezing temperature up here at present.
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The fog came in rapidly, and then blew past as suddenly as it appeared.
The sky was partly cloudy all day, with fast moving clouds, some low (hence the fog) and some higher – but all fast moving (due to high winds).Sun copy.jpg

It’s already apparent in the image above that the snow was not going to last long, the sun had been up for a couple of hours at this point and the temperature is just above freezing (though it did not feel like it with the wind chill!).

There is a rocky outcrop slightly north west of the south prison that I like to sit at for a snack sometimes, so I headed over that direction – I was pretty hungry. Starbar time. Yum!
Yeah, the fog came and went, this is really not unusual for Lugnaquilla. Climbing the mountain without basic navigational skills is really not something I would advise.
Fog copy.jpg

On the subject of navigation, an important point here is to not store your compass near a mobile phone. If you don’t know why, put simply – magnets will depolarise a compass and thus cause it to become inaccurate (usually, completely wrong) – smartphones contain magnets.

A long range shot now, looking down to Aughavannagh with some nice sun rays.Aughavannagh copy.jpg

It’s been a while since I wrote a blog post about Lugnaquilla actually, but that’s not to say I have not been lately – I’ve actually been once or twice each month this year so far. This would be my second visit this month.

At this point, I decided that I would hop over the other side of the mountain, to look down the north prison to the Glen Of Imaal. It adds a few kilometres to the trip but I thought it would be worth it.
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I was glad that I did!
At this time of year, the sun never hits the cliffs on this side of the mountain, as is shown in the photographs above and below. The northerly winds were biting here.
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Regular readers of my blog will know that I am quite the fan of rock formations, and it wouldn’t be a real visit to Lugnaquilla if I didn’t shoot at least one!
Rock copy.jpg

Another take.
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Beautiful autumnal light on this visit, although it was a challenge keeping the camera steady in the wind. Autumn and winter is where the good light really happens, everything else (other seasons) is just practice to my mind.

Where does the time go!?
Sunset was only a few hours away at this point and I had a lot of ground to cover to get back to the car. I started my walk at 06:00 and ended it at 17:48 – 22.94 km later! Taking lots of photographs to a high technical standard takes a lot of time, so it’s not that it took me 12 hours to walk 23 km – photography eats up a lot of that time.

So I started the homeward journey, along the cliffs of the north prison.Looking down the np copy.jpg

Another angle overlooking the great cliffs of the north prison a bit further down the mountain.
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I’ve always liked the view over to to the west from here with Keadeen sitting in the distance.
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Looking down to the Glen Of Imaal. Long way back to the car!Glen Imaal copy.jpg

A wider shot, showing the distance I have yet to travel. The ridge leading to the middle of the image (from the left) is the Camarahill/Corrig ridge that is my return journey. Some nice light!
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Gonna feel this walk in my legs for a few days I think.
Off Lugnaquilla now, and it’s like a switch was flicked – no wind at all!

I once encountered an unwanted visitor here at this small pond – a deer tick had attached itself to me. Lovely!
Makes sense really, it was late summer and presumably this is a drinking hole for deer so that’s where I would hang out if I was a tick! The DEET spray did not protect me much here, it would appear! No harm though, I have a tool for removing them with ease.
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A nice skyscape.
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The sun low in the sky now, about an hour and a quarter until sunset. My journey back follows from left to right in this image, with Camarahill the brownish bump at right with the wall slightly off centre.
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As darkness comes nearer, I reach the top of Camarahill – the last descent of the day beckons. Taking one last glance over to Lugnaquilla – I was seeing a face in the shadow cast by the north prison of Lugnaquilla. It’s the BFG!
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The last shot of the day, sunset on the way down from Camarahill.
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A long day!

Thank you for reading!

If you like what you see here please feel free to take a look at my portfolio site where you can see lots more of my work, or follow me on Twitter or Facebook here!

The images presented here are my intellectual property and must not be distributed without my consent.

A Stroll To The South Prison Of Lugnaquilla

I have been walking in Wicklow for years, and I know many routes. Some secret, some not so secret. They are all fun though!
The walk I chose this day, I chose for a few reasons – the first reason being that I had not done this walk for years (the last time was 15th March, 2015) and the second reason was that I wanted shelter from the strong (65 km/h +) and cold north-westerly winds that were forecast for this day.
I also wanted to test out a 20mm lens that is ‘new-ish’ to me. I have had the Sigma 20mm f/1.4 for about a year now, and whilst I have been very impressed by the sharpness in the middle 75% or so of the image frame – I have never found the peripheries/edges of the image satisfactory on a 36 megapixel camera – for landscape photographs at least. And, yes – I tried multiple samples (three) and they all exhibited the same behaviour – troublesome forward arcing field curvature at the edges being the main culprit, and sharpness robbing lateral chromatic aberration. This makes planar subjects (and landscapes in general) quite troublesome to shoot when in the field.
The Nikon 20mm f/1.8g that I am currently using does not have this issue. The edges sharpen up nicely (and predictably) as you stop it down and it weighs about a third of the Sigma. When you are hiking 25+ kilometres this is a BIG deal. Yeah, I lost 2/3rd’s of a stop of light – but I rarely shoot landscapes at f/1.4 (but not never)!  It is, like the Sigma, also very sharp – perhaps a little less sharp in the centre of the image but more consistently sharp across the frame – this consistency is far more important to the type of photography that I do.

Weather forecast for the day was sunny skies and no fog on Lugnaquilla (this turned out to be false!). Strong north-westerly winds though. Trying to achieve sharp photographs at ISO 64 (the base ISO on the D810) on a high resolution camera with strong winds can sometimes be simply an exercise in frustration. And for me, walking and photography is a relaxing, leisurely pursuit.

Onto the walk!
The walk itself, at first glance, might seem quite unappealing and uninteresting. Starting from Aughavannagh, you walk for around 6 kilometres on forestry track until you hit a stile that you cross over onto open hillside. Just beyond here lies the provocatively named “Madwoman’s Brook”.

Parking my car at sunrise, I liked the colours of the trees as the sunlight broke through the mostly cloudy skies.
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Moving on now, a bit of a climb to do today. Though most of it is on easy going forestry tracks, there is still ground to cover!
As I previously mentioned, I have not visited this walk for a couple of years and as much as I’d like to believe otherwise, things do change. The forestry workers (Coillte) have certainly been busy – large swathes of the plantations have been felled, and in their wake only rotting stumps and wasteland is left – and in some cases, new saplings. It does open up the views a bit though, where previously the trees were towering over you.
Windy enough here! I’d say that’s because the trees have gone :).
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There was a lot of snowfall in the week prior to my walk here, but a lot of the snow has already melted in the hills unfortunately. It’s often the case that the lower hills get a few days (sometimes a week) of snowfall in winter but the snow also has a tendency to melt before your eyes. The higher mountains usually hold snow for most of the winter though (i.e. Lugnaquilla).

I do like to try and capture places that others might not usually see. This does take me to some of the less frequented parts of Wicklow, which I enjoy, and sometimes I find a gem!
I think this walk is one of those gems, and it’s very rewarding for a relatively straight forward walk.

Now that the trees in this area have been felled, a new view has opened up. Looking beyond the slopes of Carrickashane and Ballygobban hills towards Croghan Kinsella not long after sunrise. I like taking these type of shots in winter, when the sun is low in the sky and only the shapes of the hills themselves are visible – sort of a silhouette effect.Carrickashane Ballygobban copy.jpg

Walking on now, not much to see for a while – the trees tower over on each side where they are not felled.
White Stone Brook is in swell, from the snow melt water from the higher slopes of Corrigasleggaun.White Stone Brook copy.jpg

Climbing higher on the forestry tracks now, and there is still some snow here in the sheltered spots. Not much though. Some patches remain on the north eastern slopes of Aughavannagh Mountain in the distance as well.
Forest Track Snow copy.jpg

The view opens up a bit again, as I get nearer the south prison. Another silhouette style shot.Silhouette cop1y.jpg

An interesting re-entrant on the slopes of Aughavannagh Mountain.
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Finally, at the end of the forest track there are a couple of choices – one being to cross “Madwoman’s Brook” to follow a wet path up and into the south prison, (which was not preferable this day – due to it being in spate from snow melt) or the option I chose: handrail the brook on the eastern shore of the river, through a recently felled forest area (recently as in: probably five years ago!). The going is a bit tough here, there are dead branches, tree stumps and ankle breaking holes in the ground to negotiate. Also, on this day – some wet slushy snow! It’s also very slippery, Ireland is a wet country indeed. Yeah, progress was quite slow getting up this way and care is certainly required. Even slower going back down later!
Good to see that the sitka spruce saplings are coming along nicely. Aw, they grow up so fast!
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It’s always curious that the forestry workers leave a few of the taller trees standing after felling an area. I have often wondered if this was so that the teller ones could protect the younger, less sturdy trees from future storms whilst they grow. Or, perhaps more likely – it’s so that the older trees can warn the younger ones of the peril of their ancestors. Leave some alive to spread the fear!

A hazy view of the ‘survivors’. I like this sort of hazy winter light, it adds a lot of atmosphere to a location. As usual in my photographs, little to no post processing has been performed on the images in this blog post.
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Lunch time!
Ham sub and some clementines. Yum. I really love the clementines you can buy around the Christmas period. Lucky me!

Completing the slope of death (tree death, that is) and out onto open hillside now. The going should have been a bit easier now.
Alas! It was not!
Tussocks of heather, and bog holes hidden by snow (some drifting too) made progress very awkward. And I had fooled myself into thinking I had chosen an easy walk this day!

The first view of the great cliffs of the south prison emerges as the fog clears a bit. It still remained at the top of Lugnaquilla though, where it sat all day.

I used an 85mm lens for this shot, so there is a slight compression effect. The higher cliffs are strewn with icicles. Given that I was using a short telephoto lens here, getting a perfectly sharp shot was quite tricky – the wind was tempestuous! South Prison-3 copy.jpg

A wide angle (20mm) shot of the prison.
South Prison copy.jpg

This looks great on my wide screen monitor at home. I wish WordPress would allow higher resolution images on the blogs so that you could enjoy the detail in this image.

After coming all this way, I did not actually stick around here for long. The wind was very strong, and it was very cold. I took a few more shots of the area and then I decided to head back to the car. Quite a walk back at this stage. My footsteps in the drifts, snow depth was almost to knee height in parts here.Footsteps copy.jpg

Back past the ‘slope of tree death’ now, and I took a small detour to take a photograph of the decrepit stile you cross (or more safely, ignore and walk straight beside -this wood is very rotten) that takes you on to “Madwoman’s Brook”. I always like to take this shot when I am here, and it’s definitely in a more sorry state than when I was here over two years ago.
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Walking back on the forest tracks now, and for a moment I look behind me as I pause for water.
This view was not here on my approach earlier!
The fog was much lower earlier, concealing the entirety of the mountain itself.
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A closer view with a longer lens. Having a long lens is very handy for achieving different compositions.
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Getting near sunset now, and progress on the forest track is slow. Not that I was worried, I have a head torch for such occasions!
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I paused here for a few minutes, experimenting with different apertures. This shot at f/1.8 has a nice soft look to it, possessing an almost ethereal quality. A common mistake (one I also make) in landscape photography is the mentality that ‘everything has to be in focus’ – I think this is wrong, blur can be beautiful. Only about a third of the nearest foot in this photograph is in focus.
Soft copy.jpg

A nice warm tone to the sky at this time, as the sun was setting. Ironic really – it was COLD!Warm copy.jpg

Back at the car and time to drive home now. A long drive on the N81, as I was not wanting to risk the mountain roads. A hard frost was forecast overnight, and by the time I had gotten into the car it was pitch black.

Thank you for reading and Merry Christmas Everyone!

If you like what you see here please feel free to take a look at my portfolio site where you can see lots more of my work, or follow me on Twitter or Facebook here!

The images presented here are my intellectual property and must not be distributed without my consent.

A White Lugnaquilla – Episode II

Ah!
The long awaited sequel (long awaited by me, that is!) to my earlier post – A White Lugnaquilla.
I’ve often said that Lugnaquilla is a hill in summer, but a mountain in winter – and I still maintain this view.
I am not going to lie, I found this day tough, it was very cold (high of -4°C, low of -8°C : not including wind chill), I was carrying a lot of gear and I was SUPER tired that morning!
For the last few weeks, there has been a reasonable amount of snow at Lugnaquilla – but the weather has been pretty poor on the weekends (nice in the week when I was at work of course!) and hill fog was the order of the day, until finally – a break!
High clouds were forecast, but few low clouds – I was not worried about overcast skies, but I was not interested in hill fog (low clouds).

So, taking my usual route – up Camara Hill, past the two Corrigs then up and onto Lug itself. A 05:00 start meant that I would have a reasonable amount of time on the mountains (sunrise was 08:30 and sunset 16:06). I think I got home (from memory) at around 18:30. A long day.
A route I have taken many times, and will take many more times – I love this route. It’s a constant climb all the way to the top, and I almost always see multiple herds of deer en route. There are many other route choices of course, and I have taken them all (except the technical ones) – but with this route you can usually drive to the start point regardless of the weather – the other routes require driving on the mountain roads. These roads are not treated in winter, and the typical advice is to stay away from them if there is snow and ice about. I am a proficient driver but I do not own a 4X4, and even then – it would appear that using a 4X4 only really gets you ‘further into trouble’ when the mountain roads are impassable due to snow/ice. I don’t like risks, otherwise I would play the lottery.

Heading up Camara Hill on this morning was a tough old slog. Lots of snow about, some ice as well. I was also super tired, due to a lack of good sleep the night before. My Dad refers to this ascent as 25 minutes of purgatory, but on this occasion it was more like 45 minutes of purgatory! Slow going. I had not done a walk greater than 10 kilometres for a few weeks, and this was most certainly felt on the ascent!
Near the top of Camara Hill now, and a pause for a pre-dawn shot of Keadeen Mountain was welcome.
Keadeen copy.jpg

At this point, I was overtaken by a ‘Lug regular’ that I had met a few times before, Kevin, and his mate – Simon. They both had ice axes and were aiming for the North Prison of Lugnaquilla. We chatted for a while, and then they moved out with haste! I would not have been able to keep up with them by any means – but, I was carrying about 5 times the weight of their packs I suspect!

A wider angle shot of Keadeen, just below the summit of Camara Hill.
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The sun still not up yet, but I was under no illusions – the overcast skies meant there was not going to be a lot of colour as the sun rose. At this point, I did not know the ‘fog’ status of Lug yet, i.e. was it in fog or clear. I had not seen it yet because it is hidden as you climb Camara hill, and it was dark at the time I was at the viewing points of Lug prior to the climb of Camara.

Finally, at the top of Camara now, and the ‘fog’ status is revealed. Yep, it’s in fog. Not unusual! It’s always disappointing though – after the purgatory of Camara Hill. I had faith, however, that the fog would pass.
The sun is up now, though not much a sunrise due to the cloud cover. The ‘blue hour’ is over now.
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Here, I saw a herd of deer running northwards over the saddle between Camara Hill and Lower Corrig. I often see a herd (or several) here, always moving north – near dawn. I found it curious that they always head this direction – north from there takes you into the artillery range. I suppose there would be no humans there at least!Deer Herd II copy.jpg

Frozen grass tufts between Camara and Lower Corrig.
Tufts copy.jpg

Shortly after the above shot, I turned to see a familiar Border Collie about 50 meters away. Another couple of ‘lug regulars’ – Damian and his dog! I walked back towards him, thinking to myself that he probably doesn’t recognise me in my new jacket! We walked and chatted from there up through Lower Corrig, and then up to Upper Corrig. He (like Kevin & Simon) also had designs on the North Prison, and came equipped with his ice axe. A funny coincidence, the last time I was in this area (a few weeks ago) I met both Kevin and Damian separately on ascent and ended up descending Camara Hill with the pair of them. On this day, I mentioned to Damian that Kevin was in (or more correctly, en route to) the Prison, and Damian started looking for footprints in the snow to follow! Lug regulars indeed.

Looks like Lug might clear of fog after all.
Lug Fog copy.jpg

Continuing on the journey now, as Lug clears. Damian pointed out a herd of deer over on the slopes of Slievemaan mountain. Thanks mate! My longer lens was left at home unfortunately, but I like the image my Zeiss 100mm delivered here. Oh! For a 400mm lens! Perhaps I should take more risks, and start playing the lotto!
Deer Herd III copy.jpg

Damian & Dog parted ways with myself just after Upper Corrig – he wanted to drop over to the North Prison, and my route took me up a much gentler incline (no ice axe required) – though still a steep one.Damian copy.jpg

Pausing for a breather, and some breakfast (a banana and a piece of shortbread), I liked the arctic feel of the rocks.Arctic Corrig copy.jpg

So tired! I was really feeling this hike this day. Punishing.
But I must press on, it’s so beautiful.

The final slope up to Lug is always a tough pull. But this day, it was something else. About an hour of quadruple purgatory, I reckon.
Breath pause halfway up, and a shot over to Ballineddan & Keadeen. B & K copy.jpg

Further up now, and the climate is a touch more arctic.
Frozen Rocks copy.jpg

The jumbled mica-schist rocks that lie about the face of this slope tell a story of high winds and freeze thaw conditions the previous day.

Almost at the summit now, and much gentler work ahead. Looking back over to Slievemaan, Ballineddan and Keadeen again, higher this time!
Frozen Dice copy.jpg

No shortage of snow alright! Just how I like it.
A hazy and overcast day, but very light winds. A beautiful day really. You don’t always want blue skies in the mountains, after all.
This military post, however, shows signs of some serious winds on the previous days!
Frozen Post copy.jpg

At the summit now, well worth the hard work!Frozen Cairn copy.jpg

A hazy view down to Aughavannagh from near the summit.
Hazy Aughavannagh copy.jpg

As I sit here scrolling through my images, and type this blog – I am reminded of the cold on this day! I am freezing! But I did not feel cold on the day. I have good clothing.
Time to turn the heating on, I reckon.

Brrr…..
Brrr copy.jpg

The cliffs of Lugcoolmeen. It had started to get a bit foggy shortly after this, not unusual, and not a great surprise.
Lugcoolmeen copy.jpg

I sat here (in my ski trousers) and decided to have a nibble. Yum! Starbar! I love these. I only seem to buy them for my visits to Lug, however, and it has become a part of my ‘Lug ritual’ at this point. No Starbar, no Lug – and vice-versa. At a push, a Snickers or Double Decker will do, but Starbar is where it’s at.

The fog was thin, and short lived – it cleared up rapidly. Great news!
To get the following shot of the cliffs of the South Prison, I had to stand in a ‘less than safe’ place – but it was totally worth it.
Lugcoolmeen II copy.jpg

A similar comment applies to this shot (i.e. standing in a dodgy spot!).
Lugcoolmeen III copy.jpg

But then! Disaster struck! The great scholars of the future will write legends about the following event for millennia…
I went to open my rucksack using the ‘ease of access’ zip on the front of the pack, but the puller mechanism must have frozen so when I pulled to close the zipper (it of course, opened fine), the slider just disintegrated as I pulled it!
Great, now my bag is going to be open at the front for the rest of the day!
Ok, so they may not write about this event – but at the time it felt cataclysmic! I was now going to be worried about dropping things out of my pack for the rest of the day. Paranoid glances behind me for ‘lost luggage’ after every rough patch of terrain were ubiquitous after this!

Heading back towards the summit area now, not a busy day for Lugnaquilla, let me tell you. I saw only a handful of people this day.
I wanted to start my way back to the car now, but en route I chose to head over the North Prison, and descend the slope of Lugnaquilla hand railing it, in case the fog came down again. I know Lug well, so I know to never underestimate it.

Only a couple of hours until sunset now, and I didn’t relish the thought of descending the steep slope of Lug in the dark (although I was equipped for such an eventuality – always be prepared!).
I took another shot of the frozen post, I found this very interesting.
Frozen Post II copy.jpg

Above the North Prison now, and the sky is getting darker. It looks like there is some fog moving in actually. Chances of a whiteout are high (this happened to me last year – A White Lugnaquilla).
North Prison copy.jpg

I love winter.
Winter copy.jpg

Some fog did roll in again now, but it too was short lived.
Heading down now, hand railing the North Prison. The views here were great.
Selfie!
Brrr cop1y.jpg

Yes, it has been pointed out to me already that I look like a ‘minion’ from ‘Despicable me’. The thought actually never occurred to me! I did not go to fashion school, clearly.
Say what you like about them, but these clothes kept me warm! Bright clothes are generally a good idea when hiking, especially if alone.

Looking down to Glen Imaal.
Looking down to Glen Imaal copy.jpg

Less than an hour until sunset now, and I am nearly at the bottom of the final slope of Lugnaquilla. Mount Leinster is prominent beyond Slievemaan in this photograph.Mount Leinster copy.jpg

I also liked this scene, with the two walkers heading over to Upper Corrig as they continue their descent from Lugnaquilla.
Scale-2 copy.jpg

The frozen Little Slaney river just below the source. Gentle tones in the sky, as the sun dips lower.Little Slaney copy.jpg

I didn’t stop for photos as I descended to Camara Hill because there was a spot I wanted to get to during ‘blue hour’, after sunset – and before it got too dark. I had planned to get a shot of the deer as they leave the artillery range and head south over the Camara ridge. It was just an idea I had – I suspected that if they travel north over the ridge at dawn, then perhaps they might travel south over the ridge as night fell (I had never witnessed this before, though).

My suspicion was correct!
I do hope they are visible at this resolution, WordPress does not allow high resolution photographs to be uploaded (unless you pay). They are just down and left of centre, three small dark figures.
Deer Lug copy.jpg

Getting dark, and much colder as I took this final shot. Now, for the descent of Camara Hill, which I always dislike after a long (though wonderful) day at Lug!

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