For me, the best time to hike in the mountains in Connemara is when there is a scattering of snow near the summits. The contrast of the snow against the rocks and the foliage, the crunch of snow underfoot and the transformation of the appearance of familiar terrain all combine to make such hikes a special event. Last Sunday, my wife and I climbed Corcóg in the Maumturks. We set off early, didn’t stop along the way, and didn’t have a close encounter with anyone else (though we did see some other hikers making the same journey). The snow, which was probably a few days old and no more than a few inches deep, started at around the 500 meter mark. To the east, a large number of cars were parked at the entrance to a section of the Western Way.
Corcóg is a familiar mountain to us – I’ve hiked it in darkness and with zero visibility and there is a relatively straightforward route to the summit. It was great to get out, but I don’t think we’ll be doing another hike until the cloud of Covid-19 has passed. Even if we took no risks ourselves, our presence might encourage others to do the same, and all of us really need to hunker down as a nation to minimize the damage of Covid-19 as much as possible (i.e. flatten the curve). On Monday, the president of Mountaineering Ireland updated their advice, and it was very clear – Stay at home, or stay local. So we will.