Archive for December 22nd, 2007

Rocky Mountain High

Back in the day – insert youthful image of wholesome young Nelly – I used to be a bit of a mountain goat. I would end up spending every other weekend in the Mournes with the BB. Mostly carrying oversized rucksacks full of rocks in the pissing rain. That’s not true.

It was great, you got to run up a mountain, get wet and dirty and smelly along the way and then run back down the mountain. It was an exclusively male pursuit, back in the day when the great questions of meaning and existence were but yet forming, when girls were merely an inferior part of the human race who were crap at football and held no greater attraction. This idyllic period never really happened anywhere but in my head. Nostalgia has a habit of selective editing.

I left my mountain goat days behind me at the age of 19 when I quit BB and got a job at weekends and played too much guitar. My days in the Mournes were confined to the occasional winter excursion up Donard with Da in the snow. Good times.


Since I became the tax-paying, functional member of society I now am, (about 3 and a half years ago) I could count the number of times I’ve been in the Mournes on one hand, even if it had all the fingers cut off first.

I resurrected the mountain goat occasionally in NZ, but it was a lame attempt, and the highest I ever got up a hill was on a ski lift.

img_2235.jpgSo thanks to the kind offer of a mate from church I got the opportunity to scale the peaks of the mighty Donard (at a staggering 849 m – yes, impressive I know…) the Saturday before Christmas.

Raising yourself from a cosy bed at 7am on a Saturday morning is difficult whether or not you’re an unemployed bum like me. Even if you’ve placed the blow heater in a position where you can turn it on by simply stretching an arm out of bed and flicking the switch.

But it’s always worthwhile, dragging your as yet still lifeless carcass out of bed. We got lucky with the weather for the shortest day of the year. I got even luckier with the folk who were there. Ranging from legends in their 70s to young (I’m still young) cubs like myself. Good folk. The best of folk.


Standing on top of Donard for the first time in 5 years was an experience never to be forgotten. I’d been hankering for NZ again, I’d been wondering why I was in this miserable country when the Hawke’s Bay Festival is not long round the corner. But then I got to Donard and realised that this ain’t the worst place in the world on a sunny day.


When I got to the top I had a wee NZ moment. “I’m on top of the world looking down on creation…” with visibility so crisp I could see the Isle of Man and Strangford Lough and the hills of South Armagh. Yes, I was back in H-FZ flying to Wairoa on a sunny afternoon without a care in the world. See what I mean about nostalgia?

Anyhow it was cool. Enjoyed simply for what it was. Something I’m desperate to do more often.

Finished off with walking down the river to the “Bloody Bridge”, (always excting to go to, cause you got top use an otherwise rude word in conversation) hopping from rock to rock, just for the sheer childishness of it all. Good times.


December 2007