Eat, Sleep, Climb, Repeat Part 2

My next climbing adventure came right on the heels of the Fairhead Meet in the form of a little thing the Queen’s Mountaineering Club like to call the annual Gola trip. Gola is an island off the coast of County Donegal in the Republic of Ireland and it is pretty amazing!

We headed out in a little mini bus early Monday morning and were soon bouncing along narrow Irish roads towards a little town called Gweedore (which is Gweedor-able, to say the least). We caught the ‘ferry,’ which is a small boat called The Cricket and were soon riding the waves all the way to the island. Hello no cell phone service and all the camping fun you can pack into four days!

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Islands in the distance

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We trucked inland with all our gear- it took a couple trips. Eventually we made it to the camping spot, right in the sun and right by the beach! I was entirely happy with this setup.

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I have to admit, I made fun of the inflatable couch at first… but it is a great perk!

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Squishing ants with a rock… effective

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Creating a cozy bonfire circle

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Barbecue circle and tent city number two!

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Unfortunate smoke positioning

The sun set and we were primed for a little wee barbecue and hangout time. The climbing begins tomorrow!

We had a lot of people on the trip who hadn’t climbed much outside before, so there were a lot of chances to learn.

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Having a contemplative moment by the sea.

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These are our adorable Nepal headbands from the Fairhead Meet. So cozy!

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Day one and, in fact, days two and three were blurs of sun and fun, sand and camping and general hilarity. All these Irish people burned like bacon in the sun (I did as well, so I can’t laugh too much) and there was a lot of finding shade, slathering on sun cream and hiding under rain jackets and hats. I led a couple of climbs and generally enjoyed the tough granite and beautiful views of Gola.

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Wellies were a good choice. There were a lot of bogs on the island and most were unfortunately located around a nice rock I peed behind.

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Creep sheep!

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Beach volleyball made with materials we found on the beach. Innovation!

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The evenings were spent cooking dinner and drinking around the campfire, trying not to trip on rocks in the dark and generally enjoying ourselves. One night a certain member of our group learned to play the ‘drums’ (two sticks and a pan) with his feet and then realized he could turn on the gas stove, light it, and put a pot of water on it also using just his feet.

What can I say? I surround myself with talent!

I have nothing bad to say about the Gola trip at all, other than I should have brought sun cream. In my defense, the sun hasn’t been enough to turn me any color except translucent in the months that I have been here! Unfortunately when you are out camping for a few days certain necessities of life become a bit more inconvenient. One of these things is bathroom visits.

Now, I can pee outside like a boss. I’m no stranger to finding a nice rock or tree and enjoying nature while I take care of business. I can even pee with my rock climbing harness on (TMI? Oh well.) On Gola, though, there is always a bit of a walk to get to a nice spot to do what you need to do.

There was a particularly long walk to a location fondly known as Shit Creek where things of the Number 2 variety could take place. This place was located on a rock crack (hah) near the sea where the tide would come in quite high and wash away any indiscretions campers had left behind. You yourself or your friends were quite visible walking towards this part of the island, toilet role in hand.

I do not like Shit Creek. I do not like pooing outside. This is my least favorite part of camping.

I’m sorry I just posted on my blog about poop. It really was memorable, though. Glad you could join me in reliving that experience.

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Attempting to fish (unsuccessful)

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It was an amazing trip and I can’t wait to go again. I hope I get to go again! I didn’t get to climb all the routes I wanted to try, but I did get to go up some pretty sweet rocks. I tried to lead a harder route than I was used to and failed. I didn’t fall, but I backed off. Hated myself for it. Hated myself that the guy who successfully climbed it when I couldn’t didn’t seem to struggle at all. Caught my first lead fall (same friend) and thankfully no one was hurt. Realized that I’m an ok climber and there is so much more time to get better. Laughed so hard I cried, multiple times. Arms and legs hurt from climbing, abs hurt from laughing. Lost my patience with myself but the people around me always made me smile.

I seconded Bootleg, led Dideye and Chinface, led a variation of the Speed of Darkness, seconded Weathered Window, seconded Corner Boy and Days of Wonder, led Gaddafy Duck and seconded The Angelas. I put this here mostly to remind myself of the crap I’ve climbed, not to bore you with (more) climbing details!

Getting the boat back to the mainland (is it the mainland if it’s still an island? Islandception…) was bittersweet. I enjoyed the delightfully cold smoothie I had at a tiny cafe in Gweedore, and enjoyed using a real toilet even more. I miss the simplicity of life on an island where you don’t have to worry about technology, don’t have to worry about school, and get to interact with the people around you on a different level. I also didn’t mind the lack of cars and nature being all around me, seeing stars and hearing just the wind as I fell asleep at night.

Still reveling in post-camping bliss, we were very surprised when our car broke down two hours outside of Belfast and we started an entirely different adventure that what we had thought…

Long story short, the car is broken beyond reasonable repair and it’s still in the parking lot where we left it. The tow truck driver gave us a lift with all our camping gear to the train station where we rumbled through Northern Ireland, finally finishing our journey with a walk home like little Sherpas with all our gear.

Tiring? Yes. Unexpected? Yes. Does not having a car suck? Abso-frickin-lutely. But, all in all, what a great week.

Next up: a weekend trip to Spain. Get ready.

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