Westport, County Mayo, is a perfect base camp for a Craogh Patrick ascent. This 2500′ treeless hike, on heaps of stones, ranks up there with Half Dome and St. Helen’s. Strap on your boots, let’s take a hike.
Start with the full Irish breakfast. That prolific pile of protein will propel you up the peak of Craogh Patrick. You’ll also need a well worn pair of boots. Pack a powerbar, potassium laced banana, and a bottle of water. Save these for the top, two hours away, uphill.
We did this hike on a cool breezy morning in May. Imagine 30,000 pilgrims in a two week span mid- July, many of them barefoot. Be sure to use the WC down below. In Gaelic, “reek” means rock, not pee on rocks. Like I said, treeless. Next toilet, down below, in four hours. Watch your water rations.
Take it slow. In an hour you’ll make it to Patrick’s “shoulder”. It flattens out here for a bit. Imagine a yellow light, the point of no return, a good spot to turn around, get a picture of St. Patrick back near the bus circle, or press on your pilgrimage. From here it’s a rocky, snaking, and steep trail, but within range. Every foot forward is a foot up. Hali had collected a small stone for every hundred steps. On the top, 12 pebbles in her sweaty palm.
You’ve made it! Take a look at the view. Hurry, a cloud is on it’s way!! Get some water and a snack. St. Patrick was here, you can see “his bed”. Talk about hard as a rock. I didn’t see any snakes under all the rocks so he did a great job exterminating them.
Now you can head on down. For me, this was the hardest part. The steep slope strains on the knees like worn shock absorbers. Could of used a walking stick. No, I’d probably trip over it and fall onto St. Patrick’s bed. Rock and Roll.
The parking lot is coming into view. Hali is skipping down and all I can think of is a beer at the bottom. That pint was waiting there for us at Campbell’s Pub, of Climb the Reek postcard fame. At Campbell’s we had the soup of the day, potato and leek. That reminds me, where’s the toilet?