When people think of Ireland, they might think of Guinness, music or even Leprechauns, but did you know that Ireland has a King?
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A 280-mile solo hike across Ireland.

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Book Excerpts
Excerpt - The Pendulum

Today was going to be the real killer. We had an eight-hour hike to undertake with the full weight of our backpacks. The plan was to make it to the second campsite along the trail, which was free.

The outlook was good, scattered cloud and not too cold, yet not too hot. We made our way past the hostel and up into the mountains. The Torres form the centrepiece of the park and the Circuit runs around them. It had snowed heavily during the night but only up on the mountain. It hadn't touched us in the campsite. In fact it hadn't felt that cold, which meant that I had got a good night's sleep. The result was that once I got going I felt fresh and invigorated. There was a renewed spring in my step as we trudged single file up the hill and into the forest that climbed the edge of this mountain range.

As time rolled on, the clouds began to roll in. A light snow started to fall. This didn't bother me. In fact I quite liked it. I almost wished it was Christmas again. Being here in the forest as the snow gently fell made it feel more like Christmas to me.

We threw on our raincoats and continued onwards. Today I was to learn a valuable lesson when it comes to hiking: Don't wear boxer shorts! As you hike your way up that mountain, they hike their way up your arse. Most of your time is spent pulling them back out again. Many a time Nick and Kirsten would stop and wait for me as I waved at them from below with one hand, and fumbled under my backpack with the other to retrieve my boxers.

After a couple of hours we decided to take a break. I gratefully allowed my pack to fall to the ground. As I did I noticed, to my dismay, that the bag for my tent had come undone. I looked inside to see that the little bag containing my tent pegs and ropes had vanished. They must have fallen out somewhere along the trail. But where?

'Shit, they could be anywhere!' I exclaimed.

'Don't worry I can spare a few pegs,' offered Nick.

But that was no good. I had to have mine. My tent wasn't the most secure as it was, but without all the pegs and ropes it could be disastrous in the mountains. There was no other choice, I had to try and find them.

Feeling it would be quicker and easier without the weight of my pack, I left it at the rest spot. Nick and Kirsten agreed that if I hadn't returned after fifteen minutes they would continue on without me and we'd meet up at the campsite. We selected a tree in which to hide my pack behind and Nick said that he would mark the spot with a stick. They wished me luck and I marched off.

I had been walking for five or so minutes when all of a sudden that light snow that had so lifted my spirits earlier, now turned into a blizzard of thick wet snow, engulfing me in the process. It smothered my eyes and drenched my jeans and feet. My waterproof trousers were in my backpack. I stood there shivering and silently cursing the mountain weather, as the water rapidly seeped into my boots and formed patchy puddles under my feet.

I figured as I was already soaked I might as well carry on, so I squelched my way onwards trying my best to scan the ground through the snow in my eyes.

It was a hopeless nightmare. Although there was only one trail, it broke off into side trails that ran parallel for a while or formed little detours, then rejoined at some point further along. I couldn't remember, or tell, which ones I had taken. It all looked different from the other way. Also I hadn't really taken a lot of notice of the trail. I had been too busy talking or looking at the scenery.

After about twenty minutes I gave up. It was no good. They could have fallen out anywhere between here and the campsite. What were the chances of me finding them again? I had no choice but to head back. With a bit of luck I might bump into the Canadians, or at worst I could book into that hostel for the night. But first I had to retrieve my backpack. So I turned around and started the long and weary trudge back.

The snow had stopped and turned into a light drizzle. I was cold and soaked to the skin. My nose never seemed to stop running. I decided to try Nick's technique, which he called the Bushman's Flick. This consisted of blocking one nasal passage with one finger and propelling the contents of the other with a short, sharp snort. I took a deep breath, pressed the side of my nose and blew with all the force I could conjure up. A large volume of stringy mucus came hurtling out, and was blown back into my face by an uncannily timed gust of wind. I stood there in a state of shock as the pieces of snot hung from my nose and chin. This was definitely not my day.

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