Choosing The Right Rucksack

If you’re new to hillwalking you may find that your trusty backpack no longer works for those long days on the hills. You may have found there’s not enough space, or you don’t have time to take off your pack to rummage for what you need. You do want to be able to carry the supplies you’ve now discovered are essential to surviving out on the hills in all the weathers the Irish climate throws at us.   But you want to be able to access what you need easily. Oh, and it should be able to survive the rigours of the more adventurous treks led by those leaders on a mission!   Not to mention, it needs to weigh like …nothing! Otherwise, how will you make it to the end of the day without falling down and staying down, moaning “I can’t take any more…just leave me here.”

Decisions Decisions

It’s worthwhile browsing a while before you buy. Most day packs have between 20 and 40 litres capacity (that’s space for your kit, to the uninitiated).   Your walk leader will probably have a pack that’s closer to 40 litres in size because she or he will be carrying lots of extra stuff that us Glenwalk sheep don’t have to think about. So that’s a guideline.

After size, the next aspect to think about is the frame. It’s worthwhile spending a little extra to get a frame that’s specifically designed for your gender. Then your load will be distributed appropriately for your build. Thus avoiding some of the common back problems associated with bad posture. A woman’s rucksack, for example, will have the shoulder straps closer together for the narrower female frame. In most of the good camping stores the sales staff will get you to put on your chosen pack so they can adjust it to fit your particular body size. A mesh frame will also aid ventilation thus avoiding the discomfort of moisture build up.

Comfort Rules

Check that straps are padded where they meet shoulders and hips, making them a more comfortable option for long hikes. Check the fastening systems on the pack. The zippers should be beefier with larger teeth as these will last longer. Drawstring closures at the top of the pack are commonly used and replaceable if they break. Avoid buckles that are specialised to the brand and/or stitched directly into the pack fabric. They will be difficult to replace. A sternum strap will help distribute the weight of the pack. Some of these incorporate a whistle which can be very useful for hands free access in a life threatening situation.

External pockets should be scrutinised carefully. They can be really handy for items that you may need to access quickly, but size is important. Large and deep side pockets are very useful. (No point in having a lovely side pocket that only fits a compass or a protein bar.) Some brands have extra pockets in the waist strap. A top loading lid pocket can be used for items you don’t want to get lost in the main pack….like your lunch!

Inside clips in zipped pockets for holding items that are small (like car keys) are becoming more common.

Anything Else?

Look for sturdy closure straps. Tightening these can help compress the contents of your pack. Side straps are useful for tying items like walking poles to your pack when they’re not in use.

Some packs feature a rain cover.  Personally, I find it a nuisance to have to unpack it, and in high winds it turns the pack into a sail!  Much easier to pack your spare clothing, and anything else you want to keep dry, into a plastic bag (or stuff sack) inside your pack.

And….

A rucksack featuring an internal pocket for a plastic water bladder (hydration system – Platypus) is essential for long hikes. The obvious benefit not having to break your stride in order to get a drink of water.

We all want to keep our rucksacks light but we have to remember that hillwalking needs a lot more careful planning with the attendant extra layers of clothes, extra food and hot drinks that involves.

Be safe out there, and

Happy Hillwalking

 

What is Hypothermia and Why Should We Care?

Hypothermia occurs when the core temperature of the body falls below 35°C. This can happen during a day out in the mountains if you’re not properly dressed/equipped.

There are several sub types of hypothermia, in the mountains the main type you might come across is Exposure Hypothermia. This generally occurs over several hours following exposure to moderate cold. The casualty becomes exhausted and then cools rapidly as their energy reserves are depleted and they are no longer able to shiver to re-warm themselves.

Another type to occur in the mountains is Immersion Hypothermia. This occurs where the casualty has had a sudden immersion in cold water or snow, the cold rapidly overwhelms heat production. Although rarer in the mountains, it can happen if someone falls in an icy stream.

Main Causes and factors

Hypothermia can be caused by several factors, hypothermia occurs when the body’s heat loss exceeds heat generation.

Weather – wind and rain decrease the body’s temperature more rapidly due to wind-chill. This means even on a relatively mild day, people can still succumb to hypothermia if it is windy and raining. The colder the air temperature, the higher is the risk.

Clothing/equipment – A lack of suitable waterproof clothing will lead to clothing layers getting wet, which will increase heat loss considerably. Waterproof jacket and trousers as well as at least two decent insulating layers such as a fleece or synthetic belay type jacket are important in trapping heat and cutting out wind-chill. The body can lose substancial amounts of heat through the head, so a hat is a must.

Dehydration and lack of food – The body needs food and drink in order to metabolise effectively and efficiently. The energy released by our metabolism heats our body, if our fuel reserves are depleted then we cannot produce the heat we need to stay warm.

 Ill health – People who are ill may be less able to metabolise and generate heat, and so are more likely to chill quickly.

Symptoms

There are several ways of classifying hypothermia. Perhaps the easiest is to think of hypothermia in terms of mild, moderate and severe. However, it must be noted that different people exhibit different signs before others, and not all the signs and symptoms may be present in everyone.

Mild Hypothermia

At this stage the body still has resources of its own to try to fight the effects of the cold, shivering will occur which is a voluntary response of the body to re-warm itself. Asking the casualty to stop shivering is a good test, if they can then the hypothermia is mild.

Mild hypothermia can be treated quite easily. Stop, find shelter, put more layers on and get high energy foods and warm drinks into the casualty. The food needs to be high energy e.g. a Mars Bar or glucose gels to help fuel the body’s production of heat. The casualty should then be able to walk off the mountain without any extra help from the emergency services.

Moderate Hypothermia

If, on asking, the casualty cannot stop shivering, they are in the realms of moderate hypothermia. By now the body’s energy resources are depleted and it has no way of reheating. The brain itself is affected and people act out of character with the ‘Umbles’. Speech may become Mumbles, they Stumble or Tumble as they lose co-ordination, they may become irritable and Grumble, their ability to do small tasks such as do up their rucksack or close zips on their clothing will reduce to Fumbles.

Confusion occurs and sometimes a casualty maybe under the illusion that they are warm and start to strip clothes off. While the casualty is still conscious it may be possible to re-warm by extra layers and warm clothing. However around these temperatures, the heart is in danger of fibrillation and the casualty may collapse and become unresponsive.

Severe Hypothermia

32°C and below, the casualty is in a serious way. Their heart is now in serious danger of ventricular fibrillation, this is an abnormal heart rhythm where the heart muscles contract in an uncoordinated manner out of rhythm with each other. This is life threatening and can be caused by the shock of cold blood rushing into the heart if the casualty is moved roughly.

The severely hypothermic casualty now has a cooled brain and so their usual functions will disappear. It may be difficult to detect signs of life as the muscles become more rigid and so pulses may not be found. The body falls into a dormant like state and breathing may be so shallow and slow that this too may be undetectable, the casualty’s eyes may not react to light and may be dilated.

Prevention of hypothermia

Check the weather forecast and make sure that you are adequately equipped for the conditions. Even if the forecast is good, conditions can change rapidly in the mountains and the weather forecast may not be accurate.

Make sure you have adequate clothing; both waterproof trousers and jacket, warm layers and hats and gloves, (several pairs).

Take plenty of high energy food and preferably a hot drink.

Plan an appropriate route for the conditions and make sure that you can navigate using a map and compass so that you do not become lost and stuck in poor weather conditions.

A summary of symptoms, signs and treatment of hypothermia:

Mild Symptoms

  • Shivering, cold, pale skin
  • Paleness/blueness of lips and extremities
  • Fast breathing
  • Lethargy

Mild Treatment

  • STOP! Seek shelter
  • Extra layers
  • Food & hot drinks (although often it is said that caffeine should be avoided because it is a diuretic, if it is the only hot drink available then it will still help the casualty)

 Moderate Symptoms

  • Uncontrollable and violent shivering
  • Pale, cold skin
  • Blue lips
  • Slurred speech
  • Lack of co-ordination
  • Stumbling
  • Confusion
  • Loss of motor skills
  • Fumbling of easy tasks
  • Irrational behaviour (e.g. stripping off clothes)

Moderate Treatment

  • As for mild hypothermia
  • Monitor carefully
  • If the casualty stops shivering, check that they really have warmed up before deciding to walk off, i.e. are they looking warmer, do they feel warmer to touch? Is their skin pinker? Are they back to their usual character? (Because casualties also stop shivering in severe hypothermia).

Severe Symptoms

  • Shivering ceases
  • Cold, pale skin
  • Blue lips
  • Dilated pupils and not reacting to light
  • Unconscious and unresponsive
  • Muscle rigidity
  • Breathing and pulse may be undetectable

Severe Treatment

  • 999!!!
  • Move as little and gently as possible
  • Insulate from ground and air with as many layers as possible (but do not make big movements of the casualty)
  • Glucose gels smeared on the gums might possibly help, however, do not try to force feed an unresponsive casualty!
  • Shelter
  • Do not do CPR (you may not be able to detect the pulse and breathing although it may be present) N.B. a casualty is never cold and dead, only warm and dead
  • Protect the airway; Safe Airway Position

 

Dublin Mountains Visitor Centre – Mountaineering Ireland response

The proposed development at Massy’s Wood and the Hellfire Forest has been researched thoroughly by MI. In consultation with all interested parties, MI has given a constructive response to the proposal. Even if you have not previously looked at this proposal, It’s well reading MI’s response, as all aspects of the proposal have been studied and addressed. You can see the details here – http://www.mountaineering.ie/_files/2017926115345_4d4d251c.pdf.

Halloween Fancy Dress Dinner

 

Halloween Fancy Dress

Sunday 29th of October 2017

The Castlecourt Hotel, Westport

Theme: Game of Thrones / Medieval Style

 

Dust out your cobwebs folks! The Halloween team are Super excited about the Fancy dress dinner this year…!!

Its really going to be great fun..

Time to LET GO

and have some fun….

 

 

For those of you feeling a little worried or unsure

Try not to….

 

Remember – It’s all just a bit of fun!

 

“Dressing up allows everyone to be silly & have lots of fun”

…..and don’t forget – we are all in this together!

 

 

 

 

 

Glenwalk’s first Halloween dinner was 3 years ago in the little town of Cahir.

 I remember out walking over the Saturday & Sunday and people asking about the impending fancy dress dinner party. They were asking about costumes, whether it was full on dress up or just a wig and mask thing. I could hear the worry in people’s voices, the worry of standing out, looking silly, worry of either over dressing or under dressing. Some people had even brought 2 costumes so they could cover both scenarios, just in case! 

Sunday evening arrived and I remember at one point while in the hotel room getting ready, I could hear noises and screeches outside in the hallway..

On opening the door I was confronted by an 8 legged 5ft something cockroach looking at me with a quirky smile while in the distance was Charlie Chaplin swinging his cane.

 

 The atmosphere around the corridors that evening was one of great fun… doors opening and closing, screeches, laughter, giggles, panic… it was all such a buzz.

 Because of a “costume malfunction” I arrived late into the dining room that evening. When I did eventually get there, well….. I will never forget the atmosphere and the buzz that hit me in the room. The laughter, fun & excitement was electric and so contagious! It was absolutely fantastic and everyone had an amazing night…

 

 

 

 

 

Fancy dress – for some, it can take them out of their comfort zone way before the actual event even happens – trying to decide who to dress up as, what to wear, worry of being over dressed or under dressed and just generally self conscious about arriving in your chosen gear…. but once you are dressed and in the room surrounded by other fancy dressers – oh what a laugh you have!

I never dressed up in my adult life until 3 years ago. I have to admit that I was really apprehensive and definitely out of my comfort zone. Now though – I love it.

I still feel nervous and definitely a little apprehensive about the approaching Game of Thrones themed party. I still don’t know who or what to dress up as…! But I know without a shadow of doubt that no matter what happens, we will all have an absolute howl of a night…..

 

 

 

So, Im sure most of you have heard that this year we decided to have a themed fancy dress.

The theme being: Game of Thrones

I am very aware not everybody has seen Game of Thrones.

 

This is perfectly fine…. don’t despair, all is not lost!!!!

All you have to do is to just dress up medieval style.

 

Below I have got a few links to places were you can buy online or even make your own!! Have a look, maybe something from the choices below will help generate some ideas for you…

For those Glenwalkers who have never watched Game of Thrones, these are tips / pointers to help get some ideas flowing

 

 

MAKE YOUR OWN!

(Don’t stop here….explore further on You Tube for more idea’s – I just posted these 2 similar vids)

 

Guys n Girls – believe it or not – make your own in 4 mins!!

<a href=”https://youtu.be/XaH6v70h3ys“>https://youtu.be/XaH6v70h3ys

This vid is pretty similar and the guy talks a lot!! I reckon the video could have been done in 4 mins or less! anyway, there are one or 2 little ideas here..

<a href=”https://youtu.be/8EcoCPU_vhw“>https://youtu.be/8EcoCPU_vhw

 

 

Grab little ideas from these Pinterest pictures.

(Pinterest is great for pictures and ideas for anything really…)

<a href=”https://www.pinterest.ie/explore/medieval-costume/?lp=true“>https://www.pinterest.ie/explore/medieval-costume/?lp=true

 

 

 

SOME IDEA’S OF COSTUMES AND ACCESSORIES THAT CAN BE BOUGHT ONLINE AT REASONABLE PRICES…

 

 

WOODIES:

 

EXECUTIONER COSTUME €16

<a href=”https://www.woodiespartyzone.ie/Fancy-Dress/CostumeDetail.aspx?StockCode=FANC14281“>https://www.woodiespartyzone.ie/Fancy-Dress/CostumeDetail.aspx?StockCode=FANC14281

Warrior Tunic €23

<a href=”https://www.woodiespartyzone.ie/Fancy-Dress/CostumeDetail.aspx?StockCode=FANC12816“>https://www.woodiespartyzone.ie/Fancy-Dress/CostumeDetail.aspx?StockCode=FANC12816

Medieval Sword €6

<a href=”https://www.woodiespartyzone.ie/Fancy-Dress/CostumeDetail.aspx?StockCode=FANC12816“>https://www.woodiespartyzone.ie/Fancy-Dress/CostumeDetail.aspx?StockCode=FANC12816

Kings Crown €3

<a href=”https://www.woodiespartyzone.ie/Fancy-Dress/ProductDetail.aspx?StockCode=HATSCROW“>https://www.woodiespartyzone.ie/Fancy-Dress/ProductDetail.aspx?StockCode=HATSCROW

Jewelled Dagger €4

<a href=”https://www.woodiespartyzone.ie/Fancy-Dress/ProductDetail.aspx?StockCode=FANA127“>https://www.woodiespartyzone.ie/Fancy-Dress/ProductDetail.aspx?StockCode=FANA127

Medieval Vest €5 (not sure what size it is though)

<a href=”https://www.woodiespartyzone.ie/Fancy-Dress/ProductDetail.aspx?StockCode=FANA161“>https://www.woodiespartyzone.ie/Fancy-Dress/ProductDetail.aspx?StockCode=FANA161

 

There are all sorts of medieval accessories that can be bought online

Rings, necklaces, wigs, crowns, swords

<a href=”https://www.woodiespartyzone.ie/Fancy-Dress/CostumeThemeListing.aspx?TC=54&pmo=fah“>https://www.woodiespartyzone.ie/Fancy-Dress/CostumeThemeListing.aspx?TC=54&pmo=fah

 

More accessories can be got here.. great bow & arrow set in her for €15

<a href=”https://www.funidelia.ie/costumes/medieval/3276?filter-term-3-topics%5B%5D=267&filter-term-3-typologies%5B%5D=227&filter-range-1-del_min%5B%5D=&order_products=availability-asc“>https://www.funidelia.ie/costumes/medieval/3276?filter-term-3-topics%5B%5D=267&filter-term-3-typologies%5B%5D=227&filter-range-1-del_min%5B%5D=&order_products=availability-asc

 

 

 

Just a few more pictures below to help get the ideas flowing:

 

 

 

 

NEXT POST:   Coming soon……The different characters in Game of Thrones and a brief description of each!

Westport Weekend will be opening soon for booking – We will keep you posted!

 

Have fun folks!

Linda

 

 

Sunshine and Butterflies at Shay Elliot

What a day for a hillwalk.  It was warm and windless in beautiful surroundings.  The smiling walkers I met along the way agreed.  Starting at Shay Elliot means a variety of landscape is assured and lots to admire along the way.  Most hill tops have cairns in this area (towered heaps of rock).  Please resist the urge to add to them. Remember our saying:  “Take nothing but memories, leave nothing but footprints”.  The first gorgeous creature I met was a Peacock Butterfly alongside the track up towards Cullentragh:

As I saw another close by, I realised, as the day progressed, this was going to be a butterfly day.  All kinds were to be seen: Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral, Speckled Wood and Meadow Brown.  Here’s the lovely Small Copper Butterfly:

 

Mr Raven was making himself heard as I came down Mullacor and I spotted a Sparrow Hawk hunting by the slopes of Derrybawn.  The deer were out in force but sheltering from the hot sun under trees and tall bracken.

Homeward bound on the old track below Derrybawn’s slopes, I came across a Fox Moth Caterpillar, sunning himself on a stone.  His colours were a lot sharper than this fellow, because his habitat is the cooler region of the uplands:

So….what did you see on your hike?

Looking Back at Clifden

The Clifden weekend was everything we hoped for, and more than some of us dreamed! The Station House Hotel outdid themselves with the standard of their accommodation, and food. The staff are so kind and helpful.  Our stalwart leaders:   Jimmy, Hugon, Duncan, Brendan, Conor, Karina, Fiona and Philip outshone themselves in designing walks for every level, making it a weekend to remember. Lots of Maamturks, Glencoaghan Horseshoe, and 12 Bens virgins (“first-timers” to the uninitiated). The weather co-operated, giving us some of the most beautiful views across the mountains and sea, wherever we walked. And the après hikes craic was mega, as you would expect from Glenwalk. There was Jack the Scot who went up the hill……and there were sheep who wandered in for lunch. Oh, and let’s not forget the mermaid seen by some, and pondered by many.

A special word of appreciation to Philip who, as weekend walks co-ordinator, gave up his much of his beauty sleep to haunt and cajole so that all the walks were planned well in advance, so well planned in fact, that we all had the details before we’d even checked in to our accommodations! And then, to facilitate those of us whose brains are swiss cheese, announced the days events each morning, foregoing his chance for a lie-in over the holiday weekend.

The icing on the cake for this organiser was the EUR185 collected on behalf of the Irish Peatland Conservation Council. They had sent us a bunch of tickets to sell at only EUR3 per ticket. When the tickets ran out, the generous Glenwalkers in Clifden  continued to contribute. Thank you for your generosity, Clifden Revellers!   The IPCC appreciates your contribution to their important work. Delivery of the cash was completed by Madeleine, today, Thursday.

Flights of Imagination (From the Environment Desk)

A recent hike up Knocknacloghogue in the good company of Glenwalkers, was enhanced by some great views. The weather obliged with only a few light showers until our return journey, which only encouraged us to find a last spurt of energy to get us back up to Pier Gates. Along the way we saw some interesting flora and fauna.

The hairy mollies I enthusiastically pointed out so they wouldn’t get stomped on were Northern Egger caterpillars. The Northern Egger is a big moth with a spot on each wing, and the female has a lighter colouring.

Another creature we saw, this time displaying amazing flight control, was a Kestrel. This raptor is most easily recognised by its typical hunting behaviour which is to hover at a height above the ground over open country. It then swoops down on its prey, usually small mammals or insects. The kestrel we saw was making optimum use of the air stream coming up from Lough Dan to hover over an area near us, allowing us plenty of time to watch its air display. Later, as we basked in the sun at the shores of Lough Dan, we could hear the kestrel’s loud “kee kee kee” calls, which it does when agitated. I’m guessing other walkers had strayed close to its nest.