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Remember I said our breakfast plan was to eat like a King? Well not really like a King, western hotels only offer western food so they don’t really have what I prefer for breakie, say rice porridge with various pickled veges or Taiwanese omelet. Anyways we still tried our best to wake up every morning for this very important meal of the day.
The hotel has been here for more than a century. you can tell that they are not those design hotels but more like a family own business. However it is one of the best, or perhaps the only one, hotels around here. When I was searching for hotels in this area, I noticed a lot of offers are Airbnb, it seems that renting a place and spending a few days in the Park is quite popular among small group travelers and hikers. Breakfast here was just mediocre. You have traditional Irish components such as scrambled eggs, sunny side up, stewed beans, sausages and bacon. They offer you two kinds of bread for toast, mini croissants, pains au chocolat and sorts of jams. They do have a wide variety of breakfast cereal in mini package, fresh fruits and fresh juices. As for coffee, the waiters here walked around and asked very politely if you’d need some more quite often.
We did wake up but not exactly early. We always arrived at the restaurant in the hotel around 9:30 in the morning. I did notice that they began to clear away food and stuff around 9:45. Some people arrived at almost ten and were left with few options. I’m not sure why but when I was younger, when I saw this I might think that people should come earlier and that’s their problem. However now I have a different view. If you tell people that breakfast hours are from 7 to 10 in the morning, then it doesn’t matter when does a costumer come in between the hours. People come in 9:30 pay the same price as those come in at 7 thus should just enjoy the same quality of service and food, simple as that. Anyways, the hotel’s breakfast was okay but nothing special about it.
After breakfast, we went back to our room and discuss our plan today.
從上面這張圖可以看出整個國家公園的大致面貌，右上角是遊客中心，旁邊的 H 就是我們待的旅館，走路不到五分鐘就可以抵達修道院、教堂遺址、墓園和圓塔，南方就是黑窟窿山脈，從遊客中心的位置出發，靠湖南測往西走，會先遇到下湖，接著是停車場，接近上湖這邊就是各種路線的起點（有些路線部分有重疊），從這裡你可以選擇橘線、紅線、藍線和白線，如果你往北走，可以抵達教育中心（淡季不開放），然後接上紫線或銀線。這裡我稍微放大了重點地標，中間粉紅色框框圈出的是粉線和粽線。
From this map you can see the rough outline of the Park, at the top right corner you have the visitor center and the H mark next to it was our hotel. From our hotel it is just a 5 minutes walk to the Round tower and church ruins. Lower part of the map is the Derrybawn Mountains range. If you keep walking towards the west along the south side of the lakes, you first reach Lower Lake, a public parking lot and then the Upper Lake. When you almost reach the Upper Lake, you’d end up at a crossroad and this is the beginning of many trails, including the orange route, red route, brown route, blue route and white route. If you continue to North from here, you’d eventually reach the education center which only opens at peak seasons. Starting from the education center, you have the purple route and the silver route. Here I enlarged the small box on the map which highlights pink and brown route.
These two routes are short but steep. Both of them start with following the Poulanass Waterfall. The route forks at some point and the brown one leads you to St. Kevin’s Hut while the pink one takes you to cross above the waterfall.
看完整的地圖的話，會發現紅線繞很大一圈，白線也是蠻猛的，然後地圖裡面有一個黃色點點標示的路線，範圍甚至延伸超出地圖，那就是著名的威克洛步道，威克洛步道的終點兩端分別為都柏林的瑪爾雷公園（Marlay Park） 和卡洛郡（County Carlow）的小鎮克朗格爾（Clonegal ）。 這條步道總長１２７公里，路線中最高海拔到３２００公尺，徒步健行完全程需要至少七天的時間。
If you take a look at the complete map of the Park, you can see that red route is quite long and so is the white route. And if you look closely, you can see yellow dots that extend even out side of the map, that is the famous Wicklow Way which starts in Marlay Park in Dublin, through County Wicklow and ends in the village of Clonegal in County Carlow. Wicklow Way is 127 km long and it accents to almost 3,200 meters above the sea. If you trek the whole trail by foot it would take at least 7 days.
As for us, we decided to try Orange route today. Heading out from our hotel we first followed the south side of the Lower Lake and once we reached the Upper Lake, we continued South.
It was so wonderfully green! The weather was spectacular, too.
This is the fork I was talking about when you almost reach Upper Lake, if you take a right turn here, heading North, you are going to the Upper Lake. Our orange route had us take the passage on the left.
The passage seemed long and never ending and we were the only hikers around, my husband was fearful for the journey ahead. Much acting my love.
This part of the route was both pink and orange, at some point you’d meet a split and this is when you choose to go with the right one to continue with the orange route.
Though after the split the route got more and more steep, it is not too drastic. It was actually a very pleasant walk.
You can already spot the Upper Lake before reaching the highest point.
When we reached this spot, we had been walking for at least 50 minutes. We took a break at this wonderful position and had our snacks of the day.
The view here is very open and nice, even though it is not the highest yet. I think this patch is the vantage point of the route which gives you the best view looking over the entire Upper Lake. You thought the higher you go the better you see however the view was majorly blocked by tall trees at the highest point.
After reaching the highest point, we began to decent, the route also gets narrower. The rest of the route is in between trees and grassland.
Most part of the Orange route is paved with concrete so the ground is flat. However it does take away the charm of walking in the nature which is indeed a shame. The landscape changes from here as well, trees are more sparse and you see more vast land. It is around the time we reached this area that we began to talk about what should we do if we encountered series killer or bears here.
Me: What if we ran into bears here?
Bee: There are bears here?
Me: No. Hypothetically speaking.
Bee: Well, I think I would be a decoy so you could escape and looked for help.
Me: What about you? I could also be a decoy so the bear would be so confused.
Bee: Nope, you should just run.
Me: I think if you met a serial killer here it is simply unfortunate.
Bee: How’s that?
Me: We’ve been walking for quite some time now and we haven’t seen anyone yet. If someone chose to kill here it’s
definitely well planned. You don’t pick this killing ground for no reason.
Bee: I think you are right. Very unfortunate.
Me: If we saw someone being chased by a killer we had to help him.
Me: That’s how we outnumbered the killer ah. If we didn’t help him he would be dead dead. You’d like to have some help if you were the victim, right?
Bee: You are always right.
As these random topics continue, we were also reaching the valley. The south side of the lakes are so verdant and lush, and most of the trees are covered in lichens, algae and moss.
I love the forest here. Though you don’t see a wide variety of trees but it is compensated by the abundance of the fresh and green. When walking in the forest you feel truly surrounded by mother nature.
Lots of cute things to see at your footstep, too.
I told my husband that his task today was to pay attention to mushrooms. I love taking pictures of mushrooms, I love their looks and colors.
When we walked passed by this tree my husband exclaimed that he found my mushrooms. I didn’t know it was the tree he’s talking about so I was still looking down on the ground. Upon looking up at the tree I was taken a back by the view.
All the mushroom! They are great not only in number but also in size. It got a bit creepy if you stare at them for too long.
The weather was just too good that day. The sky was blue and there were breezes. I remember texting my sister and I sent her a video of trees moving with the wind. France was having a terrible heat wave at the time so I think she was very envious of me. (Am I right?)
We took our time walking and taking breaks, after 4 hours we finally made it back to the Round Tower and finished with the orange route.
We were peckish so we went to get some hot-dog, hamburger and cheesy fries.
We had our afternoon snack and went back to our room to take a nap. We laid in bed and basked ourselves in the lovely sunshine. Our hiking of the day ended here. You can see that we were not really here for all the hiking, we were here to just relax.
After a small nap, we headed out to the river before the sun went down.
這附近環境真的很優美，完全沒有城市的喧囂吵雜，在溪流邊，你聽見的是河水潺潺、鳥鳴，感受到的是一種與世無爭的靜 ，這裡的時間好像真的走得比都柏林慢多了。 再加上我們兩個完全沒野心的行程，想走就走，想停就停，也不要求一定要蒐集幾條路線，讓我們的身心靈有機會完全地放鬆。雖然這裡的景色不是那種令人驚豔的美，但是它讓你感覺親近、恣意，是種讓人難以忘懷的舒服。
This was the magical hour to me. The surrounding was really peaceful and quite, unlike the hustling and bustling in the city. Standing by the river, all you heard was water running through cracks and birds singing. You felt so relaxed and disconnected from all the worries and that nothing really mattered at this moment. Even the time here seemed to pass by a bit slower. Our trip was very under-planned, we left as we wished and we stopped when we wanted. We didn’t force ourselves to “collect" routes just for the sake of it. To have a total relaxed holiday was always the goal and that really loosened us up greatly. Here, you don’t see overwhelmingly amazing scenery but the nature is so approachable, gracious and gentle and that is going to be unforgettable.
This evening we had tasty, spicy Korean instant noddles. Life, what else?
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