After coming back from the lackluster National Archaeology Museum of Ireland this morning, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I hadn’t gotten as much sleep as I thought I might and was still pretty tired. I actually thought I might take a nap, but I’m glad I didn’t.
My roommate Dylan and I randomly decided to make the half-hour DART trip to Bray, a coastal town south of Dublin and the last stop before the DART’s final destination of Greystones. Not too far away from where we got on at Lansdowne, we could see the Irish coastline.
We hadn’t really talked about what we wanted to do today except make the trip to Bray and see what was there. This town was clearly not the touristy Dublin we’ve been used to seeing, after rounding the street and walking down an alleyway pointing us to “sea coast.” Once there, we saw a mountain with a cross on top. I’m not sure if it’s a hill or a mountain, but Bray Head is bigger than just about anything in central Illinois so it’s a mountain to me.
Dylan mentioned climbing it and I was dead set on it. I don’t know why, but I remember muttering something about making it my goal today. I briefly thought about goals and why people always make goals out of mountains. I didn’t give it much thought until we continued up the mountain.
Even though it was cool today, I took off my jacket as I began to sweat. I was winded, too, since I don’t hike. Ever. I didn’t feel like being gone all day, so I kept asking people coming down about how long it took the get to the top. Every answer was the same: about an hour. Multiple paths snaked around the place, too, and they also told us that as long as the path went up, they all converged at the cross that was at the top of the mountain.
So what is it about a mountain that allows one to make goals? Climbing a mountain is a very visible end. It’s clear in many ways to see that we made progress. Visually, we could see Bray from one of its highest points. Physically, my legs were still sore in some places from my beach crawl in Howth with my two new friends and sweat matted both my back and armpits. Hiking also allows for bonding by way of conversation and trust. It’s weird how Dylan and I have been living in the same room for the last week, but we were probably the most talkative today.
Dylan has also hiked other mountains throughout the country, so I felt a sense of trust between us that we would keep each other safe. We recklessly decided to climb without the aid of a map or any prior knowledge of Bray Head, which would likely leave Man vs. Wild’s (or, Born Survivor in Ireland) Bear Grylls hanging his head in shame. I was put at ease when I saw an older man climbing down with his wife and what was probably their granddaughter, but you still never know what lies ahead.
As we were walking down the mountain, we were discussing the finer things in life when Dylan asked me to turn around. Right there on the beach was Gillian’s Pancakes and Waffles. Gillian was a delightful older lady who we found out had lost her job. To replace her income, she opened a pancake shack on the beach. I’d never seen such a thing before. An order gave me two waffles, so on one she delicately poured toffee sauce, and jam and cream on the other.
There couldn’t have been a better way to end a mountain hike than ordering waffles on the beach.