From Slievemoughanmore GI/MM-009, it was a fairly steep descent to the saddle ahead of Eagle Mountain GI/MM-008. This would be our second summit of Saturday 31st May 2014, and our last in the Mourne Mountains region (GI/MM) of Northern Ireland. This saddle was extremely watery! At one point, the only way across is to walk along the top of the dry stone wall, which is surrounded on both sides by standing water that is around two feet deep in places. At another point, long strides and very good balance was needed to progress between the precarious stepping stones.
The ascent of Eagle Mountain, albeit steep, was mainly good going, as the path was good. Rocks had been placed helpfully, and there were plenty of well established zigzag options to alleviate the impact of the gradient. Once we reached the wall corner at J243233, the gradient eased considerably, and we could amble up to the summit, which we could now see.
It really was a glorious day, and we had been wise to apply factor 50 and wear sunhats. However, there was no protection for poor Jimmy though, when he got stung on the neck by a bee, right by the summit cairn. I checked his neck and saw that nothing had been left there that needed to be removed, and his discomfort eased quite quickly. The bee, which was now writhing around on the ground, was put out of its misery by the sole of my right boot.
Yet again, it was five QSOs for Jimmy on 2m FM, with four into GI and one into GM. No GD, GW or EI came back to him on this activation. Over on my station, there were signs of a bit more life on 12m, with a bumper 10 QSOs, all CW, and beginning with a S2S with DL2DXA/P, who was still on DM/SX-057. The switch to 40m CW added just two more contacts, but one of these was another S2S, this time with OZ/DL6AP/P on OZ/OZ-005. We packed up and began our return walk around 12.30pm local BST.
After descent to the watery saddle ahead of Slievemoughanmore, I made the decision to attempt to contour around the north side of the hill back to the saddle with Pigeon Rock Mountain. Jimmy was unhappy with this as it would take us onto rough and unknown terrain, but I was flagging, and needed to be able to stretch my legs and get a rhythm going again. As it was, it was not a particularly pleasant or easy piece of walking, but it did the trick of getting my rhythm and energy levels back up again. As the saddle with Pigeon Rock Mountain came into view, I was quite surprised with how well we had held our contour - we must have remained close to 400m ASL all the way around.
Pigeon Rock Mountain was far to wide to consider a similar sort of bypass, and in any case, it wasn't necessary. I had got myself going again, and the slopes to ascend and then descend might have been tiring, but they weren't steep. We reached the car at around 3.30pm, and I still harboured ambitions for three more activations in the day.
"Gruggandoo" I announced to Jimmy, much to his displeasure! The poor lad was absolutely shattered, and just for once, I was stronger and fitter than him. Nonetheless, I knew he would have plenty in the tank even while tired. Furthermore, Jimmy can be a light sleeper in any new bed, so I figured that wiping him out completely would mean he got a decent kip on that night's ferry.