Hiking Croagh Patrick

Experience the Challenge of Hiking Ireland's Most Iconic Mountain

If I had to pick my most memorable journey of the past week it would be a difficult choice. But, I would certainly have to say that my climb to the top of one of Ireland’s most iconic mountains, to experience the challenge of hiking Croagh Patrick, was the ultimate in personal growth and life’s lessons learned. It pushed me past what I thought I could endure both mentally and physically and in some weird way gave me strength in return. Hiking Croagh Patrick graced me with gifts beyond measure, great friends, spectacular beauty, and oddly enough, a lesson in patience. Patience is a virtue they say and one that has not always graced my illustrious personality. But I will have to say that thus far, there isn’t anything in this life that has taught me the art of patience as well or as thoroughly as a single, solitary, majestic mountain known as Cruach Phádraig (Croagh Patrick).

The Challenge of  Hiking Croagh Patrick

And the story goes as follows:

It was an unusually clear blue morning as I made my way toward the path that would take me to the rocky peak of the mountain. And not just any mountain. When hiking Croagh Patrick, one must understand that to do so is to hike the holiest mountain in all of Ireland. A place of spirituality, pilgrimages, and worship since the Bronze Age. As I gazed upon the mountain from below, I could discern the slow progression of time etched upon its face, which the mountainside seemed to patiently endure. It was intimidating to say the least. My thoughts turned to my approach, to the task of reaching the stately mountain’s pinnacle and to the arduous journey back from its peak. My mind was in awe. I do not believe that I have ever known the true meaning of the word patience until the day I climbed that mighty mountain.

The term one step at a time became apparent. I began the climb. Upward with only my stalwart determination and enough water to reach the summit and my return to the valley below. At the tender age of 50, I had never attempted a hike like this. My inspiration had come from a fellow traveler. I had met him while hiking the long-distance trail in Ireland known as Kerry Way. So here I was trying to make the pilgrimage to the top of a mountain I had only heard of but never thought I would find myself hiking to the rocky trails peak. The unknown was here with me. However, the doubt that permeated my thoughts grew dimmer with each passing step.

Hiking Croagh Patrick; The Summit

As I climbed ever higher there were at times I took a brief respite. I stop to look forward toward my goal or back to whence I had come. But only for the briefest of moments. I found it was during those times that I would falter. Wavering for that one split second in time instantaneously brought my focus back to the task at hand, that next step, and nothing else. I found that when I reached that state of mind of complete focus, wrapped in ragged determination, I became a different person within myself. I could feel my whole being thrive on that mountain and in that circumstance. It was in that existence that I became deeply interwoven with that place. And as such, my fear of heights had been conquered. I reached the summit and looked across the vast horizon. It felt as if, since the beginning of all time, Ireland herself had been patiently waiting for me to arrive.

The Descent

After the exuberance and exhilaration began to gently subside, I turned my entire body to look at the daunting task of returning to the valley below. I turned my mind and my thoughts to the intrinsic. I closed my eyes and felt the newness of a certain awareness. I opened my eyes and soaked in the green fields which sat green and vibrant in the distance. It was in that brief moment which I truly understood completely what that journey, that climb, that struggle to reach the summit had taught me. I knew without question that I had been given a gift. A gift that had sat silently waiting for me to arrive. That amazing gift was the gift of a deep and true understanding of the nature of patience. I closed my eyes. I opened them and blinked into the bluest of skies. I opened my heart as wide as the country below and took my first step towards my descent. I knew that the experience and the challenge of hiking Croagh Patrick had changed me forever…

More Exciting Stories!

Now as soulful as this journey to the top of Croagh Patrick was, you should go have a laugh by reading my travel blog The Italian Job about my comical, yet terrifying bus ride to the top of another infamous mountain, Mt Vesuvius! You can also find all my travel adventures on my InstagramFacebook, and  TikTok!

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