We awoke to unbelievably sore muscles. The short 13 hour break we had from the trail wasn’t nearly enough to rest our aching muscles. With both my feet in complete agony as I hobbled around our small room I began to doubt whether or not we would even be able to go 1 mile today, let alone the 16 we were supposed to accomplish… We made ready and went to get the breakfast being made by our charming hostess, Julia. She had taken our meal orders the night before, mine being pancakes and Bobby had opted for the omelet. We had long ago tired of the “Traditional Irish Breakfast” offered at every other B&B which we had joked with Julia about the previous evening. These pancakes weren’t at all like the thin crepes we had had at O’Grady’s Townhouse in Waterville, they were thoroughly American and delicious! Bobby was a little jealous he hadn’t ordered the same, though his omelet was also tasty and I was kind enough to share! We finished packing our bags and went to check out. We chatted with Julia a bit and she immediately inquired as to the status of my sister and her baby (I had mentioned to her the previous evening that my sister Suzy was in labor with her second baby, a boy) and I told her she had had a beautiful baby boy named Aidan. “Oh thank The Lord!” she responded saying that she had said a prayer the previous evening that all would go well. We chatted a bit more before heading out.
The first steps are always the hardest and today was no exception, in fact they were harder than ever. All the muscles in my legs were screaming to stop walking and sit down. We stopped at a small grocers on our way back to the trail to get some supplies for lunch and then decided we would be more clever than the Kerry Way and take a slight detour, skirting town without actually having to go through it. There’s a reason why the Kerry Way doesn’t go that way. Quite simply, it’s because you can’t. The roads that appear on both our GPS app, GAIA, and Google don’t actually exist… There was an unnecessary addition of about 1/2 mile to the day… Back on the trail and in no time at all we were already heading up and out of town. Today’s trail began on the road out of town and we remained on that road all the way up into the mountains. This was, by far, the hardest section of the trail. While road walking offers an even surface for us, it is also very boring and, therefore, makes walking all the more painful because all you have to think about is your aching body. When you are on a more challenging and rocky trail your mind is a whir concentrating on your surroundings and deciding where to step. The first 6 miles of the trail today were new and took place along the same road and up and down two steep passes, the last 10 miles were a repeat of a portion of trail we did on Day 1. At the apex of the second peak we were taking a cookie break when a large group of middle aged Americans being led by an Irish guide happened upon us. They were coming from the opposite direction and were winded from their hike up. They all apologized that they were taking away our peace and quiet. We told them not to worry that we had had the trail to ourselves for the last three days and it was a nice change of pace to encounter others along the way. The guide said that it isn’t uncommon to go for days along the Kerry Way without encountering any other walkers. We would see other couples in town, or at our B&Bs but wouldn’t see them on the trail. He said that that too was common. The pass was windy and cold and our joints were stiffening so we decided to continue along.
We encountered several other groups along the trail out for a day hike or a mountain bike ride. While a pleasant change of pace it did make finding an outdoor restroom difficult… Those first 6 miles took forever because it was so boring. We eventually resorted to singing silly songs and playing a game where one person would sing a portion of a song and the next person would have to think of a song that included the last word sung by the other person. While a good diversion, we found that it actually made our pace even slower than it already was. Was it the effect of the game or simply because we were pooped?!? Nobody knows…. We finally reached the sign for the turnoff to Killarney and the portion of the trail we had already done 10 days ago. We were ecstatic! We took a quick snack break and I reloaded up on some Tylenol and off we went. Knowing your trail makes a huge difference. You have markers to look forward to, you remember things that happened and people you passed, and it gives you a sense of ease knowing where you are and knowing where you are going. Our pace quickened as the known and much more interesting and intricate trail continued. We stopped for lunch by a beautiful waterfall and met two rowdy Labrador retrievers who greatly wanted our bread and yogurt.
Spirits were high as we summited our last peak of the day but soon we were facing a steep and painful descent and spirits began to sink with the elevation. We were at the popular Torc Waterfall, a pleasant spot for a quick day hike and photo op. Our muscles were beyond exhausted and there is something about being passed by chipper, inexperienced day hikers who look like they could run circles around you as you limp past doing everything in your power to simply not fall over. It’s very disheartening. We remembered seeing horse drawn carts both in the town center of Killarney and at Torc Waterfall and thought that maybe we could hire one to bring us the rest of the way. Not only were we exhausted beyond belief but we really wanted to catch the 3:30 train to Dublin and it was 2:30 and we had 5 miles to go. There was no way we’d get there walking and while there was another train at 5:30 we wanted to get the earliest train possible. Sadly the “Jaunting Car” as the cart was called, couldn’t take us all the way into town and it would cost us 40€ but the man offered to call us a taxi. It was an offer we couldn’t refuse. Our walk of the Kerry Way was completed! it was a little earlier than we had anticipated but we both knew it was what we needed both physically and mentally and we have no regrets!
Apparently there was a Harley Davidson convention in town (the 7th year it’s been held in Killarney) which made traffic pretty bad in town but we got to the train station with plenty of time to spare.
Now we are safe in Dublin enjoying 4 star luxury in the beautiful Croke Park hotel with room service, hot baths, and a soft bed. We have one whole day in Dublin tomorrow, supposedly for sightseeing, I guess we’ll see if we have the energy, and then it’s back home the next day!
In 2013 we hiked The Kerry Way over a 10 day period (we had 2 rest days). Read all of the posts in this series: