Ireland and a Wicklow County Adventure

Dani Langevin grew up Summit County, Colorado. Currently she is a junior at Colorado State University. Now it’s time for her to embark on my study abroad adventure with Semester at Sea for a four month journey around the world.

[Originally posted September 23, 2013]

This was by far the best day of Semester at Sea so far! It was time for me to get away from all of the cities and people, so I peaced out to a little town called Glendalough (pronounced Glendalock) in Wicklow County by myself for the day/night. I took a 100-year-old bus service out there and ended up in a town that consisted of a hotel, hostel, restaurant, and 2 sweater shops. I ended up seeing some of the Schuchardt family (a family on the ship that consists of a professor with his wife and 7 of their 8 children) on the bus on the way there – it’s impossible to fully escape, but it was good to know that I was going in the right direction. The town was perfect! I walked 5 minutes up the road to the hostel which is tucked back in the trees. After dropping off my bag I wandered through an area with the “Round Tower” back to town. Once in town I ended up talking to this Irish man who was watching a sweater shop for his friend. We talked for at least half an hour about his life story and my adventures thus far. It was interesting to find out that our paths could have crossed at some point in time! He had been to Aspen, Colorado and he has a friend that lives in Breckenridge. It’s a much smaller world than anyone could imagine! I was also surprised to find out that he knew so much about what was going on in Colorado with the floods. It’s amazing how much other people know about the United States compared to how little the general American population knows about the world. After talking to him for a while he told me about a few good hiking spots and sent me on my way.

"Glendalough" meaning "Valley of two lakes"  is located in the Wicklow Mountains National Park with its world famous Round Tower was one of my favorite places to visit in Ireland. Image obtained from the following URL:

“Glendalough” meaning “Valley of two lakes” is located in the Wicklow Mountains National Park with its world famous Round Tower was one of my favorite places to visit in Ireland.

Image obtained from the following URL:

A few minutes later I found myself at a map. Too bad I couldn’t read it. So I took a picture of it just in case and started to walk in the direction of the mountains. Turns out I began on a relatively popular path through an “enchanted forest.” That defeated the point of having time to myself, so I found someone with another map. Basically I told her that I wanted the hardest, longest and least populated path. So there I found myself following the “red hiker” on the Spinc path. After about 3km I was out of the populated area. Then it was just me and nature. I hiked over mountains, through forests, around valleys, by lakes, and down 600+ wooden stairs. There were sheep everywhere at the top and a few deer, although they didn’t look like the typical Colorado deer.

I did come across a few people, mostly locals. All of the locals were incredibly friendly and, like the Irish man at the sweater shop, they all wanted to know about me just as much as I know about them. One group of people sticks out most to me. A group of three people was biking up behind me and stopped at the top for a snack. When I got to the top they started asking me all about myself and I ended up talking to them for a while. Like the Irish man I had met earlier, they also asked about the floods in Colorado. The lady gave me a granola bar and they shared their gummy bears with me after telling me that I still had a ways to go – that saved me because I did not prepare properly for the length of the hike. When we parted ways they pointed me in the right direction and I was off again.

There was one point during my hike where I got to the summit of one of the mountains and crossed a marshy area via a boardwalk. Then the boardwalk ended and I found myself in an area without a trail. Luckily I have hiked enough to have the skills to find my way back to some sort of trail. As I descended I began to see more and more people that had done the shorter hikes and eventually I ran into the Schuchardt family again. I was talking to Rachel (the mom) as her kids and husband laid in the freezing cold waterfall stream below. After an incident with the youngest one falling, I walked back to the town with them.

I thought I had found a quiet place to escape and be alone, but with 600 Semester at Sea students in Ireland that was nearly impossible. While looking out of the Schuchardt’s hotel window I saw Ryan, Shiloh, and Dana (friends from the ship) and ended up having dinner with them. 9pm rolled around and somehow I managed to make it back to the hostel in literally the pitch black night.

The next morning I had to catch an early shuttle back to Dublin. Glendalough did not disappoint and I will definitely be back someday.

I guess Colorado has had a huge impact on me. I love nature and the mountains especially. Throughout the past few ports I have discovered that city life is not for me. From here on out I am going to try to get out of the city as much as possible to see the true natural beauties of each country.