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Climbing Croagh Patrick – a tick off the bucket list!

As I sat there in the salon seat I announced to the girl about my intentions for the next day. Wide-eyed and looking a little shocked she replied “God…I’ve heard that’s really tough! Good luck with that…”

She was only one of many who had said how tough it was, how many have only made it so far, so to be honest, I wasn’t betting much on getting to the top of Croagh Patrick.

I kept with the notion that if it got too much, I would simply stop, turn around, and not go any further.

Being born with Spina Bifida as I have mentioned before, I know my body’s limits and how far I can push it. So this was a challenge, to say the least, but I was going to give it a good bash!

On arrival, it was almost overwhelming. You just couldn’t miss that giant piece of Toblerone in the distance! (We must have been a bit peckish with a sweet tooth after our brekkie)

I still wasn’t put off though. I was here, with five others, ready to take it on. No going back!

We began on our ascend and even though this was only the beginning, I already had to catch my breath! We all took a quick break every few minutes on the way up though, and gradually I began focusing more on breathing in a way that I could soldier on a bit further.

Eventually we got to the end of that dreaded cone and funnily enough, it didn’t look too far from the top! But as I began to climb that rocky steep mountainside, it felt like I was going up forever and I would never reach my destination.

By now I was the last straggler of the group, with my other half not too far ahead making sure I was ok, and willing me on when I (almost) felt like giving up.

But I’m no quitter! I’m many things, and stubborn is most definitely one of them.

With aches and pains coming from all areas, I pushed myself.

“You can do this Rachael” – I kept saying this to myself as passers-by would tell me how I was in for a treat getting to the top and also willing me to keep going.

Oh, and did I mention I’m terrified of heights?

I remember as a teenager I was presented with the chance of absailing. I think I took merely a couple of steps up and just couldn’t do it. Now here I was climbing a 746m high mountain! I think I glanced down once while I was on the cone and was fairly sure I didn’t want to do that again!

After what seemed like forever and a day, I could see my other half and his cousin at the top.

“Nearly there now, you’ve made it!”

Sturdy rocks, one by one, and then, that was it – I HAD made it!!! My legs like jelly, the feeling of walking upright again, the most amazing views, money just couldn’t buy the feeling of achievement I felt at that moment.

I sat down with the group and took in our beautiful surroundings.

Once we had rested, photographed and had a well-deserved refuelling, it was time for the most dreaded part of all – the descent!

Going down was no easy task let me tell you. I ended up being helped most of the way (and fell a grand total of seven times) but sure look, it was the only way out of there after all!

Bruised, battered and joyful, I glanced back at the holy mountain that almost broke me, but I conquered it.

It was hands down one of the most difficult things I have ever done, but I’m glad I did it.

I think the real moral of it all, is never to let anyone tell you that you can’t do something, no matter what amount of ability you have.

Know your limits, but know that you can push yourself to greater things if you believe it. I never believed it truly until I was there.

I can now tell my daughter about that one time I completed the hike of Croagh Patrick, with determination and belief in myself. Those two things I want my daughter to have within herself.

What we achieve and do ourselves will be a reflection of how our children see the world, and I’ll always try to remember that.

First of many mini accomplishments to come!

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