I set off after work for the camp on the summit of Carn Mountain. As it was still early March and the clocks had not yet went forward I knew I would be hiking up in the dark by the time I drove to the Mournes. Thankfully there was a break in the rain at least for the time I would be hiking.
I parked in Ott car park and set off up Ott track. At this stage there was just about enough light left for me to see without a headlamp. There had been a huge amount of rain earlier in the day and in the days previous so the track was very wet. I decided to wear my gaiters to prevent my walking trousers from getting covered in mud before entering the tent. I knew it would be very wet the whole way up.
By the time I got to the top of Ott track and began ascending onto Carn Mountain itself it was completely dark and I was in thick cloud. It was quite eerie as even with my headlamp I couldn’t see anything except where I was putting my feet. I wasn’t concerned about this lack of visibility though as I knew I just needed to keep moving east and I would soon reach the Mourne Wall that I could then follow to the summit. It didn’t take very long to get there.
I wore my gaiters due to the very wet conditions.
I pitched beside the wooden steps on the summit.
Based on the wind direction forecast I knew I needed to pitch on the west side of the wall. There wasn’t a lot of space due to the large number of big rocks so beside the wooden steps was my only real option for pitching. I was a little concerned about this. I knew it was very unlikely that anyone else would be up there before I left the next morning but I decided not to peg down the front guy line on my tent in case it created a trip hazard in front of the steps.
I knew that the temperature was set to plummet to well below freezing in the early hours of the morning but as always I knew that my Thermarest and Down sleeping bag would keep me snug. There was strong wind and hail before I fell asleep but despite this I did manage to fall asleep without difficulty. I think the more times I camp in strong wind the more I get used to it.
The next morning was bitterly cold in The Mournes.
My Thermarest and Down sleeping bag to keep me snug.
The ice on the bottom of my sleeping bag.
It was around 5am I was rudely awakened when I stretched out in my sleeping bag and put my feet into a block of ice. I immediately got up to investigate and found a pool of water and ice at the bottom of the tent. My sleeping back was solid ice at the bottom. It took me a little while to work out what had happened then I remembered that I had not pegged down the front guy lines. These lines attach to a little flap covering the front air vent. By total bad luck and wind direction the flap must have blown backwards and allowed rain to blow in through the vent. I used my wooly hat to try and remove as much of the water as possible but at this stage the damage was done so all I could do was stay curled up at the top of the sleeping bag where it was dry until daylight when I could pack up.
The morning was bitterly cold when I got up. From the very wet conditions the night before to the sub zero conditions that morning my tent poles had all frozen together. I had to use the warmth of my breath on each joint to prise them apart so I could pack up and start decending to warm up.
Check out my long term plan to camp on all of the Mourne 500’s here