Well, I have had quite an exciting past weekend. Myself along with the other IFSA-Butler students in the Republic of Ireland spent the past weekend at the Killary Adventure Center in the West of County Galway. About 2 hours by bus from Galway. Killary is located alongside Ireland’s only fjord. We left Galway at 3:30 and got to the Center at around 5:30. In the room I was staying in there were six of us, who were all going to NUIG, so we all knew each other already. The next day, Saturday, we had breakfast and then we went to do our morning activities. I chose to do tubing and raft building. I had to go get a wetsuit to wear while I was in the water. A group of 15 of us were doing the tubing activity so we split into two groups while the first group myself included tubed, the other group did the raft building. We had two tubes, or as they called them Ringos, so we had 2 people on them at a time. The scenery was amazing to be surrounded by while we were tubing, with the green mountainsides surrounding us around the fjord. When it was my turn to tube, the driver didn’t hold back. It was comparable to going tubing with my cousins and how awesome that gets. I was rather spectacularly dumped into the water after I hit a wave on a turn, and so I became particularly aware of how different it is tubing in Minnesota in July, with tubing in Ireland, in the Atlantic, in October. The water was not warm, I would say it was marginally warmer than when I have done a Polar Plunge. The experience was amazing nonetheless. After the tubing we went back to shore and our group did the raft building activity, or at least we attempted to build a raft. We had 8 in our group 4 guys, 4 girls, so we split into two teams to see who could make a better raft. For our raft we found 5 blue barrels to use as a base and then we tied a surfboard on top to sit on. It seemed to work fine when we got it in the water but after a few minutes, it started to come apart and we all got dumped into the water. After the morning session got done, we went back to the main building for lunch and to get ready for our afternoon activities.
That afternoon I chose to do the Turf Challenge. The challenge was split between an intermediate version and an elite version. The intermediate version was a 6km(3.7 miles) trek through the bogs and included several challenges. The elite version was a 10km(6.21 miles) run through the bog as well as the several challenges. I ‘bravely’ decided that I might as well take on the 10km turf challenge. A group of 9 of us and our guide left the main building and proceeded to begin our trek up hill. The ground was spongy and uneven, and at the start we were all trying and failing to keep from stepping in puddles,( this would prove completely funny to look back on all too soon.). After jogging about 0.25km, we had already lost 2 of our group who had dropped out, and passed by a flock of sheep, whose pastures we were jogging through. We cam to a dirt track alongside a grove of trees which we followed for a time until we came to where it crossed a small river. It was about now that we realized how funny it was that we had been trying to keep our feet dry when our guide told us we would be jogging in the river as we followed it downstream for a distance. At times the water was waist deep and we had to struggle for grip on the moss covered rocks in the river. After we got out of the river we continued on trekking through the bogs. The bogs were a bit of a struggle to jog through as we would continually come upon muddy patches in our path that we would have to struggle through, although the mud was only ankle to shin deep. We thankfully avoided running into any bog holes along our way, which are not good. We also had to watch our footing in the soggy uneven ground as we were running or it would have been very easy to sprain an ankle. After our 4km warm-up run, we came upon our first challenge. It consisted of three tunnels in a zig-zag pattern which had some water in the bottoms which we had to navigate in order to continue. This would prove to be one of the easier challenges on the course. After a further jog we came to our first, of many, mud pits. We had to jump into the mud, which was over neck deep and crawl/scrape our way through fifty yards of the mud, under a cargo net . It was tough scratching at the bank in order to inch my way forward. The next challenge was a single rope that we had to cross over another pit of mud. We then continued running, now completely caked in mud to our next challenge which was a corrugated pipe, which was at an angle serving as a slide into a pool of water. The slide part was awesome, but the hitting the water was unexpected, because of how cold it was and it felt like I was jumping into a frozen lake for the Polar Plunges all over again. We continued on, now chilled but relatively mud free, to our next challenge. We had to traverse through a series of mud runs and bog holes, serving to recover us in another layer of mud. The next challenge was a series of tubes that we had to crawl through, thankfully they were mud-free, then cross a bouncy net and lower ourselves down a 20 foot rope. We then proceeded to immediately return to the mud, and after a few more km of running we came to our last challenge. We arrived at a tide pool where there were three rafts, with planks connecting the corners in a square without any covering the middle. We had to swim to the first raft, go over the plank, back into the water, over the second plank, then swim to the second raft and go under those two planks then over the planks on the final raft. The water by the way was only slightly warmer than a lake in January in Minnesota, or so it seemed. We were then granted a few moments to empty our shoes of mud, before we ran the final km back to the main building at the center. After rinsing off the mud, as best I could, I was happy to enjoy a great supper of Irish stew. Which tasted amazing, or maybe I was just that tired/hungry/exhausted from the Turf Challenge. There was a dance that night with a DJ. Which was a great time.
The next day, Sunday we had a chance for a morning activity before we would leave for home. I decided to go rock climbing, absailing(rappelling), and riding a giant swing. The rock wall was probably 75-100 feet tall. I had a great time getting to do some climbing. After that we went to the top of the tower for the absailing part. After getting secured in my harness, I backed up to the edge of the platform and leaned myself back until I was perpendicular to the wall and then simply would let a little bit of the line go through my hands at a time as I walked/ bounced my way down the wall. That was a ton on fun. After that we got a chance on the giant swing. The swing could hold 2 people at a time so I went with my friend Shane. We had a bit of a tense moment as we had been winched to the highest the swing would go and Shane had to then pull the pin to release the swing. However he didn’t pull hard enough so he pulled and the swing didn’t go, so it was a tense moment as he tried again and this time the pin came loose and the swing started. It was a great time.
After lunch we had our 2 hour ride back home to Galway, during which I think most of us slept.
Until Next time.