Yesterday I drove to the Slieve Bloom Mountains in search of snow. There has been a lot of snow this winter. By Irish standards I mean! Yet somehow I’ve managed to miss it all. We had a decent snowfall in our home town back in December but I was away in Dublin for the week and couldn’t help but be a little envious of all the lovely photos appearing online. Of course by the time I got back there was no trace of it. Since then there has been the odd sprinkling but nothing was sticking. There were a few other instances of wrong time, wrong place and I figured since it’s February now, I’d probably missed the chance.
So when another cold snap hit us this week I kept an eye on the weather, hoping that we might get some snow. It didn’t happen where we are but I figured that the mountains in Slieve Bloom should have got a good dose. The mountains are less than an hour away, so there was no excuse really and I set off on my merry way. It didn’t take too long before I could see them in the distance covered in a beautiful blanket of white. Success!
I had intended to just drive through, stopping for a few photos and heading on to another location for photos. That didn’t happen. The problem being that I hadn’t explored the area before and didn’t realise how damn beautiful it is. The Slieve Bloom Mountains are heavily forested with conifer trees, which looked so perfect in their snowy coats.
So instead of my original plan, I ended up sending more than five hours driving around and wandering in the snow and generally just being in awe! I didn’t actually cover a lot of ground in that time. There are many places to pull in admire the view and heaps of perfectly placed picnic benches too (for the finer weather perhaps!). So at many points I was only getting a couple of hundred metres along the road before I just had to pull in again. The sun was in and out behind the clouds too, so there was an amount of waiting for the right light also.
When the sun finally began to fall and the roads were already starting to ice, I thought I’d better make tracks. However as I drove along the R440 I came to a stunning stretch with snow covered trees on either side and the clouds starting to light up in the sky. Needless to say I just had to make one last stop. Talk about a winter wonderland!
Not everything was perfect though. In my eagerness to hang around and soak up as much of the magic as I could, I had kind of ignored the fact that my toes were really cold and numb. When I got home and discovered that my feet were not just cold but that my socks were actually soaked through (in my waterproofs shoes!) I was a little worried. Of course I jumped straight into a nice hot shower and that’s when the fun started. My feet started burning in pain, a lot of pain. It gradually eased but afterwards my toes were red, blotchy and swollen and a few raised areas appear as if they were going to blister. After consulting Dr Google and reading about frostbite, I have to admit I got a little scared.
Thankfully, the swelling and redness went away within the hour and the blisters did not form. My feet gradually felt normal again and I’m so grateful I didn’t have a longer journey home or I might have actually done some damage. As much as I enjoyed the day it was definitely not worth losing a toe for. That would be pretty extreme photography indeed! Let’s just say I’ll be taking a lot more care next time I’m out in the cold and now that I’ve had my snow day, roll on spring! I’m really ready for warmer adventures back in the beautiful Slieve Bloom Mountains and elsewhere.