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Russ Mills delivering a backpack of warm outdoor gear to the Basecamp store in Dublin.

   The number of homeless people on the streets of Dublin, and more widely in Ireland is growing rapidly. The homeless charity, Focus Ireland, estimates that there are up to 5,000 people at any one time who are homeless in Ireland.

  As part of tackling this problem and making things a little bit easier for those homeless people over the coming winter, Basecamp Ireland, have started an initiative in association with Dublin City Council and Crosscare Social Support Services, which is a backpack challenge to help the homeless.

  The aim of this challenge is to get as many backpacks as possible filled with warm clothing and other items and sent up to the Bru Aimsir service that is currently housing 100 homeless people every night in Thomas Street in Dublin.

The backpack can be filled with a wide range of things such as:

  • Hats
  • Water Bottles
  • Socks
  • Scarves
  • Long Sleeved T-Shirts
  • Waterproof Clothes
  • Jackets
  • Flasks
  • Toiletries
  • Hoodies
  • Jumpers
  • Lip Balm

At Mountaintrails, we were happy to be able to help the #backpackchallenge by donating spare gear.

Let’s help those less fortunate than ourselves this winter and give the homeless a little comfort.

Backpacks can be dropped into the Basecamp store in Middle Abbey Street or dropped directly into the Crosscare Staff in Thomas Street, Dublin. 

Thank you.

Wild goats spotted on our guided hiking tour of Derrybawn Ridge in the Wicklow mountains, Ireland.
These goats are believed to be descended from neolithic and medieval domestic stock, and now roam wild and free in these beautiful hills in the east of Ireland.
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When out hiking in the Wicklow mountains yesterday we had our first glimpse in 2015 of the two most common insectiverous plants in Ireland, Butterwort and Round-leaved Sundew.

Their bright colours stood out against the still brown foliage like little jewels, a welcome sight on a dull day and a real sign of the return of warmer weather.

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Well done to all the guys and gals who climbed Lugnaquilla in the Wicklow mountains earlier today to catch the sunrise at 06.30,  to complete the Red Cross Sunrise Summit Challenge. 
Conditions were very difficult, fog, hail, rain and wind. 

Alas no sunrise to be seen, maybe next time.

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Check out our latest tripadvisor reviews: 
February 2015 – guided hiking in the snow covered Wicklow mountains of Ireland, an ascent of Lugnaquilla in arctic conditions with Chris from Brisbane – Well done Chris!
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“Best activity to do in Ireland!! Do this first!”
5 of 5 starsReviewed 9 March 2015

I completed three separate guided hike days with Russ earlier this year (Lugnaquilla, Brockaghs and Djouce, War Hill and Tonduff) and I can’t say enough wonderful things about my experience. Russ has an undeniable passion for hiking and for the Wicklow Mountains, what Russ doesn’t know about these mountains isn’t worth knowing! I was in Ireland for a three week holiday and my days hiking the beautiful Wicklow Mountains with Russ were easily the highlight. Do yourself a favour a book a hike with Russ now and see these beautiful areas while having an expert guide you!

Visited February 2015
Over the years, I have come across a bewildering array of foods that hikers take in to the hills, from bagels with peanut butter to pasta and red pepper salad.However, when quick, easy to eat, and energy packed food is required I have found that these oat and fruit flapjacks really fit the bill.
I have often been asked for the recipe, and so here it is.

One slice, (if the quantities below are used), contains an alpine ascent fuelling 440 calories, and two slices gets me through most days in the mountains.

They are quick and easy to make,and are moist and delicious. Conveniently easy to eat, there is no need to remove your awkward winter gloves, which is ideal in harsh winter conditions.
In addition, they keep for days, which makes them great for those multiday trips in the wilds.

Flapjack recipe

250 grams Porridge oats
150 grams Dried cranberries or other dried fruit
50 grams Sunflower seeds
60-80 grams Brown Sugar (use the higher figure for a sweeter mix)
180 grams Olive spread, or butter if you want it richer
4 tablespoons Golden Syrup
Half teaspoon cinnamon
Roasted crushed hazelnuts, (or more sunflower seeds)
Melt the olive spread, golden syrup and sugar in a large saucepan, then stir in the porridge oats, fruit, cinnamon and seeds. Mix thoroughly.
Bake in a preheated oven at 180C for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown.
Remove from oven and leave to cool, after half an hour cut into eight portions and leave to cool completely.
Store in a sealed container until needed. Wrap portions in cling-film to take on your hike, each portion contains approximately 440 calories.
Bon appetite!

A hiker is ‘very lucky’ to be alive after he was rescued from Wales’s highest mountain, Snowdon, in winter conditions and winds gusting to more than 90mph.

…”This rescue highlights the importance of good navigation skills in the mountains, always carry a map and compass and know how to use them….”

See Grough article here.

— Join one of Mountaintrails navigation courses this spring and make your hiking in the mountains safer and more enjoyable. 

Check out our navigation and skills page for more details.. http://mountaintrails.ie/navigation-hill-skills/

Regular mountain hikers and climbers will know that keeping your hands warm in the colder months is essential.

Cold hands can lead to pain and discomfort, and leave the fingers numb and without feeling. In this state it is difficult to open zips and buckles, or perform the most basic tasks. This is a potentially dangerous situation, especially if trying to navigate with a compass, or open the rucksack to get food or a warm drink. Not addressing the problem can, in the most extreme conditions, lead to frost nip or frostbite and permanent tissue damage.

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A cold day on Carlingford Mountain

Some hikers are more prone to suffer from cold, numb fingers than others, possibly due to reduced circulation or narrow blood vessels in the hands. Some people, myself included, suffer from Raynaud’s phenomenon, a spasming of the blood vessels in the fingers which drastically reduces blood flow. For us, keeping our hands warm is a high priority when out in the hills.

Our hands get cold when heat is lost from the skin surface, this will occur when the ambient temperature is below the temperature of the blood in our hands and fingers, and is exacerbated when there is a wind blowing, or when our hands are wet. You can read more on this in my previous blogs on hypothermia and windchill.

Regular readers will know I am a strong advocate of the layering system to keep warm and comfortable when out in the mountains, and this applies equally to our extremities, our hands and feet. The most practical way to achieve this, and maintain some level of dexterity is to wear gloves.

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Lugnaquilla summit in it’s winter coat

For those chilly days of spring and autumn wearing a pair of fleece gloves will often suffice, they offer good insulation and can offer a degree of windproof protection too, but note that they are not waterproof.

However, when it gets wintry we need to upgrade our gloves.

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From left to right: Liner, fleece and insulated gloves

I start with liner gloves, these are thin and lightweight, offer a reasonable level of protection, and allow greater dexterity for tasks such as using a compass.  Over these I would wear a thicker pair of waterproof insulated gloves, giving me greater warmth from the additional layers and from the trapped air between them.  I would recommend outer gloves with a long cuff, this prevents heat loss from the wrist, an area where the major blood vessels are close to the surface and heat is easily lost.

Some people prefer mittens to the outer insulated glove, but I like the dexterity that gloves give me, albeit quite limited.

Most gloves are not waterproof, and all gloves suffer from having one very large hole in them, the one you put you hand in!  Therefore it is important to carry spares, you can then change them for a dry warm pair if your gloves get sodden.

Spare gloves are also essential if you inadvertently lose one or both of those you are wearing, spending the remainder of a cold day gloveless is no fun. I am constantly finding gloves in the hills, so this happens more often than you might think.

So when I head out into the mountains in the winter months I will carry liner gloves, two pairs of fleece gloves and two pairs of insulated outer gloves, plus spares for my clients.

Happy hiking with warm hands!