An Óige’s Glenmalure Youth Hostel was the site of an extraordinary adventure over St Patrick’s weekend as a snow-in caused one brave warden to hike over six kilometres in a blizzard to make a food pick-up for his hungry guests.
Glenmalure warden, Mick Morgan, decided to work St Patrick’s Day in order to avoid the madness of the parades as well as the hustle and bustle that came with Ireland playing England in the Six Nations for the Grand Slam. He never expected to encounter a different kind of madness that came with the snows brought by the re-emergence of the Beast from the East.
“We woke up to about six to eight inches of snow covering the whole valley and severe drifts in places. Guests began to panic a bit as the hostel was officially open only for one night. Once I reassured them that I was going nowhere and that I wouldn’t be closing up and evicting them to the mercy of the freezing elements, they started to calm down,” Mick said.
In total, seven guests had been staying at Glenmalure Youth Hostel for the night, including one family with two young children.
“Almost immediately a family who were staying with us attempted to drive through the snow, despite it being frozen solid. They didn’t get very far though as two hours later they were back after having only made it less than two kilometres before getting stuck on the inclines just beyond Baravore bridge,” Mick revealed.
As is the case with an snow-in, a lack of supplies became a major issue with nobody having prepared for such a situation.
“I had about three days of supplies with me and if I shared them with the others, we would all be on starvation rations. Plus, two of the guests were vegetarians and my food wouldn’t get them very far. There was nothing for it, I knew I’d have to hike six kilometres in the blinding blizzard to the nearby Glenmalure Lodge to see if I could purchase food,” Mick explained.
Along with Shannon and Adam, two guests who had been staying at Glenmalure the previous night, Mick braved the blizzard and journeyed to the Glenmalure Lodge, a six kilometre distance away to the north-west.
What would normally have been a “mild trek up the road” was made terribly difficult by the blizzard and snowy conditions. None of the three could see more than two feet in front of them for the majority of the journey, but they eventually reached Glenmalure Lodge, albeit freezing cold and a little worse for wear.
“The first thing we did when we reached the Lodge was thaw by the roaring fire, as each of us were covered from head to toe in massed snow and icicles. While the others got something to eat, I negotiated for supplies to bring back to the hungry guests, and within an hour I set off loaded up with food, water and cigarettes. Shannon and Adam stayed behind to enjoy the comforts of the warm Lodge and only ventured back to the hostel around 9pm later that night,” he said.
Thankfully, Mick didn’t have to hike the entire way back to the hostel as by the time he had negotiated for supplies, a snowplough had somewhat cleared the road outside enough for a neighbour to give Mick a lift back.
“With everyone warm, fed and watered, we settled in for the night and told each other stories to pass the time. Everyone took it in great spirit and embraced the situation. The following morning we dug the cars out of the snow and set them up for travelling. The Son of the Beast from the East did its best to disrupt our Paddy’s weekend, but we were all safe, fed, watered and warm, with a fun story to take away from it all,” Mick added.