May 23, 2024
This is the tale of the tail. Fellow trailblazers who have hiked with me know that I finish at the end of the pack. Although I have come to enjoy the solitude along the trail, it’s never totally quiet. Unfortunately, sometimes this means that I am also the tortoise. This trip was part determination and part letting things go.

Marybeth was part of the group of “Dingle Belles” who recently traveled to Ireland for a 10-day hiking adventure.  You can find more stories about this trip in our archives.  Thanks Marybeth for sharing your story!


This is the tale of the tail.  Fellow trailblazers who have hiked with me know that I finish at the end of the pack.  Although I have come to enjoy the solitude along the trail, it’s never totally quiet.  Unfortunately, sometimes this means that I am also the tortoise.   This trip was part determination and part letting things go.  During the planning stage, I developed issues with my right knee, which was supposed to be the good one.  So many times, I almost threw in the towel as they say and backed out of the trip but I bought my tickets and kept telling myself that there was no going back.  You see that the self-confidence I project sometimes shields the fear of the unknown, failure, or the fact that I may have caused “hardship” to my fellow hikers being so slow.

The solitude I enjoy, and sometime loathe, being the Sweeper allows time to think things through, observe the wonders along the trail, and listen to the wonders of nature.  When I returned to work following this adventure and was asked “How was it” I’d say “Life Changing”.  It was the perfect balance of traveling with a super group of women and having me time to work things out and enjoy the experience however it evolved.  I listened to my fellow more experienced travelers/hikers and alternated between sweeper and the advance party.  The day I skipped between Annascaul and Dingle was one of those me time adventures, I explored the Town, visited the Aquarium found the perfect combination of cheese, bread, olives, wine, tea, chocolate, fruit…all the items that I could spread out on the kitchen table and listen to the tales of the trail, it was a magnificent day.  The day after the Charlie horse, the advance party was Carol and I sharing stories, tea, scones and manning the Coill an Rois B&B for Jimmy while he was taking care of things for his Dad.  The day with Sonja it was all about picture taking and walking around Colghane and trying not to stress over the condition of the hostel while waiting for everyone to come down off Mt. Brandon, at least my sticks made the trek over the mountain with Kim.  Each day was a new adventure weather on the trail or being the advance party.

Observation from the tail:

The flora amazed me.  Never in my wildest imagination would I though hedgerows of fuchsia would be found in Ireland.  From my point of view (daughter of Florist shop owners) these were tropical/annual plants in Virginia.  And yet, here I was on the Dingle Way in southwestern Ireland and there they were.

I am so glad I concurred by fear of rock scrambles with the help of CVT, because the first day out there were so many rocks to scramble across.

The landscape kept me going when towards the end of the day I had lost all “steam” and the iPod songs were not doing the trick…I would look up or turn around and look at where I’d been.  I would say a mantra to myself that would go like “I am the Little Engine that Could” “Look how far you’ve come” whatever it took because I was going to finish the day before it got dark.  You see, that was my rule for the Dingle Belles:  You cannot worry or send the troops searching for me unless it’s dark.  From the training hikes and the knee shot I knew that those days I planned to hike I could finish, just that I would be the last one off the trail.

Never be afraid to strike up a conversation; if I hadn’t in Adams Bar I would never have the memory of the 2 Sisters with their husbands celebrating their 10th Wedding Anniversaries; the couple form Boston who gave me a ride when the Charlie horse came back the first day out of Dingle.  If not for them I would have missed the vista that was the location for the Star Wars moving coming this fall was filmed; the 500 BC settlement, and just to know that people are inherently good and will come to the aid of a total stranger.

Be brave, find your adventure.  There is so much wonder out there to explore and don’t be afraid to be the sweeper.  You may be amazed at what you’ll discover.


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6 thoughts on “The Sweeper’s Tale

  1. You’re the Mayor of Dingle!!! You did great and it was a fun adventure with you there 🙂

  2. Wonderful Marybeth. We all so often try to be strong and “project” strong. It’s so nice to hear someone being real. You proved there’s no one thing to get out of a trip like this. ?

  3. I smiled the entire time reading your story. You are an amazing lady doing what you did with knee problems. I so enjoyed our time together at Jimmy’s. What a fond, fond memory. Thanks for sharing & so so glad you came!

  4. You have an amazing spirit and it just shines through in your post…. People say that everyone walks their “own” trail and you showed us how to embrace that sentiment to the fullest. And thanks for introducing me to “Charlie Horse”; he has quite an impactful presence, I must say! ?

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