If hiking at night is for you, then the Galway Mountain Rescue Team ‘Howl at the Moon’ fundraiser will be right up your alley.
The event will see participants walking through Galway Wind Park in Knock South on the 8th of October to raise funds for a permanent base in Galway City. The building they currently call home is set to be demolished. The area will be turned over to residential housing as part of the Galway Redevelopment Plan.
Member of Galway Mountain Rescue, Peter Strange explained how vital the fundraiser is for the team: “It’s important that we move fast on securing the base. It is very important for us because it’s both a garage for our vehicles but importantly it’s a training facility as well.”
Previously run in 2019, the event invites people of all walks of life to take a nine or seventeen-kilometre hike under the moonlight to eventually ‘Howl at the Moon’ together. Peter added: “It’s a big social event. It’s great. It’s outside, it’s fresh air and families are welcome.”
Winter Walkers Beware
As Winter looms, the team of 36 volunteers is on call 24/7 to respond to any incidents in the region’s wildernesses. Peter shared some advice for walkers planning hikes in the area: “The biggest thing this time of year is daylight. You really have to plan your route and know roughly how long the hike is going to take you so that you’re safely down before darkness.”
Keeping warm with extra layers, wearing waterproof clothing and sturdy boots are crucial. Even packing an extra pair of gloves can help if you get caught out explained Peter.
He mentioned: “If you do get stuck don’t rely on the torch that’s on your phone. Yes, they can be great but they won’t last very long and they wouldn’t be that bright.”
Working in the Wilderness
With thousands of tourists visiting Connemara National Park and The Burren each year, GMRT get around 2 calls a month. In the warm months of Summer this year, they received callouts for both heat exhaustion and hypothermia in short succession.
“That just goes to show the nature of what we have to deal with. You wouldn’t expect to have a hypothermic case in the middle of Summer. So, you really have to prepare for the unexpected,” Peter added.
If a big search rescue operation is needed, the help of Mayo Mountain Rescue and the Irish Coast Guard is called in. Sometimes without the luxury of a helicopter, GMRT regularly have to find stranded walkers on foot. Relishing the challenge, Peter said this is where GMRT really shine and get “stuck in”.