It was beautiful Saturday morning, the sun was out, it was nice and warm I even forgot that we are still in winter season. I found out a day before the hike that we are doing 22km hike, I started psyching myself up and preparing my mind to 22km hike. I was told we are doing it for team spirit as a send off to our fellow Comrade runner, who is few weeks away to the race, 28th August to be exact. All the best to him, we will be rooting for him in the comfort of our homes. If you’ve been following my blogs, you will remember I spoke about this gentleman in our hiking group that runs marathons, and he is running his 18th Comrade Marathon if I am not mistaken.
I have hiked Van Gaalen few times, few 10kms, 18km and always discovered more and realized that I still haven’t discovered everything about Van Gaalen. This 22km hike was no different, I most certainly discovered a whole lot newer things.
I have many times talked about how gorgeous the place is, the pictures do not tell the whole story. The experience is always different from each hike, that always puzzles me. I am always amazed by this, and I try to make sense of it. Best part of it all, is meeting new people and Fabtastic, meaningful conversations. Everything just falls into place; all I know is all these amazing experiences wouldn’t happen if it wasn’t for hiking. I learn something new all the time, like this time a learnt about Trig Beacon. I always wondered what are these white concrete poles that I always see high up the mountains. Thanks to Wandile, one of the gentlemen we hike with explained to me. He said they are used to triangulate geographic positions (coordinates and elevation) to determine the accurate location and height for most infrastructure projects. It was fascinating to learn about this, really was, now I know and now you Fabtastic people now know too, Thank you Wandile.
When we started hiking, I was confident that we will finish the hike within 5 hours, which will be record time. It turns out I was wrong; the hike became difficult after 9km. The first 10km were nice and flat, so we paced ourselves very well. When we were still hiking the flat, I kept on looking up the mountain trying to make sense of it all. We were doing well going up even though it was difficult, the air started getting thinner and the altitude was not so good. It was windy, at some point some of our team members struggled with breathing, they had to pace themselves according to how they feel. We all made it to the top, 1695metres high, I was beside myself, the views from up there were exquisite. There is a feeling I cannot put into words that takes over me every time I am at the highest peak of the mountain. There is no way I would get to see all these amazing picture-perfect moments if I wasn’t hiking.
I was looking forward to seeing Vultures as we kept on climbing higher and higher. We finally got to their “hanging spot”, Oh my goodness, they gave us a show. It was a front-line row show, I mean I knew am going to see them but not the show they put for us. It was an incredible experience that I will never forget. The video and pictures won’t even begin to explain it all, we were so up close with them I couldn’t believe it. This for me was the highlight of this hike. I forgot all about the thin air and how we still have 12km to go and how painful is it to go down from such steep climb. Like the saying goes; what goes up must come down.
While we were coming down, we got lost somewhere, we ended up doing 27km. I think we were left with 5km when we got lost. You must know that when you tired and hot, 5km feels like 10km. The only thing that kept us going was seeing those signs saying, ” back to VG”(Van Gaalen). We were always happy when we saw such signs along the way. By the way, just by the way, our Comrade Runner ditched us as usual. LOL. He was patiently hiking with us for the first half of the hike and then he disappeared into thin air, but we know he appreciated the team support.
“Out there, unplugged, beauty all around, we can see who we are….our strength, our humanity, our need for quiet calm. Hiking reminds us that life is best lived one foot in front of the other”-Unknown
Resilience was order of the day.
Until next time Fabtastic people.