There is Beauty in Pain

Have you ever felt so exhausted that just to move your leg to take the next step feels almost impossible, like your shoes are weighed down with lead in them?

That’s how I felt on Monday! Well, not at first but the minute we started climbing up. Another gorgeous blue skied winter morning in Cape Town, Monday was a holiday in South Africa, and perfect for a hike! Two of us set off early to hit the slopes of the mountain. We met at the foot of the mountain and headed out on the Pipe Track, a mostly flat path walking over loose rocks. Right up until that morning I had been excited to get back on the mountain as due to bad weather it has been a few weeks now since I last hiked but from the moment I woke up that morning the excitement was gone and I just felt tired!

I had gone to bed late the night before, close to 1am and due to that fact I set my alarm slightly later to give myself a few extra minutes to sleep, it meant only one thing, in my rush to leave the house at the crack of dawn I only managed two mouthfuls of my breakfast before rushing out. My first mistake of any day! I am someone who can’t skip breakfast, no matter how early it is. It is my energy and what kick-starts my body to start moving.

Needless to say each and every step I took on that mountain was an effort. Along with a heavily packed backpack, my body felt tired and weak as I lugged my own weight plus the weight of my heavy backpack up the mountain. Luckily, the views temporarily distracted me from the discomfort of the weight on my back and the feeling of lead in my feet.

Ready to hit the slopes of the mountain, the city still asleep and the sun only thinking about making an appearance.

Ready to hit the slopes of the mountain, the city below still asleep and the sun only thinking about making an appearance.

Starting out on the Pipe Track, the city still asleep as we began our walk.

Starting out on the Pipe Track, the city still asleep as we began our walk.

Views along the Pipe Track, looking down over Camps Bay.

Views along the Pipe Track, looking down over Camps Bay.

The great thing about climbing the mountain on Camps Bay side in the morning is that it is shaded from the sun by the mountain allowing us to walk in the coolness of the mountain’s shadow.

Following the Pipe Track along the foot of the Twelve Apostles.

Following the Pipe Track along the foot of the Twelve Apostles.

The Twelve Apostles on our left shading us from the early morning sun as we walked along the Pipe Track.

The Twelve Apostles on our left shading us from the early morning sun as we walked along the Pipe Track.

Our chosen route up the mountain, Kasteelspoort.

It was time to head up the mountain side. I might look ready but I certainly wasn’t feeling ready!

Our chosen route up the mountain was via Kasteelspoort, normally for me an easy ascent up the mountain but things were just not going my way. My backpack wasn’t sitting right and I could feel the weight of my backpack making each step feel that much heavier. The stone rock steps up the mountains seemed huge and the higher we went the more my long legs struggled to pull myself up.

The route began with small stone steps which as you climb higher just becomes bigger stone steps carved out of the mountain side.

The route began with small stone steps which as you climb higher just becomes bigger stone steps carved naturally out of the mountain side.

Beautiful proteas getting ready to bloom along the way.

Beautiful proteas getting ready to bloom along the way.

Views of Lions Head, Signal Hill and the sea beyond still partly shaded in the early morning.

Views of Lions Head, Signal Hill and the sea beyond still partly shaded in the early morning.

Half way up on a ledge overlooking the Atlantic Seaboard we stopped for a chat to some hikers making their way down the mountain after having spent the night at the scout hut, grateful for the view, the rest and of course a welcomed snack and energy break for me!!

Beautiful views of the Atlantic Seaboard from the shaded ledge we stopped to rest on.

Beautiful views of the Atlantic Seaboard from the shaded ledge we stopped to rest on.

So good to sit down and take the views in.

So good to sit down and take the views in.

Views of Camps Bay and Lions Head far below.

Views of Camps Bay and Lions Head far below.

After a nice short break it was time to lift the heavy backpacks again and mount them on our backs. Judi reminded me as I positioned mine on my back that if we drink more water our backpacks will become lighter. It was time to drink up!

Stones steps became larger as we climbed higher turning our steps into a bit of rock scrambling.  The mountain still shaded and cool, with streams of water flowing down over some of the rocks, we navigated our way to the top.  Reaching the top of the mountain we walked into the sunshine and headed left along the back table towards the front of the mountain. Our planned route was to head up to Mcclears Beacon, the highest point of the mountain but due to our heavy weights on our back, which by now Judi was also noting the heaviness of what she carried on her back, making both our legs feel the pressure.  We both agreed we would head toward the front of the mountain and then evaluate how we felt before routing off to Mcclears Beacon.  If we didn’t head to Mcclears Beacon we decided we would descent via Platteklip, a steep stairway straight down the front of the mountain.  To get there we would walk through the beautiful Valley of the Red Gods, a tranquil and peaceful area that I absolutely love on the back table of the mountain.

Reach the top of the mountain we reached the sunshine, warming our skin.

Reaching the top of the mountain we walked into the sunshine, its touch warming our skin.

Looking back the path we had just walked from the top of Kasteelspoort.

Looking back, we could see the path we had just walked from the top of Kasteelspoort.

Walking through the Valley of the Red Gods, looking back at the views unfolding behind us.

Walking through the Valley of the Red Gods, looking back at the views unfolding behind us.

The route to the front of the mountain along the back table was filled with many up and downs (literally not figuratively!) and even when we walked along a flat piece (which was hardly any) we found ourselves faced with a huge wall of mountain rock in front of us to climb up again. I have walked this specific path numerous times but for some reason Monday’s walk was one of huge effort and I had to dig deep to find that hidden strength inside of me. At one point we stopped on some rocks where we could bask in the sun’s rays while overlooking the magnificent view before us. It was as I leaned back on a rock eating some of my lunch that I joked to Judi that I was feeling ready to the phone the helicopter to come and get me off the mountain. My energy levels were close to zero and each step I took required not only physical effort but mental effort too!

Each slight dip led us to a huge wall of rock in front of us that had to be climbed up again, blocking any view in front of us.

Each slight dip led us to a huge wall of rock in front of us that had to be climbed up again, blocking any view in front of us.

All the views at this point appeared behind us as with each dip we climbed into, we had a big wall of rock to climb in front of us.  When you digging deep for energy and strength to lift your feet up the next rock, this was almost soul destroying! Again I found myself grateful for the unique and amazing views that unfolded behind us as we walked and with each break, gasping in awe at the beautiful sights we saw.

Looking back over the dips and hills we've climbed. The views always beautiful.

Looking back over the dips and hills we’ve climbed. The views always beautiful.

A view of Hout Bay and The Sentinal through the mountain peaks we climbed.

A view of Hout Bay and The Sentinel through the mountain peaks we climbed.

Flowers bursting with colour along the way.

Flowers bursting with colour along the way.

Needless to say when we climbed another hill, I nearly cried when we finally saw the restaurant hut on top of the front table in front of us. I think it must have been the most beautiful sight I had seen all day!!! I laughed and told Judi I don’t think I could have been happier in that moment of sighting that hut. We were getting close to the end, my body began to rejoice and somewhere I found that extra bit of energy to keep pushing forward.

Sighting things from a distance thought can be cruel to the mind! For it might look close (ish) but in reality you still have one heck of a climb to get there! We continued over and up and finally one last huge dip down into the valley we walked.  Along our entire hike we had met some interesting people along the way, always stopping for a quick chat. As we headed down we chatted to some more hikers who were making their way up the valley we were coming down into.

Reaching the bottom of the valley with two steep walls of mountain rock now enveloping us on either side, we had a choice to make. Head towards Echo Valley and up to Mcclears Beacon or head up the other side of the valley and eventually climb out on top of the front table. As we stood there contemplating what we wanted to do, another two hikers joined us, also grateful for the rest before the big climb out the other side of the valley. To imagine what we were standing in, picture the letter V.  We had climbed down one side and now stood at the bottom and we either had a choice now to walk along the bottom to Echo Valley and up to the Beacon or climb back up out the other side of the valley wall. Each option made my legs groan at the thought of it!

To climb up towards Platteklip and the front table or to head out to Mcclears Beacon. Decisions, decisions!

To climb up towards Platteklip and the front table or to head out to Mcclears Beacon. Decisions, decisions!

We decided to climb back up out the valley and head towards Platteklip, our chosen route to descent. It was still a couple of hours to walk to Mcclears Beacon, not to mention coming back again so we decided to leave that for another day. One last big, huge climb up lay before us and then we would reach the top of the mountain again where we would break to finish our lunch before deciding on heading down the mountain to where our cars were parked.

The last climb up is steep and is aided by ladders in various sections. Behind you a steep drop to the bottom of the valley. It’s best you pay attention and watch where you are walking!

Just a little bit of ladder climbing over the steep sections.

Just a little bit of ladder climbing over the steep sections.

The first short ladder to get over a steep section of rock.

The first short ladder to get over a steep section of rock.

More beautiful proteas along the way.

More beautiful proteas along the way.

A flat wooden pathway leading us around before another climb up.

A flat wooden pathway leading us around before another climb up.

Another ladder to climb with a view of the valley wall we descended on the other side and the drop behind me.

Another ladder to climb with a view of the valley wall we descended on the other side and the drop down behind me.

On top of the other side, the views looking back unfolded again, taking our breath away! People who had come up via the cable way, walking in pretty white takkies and the ladies with handbags over their shoulders began to appear on the path we walked, a great sign the end was near!!! I could hardly wait to sit and take the backpack off my back and rest my shoulders, with my feet up.

Looking back the views unfolding again behind us were incredibly beautiful.

Looking back the views unfolding again behind us were incredibly beautiful.

One of the damn on top of the mountain with beautiful unending views. All this right on my doorstep ~ I most certainly do live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world!

One of the dam on top of the mountain with beautiful unending views. All this right on my doorstep ~ I most certainly do live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world!

Dramatic drops and crazy climbs ~ We had pushed hard, felt every little bit of it but we had made it!

Dramatic drops and crazy climbs ~ We had pushed hard, felt every little bit of it but we had made it!

Views of Camps Bay and the Atlantic Seaboard from the top of the mountain by the Upper Cable Way.

Views of Camps Bay and the Atlantic Seaboard from the top of the mountain by the Upper Cable Way where we stopped to enjoy our lunch before heading down.

Breathtaking views from the top!

Breathtaking views from the top!

Judi and I both unanimously decided after lunch there was only one way down from here. Some might say it is the easy way down, and it certainly was, but feeling exhausted and with legs a bit weak we put the idea of the descending via Platteklip off for another day’s hike and we headed back down via the cable car.

As the cable way made its way down to the lower cable way station, swirling around, giving us 360° views of our beautiful city, I smiled as yet again I was reminded of how lucky I am to live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world and to have all this and more right on my doorstep!

Waiting in line for the next cable car, I was again reminder that Table Mountain is now one of the New 7 Wonders of the world. I couldn't agree more!

Waiting in line for the next cable car down, I was again reminder that Table Mountain is now one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature. I couldn’t agree more!

Swirling around as we made our way down in the cable car, offering us 360° views of our beautiful mountain and city below.

Swirling around as we made our way down in the cable car, offering us 360° views of our beautiful mountain and city below.

As we made our way down, another cable car made it's way up.

As we made our way down, another cable car made its way up.

Our beautiful Mother City below.

Our beautiful Mother City below.

With views before like this it makes the pain all so worth the gain!

With views like this it makes the pain all so worth the gain!

Reaching the lower cable way station wasn’t the end of our hike just yet! We still had to make our way back to the cars along the road to the bottom where we had parked. This time an easy walk down on flat ground, my legs a bit wobbly and weak but grateful for the flatness beneath my feet.

A hot shower awaited me at home and a nice, long afternoon nap!

It has already been decided our next hike will be straight up Platteklip Gorge, out along to Mcclears Beacon, the highest point on Table Mountain, and back down Platteklip to the cars down below. Our backpacks will be loaded and heavy again and although just the though of climbing Platteklip fully loaded makes me tired, our training is well on its way.

After a hard day on the mountain, I awoke on Tuesday morning feeling energised and more alive than ever and since then I have done two mornings of Tae Bo and Zumba. Training has begun in earnest.

Aconcagua awaits…

~ All Photos By Me ~

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. janice walker
    Jun 19, 2013 @ 21:37:38

    Thanks Lara, amazing pic’s as usual and guaranteed to make me feel homesick, as you say you are lucky to live in one of the most amazing places on earth, don’t envy you the sore muscles though!! Janice x

    Reply

  2. Natalie
    Jun 25, 2013 @ 09:23:12

    My temp job has me running up and down 3 flights of stairs several times a day – I might not have been able to join you for hikes lately, but am still in training.. just so I don’t hold you back on the trail ;)

    Reply

  3. margii73
    Jun 25, 2013 @ 09:43:57

    Stunning stories & pictures as usual – yep sure makes one homesick – gorgeous winters day there too :0) see u soon :0)

    Reply

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