A Weekend of Extremes ~ Part 2

As is standard practice with me, I awoke early on Sunday morning even before dawn was breaking. I felt tired and desperately wanted to go back to sleep but my body was having none of it. Slowly, I watched as the darkness outside turned to light hoping for beautiful views of the mountain but finding them still shrouded in misty cloud and as it continued to grow light, I saw that a soft rain was still falling.

Simon was awake, he was getting a new fire started. Alan was still fast asleep.  I was excited about our hike today but I really hoped the weather would break and we’d get to see some sunshine!

Bruce phoned to confirm all was still on and as we were finishing off breakfast, he arrived to take us out. We quickly gathered our things and this time I remembered my trekking poles. How grateful was I!

We headed out the same way as the previous day but this time the snow on the lower grounds had already melted, leaving only tiny patches of white here and there. We were hiking up to the Krom Rivier Peak, which sits at 1420m, in altitude measures not high at all but higher than Table Mountain allows us to go and this time we had cold, misty, rainy weather plus snow on the higher grounds to really give us a good training session.

We started off by heading out to the Paarl Mountain Club hut, a beautiful log cabin with a few pine trees around it and a small gushing river alongside it. I felt a bit like I was in the Swiss Alps and half expected Heidi and her grandfather to come skipping down the mountain slopes!

Starting out on flat ground, the pace was fast.

Starting out on flat ground, the pace was fast.

With the low misty clouds covering everything in sight, there was nothing in the sense of views.

With the low misty clouds covering everything in sight, there was nothing in the sense of views.

The Paarl Mountain Hiking Club Hut, it reminded me of something out of a Heidi story book.

The Paarl Mountain Hiking Club Hut, it reminded me of something out of a Heidi story book.

Once we had passed the mountain hut, where we would stop for a nice lunch and coffee break on our way back down, the climb up began in earnest. Again I noticed my slower pace as we climbed up, my lungs lacking a month worth of exercise and as always with hiking each time you reach the top of the “hill” you climbing you think that’s it you’ve reached the top but just as you stand on the top you notice another mound of rock looming up in front of you. Today was no different.

Warm and extra snug in all my layers, I once again found myself overheating and having to remove my hood and unzip a few layers even though the mist was wet and every now and again the rain would begin to fall.

With each step you have to tread carefully as you have no idea what you are stepping on. You think it is snow covering shrubs and branches of fynbos but when you stand on it your foot treads down further than you expected it to go. Almost like when you try to take a step thinking there is a step beneath your foot but only to find out that there is in fact no step at all and your foot comes thundering down to much lower ground than you anticipated.  But that is not where it ended, scrambling over snow-covered rocks proved to have its own adventures,  besides slippery ice in places, where the snow was thick you had to be careful there was in fact rock beneath the snow you were about to step on otherwise you might just find yourself in a hole between rocks!

Needless to say, our pace slowed a bit as we carefully made our way over the snow-covered ground, constantly climbing up and looking out for the cairns marking the right way.

Making our way higher up the snow began to cover the ground, the higher we went the thicker it got. Oh and that's Simon in the background.

Making our way higher up the snow began to cover the ground, the higher we went the thicker it got. Oh and that’s Simon in the background.

Loving this white winter-wonderland, I could do this every weekend! And yes, that is still Simon in the background!

Loving this white winter-wonderland, I could do this every weekend! And yes, that is still Simon in the background!

In snow and mist everything looks different but luckily carefully places cairns helped us find our way to the summit.

In snow and mist everything looks different but luckily carefully placed cairns helped us find our way to the summit.

As we neared the summit, the scrambling over the rocks became a little more intense and technical to say the least.  Picture this, three guys have gone up this section in front of me and Alan and I are still need to climb it. What stood in front of me was rocks that were higher than me, completely covered in snow with a few shrubs sticking through. There were practically no places to grip in order for me to pull yourself up and my arms just weren’t long enough to reach the top, not that it would have helped anyway as it was all just snow. The foot hold that the three in front of me had used was quite high up (about waist height) and when you are wearing two thick layers of leggings it is quite a task to lift your leg up that high.

This is where the fun really began. I lifted my leg, with the help of my hand and grabbed some branches that were coming out of the snow but all I grabbed was a bunch of dead twigs in my hand. Well that wasn’t going to work. As I stepped up, I tried grabbing the bits of shrubbery sticking out of the snow; I put my weight on my left leg and pulled on the shrubbery as I lifted myself up. Two things happened. The shrubs easily pulled out of the snow and I was left with a handful of cold, wet shrubbery in my hand and as I stepped on the foothold, my foot pushed the  snow fast and swift under my foot and my foot and my body came sliding back down to the ground.  Alan and I both burst out laughing and I wondered how on earth I was going to get up this section!

I tried again, Alan behind me, ready to run out of the way should I come crashing down. (Just kidding he was actually very supportive behind me). Again, as I lifted my body to climb up, the snow crumbled beneath my foot hold and I came sliding back down again. One thing was for sure, I was becoming at one with the snow!

On my third attempt, now with absolutely nothing left to hold, Alan carefully placed his hand on my backpack as I once again tried to get a steady and solid foot hold in the snow and as I pushed my body up, Alan’s helping hand lifted me over the high snow-covered rocks and I popped out on top. Success!!

Finally over that obstacle we continued to walk up, the snow gobbling up our feet with each step, in places sinking deeper and deeper into the soft, untouched snow. The summit was getting close, you couldn’t see it but somehow you could just feel it but we still had one more obstacle to get over.

Next up, was a tiny crevice we had to cross. I don’t really know why I say tiny as it was a big enough crevice for my long legs not to reach the other side. I stood on the edge and looked at Simon on the other side and Alan behind me. I took a deep breath and wondered how on earth I was going to get across. I sat down on the edge of the one side and steadied myself with the high rock on my left, however again this didn’t have any good hand holds for me to grip onto. The rock on the other side waiting for my feet to touch down was covered in snow and ice and as I stretched my foot across just my toes would reach other side. The high rock was too far for me to stretch my hand across and I was just too nervous to make the jump in case the snow on the rock and the wetness under my hiking boot had me slipping right down the crevice.  My heart was pumping and my hands were shaking a little from the adrenaline! Alan took my trekking poles and laid them across the high rocks as a handhold for me to grab onto as I stepped across. I still envisioned my foot slipping so I took a few more deep breaths. I could do this! My whole body was shaking by now. Simon, standing on the other side of the crevice, leaning against the high rock to support himself and to avoid him slipping on the snow-covered rock, he stretched out his hand from the other side – this was it.  I took another deep breath, stretched out my arm, grabbed his and jumped! My body went crashing in the high rock stopping me from going right over the other side as Simon steadied himself on his feet again. Alan behind me of course just gracefully stepped right over without any drama!

By now all we were doing was climbing over snow-covered rocks, the mist was thick and then I looked up and saw Bruce and Andre standing on the summit! We had made it. But the rock they were standing on once again required some jumping from one to the other and although these rocks only had tiny patches of snow on them, I decided against going to rock jump and stand up on the very top! Where I stood would just have to do!

Bruce, Andre and Simon standing on top. I decided to give this rock jumping to the very top a miss and stayed on solid, snow covered ground. At least I hope it was solid!

Bruce, Andre and Simon standing on top. I decided to give this rock jumping to the very top a miss and stayed on solid, snow covered ground. At least I hope it was solid!

Hiking in the winter-wonderland ~ so super pretty!

Hiking in the winter-wonderland ~ so super pretty!

Alan at the summit, it if wasn't for him I'd still be trying to get up that big snow covered rock! Lol

Alan at the summit, it if wasn’t for him I’d still be trying to get up that big snow-covered rock! Lol

Such a pretty winter-wonderland!

Such a pretty winter-wonderland! The only thing that was missing was the view from the top.

Hiking in the snow is hard but I would do it again and again. It's just magical!

Hiking in the snow is hard but I would do it again and again. It’s just magical!

Alan, Me and Simon on the summit! I can't wait till we take another group pic on the summit of Aconcagua!

Alan, Me and Simon on the summit! I can’t wait till we take another group pic on the summit of Aconcagua!

We didn’t stay on top long due to the cold and wetness so we took a few pictures before heading back down again. The walk up had been tough, mostly because of my decline in my fitness since being sick, but if there is one thing  that spurs me on is in the toughness of what I do and the feeling of making it and standing on top. This is nothing compared to what we will face on Aggie, but as always I’m up for the challenge!

We took a different route back and of course going down was so much more fun than going up. I spent most of the descent on my bum, once again getting up close and personal with the snow. A few slips landed me there but thankfully with so much snow around, the landing was always soft!  The rest of the way I got off my feet and sat on my bum and slid down the large, snow covered rocks I had to earlier climbed up.  At one point with a stinging feeling in my derriere, I wondered if it was possible to get frost bite on my bum! Luckily my thermals soon had my chilly bits warmed right up again, saving the day or should I say my behind!

There was much laughter to be had on the way down, with sighting orcs (don’t ask) and even a wishful thinking sighing of Harvey Specter (and this was by one of the guys ~ again don’t ask), sigh if only!

As we made our way down, Bruce realised he didn’t bring the Mountain Hut key with him and we would have to stop for our lunch and coffee somewhere else. We chose a section that was still quite high up and we settled there for a bite to eat, some nice hot coffee and for some a sip of whiskey! The clouds were slowly lifting higher, offering us a partial beautiful view of the valley below and the higher snow-capped mountains with magnificent waterfalls cascading down the slopes.

As we made our way back down to the lower slopes, the snow began to thin out again.

As we made our way back down to the lower slopes, the snow began to thin out again.

Heading back down.

Heading back down.

Some hot coffee and lunch somewhere high up in the mountain.

Some hot coffee and lunch somewhere high up in the mountain.

A little sip of whiskey never hurt anyone and was sure to warm you up from the inside out!

A little sip of whiskey never hurt anyone and was sure to warm you up from the inside out!

The mist clearing slightly to show parts of where we had just come from.

The mist clearing slightly to show parts of where we had just come from.

Views across the valley as the cloud cover began to lift slightly.

Views across the valley as the cloud cover began to lift slightly.

With the clouds drawing back, we got to see a little bit of the mountainside.

With the clouds drawing back, we got to see a little bit of the mountainside.

The beautiful snow-capped peaks across the valley making an appearance as the clouds began to lift.

The beautiful snow-capped peaks across the valley making an appearance as the clouds began to lift.

The beauty behind the clouds and the magnificent waterfalls cascading down the mountain slopes across the valley.

The beauty behind the clouds and the magnificent waterfalls cascading down the mountain slopes across the valley.

Lunch replenished our bodies and feeling energised all over again, we tackled the last bit of the climb down. As we neared the car there were still little bits of snow patches and needless to say the boys were being boys and the snowballs were flying once again every time a patch of snow came into sight.

Making our way back down we got to see some views across the valley.

Making our way back down we got to see some views across the valley.

Passing by the Paarl Mountain Hut again as we made our way back to the cars.

Passing by the Paarl Mountain Hut again as we made our way back to the cars.

Alan, about to pick up a mound of snow for the next snowball ~ caught in action and you thought we never saw!

Alan, about to pick up a mound of snow for the next snowball ~ caught in action and you thought we never saw!

So I made Simon go first! Aim and shoot!

So I made Simon go first! Aim and shoot!

Time for payback but man that's cold!!

Time for payback but man that’s cold!!

Even back at the car, the boys were still being boys!

Even back at the car, the boys were still being boys!

It had been an amazing weekend of hiking in the snow but arriving back at our “camp” site it was time to pack up and make the journey back home but it seemed the adventure wasn’t over just yet.

About an hour later Avril came to collect us to transfer us back to our car waiting on the neighbouring farm.  As we made our way we came across a piece of road that was all churned up and very muddy. As we drove she questioned aloud which way she should go. Next minute we are stuck in the mud!  A call was made to her husband, Bruce, who was just settling down out of his wet hiking clothes and eating something, to come and rescue us!

While we waited we took some photos ~ This is us stuck in the mud.

While we waited we took some photos ~ This is us stuck in the mud.

I was about to take a photo when Simon walked into my view finder. When I asked him to please move this was his answer.

I was about to take a photo when Simon walked into my view finder. When I asked him to please move this was his answer.

Then Alan decided to move in too....

Then Alan decided to move in too….

I swear it's like having your brothers along for the trip!

I swear it’s like having your brothers along for the trip!

Finally, I got my picture!

Finally, I got my picture but only probably because Bruce drove up to rescue us!

It wasn’t before long we were pulled out of the mud and on our way again to our car on the neighbouring farm. With our car loaded we said our farewells and headed back to Cape Town. Tiredness enveloped me as I sat in the back listening to the boys chat, every now and again closing my eyes thinking back over another amazing weekend.

On route, we stopped off to get some petrol and decided to get some hot coffee for take-away but then someone suggested let’s go in and have the coffee. Which we did, and would you believe it was the perfect opportunity for us to have one last game of conniving, underhanded Monopoly and this was almost my best game yet, but then Simon went and spoilt it all. Over the weekend we had come to learn that when Alan shuffles and deals the cards are normally terrible for some reason. I mean really terrible and now it was Alan’s turn to deal again. The hand was shocking to say the least but as I took my first turn and picked up my first two cards, suddenly everything was playing into my hands. Eventually the boys started laying out some cards and it was time for me to strike! I wiped them clean and in the next round I lay out some really good properties and then demanded exorbitant rent, wiping them out again. I was loving this!  One more round and I would win the game. But Simon was having none of it. He was up next and before I knew it he was stealing my prized properties. I wouldn’t let this happen, I had a “Just Say No” card, I slapped it down giving him a look that said ‘take that’ only to have him slap down his own of the very same card and leaning over to steal my properties. Seriously, what were the chances?! I could have cried. He went on to win the game in true style, and now I can’t wait for our next rematch!

Simon about to steal my prized properties just as I had wiped the boys clean twice! How could this happen!

Simon about to steal my prized properties just as I had wiped the boys clean twice! How could this happen!

Our last game done for the weekend, we headed out to the car just as the clouds were lifting off the mountains we had just come from and the setting sun turning the beautiful mountain capped peaks in a gentle glow of pink.

It was time to head home.

As we left the sun was getting ready to set on Sunday.

As we left the sun was getting ready to set on Sunday.

As the sun set, she lit up the snow covered peaks where we had just come from, painting her slopes in a soft pink. The weekend was over and it was time to head home.

As the sun set, she lit up the snow covered peaks where we had just come from, painting her slopes in a soft pink. The weekend was over and it was time to head home.

~ Special thanks must be said to Bruce and Avril for an amazing weekend spent on their farm. Thank you both for your amazing hospitality and to Bruce, thank you for going out in that extreme cold weather to take us hiking to new heights, I had a ball!  ~

~ And special thanks for my two team mates, you’ve got my back, you showed me that this weekend in more ways than one and for that I’m grateful ~

~ All Photos By Me ~

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