Celebrations on a Mountain Top and Down Below

The alarm sounded at 5:30am and it felt like my best friend and I, who had been up late the night before, had just gone to bed. I didn’t budge and in fact kept my eyes shut tight. Minutes later the next alarm was sounding and my best friend who was sleeping in my bed, bounded onto the mattress on the floor where I was trying desperately to ignore my alarm. Singing happy birthday and dishing out a huge big bear hug, it was certainly a great way to wake up ~ laughing!

But there wasn’t much time to waste as we were heading out to the Kalk Bay mountains for an early morning hike.

The most perfect day had dawned, not a breath of wind and for the first time in a few days, the sky was blue once again. At 7:30am we all met at the start to the Ou Kraal hike out above St James. The sea, smooth like glass glistening in the early morning sun’s rays. It was the usual four hiking again and we headed out with Natalie leading the pack with a good pace. The views unfolding before us were out-of-this-world beautiful yet again and I couldn’t think of a better way to start my birthday than to spend it on the mountain, in the country that I love.

Natalie driving us out out to Kalk Bay, I managed to catch the sun was just popping over the hills across the vlei.

Natalie driving us out to Kalk Bay, I managed to catch the sun just as it was popping over the hills across the vlei.

Arriving at the start, we parked our cars and this is the view that greeted us.

Arriving at the start, we parked our cars and this is the view that greeted us.

Another Sunday and another beautiful hike about to start.

Another Sunday and another beautiful hike about to start.

Gorgeous views as we headed higher.

Gorgeous views as we headed higher.

Gorgeous views as we headed higher.

Gorgeous views as we headed higher.

Soon we would enter the magical forest.

Soon we would enter the magical forest.

The group enjoy the last of the sun's rays before entering the cover of the forest.

The group enjoy the last of the sun’s rays before entering the cover of the forest.

It wasn’t before long we entered the Spes Bona forest, a beautiful forest which is made up mostly of milkwood and yellowwood trees and a wooden boardwalk guiding you through the forest, protecting the tree’s ancient roots.  The forest was as magical as any forest could be, with tree branches intertwined and moss-covered rocks and charming looking tree trunks. It was a place that makes you believe in fairies, goblins, little people and all those magical things again! More often than not we had to bend down really low to walk under tree trunks, our backpacks often getting stuck and manoeuvring our way around protruding branches, swing left and then swinging right.

Entering the forest, everything just turned magical!

Entering the forest, everything just turned magical!

A forest like this could make anyone believe in fairies and goblins again.

A forest like this could make anyone believe in fairies and goblins again.

The coolness of the forest and the song of the birds all added to the magical setting as we made our way up through the forest. As we neared the top of the forest we passed a beautiful moss-covered cliff which was dripping water, making the cool shaded air even cooler. We decided to stop here for a quick snack break before heading on up to the amphitheatre.

Almost at the top of the forest we stopped here for a quick snack break. The water dripping down the moss covered cliff behind us.

Almost at the top of the forest we stopped here for a quick snack break. The water dripping down the moss-covered cliff behind us.

As we moved on again it wasn’t before long that we left the forest behind and felt the glorious sunshine on our skin again. As we headed up and over the other side, the most magnificent views unfolded yet again before us and our mid-morning lunch stop was to be perched on some high flat rocks overlooking the absolute beauty of this place I call home.  The sun warm on our skin we all lay back, took in the sounds of the mountain far away from any city noises and just breathed in life. I didn’t want to leave!

Making our way up and out of the forest and on to the Amphitheatre where we were going to stop for our lunch break.

Making our way up and out of the forest and on to the Amphitheatre where we were going to stop for our lunch break.

On the other side, more beautiful views were to be seen.

On the other side, more beautiful views were to be seen.

With spring finally here, the flowers are beginning to bloom everywhere!

With spring finally here, the flowers are beginning to bloom everywhere! Everything is new and fresh!

Me in my ultimate happy place ~ what better way to spend my birthday!

Me in my ultimate happy place ~ what better way to spend my birthday!

Lunch was had and then it was time to lie back, have a snooze in the sun and breath in all that mountain goodness!

Lunch was had and then it was time to lie back, have a snooze in the sun and breath in all that mountain goodness!

As we were on a time schedule and I had some birthday afternoon celebrations to get to, we had to start making our way down again. We took the circular route that would lead us back to where we had begun and going over the Spes Bona Valley we came up on the other side and walked over the top and before us lay even more beautiful views. Over in the distance the mountain peaks were capped in snow, gloriously glinting in the sun.  It was views that literally stopped us in our tracks and had us grasping at the beauty that lay before us.

Far off in the distance, the snow capped mountain peaks.

Far off in the distance, the snow-capped mountain peaks.

Reflections in the water.

Reflections in the water.

A heart shaped rock balanced on the edge of another rock with the snow-capped mountain peaks in the background.

A heart-shaped rock balanced on the edge of another rock with the snow-capped mountain peaks in the background.

I know I say this all the time but I seriously live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world!

I know I say this all the time but I seriously live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world!

The beach, the sea, snow capped mountains and hike all make for a perfect day!

Views of the beach, the sea, snow-capped mountains and a hike all make for a perfect day!

Feeling adventurous on the way down, I had an idea for a photo I wanted to take considering I was celebrating my birthday and I am all for living life fully! It didn’t quite work out as I had planned, I had forgotten to include things like  my age, the weight of my hiking boots and that fact that I was no longer a 16-year-old supple ballet dancer who could do crazy things with her body! With the camera ready behind me, I launched myself forward, hands outstretched. My fellow hikers laughing behind, I though it wasn’t a bad first attempt! My hands didn’t buckle underneath me and I think I may just have managed to get my legs half way up! I tried again but it all seemed to go downhill from there and eventually after much laughter I decided I would go home to practice and when I’m ready I will get the perfect upside down shot.  Watch this space!

Finally the path split and the we headed back down to the cars far below.

Finally the path split and we headed back down to the cars far below.

The walk back down was fast paced and took us far and wide and finally back down again along the first part of the path we headed up on.  As we walked the last bit, Clinton spotted a whale frolicking in the sea.  It this day wasn’t perfect enough, it had officially just hit a fully rounded 10 out of 10!  Then we spotted another whale playing nearby and then a third.  Three whales all playing in the ocean, flapping their tail in the air as if they were waving at us and then bringing them crashing back down in to the water making a splash!

We passed a local shark spotter sitting on the edge of the trail watching out for sharks. Asked if any about he said, “No, not today.  Just the whales out there playing.”

Back on level ground, we headed back to the cars and headed back home where a small gathering of family and friends awaited me, a good old South African braai (bbq for the British and American), a glass of red wine and a perfect Sunday afternoon!

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~Thanks to all those who shared my birthday with me, for all the wonderful wishes and for all the amazing hiking gifts, which will all be coming up to the top of Aconcagua with me! ~

~ Currently I am laying low, practically eating sleeping living exam study, work and training for Aconcagua but once my exams at the end of October are over its full steam ahead with planning, training and getting ready for my next mountain and you’ll get to read all the updates here so stay tuned! ~

~ All Photos by Me ~

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. paranoiasnfm
    Sep 27, 2013 @ 15:56:26

    <3

    Reply

  2. Espirational
    Sep 27, 2013 @ 19:10:48

    Beautiful!

    Reply

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