Torture for Breakfast Anyone?

“Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing the lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.” ~ Jack Kerouac

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It was already getting light outside as I dragged myself out of bed, ready to face my early morning punishment (read that as torture), yet my body and mind were pleading for me to go back into bed. Still feeling exhausted after the pressure of work and exams, climbing a mountain (as much as I love it) was the last thing I felt like doing. Especially this one. For this mountain climb can only be described as torture, especially when you have to carry 15kg’s on your back. But I put my big-girl panties on (metaphorically), heaved my 15kg backpack onto my shoulder and grabbed my trekking poles as I headed to my car. It was 5:50am.

This wasn’t going to be a leisurely hike , in fact, in my mind it was going to be pure torture! As part of our training, every second week we will now be heading up Platteklip Gorge at the crack of dawn with our fully loaded backpacks all in the name of training for Aconcagua.

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Leaving the contour path the 2nd part of the climb up was about to begin.

Platteklip is a beautiful hike that takes you straight up the front face of Table Mountain.  It’s not to be taken lightly, it’s steep, it’s in full sunlight and there is little to no shade and often people underestimate it. I have an immense dislike for the first section of this hike but then again that’s probably because by the time we start climbing my body is only beginning to wake up and suddenly it’s hit with the shock of large, stone steps that it has to contend with.

There was only one way to the top, straight up!

There was only one way to the top, straight up!

I, however, keep reminding myself this will all be worthwhile  and when I’m walking the slopes of Aconcagua, I will be counting my lucky stars I did this training.  Despite us heading out on the trail at 6:30am, the mountain was alive with people. Not the usual people you see on the mountain, a church group had decided to tackle Platteklip Gorge, dotting the trail as we went up. I envied the one’s with no backpack or with tiny backpacks carrying just their water and possibly a light snack. I longed for it to be me as I imagined what it must be like without a backpack, I think I would literally float up to the top!

Looking back, beautiful views spread out before us.

Looking back, beautiful views spread out before us.

Devil's Peak in the distance, covered in cloud.

Devil’s Peak in the distance, covered in cloud.

The switch-backs soon became shorter and shorter as the steep pathway began to narrow between two mountain ridges, the stone steps, some so large you wonder where you are going to get the strength to lift your tired body and backpack up. We kept a good and steady pace all the way to the top, with just a few short breaks to compose ourselves, and mostly to put on another top as we walked up into the cloudy mist that the South Easter wind was blowing over the top.

Nearing the top, the South Easter wind blew a misty cloud over the pathway.

Nearing the top, the South Easter wind blew a misty cloud over the pathway.

The last few stone steps to the top of Platteklip Gorge.

The last few stone steps to the top of Platteklip Gorge.

We reached the top in good time, where we stopped for a short break in the stillness of the mist covered mountain top. We expected it to be windy and cold, but besides the mist there wasn’t a breath of wind around. Congratulating the church goers as they reached the top, they were all relieved to be heading to the cable car that would once again take them down to the bottom.  Judi and I on the other hand would be walking back down again.

Covered in mist, everything was perfectly still on top.

Covered in mist, everything was perfectly still on top.

At the top, my backpack was off and I was feeling fine!

At the top, my backpack was off and I was feeling fine!

With a light snack to refuel us we left the wonderful coolness of the top of the mountain and headed back down the steep slope of Platteklip Gorge.

As we made our way down, within no time the mist had lifted and we were in the full sunlight. It was hot and I for one was ever so grateful we were heading back down again as we once again passed some of the church goers we had passed on our way up, along with other hikers still making their way up.  Almost everyone asked us how much further to the top. We tried to encourage them as much as we could. You could almost see the agony in their eyes, longing to know the top wasn’t far off. We stopped to chat to a few hikers as we made our way down, some asking us about our backpacks, others asking us for our trekking poles…!

As we came to the contour path we followed it around and soon we heard the water falling, a wonderful sign that the last downhill stretch is before you, my least favourite part of the hike for some reason. But this time we were heading down and I smiled knowing that soon we would be back at the cars and my training, for this weekend, was done!

This coming weekend we will be hiking up to Devil’s Peak. The last two times we haven’t made it to the top as the weather has been so severe, we reached the saddle but both times had to turn around. So here’s hoping we have some better weather this time around.

From next week we are hoping to do a mid-week Platteklip Gorge trip, however due to time, we have decided we will do the mid-week hike with only water and a jacket so that we can climb quicker. Yes, we’ll leave the full-loaded backpacks for the weekend climbs. I have a feeling that is going to feel like heaven!

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~ All Photos By Me ~

~ 54 Days 20 Hours 12 minutes and 32 Seconds to departure for Aconcagua, Argentina ~

~ If you would like to make a donation to support those living & fighting Cystic Fibrosis daily please click here.

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