No Escape ~ Only Way Is Up!

“You never climb the same mountain twice, not even in memory. Memory rebuilds the mountain, changes the weather, retells the jokes, remakes all the moves.” ~ Lito Tejada-Flores

After a 90 minute workout at the gym on Friday night the last thing I felt like on Saturday morning was getting up at 5am for some more torture, commonly know as hiking Platteklip Gorge. Late on Friday night my legs were tired and I felt what I used to get as a kid, ‘growing pains’ where my legs ached to bone. I was close to cancelling the hike but the crazy person in me wouldn’t let me. It will all be worth it, she said. When you are on the slopes of Aconcagua you will thank me for this, she said. I groaned as I climbed into bed that night, the hike at 6:30am was going ahead as planned.

Surprisingly, when my alarm sounded at 5am I felt surprisingly energetic and ready to face the stairway to hell again – It’s amazing what a good night’s sleep can do!

No-one else is brave (read that as mad) enough to join us on these Platteklip training hikes – yet. My email reminders to our hiking group lovingly remind them to pack their sense of humour along with a heavy back pack so they can commiserate with Judi and myself as we climb up. But no one else ever turns up. I can hardly blame them. I wouldn’t be doing this hard-slog-up-stone-steps-that-get-bigger-and-bigger-the-higher-you-climb if I didn’t have to.

Climbing up and looking behind us the mountains in the distance were standing clear and in different shades of blue as if bordering the pretty picturesque Cape Town.

Climbing up and looking behind us the mountains in the distance were standing clear and in different shades of blue as if bordering the pretty picturesque Cape Town.

The summer South Easter wind was howling again and not only did we have to contend with heavy backpacks on our backs but we had to push again the gale-force wind. With the sun already rising and warming the earth with each passing minute, despite the strong wind I was grateful for it as it kept us cool as we climbed higher.

Across the way, Devil’s Peak was perfectly clear and not a cloud was in sight. Today would have been perfect to hike that.

Across the way, Devil’s Peak was perfectly clear and not a cloud was in sight. Today would have been perfect to hike that.

The climb up Platteklip, as I have mentioned before, is one that zig-zags back and forth and the trail is made up of large stone steps all the way to the top. I have long legs but when I climb Platteklip, I always find myself wishing for even longer legs. As I near the top and I take another humongous step up, my legs grow tired with the weight I carry on my back and I find myself grateful for my trekking poles as they support me as I push up. One consolation is that although we will be climbing up on Aconcagua, it won’t hold big stone steps like the ones we are training on. Mostly we will have to deal with slightly smoother paths and loose scree where we’ll  take two steps and slide back down one step again. At least it will be fun to ski down the scree on our way back down!

At the start of the climb, about 20 stone stairs in, we contemplated going to put our backpacks in the car and doing Platteklip without the weight, to see how light and easy it would be. I image we would sail up and down. In fact, just thinking about it I felt light like a fairy! I imagine that is how it would feel. I longed to feel that and it was so very tempting, but I stood there weighing up the pros and cons. Carrying the weight was good training. However, climbing without the weight would feel so good, even if it was just once. I turned back and looked at the 20 stone steps we’d just climbed. If we took some weight out of our backpacks we would have to climb back down those stairs and back up again.  No, we decided, let’s keep pushing on. Really soon, on the slopes of Aconcagua, we will remember moments like these and smile knowing we pushed through the pain and did it anyway!

Final push to the top. Always a welcome sight!

Final push to the top. Always a welcome sight!

One thing I love about Platteklip is the camaraderie of the people going up. The encouragement that is shared, the gasps, the pants and the puffs and of course the laughs. Strangers somehow are all in this together, edging each other on, verbally willing each other to the top.

This time there was no South Easter cloud spilling  over the top of the mountain so we were lucky enough to get some beautiful views on top as we enjoyed a quick bite to eat before heading back down the mountain again.

Compared to our last Platteklip climb two weeks ago, this time we had a view at the top.

Compared to our last Platteklip climb two weeks ago, this time we had a view at the top.

The path leading to the table top and McClears Beacon, the highest point on Table Mountain

The path leading to the table top and McClears Beacon, the highest point on Table Mountain.

Heading back down again, the mountain side is green and it was a perfect day to be out in the place I love.

Heading back down again, the mountain side was green and it was a perfect day to be out in the place I love.

I know I say this all the time (and you probably get sick of hearing me say it) but damn, I live in such a beautiful city!

I know I say this all the time (and you probably get sick of hearing me say it) but damn, I live in such a beautiful city!

With the day growing ever hotter, by the time we were heading back down I was grateful we were the one’s walking down and not up like so many others. Climbing early certainly does have huge benefits in summer. Another successful training hike done, I headed home where I was hoped to have a quick nap (they are the best after a hike) before heading off to a dear friend to spend some more precious hours with her before taking her to the airport as she was heading back home to the UK.

This Saturday, hold thumbs, we are going to be climbing Devil’s Peak. The weather is looking good and although a strong South Easter is due to blow, we are going up whether there’s cloud cover or not. I hope to bring you beautiful pictures from the top of the 360˚ view and not of mist from inside the South Easter’s cloud (or should I say van Hunks puffs of smoke!) so keep your fingers crossed.

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~ 37 Days 22 Hours 16 Minutes 37 Seconds till our plane rolls down that runway for Argentina! ~

~ All Photos By Me ~

~ If you would like to make a donation to support those living with Cystic Fibrosis, please click here. ~

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