Double Delights

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn. ~ John Muir

Sunday morning we headed out to Constantia Nek to hike Constantia Corner, a hike I have never done before but been longing to do it for like forever! Exhausted from my studies and work, getting up early and heading out to hike was the last thing I felt like but I knew the mountain air would be exactly what I needed. Hoping for a nice afternoon off to just relax, we set the intention to be off the mountain 1pm.

The winter rains that had been falling for the last two days were moving on and a misty cloud hovered over the higher peaks, making it perfect weather for hiking. Within minutes we were heading off to the left, up the long set of wooden steps leading up the mountain side. We had one of two routes to try and once we had spent 15 minutes on nature’s stair master we would decide which one to take.

The mist rolling over the mountain slopes made for beautiful views all on its own. There is always something so magical about hiking in the mist and knowing that when we hike this route again on a sunny day it’s going to look completely different, offering us so many different views.

Making our way up as the mist rolls over.

Making our way up as the mist rolls over.

Misty morning wonder!

Misty morning wonder!

The first split in the road where we would eventually come back to...

The first split in the road where we would eventually come back to…

As we reached the first split in the road we could either go off to the left and find the path leading up from there or we could continue on the natures stair master and keep heading up. We decided to stick on the path we were on and take the route at the next higher junction. It wasn’t before long we had reached the next junction and we headed off to the left to find the next path we had to take. With the recent rains the path at first was clear but soon the washed away path disappeared beneath the vegetation. We did a bit of bundu bashing where it looked like the path led but eventually trees leaning across the path, having had debris from the mountain side wash over it, began blocking the way. Climbing over and under, the path just got worse and eventually we came to a stop while trying to figure out the way forward. A few more steps forward and the path was completely unrecognisable. At this point there was just no way forward. We decided to head back to where the path split and re-read the route description. We were on the right track but the path was just no longer accessible. Little did I realise at that point, the route description I was working off was from 2010 and I guess with four years’ worth of winter rain and little foot traffic on the specific route, the path had just not survived. We had one of two choices for that point, take the easy but steep jeep track road up to the dam and be on top within 30 minutes or head back down the mountain to the lower section where we could attempt the other route.

Luckily, I have a wonderful hiking partner who is always ready to say yes and even though I desperately wanted the afternoon to just relax, I too desperately wanted to do this hike and I wasn’t ready to give up on finding the path that would take us to the top. So we headed back down to the lower path that would hopefully take us up again.

At times a light, misty rain fell on us, the view covered by the clouds and at other times it would break open and offer us glimpses of what lay below. Within a short period of time we were back on the lower path and almost back at the cars and practically starting our hike all over again!

We headed off to the side and followed the jeep track to the end, this time hoping the dead-end would give way to the promised path. There just beyond the end was a small stone path between the shrubs leading up the mountain. Happy days, we had found a path that would take us to the top!

A small rainbow as if celebrating a path we could use!

A small rainbow as if celebrating a path we could use to get to the top.

The mist rolling over the higher peaks.

The mist rolling over the higher peaks.

Beautiful, misty views as we climbed up.

Beautiful, misty views as we climbed up.

Scrambling up the mountain.

Part views of Orange Kloof below.

Part views of Orange Kloof below.

Once again we found ourselves climbing up the mountain slope as light drizzle began to fall again, cooling us down. This path offered incredible views as did the previous path and when the misty clouds parted we got sneak peeks at the views of Hout Bay and the magnificent Orange Kloof below. There was quite a bit of rock scrambling adding to our adventure, rather than just hiking. Careful not to slip on the wet rocks we climbed higher and even negotiated a rocky ledge as we climbed up and over.

On top, the table top opened up before us as we made our way across.

On top, the table top opened up before us as we made our way across.

Water logged pathways on top.

Water logged pathways on top.

The frogs were loving this!

The frogs were loving this!

Shimming between rocks and swooping under trees and scrambling over rocks, we finally crested the last rock and surfaced on the top and began to make our way across the top of the mountain. We passed a rock called “Camel Rock” as it looks exactly like one and eventually between two huge rock overhangs we stopped for lunch.

The rock known as "Camel Rock"

The rock known as “Camel Rock”

The magical of the mist changes everything!

The magic of the mist changes everything!

Living life large!

Living life large!

Before too long we were on our way over to the De Villiers Dam, the only sound as we walked was the whooshing of our legs brushing past the vegetation on the side of the path and if we stopped and stood in silence all we could hear was the incredible sounds of the frogs happily croaking and the birds chirping. It was beyond magical!

As we came up to the dam, the mist rolled over the black looking surface of the water, creating the beautiful portraits in nature. We stood there for a while listening to nature and watching the mist roll in over the dam.

Some more negotiating of the trail was to be had on top.

Some more negotiating of the trail was to be had on top.

Seeing the "Overseer’s Cottage" in the distance let us know that we were near the dam.

Seeing the “Overseer’s Cottage” in the distance let us know that we were near the dam.

The mist rolling in over De Villiers Dam.

The mist rolling in over De Villiers Dam.

We didn’t stop for too long at the dam as we were both eager to get back down. We headed down via the steep jeep track until we hit the wooden stairs leading down the slopes and headed down that way back to where our cars were parked.

Making our way down the jeep track.

Making our way down the steep jeep track.

This trail was well worth the wait and the double hike we ended up doing! It is jaw-droppingly beautiful to hike in the misty cloud and with hardly any other hikers around. The solitude and beauty of the mountain was exactly what I needed to re-energize my weary body and mind! I can’t wait to get out there and do this hike again when the weather is clear as it will offer a whole different take when the sun is shining!

There was so much beauty on the mountain that day, I couldn’t help but be grateful for a wonderful hiking partner always willing to say yes and for going the extra mile, literally!! It was exactly what the doctor ordered and even though we had double hiked parts of the hike we still managed to make it down by 1:30pm and I still managed to get the afternoon off. Bonus!

~ All Photos By Me ~

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Finding Beauty in the Slog

“Mountains are not stadiums where I satisfy my ambition to achieve, they are the cathedrals where I practice my religion.”

No matter how many times I climb it or how many times I remind myself why I really do actually love climbing it, I can never get my head around climbing Platteklip Gorge. I hate it. Passionately. That is, until I’m in the gorge climbing her relentless staircase to the top!

Last weekend Lisa, one of my lovely team mates from Aconcagua, was down from Johannesburg and so we rounded up the Cape Town troops for a mini-Aconcagua reunion on the slopes of Table Mountain. I gave Lisa some nice hikes to choose from and naturally, she picked my nemesis, Platteklip Gorge. I really do try my best to avoid Platteklip at all costs, unless I’m seriously training but this time there was no way around it. It was straight up to the top!

On a perfect winters day, there was only one way to go, straight up to the top!

On a perfect winters day, there was only one way to go, straight up to the top!

The winter sun finally peeking over Devil's Peak in the distance.

The winter sun peeking over Devil’s Peak in the distance.

Taking a breather on the way to the top.

Taking a breather on the way to the top.

Cape Town put on the perfect show, another gorgeous, warm and sunny winter’s morning had us removing layers before too long as we climbed up, with the beautiful city views below to feast on.

With a recently injured neck leading to a general lack of training lately it had me climbing up the big stone steps slowly. But as we climbed, with each passing group of people, I was reminded why I actually do love Platteklip. With the rest of the team surging forward to the top, we took our time, stopping to chat to the people we passed. Even when we are not officially training, people seem to take us seriously and most ask us if we are training for something. We obviously always look the part! It turned out that the first couple who stopped to ask us if we were training for something just happened to be heading up to Everest Base Camp with Ronnie in September this year and were delighted to hear he was in our hiking party just up ahead! After having a lovely chat (and breather) we moved on and up. A short while later a larger hiking group we kept crossing paths with as they stopped for a breather and then we did, asked us the same question, are we training for something. What a wonderful group of people! We stood and chatted for ages with them about climbing mountains, what they had done and what we had done and about our Seven Summit journey. I hadn’t even reached the top yet and the mountain was reminding me, even on the routes I find a horrible slog, why I love the mountain.

There’s a shared camaraderie on the mountain, strangers stop to chat and share parts of their lives before moving along the path in the same direction. People (mostly) greet you back as you say good morning and especially on Platteklip Gorge, the encouragement and the laughs make the slog so worthwhile.

Views from the top of the gorge.

Views from the top of the gorge.

Reaching the top, our group enjoyed a bite to eat before heading back down. Judi and I decided to walk back down the way we came while the rest of the group headed back down the easy way, via the Cable Car.

So awesome to be hiking with some of my Aconcagua team members again.

So awesome to be hiking with some of my Aconcagua team members again.

Beautiful early morning views from the top!

Beautiful early morning views from the top!

Views from the top!

Views from the top.

Nothing is quite as peaceful as standing on top, looking out across the earth. Soul-time for sure!

Nothing is quite as peaceful as standing on top, looking out across the earth. Soul-time for sure!

It was while climbing down that the mountain showed her beauty again. The laughs shared with other hikers slogging their way up, the encouraging words and the smiles of relief when hikers find they are nearly at the top. For those who are further down, we just get creative!

Making our way back down the gorge again.

Making our way back down the gorge again.

The smile on my face now evident, with each step down my heart burst with gratitude that I was now going down and not up like all those passing us! The mountain truly does offer something that only those who climb know.

Back down on the ground, we headed off to Café Paradiso where we enjoyed a lovely, long and lazy lunch while catching up, laughing and just spending time with friends, who just a few months back, were strangers.

~ All Photos By Me ~

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