Who says that each day and every moment is a surprise, a new lesson, a new feeling, a new perspective?
Early rise to a colourful sunrise, noisy excitement and giggles as we prepare to summit one of our highest peaks in the Western Cape, the Arangieskop, named after the Khoi San word for “Cold”. That being in itself filled with anticipation and possibility. Blessings - Rashaad Jakoet
For us South Africans, anything below 10 degrees is already cold, but it has been known to snow. From our safe, warm field hut, we look up to the top of the peak, covered in a crown of cloud and a bubbling up of trepidation awaits as we re-pack our back-packs, removing anything and everything that we deem to be unnecessary as there is only one way up, 9km of steep ascent!
Each one of us is there experiencing different emotions. Each one of us holding our own story and I know that either way, the mountain will open up our hearts and give us each individually our own demons to face. Like Debbie Ford writes, “The Dark side of the Light Chasers”. I have learnt that being an Enviro-Pilgrim, everything is a metaphor and Nature is the greatest teacher of all.
Spectacular views of the undulating Langeberge - Rashaad Salie
I’m finding it hard to stay in my centre with all the chatter and noise around me. I have had the great privilege of spending so much time alone with this great Mother teacher, that when I'm in such a large group, the challenges are so much harder especially stilling the mind chatter and finding the peaceful solitude within.
The morning is crisp and there is promise that the clouds will move and the weather will be kind to us today. We set off along a secondary gravel road passing a quaint old farm house on our right and enter the Dassieshoek Nature reserve. Almost immediately we pass a large dam and a gurgling river on our left and begin our ascent into the majestic floral kingdom, which I remind myself is a gift that we have here in the Western Cape and not to be taken for granted.
The Proteas flaunt their pink hearts while the rattle of Sugar birds’ long tails are heard all around us as they frolic and tease us. Our breath deepens as the incline gets steeper and steeper and winds up into the crevasses and kloofs on our way up. The chatter ceases a bit and as the hours pass as they do and I am made more and more aware of my body.
Foral Kingdom - Rashaad Jakoet
and I am feeling gratitude that it supports me with each step. I find my rhythm which I call the Nepalese rocking step, which was taught to me by the Sherpa’s in Nepal carrying their heavy loads. Rocking backwards and forwards allowing my weight to propel me forward and up.
Arangieskop "Cold Head"- Shaheen Banon Mowla
I am aware that there are members in the group that are struggling with the weight of their packs. I’m observing this and as the hours pass I am unable to watch the pain on my fellow walkers face as each step becomes a burden for him, so I offer to carry his pack. I am aware that the weight I carry is always symbolic of my own emotional burdens. I check in with myself and ask myself why I am choosing to do this and I am comfortable with the answer. I’m lightening this man’s burden for a while as I know it goes way deeper than just the weight of his pack. I hear his story and I hear his loss and I know, that somewhere in the recesses of his unconscious, he is letting go in his own way, no matter how painful it is and I am overwhelmed with love for him. He is my teacher today.
After many hours have passed we arrive at a running stream and rock-pools where the group stops for lunch. I off-load some of the items into my pack and pass the pack along to one of the stronger walkers to carry, grateful for the relief. I am amazed at how fit and strong and tired I feel.
Six hours later we arrive at a welcoming rustic hut, set into the rock and the fires get stocked to warm us up. I observe this colourful motley bunch and realise that it has been a long time since I have been in the company of so many men and years since I have had to share the company of so many carnivores’. The festivity, exhaustion, eating and sharing continues into the night. I observe and am aware of each person’s energy. I retire next to the fire-place in the kitchen, aware that I will not be able to sleep very much, but I'm grateful to surrender my body down and let it rest, aware that the next day is going to be much longer and harder……
Being mindful of every step - Anwaar Adams
Once more we set off, the undulating hills rolling along the Langeberge, the peaks lying at an angle displaying the layers of geological movement, spectacular rock formations holding ancient knowledge of this earth which I know so little about, and Robertson town far away in the distance. I’m in awe at how magnificent my country is and how every time I’m overwhelmed by the beauty that surrounds me. We reach the 1900m summit with glee and celebration unaware of the very long 9 hours of steep incline and dramatic declines we are about to embark on. As we walk down the steep grassy saddle I am once more reminded when two Nayalas’ “African-buck” appear high up on the rocky outcrop, that my spirit animals are reassuring me that my life is on track and that I am walking into my destiny.
ancient trees in the gorges draped with green beards and wild almond trees speak of ancient wisdom as the gurgling brooks sing their song of fecundity and knowledge. I feel so lucky and blessed to be able to be a part of this magic. I have moved through the biomes of protea forest, ancient scrambling gorges, low scrub, grasslands and back into the protea forests and fynbos. I am made aware of how much noise we as humans make and how little we listen. How important it is to be silent and allow the earth to impart its own song to us.
Ancient Mother tree - Rashaad Salie
I spend the second part of this day walking ahead and distancing myself from the group’s energy which I have allowed to distract me from my inner peace. Before long I am quiet inside again. My monkey mind has stilled as I walk ahead, strong and into myself. I am tired and grateful once more to be alone for a few hours. Late into the dusk I walk back to our hut, serenaded by the rushing river, exhausted and grateful for having had the blessing of this
Steep ascent - Rashaad Salie
I've learnt that I'm intolerant and selfish about my time in nature and that it is difficult for me to hold my centre with the constant idle chattering that goes on around me and which goes on in my own head. That it is a constant discipline to stay with myself and not allow others to distract and keep me from my own inner peace. I'm learning every day to be able to detach from the drama, be more compassionate, less judgemental of myself and others and see the beauty in everyone. That each day can be hard, but that “Life throws us curve-balls and we have to learn to dance in the shadows”
Thank you to “Hikers Paradise Hiking Club” for allowing me to share this adventure with you all!