For those of you who have been following my blog, will have heard that when we walked into the Greenpop Reforest festival, two days of the Peace tree Pilgrimage had to be re-routed. Much to my delight and the introduction by Aletta from Avoca to Sean Privett and his magical Fynbos trail, which I’m delighted to say, part of which will become day five and six of the Peace tree Pilgrimage.
It was like the Universe opened up a Pandora’s box and inside were two more secrets shared by those who dare to walk on this gorgeous planet of ours. Not only did I get to meet Marianna from the “Flower Valley Conservancy” for the second time as we navigated the new route, but we discovered two more ancient Stinkwood and Milkwood forests hidden away in the crevasses of the Grootbos reserve.
And sometimes it's all just about arriving in the moment!
After the last walk and introduction by Sean Privett, another passionate Botanist, to the delights of his trail and the luxury of his hiking cottage, which I might add became our base for several days of plentiful food, cosey fires and laughter. Each day we set out to discover another route of the Fynbos trail that could add to the diversity and surprise along the predetermined route.
So once again we collected a motley crew of friends to do the entirety of the Fynbos trail once more. We all gathered at the parking lot of “Growing the Future” which was a few kilometres out of Standford towards Gansbaai, a social development project run by Grootbos Nature Reserve. We then organised with the ranger to drop off our generous food supplies to our accommodation on the second night, a sure indication that this walk was going to be three days of trundling, a lot of eating and by the looks of this group, lots of fun!
At about two that afternoon we trundled into Coastal forest vegetation and fynbos, which promised to keep to the fashionable code of bright pinks and purple, the apparent theme of our group. Like I’ve mentioned before, just because we walk, doesn’t mean we don’t have to look stylish while we do it. After all, isn’t nature itself Art?
Not only was it a delight to revisit the route, but because we were going to take our time about it there was ample stops for Chai Tea and photographs. Once again I was reminded how rich and blessed we are to have access to this incredible reserve filled with its plentiful gifts of porcupine quills, pristine indigenous vegetation, which seems to bloom all year around, the promise of future walks, a precursor to what we could expect when we do the PEACE TREE PILGRIMAGE in September.
After hugging 2000 year old Milkwoods, a sure sign that this group were a bunch of Old retro-bate tree huggers! What a relief to see the stresses of the past weeks released into the ground beneath our feet and each person, although carrying their packs, seemed to look lighter by the hour. Our hearts getting fuller, our cells smiling and a general sense that this was going to be a very special three days, even the weather conspired to the gentleness of the terrain we found ourselves in.
That night we stayed in a cosy old cabin at the Fynbos retreat, really comfortable beds, fire, way too much food and the festivity that one can only have with a group of really good friends, sharing, authentic, feeling safe in an environment of gentleness and comfort.
This ancient Stinkwood with it's arms around itself -
Lizette deep in thought - Liza Karp
We had a leisurely start to the next morning which definitely had the crisp coldness of a winter morning. Dressed appropriately we set off to discover a full day of walking through undulating hills discovering the hundreds of diverse species of plants, ancient lichens growing like carpets on ancient trees almost psychodellic in their shades of green.
These trees which stand like wise old women holding on to thousand year old secrets. Waterfalls cascading into rocky pools and the smell of fecundity as we walk through these hidden biomes abundant with animal and plant life and the serenading of the birds as they dart around the Protea forests as if playfully teasing us as we walked. We arrive at Witkrans surrendering to the delicious feeling of exhaustion of a totally fulfilling day and the chattering continued around the fire till the early hours of the morning.
The final day is a continuation of the previous day’s experiences, enhancing the terrain into our consciousness, renewing our beings and ensuring that the experience of the past three days will stay in printed in our DNA
Once more I leave Grootbos with my heart wide open, in gratitude to everyone involved who has so generously shared this experience with me and to those who have worked tirelessly to allow us access to this special place. I have such gratitude for the care-takers restoring the ancient Stinkwood forests and the Stewards of Grootbos. I can’t wait to be back!