Tag Archives: views

A Place of Grandiosity

In the winter holiday of 2019 a group of students decided to answer the mountains’ calling and set out into the Riviersonderend mountain range. We decided to pack our bags and overnight on the crest of the mountain.

The five of us set out in a foggy, overcast sky. This made the fynbos with water beads hanging from the leaves  take on a crisp green color. As we walked into a dense cloud, the whole scene chanced as we were surrounded by whiteness, large sandstone boulders with various shapes appearing as if from nowhere and the song of seemingly near sunbirds filled the surround.

 

The trail was an old jeep track, so we only faced the increasing incline as we neared the crest. We only carried our drinking water for the two days as I was banking on the fact that we ought to come across several mountain streams as it was raining a lot the past few days. I was surprised and eventually a bit anxious as we reached dry stream upon dry stream. We would have no water for preparing our food or drinking coffee on top.

This was likely because it was still early winter and the ground was not yet saturated enough  for the land to form water streams.

Someone was looking after us as, much to my relief, we eventually found a small, steady mountain stream just before our final steep ascent. We could fill up and not have to ration on our water. No dry 2-minute noodles and oats for us!

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We’ve found water!

Our final ascent took us even higher unto the mountain and we became completely enveloped in the clouds. With the view hidden from us, we pushed on and made our camp for the night.

To our surprise and delight, it was almost completely wind still on the mountain crest. We prepared our supper while sitting in our tents – a mix of bacon, green pepper, onion and 2-min noodles finished off with a cappuccino and chocolate!

 

Morning greeted us with one of the most spectacular sunrises we’ve ever seen! The valley was partially covered in a blanket of mist with the mountain ranges surrounding us protruding like large spiky islands. Some clouds still on our altitude came rushing towards us which created a very dramatic scene with the sun rising in the distance.

We ate our oats and coffee breakfast in style while sitting and taking in the scenery around us. Eventually we packed up and forced ourselves down the mountain back to the busy modern life of humans.

 

I’ve been on this mountain a couple of times and I have always left with an impression of the humbling grandiosity of our natural world.

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Towards an Italian Cross in South Africa!

Weekends when I drive home, I have to cross the mountains via the Du Toitskloof Pass. I  notice this trail’s starting point every time I drive past. Eventually an opportunity came and a friend and I made good use of it!

Some interesting history: The pass is named after Francois Du Toit who with the Huguenots (an ethnoreligious group of French Protestants ) arrived as refugees in the Cape colony, fleeing religious persecution in their own country. He and his family were the first people to farm on the mountain slopes nearest to the where the pass is today. The mountain pass was built in World War II by Italian prisoners-of-war for whom the cross was erected on Huguenot Peak. (Read more about its long and interesting history)

Setting out early isn’t always as easy in summer time. It was a struggle to get out of bed and prepare for the hike. Eventually we reached the start at 10 am, the day was already getting warm and everything nearly basked in the sun.

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The trail led us up the Miaspoort ravine where we scrambled over a rock slide and between some shrubs before we started to climb the Small Drakenstein mountains. The climb was slow and steady, taking breaks often to look back at the Cape Winelands which was quickly getting smaller and smaller.

On top of the mountains, the trail took us on a plateau where we had breathtaking views of the surrounding mountain ranges.

On top of Huguenot Peak, it was already noon and the sun was beating down on us. We sat in the shade of a large boulder, absorbing the silence and vastness around us. The cross was erected in memory of the Italian prisoners-of-war who build the Du Toitskloof Pass in World War II.

While we sat there two falcons were circling us. How free they must be, we wondered, only concerned with the tasks of basic survival. Well rested, re-hydrated and re-lathered with sunscreen, we headed back.

Walking down the mountain, we took in the last bits of scenery and freedom before returning to our student existence on Monday.