Jean’s Hill (1,7 km)
Crisp morning air and the crunch of rocks under your hiking boots. That is how it went the first morning up on Jean’s hill. The trail was not at all difficult, therefore, we walked it in our running shoes. Another reason for the running shoes is because I did not have my hiking boots with me. You may wonder why I ponder on the shoes this much, the reason for its importance will reveal itself soon. At the top of the hill we enjoyed our sandwiches and we were also greeted by our fellow hikers’ dogs. Overall, it was little effort for a striking view of the town. It was a great experience and I would definitely recommend it for any hiker.
Always be cautious, even when a hike seems easy, there is always a possibility of an accident. I do not want to scare you into avoiding hiking at all, I only want to warn you about the dangers there may be and give some advice and tips that I have learned myself.
Please plan ahead. This includes your route, needed supplies, the weather and research about the place you want to go to. The preperation is of utmost importance, do not neglect it as you will regret it when it is too late.
Know your body and what you are able to do, never overestimate what you can handle. Know your limits. Nature does not have sympathy, do look out for yourself. Life is precious, do not waste it on rash decisions and reckless behaviour.
Furthermore, be respectful when hiking and enjoy the nature around you.
We got up quite early to go and conquer the Three Sisters. With the sandwiches and water packed, we were well on our way. Again, in our running shoes which we would find out were a mistake later on. The first 2 kilometres were mild. It was a little steep, but pleasant. We stopped for a sandwich break and enjoyed the view. Luck was on our side and delivered us with whale sightings. It was spectacular to see them jumping around and spouting water.
After the small break we headed on and that is when we first encountered one of the many life threatening curves on the way. On your right side there is a giant rock and on your left side a straight drop down one of the crests of the Three Sisters. It is really dangerous and there is no railing for you to hold onto. We had to use our hands and walk sideways to hold onto the rock. With small steps and encouragement from one another, we passed it. At that moment I decided that there was no way we were going to head back on the same route. We had to take a circle route.
The walk from there got more difficult by the minute. The terrain was rough with gravel and rocks. There was also the hefty inclination of the trail to one of the “Sisters”. It got more dangerous as we had to do another few of those curves I mentioned before on the peaks. The town got smaller as we climbed higher. With the tiring path we still admired the beautiful fynbos and the rocks along the way. It was interesting to look at the erosion visible in the rocks, probably from wind and water.
After a while we were finally on the second “Sister” after climbing like spiders on the steep slope.
We were hit with slight panic as the path had disappeared, there were no further yellow footsteps that guided us to where we were then. We searched through the thicket on the rocks and after a while we found it going up ninety degrees onto the third “Sister” going deeper into the mountains. There was no way I would climb without a guide, next to a drop of 580 metres above the ground and a tired body that already endured 5,4 kilometres of climbing. An accident was waiting to happen if we had gone further. We looked for the paths going down the mountain, but instead we found signs reading, “Hiking Trail Temporarily Closed”. My heart dropped and I was scared, because the only way we could go down the mountain was turning around.
All those dangerous curves and rough terrain raced through my mind. I really thought something bad was waiting. Going down with the tough route we had done are more gruelling than when we had gone up. Images of slipping and falling overwhelmed my mind, but my partner @fermentedphil calmed be down and told me that we would make it. As if it could not get any worse, we had 1 litre of water left of the 3,5 litres we packed. Turning back was a strenuous choice. I started to pray and I prayed all the way back.
Those next two hours I was drenched in sweat from the demanding route and from perturbation. Our water was going down faster than we were going down the mountain. Because of the wrong shoes, my ankles were dying and every step I took without them giving in, was a blessing. Slowly we made our way to the flat earth again.
Alas, we made it down safely without any accidents. There were some scratches, but at that moment I was only thankful to have escaped unscathed from the hike to even notice them. When we got home we were dehydrated and our feet were killing us. I experienced first-hand the consequences of not planning well and hiking in the wrong shoes, please do not follow my example. After a long shower, we fell on the bed and we were out like lights.
This experience was mentally and physically challenging. It could have gone a lot better than it did, but atleast I have the story to tell. Here are some other photographs I took whilst hiking.
Thank you for making it this far in the post as it was a mountain on its own. The photographs were taken with my iPhone and the post is of my own creation about my experience.