Spring has sprung in South Africa and with the easing of lockdown restrictions, people are gradually going back to doing the things that they loved and missed during the lockdown. It was no different for me when I decided on Sunday morning to go for a hike. It was the first time I went to a ‘social gathering’ since lockdown commenced. It felt so strange seeing so many people in one place and at the same time a lovely feeling interacting with the different people.
The hiking idea was an impromptu one as we had a braai at home Saturday night so while we were enjoying the drinks and meat we just decided to set our alarms for an early morning hike. Little did we know that we would be self-sabotaging by not sleeping on time and not stopping the drinks festival that we were having. The hike promised to be quite a challenge with having to recover from the previous night’s festivities while doing 10km’s. I’d be lying if I said that the hike was an easy one especially under our circumstances of not getting enough sleep and having a young hangover.
We decided to do a trail that we have never done before and Hennops trail which is located 30km from Pretoria and Fourways on Road R511 to Hartbeespoort Dam was our choice. Upon arrival and entering the farm, the first thing I noticed was the big field which was used as a parking lot for the visitors and there were a few properties that looked like residences, to my surprise I learnt that it is a family farm. The sweetest escape in a tranquil setting and the beauty of the farm which has melodic sounds of the trees and the Hennops river flowing through a valley bordered by mountain ranges to the North and South.
At the starting point of the hike, you get to see the river flowing beautifully and there is also a zip line that crosses the river. My curious nature did not allow me to walk past without asking if we would also get a chance on the zip line somewhere along the hiking trail and the answer was yes, once we finish the hike, the zip line would be the one that would take us to where our starting point was. That for me was enough motivation to get me going. I was immediately amped up to start with the hike and off we went. With the trail buzzing with hikers, the sunrise making its introduction to the new day that lay ahead and being surrounded by the trees, mountains and the river with each kilometre that passed it was an awesome feeling to take in and exactly what I needed. As much as hiking is a physical activity, it also is a mental one as I had certain observations that I had while hiking which I would like to share as hiking through my eyes.
The first 2-3km was a breeze and it seemed like a promising hike for me, little did I know what would be waiting for me further on.
I did the hike with my younger sister and at the beginning, we were making jokes having conversations and a lovely time but after we finished the first 3 km’s the hike proved to be intensifying as we were approaching more steep hills with the sunrise being in full effect. We were no longer having those conversations now, we were rather quiet and focused on finishing climbing the hill and with every hill that we conquered, I always looked back to see how steep the hill was.
There was a time when I felt like I could no longer go on, it’s safe to say that judging by the facial expressions that my fellow hikers had, I was not the only one going through the most and what surprised me about everything was how we didn’t know each other from a bar of soap but at that moment we only had each other. When giving up, you would hear someone passing by giving you words of encouragement or cheering you on to keep going even though you don’t have any strength within you to continue. There was a married couple that we kept on meeting on the way and when I was at my lowest wanting to give up, the lady stood with me, literally took my hand and told me to keep going as I have made good progress thus far, she helped refuel my low energy levels because I could see that she was tired as well and we climbed that hill together until we got to the top.
I also noticed how my sister had no issues with the steep hills but when it came to the downhills she was struggling and for me, on the other hand, it was a different story, the opposite of what she was going through. I enjoyed going down but the steep hills were very problematic.
When we were closer to the finish line, it was almost midday, my hands were numb, I could not feel my feet and I saw myself at home, having the leftover meat from the braai with a nice cold drink. I was beginning to feel uncomfortable, having inner conversations with myself, reminding myself that the end is near and trying to imagine the feeling I would have when I finally complete the hike and the excitement of the zip line that I had at the beginning which started creeping in.
Eventually, I finished the hike and the energy that I had after that was amazing, I could not stop laughing at myself, as we were waiting on the line for our turn on the zip line we shared our experiences of the hike over a good laugh, we were all happy that we completed it as the difficulty level was average-difficult and because we were on lockdown with limited exercises to do, my fitness levels were non-existent. I had my turn on the zip line and everything came full circle for me. I was chuffed with myself for finishing the hike and asking my sister which trail are we tackling next.
The biggest highlight of the hike was how beautiful my country is, I could not stop marveling at the beauty that I witnessed from the caves to the hills, to the flowing rivers, the landscapes and the peace and serenity that was surrounding me. Mother- nature showed up and showed off and I couldn’t be happier to have been part of that experience and starting my week on such a high note. To the first of many hiking moments and reflections!!!