Tag Archives: hiking

The Hills Are Alive

photo copy 2Yesterday I climbed a mountain.  It’s called Policeman’s Helmet. It’s become my ritual hike in the Drakensberg Mountains. Last time I did it, I fell into the river less than ten minutes into the hike and was met by a big, grumpy alpha-male baboon on the way back, whom I’m pretty sure was interested in the savoury rotis stashed in my backpack.

 This time, I didn’t fall into the river or meet King Kong. Being alone on this 3-hour journey, I did, however, imagine the following:

  • Being bitten by a baboon and then being airlifted to safety
  • Encountering a black mamba along the path and then considering the extent of my flexibility and whether I’d be able to reach my calf and suck out the poison
  • Being trapped overnight in the mountains and having a shower under a trickle of water that wasn’t quite a waterfall but just enough to have a morning wash
  • Having just turned a year older, I also imagined my knees giving way and falling off the mountain, where I’d lie in wait for days, drinking my own urine to survive

Of course, my imagination was running wild like Maria in the hills and I knew that this was Policeman’s Helmet, not Mount Everest. Plus, I signed a register before I embarked on the hike and it was sunny with no chance of drama.

Still, I sang loudly to myself just to ward off any mountain creatures (and possibly mountain-men suitors too, if you’ve ever heard my singing voice.) Shakespeare and ee cummings joined me as I thought about love-which-alters-not when-it-alteration- finds and that it felt right to thank-you-god-for-most-this-amazing-day. And then, nature called and I answered by peeing in the bushes whilst a long, sharp blade of grass poked me in the bum. Ahh. One with nature.

But perhaps the moment I wait for out of all moments in the berg, is climbing the ladder onto the plateau and taking in a 360-degree view of the Northern Drakensberg’s Amphitheatre. I gave a thunderous shout out to my father and remembered how he always said: “If you ever feel the need to be humbled, look at the mountains.” With all the time on my hands, I found a perfect spot to assume the lotus position. There, I meditated a little, telling all guides, angels, gods, mountain spirits and Kung Fu Panda my affirmations for the new year. And then I took a couple of shameless selfies, ate my savoury roti, an apple and a biscuit and saved the peach (just in case).

As I sat on that mountain, I thought about three things –

  1. This is the perfect way to open the door to 2015 and send 2014 packing out the back door.
  2. Fearlessness is the feeling I want in the pit of my heart.
  3. Maria from The Sound of Music (Don’t judge. I was on a mountain; it’s an obvious association.)

Maria made me think of the thing we all must do – despite our roaring fears, our nasty inhibitions, heavy hearts, endless subconscious debates and unruly imaginations – we must … Climb Every Mountain.

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