A misty forest, damp smelling shoes and mostly wooden cabins. Our journey lasting 4 nights and 5 days between majestic pine forests and an exotic pathway in the foot of the valley of The Magoebaskloof Mountain’s, Our first of many hikes of the year- as well as my all time favourite hike.
A place us Warriors called “The Afri-zon”- (by “us´ I mean myself and Rowena), walking across fresh water rivers carrying 17 kg backpacks: where some backpacks were bigger than the person carrying them. Coffee and Biltong were considered precious items and guarded under all conditions. Walking up to 15km to 21km per day along mountain faces and through the pouring rain, nothing could break our Warrior Spirit. Singing and dancing, on the brief water breaks our happy voices echoed through the pine trees. Where the fresh air refilled our lungs and the cold water restored lost faith.
Day 1 –
“Row, how far to go? – Row- “only about 3 or 4km”…. 2 hours later and 6.5km UP hill extra we arrived at our cabin for the day)
This was the day we learnt to never trust whenever a map, person or GPS gave an estimated distance. We added 6km to that to not be disappointed. This was also the day Courtz received his Warriors nickname “Frodo” because he did majority of the hike barefoot (Madness! I know).
Day one of the hike was quite a trip, we left Base camp in the rain- walked 6km down the mountain and upon arriving at the bottom on the mountain we passed through a paddock of “man eating cows” (Brahman Cattle) of which started to run towards us when we entered the gate: Tristan’s foot got stuck in a hole, so as decent friends we couldn’t exactly run away, we had to help save him. However, I tried.
Walking through one section of the forest on a back road, Michelle spotted a snake and yelled “Oh look, Snake!” and with that I turned into Usain Bolts African cousin and sprinted up the hill, backpack and all! I did-not-care how heavy it was! Funny story behind that was Michelle previously had a dream the night before stating in her dream she saved me from two encounters with snakes!! I guess dreams do come true! After this dramatic encounter which turned out be a simple brown house snake, Lindy and myself took a nap on one of our breaks. This was a perfect opportunity for the Warriors to scare us- They waited for us to doze off and SCREAMED at the top of their lungs while running away, immediately Lindy was up and following after them. As for me you ask? I stayed in the same position awaiting my fate of whatever was going to eat me. I didn’t move a centimetre, though my heart went into cardiac arrest, I played it cool.
Lunch was by the local Debengeni waterfalls. While us girls sat and focus on the more important things in life, food. The boys swam and slid down the smooth ridge of the waterfall face, leaving the pool underneath the waterfall with leaches the size of your pinky in their underwear!
After a long- long day, a hot shower was most definitely the highlight of the day. In a creepy house, with squeaky wooden floors and no lighting.
Symz was our hero, facing spider web after spider web along the pathway to our next cabin. At this stage he was the tallest of us, therefore he walked in front of the group catching the webs, protecting Rowena behind him and Courtz way at the back once all the spiders had been cleared away. (You want to get Courtz going, scream “RED ROMAN” and you’ll see a man cry, do the splits and jump into a tree at the same time!)
Day 2 had the most beautiful scenery- Devan said it best. “What I have absorbed is the sense of freedom, 5 days walking though nature, no worries in the world- beautiful scenery. No stress, no deadlines! We just walk through nature and sleep for the next 5 days”. Breaks were often by a fresh river- so we filled up our bottles with the sweet taste of nature’s natural blessings. This was also the trip I started collecting my rocks, on every trip of the year- in every significant moment, or at any beautiful placed I picked up a rock.(I now have a box of rocks from my Warriors Gap year)
On this day we came across the Tallest Planted Tree in the World and learnt a lesson that a local type of moss called “Old man’s beard”- only grows in an ecosystem with fresh oxygen. Once at our cabin, which coincidentally was creepy as hell and almost most certainty haunted- Francois (Rowena’s boyfriend) and James came to visit us for a late beer/dinner. James couldn’t join us on this hike because technically he broke his ass. He swung off a 1 story platform a few days prior to the hike. The rope broke mid-air, leading him to land on his coccyx.
To end off day 2, I’ll quote Michelle “I don’t know if I’m wet from the rain or sweating”
Lee kept slipping over every bridge, rock and log while couldn’t walk over a bridge upright, so I walked over with my bum in the air on all fours.
Near the end of the day Lindy and myself were slacking behind, talking about life in a scene that looked as if we were in the highlands of Scotland. With our cabin in sight, it started to rain- so we all dashed through the reeds and fields along the path for safety. Upon arrival Lindy, Devin, Michelle and myself climbed and swam in the nearby waterfall. once back at the cabin after our swim, we met some friends, Juliana visiting her boyfriend from Argentina and her boyfriend Stefan from South Africa- I am still in contact with Juliana to this day. Along the way Row’s food was taken and misplaced, so as a family- we shared our food with her.
Courtz- drops bag dramatically and runs toward a pond of water. Kim- Drops bag and runs the opposite direction thinking that there is another snake. To hear “I THINK I FOUND GOLD” Without hesitation, I now turned around and ran toward him at a more enthusiastic pace. To our disappointment, what we thought were nuggets of gold in the water- outside of water turned out to be fallen acorns from the tress above that reflected a gold coloured object in the water, because we were surrounded by acorns, in an acorn forest! Never saw that one coming right?
Walking through a pine forest, the Warriors stage was set- this was the day we reacted the famous twilight scene where Jacob and Edward make eye contact- the wolves and vampires fight as well as throwing in some of Trevor Noahs “Venacula” for some light African comedy to Twilight.
Arriving at The De-Hoek Cabins- we met our friends Juliana and Stephan again. Who took a different route than us to the cabin during the day. Juliana and I sat for at least 2 hours talking, about what? Girls can never remember anyway! She introduced me to an Argentinean type of tea “Mate” which to be fair looked like a mix between dried Marijuana and garden grass- and tasted like, you know… I’ll leave no comment there. I think it’s most certainly an acquired taste. In return I introduced her to a Traditional South African meal- 2 minute noodles and Biltong. The rest of the group swore that they could hear our conversation word for word 100 meters away by the fire- you know girls!
The WORST day of my life.
It was pouring with rain, not like a few drops. Imagine driving in your car and the wipers don’t even help with visibility. That shit was real. Our hiking bags, shoes and bodies were wet, and for me this lead to the worst rash on my inner thighs in the world. We had a long walk home, a long walk- 2 hours into the day I was already in tears. Until female Courtney introduced me to her green anti-bacterial spray. I renamed it “Devils breath” after that encounter. Basically, imagine having a wound on a sensitive part of your arm and you spray lemon juice into the wound right? Then add some vinegar. And above that scratch that open wound with sand paper. THEN use a disinfectant in the wound. That was roughly how it felt spraying Devils breath onto my rash. The Warriors who waited for me a distance away around the corner heard me scream, a type of soul screeching- heart breaking scream of pain.
And that’s the story how I cried like a little baby in the middle of the forest.
Overall, with Devils breath, snakes and the disappointment of false gold- This was most certainly one of my favourite adventures and memories on Warriors. The most beautiful hike I have ever done with the most incredible nature. To the day we still talk about My dramatic event with Devils Breath in that forest, remember the man eating cows when we passed them on trips to town and I still Courtz “Frodo”.