Wikipedia will tell you that the Amphitheatre in the Drakensberg is widely regarded as one of the most impressive cliff faces on earth. I would agree.
I would also add that it’s the perfect place to reset your body, mind, and soul, and be reminded that the so-called big issues you worry about back home pale in significance when you’re engulfed in those magnificent mountains.
We arrived at Thendele Lodge in the Royal Natal National Park for a weekend away with car boots overflowing with bags of crisps, boxes of wine and warm blankets. And thank goodness too! It was ffffreezing in the evenings.
On Saturday morning, we hiked up to The Gorge. The dry grassy path wound its way into lush forest terrain and out onto sections of boulders.
At one stage, I was peeking at my Garmin every few meters because the 7km halfway mark had been passed almost 2kms ago by the time we had reached The Gorge.
Cheese and ham rolls, next to the stream, sitting at The Gorge… Hashtag bliss!
Having nearly fallen into the ice-cold almost translucent stream, I admit to having flashbacks of my Run-The-Berg trail run which also promised to be one distance but turned out to be much much much further. Was this hike really only 14kms?
While I’m fit enough to handle the distance, my legs felt like jelly after my near-fall and unlike road running, trail running and hiking require a hectic amount of concentration, of which my mind is untrained.
Deceptively, the hike downhill back to the lodge wasn’t easy. My jelly legs were joined by butterfly ankles and my legs ached. My watch recorded 20kms when we finally arrived back at the lodge. Boy was I ready for a hot shower and a glass of wine!
The rest of the weekend was downtime and the instruction was for “everyone to do exactly what they wanted to do.” (You gotta love holidays with friends like this!)
For some, it meant more hiking up to Policeman’s Helmet on Sunday…
For others, a snooze on the couch in the sun…
That was my choice. And while I did get through a few chapters of my book, my mind wandered to other thoughts…
- How on earth was KK able to attempt over 30kms of hiking a mere week after finishing Comrades?
- A stiff body and refreshed mind feel absolutely amazing after hiking 20kms up to The Gorge, in one of the most spectacular places in the world. Ironically the 20km hike felt shorter than any half marathon I’ve ever run.
- That I am so lucky to have such interesting, caring and adventurous friends in my life.
KK and I agreed on the drive back home that we really do need more weekends away in our lives. And yes, maybe even another hike or two 😉