In the end, the distance never really matters

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 😉

It takes a little bit of veldskool to find yourself again

It was a last minute invite from our friends, Dan & Linda, which saw us packing our bags and heading to the majestic Drakensberg mountains for the long weekend. KK and I always promise to make time for shorter weekend getaways but land up never getting around to organising them.

I knew that the weather would be chilly but somehow I still didn’t pack enough warm clothes. I ditched my warm puffer jacket at the last minute and regretted it the first afternoon when we were sitting outside having sun downers. As that sun dipped behind the mountain, the temperature dropped very low. Brrr!Drakensberg Sports Resort sun setting

It reminded me of my old veldskool trips where we would be bussed up in the middle of winter to Pilgrim’s Rest in Mpumalanga to sleep in rows in army tents in the pitch dark. I remember not taking enough warm clothes with me then and having to borrow my friend Vicky’s track suit top. I also remember my takkie slipping off my foot during the obstacle course and disappearing into the mud. It was my only pair of shoes. It sounds cruel when I write about it, but trust me, these were the best of times growing up!

But I digress..Drakensberg sports resort

Cuddled up in fleecy blankets with glasses of wine in front of the log fire was exactly what I needed after a few weeks of hectic work pressure. I had been working 12 hour shifts and hadn’t made time for a run for over 5 weeks. My body felt the effects.

So I let go… I over ate. I over slept. I drank too much wine and allowed the beautiful mountains to engulf me. It felt like one huge hug. My favourite was the Village Bakery which was overflowing with the most divine baked goods! Of course, I had to have my favourite… a jam donut!Village Bakery Drakensberg

On the Sunday we managed to visit the Falcon Ridge Bird Sanctuary for a show. If you go to the ‘Berg, add it to your itinerary. It’s an amazing place and the show is full of snippets of info on these wonderful birds. This is Dan and Linda saying hello to the fastest bird on earth, the Peregrine Falcon.Dan and Linda Falcon Ridge Drakensberg show Falcon Ridge Drakensberg Vultures Drakensberg Falcon Ridge

As we drove home, I had already mentally re-set my goals. I had refreshed, recharged and realised what I needed to do to get back the balance I had somehow lost. What helped was this view…Drakensberg views Sunrise over the Drakensberg mountains

A sentence out of a blog post by a friend hit home. It said, “You’ve been gone so long from all that you know.” Sometimes you have to leave, to come back and find yourself.

Last week, I went back to track. I made the Monday and Wednesday session. It felt so good! And I have my first trail run coming up.

Thanks Dan & Linda for a fab weekend!