This week Ann-Christine of the esteemed Lens Artist quartet leads us in savouring winter. In South Africa with its temperate climate snow is out of the ordinary, but every winter you will at least find it clinging to some mountain tops. In her post she described how her dog Totti loves the snow. Ann-Christine, true to my promise I found some snow for him.
Two weeks ago when the clouds lifted after a tremendous storm, I saw in the far-off yonder that Victoria Peak, the highest peak in the Stellenbosch area but 1, is covered in snow. I made emergency arrangements to take leave the next day (of course it was an emergency Victoria Peak was covered in snow)!! My daughter volunteered to join me on this epic journey of extreme proportions worthy of the most experienced mountaineer and adventurer. Now those of you with fine observation skills may have noticed the exaggerated tone of this paragraph, let alone the title of this post. I blame yet another member of the highly regarded Lens Artist quartet member namely Patti as her post contains the following quotation:
The color of springtime is in the flowers; the color of winter is in the imagination
No not the colour – the imagination. Walking among these mountains it is second nature for me to become a child again – no not a child, an explorer, pioneer, adventurer, expedition leader, knight, super hero, giant and while I am at it let me stretch it even further: accomplished blogger…
This day was destined to be remembered, thus the multiplicity of photos inviting you to hike along.
⇑This hike is 21 km in length climbing from 350 metres above sea level to 1595 metres. At the gate we were told that we are not allowed to drive in. The gate was closed due to the storm the previous Friday and they were told it may only be opened the next day. We were allowed to hike in but not drive in… This meant an extra 10 km to an already long hike. Eventually we decided to go for it. The first 5 km to the normal start was on a flat gravel road which we hiked in an hour. With the exuberance and wisdom of a student my daughter calculated that it will take just over 6 hours with say an extra hour for rest and photos… I calmly remarked to her that we will not hike 5km in the next hour (steep path upwards).
⇓Soon after starting the ascend we saw the first Proteas with First waterfall to our right and the mountains to be crossed to our left.
⇓And soon after that Irisna found the first ice, which she promptly gobbled up. Fee-fi-fo-fum, I smell the blood of a frozen thumb
⇓ With the frozen snow crunching under my boots, it was easy to imagine that we were hiking in Antarctica.
⇓As the focus was to get to Victoria Peak, there was no time to take photos of every second rock and plant – I had to limit myself to every fourth rock and plant… Here an ice clad burned out Protea proves that there is beauty after death.
⇓While our side of the valley was still clad in cold shadows, the sun had risen high enough for Second Waterfall to shimmer in the sun. Click here for an English post about a hike I did with friends to this waterfall.
⇓When we arrived at Bergrivier Neck we were greeted by the magnificent snow enhanced Gothic forms of Cathedral Peak…
⇓Right behind us was the majestic Jonkershoek valley…
And to the right of Cathedral Peak Bergrivier valley itself. And what make this even more amazing, is the knowledge that this neck is only accessible by foot. Now there are those who claim that this neck with its different views are one of the most beautiful in the world. Who am I to argue with “those”?
⇓The white line in the middle of the photo is the snow covered path
⇓Leaving Cathedral peak behind, still following the snow/ice covered path
⇓Irisna still gobbling up the ice. After a steep climb we are almost on the same height as Cathedral Peak – soon our destination should be visible.
⇓And there it was – the magnificent snow covered Victoria Peak.
⇓Bring on the skis JohnRH
⇓Being a world famous archaeologist I hereby announce that I found the rock table the Ten Commandments were written on…
⇓Woe is me the ice is cracking!!
⇓In the end we decided not to attempt the hike up the peak – too dangerous the ice was cracking! No we would not have made it back before dark, which would indeed be dangerous. This is at the foothills with lots of snow for Totti to play in behind us.
⇓On our way back Jonkershoek valley greeted us enthusiastically
⇓Second Waterfall and Irisna was now clad in shadows
⇓This photo is a likely candidate for the cover of my memoirs…
The light was fading, but not the memories. I will cherish this special day with my daughter. While I did not summit the peak, this experience with my daughter is one on the summits of my life.
We managed to hike 28 of the 31 km. Thanks for hiking it with us.