Years in the past, I discovered myself in Cape City, South Africa, with an open itinerary and an keen willpower to discover as a lot as potential. The imposing presence of Desk Mountain, overlooking this beautiful metropolis, beckoned me. It is likely to be that I’ve climbing in my blood, however there was actually an underlying drive calling me to hike to the highest.
Standing at 3563 toes above sea stage (Mount Everest stands at 29029 ft), reaching its summit would doubtless require hours versus days. In actual fact, most hikers can conquer it in half a day or much less, relying on the chosen route, which bodes effectively for its recognition as climbing and tenting gear aren’t wanted.
With a day devoted to this upcoming climbing journey, I ensured I took the time to discover different highlights such because the Cape of Good Hope, Kristenbosch Botanical Gardens, Cape City’s metropolis heart and surrounding waterfront. I additionally delved into the historical past of Langa apartheid district and museum, and even indulged in some wine tasting within the areas northeast of Cape City.
All incredible decisions for half day or full day journeys relying on how granular one likes to get based mostly on preferences. On the identical time, the spotlight I anticipated essentially the most was the ascent of Desk Mountain.
Whereas some go for the cable automotive—a handy alternative for a lot of—the avid hiker in me knew that reaching the head was a journey finest undertaken by myself two toes. Desk Mountain, with its breathtaking backdrop to Cape City, provides vistas that, on a transparent day, are merely awe-inspiring. From the Cape of Good Hope to Robben Island, a spot steeped in historical past for housing Nelson Mandela for 18 of his 27 years of incarceration, the surroundings unfolds like a dwelling tapestry.
There are a good variety of routes one can ascend to the highest. With trailheads on all sides of Desk Mountain, hikers haven’t any lack of alternative. For me, selecting the Platteklip Gorge route was a call extra out of comfort than anything. Central and only a 20-minute drive from my downtown resort, it made good sense.
I had visions of not with the ability to discover parking anyplace near the trailhead, nonetheless, ensuring to get a comparatively early begin, and arriving round 8 am, I used to be stunned on the ample parking I discovered: a very good begin to the day. Hoisting my pack on my shoulders, with a very good provide of water and a few protein bars in tow, I set off for the beginning.
The one unpredictable issue at this level, was the climate. Cape City and its environs are recognized for swiftly altering climate patterns. The day started shiny and clear, however as I reached the trailhead, overcast skies loomed. Desk Mountain’s place usually invitations clouds fashioned by the South Easterly wind. They rise towards the mountain, condensing moisture and creating an ethereal cloud cowl, generally culminating in rain, sleet, or perhaps a contact of snow, relying on the season.
Undeterred, I pressed on, as I used to be effectively ready with a lightweight wind/rain jacket for my outer layer. I’m a proponent of at all times climbing in layers and adjusting to the hike as wanted by including or subtracting my climbing garments. On this specific hike, I didn’t take trekking poles with. It was a couple of 50/50 cut up of different hikers utilizing them from what I gauged. For longer hikes with vital altitude acquire, I’d have actually introduced them, however I thought-about this a shorter hike that I may handle with out.
The hike itself, at 1.8 miles, isn’t lengthy by most requirements, however the 2339 ft elevation acquire meant a gentle incline all through. As I climbed, a really gentle rain greeted me, light however persistent. Larger up, clouds enveloped the path, creating an virtually mystical ambiance, like ascending into the heavens.
One of the best photograph spots alongside Platteklip Gorge I famous, had been throughout the first 45-60 minutes of the ascent. Because the Western ridgeline rose, views of Cape City and the ocean beneath grew to become obscured. An important cause to cease and take your photograph ops throughout the first hour of the trek up.
For the worldwide hiker, Desk Mountain appeared like a magnet. Conversations in several languages crammed the air. Passing fellow hikers, some ascending, some descending, a way of camaraderie solid by shared pursuit of this outstanding peak. We frequently get wrapped up in our personal worlds, however to see so many nationalities having achieved and urgent on to the identical feat as me was someway invigorating. The path was not at all busy, however I in all probability handed round two dozen different hikers both going up or down.
Close to the highest, visibility grew to become practically zero. I’d ventured right into a cloud, and if there was a marked path to the Higher Cable Station, it eluded me. Following the path, I ultimately stumbled upon the station which lies roughly a 30 min stroll from the highest of Platteklip Gorge. Whereas barely disillusioned to overlook the panoramic views, I relished the exhilaration of getting scaled Desk Mountain.
I handled myself to a late morning tea and scone on the Higher Cable Station cafe. (Sure, there are washrooms situated inside for these questioning). As I sat with my late morning snack, I contemplated the numerous vacationers who took the cable automotive to the highest. I’m certain the views are beautiful by the cable automotive route (nonetheless not going on this cloudy day), however realized I wouldn’t change a factor.
The unique plan was to hike up Desk Mountain, and take a cable automotive down. Figuring out although that the visibility was poor, and I would want to get again to my automotive parked on the trailhead, the easy alternative was to hike again down the identical gorge. As beforehand acknowledged, the highest of Desk Mountain was immersed in clouds and visibility was poor. There are a number of different tracks and paths on high of this mountain, and I practically stumbled previous the Platteklip gorge descent from above, even after having simply come from it an hour prior, all of it seemed unfamiliar to me. As soon as I discovered it, the descent, as anticipated, was swifter. I encountered just a few difficult steps on account of intermittent rain, however no main mishaps. Again at my automotive, having accomplished the spherical journey with a 30-minute cease on the higher station, your complete journey took about 4 1/2 hours.
Whereas quite a few routes result in Desk Mountain’s summit, the Platteklip Gorge route proved to be a gratifying alternative. Whether or not influenced by its proximity to my resort or its directness, I used to be content material with my resolution. The ascent was not only a bodily accomplishment, however a testomony to the will and skill to beat a pure marvel by myself phrases. It’s an expertise I wholeheartedly suggest to anybody visiting Cape City. The rewards, each private and within the views it affords, are immeasurable.
Joel Speyers: Co-Founding father of www.prep4travel.com