4 Days in the South African Mountains

I packed my bags early Saturday morning filled with mixed feelings regarding the days that were ahead of me to come. Unsure of exactly how to dress and exactly what to expect, I prepared the best I could with the items that I had brought to South Africa. My travel and interaction with the native individuals who were coming along on our trip to the mountains was a very nice welcome. We had begun our time with each other by standing in a large circle with Wiebka and Duncan facilitating. Wiebka and Duncan took turns asking the group yes or no questions and we were to respond to the questions in silence and by stepping forward if our answer was yes and by staying put if our answer was no. We learned a lot about each other this way; by looking around and seeing where other’s stood on each question.
We then proceeded to the mountains and Basecamp, where we gathered our belongings and transferred them into our large packs. These packs ended up weighing anywhere between 40-60 pounds. After some singing and final preparations our group headed out into the wilderness. By this time it was late and getting dark, so we strapped lights to our heads and kept going. The South Africans sang songs in their languages and English. Their singing was unbelievable amazing to hear and it took me by surprise. Everyone participated as we walked on, further into the wilderness. We arrived at our camp spot in the dark; we cooked and set up our beds on the rocks. The sleeping was not so comfortable; however the rocks were the most comfortable out of each place that we slept the following nights.
While out in the wilderness we did some reflection and activities that gave us some time to write in our journals. It was pretty serene to be in this beautiful country, far away from civilization. We walked and we walked 2k, 5k, 7k…usually always with our packs and that was tough. Some of us struggled a little, but together we made it through by supporting one another.
On close to the last day our group climbed down the mountain, without our packs (because it was such a difficult climb) to de Hell. This was a huge surprise, a pool of water and a waterfall. It was absolutely amazing to witness and so refreshing after a difficult hike to swim in. It was powerful to think I could be sitting at such a beautiful place. One I have only dreamed of before, it was surreal for me. After the waterfall we hiked back up the mountain (it was very difficult) but we made it back to camp, cooked lunch and continued on our way again.
Upon arriving back to the backpack, we had a large hill to climb and we knew that it was just over this one hill. It seemed like this hill took forever to climb, it was difficult and we had been hiking for hours. I was leader and I knew people were anxious to return back, so some took breaks while others moved up the mountain. In the end we made it and while walking in we sang a song. It was beautiful and we were greeted by the other group members who had returned before us. All in all, it was a very difficult physical experience but it was a fun one and one I will remember for the rest of my life.

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