The surreal landscape of twisted, carved, and contorted rock formations consumed our lives for the days to follow…
2015 will undoubtedly go down as the year I fell in love with the Cederberg. It’s been a long time coming, to properly unearth my soul in amongst this craggy spectacle that lies somewhere north of Cape Town, and south of the vast barren plains of the Knersveld that ultimately rise into the Richtersveld and drop down to the Orange River. It has always been there waiting quietly, on the sidelines of our journeys north to the river or south through the Tankwa, or beneath us as we fly over it, staring out the window of the plane wondering what it must be like in those long meandering valleys.
But we’ve finally made up for lost time this year with a healthy dose of outings in the recent months. From family camping trips, to the ‘Tour de Tafelberg’, a self-styled cycling trip covering the entire region, and now most recently, a 3 day run to traverse a large part of the mountain range.
We set off from Sanddrif, kitted up for a night out and armed with old and new friends alike, Bud & Elvis of many previous adventures, Richard and Danni who’s fine company was a perfect combination of good humour and wickedly delicious muscadel. And Charmaine, the expedition comic, who did not disappoint in keeping us all endlessly entertained, mostly at her own expense.
“…magically merging and blending with the landscape alongside us, teasing and toying with us, weaving in and out of its rock strewn playground like an invisible spirit.”
The surreal landscape of twisted, carved, and contorted rock formations consumed our lives for the days to follow, from chimneying up the Wolfberg cracks, crawling through worm holes, being left lost for words by the grandeur of the arch, sleeping out under the stars on the rim of a gaping valley that dropped away beneath us, watching waterfalls cascade into crystal clear pools, and hearing the distinct call of the lesser-spotted Pete-my-Brew sounding the siren for a morning coffee stop, the dusty trails along which we travelled being interrupted sporadically with charming bursts of spring colour, flowering out from under unimaginably brutal terrain, and all our while keeping an eye out for leopards who were without doubt watching us from the safe perch of a high up outcrop, or magically merging and blending with the landscape alongside us, teasing and toying with us, weaving in and out of its rock strewn playground like an invisible spirit.
“…a swift and joyful descent off the plateau on a trail that is choreographed to perfection like a beautifully rhythmic dance flowing off the mountain…”
The final day began with the long climb up Duiwelsgat (don’t you just love the efficiency of Afrikaans to describe something so detailed in one word), before descending and running the rim of the lost world valley and saddle of Noordpoort, climbing back up onto the plateau, traversing in front of the ever changing profile of the knife-edged Sneeuberg, and under the majestically bizarre outcrop of the Maltese Cross, before the final drop off the mountain – a swift and joyful descent off the plateau on a trail that is choreographed to perfection like a beautifully rhythmic dance flowing off the mountain. With a lightweight pack and after 3 days of running this was pure, untouched heaven and one of the big highlights of the trip, and there was even talk of going back up just to do it all over again. The cold beers waiting at the end a few kms away sealed that decision though, and with that we embraced the last night back at Sanddrif, swapping laughs and war stories as, in keeping with the manner in which every good adventure should end, we applied ourselves generously to the spoils of celebration.
…by day I would dream and at night I would lie awake next to the fire, unable to sleep, high on the energetic fumes of the landscapes we had inhaled. I lay there for hours, staring into those flames. “Find your peace and then life will fall into place.”
It is not difficult to get completely lost in your own world of thought out there in the Cederberg wilderness. It is beautiful. It is invigorating. It is inspiration. It is food that feeds the soul very deeply. By day I would dream and at night I would lie awake next to the fire, unable to sleep, high on the energetic fumes of the landscapes we had inhaled. I lay there for hours, staring into those flames. “Find your peace and then life will fall into place.” I have found my peace over time. That freedom now lives in spaces where I always knew it would be, but was almost too afraid to go, to let go of the things that didn’t really count and didn’t really matter, to empty the jar and start refilling it again. It lies deep inside, it speaks constantly in quiet, peaceful whispers, reminding of the lessons learned, in resolute conviction, in deep respectfulness, in wearing your heart on your sleeve, in being vulnerable, in being content, in sitting in the heart of an expansive landscape and embracing its far away horizons with arms wide open, and in inhaling its endless big skies above, perfectly sliced by contrails by day and lit by a million stars at night, in flowing down rivers and in running magically twisting, winding trails that roll underfoot and cascade off mountain faces, in breathing life on every stride and with every pulse.
In living simply.
Or in simply living.