You might think with all the camping we do, that Gareth and I are real outdoors people. We’re not. In fact, over a normal weekend you’ll most often as not find us either playing on the PC, vegging in front of the TV, or quietly reading a book. Which is probably why we enjoy it so much when we do get the chance to be out in nature. We usually try and make the most of it, even if the weather isn’t always ideal.
So, even with the freezing cold temperatures and gale force winds (I’m exaggerating a little, of course) we experienced while camping at Glen Reenen in the Golden Gate Highlands National Park over Easter, we decided that we had to do what people come here to do: hike in the Drakensberg mountains. We put on our walking shoes, braved the cold and set out on a trail that would take roughly two hours to complete: Mushroom Rock.
Although we didn’t complete the trail and only walked for about an hour, we had loads fun. We hiked past a beautiful mountain stream, through fields of tall reed grass and up the steep incline of the mountain. The sky was a lovely deep blue colour, the air crisp and clear, and the view of our camping site down below was simply stunning.
However, the higher we went, the more the wind whipped around us, making it difficult to keep our balance. Once we reached the trail that snaked around the outside of Mushroom Rock, it had gotten dangerously blustery and, coupled with Gareth’s fear of heights, we decided to turn around and return to our tent.
The climb down was almost as much fun. We hadn’t realised just how far we had come, and with knees shaking at the unusual exertion, we jumped over puddles of mud and from rocky outcrop to rocky outcrop, all the while keeping a good eye out for snakes and other small animals. By the time we reached the bottom, other climbers had made it to the spot where we had turned around and we could appreciate just how high we had actually climbed.
I would love to go back there during warmer weather to complete the trail and maybe take on another short one. There are other routes that range from full day to five-day walks, which I think could be very scenic and would be a fun activity to undertake. Gareth wants to climb Kilimanjaro in the near future, but before then, I think we should get a lot fitter and practice a bit more – and these trails would be the perfect place to start.
Labels: Africa, camping, Glen Reenen, Golden Gate Highlands National Park, hiking, mushroom rock, South Africa