Three Mountain Challenge and Tragedy for Bafana Bafana



The plan for the day was to hike the three mountains near Cape Town – Devil’s Peak, Table Mountain, and Lion’s Head, in that order. Now, any of the two former hikes are generally considered a decent day trip. Of course, all the time I’ve been here I’ve not managed to hike any of these so I really had no idea what I was getting myself into. Then again, even if I had this is right up my alley.

It was pouring overnight, and I was a bit afraid that the hike would be off. But, happily, my carpool arrived only a few minutes late and we picked up two other people before heading to the Rhodes Memorial car park by Newlands (same exit as the rugby stadium, actually, but you turn the other way off the M3. Still haven’t figured out what the M in the highways means … one of these days I’ll look it up).

From there, the fog was quite intense, and it was also pretty cold, so thank goodness for layers. I should also mention at this point that we had had quite the intense leg work out the day before and so while I apparently fared better than some of my comrades, my quads were burning more than they should have been the first half hour or so. So, a shout out to Cape CrossFit for making this whole thing more difficult than it had to be!

So, what to say about a hike? We climbed up three mountains, although we started with the highest climb (~700m, then Table Mountain was ~500m, and Lion’s Head 300m). Now, Devil’s Peak or at least the route we took involved climbing up some lovely rocks. Apparently “technical” is trail speak for rock climbing. Not sure that is the word I would use, because this didn’t really require any particular skills other than basic climbing. Nothing too tremendously challenging in the grand scheme of things – I think when we encountered the first one I was thinking, huh, well, now, I had expected a stroll or some steps not full-on rock-climbing but ok whatever. By one of the more difficult ones I was thinking that a) I was glad my upper body was strong enough to take some of the pressure off of my legs, b) thank goodness my tailbone is nearly healed, c) don’t look down, and d) don’t look up. Ha!!

We climbed along a route called Knife’s Edge which apparently has some pretty sheer drop-offs on either side. I say apparently because due to the fog we couldn’t see anything which may actually have been a good thing! We were lucky though in that usually the clouds hide the Newlands/Rondebosch side of the mountain but on this day we couldn’t see anything towards Cape Town but when the cloud lifted we could see Newlands pretty well, and there were plenty of Cape Town sights later on in the day.

At the top of each peak, my co-worker whose birthday it almost was (the actual birthday was Thursday), ate a piece of cake, and someone else blew a vuvuzela. Bafana Bafana’s second match against Uruguay was in the evening. Sadly (for me, at least!), this co-worker is moving back to the UK very soon, hence the mission to hike all three peaks in one day.

The climb down from Devil’s Peak was quite nice, and the hike across to Table Mountain afforded lots of photo opps of the fynbos. I saw my first blue protea, and the first yellow one I can recall seeing. We also walked past and under waterfalls, a bush/tree with flowers that smelled divine, sort of like orange blossoms, and a single oak tree.

Then we hiked up Platteklip Gorge. That was painful. I finished about the middle of the pack which I was happy with given the condition of my legs and the fact that I hadn’t been hiking in a while. Guess I need to practice more! At the top of the mountain it was absolutely frigid … we ate some late lunch outside before heading inside for some hot chocolate but it was seriously cold! Like probably 40 F. Feel it it is cold!!

After descending the same way we came up, we realized that time was short and we had to run if we were going to do Lion’s Head before the end of the day. There was a bit of amusement at this point when it was asked if anyone wanted to drop out at this point. No one volunteered, so we were off to the races. It was around this time that I quit trying to keep my feet dry and just ran. And by ran, I mean lunged around … this was not exactly a flat path; more like an obstacle course. Or a shiggy trail.

On to Lion’s Head! At the base of this mountain we met some other people who had come just for the final leg, and we set off at a good clip. I remember someone saying that Lion’s Head wasn’t remotely strenuous, and this was pretty true. By the time we reached what a friend from the UK had called “the chains of death” I was so pleased to have a) a situation in which I could use my arms to do some of the work and b) the luxury of chains to help climb the rock face that I was quite pleased.

At the top, we had champagne and still-warm shortbread, and I disappointed a bunch of Canadians who thought I was Canadian. Yes, it is a bit odd that of the four pieces of branded clothing I bring to this country one is for Canada CCM hockey (I’m still bumming I left the Flyers CCM hockey sweatshirt at home!!), and another is a Dropkick Murphy’s shirt, and I’m neither Canadian nor ethnically Irish. But, to be fair, the Dropkicks are a Boston band! As for the others, I can claim association.

Following the hike I went by the gym to do some foam rolling by way of stretching. This was absolutely key, I am convinced, to my ability to walk the next day. Also, it afforded an opportunity to explain why I wasn’t there at 17:30 like I should have been. No, I don’t have a problem or anything …

By the time I got back to my apartment around 7 everyone was heading out to watch the Bafana game. After showering and cooking dinner, it was around 8 and aside from one of my roommates who told me she was at the fan park by the Waterfront (where I would never have been able to find them), no one texted me back. I’m going to assume they couldn’t find their phones. So, I went to the tuck shop on Hope Street that I’d passed on the way home and watched there, sitting on a milk crate with a bunch of Somalians, and a handful of South Africans. I say, that was a hell of a lot more fun anyway than going and standing in some crowded bar with a bunch of Americans, so I’m glad it worked out the way it did and I got an excuse to do that. And only one person walked in and looked at me like I had three heads, so maybe the World Cup fever is making a difference, who knows?

So the game itself … not so good. RSA did not play particularly well and despite what we all wanted, they didn’t really deserve to win. However, anything would have been possible had it not been for the red card called on the goalie Khune (described by the Mail & Guardian thusly: “From the media tribune and television replays, Busacca appeared to have confused the World Cup with the Oscars, awarding the penalty for what appeared an appreciation of Uruguay striker Luis Suarez’s thespian skills.”) anything could have happened. It was 1-0 Uruguay before the red card, and 2-0 and a very deflated team, stadium, and country afterwards.

Yes, I did take this harder than the Flyers loss. What is happening to me??

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