Wednesday, June 16, 2010
South Africa Adventure. Part 4.
Good god, what a trip. we just got back from the foot hills of the Golden Gate Highlands National Park. It was beautiful, although I'm not quite sure that "beautiful" quite covers it. The highlands are a range of New Mexico-looking ridges, mesas, and plateaus that tower over miles and miles of African brush. Driving through, I felt like we were in a car commercial, like God was trying to sell me a car. We made the trip in on the way to our Hike up Sentinel peak. The sky was overcast as we went through, and the low visibility and urgency to beat any looming weather kept us from taking too much time to survey the incredible landscape and speckled wild life. For a good 45 minutes after we left the gates of the park, we could see in the distance a mountainous mesa jetting out of an already giant mountain ridge in the distance. Sure enough, that was out peak. We arrived at the foot of the mountain just before noon, paid some arbitrary tax and set out. The road up the mountain was an adventure in itself; unpaved and cliff lining. When we got to the trailhead, I was a bit unsettled considering the weather (bordering on 35-40 degrees. But we set out on the two hour hike. It was incredible. Absolutely incredible. I've climbed 4 peaks before Sentinel, and she was by far the most beautiful. We made our way around the switch-backs, over ice and rock and dirt. When we were 15 minutes from the top, walking along some cliffs, we heard over head what sounded like a gunshot as huge chunks of ice separated from the rock face and fell 100 feet onto the trail, 20 yards in front of us. So, collectively, and with cool heads, we reversed and sprinted as fast as we could as more chunks of ice continued to rain down behind us. We took shelter under an outcropping and collectively decided to end our journey there. It was still a triumph, as the views and beauty of where we had reached far exceeded all of our expectations. This place is beautiful. Our return trip through the Highlands park was astounding, as well. We took our time this time and made frequent stops to admire the scenery and spot local wildlife. The park was full of Gazelle, Dikdik, Baboons, Zebra, and a strange looking Wildebeest. It was one of those days that might well be a highlight of my life. The camping on this trip, despite the weather dropping below 20 degrees both nights. But the town near where we stayed was a place called Clarens, full of cheery South Africans and cheap but delicious food. I had the best Danish of my entire life for breakfast this morning, at a local Dutch bakery on our trip back home. It was a great trip, and I am excited to see what the coming days bring. Tomorrow is my first game, Argentina vs. Korea. Can't wait.