Return from the Dragon Mountain

Just returned from the Drakensberg. If you want to know what it looks like, go watch Lord of the Rings, particularly Fellowship, and you’ll get a pretty good idea. Which is why we started most days singing the walking music to LotR, and why we identified all 9 of us with characters from the fellowship. (Aragorn, btw.)

The hike was intense. On one day, we hiked I believe about 700 metres straight up over just a couple kilometres, steep enough that we had to at least grab at the grass on the sides to pull ourselves up when not crawling up on all fours.

But the scenery was unbelievable; we probably passed through 3 or 4 different regions of plant life on that one day, to say nothing of the views. Baboon and jackal sightings rounded out the experience. One morning we woke up for the sunrise, and saw a sea of dense clouds below. Literally, or at least as literal as a metaphor can be. A couple odd mountain tops stood out as islands amongst the frozen fluffy waves. Two nights were spent sleeping in caves, falling asleep to the sound of waterfalls.

After our climb, we found ourselves at the top of a pass into Lesotho, the “Magical Mountain Kingdom,” a country completely surrounded by South Africa. It really did give the appearance of being its own isolated state lying on top of the mountains, with herds of sheep and goats after the mostly-empty wilderness of the Draks. The weather at the top of the pass was odd, to say the least; part of the sky was clear blue with scattered white clouds, other parts were reflecting the reds, pinks, and purples of the sunset, and yet another corner was oddly black and grey and gold. This is to say nothing of the violent thunderstorm right outside the pass, stopped as if by an invisible wall.

Then we stayed at the highest pub in Africa at the Sani Pass (around 9400 feet); rather underwhelming by that time, though. And the drive down hairpin turns at the Sani Pass certainly was not the best thing after New Year’s Eve. But memorable occasions, nonetheless.

Unfortunately, my Blackberry wasn’t able to catch the most interesting views, so you’ll have to just come and see them for yourself sometime.


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