An unexpected walk in the wrong shoes

When someone says they like taking long, pleasant walks in nature, they’re probably not talking about the kind of walk I want to tell you about.

When my newly acquainted housemate, Steve, invited me to join him and his hairy friend for a walk in the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve 9 km outside of Stellenbosch, I thought he was talking about one of these quiet, peaceful find-yourself-in-nature kind of walks. Not knowing he actually meant a hike followed by some rock climbing, I put on my Pep Stores shoes (which are cotton shoes with laces) and convinced my sister, Renée, and classmate, Chris, to come along.

Steve, the friendly ginger who likes eating a block of cheese before he goes to sleep because he likes to dream

Steve Sharp, my housemate that was kind enough to invite me for a walk in Jonkershoek Nature Reserve

The Jonkershoek Nature Reserve is 98 km² of mountains and valleys with more than 1100 plant species. The late afternoon sun makes our long shadows walk just ahead of us.

The footpath is clear and flat, at first.

The hike is 6 km and takes about an hour for an unfit soul like myself to complete.

Once you are on the trail you are surrounded by mountains. The landscape is like an impressionist painting with grey, green and orange smudges of colour as well as some black patches from charred trees and bushes from a fire that happened some time ago.

The people who went along were beautiful too

While you walk, you encounter a silence the city will never know. At spots you hear the sound of water rushing past. When you see the water you can catch a glimpse of a big fish,  dirty orange pebbles and frogs.

When my Pep Stores shoes and I feel like we have seen enough the path starts getting steeper.  At some point we all have to hold on to some railing to prevent us from falling off of this beautiful mountain.

A bit further on we hit a wall of rock. I search for my housemate’s eyes to get the go ahead for turning around, only to find him scurrying up the wall as elegantly as a Stellenbosch squirrel running up a tree.

Steve took the plunge first.

Splash! You’re alive and freezing.

Turning around wasn’t an option anymore, but neither was climbing the wall with my Pep Stores shoes, so I climbed the wall barefoot. Once all sweaty and breathless at the top, we could leap into a tiny, clear and cold pool.

When our bodies start to burn from the cold we decide its time to move on. Instead of back, we move ahead, to a place Steve calls Pinnacle Point. To get there we have to scale large boulders and rocks, but it’s so worth it, because at the top we’re met by a plateau and a steam of fresh drinking water.

The walk back is a lot easier, downhill all the way. My Pep Stores shoes didn’t get to see the end of the day, but then again, neither did my slight fear of heights and hairy strangers. This uphill journey was well worth the climb.

Renée and the mountains looking good.

My sister Renée.

Burnt flower at the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve

Some signs of a fire some time ago among all the green and orange.

I was still getting to know my amazing camera then

Chris and Steve taking a break at Pinnical Point

What a guy that Steve

Steve’s feet on a rock. He says the rock looks like people have tried to use it as a bottle opener.

 

A tiny tiny creature with Kasper

Kasper, the hairy stranger, has a way with cute creatures

Chris didn't jump, but Renee did

Renée and Chris chill before jumping into the pool

Christiaan the beautiful blur

Christiaan is a beautiful and elusive man on the move.

Lizard at the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve

A new friend

Renée climbing like a boss

Scaling the rocks with a camera was tricky, but fun.

Renée not even breaking a sweat

Renée, thanks for being my model and an awesome adventurer

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