Sunday, 22 July 2012

Taming The Lion

Cape Town is world famous for the Table mountain range which forms a cradle around its metropolitan area, the city bowl. I would be liar if I said hiking up these land masses was anywhere near on my “what to expect” list. As it turns out the group of us who came on the trip are pretty athletic, most of whom had no qualms about waking up early in the morning and squeezing in a workout to our already jam packed schedule and of course your friendly neighborhood climbing enthusiast, Allen. When the idea of hiking was brought up I wasn’t too opposed but I wasn’t as excited as some either. In my younger days I had been on some pretty formidable hikes if I may say so and I felt prepared but they were activities that were part of a program. I never thought, or had much interest in, voluntarily hiking a trail.

Lion's Head Hiking Team

My Saturday morning sleep was interrupted by Matt bursting through the door, “You’re still asleep? Get up we’re about to go hike Lions Head.” Before I could say anything he was out the door again. That exchange truly was the M.O. for the entire trip, everyone always rolling with the punches, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Lion’s Head is actually supposed to be an easier level trail but after some time on the steep rocky trail I couldn’t help but think that the difficulty level needed to be re-evaluated, but it was probably more me than the trail. Though it was challenging in my book we made it an adventure, taking pictures and a few detours along the way. The scenery on the way up was almost foreboding, giving us a glimpse of what was to come. I can’t forget to mention the appearance of Kerr, Lisa’s husband, running down the mountain greeting us with a “Hey Baltimore! You’re almost done!” and then off again as quick as he came. 

Quick detour overlooking Camps Bay

Quick picture on the way up!

As we got closer to the summit, the trail started to look more and more like the climbing wall at the rec center, still in the back of my head, “This is the easy trail?” Though it got dicey at the end the destination was worth the sacrifice. The top of Lion’s Head offers one of the best views of the city bowl and the harbor. A photo-shoot of epic proportion ensues with everyone wanting a piece of the regal backdrop to take home. But then everything slowed down and faded into silence. Matt laid flat on a rock with his legs dangling above a 2,000 foot drop with a blank look on his face. Everyone seemed too get that look in their eye, when they’re in front of you but not actually there. They've gone inside themselves, thinking, reflecting, on everything. I found there’s a certain existential experience associated with being at great heights. There’s always the wow factor once you reach the summit but when the initial feelings of excitement and accomplishment fade, sooner or later, everyone has a quiet moment to themselves. When everyone came back together there was just love and we were a bunch of college kids screwing around on the top of a mountain. Our Lion’s Head hike most definitely brought us closer together. There’s a certain uniting effect from sharing hardship and conquering as a unit and on the way down every rock has a story about how you climbed over it.


-Ndubisi Okeke

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