Ringing the Bell:

035

approaching Orange Peal Gap, Cathedral Peak left of center, The Bell further left

I leave the Hikers Parking at  6h00 sharp. Scouting the first river crossing last night helps so it goes quickly and I gain altitude. I see two lights below me. They have chosen a different path. We all have.

I am walking out of the darkness into mountains cast in shadows. As in Magic and Loss there is an equal part hope too.

It is what ever it seems.

‘I was thinking of a series of my dreams’

Patter of my feet on the trail.

‘Was not thinking of anything specific’

Lyrics running my head

I shut them out

040

looking back up Bugger’s Gully

I am surprised to reach Bugger Gully in 2:40. The other side has snow and I follow imprints in the snow trying to guess how long they have been there. I meet them later. The owners of those feet.

You can’t listen to metal with the volume low. I drop into the wave.

 

The line between shadow and light is distinct. But we all follow our own line. Some have rumble strips to warn us, others come unseen and deadly. Some are crossed and recrossed, skipped over even? Without a care in the world. Others scare us. Right now one side is sun and heat. The other biting cold. I can’t understand why anybody would choose the suffering unless to learn and ultimately emerge. I carve my own way and leave only a faint sign of my passing. My passage however leaves a huge impression. Not the act but the meaning we give.

050

looking back towards Cathedral Peak

I come across white tufts, not snow. Flags waving I the breeze. I shat here! I wonder if we will ever learn.

I stumble upon Twins Cave quite unexpectedly.

And suddenly it is done.

I find a spot in the sun and out of the wind and eat my old school sandwich.

The descent down Mlanbonjwa is less fun than I thought. Typical berg pass which is too steep to run but I lose height quickly. The obligatory bush whack does not last long.

I am unkind. I enjoy running the flatter sections and catch up to the footprints of three days earlier.

I have to commit to running where I can. Walking always seems so much easier. But then I don’t want easy. There is nothing of interest there. There is interest (and learning) I suffering perhaps?

‘I walk by tranquil lakes and streams’

I don’t have the commitment to break 8h (or 7 for that matter) I arrive at my lone tent in the camp site and think back on one of the best days in the mountains I have ever had.

The lone dear makes its rounds later. I say ‘Hi’ and observe for a very long time.

‘The hard thing is to hold on to what I learn there in those high and wild places – those fleeting glimpses of the truth of reality – and to live it when I am back in my everyday. That is the real challenge.’

Lizzy Hawker

 

Several lines above are quoted (and misquoted) from the below. Thanks for the inspiration.

 

Soundtrack:

Moxica and the horse – Vangelis

Series of dreams – Bob Dylan

Link 2-3-4 – Rammstein

Tell ol Bill – Bob Dylan

Mothers of the disappeared – U2

The medallion calls – Klaus Bandelt

Someday baby – Bob Dylan

Track 5 More Melon – U2

Things have changed – Bob Dylan and Mark Knopfler I believe in you – U2

99 red balloons – Nena

Here comes the pain – Farmer Boys

Pa Pa Pa Palavas – Triplets of Bellville soundtrack

Mnweni Marathon race report

Our day starts at 5h00 when Roger picks me up just before the rain comes down in earnest. It is friday morning and the beginning of our journey to the Drakensberg. We are about to embark on an epic drive to the Mnweni Hiking & Cultural Centre which is the start venue for this race. The Mnweni Marathon has been on the calendar since 2001 and on my to do list for a long time.

Everything goes well until we realise that we will arrive well after dark, miss the briefing, and we encounter steering issues that seem to be getting rapidly worse. All of a sudden an epic feeling overwhelms me and we have not even arrived at the race start!

Finally we arrive and pitch tent and basically go to sleep immediately.
I wake a few hours later to a warm morning that to my surprise does not require too many warm layers. I adjust my emergency kit to carry only what I think is absolutely necessary.

Bruce counts us down and we head off up the dirt road. The casual pace only lasts a few hundred meters before the Salomon boys shoot off at high speed.

We quickly fall in with a group of Durban runners who seem to know where to go. We actually end up running the whole way with Andrew which is great. Thanks! It does not take long to make or way up the valley to the base of the big climb. The ascent is actually split into a little warm up bump before a short dip where you can see the real Mnweni Pass for the first time. Yes it is impressive!

We snake our way up with runners ahead and behind and nobody really gaining any positions or distance. Roger takes some pictures of the awesome surrounding peaks and quickly catches up after doing so.

The contrast between the climb and the top of the escarpment is striking as you are all of a sudden in a different plain. It only lasts a few minutes though as we traverse across the source of the mighty Orange River and to the top of the Rockeries Pass. This starts as a fairly technical and rocky descent but becomes slightly less steep and more and more runnable. Andrew picks up speed and Roger and I fall in behind as we cross the river a couple of times. At one point we pass two hikers who were doing the same loop in 5 days as opposed to our few hours. Bruce had predicted 5:20 as our finishing time based on our early pace. None of us believed him then but when we hit the dirt road with 5km to go this seemed likely. We run past a few houses and cheering children. They run with us for a few meters, quickly realising that we have no sweets for them. It is sad that this seems to be the first English that they learn and their interactions with the outside world seem to be limited to this.

Andrew, Roger and I finish as a group rather pleased with our run. What an awesome old school, informal event. Mountain running in its purist form!

We chat to old friends and new. Thanks to Terence Vrugtman who took the awesome pictures. Please support him going forward, he is doing some pretty cool stuff. Check out his site here.

Check out my gear consideration post in the next couple of days.

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