I recently took up this hobby of hiking and I quickly realised it’s one of my biggest passions. It’s just an awesome feeling challenging yourself to literally climb a mountain, and then be able to enjoy the magnificent view you get when you’re right on top.
I mean, that experience is so exhilarating that it’s become the most popular metaphor for success no matter where you go. This new hobby has helped me to improve my fitness, as I move towards living a more healthy lifestyle overall. So far, it’s definitely helping.
New Hobby, New Passion
I have to admit that the reason I started hiking was that I wanted to capture some awesome new pics on the GoPro I got for my trip to Thailand last year. I figured, why not experience and document some of the awesome views we have in Cape Town?
Once I finished my first hike, I was hooked. You don’t have to look far to find that there’s been so much rhetoric around disconnecting, easing your mind, and learning to regain focus. I’ve found that hiking helps me do this best; I’m no hippie, but it’s important to get away from the desk, get outside and just enjoy the world around you, in its most natural state.
My plan when I started hiking late last year was to eventually hike the big 3 in Cape Town: Lion’s Head, Devil’s Peak, and finally Table Mountain. My friend Chantal (pictured above, right) and I have been building up our fitness levels to hike the more hectic routes over the next few months, but with Winter around the corner I’ll likely only complete the next two hikes later in the year.
Lion’s Head was more challenging than expected; not because it’s the toughest route ever, but because we started later than expected. We arrived at the starting point around 7AM, and the place was full. We struggled to find parking for the next 10-15 minutes, and when we eventually got a spot, the sun was already out in full force.
It was quite a hot day, we had limited water, and very few snacks. Basically, we approached this hike as a bunch of noobs. I won’t lie, there were moments on the last stretch of the climb (right on top) where I was about to give up – or perhaps my knees were about to give in- but I kept going, and the feeling of being on top of that mountain felt so much better when I got there.
I also had a near-death experience: When we reached the final ladder (at the last climb) there was a queue. The blistering hot sun didn’t care though, and kept beating down on us. Myself and Ryan (picture above, at the back) decided to take a break in the shade on the opposite side of the mountain. As soon as I stepped into the shade my foot slid in the sandy area here and I looked down to see small bits of debris fall off the side of the mountain. One false step and I could have been a goner.
Despite this, we skipped the ladder on that final stretch, and opted for the climbing option, ascending up a few meters of rock on the shady side of the mountain.
Let’s just say that climbing Lion’s Head gave me some real perspective on life; not only because I realised how close I had come to tumbling off the mountain, but also about how the challenge of getting all the way to the top didn’t always feel good while I was doing it.
However when I got there, the endorphins kicked in, and the view was just stunning! I also took what I learnt from this mission and will apply it to future hikes: Go early enough to not get destroyed by the sun; pack snacks and enough water etc.
So I hope you see how this applies to life in general? It’s okay to not get it right the first time; or to feel uncomfortable on the journey, or make it under conditions that are not as ideal as you imagined. It’s okay, as long as you live and learn from it, and take what you’ve learnt into the world on your next great adventure.
You can check out some highlights from my first hike up Lion’s Head in the slide show below. If you’re keen to join me for a charity hike I’m organising within the next few weeks, click here to read more about it.