In the Woods..

The first opportunity to get hiking outside the city was granted, I grabbed it with two hands! There was no way I could let that pass, no matter how exhausted I am. Since I have arrived in Harbin, I have made a deal with myself to travel as much as I can. Even if it means that I live like a peasant. I have planned a number of big trips in the coming months so I am finally getting to live my dream.

It all started with a small Moon Cake and a cup of coffee. I packed a light backpack with all the essentials for a day trip: sun screen, wet wipes, tissue, water (!!), a rain jacket, lp balm, a spare plastic packet, lunch and snacks for the trek up.

Destination? Xiang Lu Shan. To get there, we had to take a train to the end of the line (Hadongzhan) then two buses thereafter. It gets rather rural and the air becomes cleaner and fresher! Score!

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I thought this would be a walk in the walk, really. It started off really well with stunning Buddhist prayer rooms and flat walks with trickling streams. After the iron swing path way, it all went uphill from there.

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I honestly thought I was relatively fit. Halfway up, I was sweating and panting and asking myself why I do this to myself.  Why?

To put it quite simply, that is the reason. The challenge, the fresh air, the forests and appreciating mother nature. I resembled a tortoise walking uphill. Eventually, I caught up with the gang. The final battle going uphill was worth it. The view from the top was breathtaking – it was worth every curse I said under my breath. Note to self: Anele, cut down on the Harbin beer, noodles and rice. 

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Aaaaah.

If you ever make it to Harbin, I would recommend that you spend a day Xiang Lu Shan for a day hike. If you are coming in the winter months, then you can ski down the mountain after trekking up.

A day well spent. I love sore thigh muscles after a good work out!

With love, x

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Weekend Special…Day 241-243

Majestic cannot even describe the weekend I had. I should add on aching limbs, huffing and puffing and one beautiful experience.

"You have reached your destination" *cough cough*
“You have reached your destination” *cough cough*

To be honest, I liked the idea of pretending to be a hobbit trekking to Mordor.

It was my turn to book the accommodation. I’m not quite sure when we said we’d take turns but I kindly obliged. It is fair and makes sense; the same person is not stuck with this laborious task of booking cheap yet decent accommodation. My brain normally has a million ideas and thoughts; I get side tracked quite easily. So, I booked on the morning of our departure. Naturally. Somehow, I managed to secure a 3 bedroom cottage. I have charms and magic powers!

Stoneyhall Farm Castles Cottage.
Stoneyhall Farm Castles Cottage.

A 2 hour 30 minute drive from Durban to Underberg became an over 4 hour drive. Why? It was dark and dangerous. Yes, that’s it! Trucks, winding roads, hunger, all of it. On arrival, it was 2.5 degrees Celsius. In August! I’ve always liked the idea of a cold, dark winter. {Seems like my dreams are slowly becoming a reality, eh?} Anyway, I had to get my shivering booty in a hot shower. We had a fire place! YES! After refusing my handy assistance, Bravo! James for making a cosy fire. (Unfortunately, I do not have photographic evidence).

We were running behind schedule. I think that African timing rubs off on people quite easily. Teehee!
Saturday.
Hike Day.
The road leading to Sani Pass border control was an absolute nightmare. Gravel. With rocks the size of a head! Angular heads! Approximately 15 km of this. After cursing ad sweating bullets, we made it sans punctured tyres. I am sending in my CV to become the stig. There!
I was not mentally prepared for this. I knew it would be strenuous but I didn’t think it would be as challenging. I have my reasons as to why it was so difficult. Not excuses, reasons. 🙂 I will not dwell in to those though.

It took 2 and a half hours to reach the summit. The destination. I said a little silent prayer as we made it to the Lesotho border control. I also really appreciated the school kids giving us a round of applause for making it to the top. I think my “I think I am about to cry because I am so happy and proud of myself” face deserved that kind gesture. We met up with two friends that were dirt road biking. They were camping in -10 degree weather like Vikings. Mental.

I cannot describe the hike. Here are some of the photos:

After that awful drive, there is still a bright smile on my face..
After that awful drive, there is still a bright smile on my face..
Mmmm, take it all in.
Mmmm, take it all in.

The Drakensberg

It was that cold.
It was that cold.
"Marvel at the general splendour"
“Marvel at the general splendour”
one. step. at. a. time.
one. step. at. a. time.
"Mamma, I made it!"
“Mamma, I made it!”
There. The Border. I crossed it.
There. The Border. I crossed it.

We walked back down after lunch. Much quicker. We realised how steep the hike was on the way down. Rolling off the little pebbles and trying to not fall flat on our bottoms. We couldn’t run down as we had hoped. We were in a rush as we had two hours to reach the SA border pass before the gates closed.

Say, "Aaaah"
Say, “Aaaah”

If that was not enough for the weekend. We went on another mission on Sunday morning. My last day at the berg. A trek to find the Bushman rock art.

Map. Snacks. Walking shoes. We were set.

We did not find the art work. We both definitely know how to read a map. However:

To Three Pools We Go..."If I take one more step, it'll be the furthest from home I've ever been."
To Three Pools We Go…”If I take one more step, it’ll be the furthest from home I’ve ever been.”
Let's go back..
Let’s go back..

Somehow, the drive back was not as long. I was back in Durban by 18:00. Ready to pass out. This weekend has by far been one of the best this year. To many more marvelous weekends. Cheers!

 

Love & Light

x