Ah yes, Hiddingh Ascension. A B3+ graded route that doesn’t get easier no matter how many times you do it. Yesterday was no different. Yesterday I didn’t even have the energy to upload my photos onto Facebook never mind blogging about it! Yesterday, we hiked for 10 hours. The rest of the group hiked 11 hours!
This is going to be a long blog. Well after 10 hours, I have a lot to write about!
Anyway, Sunday morning I packed in extra snacks, filled my 2l Hydration pack and of course coffee! After a short brief by Anwar, and self-introductions with the newbies (The newbies being Nick & Ezzat, I’ve hiked/rock-climbed with the others previouslyJ) 9 of us made our way up Newlands Forest. I ended up leading and Anwar was sweeping. Of the group, only Anwar and I know this route.
He asked us to please stick together as we will need each other’s help up and down the scrambles but after going down Hideous Descent, the faster hikers can go off on their own. I’m turning out to be of the ‘faster hikers’ hahahahahhahahahahhahahahahahahhahahahahhaha!!!!!!
Like a good leader I am lol, I stop to regroup at each fork and give them time to catch their breath and hydrate themselves. We chat about this and that and laughed like crazy for Richard’s and Nick’s stories. Last saw Richard on Left Face/Mystery B but did do the sunset Lion’s Head scramble with Steven – who could not join us unfortunately. His non-appearance made him the butt of most jokes 😀 It was hilarious listening to these guys who have been friends since childhood and all the pranks they pull on each other! And the insults! No mercy! I will rather not retell any of the stories I heard lol.
Anyway! At each contour path, they ask if it’s The Contour path and each time I say no lol and along the way, we outline the route for as long as we can see the mountain as the mist is coming over fast! Oh yes! I was initially overdressed as it was quite windy when I left the house and sweating like crazy! I can’t remove my long sleeve as I’m wearing my short-sleeve over it T_T
Also my phone need to be permanently connected to my power bank as the battery only last 15%. The phone I want is still too expensive so enduring the inconvenience for now sigh. But yay! I can take lots and lots of photos again ^_^
Along the contour path, I pick up our pace a bit but had to slow down when we hiked behind veteran hikers. I did not mind this at all as I thought it super sweet! I do hope that I will still be hiking when I reach their age and have someone to hold my hand – oh the feels!
It’s so sad seeing how less green the forest is. Seeing the other side of the path that was not too long ago, dense with trees that we could not see through it. Please pray that we have beneficial winter rains. Also that people stop with the fires!
We wait for the others at the unmarked turn-off and up we go as one group. I however, stand aside as I don’t want to be clearing spider webs but Anwar spurs me on as I’m wearing long sleeves and he is not. I don’t mind clearing spider webs with my clothes but clearing it with my face is horrid! I only managed to see about 2 webs in time in order to relocate it instead of destroying it with my face lol.
Was quite surprised to see a trickle of water at the once was waterfall and while waiting for the others, the stream suddenly become stronger and we look around with a ‘huh?’ Richard cleared some rocks lol.
Up we go and enjoy climbing over boulders and once again saddened how dried up ravine is. Even the dried up moss is mouldy. Also, with the new paths created by others, threw me off. I know I had to look out for the big fern but with the drought, I suspected that the big fern is no longer there and took the wrong turn off prematurely. Proof that no matter how well you assume you know a route, the mountain changes with the weather and erosion caused by man. I did however find the right turn-off at the big fern ^_^ Anwar said his landmark is the big boulder with the cairns.
Some traversing and then up another ravine and first scramble. Further up we go and take a moment to take in the breath-taking views of the cloud cover and mist coming over.
We take our first snack break on The Pulpit and Anwar is leading the Traverse now (now that he knows there are no cobwebs to be cleared!) Up we go again with a scramble here and there and just after another traverse, the other hikers are far behind so Anwar goes back for them and the faster hikers carry on up to the Gulley. Waiting here on there but when we see them taking breaks, we went ahead.
I was initially behind Nick but he tends to slip a lot and one time I ‘caught’ him without even touching him lol. Also! He hikes a few steps and stop, few steps and stop. Totally breaking my pace so ask to go ahead. Also, he is on pain meds for a sore ankle. Seriously? To do such a long strenuous hike with an injury?! Also! Taahir didn’t give him the details of the hike lol. Surprise!
Each time we take a break further up, the others takes a break below us so decided to wait for them just before the first scramble up the Buttress. By this time, the mist has completely surrounded us and getting cold! Time to put on more clothes! Richard also states that we are at least more than halfway done. Tell him hells no! We are not even halfway lol. We have only been hiking for 3 hours and as this hike is generally 7 hours, we still have 4 more hours to go! We wait and we wait some more and lo and behold! The others were having a break at the turn off!
Decided to scramble up without them and wait where we normally have breakfast. After much teasing and laughter, we are finally on top of the mountain and tried but failed miserably to find some shelter from the cold wind and have breakfast. I finally found a cranny and took out my survival bag and blissfully plopped myself down ^_^
The rest comes and goes! Aren’t we having breakfast here? Anwar says no, after Carrel’s Ledge. Oops! We had breakfast already lol.
Traverse along Carrel’s Ledge and we were blissfully out of the wind ^_^ no scary couple of hundred meter drop photos though. Traverse some more until where I assumed Anwar wanted to break but still way too exposed. He then said we will break above Ledges.
Off we go and walk and walk and walk and can’t see where we were through the thick mist. We were off course. Proof once again, that no matter how well you assume you know a route, the mist can throw off your internal GPS. There is no clear path to Ledges but we normally know where we are going when we can see where we are going! We can’t see jack!
After some discussions with Anwar, we decided to back track and follow the stream as we have been walking too long so must have missed the gorge. We know this is where we want to be and eventually walk right into it! I was so focused on the burnt area that asked Anwar if we still have to go up and over and he says no, look around and I did! Yay! Familiar surroundings! I was so relieved lol.
Down the first scramble. Deep breaths. I tell the newbies to the route that now the hardest part comes. What we endured all the way up was leading to this descent. Anwar goes down first as he has to help us all down. He basically slides down between the crevice lol.
Yvonne goes next but she struggles and aborts her first try. Next is Taahir, Habibah and Azeet. My turn. Sigh. Off course I’m going to struggle especially when my calf decided to cramp up as well. The thing about this section is that for a split second, you have to hold up your own body weight with your fingers and you underestimate your own strength! I however didn’t struggle for a secure position for long though and for the first time! I descended without shaky legs!
I was barely down and with our backs facing the mountain! We hear commotion and turn around to see Nick hanging for dear life! O_O He just decided to ‘go for it’ without any help whatsoever!!! Taahir thought this extremely hilarious! with Nick shaking like a leaf! Richard was pulled him up with Anwar pushing him up. We were all laughing by then and Taahir was rolling on the floor laughing lol.
Eventually Nick composed himself enough to get down with assistance followed by Don who came down like a pro and finally Yvonne came down with some assistance from both Anwar and myself. It’s essential to feel secure on this route. If you don’t, fear will take over.
Finally breakfast is had! 3pm I tell Anwar I’m parting ways now. It’s still another 2 hours to the cars and our ETA was 3pm. He made sure that I know the way down Ledges and reassured him that I do. Also, Ledges now have cairns dotted everywhere so makes the route all the more easier. Nick and Richard joined me.
Nick’s legs were shaking at each scramble down but we assisted him each time. Poor thing. I don’t think he will live Hideous Descent down any time soon. I asked him if he will do that route again and he said yes but not without assistance next time lol.
His pain meds has also worn off so slow my pace down to stay with him as Richard was trotting ahead down Newlands Ravine. Finally also answered Nature’s desperate Call and its getting darker the deeper we are into the woods. Now I’m fearing muggers but at least I wasn’t alone. When we go to the carousel, we greeted the boisterous hikers with friendly hellos and jokingly thanked them for not mugging us lol. They were not impressed.
Down the shortcut we go into the darkened woods. It’s after 4pm already. We take every first turn off we see and tell them ‘just so you know, this is new territory for me but I’m confident in myself that I won’t get us lost. We stuck to the broader paths and realised how easy it is for people to get lost and mugged in Newlands forest. It’s a maze of smaller paths!
I assumed the path we were on was going to lead us to the Pine trees and it did! When I stood still to take photos however, my legs began to shake lol. Bending down and it started to cramp! Nope! Abort mission! I have to carry on walking! I am so over this hike already! I’m tired and so very thirsty! I ran out of water on top of ledges already! Fortunately, Richard still had a bottle of water and drank some of his. Thank you!
Few more left and right turns I see the helicopter! I flippen jumped for joy! At 5pm, as per my ETA, I checked 3 pax out of tracking! 😀
Getting into the car was an effort, getting out of the car even worse! When I sat down on my bed, it took me a long time to get up again! My legs didn’t want to move and I know the lactic acid must still creep in sigh.
The other’s only checked out at 18:15! They hiked 1h15m longer than Richard, Nick and I! They surely have to feel worse than what I did! I was fast asleep by 9pm. I didn’t even toss and turn, my body was that sore ^_^ but I am well rested today and just know I’m going to be straddling like a penguin tomorrow, even worse, in heels T_T but I LOVE that kind of pain ^_^
Until my next mountain adventure, ciao for now and thank you for reading (that’s if you have read this far down haha)
*PS – Hiked Sunday, wrote this Monday and only published Tuesday