Mom, I promise I am still alive

What the heck am I doing???

This phrased was said a few too many times in the past few days. (Mom you might want to stop reading here and save yourself from a few mini heart-attacks. I’m alive and well and in one piece I promise.)

So, Friday after class, 3 of the people I live with and I got the brilliant idea to climb the last of the three major peaks in Cape Town – Devil’s Peak *duh duh dunnnnn*!!!!! Devil’s Peak is only the longest and most difficult of the three mountains. Our RA told us that it should take about 4-5 hours to do. So totally, doable and we will be home in time for dinner.

We decided to start the hike right outside our front door step and walked up the hill to the Rhodes Memorial above campus. From the memorial, we had the challenge of trying to find the trail up the mountain. We took a trail that seemed to line up with the map and veered off to the left.

That’s when we discovered the most terrifying bug I have ever encountered. It was a grasshopper like bug that was about 5 inches big. Its legs were bright red and the thorax of the grasshopper like creature was yellow and black stripped. But you know intelligent college boys thought it would be fun to mess with it for a little bit. (Later, we found out it was poisonous but thankfully not from trial and error.) I’ve been trying to google it to see what it is called but unfortunately grasshopper with red legs and yellow thorax isn’t being super successful.

We continued to walk and took a small path that looked like it started leading us uphill. We quickly found ourselves scratched up by thorny bushes and trees as the trail path got thinner and thinner. But we couldn’t return without getting to the top, so we pushed on. Anyone that knows me  knows I’m allergic to like everything. My legs were quickly covered with red bumps and itched like crazy. I was just praying it wasn’t poison ivy or some random poisonous African plant that was going to kill me. (Good news it wasn’t any of that and I am still alive to write this post.)  After twenty minutes, a bunch of cuts later, and seemingly no progress we abandoned ship. We decided to walk back to the Rhodes Memorial and start over and find a new path because this doesn’t seem to be working for us at all.

(It’s been two hours…we should be almost to the top by now….)

We walk back and right there in front of us is a nicely stone staired path…wow…how did we miss that…

So we start the trek up the mountain. We quickly happen upon a small waterfall back in along the side of the mountain and climb over some small boulders to get to it. The area was surrounded with just jaw-droppingly tall trees. They had to have been growing for 100s of years they were so incredibly tall. These trees, with the beautiful rocky cliff side and the small vegetation just made the area absolutely beautiful. We chilled there for a short time before we continued our hike.

So our RA also told us about a path up the mountain that “doesn’t look like a path, but a bunch of rocks that you can climb up.” So we find this “not a trail” trail and we literally started free rock climbing up this up this mountain…probably not our smartest idea of the day. There I am hanging on to the side of a 5ft wall wondering how in the world am I suppose to move up this wall anymore cause my arms just aren’t that long. I stand along a wall holding on for my life with the rocky/uneven ground a few feet below me before a nothing small cliff side just hoping that I don’t fall backwards and I just keeping thinking about how I would like to see my bed tonight.

We get up halfway and decide that this is a bad idea as we had to help lift each other up to the next level multiple times. So we begin to try to lower ourselves down the cliff. We are trying to carefully help each other out and guide their feet to the minute indentations in the sides of the rock. It ends up being much more of a task than we suspected. That is when we really realized how bad of an idea this was. Thankfully, we get back to the bath with just a few scrapes and bruises and start the climb, but following the actual path.

 

Even following the path, the climb feels like forever. It is such a mind game – you keep feeling like you see the top and then 5 minutes later the top still looks just as far away. I was so exhausted and starting to get hungry and it is very mentally and physically taxing. But you have to just be determined to push through the pain cause you can’t come back without saying you reached the top.

Finally, we reach the top – 5 HOURS LATER (the whole trip should have taken 4-5 hours!!!!) As you get closer to the top, the winds started to pick up. When you got to the top, it was literally like a hurricane up there. The winds had to be going about 50mph and I was holding on to a rock so that I wouldn’t blow off the side of the mountain after this heck of a hike. At this point, the wind has frozen and numbed my hands to the point where it sends a stinging feeling through my hands and arms each time I touch something. This can’t be good, and I am so ready to get off this mountain.

After long enough on top, we decide to go down the trail on the other side of the mountain because it should be a shorter path to the road and then we can uber home. As I climb down, the sun starts to set so we start to rush so we aren’t left on the side of the mountain at night. (The picture is from the hike down and kind of shows how dark it was, but a gorgeous sunset.) My numbness in my arms and hands feels like needles poking me each time I touch something to lower myself down. Plus, I’m hangry so I am so ready to get off this mountain.

We get to a point where we are about 20 ft above the road and we see a small little path that looks like it goes directly down to the road – so naturally, we follow it. Though we end up sliding on our butts to the bottom. We are surprised when we reach the bottom that it ends with a ton of rocks covering the path. Mini-avalanche maybe???

We watch the beautiful sunset as we wait for our uber to come and pick us up – huddled together like penguins trying not to freeze. Our uber cancels on us. Another uber cancels on us…It has now been 30 minutes and we haven’t even seen one car on this road. It is freezing and we are hungry and now we have been gone for over 7 hours.

We decide to start walking down the road toward the cable car for Table Mountain – this had to be about a 4 to 5 mile walk. We had lost our phone service and we knew from our previous hike up Table Mountain that we had service there.

I don’t realize there was a curb between us and the road and fell and rolled my ankle pretty badly. Great, I can make it up and down this mountain but give me a curb and I can’t walk over that. I hobble down the road trying to ignore the pain, hunger, and the bitter wind that has picked up and making my arms and whole body numb.

I AM SO READY TO BE HOME.

As we walk, the road is covered with plants growing through the cracks of the road. And not just small plants but like 2-4 foot plants. It literally looks like no one has driven this road in a long while. Then we come across multiple mini avalanches that cover over half the road. Oh so what if the road is closed due to avalanches????? This can’t be good…

I mentally prepare to be stuck for another few hours as we make the cold, slow walk to the cable car in hope that we can get an uber from there. You may think this sounds dramatic, but all four of us were doing the same thing. The walk to town was far and we were so cold, and who knew when we would have service again TIA.

OMG headlights! OMG a car is coming down the road. The boys take off toward the car in hopes of flagging it down. Then I see the red tail-lights. And my heart drops. Our hope of warmth is quickly crushed. The boys start joking around about what we would do if we saw a creepy nun or something else straight out of a scary movie but the setting was perfect – 4 college kids walking down a dark road at night, freezing, the clouds lingering low over Table Mountain…

Next thing I know, I see outlines about 20 feet of us of what looks like people. It looks like they have sheets draped over them and that there are about 20 of them. The next thing I hear is “you may approach”.

AND THIS IS HOW WE MEET OUR DEATH IN SOUTH AFRICA

Sorry mom for the phone call you will receive tomorrow that your daughter is missing and hopefully will be found. I don’t think I have ever been more scared in my life.

Well we find out it was a group of hikers (that had blankets wrapped around them – lol we are all in shorts and tshirts and this group is in blankets and sweatshirts and pants and they were cold). Apparently, they are going to hike up the mountain at night???? IDK I was just glad that I was going to live to see the next day, well hopefully – if we ever find cell service or survive the 5 mile walk from once we get to the cable car to town.

 

We continue to walk…it has been an hour…spirits are real low…like real low…i’m hangry….need a bathroom…limping on my hurt ankle…still on edge from our previous encounter…preparing to spend the night on the side of a mountain…

 

We get to a sign and it says road closed for avalanches- yup, our suspicions were right – glad we decided not to wait for an uber cause there was no uber coming our direction anytime soon.

We walk over the chain chainning off the road and OMG A CAR was coming our way. It pulls up next to us and says “Nico?”  (one of the guys with us is named Nico)

OMG!!!! WHAT???? HOW DOES THIS CAR KNOW OUR NAME?!?!

“Uber for Nico.”

OMG ITS OUR UBER!!!! HOW IN THE WORLD DID THIS UBER FIND US!!!! Nothing could have made any of us happier at this point. Warmth, bathrooms, food, and anything else we wanted was in sight.

I couldn’t tell you how happy I was to crawl in bed that night.

 

So Saturday, we went out to Cape of Good Hope.

We were walking around this small building with a courtyard when someone screamed. We all turned our attention toward the far end of the building where one of the guys on our program was running out of the bathroom and everyone else was backing up from the area he was coming from. I try to get a peak of what all the commotion is about and then i see it….

THERE IS A BABOON IN THE BATHROOM!!! I REPEAT A BABOON IN THE BATHROOM!!!! WAIT NO, CORRECTION – THERE ARE TWO BABOONS IN THE BATHROOM. TWO BABOONS IN THE BATHROOM ABOUT 15 FEET FROM ME!

The baboons make a move toward me and some other people and we all scatter in all directions. For the next 10 minutes, we are doing the best we can to avoid this baboon from coming toward us and get him out of this place. But the baboon just keeps running around and toward people. Baboons are just mean looking monkeys and I want nothing to do with them. Eventually, the baboons decide that this place is no longer exciting and leaving. And I couldn’t be happier that this adrenaline rush is over and we can go enjoy the peninsula.

 

And Sunday, our group went shark cage diving. I told myself I was not going to do this, but there I was on the boat in a wet suit about to get into the cage. What the heck am I doing? And the next thing I know, the dive master is yelling “DOWN DOWN DOWN!!!!”

So I got under water and there it is the GREAT WHITE AND IT IS HEADED STRAIGHT FOR ME. (I was the lucky soul on the end of the cage right by the crew member in charge of the bate on a rope so the sharks always came my way.) It could not have been more than a meter and OMG IT WAS GINORMOUS AND IT WAS COMING RIGHT FOR ME WITH ITS MOUTH OPEN! Like they look big when looking at them out of the boat but to be in the water with them OMMGGG THEY ARE HUGE GNARWLY CREATURES. Thankfully, some steel bars saved my life and I am still here on earth 🙂

So I’ve had an adventurous last few days. I am just glad to have returned to my bed safely each night. But days like these make the best memories and great stories to tell 🙂

But all is well and South Africa could not be any more amazing 🙂

-Kaitlyn

 

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