All about the journey

I absolutely hate tiny spaces where you quite possible could get stuck. It gives me the creeps. I like to see my exit and be able to move. My trip to the Cederberg mountains in South Africa was definitely a challenge for me. With a big truck the group was taken into the wilderness. We saw the odd house or ostrich before turning into a sand road.

In the middle of nowhere we stopped to get changed to go swimming at the Maalgat. There were rocks to jump off and freezing water to cool us down. We took the scenic route back through the mud and plants, and luckily we were welcomed by Gerrit and Chantal at the backpackers with showers and hot food.

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The next day was what it was all about, hinking up to the Wolfberg Arch. I didn’t know we were going to pass through some tiny spaces, wedged between rock walls. The whole way up I was thinking about what was to come. But the way up took about two hours and was exhausting, so my thoughts soon turned to ‘are we there yet?’. The view was absolutely stunning!

Then the hard part started. We had to climb up a rock that was 2 meters high. Two strong men basically pushed and pulled us up. So embarrassing! “Put your foot there.” The guide said, pointing at a small rock above my hips. Right. My fellow walkers described this bit as being reborn. Well… the next challenge was a small ledge where you had to hold on to the rockwall before entering the canyon.

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It started out wide, but soon after there were bit you had to go through sideways. I was thankful that I saw the light at the end. I was freaking out inside, trying to keep in the tears. I basically waited until the whole passage was clear so I could make my way through quickly without having to wait for others. Some serious climbing waited for us. We all had to help each other out and rely on each other’s strength. At a certain point I just got pulled up by some of the boys. Did I mention this trip was embarrassing?

Suddenly we all stopped. It was so small that I didn’t know what was going on until it was my turn. A rock had fallen in the canyon and got stuck. There was a small space underneath it to get to the other side. The bags and some others had already gone through and my heart started racing. Then the panic kicked in. Immediately someone came to the rescue and tried to calm me down. My hands above my head I tried to slide through. When my head was on the other side I couldn’t keep calm. I needed a moment to get myself together. After a few big breaths, and admittedly some tears, I let the guys at the other side pull me through. I was shaking, but alive.

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A bit of bouldering took us out of the canyon and onto a plateau where we had spectacular views and a well-deserved lunch. From here it was another 1,5 hours until the arch. We weren’t even halfway! We were still climbing slightly, but not as steep as before. At least we were out in the open. The arch was cool, but it was really the journey that got us there that made it special. Thankfully the way down didn’t go via the canyon. We probably could have avoided going down there all together! I guess sometimes you just have to face your fears.

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