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Beer and Biryani :: The Travelling Adventures of Matt & Donna  
Jackass Penguins at Boulders Beach, South Africa
February 17, 2007

Travel Training Part 2:
5 Hours on the Stair Master

Welcome to Matt and Donna's Travel Training Part 2, or what i like to call it: 5 Hours on the Stair Master.

This weeks attempt at achieving a Herculean physic and a level of fitness equal to the early colonialist explorers is calmly billed as "A Vertical Slog" by most of the guide books. As it turns out, the Platteklip Gorge hike was exactly that - and a little more.

Before I get into the details of our day out, let me set the scene a little, we are currently staying on Long Street in Cape Town which is very much the party district of south west africa running 7 days a week. Our Hostel is lucky enough to be situated smack bang in the middle of this street, right above a bar that runs till 3 in the morning and across from what appears to be the busiest night club in South Africa. And for those with the stamina it so deserves, i can happily inform you that it runs till at least 3:30 in the morning with a pleasing line up of "Doof Doof" Music.

Yesterday we had planned on attempting the "Lions Head" Hike as a build up to our Table Mountain Adventure, but thanks to high 30 degree temperature day, with no wind and zero cloud cover, we called that off at about 4:30 in the afternoon.

Instead we ducked down to the local Tourist Information Centre who were kind enough to advise us that the walk was safe enough to do on our own, however we shouldn't take camera's or anything of value as in the last few months there have been a series of muggings of hikers heading up the mountain.

So before we set out on our daily adventure we fairly buggered from the previous days heat, and some what sleepy from the night before.

In order to beat the heat, we decided an early start was in order, after an 8am wake up call, we arose to Table Mountain completely enveloped in cloud cover. After showering and chowing down on a hearty breakfast we got the latest weather report which promised a cool breeze and somewhat reasonable temperatures for the day ahead. By 9am we'd grabbed a local rikki and were on our way to the base of the mountain.

Against the tourism's advice, I decided it was in order to take both of our digital camera's including the big telephoto lens. As far as I am concerned, there is no point doing a hike like this without our camera gear (which is why I am lugging this heavy shit halfway around the world).

Now the hike up was extremely strenuous, from the moment we left the side of the road you start climbing stone steps (1-2 feet high), this goes on for about two and a half hours as you zig zag your way up the side of the mountain. The people that built the path were kind enough to put the biggest and steepest sections at the start, and for the final half an hour you are basically scaling a ladder. Thanks to the cloud cover we had shade for half of the way up. Luckily the higher we went up, the hotter the day got, so that by the time we reached the top, most of the cloud had moved off. When you finally pop out the top of the george you land on a flat plain about 1,086 meters above sea level and nearly 3km long.

Bloody StepsBloody Steps

Table Mountain's Table TopTable Mountain's Table Top

We strolled for maybe half an hour along the top of the mountain to where the cable car arrives (I don't think that if you took the car you could possibly appreciate the mountain nearly as much as if you walked to the top). Desperately needing a sugar hit i bowed to pressure and ate my first chocolate bar in 18 years chased by a can of 7 up (I think I can still taste it).

Donna's Quotes of the Day:
"I wish my legs were longer"

"Is it much further to the top"

"Slow down"

Now if we thought the way up was hard, the path down was an absolute killer. Just before we started the descent I "popped" my knee while squatting down to take a photo of the South African King Protea. Stubborn as I am I decided that we should walk down anyway. After maybe 10 minutes I was in a serious amount of pain. To make it to the bottom I compensated with my left leg, and let me tell you, two days later its still hurting (Don't worry, the right knee is right as rain now). After finally reaching the bottom (a good 2hrs of hobbling later), we had a 1-2 km walk back along the road to the cable car station where we bundled into a cab home.

King ProteaKing Protea

Now as for not taking the tourist information board's advice on not taking our camera's, if we had I would have been seriously pissed off. On the way up there was always 2-3 people within yelling distance, and nearly everyone we passed both on the way up, way down and at the top had either a digital camera or video camera, it felt a hell of a lot safer than the streets of Cape Town that's for sure.

I think Donna and I both did well, and if we keep up our weekly hike, and daily walking regime, we should be well on the way to tackling our goal of climbing Kili in 2-3 months time.

One last rant, on the way home we stocked up on all the food required for a hearty breakfast of recovery food, bacon, eggs, milk, bread, butter, yogurt, and a couple of beers. That night some bastard raided the fridge and ate the lot - one more time - Bastards.

Half way up and that road looks a long way offHalf way up, and that road looks a long way off.

Some bits were a bit steepVerticle Slog what?

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  So glad you risked the cameras. (though l think Lach would frown!!) Amazing photos and they give us a much better idea of the climb you had. What an incredible view it must have been. I would have needed a huge radox bath!!

Stella - March 09, 2007

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