Kom saam my!

Gepak en reg vir die Vis….

Kom saam my op ‘n road trip… waaarheen?… Namibia toe…. hoekom? Ons gaan die vis rivier canyon hike… hoe lan ju saamgaan… volg #bergloper se journey… my adventure… ek gaan die blog vir die  volgende 9 dae gereeld update…

31 Julie 21h03

Paspoort ✔ sak gepak✔ hitecs✔ chevvy reg✔ excitement building✔ oor 14 uur begin my road trip Namibia toe… was ‘n laaaaang wag, met erg baie struikel blokke maar eindelik breek die tyd aan… ek gaan die vis rivier stap…excitememt much….nou moet ek net vanaamd geslaap kry… dis maar gewoonlik moeilik voor ‘n adventure…

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Bergloper, die blyde en ‘n hangmat…

Reg vir die Belvedere hike.

Dit is vroeg oggend, effens mistig met so geniepsige windjie wat waai, net koud genoeg vir ‘n baadjie… maar die excitement van die oomblik pomp soos warm lawa deur my are. Dit verbaas my hoe die hike my laat voel soos ‘n jong laaitie die aand voor kersfees, en hy weet sy eerste fiets word more afgelewer… jy sien na maande se geonderhandel het ons toestemming om die aand langs die blyde revier in die canyon te kamp… ‘n bucket list item kan afgemerk word… my kersfees, en ek gaan daar in die mooiste stukkie hemel vir die eerste keer in ‘n hangmat slaap… my kersfees, my fiets.

My view uit my hangmat.

Na ‘n harde dag se hike, lekker kuier om die kamp vuur, ‘n asemrowende sons ondergang, en lekker lag…sit ek in die donker,  beker koffie in die hand en luister hoe dit stil word in die kamp… die groepie hikers word een een stil terwyl hulle die dag in hulle drome gaan herleef. Ek sit so half onder my hangmat en luister hoe begin die stilte raas.

Dit is hier waar dit gebeur het.

Die blyde is so 10 meter van my af, ek sot teen die wal waar die  bosse en bome begin… dis baie klipperig tot teen die rivier…tussen 2 groterige bome is my bed vir die aand reg. Gedink ek was slim maar in hind sight dalk nie heeltemal nie. Ek hang hom so bietjie hoër, daar lê ‘n lekker rots wat ek as trappie kan gebruik om in die hangmat te klim. So 20l olie drom grote. Maklik, klim op die rots, draai my rug op die hangmat, gaan sit en raak gemaklik… wat kan dan moeilik daar aan wees, niks het die laaitie ook gedink oor sy fiets voor hy sy knieê velle verloor het. Nee, jy lag baie te vroeg. Dit was maklik om in te klim. 

Bucket list kamp.

Dis so donker sonder die kopliggie aan dat ek nie kan sien of my oë oop of toe is nie, maar dit is ‘n dubbel hang mat so kry gou my balance. Die eerste paar minute lê ek soos een van die stompe hier op die oewer, stokstyf en doodstil, haal stadig asem. Nog nie oortuig ek gaan nie op een van die klippe hier onder my eindig nie. Die wonder van die oomblik kry gou weer die oorhand en ek voel soos ‘n hangmat pro. Ek voel confident en effens windgat, maar dit hou nie lank nie. Ek het my slaapsak skills onderskat. Eks warm aangetrek, kouse, sweetpak, second skin en beanie maar dis koud. Nou hier begin die dinge verander. My slaapsak is een van daardie wat soos ‘n cone lyk, nou by die voete, pas soos ‘n handskoen, en ‘n kappie, jy is warm en snoesig. Het jy al ooit in die blinde donker, terwyl jy op jou rug lê ‘n meter van die grond af in ‘n slaapsak probeer klim. Ek ook nie. Skielik voel die hangmat nie meer na ‘n dubbel nie en hoe ook al daardie aand kom ek nie in die slaapsak nie. 

My tweede poging.. nou ‘n pro.

Nou dit is hier waar my brein my verlaat, sê genoeg is genoeg, en in die flou maanlig op die rotse gaan sit en na die revier se gedruis luister. Hier waar hy my in die steek laat, my abandon. By nou kan ek al so effens in die flou maanlig sien… klim uit die hangmat maar aan die rivier se kant en waar die rots trappie moet wees is net niks… skielik is daar niks onder my voet maar ek manage en land veilig. Die plan is eenvoudig, ek gaan binne my slaapsak klim, hom op zip, op die klip klim, omdraai en in die hangmat gaan sit. Maklik. Ek trek daardie slaapsak soos ‘n kous aan, zip hom op, smile want dit is lekker warm, sit so bietjie op die trappie rots en geniet die oomblik. Na die 2de skuifel tree om op die klip trappie te klim besef ek gelyk 2 dinge. Eerstens die slaap sak is so nou en kan net halwe voetjie vir halwe voetjie vorentoe waggel en tweede my kouse binne die slaapsak laat my soos ‘n eend op die ys voel, baie onstewig. Daar is geen manier om my voet hoog genoeg op te lig om op die klip te klim nie. Ek gryp aan ‘n tak vas hier bo my, ander hand hou slaapsak vas, en half tarzan swaai ek myself tot bo op die klip. Ek lyk soos ‘n mummy op meth. My kouse binne die slaapsak bo op die rots terwyl ek in die half donker omdraai om te gaan sit…’n leathal kombinasie… daar bestaan nie ‘n ding soos grip nie, ek doen die tango in drie verskillende  rigtings…ek bewe nou, nie seker of dit die koue, adrenalien of net die wete dat hier groot # kom is nie, die slaapsak is nou tussen my bene vasgekryp, my arms soos ‘n clown op ‘n high wire vlappend uitgestrek… eks bergloper, eks commited, ek kry dit reg, slaapsak moet nou net weer opgetrek en opgezip word, kappie opsit sodat hy nie weer afsak nie en gaan sit. Ek sug van verligting, en ontspan te vroeg, want toe ek gaan sit gebeur als in 1 sekonde. My sweetpak in die slaapsak en die hangmat laat my 3 kante toe gelyk gly, dis alles die teenoorgestelde van velcro. En net soos ‘n laaitie ‘n back summersault in die dam doen doen ek een  gat voete oor kop agteroor oor die hangmat. Ek onthou net ek het my voet nou sonder kous eenmaal gesien toe hy half agter my kop oortrek. Ekt nie geval nie ek het neer geblxm, uit alles uit, uit die slaap sak, uit my kous, uit die hangmat, uit myself uit. Ek land op my knieë voor die hangmat op die klippe reg om te bid en dankie te sê dat ek aleen is. Dit voel of my knieg vergruis is, ek weet nie of ek moet vloek skree huil of lag nie. My ego in sy peetjie…

Niks gebreek, als werk nog, sit ek later met ‘n beker warm sterk swart koffie en kry lag vir myself. Lag vir die ervaring… lag want eks happy, so happyness giggle bars los… ek lewe, ek leef vir ‘n lewe, ek is in die mooiste mooi plek, en soms is dit goed om aleen te wees…niemand sien as jou brein jou los nie.
Ps… ek het soos ‘n droom geslaap daardie aand. Dis kersfees en ek het ‘n fieta gekry. Life is good. 
Working on translation.

 

Hiking to the “Chariot of the Dying Sun” 

The most interesting of the ruins along the trail are the ruins of the Dying Sun Chariot temple.

The area of Suikerbosfontein hiking trail drains into the Komati River, the main commercial artery of the ancient gold-producing region known as Komatiland ( Eastern Transvaal, Swaziland and northern Zululand). This region was prospected and traded during the 1st and early 2nd millennium AD by Dravidion ( South Indian) gold seekers along with the emerging Quena (Hottentots) and, later, with Bantu-speakers. Gold was found in the Komati valley and copper deposits were detected in the immediate vicinity of Suikerbosfontein. Throughout this region, ancient prospectors and traders constructed numerous shrines, temples and other places of worship – some of them visible along this trail. Only a few of more than a dozen stone ruins at Suikerbosfontein have been investigated to date.

In the distance, the Qanda ( egg shaped summit) of Doornkop, where the dying sun of the winter solstice sets at about 4:50 pm on June 21

The Chariot

The most interesting of the ruins along the trail are the ruins of the Dying Sun Chariot temple, so named because of their shape and function. The temple consists of the shield – shaped body of the chariot and two wheel – like compartments attached symmetrically to each side. 

Sitting on the chariot temple wall.

The well preserved body of the chariot can be mounted through a narrow door on the eastern side. Its front arch, marked by an upright stone built into the wall inside, aims at the Qanda ( egg shaped summit) of Doornkop, where the dying sun of the winter solstice sets at about 4:50 pm on June 21. On the outer side of the arch begins a narrow passage which pierces the outer ecclosure on the winter solstice sunset line thereby indicating the way of the dying sun’s demise. Clearly this chariot is celestial rather than terrestrial.

Ancient I diams prayed for the sun to rise again otherwise there was no new season to harvest.

The time is up when the sun is gone

The chariot, the celestial car of the sun god (Suriyan), is a representation of time. Cyclical year – end festivities were celebrated annually in this temple. Worshippers gathered here to give thanks for the bounty received in the past year and prayed for the return of the dying sun without which there would have been no new planting season or harvest. 

Lenbe looking for the rubbing and water stones in the sacrifice area of the temple.

Offerings of mineral tints, fruit, vegetables, grains, nut, etc. were ground to a paste on rubbing spots on outcrop and on loose stones, which can be seen on both sides of the Sun’s path passage in the western part of the temple’s enclosure.

These spots attest to the faith of the ancient worshippers. Their trust that their prayers would be answered and the sun would return is indicated by a seat in the left wheel compartment of the chariot. A priest ( called suri ) , sitting on this seat and looking over the altar (charioteer’s rest post )that separates him from the main body of the chariot, faced the high cliffs in the north – east where the new sun would rise on the morning of June 22. His line of vision runs over a well built ‘nose’ or projection in the right side wall of the chariot. Here the lines of several cosmic alignments intersect.

The north wheel.

The celestial wheel

The chariot’s celestial nature is further indicated by its two lunar wheels, located on parallel axles at right angles to the shaft. The North Wheel can be seen under the cliffs across the stream. Its Axle runs over the ‘nose’ towards the large flat seat of the officiating suri in the southern cell just outside the chariot, and continues to the western edge of the South Wheel. The South Wheel is hidden beyond a low ridge, but its axle intersects the shaft of the chariot precisely at the eastern entrance to the chariot’s enclosure and continues to the eastern edge of the North Wheel. The arrangement of the wheel(s) reflects lunar connections which are to complex to be explained here.

Studying the map of the chariot of the dying sun temple, astonishing in its precision.

The absolute celestial precission with wich the chariot temple has been build is astonishing, you know you are in a place that was sacred to an ancient people. 

“little fire”

Milwane Wildlife Sanctuary

Milwane means “little fire” reflecting its susceptibility to lightning strikes. This was experienced first hand by Mickey Riley senior, known as “Macobane” to the Swazis, and the father of the founder of Milwane Wildlife Sanctuary. His house build on Milwane Hill was twice reduced to ashes. 

Surrounded by wildlife…

Swazilamd was once famous for its abundant wildlife , but was virtually wiped out in the 1960s… Ted Riley witnessed this growing up on Nyonyane Mountain and proposed the establishment of a nature reserve to the British Colonial Government. Their response.. the Kruger National Park to the north and Hluhluwe to the south was adequate for the Swazi people. He bagan the conversion of his highly productive 460ha family farm into Milwane Wildlife Sanctuary in 1960…

The mixed farming operation morphed in time… the citrus became giraffe food… the irrigation systems and rice paddies became wildfowl habitat… the present rest camp site was a productive mealie field.   He used his own limited capital to plant indiginous trees, create wetland and woodland habitats and restocked Milwane with all sort of  creatures great and small making this pioneering sanctuary a haven for the fast vanishing wild animals…

In the early days Milwane faced numerous challenges in getting the concept of nature conservation established in the Kingdom… including the ever present battle with poachers. The hundreds of traps greeting you at the rest camp a stark reminder of the battle fought and won. In this regard King Sobhuza II played a pivotal role to this success story. The monarchy has saved Swazi wild life. 

In 1969 the Riley family donated Milwane to a non-profit making trust. Milwane is now 10 times its original size at 4560ha ranging from 680m to 1470m above sea level. This is truely a wildlife sanctuary worth a visit… and “little fire” will burn like a raging fire in your soul. 

The value of Hiking

Navajo Indian Prayer

“With beauty may I walk…with beauty before me may I walk… with beauty behind me may I walk… with beauty above me may I walk.. with beauty below me may I walk… with beauty around me may I walk…
In old age wondering on a trail of beauty…lively,  may I walk… In old age wandering on a trail of beauty… alive again, may I walk…
It is finished in beauty… it is finished in beauty…” 

Just like the navajo indians I have come to really appreciate the value of walking/hiking meditation… there is something easy and natural about it. Nature allows us an opportunity to connect with it and with ourselves…what is so special about hiking meditation.. it is simple to practice and will impact your whole life…Everything you need to balance the flow of your emotions.. your thoughts is found in the sequence of events, the stream of moments… on a trail… You can disconnect from the source of your stress and struggles… for me this happens the moment I set foot on a trail… I start by noticing the open blue sky.. feeling the wind… breathing the fresh air… this is my invitation to relax and open myself up… taking slow easy first steps I rid myself of tension and stress. I feel the earth.. the warmth of the ground.. the energy under my feet.. and I pay close attention to the stability of my foot and the pressure under my feet before pushing off.. I pay close attention and notice the natural curves and textures of the terain… the way the rocks are stacked and formed… stepping over roots and rocks… keeping my centre of gravity balanced.. filling my lungs with fresh air.. expanding my chest… keeping my shoulders back… I move with strength, grace and respect for my surroundings…I focus.. I am in the moment..

As I hike my eyes follow the terain and I become aware of the compelling aspects of the landscape around me…I focus my mind on the beautiful and mysterious… letting my mind know that nature has secrets to reveal to me and opening myself to them… I feel and follow the easy flow of my muscles… feeling my body move.. aware of how my body feels when I move forward and as it shifts  weight… I feel my heart beat and sometimes pound in my chest.. I breath deeply and appreciate that my body was designed as a vessel for excercise… my senses become alert in nature….

This knowledge raises my abilty to appreciate everything around me… I absorb the beauty of everything around me… soaking up the moments… I see the root of a trunk… follow it to the branch… see the leaves… I will stop and watch an eagle glide and float on the waves of the wind… I listen to the symphony of nature and try and follow each note to its source.. often in awe of the origin… there are relationship everywhere in nature and I allow myself to build relationships with them with each of my senses. You create your own invisible links while focussing on your surroundings by what you see..hear…smell…feel… I see the lines…shapes… patterns… each one telling a story of unseen influences.. a flood millions of years ago… eroding winds… once you focus on all around you it seems as if everything changes in front of your eyes….I would observe a tree and see it change with light.. the wind and all the little creatures that visit it… I will lay in a meadow or on top of a mountain and watch the sky change.. things come and go… the movement endless… this is where meditation is born…
We follow movement in our mind… without thought or analysis… and watch it come and go…. we empty our minds as we watch each momet pass and change…the change is effortless… this current.. continuous flow of change  becomes a cleansing force that washes away all the artificial in us and fills us with the substancial reality of impermanence..  nothing is permanent.  

This reminds us that the structure and form of our thouggts that rule our lives have no real weight other than what we give it…the peace from this soon becomes evident… barriers drop… we no longer feel seperate from our surroundings.. we soon enter this current and this leads us to new levels of understanding and awareness of who we are.

Its all about focus and balance.. allowing the moment to alter your thoughts and acceptance of who you are… accepting you for you…
 

Why hiking brings joy…

Looking down on Verlorenkloof

Earth, rivers, mountains, trees, silent canyons, babbling creeks… if you spend time in nature you have probably noticed you feel happier and more peaceful…
Why?

One of the better known theories as far as I can google is “biophilia hypothesis” suggesting that we love nature because we evolved from natute… we need it for our psycological well-being because it is in our DNA..

I tend to agree whole heartedly with this but it leaves me wanting more… grasping for more… what happens to us in nature… how are we changed… touched… even guided… where does the joy come from…

Enjoying the moment

Nature teaches you that there is nothing wrong with you… when you are in nature… you don’t have to look in mirrors… you are either focussed on your surroundings or what you are busy doing… like climbing… pitching a tent…crossing a river…when you are in nature… alone or in a group… you get welcome relieve from sexism… racism…homophobia… transphobia and everything else we use to opress… stigmatise and belittle each other…Nature display incredible diversity in all her glory… there are fat trees and skinny ones… short ones and tall ones… in a single clump of orange flowers you might see a yellow one..and realize in awe it is a mutation… we never say… how wrong… that flower is different… that tree is fat… we say how beautiful… how marvelous… that impacts us below the level of thought… without thinking..

Time slowing down

Time seems to slow down… urgency, deadlines and and… as measured in hours.. minutes and seconds…seem to melt away…clocks teaches us to abandon the natural rythms of our bodies and the earth and conform to a schedule rooted in a economic systems of survival and that causes stress.. Nature shows us a healthier pace of life… trees grow s-l-o-w-l-y…deer graze calmly… rabits scamper about but that is their natural pace… everything is moving according to their natural rythm… soon you begin to feel it and do the same…

Spectacular Blyde canyon

Nature teaches us the concept of “just enough” sustainability… our culture teaches us we never have enough… we want more… more money… we want to buy more things… eat more delicious food… in contrast nature embody harmony and balance… trees grow to a height that reflect the nutrients and water immediately available… squirrels store just the right amount of nuts to keep them through winter… witnessing this balance and harmony is like an ointment in the wounds of over consumption. 

Surrender

You surrender comfort and control..society again propagate the myth that we should strive to be as comfortable as possible… to make life as pleasureable as possible.. the endless search for this makes so many unhappy… we simply  cannot be pleasured and comfortable all the time… we can not control everything…trying to achieve permanent control and control leads to a dull meaningless life that kills the soul.

Back to reality

Nature calls us back to reality… you can not stop it from raining… you can not stop the setting sun… you cannot set the temperature to your liking and pleasure… if you climb a mountain your legs are going to burn… but with this acceptence and surrender that you are not in control comes such relief. You awake from a dream and realise how little control you teally have… you remember that hardships and lack of control are a part of life and accepting this reality makes it not only bearable but possible to feel the joy of being alive…

Appreciate life

We do everything to avoid the knowledge that we… and everyone we love are going to die… In nature we encounter death… we see dead trees all the time… and behold.. they are nursing young plants… an exotic mushroom to life… you walk through a burned area and see a profusion of wildflowers thrifing in the newly enriched soil… you might on occasion find animal skulls and bones… death around you… when we see death we value our life more… the present moment more… and experience surges of joy to be alive…

Slime fungi

You behold the beauty of nature… how is such majesty possible… the strength of that mountain… standing there for all those ages… not moving… strong… the miracle of a single flower infused with sunlight.. the dew drops on a spiders web… the revelation of a tree… rooted deep in earth… streching reaching to the sky… bearing silent witness to the world around it.. you feel alive… joy… and whole again…

Becoming one with the trail

You remember that you are connected to all living things… you feel you belong to the earth… that you are a part of the community of nature… you are made of the same substance and that you are no better… or worse… than that bird you see… that tree… or the other hiker walking up the trail with you…

Why we love hiking

The “old diggings” 

The start of the “old diggings” hiking trail…

Driving to Mnt Sheba and the “grand old lady” as the lodge is lovingly called… I was ready for a cold misty and wet hike… the wipers of the chevvy  working overtime… the road soapy slippery… the pine trees looked like ghosts… just visible… phantoms in the earie dark… mysterious… the top of the mountain covered in a thick white blanket… I remember… there was no wind… breathless… me to… in anticipation of an adventure that awaits…winding down the narrow road… Mnt Sheba appears… covered in a dome of mist/clouds… clear… warm…tranquil…

Edwin Bray found the Sheba reef…

135 years ago the Sheba gold reef was discovered… my destination for the day… exploring the old digging sites… I was ready to take a step back into a nearly forgotton past… 1885… using pics and showels miners dug for gold in the mountain at the bottom of a narrow valley… 

Entrance to old digging site…

Hiking to the river… the trail…a narrow winding snake down the valley… its so quite… no sound… no wind… nothing… just the far away the whisper of the river… calling you… taking you back in history… an invitations to let fo…they walked here… over a centuary ago someone else was feeling the peace… the solitude… seeing the breathtaking beauty… smelling the wild… the ground… the treas… the air.. a magical aroma… I am here… in the moment… 

In the moment… a long time ago…

Crossing the river.. stepping slowly from rock to rock… my heart beats faster… I am looking at the entrance to the first site…just a dark hole in the green forest and mountain side… nothing spectacular… but the presence… the atmosphere… the memories… I freeze for a second… holding my breath… its silent… the rushing of the water calming… I soak in the moment… feeling free… I am about to live a part of history… I am ready… excited…

Enter at own risk…

As I crawl into the dark tunnel… not very deep… I am struck by how low the roof was… and amazed that men dug this with no machinery… by hand… picks… shovels… hands  rock for small rock… in search of gold… a future… a way out… I sat at the back of the digging… flash light off… darkness around me… and the trees and river framed by the dark rock at the opening… a magical moment… I wonder did they see the beauty around them… did they experience the awe… the peace… or were they ao consumed with the work at hand… the gleem.of gold all they can see… 

Lunch in a digging site…

Sitting in the opening of the last mine… way down in the valley… with a tin mug of hot coffee… tummy full… lunch was good… oats with cinamon and pieces of apple… I felt one with myself… one with mature… one with 1885… I was a miner… on a break… slowly becomming aware of the troop of samango monkeys playing in the trees nearby… I am still… no threat… boosting their confidence they frolicked in the low brancehs across the river… chasing each other over the rocks… like kids playing… I don’t move… I think I breath… coffee getting cold… I watch them in awe… two little black and white birds with wagging tails… jump from rock to rock… washing splashing in the river… little streams between the rocks… a big white butterfly dance around the small little bell shaped flower… I am in a picture… I capture the moment… sealing it in my mind…this is a special trail… this is why I hike… for moments like this…

It is a magical place…

The “old diggings” trail leaves you in awe… feeling new… refreshed and one with yourself…