The majestic mountains towering over the Helderberg Nature Reserve embraced us with fluffy clouds flowing down as if coming to meet us, the chill in the air however snapped us out of the brief romance. Protea trail is going to be a challenge, as one of the hikers whom is all too familiar, confessed. Doubt began to dance in the minds of those who had not had an easy transition into the new day.
The beauty about hiking with others is that you do not struggle alone. When your mind is ready to lay down the baton, someone else is ready to pick it up on your behalf and run the rest of the race with you. Even though we walked at different paces, everyone managed to complete the course and no man was left behind.
“How about Helderberg?” is our fifth monthly hike for the year placing us on winters doorstep. If you thought the summer hikes started too early at 7am your perceptions will change when you experience morning winters no matter the starting time. Winter presents a different challenge and requires stronger dedication especially when you wake up in the dark voluntarily (fighting every natural urge to remain warm in bed). The 20+ hikers turn out speaks to the commitment that Bantu Hikers have to their wellness, how much they value networking, their enthusiasm to mentor but most importantly being uncomfortable at times and occupying spaces.
A learning moment at the hike presented itself when different voices emerged in the group on how to tackle the trail. On any other trail that we have done before, these propositions would be easier to navigate but in this instance it was uncharted territory for the leads. The initial plan had to be tweaked to accommodate different needs and situations, luckily the map came in handy and the group split to cater for the those seeking a greater challenge by extending the trail, those happy to remain on the original path and those taking it easy at a slower pace. The extended trail included leopard loop which included a section along Disa Gorge, covered my indigenous forest. Unfortunately the rainy season is still weeks away so the waterfall was still dormant.
After the hike, lunch and wine tasting was the next order of the day. Lourensford Wine Estate was occupied and filled with laughter and conversations ranging from healthy eating, responsible consumerism, the state of our oceans to Marvel superheroes. Our wine sommelier was a great host answering all 100 of our questions.
“How about Helderberg?” was a winner, we can not wait to do it again.
Next Hike: 1 June, Lions Head.
Note: There are several trails all over the reserve from 45min to 7hour trails. Even though there is some signage, it is a good idea to have maps with you which you can collect at the info center. It’s easy to lose each other if you are in a big group and walking at varying paces.