GRAND TRAVERSE…These were the only two words stuck in my head for the last few months.
To be honest, you can never be fully prepared for the most difficult hike in the world… even though we thought we were. Blisters from heel to toe, sprained ankles, busted up knees and shoulders on fire for nine days straight!
I still don’t think we really know what we got our selves into. All I can say is, it was an experience of a lifetime!
On the 5th of April 2021, one day before departure, I was relaxing in a heated pool at the foot of the Drakensberg, looking at the mountain that we were about to conquer or the other way around. David was standing next to me, and I lifted my hand and snapped my fingers, “that is how fast it’s going to fly by”, I told him. Guess what happened, it didn’t!
Here are a few moments I want to share with everyone reading this.
My favourite moment on the DGT had to be the sunrise on top of Giant’s Castle (3315m) on the 6th morning. After 2.5 hours of night navigation, climbing along the ridge of the escarpment to the top of a secluded piece of rock with a 200m drop to all sides to witness the first light was breathtaking.
My weakest moment was certainly the first day when the altitude caught up with us, and we all turned into the walking dead. No emotion, no facial expression, just a robot, putting one foot in front of the other up this hill.
On the first day, I sprained my ankle quite badly and had to wear a compression sock for the rest of the hike. On the third day, the physical exhaustion and extreme change in temperature lead to a flu that made me weak and even more tired. At that stage, I was contemplating pulling the plug on my journey and heading back down.
I learnt that even though I want to give up and can not go any further, I find another gear and just keep going.
The most excitement I got through the hike was for the next stop we had! When everything got painful, I only focused on making it to the next stop. Between the walking and the stopping, my mental radio was playing all types of my favourite music, which helped a lot with the pain!
I was most grateful for the amount of food I had every night! It gave me a sense of warmth, literally and physically, and it was definitely worth carrying the extra weight!
The one thing I missed the most on the hike was a warm shower!
As I said in the beginning, you can’t really be fully prepared for the most difficult hike in the world, but if I could give any advice to someone crazy enough to attempt it, it would be:
Respect the mountain, and it might just show a bit of mercy!
Overall, the last 9 days have been a true experience of a lifetime, and I wouldn’t have spent it with any other group.