Thursday, 28 May 2009

A Girl in a Canyon - Part 2

The day of reckoning finally dawned, there was no turning back. No more trips to the physio, no more training and certainly no more excuses.

We were all up long before the sun, packing our kit and sorting out the camp site. Poor Keith really had the hardest job, as every last minute thing needed to be put in his backpack, but being the soldier he is, he managed just fine.

We were finally ready to get into the shuttle, which would transport us to Hobas - the starting point of the actual hike, a 1½ hour trip in a rather full Land Rover.

The drive was uneventful and slow. The worst part was when we finally caught a glimpse of the canyon - I certainly wasn't expecting anything that big!

We finally arrived at Hobas and met up with Norman (who had spent the night there). Norman is a Canadian who lives to travel. He had come to South Africa to do the Two Oceans Ultra and then travelled to Namibia. We asked him to join our group, as hiking the canyon alone is neither allowed or advisable. This turned out to be one of the best decisions we made. Norm taught me so much about what is important and that "things maketh not the man" - he also made the best "kitchen" helper!

So, back to Hobas. We paid our entrance fee, handed in our medical forms and returned back to the van for the final 10km trip to the view-point and the start. It all seemed so easy!

Once we got to the view point and looked into the canyon it finally dawned on me that after a full year of preparing, it was finally do or die. The views from the top are awesome - and I don't use that word lightly, it is truly AWESOME, take your breath away beautiful. I just wish I had the equipment and the skill to take a photograph to capture just how big and beautiful it really was.

We had one last photo opportunity - all smiles, clean clothes and shiny boots before we stepped off the cliff and entered into the canyon!

The descent was the part I feared most, every account I had read described it as very difficult - the worst part of the hike. I found it really easy and it only took us about 1¾ hours, including a snack break!

There was one problem, we had become separated from 2 of our hiking party. Once we reached the bottom and waited for about a ½ hour, Keith and Anthony hiked back up and found the other two about 45 mins back up the canyon. They were able to help them with their bags and finally everyone was together - safe and sound.

We decided to camp at the bottom of the descent. This is not normally what is done but it turned out to be a perfect camp site, although there is not a lot of wood available there and it took us ages to find enough.

This is where we camped the first night, right on the beach next to the river.

For our first night celebration, we (Keith actually) had taken a 2kg rump steak down, which we braaied (BBQ'd) on the beach. We had this with fire baked potatoes and 3 bean salad. It was really well received and there was just enough left-over to enjoy for lunch the next day. I also realized that cooking and preparing meals was not going to be anything like home!

Night falls very suddenly in the canyon and by 6 o'clock it is pitch dark. This was our first experience of real silence and the full beauty of the night sky. I have never seen so many stars, and it really puts life into perspective when you see just how small we are. As humans we tend to think the universe revolves around us - but when you see something that indescribable, you know we are only a spec of dust! You know then that none of this happened by accident.

We all went to sleep early and I experienced my first night of sleeping under the stars.

I kept singing the words to the Chris Tomlin song Indescribable:

From the highest of heights to the depths of the sea
Creation's revealing Your majesty
From the colors of fall to the fragrance of spring
Every creature unique in the song that it sings

All exclaiming
Indescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and
You know them by name.

You are amazing God
All powerful, untamable,
Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim

You are amazing God

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Jeremiah 17: 7-8

"Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. He will be like a tree planted by the water."

It is not your business to succeed, but to do what is right : when you have done so, the rest lies with God.
C.S. Lewis

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