How do you put into words, an experience that truly changed your life and how you look at things? Something that you can always look back on when you feel that you are unable to do something, and know that you did that even whilst it felt impossible? I will try, because I would like to be able to look back on this when the memories start to fade.
When Kim & I started planning our road trip from Durban to Cape Town, she mentioned that getting a shuttle between Coffee Bay, Wild Lubanzi and Bulungula would be more effort than it was worth, as we would have to drive all the way back to Umtata first, and then get a lift out again, so we should rather walk it, which would be about a 4 hour hike each day. I was very sceptical about this, as besides the fact that I never exercise, I had sprained my ankle just over a month prior to that that was by no means healed yet, so I didn’t know how I would cope. I decided, however, to have the mindset that I was going to push the boundries and try new things and so decided to go for it. I would only draw the line at jumping off a bridge or out of a plane!
Coffee Bay was beautiful and I was just blown away by the seemingly never ending coastline and beautiful beaches! One downfall though was that it was incredibly hot so I wondered how I was going to manage this walk in this extreme heat. Anyways, not deterred by the challenges, I woke up the next morning and loaded up with a big breakfast. Kim told me to get a decent amount of water, but for some reason I thought this was a strange request because I really didn’t think that I was going to get that thirsty! Little did I know…
We set off just after 10am with our guide Silas, and 4 other hikers from the backpackers. Once we got to the top of the first hill I was totally out of breath and grabbed the water and drank almost half the bottle! I was a little shell shocked at this point as the harsh reality of what I was about to do hit me. However, once we continued, the views and what we saw in front of us was just so unbelievably beautiful that it really had a way of distracting me from being tired and my muscles aching. I also had Kim who was being really motivating and encouraging, so, to my surprise, I actually started to really enjoy myself! (Yes, this was a shock, as I was doing strenuous exercise!)
We continued to hike for another hour or so when we got to a beach. I was pretty amped to take a dip in the ocean, as it was very hot!! The ocean in the Eastern Cape is quite a bit warmer than in Cape Town, so the swim was very refreshing!! After our swim, Silas told us not to put our shoes back on, as there would be a part of the hike in about 5 minutes where we would have to swim as there would be no path to walk on. When we got to the spot where we had to jump into the ocean, I was a little nervous, and as luck would have it, when I jumped in, the current picked up and I got sent in a bit of a circle. One of the other hikers grabbed my hand and lifted me out of the water.
We continued on and got to a very steep hill, which took me almost 15 minutes to get up, with everyone else waiting at the top of the hill for me (embarrassing!). I think what was tougher than the tiredness, was being so incredibly thirsty and only having warm, not so tasty water to drink. One of the other hikers was snacking on Pringles and offering them around but I couldn’t even think of eating when I was so thirsty. We were applying sunblock to ourselves about every half an hour but I was still aware that I was burning pretty badly! Not too much we could do about it.
About two hours into the walk I really felt like I had reached the limits of my fitness levels, but I was very determined to push ahead and complete the hike, at least until The-Hole-In-The-Wall. With Kim’s encouragement, I pushed ahead until we walked to the top of yet another hill, just over 4 hours into the hike. When I got to the top, I saw a big village in front of me. Silas told us that this was the village of the Hole-In-The-Wall and that we were almost at the end. At this point I got a little teary, as I couldn’t believe I had made it this far. It may not be a huge achievement to some, but I was pretty stoked with myself for making it this far, as besides the Argus Cycle Tour in 2004, this was the hardest I had ever pushed myself to complete something. I had proven to myself, by myself, that anything was possible and that sometimes you really should try and stretch the boundries and push yourself further than you think you can go.
I finally got to the Hole-In-The-Wall, which was spectacular, though not quite as much as some of the things which I had seen on the actual hike!! I finally got my wish for an ice-cold coke granted and had 2 hours to kill before my lift to Wild Lubanzi Backpackers would arrive, so I had a nice long swim in the pool at The-Hole-In-The-Wall Hotel and chilled on the lawn. 2 very nice backpackers from Wild Lubanzi came to pick me up at 6pm and drove me to the lodge where I met up with Kim again. She cooked us a delicious hearty dinner which went down very well after the days walking!! I went to bed with a big smile on my face because of what I had achieved that day. Thanks Kim for making it possible and showing me how do to prove to myself that anything is possible!!