Sarahs Rivierberg greets those who’ve come to walk the Rim of Africa’s Langeberg Traverse with steep climbs, sharp rocks, and high exposure. This mountain stands as a question of feasibility — not just for the Rim of Africa’s ability to pass here as a group — but can I complete this alone?
I’m starting the day out tired, my air sleeping mattress popped sometime during the night. This forebodes many more restless nights. I awake early to the sunrise and watched the sky quickly lose all the strong colors of dawn and transform into piercing brightness in all directions. Low on water, but enough for my morning porridge. Yum. Sitting in the quiet of being alone, I slowly make my way through half of my mix before deciding to save the rest for later.
Then I’m attacked from the sky. As I’m tying my boot laces my body reacts before my mind can make sense of what’s happening. I duck and look up just in time to see a raptor, with wings stretched wide and claws out, coming right at my head. We both seem equally surprised by each others existence in this moment. It misses me, but undoubtably had been aiming at me or my hat. My reflections on being alone vanish; I’ve been seen, the wild has given me one hell of a hello.
Before spending the rest of my morning climbing, I had to descend to find water. My breakfast used everything I had and now I needed to stock up with all the water I could carry to have any chance at being able to make it through a hot day on an exposed ridge line. It was depressing and exhausting to slowly descend and search for water, losing precious time and energy. It took me over an hour before I reached this small stream of water hidden in a patch of restios that were the size of bamboo. I felt relief wash over me now that I knew I had enough water to make my attempt across the mountain. It was time to climb.
On the ridge, the sun and heat had dried the softness out of all the vegetation, the rocks are sharpened to cut the strong winds. But the flora find a way to thrive. Every nook and cranny in the rocks is filled with grasses, flowers, or stunted bushes.
My task is to follow the ridge, the easiest path to walk on a mountain here. But ‘easy’ is clearly not always the case. I took the photo above to help me navigate later when I may be trying to make my way around the lines of boulders along the ridge. In the immediate dip in the ridge, I must follow a grass band to the other climb. Once there, I need to scramble over the boulders and before the grass or rock bands direct me too far to the side of the mountain, pushing me to the seriously steep edge. Best to follow the middle, highest ridge as best as possible. Yes, slightly terrifying.
I look back on the majority of the day’s walk, which is most of the immediately visible mountain. Montagu, the town to the right, still easily visible at some points along the ridge. The mountain becomes wider, softer, and the vegetation seems to celebrate with more color and diversity.
Selecting a place to lay my tent is difficult with so many flowers covering every flat facet of the mountain. I eventually settle on a (perfect!) place that does not require I squash the vegetation I have climbed out here to see, write about, and try to protect. Then the clouds and wind come.
Why do the clouds need to wrap their hands around the mountain and choke it of any remaining hospitably for its lonely guest? I decide quickly as the wind whips even faster: I must move down the opposite side of the mountain, abandon my hard-fought ridge line for the fear of strong winds, rain, and maybe lightning this high on the mountain. As the blues saturate and the sky becomes animated with its dark life, I race to shut down camp and run down the mountain. As the rains chase me downward, I find a spot half-way down the mountain and bunker down for the night.