Friday, April 11, 2008

My Hike of the Century

From Durban we headed to Petermaritzberg where we stayed at an organization called Project Gateway. Coming into this week I was excited to do service work and feel like I was trying to make a dent of difference in this community. Project Gateway is a non-profit organization based out of an old jail. They renovated thecells into rooms for guests, created a café and have given many craftspeople jobs on site.

From the first hour of arriving in Petermaritzberg it felt like home to me; all the people we met at Project Gateway were so friendly and excited for “the Canadians”. We had a chance to attend and worship with Petermaritzberg Community Fellowship, visit a nearby school, and just help out on site. Some examples of the work we did include: painting a cell, covering school textbooks, scooping pigeon poop and picking up garbage.

During our time in Petermaritzberg our group was split into two groups, one went hiking while the other stayed back at the jail, then we switched. I was not looking forward to this hike, yet I kept trying to convince myself that it would be okay. I’m not very good at physical activity like this and I’m still recuperating from the canoe trip first semester, but I knew flaking out was not an option so I packed up my 60 litre backpack and said my prayers.

Once we arrived at the bottom of the hill and met with Geoff and our other hike guides, we saw just how beautiful the mountain range was. The Drakensberg is like nothing I have seen before and all I can really say about it is that it sort of reminded me of the scene at the end of The Sound of Music when the VonTrapp family is hiking to Switzerland.

It was a two hour hike to our first destination – a cave. We were blessed to have great weather; I think God knew that I needed sunshine that day to keep me positive. We made camp in the cave and called it home for two nights.

The next morning after waking up and eating some oatmeal we started our adventure to the top of Rhinos Peak. I was doing alright physically, thanks to our many snack breaks and rest stops, and I actually found myself having a pretty good time. It was a lot of fun spending time with our group in such an amazing place, with such intense beauty and like I mentioned before I’m not a huge nature person, but it was really beautiful. After about 4.5 hours we made it to the peak (we are the fastest Outtatown group ever) and it was actually breathtaking. I still can’t believe it when I look back at my pictures!

My group was blessed with an amazing experience while at the top. We met a group of indigenous Losoto cattle herders. I found this amazing. They were watching their cattle, wearing traditional clothing and didn’t understand English. I didn’t know that these things existed anymore since everywhere else that we’ve gone has been Westernized. Meeting these people is something I will always remember.

All in all, I’ve called the Drakensberg my hike of the century. It was hard will probably be the last hike I’ll do for quite some time, but really, I had a much better time than I expected to and feel proud that I made it to the top.

Written by: Lauren Sonnenberg

Corey and Lauren painting a cell

Stephen hard at work


The group starting a long and beautiful hike

The beauty that surrounded us

Snack break

Home, sweet home! It's amazing how inviting a cave seems after a long day of hiking

Gabe collecting some drinking water

Gabe, Lauren, Corey, Meagan, Simon and Far (one of our guides)

Lauren sitting at the top!

A few of the Losoto cattle herders we met at the top

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