Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Into the Lion's Mouth

GUEST POST by Daniela Mizrahi Abrahamson

Lion’s Head

All these icons were unfamiliar to me.  Further evidence that
I should have been at the pool.  Cocktail in hand.
Cape Town boasts beautiful scenery, from the amazing beaches, to the impressive mountain tops, there are few places in the world that are as scenic, well-tempered and gorgeous (well, except for maybe San Diego).  Included in those aforementioned mountain tops, is one in particular that poses a challenge to even the most experienced of hikers,* but especially for me, the person who two years earlier refused to even consider the car drive to the base. This daunting location is aptly named Lion’s Head.  It is so named because, first, it resembles a Lion lying down and the peak is its head, and second because I was as scared of this climb as I would be of a lion at close range.

The morning of the big hike, I still was not sure that this was for me,** but I wanted to prove to myself that 1) I could do something physical on vacation other than raising a wine glass to my mouth and 2) my almost one year of Pilates was actually working! So, off we went…  

Five minutes in - So far, so good.
(Note the dryness of Scott's T-shirt)
 The beginning of the hike was a dirt path, which although steep, was totally manageable*** so I, and our group, was feeling good. On we went and the dirt path changed to a slightly rocky path and then the slightly rocky path turned into a steeper, more jagged rocky path… and then came the ladders, chains and metal stepping stones.  All the women deftly handled this first obstacle.

Bringing her Bocas Jr. passion
Your guest-post author!
Scott enjoys the view up
But not the view down...
The next portion of the hike was the trickiest.  One option was to hoist yourself up on small metal footholds and carry your own weight on chains up a vertical face of a boulder…. Needless to say it was out of the question for me, but the fittest members of the group, including Dave [DSM: that's right, one of the fittest members of the group!] in his stylish hat, went full force up the rocky, chained side of a mountain (we would later learn that this treacherous shortcut cut the trek down significantly).

Who's bringing sexy back?
Look ma!  One-hand!
Look at that ass.  He must work-out.
Once the girls and Scott**** saw that there was a woman stuck at this juncture trying to lift herself to the top and failing, we decided to take the long way up, over winding rocky, paths where our encouragement came from large dogs running at full speed through the steep rocks and metal stairs, small children flying past us with ease, and 80 year olds that told us the view from the top was breathtaking… so we soldiered on.

And let me be the first to admit, that despite the difficult terrain, the view from the top was indeed spectacular. And we all felt a sweaty, overheated sense of accomplishment that we were able to make it to the peak of Lion’s Head!

Success!  The group at the top of Lion's Head.
The women made it no problem.
Wait, where is Scott in this photo?
 The hike was a really fun morning activity.  And good exercise!

Darren & Daniela
Dave & Jesse
Sam & Scott - (not) surprisingly Scott's shirt is at least 3 shades darker than when the hike started. 
Brian & Erica - Most surprising was that the Marks found a fully-equipped gym at the top of the mountain.
The way down was another story, but we had no choice, it was time to use more muscles we never thought we had, but would feel soreness in for the next week.

Just one of the spectacular views of Camp's Bay from the hike.
In conclusion, it is definitely worth doing once in your life, it was a great experience and an incredible sight to see the whole of Cape Town in all of its glory from such soaring heights.  I will surely root for the next round of Lion's Head hikers from the comfort of my hotel with a mimosa in hand.

Fun Footnotes

*Dave made no mention of his supertrekking experience and abilities at this point, making us all wonder why/how on earth he become so nimble?!?!
**My previous hiking experiences mostly ended in my parents leaving me mid-trail in tears and coming to collect me on the way back from whatever beautiful sight they had seen.
***I was told that there would be one, and only one chance to stop and go back down the mountain, but if giving up wasn’t an option, it was the point of no return.
**** Scott alleges that he refused to scale the wall so that he could look after the women in the group.  The real reason is that he is soft.

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