I wish I had taken a picture of him, but that would have been awkward.
We were on our way up the Indian Fenster trail of Cape Town, South Africa’s Table Mountain. Fortunately my husband had read the day before our planned climb that a guide was highly recommended for this particular route. The stone steps that most people used to ascend Cape Town’s famous 3500 foot backdrop (if they weren’t taking the cable car) didn’t appeal to my two adventurous sons, now 18 and 21 years old. The Indian Fenster option sounded more interesting. Having a guide would make it a piece of cake. (Right?)
We were close to an hour into the hike up the rocky slope when a very fit guy with tree trunk thighs, sinewy calves, and no body fat met us on his way down.
“I couldn’t do it,” he said. “It’s sheer rock up there and it’s way too technical for me. I’m just not going to risk it.” He slumped away, brow furrowed, his Iron Man shoulders sagging.
“He’s not talking about where we’re going, right?” I looked at our guide Matt for reassurance.
“Yes he is,” Matt clarified. “He’s talking about the scramble up the sheer face up there. But it’s no problem. There are staples in the rock and it’s very safe.”
Matt smiled gamely and said, “Just take it slowly and you’ll be fine.”
We were too far in for me to turn back. And I already had opted out of the shark cage diving and bunging jumping off the third highest bridge in the world, which were still on the schedule later in the trip. I had to do this hike if I was going to maintain any street cred with my family. More importantly, I wanted to.
So we forged on. I pulled myself into the present moment and kept myself firmly planted there, first with each footstep along the trail, then with each grasp of my hands on the rock, then with each planting of my boot toe on the stone.
I couldn’t look up to see where we were headed. If I even thought about the path that lay ahead, stories would have spun out of control and I would have to turn around like sad Mr. Iron Man. And I didn’t want to see what my guys were doing. I could hear my sons prancing like mountain goats somewhere up above me.
Just breathe, Martha.
I kept my gaze about two feet ahead of me, intentionally taking things one step at a time. As usual, flowers and other plant life came to my rescue, with one beautiful bloom after another catching my attention along the trail, keeping me grounded and feeling safe.
But it’s late now and we have another big day ahead tomorrow, so rather than spending more time on the telling, I think I’ll just let the photos do the showing…
And we made it! Still on the road with more adventures to come. Stay tuned!
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