Snow In November?
It’s Tuesday afternoon and I am editing one of my weddings when I get a phone call from my friend Jacques Crafford, initially I thought we were going to discuss a project that we are working on. But this was not that kind of phone call. It was a “Hey Shazzie, are you up for an adventure” kind of phone call.
Jacques asked if I could “take off” for a couple of days to go and chase the snow in the Drakensberg. I have never been to the Drakensberg or touched snow in my entire life, of course I was like sign me up! After we ironed out the details, I quickly realised this might never happen again (well in my life time at least).
I left Wednesday morning early, meeting Jacques at Jeffery’s Bay for a 14 hour drive to Witsieshoek Lodge north Drakensberg. We drove in all sorts of weather, from strong winds, down pours, hail and sunlight to reach Witsiehoek. The weather kept changing saying it would be 15cm snow, then moved up to 20cm fall around midnight, I was so excited! All I thought about was doing snow angels (ill later find out that its not that glamours, I think Hollywood uses icing sugar).
We got up at four, knowing that there would be no sunrise and after driving the up to the guard post and after way too many selfies, jumping around, swearing and actually completely freaking out, we started our hike!
We started the hike in light snow and I really thought that my life as I know is complete. But as we hiked, switched back and forth, lost the trail, found the trail, climbed over rocks, stopped to take in the awesomeness of the MOMENT. This mountain tamed the wanderlust in me. I have never seen such breathtaking views. It changed in a second, open one minute with the sun lifting what it was hiding below and then the very next second she took it back, a reminder that we are at her mercy.
I unfortunately didn’t go up to the Amphitheare, there was about a 15 metre chain ladder than needed to be conquered (followed by another two), the wind, snow and ice was just too much for me. Every step I tried, either my foot slipped or my gloves. I thought I would regret my decision, but after Jacques went up and came back down, he said he was a little scared (and he has done this three times before).
Sadly, I didn’t get too many photos, the snow just kept falling and when the sun burst out, I got rained. I was completely soaked to the bone, I couldn’t stop shaking, I was that cold. Couldn’t feel my fingers or toes, my hair was iced and I was questioning my sanity at this stage. I waited down below while Jacques went up to get a few shots, feel asleep on the ledge (STUPID!) was woken up when a large piece of ice landed on my head! When Jacques came back we made our way back down. One of the hardest hikes in my life. I have seen on the movies how people get lost in the snow, I thought this could happen to us, a blizzard that knocked me around came from nowhere and it was hard (to walk and think). Snow and wind hitting you in your face over and over again, you can’t 30cm ahead of you. I was wondering if people would miss me and what have I accomplished in my life.
A wake up call. I need to better a human being. A better daughter. A better sister. A better friend.
I had so many meltdowns (internally, but I pushed myself, come on Puffle I said), but one in particular, if I stepped an inch wrong or my foot was stable, I would have slid off the face. It was too much, I cried like a little girl. Sopping wet, cold and tired (mentally and physically).
Don’t get me wrong, this was a once in a life time experience, something that only 7 people (that is how many people were on the mountain that day), will understand, the sights, smells and experience have made me a richer person. The photos don’t do it any kinds of justice, I only managed around 30 minutes of photography in an 13 hour hike. There was no ways I could photograph and ruin my equipment. But even then trying to photograph when you have feelings in your fingers, was a feat in itself.
So here are a few photos.