The moment he asked me “what is your fitness level?”, “how many times a week do you work out?” I knew I was in trouble! Don’t get me wrong, I had just recently picked up on my fitness and I was starting to work out at least 4 times a week including 3 spinning classes a week but I was still skeptical/afraid and didn’t know what to expect… mainly because I did NOT want to die.
We had limited options in terms of choosing an activity with the intense adrenaline rush I craved. My friend Funsho wanted to hike the table mountain and I wanted to go shark cage diving (-_-). Since it was Funshos birthday, I let her decide and table mountain it was. Who goes hiking as a birthday treat though? beats me… anyway, best decision we could have made.
First things first, we had to find a reputable company that had expert hiking guides and where familiar with the mountain and could show us the best of mountain within the limit of our fitness level. There are numerous hiking routes on the table mountain, if you decide you want to try this, try to find out from your guide which route best suits you. And if you are unable to hike, don’t worry, you can also use the cable cars to the top of the mountain and you are guaranteed to reach the top in 4 minutes exactly. We took the India Venster route which involved walking, minimal scrambling (kind of like rock climbing) and exposure to vertical drops. I know what you are thinking, but I promise you I’m not crazy.
In preparation for this journey, our guide sent us a list of items to bring along so we went shopping for backpacks and supplies. We needed to pack 1.5 liters of water each, a warm layer of clothing, a rain-jacket, sunscreen / hat and snacks and also wear comfortable sport shoes; no sandals or jeans. You also need one or 2 sandwiches, fruits or any other preferred snack.
As we drove up to the entrance of the mountain, my heart rate went bananas. I didn’t know if it was fear or excitement but as soon as we met up with our guide and he introduced himself and just chatted with us for a little bit while we waited for other hikers, I became less nervous. This was however short-lived when he mentioned that the cable cars were not working on that particular day because it was extremely windy… he had got to be kidding me! The plan was to hike up the mountain and use the cable cars back down but the plan immediately changed with this news. This now meant hiking up and descending the mountain by foot. I tried to convince my friend Funsho to change her mind about this hike but she wouldn’t budge. Well then… up we went.
One thing they don’t tell you before a hike is that the first 30 minutes will be HELL! I mentioned earlier that I had tried to convince my friend to change her mind about the hike before we started, 15 minutes in and she was asking me if I thought it was a good idea for us to continue. At this point I felt it was necessary to teach her a lesson… you wanted to hike, we must hike! We were able to stop for breaks in between and the first break after 30 minutes felt like we had been climbing for 2 hours. I asked our guide how many more minutes to the top and he laughed at me and said 3 hours! I didn’t even feel sorry for myself anymore, i was seeking adventure and that’s exactly what I got.
A part of me was praying and hoping that the cable cars would be opened when we reached the top but on my way up I had to struggle with the extreme windy condition so I completely gave up hope and started bracing myself for the descent. After almost 4 hours, 2 muscle pulls and 2 litres of water, we finally got to the top!
And now, it was time to face the part I was dreading the most… the descent! You think climbing up a mountain is hard? Try descending, you would immediately realise how easy it was going up. Because the route we took up the mountain exposed us to vertical drops, we could not go back the same way. We had to take a different route on the way down but luckily, this was a clear path commonly used by hikers.
It took us 4 hours to touch ground… 4 hours!! Funsho and I could barely walk for 3 days after. I never imagined I would be hiking a mountain in my lifetime. I didn’t even mention to my mother that I was hiking the table mountain until I was back on ground safe and sound. And even after I told her I went up the table mountain she thought I took the cable cars up… bless her heart. There was just no reason to raise the poor womans’ blood pressure.
Is this something I would do again? Definitely! Already thinking of a trip to trek/hike Sapa Valley in Northern Vietnam.