The South African Series

Following White People Up the Mountain

Yes. That is exactly what you think it is. That is a picture of my BUTT, which Robberg mountain essentially handed me this weekend. It never would have happened if I hadn’t been following after White people, pretending I could should do the things they do. These “white people things” include mountain climbing, shark tank swimming and extreme roller derby. However, there I found myself at dawn, peering over sheer ledges and slick rocks, praying that God and his angels would in the end deliver me. Mere words cannot justly describe the highs and lows that I experienced going over the mountain pass and treacherous terrain it took FOUR HOURS to conquer, and so dear Reader, I bring you Robberg Mountain in pictures!







It started off promisingly enough. There I was with biceps flexed and mind ready to conquer the mass of ancient rock.

The flat entry soon gave way to downward slopes and craggy cliffs.

There was beauty everywhere, but I could barely take it all in. My vision was impaired by my vigorously beating heart in my cerebellum. Yes – my heart was beating so hard that my brain was pulsating.

At long last, we got to more level ground. We were close to the summit. I felt confidence swell within me once more. There, under a cliff of cobble stone and silica, I posed in victory.

Once at the summit, we took in the view of the risen sun. With steadied legs and breath, I felt a wave of triumph sweep over me.

“That was child’s play”, scoffed Marshall. “We can do that again!”

Do not mock the mountain, I heard a voice caution in my soul. I looked ahead of me. There was yet another peak to scale. If it was anything like this one, perhaps I COULD make it.

The two turned out to be incomparable.

The solid ground suddenly turned to sand, sucking in my sneakers and making each step much more difficult. As my breath got heavier, a sour smell filled the air.

“Seals,” said Brittany. 

“Yeah,” confirmed Lauren. “You can smell ‘em before you see ‘em.”

We paused to take a water break, appreciating the beauty that was all around us.

“I gotta lend you this book I read,” said Brittany suddenly. “It’s about this guy who quit his job and went biking around the coast of Australia. He journaled his whole experience. Thought he was going to die a few times. It was an amazing story.”

“See? That’s what I’m talking about,” I shot back with ragged breath. “Who quits their job to go BIKING through the dessert of Australia? Who else besides white people!?!?”

Everyone laughed, but no one answered the question. It was rhetorical, after all.

An hour later we reached The Gap, a sandy patch of earth that divides the second half of the mountain. It was breathtaking. Brittany had stored Marshall’s and my water in her backpack, amazed at the idea that we had come to Africa without such an “essential” item.

“Our essentials are diapers and sippy cups…not backpacks.”

There were more seals below us, swimmingly playfully in the ocean. I had the  sudden wish to be a seal, carefree and flapping in the ocean. But then there’s that whole thing about sharks gobbling you up when you least expect it. Oh well. I took another bite from my energy bar.

After we traversed that sandy expanse, we came upon Robberg island – a solitary piece of land that was completely inaccessible at high tide. It was low tide; so the only thing separating us was distance, a few freak waves – and 100 foot sand dune with a 84* incline.

“WHOA!” we all gasped.

As I peered over the edge, wondering in my heart how we were going to make it down this ungodly drop, I heard a woman’s voice utter the solution. It was Brittany.

“Dude. Let’s run it.”

Lauren smiled.

The two of them shot off like rockets, hurtling down the sand dune like rabid Orcs into Mordor. White people!! There was nothing for it. I cautiously jogged off after them. It was the only way down.

But what a thrill! I laughed hysterically, grateful that I’d made it down without breaking anything. After we scaled the stairs leading to the other side of the island, we were treated to a show that made it worth every hour of the trek. The whales were in the bay, breaking the surface of the ocean and raising flippers and tails to our delight. Pod after pod swam by, greeting us with explosions from their blow holes.

All things good and beautiful must come to an end, and so we set back off on the return hike to the car. There was danger on every corner, certain death awaiting me with every step. The nimble white people had very little trouble navigating the slick rocks and treacherous mountain pass. I suppose that’s the benefit of doing P-frikkin’-90X ever day though. I watched them disappear further and further from view with every meek step I took.

At last, four plus hours later, the trudge finally ended. I was winded and  bewildered, but I felt empowered and ready to do more white people things.

Shark diving anyone?