100

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100m a day, that’s all one will manage, 200m at most. When you slip tired into your sleeping bag that night, hands full of blisters where there should be calluses, belly muscles aching beyond a gym work-out, and a sunburned face because you didn’t bother about the sunscreen, still you feel on top of the world!

The next day you rise with the last fading stars, the campfire at your feet still hiding enough glowing amber to relight for a perfect pot of coffee, while your trusting border collie is uncovering last night’s dog pellets from the protecting layer of black wattle seeds mixed in with rich fynbos earth.

While the coffee is percolating you roll up your mat and sleeping bag, splash icy spring water into your face and scan the sky for today’s weather forecast. After breakfast it’s time to clear another 50 or some meters of seemingly impenetrable Protea bushes, fynbos, wattles or some gentle willows, before heading home along your piece of work, by now kilometers of solid hiking trail. In between the swinging of your bush-pick and endless electrifying whacks into solid quartz rich sand stone, comes the pleasure of creating “Lord of the Ring” style cairns, to mark the new route.

By the time you get home it’s evening again and that hot shower is soothing your dusty dry skin. You already long for the next session while attending the unavoidable flood of e-mails that built-up in your absence, yet you can’t wipe that smile off your face while contemplating what a day’s work in the city must have been like and you fear, that soon, your just required calluses make way for soft office skin again.

But then you recall the smell of the campfire, you re-live the balancing over boulders and driftwood while crossing the mountain stream, the felling of black wattle trees, the scouting Matata guading the Space Harley Cacheup and down a potential route for the trail – always taking note where your border collie went, naturally finding the perfect path. You remember her sleeping in the cover of the nearest bush where you left you back pack in the cooling shade, waiting for you to return after 20m of freshly built trail to pick up that bag, and rake the new path to its final finish where you lay down the pack and start again…

That border collie was Matata (1999-2015). That trail is the Gecko Trail. The pleasure was, sorry, is mine!

Thanks to all you hikers, Jurgen & Ninon

Soulful piece of Mountain

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After a busy Easter Weekend here some encouraging feed-backs – even from CapeNature:
Faraway Drawing
Great natural and cared for environment. Eco friendly for sure. Awesome abseiling, walks and mountain bike trails. Alone with Leopards and stars.
K.Y. 15.04.2015

Thanks, you have an amazing place and we thoroughly enjoyed it. We also appreciate the way you run the place in sync with nature. We will definitely be back.
M.d.K. 13.04.2015

Beautiful, soulful piece of mountain heaven – We spent two super serene, relaxed and happy days in Simonskloof over the Easter holidays. The cottages are very basic, but cute and have the essentials you need for a few days without distracting you from what Simonskloof really has to offer, and that’s food for the soul. The views all around are breath taking, the stillness is so calming, the starry skies are mesmerizing. There are a couple of nice hiking trails around, a small dam and a boat to mock about if it gets too hot, or you can have a “bush” bath in an old tub in the bush (that actually works!). A really great place to re-connect with yourself, nature and the joy of simple living.
T.B. 12.04.2015 via TripAdvisor

Much of the property [of Simonskloof] has been mapped as Critical Biodiversity Area
(CBA) and CapeNature is pleased to note that the current landowners recognise the
conservation value of their property which contains several different vegetation types and ecotonal areas.
CapeNature 10.04.2015

It was nice meeting you and visiting your facility. We enjoyed it very much and we will visit you again. As your slogan goes “down to earth mountain retreat” speaks for itself. Sorry for leaving on Sunday without saying goodbye but my daughter got sick and we decided to go home to get her out of the cold. Have a nice day and we will see you soon.
J.d.P. 08.04.2015

Wilderness

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Coral Snake - Spotted at Simonskloof Coral Snake – Spotted at Simonskloof on 8th of August 2013

Have we forgotten
that wilderness is not a place,
but a pattern of soul
where every tree, every bird and beast
is a soul maker?

Have we forgotten
that wilderness is not a place,
but a moving feast of stars,
footprints, scales and beginnings?

Since when
Did we become afraid of the night
and that only the bright stars count?
Or that our moon is not a moon
Unless it is full?

By whose command
were the animals
through groping fingers,
one for each hand,
reduced to the big and little five?

Have we forgotten
that every creature is within us
carried by tides
of earthly blood
and that we named them?

Have we forgotten
that wilderness is not a place,
but a season
and that we are in its
final hour?

by Ian McCallum

The Finishing Line

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Jebel Marra - Deriba CraterThe steeper the mountain the harder the climb
the better the view from the finishing line.

(The magical view of the two Deriba crater lakes was the reward that welcomed me back in 1995 when I reached the 3042m summit of Jebel Marra in Western Darfur Sudan. Obviously this was pre-digital/stitching/panorama function…, but good old 35mm Kodac 100 ASA, shot with a tiny Minox GT-E and its broken light meter…)