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