I stepped out into the crispy cool of the morning mist. Beneath my boots, the grass is brown, but still without the frosty crunch. Each breath vapours in a cloud before my face – still a childish enjoyment. Pulling on my beanie, I cast my eyes across the undulating hills and shadowed valleys to the mountainous ridges dominating the horizon. The skies, washed clean by summer rains, allow the early morning sun to cut through, and colour the rocky bastions in golden orange. Around me, the trees are silent, tall rusty-brown sentinels protecting our nestled lodge. A horse whinnies somewhere, and almost on cue, a cuckoo calls as I head toward the footpath.
My hiking gear lies strewn across the chalet floor. A steamy shower washes away the aches, pains, mud and grass of the day’s route. I bask in that feel-good feel that the exercise in Nature’s very own gym induces. I take in the wooden log walls of the chalet, and the smell of the thatch roof above; while through the glass the red half-ball perches on the distant range. In the lounge, I join my party and there is much laughter and banter as we all share our tales. Near the corner, a fire crackles from the hearth, and I am drawn, a primal instinct, to its flames and warmth. Red wine, sherry – the tinkle of glasses and companionship of friends. I feel human. Outside, darkness falls and the cold air descends like a blanket over our world.
The Drakensberg is a unique, majestic destination. And, there is just something special about the months of March to May in that area. Not the fierce heat of summer, with its all too frequent electric storms; nor the bitterly numbing cold and ice of winter. The nights are certainly conducive to happy gatherings around a warm fire, where hot chocolate would be no more out of place than ‘warm’ sherry. Days are mostly pleasant and sunny, great to get out, about and dirty. Autumn in the Berg is cathartic – it’s a hot shower in a picnic basket – and a pilgrimage there should be mandatory. It’s raw, basic, awesome, calming, beautiful, alive and invigorating. It is life.
Our peace shall stand as firm as rocky mountains – William Shakespeare.