Hiking Table Mountain, rain or shine – 13 February 2015

You can hike up Table Mountain in practically any kind of weather. The more adverse the weather, the more imperative you make use of a (competent) mountain guide and prepare adequately. When the mountain is clear, you get views; when it’s covered in cloud, you get atmosphere. And when it rains, you get wet. But it’s only water, and raingear has been around for a quite a while now, and the water-repellent technology has come a long way. Don’t regard views as the end all to your hike. Sure, it’s gratifying to see the height you’ve gained and to have a bird’s eye view of the landscape, but cloud, and even rain, adds more to a hike than discomfort and squelching shoes. Like what? Like mystical surroundings straight from Lord of the Rings. It focusses your attention more on the immediate surroundings: the rock-formations and plants – and the mood of the place; the atmosphere or ambiance. Not everyone has the sensibility to appreciate this, but if you open yourself up to it, you might find that there’s more to it than what my writing can ever conjure up. Table Mountain hikes should not be defined by their views only, but also by how the surroundings make you feel. Table Mountain’s rock-formations are legendary, and in the presence of wide-ranging views, people often look right past them. Cloud focusses the mind on what’s around you, away from what might be in the distance.

Hiking Table Mountain in the rain requires, needless to say, good raingear if you were to enjoy the experience. And you need to go with a guide for more reasons than in good-weather conditions. Finding your way in near-zero visibility requires a thorough knowledge of the mountain. And the same goes for negotiating the terrain safely. Walking along a burbling backwater stream with rain pattering down on the vegetation and cloud swirling around sculpted outcrops and boulders, with no one on the mountain and civilization feeling a thousand miles away, is a special experience that you don’t get in the benign conditions of cloud- and windless weather. So don’t despair if you get bad weather on your only available day to hike Table Mountain. All is not lost. Just make sure to go with a guide, or you might be lost.

(c) www.hiketablemountain.co.za