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Nicole Aitkenhead
17 followers -
Capturing the beauty of the world around us
Capturing the beauty of the world around us

17 followers
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Inner 'workings' of a Mozambiquan dhow. Gorgeous. 
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ePic exhibition starts next week @ Bellevue. Awesome!
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Really excited, our debut photographic exhibition runs from 19 - 30 November at the Bellevue Gallery in Kloof, Durban.  I fell in love with this space a long time ago and am honoured to be showcasing some of our work there! The theme of our exhibition is 'The Long & the Short of It'. You are invited to the opening night on 19 November to come and see why :)  Will keep you posted on the event!
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Enjoying so much the crisp perfect Winter weather here in Durban. It really is a spectacular time of year. The colours are vibrant, the skies are blue and the temperature balmy...gotta love it!
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Hike Diary

The 5 of us have spent the past 3 hours squashed into a car, our gear surrounding us. There has been much banter and teasing, a sure sign of the nerves we are all feeling… O, and lack of sleep, we left home at 4am to ensure an early start.

Going on an epic hike is as daunting as it is exciting. The weeks of planning and training finally pay off as I feel sure I will be ‘fine’. Nevertheless a thousand negative ‘what if’s’ plague my mind too. Am I REALLY fit enough, have I packed the medical aid kit? Did I remember my second, extra, ‘just in case’ thermal jacket? Socks…check; rope…check…emergency meal…check…
I tick off my list in my head and as we arrive at our starting point I take a few deep breaths and exit the car. 

YIKES! It’s freezing! 

I quickly pull on my thermal fleece and jump up and down, trying to keep warm. We are all nervously excited. My husband, the hike ‘leader’ fills in the mountain register; we adjust our packs, shove down a last bit of energising breakfast, lace up our boots and are good to go.

Woohoo, finally!

The first kilometre or so is a killer as our legs and lungs adjust to the altitude. Our starting point in the Drakensberg mountains is about 1200m above sea level and about 600m above where we woke up this morning.

My breaths are deep as I struggle in the thin air. Finally, after about an hour I feel my body slipping into a comfortable, steady pace. We are still very chatty and are thoroughly enjoying the clear blue sky, endless roly-poly hills and the carnal ‘earthy’ feeling one can only get when experiencing nature in such a tangible, raw environment. Your sweat is real; the smell of the dusty winter grass is real; the strain of your muscles is real; the weight on your back is real. The slightly empty feeling in your stomach is VERY real! It is about 12 noon so we break for a light lunch, I am very grateful.

Well, we’re in it, there is no turning back now. We look up, up, up as my husband describes the route ahead. What we see are colossal mountains, fire red rocks looming ahead in the bright winter sky. It seems an impossibility as we are told; “the cave we’re sleeping in tonight, is up THERE!” 

I feel a fresh knot in my stomach and then a sense of fierce determination sets in. I have done this before, I will do it again. “You go girl”, I tell myself in silent motivation. “Baby steps.” “I can do this.”

I can see the others are feeling much the same as I am, though some are a little chirpier and more vocal about it, great whoops and yells fill the air and I am spurred on to attack the next hill with renewed enthusiasm.

We push ahead and each time I look behind I am encouraged by what we have already done. It is an amazing fact but lots of little steps do actually get you quite far! I am even impressed by what we have achieved by our next brief snack stop. We drop our packs in the long grass on the side of the path and air our sweat soaked shirts. There is a loud ‘burp’ and snigger to my right. On a hike a few of the usual delicacies of etiquette are excused. When you are sharing a tiny cave, bathing in the freezing river with a few rocks as cover,  watching your friends walk off to the ‘loo’, conspicuous white roll in hand etc. you have to make some exceptions to the usual ‘rules’. 

The almost vertical climb in front of me is not made easier by the lack of a path and large areas of loose gravel. We struggle our way up and I am almost at the limit of my sense of humour. ‘Sense of humour failure’ I believe it’s called. I notice the others have also gone quiet and there is some grunting and heavy breathing coming from behind me. I don’t even bother to look behind and see who it is, I’m too tired.

Just as I am about to give up and tell my husband that he will be going home a widower, I hear excited yells from somewhere ahead. My friend has disappeared over a rise but I can hear her shouts and just make out the word “CAVE!!”

That evening as we sit in our tiny but cosy cave, rubbing sore limbs and wolfing down our simple pasta dinner, we share our pics from the day. There are some lovely shots, its amazing how each person's story is told slightly differently through their pictures.

 There is a kind of heady euphoric buzz that one gets from accomplishing such an impossible looking task. I look lovingly into my husband’s  eyes, illuminated by the dim candlelight; rest my head on his shoulder and drift off into oblivion while listening to the chatter around me.

“Goodnight” I whisper…
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