Below are three photos to give you an idea what I am missing and talking about – the banner of this post is the Pieke
Some background to this post. Jonkershoek Nature Reserve is just outside Stellenbosch. It is a lovely valley, like a U with the Eerste River running down the middle. One can hike the bend of the U with 3 different options. Up Swartboskloof and down Panorama – about 25 km’s. One can also start on either side (Panorama or Swartboskloof – see map below where the start of Panorama is shown) and come down Kurktrekker – about 18 km’s. Kurktrekker is a corkscrew – a very appropriate name. Kurktrekker is very steep (up or down!) always twisting, like a corkscrew. I have done it a few times and hope to do it again. It is one of the most beautiful hikes around. But it is for the fit – there are no escape routes.
Perhaps one day we can celebrate lockdown with a hike on Panorama.
Today I listen to Tchaikovski ‘s Violin Concert0 and I choose Joshua Bell. I don’t listen to this because it makes me me feel quiet, but precisely the opposite! It gives me energy. When I listen to it, I feel alive and there are parts I can’t help but try to conduct this masterpiece.
“Surrender to what is. Let go of what was. Have faith in what will be.” – Sonia Ricotte
I suspect it is our challenge amid COVID 19. This is very similar to what I said on Day 4 about Niebuhr’s prayer. Sonia Ricotte, however, goes a little further.
There is a difference between realizing I can only change myself and “Surrender.” Surrender. Surrender? What does surrender mean? Interestingly, someone on the weekend webinar told us how she was deadly ill. Doctors told her parents she was not going to survive. She told us how she said: “if it’s my time, it ‘s right. But I want to live and if I live, I’ll live the rest of my life this way. ” She said: “We speak of surrender, but we do not know what it is.”
Google knows everything – “stop resisting to an enemy or opponent and submit to their authority.” We can fight against infringement and seek loopholes, or we can say that’s where we are now and live with what we have. We can take note of how infections increase and people die and revolt against the injustice of it. Or we can acknowledge our hurts, our doubts , our own fears and realize that’s where we are now. This is the trail that we are walking now . There is no other.
When you hike half a Panorama Route in Jonkershoek, the Kurktrekker is the route. You have a choice whether you want to start or end with it. But you don’t have a choice to cut it out. In Jonkershoek I have alternatives if I do not want to hike Panorama. But half a Panorama always includes Kurktrekker. COVID 19 is the Kurktrekker. There are no alternatives. I’m going to walk it as it comes. My legs, as it were, will become tired. I ‘m going to watch for shaded patches to escape from the heat of the sun and rest for a while. There are places where I am going to slip on the steep, loose gravel, perhaps skin my knees. However, there is only one way back to my bakkie and home – I have to overcome the Kurktrekker.
I can sit down discouraged and cry – that’s sometimes also necessary. I have experienced it in the mountain a few times. Every occasion where I experienced this, it is interesting, the people cried, sometimes just tears running down cheeks, sometimes sobbing, became calm, stood up and finished with new determination. To sit discouraged and cry is neither a shame, nor a bad thing. As long as you get up and go on! That is a form of surrender, I suspect.
Turning back is never an option – it’s only worse. COVID 19 does not give us the choice of turning back, anyway. I have repeatedly said the world that awaits me after lockdown is different from the world before lockdown.
You can look for shortcuts on Kurktrekker. No right-minded person will try it on Kurktrekker! Any shortcut is either up or down a perpendicular slope with an abyss on the right ! There are no shortcuts in COVID 19. Kurktrekker, in all its glory, is the way.
The best way to hike Kurktrekker (and I have done it a few times), is to realize here lies a piece of hiking hell. I will be tired. My muscles will hurt. It’S OK. It shows me I am alive! Look beyond the suffering, look at the abundance of beauty – the Pieke that one sees from a new perspective. The old, old trees that are miraculously growing in the gorge. Watch the birds, insects, flowers – there are so many things to marvel at on Kurktrekker.
If you are not too involved with your own weariness, you suddenly realize you are at the river, you can take off your backpack and sit in the shade and silence under that grand old tree that has shaded many hikers over decades. When you are rested, you put your backpack back on your back, with a sigh for the rest of this tiring downhill. Suddenly, after a few steps, you realize – I ‘m on a contour! It’s no longer so steep! Yes, I still have a long way to go, my feet are sore, my legs are tired, but I can make it, the worst is over.
I don’t really know if this is what Surrender means? Perhaps you can help me? But this is how I want to approach lockdown.
I would love to hear what you think. Please leave a comment below.
Bonus, Itzhak Pearlman plays Tchailovsky’s Violin Concerto.