Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Come on a Hike With Us 1

I spent the 15th traveling 3 hours south to Quthing, bringing my total travel time to around 8 1/2 hours.  Melinda met me at the Mount Moorosi taxi rank and we headed to her place on an old Toyota Venture.  Sure enough the car / truck broke a radiator hose on the bumpy dirt road and we were stopped for 30 minutes while the driver brilliantly cut the hose shorter and reattached it.  We arrived at Melinda’s late in the afternoon.

We headed up the hill behind her house before dark to catch the sunset.  
24mm, f/5.6, 1/50 sec, ISO 640, camera neutral, and only cropped in Lightroom.  Melinda made an awesome spaghetti dish and we played cards into the evening (I won every card game in case you all were wondering).

This is Thaba Mokotjomela.  It rises roughly 2000 ft above the landscape and lies just east of Melinda’s place.  We decided to climb it the following day.  

Here is Melinda in front of Thaba Mokotjomela.  During our bar party, after our swear in, Melinda was given the superlative “Most likely to beat up Joel Wright” and she probably can.  She’s intelligent, outdoorsy, adventurous, cultured, and lucky for me, incredibly easy going.  We’ve grown pretty close in the past month and really enjoy each others company.

Quthing has some amazing rock formations all around.  The right most wall is roughly 35 ft for scale.  Pretty good clouds too eh?

Melinda chillin in a bowl.

We began the ascent and noticed a storm in the distance.  The wind seemed to be pushing it to the 7 o’clock position from the picture but we kept a close eye on it.  We didn’t want to get caught in a lightning storm.  Notice how many more trees there are in Quthing than my district Mokhotlong.  

So we reached the end of the “gentle” pitch and reached a wall.  The ground was a mixture of rock, gravel, dirt, and grasses.  I took a break here and actually thought about turning back for a few minutes.  I really didn’t want to have to climb back down this stuff but neither of us knew what the other slopes on the mountain looked like at this point.  

Well shoot, I was kind of hoping she would turn back but the Coloradianite? mountain goat spirit in her said “climb on!!!”.  I sucked up, turned and crawled up the 40 ft of rock towards the summit.  

We made it and what a view.  The mountains in Quthing are much more weathered and jagged in appearance than Mokhotlong.  There were many more exposed rock sections to avoid on the way.

Enjoying the view.

Well that’s one way to descend a section.  I was almost killed to death by that softball sized rock.  I’m not sure what happened to the mountain goat spirit but he must have gone to sleep.  

When they come out and are a big thing, just remember I thought of hoof shoes first!

Here is the Melinda I know and like.  She recovered from the slide like a champ and laughed it off.  I however, was still a bit shaken from my near death experience.

Many of the rocks with exposed walls develop this sideways, bowl shape.  If anyone would like to comment on why this happens I would love to know.  Rock deterioration is usually caused by rain erosion but this doesn’t seem to account for the shape.  The rock is more like a granite than a sandstone so I believe that takes wind out of the equation as well.  

Back at Melinda’s rondavel.  Here is a view of Thaba Mokotjomela from her yard.  

Thanks for coming with us!


- Joel


  1. I have heard that some similar formations were created by water working into tiny cracks at ground level and freezing, weakening the rock. Then as the surrounding ground erodes away by wind and rain it takes some of the rock with it. However, after a quick google search I can't find the name of the formation to confirm.

    1. ... And that picture of the storm is awesome.

  2. Thanks Scotty! Somehow I knew you would be the one to answer my question. Hope you're doing well cruising the town in your sweet new ride.