Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Thabana Ntlenyana Day Hike

Last weekend I hiked Thabana Ntlenyana again with Eric and Nick.  I was looking forward to the hike as I’ve been a bit pent up lately.  It’s been cold lately and I was curious how some of my layers would perform together.  I haven’t done a lot of cold weather hiking in Oregon, plenty of mild and rainy hiking though.  

While waiting for a ride, I put a neutral density filter on my camera to decrease the incoming light.  Neutral density filters are like sunglasses for your camera.  They allow the shutter to stay open for longer periods of time to give an interesting perspective to an otherwise typical sunrise.  I left the shutter open for 30 seconds to allow the clouds move a bit.  I just decreased the highlights from the original jpg a bit, no color or saturation was added.

Nick on the left, Eric on the right.  They are both Peace Corps health and youth volunteers, who will be completing their two year service next month.  Eric lives in Mokhotlong, and Nick in Butha-Buthe.

We were accompanied by some Zulus for part of the hike.  There are random villages around the country that speak languages other than Sesotho.  There is a Xhosa village in East Mokhotlong.  Eric figured these guys were on a religious pilgrimage because they didn’t speak any Sesotho.

This rock overhang serves as a temporary shelter when the weather gets rough.  There was a small room built into a corner as well as a drinking spring.

The valley, which runs through the center of the photo, represents the lowest point on the hike at 10,300 feet.  As you can see, all of the streams were frozen solid.

The escarpment marks the boundary between Lesotho and South Africa.  It also marks the beginning of the Drakensberg range.  South Africa was completely clouded over while we enjoyed a nice sunny day in Lesotho.  

On the top of Southern Africa at 11,424 feet.  It was in the teens and windy but the layers kept me warm.  

On the way back to the road, we came across these burn areas, caused by lightning strikes.

There was plenty of interesting scenery to look at.

There is a strong feeling of desolation on parts of the hike even though we aren’t that far from Sani Pass.  

I threw on the neutral density filter to cool the harsh mid afternoon sun, and bring out the colors of the landscape.

We got to the road near Sani at 3:15.  The total trip was six hours and 5 minutes.  

Eric and Nick got a hitch after 20 minutes to meet Brandy at Sani Pass.  They were staying in the backpackers inn for the night.  I had sleeping provisions but I really didn’t feel like camping.  Luckily after an hour I got picked up by someone I knew.  He gave me a ride to the A1 junction where I waited another 10 minutes.  I was picked up by another acquaintance, Ntate Khandi (pronounced Candy), who dropped me off right in front of the road to my house.  

Thanks for coming along.


- Joel

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