A picture is worth a thousand words: Day 10. The mountains are calling, and I must go.

R50.00 Printable_The mountains are calling

R50.00 Printable_The mountains are calling

Day 10. The mountains are calling, and I must go.

The best answer to people who ask ‘why climb mountains?’ is George Mallory’s answer to climb Mt Everest “Because it is there.” No one will understand why we do it until they have spent sometime on the mountain in the severity of nature.

I have so much love for the mountain, I come from a hiking family and I have been hiking since I could walk, I have hiked the Drakensberg, the Magaliesberg and done 10 day hikes in the Cederberg. I have had my trusty Hi-Tech hiking boots since I was 16 and those have done many hundreds of kilometres and they are still going strong with a little bit of glue and duck tape here and there. From my experience of hiking mountains, small and large, I have learnt how mountains test your essence, they bring out the best and the worst in you, and they are completely unforgiving. There is an element of the unknown and will always test your physical and mental skills. If it was easy, it wouldn’t be worth doing, but what you take away from the mountain goes well beyond the satisfaction of pushing your limits. No matter how much the mountains test you, they drive your adrenaline that keeps you coming back for more, after all if you had a good experience with good conditions you will have no stories to tell people. There is always a sense of curiosity of what is around the next bend; That horrifying exciting sight of a higher mountain than the one you just climbed, a beautiful clear rock pool sparkling in the sunlight, walk out of a forest into a completely open landscape with not a tree in sight or a small secluded village. What you see around that next bend will often be unknown, a surprise, bring a sense of excitements, fear or all 3. The best part is even if you have been there a million times, it’s never the same, and you rarely have the same experience.

For a quiet person like me, who loves her space, I think my favourite part of hiking mountains is the thrill of reaching the top after pushing my limits and looking down as the ground suddenly drops away into the valley below. I love how quiet and peaceful it is. Quiet is the best noise. I love the stillness and calmness of an empty trail. It reminds me how much I love hearing no noise at all. I feel absolute freedom as I have the opportunity to slow down and disconnect. I love to wake up early and climb to the highest point just to watch the sunrise before it does. Actually I don’t love to wake up early, but it is just worth watching the sun peak over the valley below turning everything gold, it is just magical.

Go climb a mountain, you’ll love it!

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A picture is worth a thousand words: Day 9. I don’t miss you, I just wish you were here

miss

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Day 9. I don’t miss you, I just wish you were here

This is an image I drew when I was not on an adventure. This involves an adventure my boyfriend went on. Jason with 4 other South Africans headed off to Russia to climb Mt Elbrus; the highest mountain in Europe (Yes Russia is not in Europe but the mountain is). With their thermals, ice picks and crampons ready they hiked 5642m on a cold, long and strenuous 5 day hike. First they hiked 4700m up Pastukhov rocks and back down to 3400m to acclimatize, and then they hit the ultimate Mt Elbrus, which they spent months preparing for, doing many Drakensberg training hikes and buying all the special equipment that is not very easy to get in sunny South Africa. The route is not technically difficult but there have been many deaths because of the bad weather, on their trip they witnessed a man lose his footing and slid about 300m down a slope, he fortunately only had bruised ribs and a broken ankle but still had to walk kilometers back down the mountain on it. The group walked very slowly because of the lack of oxygen, for every step they took, they had to take 3 deep breaths. It was very difficult to walk through the deep snow as they sunk almost knee deep for every step. At night they slept in big Tin cans with about 12 people in it to get shelter from the snow. For many of the days the weather was very bad and misty, but they were lucky enough to have a nice clear day when they reached the summit, perfect to see the spectacular view that not many people have and will see, I have climbed high mountains but I cannot even begin to imagine the view they saw. After a few minutes of excitement and man tears they had to descend because the air was too thin to stay very long. Congratulations guys you reached the top of the world.

A picture is worth a thousand words: Day 8. Release your inner beast

oliver-beast

Day 8. Release your inner beast

We are all born with a beast inside us but as we get older we let fear take control. Fear asks questions like what if I fail? What if I look stupid? And fear stars telling you not to do it, so fear locks that beast in a cage. I realized that if I wait until I am ready, it will never happen. I learnt that you will never be ready, no one is 100% ready for anything but if you take the chance you will realize that I isn’t as bad as you think and the more you do it the more your beast knocks on the door.

We are all capable of allowing our beast to come out and play. Releasing your beast is the process of being mentally and physically stronger. The beast is the practical and goal minded side that wants to make things happen by challenging you to grow and improve.

I decided it was time to release my beast as I was psyching myself up for a week of intense activity (Well in my opinion). I didn’t have time to let fear take over and the only way my little legs would keep up was to release the beast within me, after all it was the beat in me that said yes to all of the challenges. My week of intense activity consisted of a hike in the Drakensberg, Orienteering and an adventure race. Now think about doing half of that but with stiff legs, not the stiff as in “I poke my leg and ouch” stiff as in the “thought of going upstairs upsets me.”

It started with a 3 day 50km extreme hike in the Drakensberg, every time I hike in the Drakensberg I am stiff for about a week because we have never learnt to pay attention the word extreme on the route guide. 2 days later I did a night metrogaine orienteering where we covered a distance of about 10km in an hour. It was actually hilarious because I couldn’t even walk never mind run, with every step I took a little squeal came out of my mouth, but at least my partner (male partner may I add) was feeling the same so we went limping down the road together. 2 days after that I did a 25km adventure race and the day before that I was at a beer fest carbo-loading. Thanks to the beast in me I survived.

Let your beast roam free and stop letting your fear limit what you can accomplish. Your beast is the true you. It has been inside you your entire life, just waiting for you to face your fear and unlock the cage, let your best out and show the world how awesome you are.

A picture is worth a thousand words: Day 7. Let’s find a beautiful place to get lost

lost

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Day 7. Let’s find a beautiful place to get lost

You know when you are hiking along a path and all of a sudden you start to squeak, squeal and squirm all simultaneously. That is called unexpected bundu bashing. One minute you are on a path and the next you are in a scene from ‘Jurassic Park’. Well bundu bashing (aka. off trail hiking) when that is your intension is actually quite fun. I’ve always had the desire to wonder through untouched areas- the ones that you can’t find on a well traveled path. Going off marked paths and into the unexplored areas can add an element of excitement to hiking. Going beyond what you know as you dislocate your limbs to squeeze through an obstacle course of branches makes you have a primitive experience, which is really fun because I am half human and half monkey.

A picture is worth a thousand words: Day 6. Learn to fly

fly

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Day 6. Learn to fly.

I went skydiving with my cousin for her 16th birthday and it was the most amazing feeling in the world. I wasn’t just falling, I was flying. While sitting in the plane for 15 minutes going up 10 000 feet I felt anxious but calm at the same time. My cousin jumped first, one minute she was hanging out the plane and the next I saw her fall (really fast I might add) and that was the first time it actually hit me that I was doing something crazy and insane.

The next 40 seconds was a combination of sheer excitement and amazement as I was doing somersaults in the air. All I saw was blue, green, blue, green as I spun around. Once I stabilised with my arms open I felt like I was really flying, it was pure magic. I love my expression on my face in the video. Wide eyed, opened jawed as the wind hit me. I remember I couldn’t stop smiling but every time I opened my mouth I got a mouth full of air. It really didn’t feel like I was falling, so high up there is no feeling of speed, it just felt like I was floating on a very windy day. I had no sense of time; I could have stayed like that forever. I had no idea that I had just fallen 4000 feet in 40 seconds. I completely forgot that I needed to open a parachute, but thank goodness I didn’t have to do any of that. I actually got a little bit of a fright as I felt the jerk from the parachute opening. And suddenly things slowed down. The rush was over and it was just time to relax and enjoy the view as we slowly glided back to earth. The instructor gave me the controls and I steered in the direction of the little building back on earth. I really didn’t realise how fast I was going until I was getting ready to land and the trees just came up very fast (I think I closed my eyes for that part) and the next minute I was sitting on the ground. A little bit disappointed that it was over so fast but it just felt so amazing. I think the adrenalin was still pumping through my veins because I was just jumping up and down with a giant smile on my face. It was the most amazing experience and I recommend that everyone must ‘learn to fly’.

A picture is worth a thousand words: Day 5. Fart in sleeping bags.


fart

Day 5. Fart in sleeping bags 

Looking at the picture you know exactly what I’m going to be talking about, so it’s a warning. Whether you read it or not, its up to you, but no judging please.

If you have ever been hiking with boys you will realise that they have more wind than the mountain. I spend most of my weekends being the only girl amongst a bunch of boys, so this just doesn’t even shock me anymore. Well… I just get blamed for their ‘Bodily functions’. It all started when I apologised for my boyfriends fart and since then I now have to apologise for everyone’s farts, and if I don’t you just hear all the boys shouting “Gross Diane” all at the same time (I blame them for not having any new friends). This is all great when we are out in the open, but the worse is when I am squashed in between two boys in a 2 man tent. During the night when everything is still and quiet I hear a little beeeeep and a few seconds later there is a sense of panic as the 2 boys next to me quickly unzip the tent and stick their heads out gasping for air, and all I hear are the other boys around me shouting “Gross Diane” followed by laughter. At that time of the night I am not amused and will not take the blame for it. Girls don’t fart and if we do it smells like roses!

A picture is worth a thousand words: Day 4. Climb something with a view

Buy this Printable Oliver wall art in my shop.

Buy this Printable Oliver wall art in my shop.

Day 4. Climb something with a view 

Do you like to climb something just because it is there? I don’t only rock climb so that I can beat guys in arm wrestling, or spend my day staring at people’s bums. I climb because the view is worth the effort. Ever since I was little I’ve always looked for things to climb; trees, rocks, walls, anything. I never really understood why I loved climbing things. I think I was always interested to see if I could do it, how far I could go and how I would get up. It interested me that every route was different, you constantly have to figure out where to put our hands and feet white using muscles you didn’t even know you had. When I was a kid sitting in a tree staring down at my family eating lunch on a picnic blanket, it felt incredibly satisfying about physically making my way to the top and being able to see much further than the person standing on the ground, even from a few meters up in a tree. The feeling of how vast the world is empowered me. It’s only when you are high up looking down at the huge world beneath you that you realize how insignificant you are and in that moment you contemplate the meaning of life, but at the same time you have a feeling of power and freedom and the feeling that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.

A picture is worth a thousand words: Day 3. Once in awhile blow your own damn mind.

mind

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Day 3. Once in awhile blow your own damn mind.


If you had told me 2 years ago that I would one day run a half marathon, I would have laughed in your face. I was never much of a runner until I started going to Parkrun every Saturday morning (or to be more realistic, every second Saturday) that’s when I realised 5km’s is much further than you think. I absolutely hated Parkrun, Its free self-willing torture where I would wake up at a ridiculous hour on a Saturday morning to run for what feels like the longest half hour of my life. I think my endorphins at the end over ruled the feeling of torture because I just carried on going back setting small goals for myself; I am now very close to doing my 50th Parkrun. I went from 5km Parkruns to doing one 10km (Just one) to a half a marathon in just a few months. I don’t often half-ass things. I either give it my all or I just give up. I think when I entered my first half marathon I had a moment of optimism.

A week before my first half marathon Jason wanted to do a 10km training run for my half marathon and his marathon, but I was meeting family at Gilroys Brewery for lunch and couldn’t do both, unless I ran there (its funny how my mind works isn’t it?) I think another moment of optimism because it was 21km from my house to Giroys. I was waiting for a “just kidding” but those words just didn’t come. We quickly got dressed and headed off telling my parents to keep an eye out for us incase we needed a lift. We started off with a little trot, thinking this isn’t so bad, but that was quickly replaced by “woah, you have clearly forgotten that you have never run more than 10km in your life” but at that point quitting was not an option and forced my legs to push harder. Once I start something I will always finish it, no matter how hard I have to push myself. We got to a seriously long hill; I was really wondering what I had gotten myself into as I felt my throat close up in a panic. I felt a serge of adrenaline and I eventually got into the rhythm and I could feel my heart beating in my feet as they hit the ground. I felt okay except for the occasional uphill where my muscles would hurt and my lungs desperate for air, more air. We ran 15km in 1hour 40minutes and that was when we saw my parents anxiously waiting for us but we stupidly decided not to take their offer to drive us as we only had 6km left (That’s like a Parkrun, its easy). We quickly stopped at the garage for a coke and carried on running. I think that was our biggest mistake because it’s much harder than you think to get those little legs moving again. The last 4 km with about 3 km uphill (I might be exaggerating there) was the hardest thing I have ever done, everything in my body just said no. My muscles were sore and it felt like my footsteps echoed down the road as I stomped one foot in front of the other, but I tackled that long hill after my legs were ready to quit. I continued running for what seemed like longer than it should have taken to get to the parking lot but it was probably because I was so desperate to finish. We took 45 minutes to run the last 6km but we were done and there was a light at the end of the tunnel, that beer at the end never tasted so good. I was so tired I couldn’t even lift my beer mug, which is funny because I didn’t run with my arms, although at some point I’m pretty sure I was crawling.

Official half marathon race day came. I couldn’t believe I woke up at a ridiculous hour to stand in the freezing cold to put myself through that torture again. The timer started and the crowd of runners started moving, I quickly I felt the warmth seep into my muscles and my breathing matched the beat of my feet hitting the round, it suddenly felt so easy as though I was flying in autopilot. 5km seemed to have come very quickly, which was such a relief. All I can say about that race is that I just ran and ran and ran and it felt so good, oh and it’s harder than you think trying to drink out of a cup while running, but it just felt so unnatural to walk. I finished my first official half marathon in 2 hours 8 minutes and still felt strong as I moved my legs as fast as I could towards the finish line. My mind was blown; I did not expect it to go that well, what a relief.

I still have no idea why I run, why I carried on doing Parkrun even though I hated it. I just can’t stop, maybe it’s the feeling of accomplishing something I never imagined, even those small little goals I set for myself made me feel so good and I just begged for more.

A picture is worth a thousand words: Day 2. Bring on the sun.

 

sun

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Day 2. Bring on the sun

Imagine you are in a beautiful park with green trees standing tall around you and the hot sun beating down on you, you can smell the meat on the braai and the grass tickling your bare feet, and ahhh, I just entered my happy place. Unfortunately Its not always sunshine and butterflies, for 4 months of the year its permanent cold feet and icicles hanging off your nose. Winter! I’m not a fan; its cold and I have to wear shoes. South African winters are very misconceiving, you look out the window and the sun is shining and the trees are waving in a light breeze, well that’s until you step outside and that light breeze is actually a full blown icy wind and the sun is radiating no heat, and you have just been frozen to your doormat.

Let me explain my experience of the cold this winter.

It was a cold day, not cold in the conventional sense mind you, a really cold day. I stepped outside into the chilly air before the sun had risen and felt the cold seep into my body chilling my bones. I exhaled and watched my breath turn the cold morning air white as I packed my bicycle into my car. It was the type of cold that forced me to breath into my hands and jump up and down so that the cold didn’t taken over me. As the sun appeared over the horizon (purely for light and not warmth) we hit the track with our jackets and gloves on and our buffs covering our faces with just our eyes sticking out. We started off slowly because our bones were still frozen together and the cold wind hitting us was just too painful to go any faster. My face was numb, my hands sore and shakes of chills set down my spine as we cycled into the cold sunrise. We cycled through fields of frost and ice sculptures formed from dripping irrigation sprinklers. After making shiver and brrr sounds the whole way, we decided that the next person to complain about the cold buys everyone an egg and bacon roll when we got back, after that there were only little whispers and deep breathing from the cold.

After that experience and my stupidity I think it is time for the sun to come out where waking up early and putting shorts and a t-shirt on isn’t such hard work. I am definitely a summer baby. Winter makes me grumpy and resentful. I love the heat. In fact, the hotter the better. Summer is the best season, when the thermometer hits 25°C, my body goes into happy mode.

A picture is worth a thousand words: 10 Day challenge

overrated

Day 1. Real life is Overrated

“Limitations live only in our minds. But if we use our imaginations, our possibilities become limitless.” Jamie Paolinetti.

Artist’s boundaries are limited by their imagination; hopefully you haven’t lost it by becoming an adult. Since an individual’s imagination is limitless, there is no reality that cannot be created.

I draw because real life is overrated. Lets just be honest, life sucks sometimes. When I draw I completely block out the world around me, and I am able to escape the overwhelming feelings that I get with the pressure of everyday life. With a pencil in my hand and a blank piece of paper I am able to create a new world where I am in control and have no boundaries. When I draw I don’t just escape reality, I create my own.

Here is a poem that I wrote a few years ago about how I feel when I draw:

When I do art I go to a place you have never seen. I have the power to stop time and be free within it; I use that power when I need time, an avoidance of reality, a morning after the night before. I would freeze and wouldn’t flinch and each time the frozen moment drew out a little longer- desperate for more. The Queen of a silent world, where I and only me had the liberty of freedom. I would walk between people stopped in the ignominy of their trivial lives. It’s the only moment where I seemed to be free of his shadow. There were times when I went to the sanctuary of the fallen city and let my silence wrap around me, I pretended not to search, although my gaze would sweep upward. I made pictures from scars in the wood and used the stains to tell myself stories. My fist wrapped around my pencil, my fingers turned white, waited for the jump. If I could keep myself focused I could use it, Give myself a little freedom… And concentrate.