On our hike at Foothold we got a glimpse of the “hole in the wall” and the mysterious green world that was beckoning behind it. At Phefumula, we visited it.
The hike began with a gradual slope of dense slippery grass which led us towards the sometimes familiar fence, and then steeply upward onto a mottled blend of rock , grass and fine pebbled ground. An all too brief catch of breath at the top, and suddenly one realises, that late braai evenings with good friends and little sleep accompanied by a nagging tingle in the tummy announcing that all is not as it should be, is not at all the ideal mix to begin a day's journey. This is where a fellow hiker armed with a can of coconut water came to my rescue and put me back into gear for the journey ahead, albeit with a more moderate paced group.
Steady pacing was the order of the day as slopes tended to vary as we combed the rolling landscape until we came upon a doorway. It appeared as if it came out to meet us, as if no matter what path we took, it would find us. Characteristically arched by the overhanging branch of a tree, it beckoned us to bow and enter, which we did with silent awe. The atmosphere change was immediate and enduring. Darker, mottled light filled the valley ahead. A forest canopy extended, widening ahead as we continued. Twisted vines hung from aged trees, like doubled climber's hemp ropes reaching into the sky – a testament to a long-standing relationship: tree will grow, vine will climb with. The vertical rock formations, still visible through the foliage, rise higher and higher further on. Carefully carved and shaped by the hands of time, staring at them one begins to wonder if they were meant to be shaped for a specific purpose, almost resembling carved monuments of animals or mythical creatures. We were hesitant to leave this small hiker's forest paradise, and the shelter of a rock canopied cave in a valley with trickling crystal clear streams. Shall we ever visit again? I hope so.