Young Stanfordians Conquer the Crown
by Miss Verreynne
“1”, “2”, “3”, “4”, “5” ... And so the Grade 8 Trek began with each student receiving a number to remember for the duration of the expedition – an easy rollcall, which ensures that all are accounted for at any given time. This was soon followed by a single-track trail under a canopy of indigenous forest and past rambling bushes, ready to grab and scrape the odd victim as they passed.
The group eventually reached the Ebenezer Dam and most had confusion plastered all over their faces as they processed how they were meant to cross the dam. This until Mr Pieter Kotzé appeared around the corner, captaining a raft that was to take them to the other side, much to the surprise, delight and relief of the group. There were huge cheers among the crowd and sighs of relief.
Day 1 of the expedition consisted of following paths along pine forests, indigenous vegetation, natural springs and rivers that lead to the foot of the Iron Crown Mountain. By lunch time the students had covered over 10 kilometres, carrying overweight bags in the blistering heat. They were slowly starting to realise that Trek “ain’t for sissies”. The pupils set up camp for the night under a blanket of clear skies filled with stars and a half-moon.
The following day was an early start for all and the students left camp with a goal of summiting the Iron Crown, the highest peak in Limpopo and part of the northeastern escarpment of the Drakensberg mountain range. It was a steep initial climb, following long and winding single tracks that followed the contours of the mountain. Before the students reached the top, a chilly mist swept over the hills of the summit, covering all the land below, giving the illusion of being on the top of “Cloud 9”. By 09:30 they reached the top of the mystic Iron Crown, 2120m above sea level.
On the afternoon of Day 2, the group were met by unpleasant heat, steep down hills, slippery and rocky routes and overgrown landscapes but the route also boasted endless views of George’s Valley, fresh streams that held cool drinking water and beautiful fauna and flora along the way. After a “mere” 16km day’s hike, the group were pleased to reach camp 2 at Bergplaas, situated along the flowing Letaba River. There was no time to spare and the students jumped in for a proper cool down session, giving their blistered feet a soothing break. Dinner was prepared early, tents were ready to be occupied and the final song of the day was sung before exhaustion took over early. The only sounds that filled the air was nature’s conversations and the odd snore that evening.
There was a new spring in everyone’s step as the sun rose beyond the mountains the next day. The morning was fresh and the hike back home commenced. The chatter was high, emotions were strong and soon reminiscing took over. Before long, Stanford Lake College was spotted in the distance; a bittersweet feeling for many that the adventure was coming to an end and that they have conquered their first expedition, together, as true Stanfordians.