Climbing Table Mountain via the Plattenklip Gorge

10/24/2014

We climbed and we conquered...but not without some serious effort first.

The Platteklip Gorge route is the most direct route to the top of Table Mountain, but it is supposedly also one of the most challenging. Don't be fooled, the route is essentially doing the stairmaster machine on it's highest level for 3km straight.

We started our time at Table Mountain a bit late on a Sunday, not getting there until 10 a.m. Approaching the mountain we immediately began to regret not leaving earlier since there was a huge line of cars parked on the side of the road. We were unsure about exactly where the Platteklip Gorge hike began, but assumed it was somewhere near the lower cableway station. Somewhat dismayed, after driving past all of these cars to confirm that there was indeed no parking anywhere near the lower cableway station, we drove back down the mountain and found a visitor center. Fortunately we were informed that the beginning of the Platteklip Gorge hike starts past the lower cableway station and that we should keep driving past all the cars until we saw a sign for it next to a wooden hut. Back up the mountain we went, smugly driving past all of the people hiking up the road. We easily found parking right near the beginning of the trail.


The hike starts out with some rocky steps on a moderate incline. After a while I began to wonder when the path would start to flatten out a bit...it doesn't. About halfway up the mountain hikers enter the actual gorge. This is where the real "fun" starts. It's at this point that the incline steepens even more. For the first half of the hike I felt pretty good about myself as we easily passed by many hikers slower than we were.  At this point, however, I can hear my thighs screaming "No more!" To make matters worse there are people running down the mountain skipping away like it's nothing. Literally running. Are these people even real? What is this sorcery?

Finally I could see the top of the gorge and I was filled with a huge sense of relief. I then reminded myself that what goes up must also come down. But the climb down surely would be easier than the climb up, right? Once again (as I would later discover)...wrong.

Once at the top we were greeted with a spectacular view. We found a rock to huddle under and ate the lunch that we had brought with us. We then found the cafe by the upper cableway station and popped inside to escape the wind and warm up with a coffee. Once warmed up we ventured outside again to explore and take pictures.  My camera battery died so I didn't get to take as many photos as I would have liked.

After having walked around the top for a bit we started the journey back down down down, which started off pretty easy but soon could feel the strain in my thighs and ankles as we hopped down the rocks. Needless to say I was very grateful to be on flat ground once we made it down.
Fast forward to the next morning. I woke up and immediately knew something was off. My legs felt like they were made of stone. I spent the majority of the next week fearing stairs and constantly asking my boyfriend for leg massages (he did not end up being sore at all...so not fair) But was it worth it?...absolutely, and I would totally do it again.


For anyone on the more adventurous side I'd definitely recommend hiking up rather than taking the aerial cableway. The hike up is supposed to take an average of two to three hours. I think we made it in a little under two and probably averaged around the same (maybe a bit quicker) on the way down. If you don't fancy the hike that's totally fine too. Just be prepared for a long wait for the cable cars and buy tickets ahead of time. (Tickets are R200 pp rountrip).

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