Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Table mountain in FiveFingers

Our visiting lecturer for Quantum Computing is from Germany. He's also one of the most athletic physicists I've ever seen. And last weekend he put up a sign-up sheet for a "tough hike" up Table Mountain -- of course I signed up.

So did about fifteen of our students, and Saturday morning we set out on our journey, equipped with packed lunches and sturdy boots. Except for me: this was a great opportunity to see what my barefoot-shoes could do, aside from running. Some of the more experienced mountaineers were sceptical. One of the outreach employees, who had brought his two toddlers along and was planning to carry (!!) them up the mountain together with his wife, pointed out my feet to his kids: "Look at her shoes! Doesn't she look like a gorilla?" Yeah, baby.
Baby in carrying crate, on mountain!

Taking a break
The first hour was certainly the toughest, up a steep slope over crude stone steps, without much shade, but with some amazing views of Camps Bay on the western side of the cape. After we had made it up to the first plateau, we took a little break and devoured some bananas, gorilla-style.

Room mate, or monkey?

When the stragglers had joined up and caught their breath, we continued towards the top. On the way we discovered a little cave with a waterfall, an echo valley and several rusty ladders of questionable safety. I took those ladders as an excuse to climb up the rocks next to them, which was remarkably easy with my toe shoes.
Echo valley
Student & waterfall

Inside the cave

Just as we were about to reach "the cave", a dark, dark cavern somewhat off the path, clouds began enveloping us. The followed us into the cave, and all the way up to the top of TM we couldn't see further than about 10m.

Postcard view
We stopped in the little cafe, queued with a million other tourists and warmed up with a cup of coffee -- and just in time when we finished our drinks the clouds vanished in thin air. We got some marvellous views from the table top, and all the way back down.

Me in the postcard
My feet survived just fine in their unusual shoes, though my ankles maybe got a bit more tired than usual. Plus: I turned quite a few heads with my feet, and got to tell a number of them all about barefoot walking!
Far away from everything

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